The Latest: UN chief says pandemic worsens Sahel security
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says the coronavirus pandemic has compounded “the dire humanitarian and security situations” in Mali and Africa’s Sahel region.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says in a report to the Security Council obtained Thursday by The Associated Press that the deteriorating security situation “remains of grave concern with terrorist groups allied with al-Qaida and Islamic State competing for control over areas of influence.”
He says terrorist attacks on civilians, Malian and international forces are continuing in northern and central Mali, posing the most significant security threat in the north. He adds that clashes between al-Qaida and Islamic State have also been reported.
Guterres says that “the impact of COVID-19 is exacerbating the humanitarian crises” in Mali, where 3.5 million people are suffering from “food insecurity” and 757,000 are “severely food insecure.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— UK vaccine summit calls for freely available virus vaccine
— Spain study confirms few have developed antibodies to virus
— The pandemic has stranded merchant ship crews at sea for months
— In Nevada, the casino coronavirus closure has ended. Cards are being dealt, dice are rolling and slot machines flashed and jingled for the first customers who started gambling again early Thursday in Las Vegas and throughout the state. Hotel-casinos in suburban areas were first to open, followed later by a restart of the iconic Bellagio fountain and reopenings of several resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.
— T he farm-to-table movement in the United States has grown even more during the pandemic out of necessity because some producers can’t rely on the complex web of processors, distributors and middlemen to get food to customers.
Go to https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates throughout the day.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil has reported 1,473 more COVID-19 deaths, the biggest 24-hour increase in the country’s death toll since the outbreak began. That’s equal to more than one death per minute, and means the country now has the world’s third highest death toll.
For the second straight night, the health ministry delayed release of Thursday’s data until 10 p.m. local time, after Brazil’s widely watched evening news program ended. Thursday was the third straight day with a new daily high for Brazil’s coronavirus deaths.
Brazil has reported more than 34,000 deaths from the virus so far, meaning it surpassed the amount in Italy and trails only the U.K. and U.S. Experts consider the tally a significant undercount due to insufficient testing.
SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea has reported 39 new cases of the coronavirus over a 24-hour period, a continuation of an upward trend in new infections in the Asian country.
The additional figures released Friday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the country’s total to 11,668 cases, with 273 deaths.
The agency says 34 of the additional cases were reported in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live.
South Korea has seen a rise in the number of new cases after easing much of its rigid social distancing rules in early May. But the caseload hasn’t exploded, unlike when the country reported hundreds of new cases every day in late February and early March.
BEIJING — China is reporting five new confirmed coronavirus cases, all of them brought by Chinese citizens from outside the country.
No new deaths were reported Friday, continuing a trend stretching back weeks.
Chinese officials say just 66 people remain in treatment and 299 more are under isolation and being monitoring as suspected cases.
China has reported 4,634 deaths among 83,027 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
China has drawn criticism of its initial handling of the outbreak and allegations it withheld crucial information, but it has repeatedly defended its record. On Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing is committed to the “development of global public health.”
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Officials in California say a second state prison employee has died after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The plant operations employee at Ironwood State Prison in eastern Riverside County died Wednesday. Spokeswoman Dana Simas released no additional information, citing the family’s privacy.
The first prison employee who tested positive for the virus and died was Danny Mendoza, a correctional officer at the California Rehabilitation Center. He died Saturday in the same county.
Nearly 400 prison department employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, but nearly half of those have returned to work.
There are more than 2,200 inmates with active cases in California. Twelve inmates have died, all at the California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’s concerned about the spread of coronavirus as thousands of people gather for protests against police brutality across the state.
He said Thursday while visiting Stockton the state should prepare for an increase in the positive test rate because of both the protests and the reopening that’s underway.
He said he’s particularly concerned about the disproportionate impact of the virus on black Californians. Still the state has no plans to halt its reopening efforts.
The state’s top health official says the state is working hard to release more reopening guidelines.
MADISON, Wis. — Organizers of the World Dairy Expo in Madison have canceled this year’s event because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s the first time the annual trade show has been canceled in its 53-year history.
Event organizers said they made the decision Thursday because of COVID-19 travel restrictions and health orders issued by the City of Madison and Dane County.
World Dairy Expo was to have taken place Sept. 29 through Oct. 3 at the Alliant Energy Center. The event — described as the Super Bowl of dairy — attracts tens of thousands of people from around the world.
In 2019, the event attracted more than 62,000 people from nearly 100 countries.
Organizers say the event will return in the fall of 2021. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports there are no plans to reschedule for this year.
ORLANDO, Fla. — When Walt Disney World reopens next month for the first time since it closed due to the spread of the new coronavirus, there will be no parades, fireworks shows nor “meet-and-greet” sessions with performers dressed as Disney characters.
Union official Eric Clinton told members this week that Disney employees won’t even be allowed to take photos of visitors using the guests’ cellphones to cut back on the risk of spreading the virus.
“Any scenario that could create large crowds … the company isn’t going to do it,” said Clinton, president of Unite Here Local 362.
Disney has not made any plans to reopen Disney World’s water parks, and those workers can transfer temporarily into other areas. College students and international workers who staffed the country pavilions at Epcot’s World Showcase aren’t coming back anytime soon, so the positions formally staffed by international workers will be worked by U.S. employees, Clinton said.
Thousands of Disney World workers will be recalled for work starting in mid-June, ahead of the resort’s opening next month.
SEVILLE, Spain — Over 500 family members of victims of the COVID-19 virus have attended a funeral Mass at Seville’s Cathedral.
The attendees wore face masks and were seated in chairs separated by two meters instead of pews on Thursday. They had to previously request to attend by e-mail.
Seville and other areas of Spain that have not been as hard hit by the new virus are currently able to hold religious services at up to 50% of church capacity.
An orchestra and chorus performed Mozart’s Requiem during the service in memory of the 287 people who have died from the virus in Seville. Spain’s health ministry has confirmed that over 27,000 lives have been lost to the pandemic in the country.
PHOENIX — Arizona has registered nearly 1,000 COVID-19 associated deaths as infections continue to climb in the state.
The state Health Services Department on Thursday reported 530 new cases of the virus and 15 additional deaths. A total of 996 people have died since the first death was reported on March 21. The number of reported confirmed cases is now at 22,753.
Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said Wednesday the agency is closely monitoring a rise in cases and hospitalizations that started about two weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey ended his stay-at-home order. That’s about the time it takes for virus symptoms to appear.
The U.S. government is requiring the collection of additional demographic details from people tested for COVID-19, including their sex, age, race and ethnicity.
The extra data requirements apply to hospitals and laboratories and are intended to help track the virus’ impact on various racial, age and regional groups. Currently, only a small segment of public health labs report the age, sex and race of people who are tested.
The requirement comes amid growing concern about the pandemic’s impact on minorities, particularly African Americans. Federal health officials have previously reported that African Americans represent a disproportionate share of patients hospitalized for COVID-19.
The collection of zip code information is also expected to aid in tracking new infections and distributing tests and treatments.
The federal requirements take effect in August, though hospitals and labs are encouraged to comply as soon as possible. They must report the testing information within 24 hours, including the type of test used and whether results were positive or negative.
OLYMPIA, Washington — Washington state officials say they think they have recovered about half of the hundreds of millions in unemployment benefits paid to criminals who used stolen identities to file claims during the coronavirus pandemic.
Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said Thursday that state officials are still working to determine the final amount paid out fraudulently, but believe it was between $550 million and $650 million. She says the state has recovered $333 million to date..
The number of new claims for unemployment benefits in Washington dropped to just over 31,000 last week. LeVine said the drop is in part due to the ongoing anti-fraud efforts, but also to Washington’s four-stage reopening plan bringing people back to work.
According to California cybersecurity firm Agari, a West African fraud ring using identities stolen in prior data breaches such as the massive 2017 Equifax breach is believed to be behind the unemployment fraud in nearly a dozen states.
LeVine said the claims of more than 51,000 people in Washington that had been held up because of the fake claims were resolved by Wednesday night.
She says an additional 50,000 delayed claims will take more time to resolve.
LONDON — British Business Secretary Alok Sharma has tested negative for the coronavirus after he fell ill while making a speech in the House of Commons.
Sharma took a test Wednesday after feeling unwell during the speech, when he was seen sweating profusely and wiping his brow on a regular basis.
His illness came a day after lawmakers voted to end a system of remote voting that had allowed them to work from home during the U.K.’snationwide lockdown.
Sharma revealed his negative test result in a tweet on Thursday and said he wanted to thank those who sent “really kind messages over the last 24 hours.”
Several senior officials and British government ministers fell sick with COVID-19 in March and April. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a week in a London hospital, including three nights in intensive care.
PARIS — The French government announced a new set of measures to support the country’s economy, which is facing its worst recession since World War II due to the coronavirus pandemic.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said “jobs have become the national priority.”
One measure will extend a temporary unemployment policy to allow companies to move employees to part-time work while the state pays part of their salaries.
The plan is intended to prevent too many job cuts while the French economy is recovering.
Another measure allows for grants of up to 8,000 euros ($9,067) to companies that hire an apprentice.
Le Maire said this week that the French economy is expected to shrink by 11% this year.
French unemployment claims jumped 22% in April, as 843,000 more people sought work and the country’s virus lockdown kept companies from hiring.
NEW ORLEANS — Before the COVID-19 pandemict, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans was planning to celebrate its 20th anniversary with a crowd of thousands.
Now, the museum is instead selling a limited number of scheduled tickets and holding an annual D-Day morning ceremony and all anniversary commemorations online.
The museum opened June 6, 2000, as the National D-Day Museum and was designated the national World War II museum a few years later. Last year, on the 75th anniversary of the landings in Normandy, France, it logged 3,200 visitors.
President and CEO Stephen Watson said that with the date falling on a Saturday this year, “we could have had as many as 5,000 visitors,”
The museum closed because of the pandemic on March 14. Spokesman Keith Darcey said that when the museum reopened on Memorial Day, attendance was the lowest since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005.
MADRID — A second round of random testing in Spain for antibodies to the new coronavirus indicates that a third of those infected do not develop symptoms, Spanish health authorities said Thursday.
National Epidemiological Center Director Marina Pollán called the data released Thursday “a wake-up call for public health” that shows “it is not possible to control (an outbreak) by just considering those who are symptomatic.”
Results from the latest round of the nationwide testing confirmed the preliminary finding published three weeks ago showing that blood tests had detected the IGG antibody against the virus in only 5% of the 63,000 participants.
Researchers say that means Spain is far from having developed a “herd immunity” to COVID-19 and is still vulnerable to more outbreaks.
LAS VEGAS — The casino coronavirus closure has ended. Cards are being dealt, dice are rolling and slot machines flashed and jingled for the first customers who started gambling again early Thursday in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada.
Hotel-casinos in downtown and suburban Las Vegas were the first to open at 12:01 a.m., followed later in the morning by a restart of the iconic Bellagio fountain and several resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.
Downtown casino owner Derek Stevens says the past few months have been an “unprecedented challenge” but the industry is excited to get employees back to work and welcome guests again.
Several dozen people were waiting in line outside Stevens’ downtown casino-hotel The D just before midnight. When the doors opened, guests had their temperatures checked and inside dealers wore face masks or shields.
LONDON — Passengers on England’s buses, subways and trains will have to wear face coverings starting June 15 to help protect fellow passengers from the coronavirus.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Thursday that the requirement was timed to coincide with the anticipated reopening of nonessential stores.
Shapps said that with more shops, including department stores and electronics retailers opening for the first time in nearly three month, there will likely be an increase in public transportation use.
He said the face coverings are a “condition of travel” and failure to abide by the requirement could potentially lead to fines.
On Thursday, the government reported that another 176 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus had died in the U.K. in all settings. That takes the U.K.’s total to 39,904, the world’s second-highest death toll in the pandemic.
MILAN — Most regions in Italy have reported either zero or fewer than five new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, and the number of confirmed cases rose by 177 nationwide.
Five regions had new cases in the double digits. The northern Lombardy region recorded the most at 84, but that was many fewer than the region had a day earlier.
Figures from the Italian civil protection agency on Thursday showed virus-related deaths nationally rose by 88 to 33,689.
Experts say both the number of deaths and confirmed cases are higher than the numbers reported as many infected people were never tested.
The national statistics agency released figures on Thursday showing that while mortality rates eased in April, they were nonetheless more than double the previous 5-year average for that month in virus hot spots such as Bergamo and Pavia, and around double the in Milan.
Italy has completely emerged from a government-ordered lockdown.
THESSALONIKI, Greece — Authorities in northern Greece have placed a refugee camp with about 1,500 residents under a 14-day quarantine after a pregnant Syrian woman living there tested positive for the coronavirus.
Local and Health Ministry officials said several schools in the area that were used for refugee education programs are temporarily closed.
Several refugee camps and shelters in Greece have reported virus cases but none so far have surfaced at the overcrowded facilities housing asylum-seekers on Greek islands near the Turkish coast where potential outbreaks are a source of serious concern over a potential outbreak.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil has reported another 1,349 COVID-19 deaths, the largest 24-hour increase to the country’s coronavirus death toll since its outbreak began.
The Health Ministry delayed release of the data until 10:00 p.m. local time Wednesday, after the country’s widely watched evening news program had ended. The ministry cited “technical problems.” It also canceled its daily COVID-19 press conference.
The latest virus-related deaths broke a single-day record set Tuesday.
Brazil has reported about 32,500 deaths from the virus so far, the fourth most of any country in the world, trailing just behind Italy. Experts believe the actual death toll is significantly higher but hasn’t registered due to insufficient testing.
President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday also designated Gen. Eduardo Pazuello as interim health minister, after nearly three weeks without anyone officially leading the ministry.
Pazuello had no health experience prior to joining the ministry in April. One of his predecessors resigned and another was fired after disagreements with Bolsonaro over proper pandemic response measures.
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