The Latest: White House urges labs to prioritize tests
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 328,275 people and killed more than 14,300. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 95,650 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Republican Sen. Rand Paul is first U.S. senator to test positive for COVID-19
— German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in quarantine after doctor who administered a vaccine to her tested positive for the coronavirus.
— Colombian authorities say 23 dead in prison riot.
WASHINGTON — The White House is urging commercial labs to prioritize the testing of hospital patients as they work to clear a backlog of tests for the coronavirus.
Vice President Mike Pence says the Department of Health and Human Services will issue formal guidance Monday, but that the federal government is encouraging all labs to “prioritize inpatient testing.”
Pence says the government hopes to have the backlog of existing tests — a milestone the White House hoped to reach on Monday — cleared by the middle of the week.
The White House is encouraging those without symptoms against seeking testing, warning it depletes already scarce supplies of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he’s ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ship mobile hospital centers to the hard-hit states of Washington, California and New York amid the coronavirus pandemic. For New York, that would mean another 1,000 hospital beds.
Trump is also revealing for the first time the number of respirators and other personal protective equipment sent to the hard-hit states by the federal government. It comes as state and local leaders have appealed on the federal government to provide far more, and as Trump has held off on using his fully authorities under the Defense Production Act to marshal the private sector’s capabilities.
Trump says it’s up to states to try to get the materials first. He says: “We’re sort of a backup for states.”
Trump says he’s also giving governors in those three states in calling up their national guard, keeping it under local control but providing federal funding. @Michael Tackett
CAIRO — Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el Sissi appealed to his people to help stem the spread of the coronavirus through staying at home and practicing social distancing, as the confirmed cases of the virus reached 327 and 15 deaths.
He warned that that numbers of the infected could be in thousands within days, if people did not take the virus seriously.
“Help us, Egyptians!” he appealed to his people. “We want more commitment and discipline for the next two weeks in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus in Egypt.”
He urged Egypt’s more than 100 million people to take the spread of virus “very seriously.”
He said his government have taken “simple measures” including the closure of schools and universities, a nightly curfew on shops, restaurants and other businesses in efforts to minimize interaction between people. He also thanked doctors and health workers as “heroes” who are fighting “a battle like a “war.”
Egypt’s health ministry added 33 more confirmed cases of the coronavirus and four new deaths, bringing the total number to 327 and 14 deaths. It said over 50 were discharged from the quarantine after their recovery. The military earlier Sunday reported the death of a major general while taking part in sterilization efforts.
CAIRO — Egypt’s military said a senior officer died Sunday following his infection from the coronavirus.
The military said in a statement that Major General Khaled Shaltout was infected while participating in sterilization which the military has been carrying out across the country.
The military said it has sterilized and disinfected public institutions and several squares in the capital, Cairo and other cities, to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Military spokesman Tamer el-Refai Saturday posted footage on social media showing military personal in protective gear and equipment while disinfecting the Tahrir square, the epicenter of the 2011 uprising, and the metro station there.
Shaltout was the highest official infected by the virus to date in Egypt, which has around 300 cases and 10 deaths.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a statewide “stay at home” directive, ordering all 4.6 million people in Louisiana to stay at home starting at 5 p.m. on Monday unless they’re performing an essential task like getting food or medicine.
Workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors’ offices and other critical infrastructure are exempt from the governor’s directive.
“The bottom line is we are in a race against time when it comes to this coronavirus and it’s rapid spread in Louisiana,” Edwards said Sunday.
New York, California, Illinois and some cities have issued similar shelter in place or stay at home orders in the last few days. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell had issued a similar order for that city two days ago.
As of Sunday, coronavirus infections in Louisiana have climbed to more than 830. Twenty people in the state have died of COVID-19, state health officials said.
BOUNTIFUL, Utah — Utah has reported its first death related to COVID-19 — a man over the age of 60 who had underlying health problems.
State health and hospital officials said Sunday that the unidentified man from Davis County had been at Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful for two days before his death.
The man tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.
Health officials are working to identify and contact anyone who may have been in close contact with him. His family notified the hospital of the possibility of him having COVID-19 before his arrival.
The hospital’s CEO says workers met him in the parking lot in full protective gear, limiting possible exposure.
ISTANBUL — Nine more people have died in Turkey from the coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 30.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that 289 people tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday. The total number of confirmed cases in the country is now at least 1,236.
PARIS — France’s Parliament has adopted a bill allowing the government to declare a “state of health emergency” meant to better fight the coronavirus epidemic in the country.
The measure voted Sunday allows the government to issue decrees that curtail temporarily freedoms, including restrictions on movements, trade, entrepreneurship and gatherings. It also enables the government to requisition necessary goods and services to fight against a health disaster.
The state of heath emergency is yet to be formally declared by President Emmanuel Macron’s government during a Cabinet meeting.
The measure was needed to provide legal basis to ensure the continuity of current emergency measures in the country and the democratic functioning of the state.
The bill also includes the postponing of nationwide municipal elections initially due to take place on Sunday and a package of economic measures to support workers and businesses hardly hit by the crisis.
French health authorities have reported 16,018 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 674 people who have died.
WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is the first U.S. senator to test positive for COVID-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus.
That’s according to a tweet from the senator, who is a top ally of President Donald Trump.
The senator is “feeling fine,” the tweet said. He is “asymptomatic,” and in quarantine.
He was not aware “of any direct contact with any infected person,” the tweet said.
This comes shortly after the nation’s capital announced its second death to coronavirus.
BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has gone into quarantine after being informed that a doctor who administered a vaccine to her has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Merkel’s spokesman said the German chancellor was informed about the doctor’s test shortly after holding a news conference Sunday announcing new measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Merkel had received a precautionary vaccine Friday against pneumococcal infection.
Seibert said in a statement that Merkel would undergo “regular tests” in the coming days and continue with her work from home for the time being.
ROME — The number of deaths of people with the coronavirus in Italy jumped 651 to 5,476 in the last 24 hours, while new infections rose by 10% to over 59,000. The head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, Angelo Borrelli, noted that the increases had narrowed from recent days, adding ‘’we hope that this trend can be confirmed in the coming days. We should not lower our guard.’’
BOGOTA, Colombia — Authorities in Colombia say 23 prisoners died and another 83 were injured in a riot and attempted escape over poor conditions inmates argue will spread the coronavirus.
The violence happened overnight at the La Modelo jail in Bogota, where all of the deaths occurred, along with several other penitentiaries. Officials said seven workers were injured, two of them in critical condition.
Relatives gathered outside the jail Sunday wearing masks and clamoring for information.
Videos shared by inmates online showed fires inside several jails, prisoners outside their cells and inmates complaining of conditions.
Colombia has confirmed 231 coronavirus cases. Authorities say none are in jails.
ISTANBUL — Turkish Airlines will halt all international flights except for five destinations starting Friday.
The airline’s chief executive officer Bilal Eksi tweeted flights would continue to Hong Kong, Moscow, Addis Ababa, New York and Washington, D.C. All other international passenger flights would be suspended from March 27 to April 17.
Turkey already suspended flights to 68 countries as part of Ankara’s efforts to contain the coronavirus.
Eksi said domestic flights would continue but decrease in number. Cargo flights are also to continue.
OKLAHOMA CITY — A second person in Oklahoma has died of COVID-19 as the number of state residents with the illness caused by the coronavirus increased by more than a dozen.
The man who died was in his 50s and lived in Pawnee County, west of Tulsa. The Oklahoma State Department of Health did not provide further details on the circumstances of his illness and death.
The number of people in the state who have tested positive for the virus increased to 67 Sunday, from 53 the day before. The health department said 11 of those people are hospitalized.
Oklahoma County has the most cases, with 26, following by Cleveland County, with 13, and Tulsa County, with six.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is lashing out at governors and other lawmakers who have been critical about the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that they should not be “blaming the federal government for their own shortcomings.”
He added: “We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!”
Democratic lawmakers such as Illinois’ governor and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were on various TV news shows Sunday saying they had to fight with states over medical resources and questioned why Trump hasn’t yet made military resources available despite triggering the Defense Production Act late last week.
Trump has said repeatedly his administration is not to blame for the growing pandemic including a lack of resources for medical teams.
PARIS — France’s health minister has said the country reached a grim milestone – the first hospital doctor to have died of the coronavirus.
Oliver Veran said Sunday he had learned of the death of the unnamed 68-year-old emergency doctor from Compiegne in Oise the day before and “shared the pain of the family.”
It is, he said, “to my knowledge… the first case that struck a hospital doctor.”
In the Le Parisien newspaper, the doctor’s son said his father’s illness hit suddenly, saying the family is “sad and angry.”
He added: “He came back very tired after being on duty. He quickly fell ill, no longer ate, had no taste in spite of being of a bon vivant. Despite everything — knowing he was sick, he wanted to go back to work.”
ATHENS, Greece — Greece has reported an additional two fatalities from the COVID-19 virus.
That brings the total to 15. Also, 94 new cases were confirmed on Sunday, bringing the total to 624. Of those, 124 are hospitalized and 34 people are in intensive care.
WASHINGTON — Immigrant advocates have filed a federal lawsuit demanding that family detention centers release immigrants because of an eminent risk of a coronavirus outbreak.
Lawyers filed the lawsuit in the District of Columbia on Saturday. They say the country’s three detention centers where families are held: Berks in Pennsylvania, Karnes and Dilley in Texas, have failed to take adequate measures to protect families from COVID-19.
They say there is no justification for risking their health and safety.
Immigration enforcement has a wide latitude on when to release people detained. Earlier this year, Homeland Security officials said they would detain families as long as possible in an effort to discourage migrants from crossing the border.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said officers are taking precautions to avoid an outbreak in detention facilities.
ISLAMABAD — A young doctor who was infected with the coronavirus in northern Pakistan while screening pilgrims returned from Iran into Gilgit Baltistan has died.
Rashid Arshad, spokesman for chief minister of Gilgit Baltistan, said Dr Osama Riaz dead was removed from a ventilator after two days with the consent of his family.
Riaz was admitted to Gilgit’s main hospital in critical condition after he passed out Friday. He was treating suspected COVID-19 cases with proper safety gear but they were short in supply in the far mountainous terrain.
Riaz joined the hospital as medical officer after passing first stage of fellowship in medicine. With Riaz’s death number of dead due to COVID-19 in Pakistan is now four.
WASHINGTON — The government’s top infectious disease expert insists he has no disagreement with President Donald Trump over whether a drug to treat COVID-19 is actually at hand.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Trump had heard anecdotal reports that a malaria drug could be used for the coronavirus and so was expressing the hope “that if they might work, let’s try and push their usage.”
Last week, Trump asserted that tests had provided evidence the drug is useful for COVID-19, a statement Fauci contradicted during televised White House briefings. Trump also falsely suggested that the FDA had just cleared the drug specifically for the viral pandemic, when it had not.
On Sunday, Fauci explained that Trump’s views reflected a layperson who was “trying to bring hope to the people” whereas his own job is to “prove definitively from a scientific job that they do work.”
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — North Macedonia has announced the first death from the COVID-19 virus.
Health minister Venko Filipce said Sunday the victim was a 57- year old woman from the town of Kumanovo. Her health deteriorated rapidly at the hospital, but cause of death was only determined after. Filipce did not specify when the woman died.
Filipce said 29 people have tested positive on virus over the past 24 hours, all but seven from the capital Skopje. This brings the number of confirmed cases to 114.
North Macedonia has imposed a 9 pm curfew that begins Sunday night. Two regions in the west of the country, near the border with Albania, have been sealed off for 30 days. More then 7,600 people are quarantined.
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