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Thursday May 28th, 2020 4:53AM

The Latest: Trump again mulls barring flights from Brazil

By The Associated Press
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The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— Trump again says he is considering barring flights from hard-hit Brazil

—WHO members OK evaluation of virus response.

—Russian prime minister returns to work after bout with coronavirus.

— As United States, Europe reopen more, big nations see rising virus toll.

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U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is considering barring entry to flights coming from Brazil due to the spread of COVID-19 in Latin America’s hardest-hit country. It was the second time Trump has said he is studying such a measure.

“I don’t want people coming in here and infecting our people. I don’t want people over there sick either. We’re helping Brazil with ventilators. We’re sending them ventilators,” Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

Hours later Brazil reported more than a thousand deaths from the disease for the first time in a 24-hour period. The health ministry’s announcement of 1,179 deaths on Tuesday boosted the nation’s death toll to 17,971. Brazil has 271,628 confirmed cases, the third most in the world after Russia and the U.S.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who like Trump has previously downplayed the disease and encouraged supporters to go back to work, neither responded to Trump’s remarks nor commented on the record daily figure.

Also on Tuesday, the U.S. government announced it was offering Brazil $3 million to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. The Trump administration has already pledged $950,000 to Brazil in efforts against the pandemic. The resources will be used in 79 emergency centers for COVID-19, laboratories and in the health care system of 13 border cities.

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BEIJING — China is continuing to combat a cluster of new coronavirus infections in its northeastern province of Jilin, with four out of five new cases reported Wednesday located in the region north of Beijing.

Authorities believe the outbreak may have begun among a group of family members and friends who gathered for dining and drinking without maintaining the social distancing regulations that have been increasingly relaxed nearly four months after they were imposed over much of the country.

No deaths were reported on Wednesday and just 87 people remained in treatment, while 375 others were under isolation and monitoring for being suspected cases or for having tested positive without showing symptoms.

China has recorded a total of 4,634 deaths from the virus among 82,965 cases.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The chief architect of Florida’s coronavirus website was fired after an apparent disagreement over what information should be made public, raising questions about the integrity of Florida’s public health data.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said his decision to begin reopening his state has been driven by science, and federal epidemiologists have praised his administration’s daily release of COVID-19 related data.

But Rebekah Jones, an information systems manager with the Florida Department of Health, announced in an email to researchers Friday that she was no longer in charge of the dashboard that provides daily snapshots of Florida’s COVID-19 infections, testing and deaths. She said she would not expect “the same level of accessibility and transparency” in the data presented there, adding that her “commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it.”

Jones was more pointed in an email to an Orlando television station, CBS12 News, when she said she was removed from her role because she would not “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.” It was unclear what data she was asked to change.

Jones could not be reached for comment.

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says a public health order that imposes strict regulation of the country’s borders has been extended.

The new order announced Tuesday by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf does not put a 30-day limit on the restrictions as before. It says instead that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will review the latest health data every 30 days to ensure the restrictions are still needed.

Homeland Security officials had signaled in recent days that the order should be extended but that the decision would be up to health authorities. It had been scheduled to expire May 20.

The order enables U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to immediately expel anyone stopped trying to enter the country without authorization, including people seeking asylum. DHS officials say the COVID-19 pandemic makes it too dangerous to hold people in their detention facilities.

Immigrant advocates say it deprives people of the legal right to seek asylum under international law.

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NEW ORLEANS — Coronavirus fears closed a Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles location near New Orleans the same morning that it reopened after a two-month pandemic closure.

The office in Harvey was notified that someone in the building might have been in contact with somebody who had COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Deputy Commissioner Keith Neal said Tuesday.

Neal said he did not know whether the notification was from a state Department of Health contact tracer. The health department reported Tuesday that more than 35,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease, 1,004 of them are hospitalized and 2,458 have died. About 26,200 are presumed recovered.

He said the office — one of 11 that reopened statewide Monday after being closed since March 20 — will be sanitized before reopening.

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SALEM, Ore. — Oregon’s unemployment rate soared to 14.2% in April, marking the deepest recession the state has experienced since it began keeping records in 1939.

State officials say the numbers released Tuesday don’t reflect the full effect of the economic downturn brought on by a statewide stay-at-home order and the closure of schools and most businesses.

The state lost 266,600 jobs in the first two months of the pandemic, going from a near-record-low unemployment rate of 3.5% in March to the current 14.2%. More than half of all jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry have dried up.

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MIAMI — A children’s hospital in Miami has reported what could be the first cases in Florida of a rare inflammatory syndrome affecting some children with the coronavirus.

Both patients are in the pediatric ICU but showing signs of improvement, Jackson Health System said in an email statement.

COVID-19 is far less common in children than adults, and doctors say most infected children develop only mild symptoms. But New York State has been seeing more cases of this mysterious syndrome, which affects blood vessels and organs and has symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome.

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CAIRO — Egypt has announced further anti-virus measures to follow Eid al-Fitr, the three-day festival that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly says that starting May 30, the government will require people to wear face masks in public places, with violators fined 4,000 pounds (around $250) by police.

As Egypt’s curve accelerates, calls for tighter movement restrictions in the Arab world’s most populous country are growing. The number of detected cases in the state jumped by 720 on Tuesday to 13,484 infections and 659 deaths, the highest single-day increase.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch prime minister says the country’s bars and restaurants can reopen on June 1, with limited numbers of guests and social distancing.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the country can begin the next phase of emerging from what he has called an intelligent lockdown, while stressing people should continue practicing social distancing and work from home whenever possible.

The number of new deaths and coronavirus infections has been falling for weeks in the Netherlands, where the official death toll stands at 5,715, although it is thought to be much higher since it only includes people who have tested positive.

Bars and restaurants will be allowed a maximum of 30 clients inside, and people on terraces outside will have to sit at tables.

Cinemas, theaters and concert halls also will be allowed to reopen with a maximum of 30 visitors and social distancing. Museums also can reopen with the number of visitors based on the size of the buildings.

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FAIRLESS HILLS, Pa. — Six drugmakers that manufacture generic hydroxychloroquine report the drug is in short supply, while three others reported in the last week that their product is available, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s drug shortages website.

The companies cite increased demand as the cause, with some stating they expect to next ship the drug at the end of May.

President Donald Trump said Monday he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement daily “for about a week and a half now,” after two White House staffers tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump has spent months pushing hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure or preventive drug for COVID-19 against the cautionary advice of many of his administration’s top medical professionals.

One of the companies, Concordia Pharmaceuticals, also makes the brand-name version, called Paquenil. It says that drug is completely unavailable but is expected to be available again at the end of this month.

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ROME — Pressure on Italy’s hospitals has continued to decline, an essential condition for the country to safely continue to eliminate or ease lockdown measures for the coronavirus.

For the first time since mid-March, the number of persons hospitalized in non-intensive care beds has dipped under 10,000. The number of COVID-19 patients occupying intensive care beds also has decreased in recent weeks, down to 716 on Tuesday, according to Health Ministry figures.

Throughout the outbreak, most coronavirus patients in Italy haven’t needed hospitalization but instead stayed isolated at home. There were 813 new cases of infection nationwide in the 24-hour period ending Tuesday evening, raising to 226,699 Italy’s overall known case tally. The daily increase in deaths was registered at 162, increasing the country’s total number of persons who died with confirmed COVID-19 infections to 32,169.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland is reporting its first pediatric death from the coronavirus.

Baltimore County officials say a 15-year-old resident died after being infected by COVID-19. Officials say the individual had symptoms of an inflammatory syndrome associated with the COVID-19 infection that has been documented in children in New York and other locations.

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HOUSTON — A catholic church in Houston has closed its doors after five of its leaders tested positive for COVID-19, including two priests who helped celebrate public masses after they resumed earlier this month.

The closure and positive tests come after a priest from Holy Ghost parish, 79-year-old Donnell Kirchner, died last week. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, but officials are determining whether he might have contracted the virus before he died May 13.

Kirchner went to an urgent care clinic and later to a hospital emergency room. But after being released, he went back to the home he shared with members of his religious order, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said.

The members of Kirchner’s religious order are asymptomatic but are being quarantined.

The diocese encouraged anyone who attended masses at Holy Ghost to get tested as a precaution.

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MOSCOW — The United States will send two planes with ventilators to Russia as a donation to help the country tackle the coronavirus outbreak, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says.

The move follows a “whole-hearted and genuine” offer U.S. President Donald Trump made last month to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lavrov adds. According to Russian media, the shipment will include 200 breathing machines, 50 of which may be dispatched to Moscow on Wednesday.

Russia has reported nearly 300,000 infections and 2,837 deaths. Officials have scrambled to secure ventilators and other essential supplies amid an exponential growth in infections.

Russia sent a planeload of medical supplies, including ventilators, to the U.S. last month. Moscow says the U.S. paid for half of the medical supplies, while the other half of the cost was sponsored by Russia’s state investment fund.

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TORONTO — Canada and the United States have extended their agreement to keep the border closed to non-essential travel to June 21 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the border is a source of vulnerability so the agreement will be extended by another 30 days. The restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended in April.

Trudeau says Canada’s provincial leaders clearly wanted to continue the measures. Many Canadians fear a reopening. The U.S. has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world, though its per-capita numbers are well below many other nations.

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MADRID -- Spain has recorded fewer than 100 deaths from the new coronavirus for the third day in a row.

The Health Ministry said Tuesday that 83 people had died over the previous 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to 27,778.

It reported 295 new cases, bringing the total in the outbreak to just over 232,000.

The government is asking parliament to extend the current state of emergency to June 7, saying it is the only legal instrument that allows authorities to order lockdowns.

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MADRID — Spain is mandating facial masks in all public spaces, including outdoors when a safe distance of 2-meters (6.5-feet) between people can’t be kept.

Health Minister Salvador Illa says the decision expands recommendations in March for masks worn only in hospitals and nursing homes.

Previously, masks were in short supply in a country ravaged by the pandemic. Last month, masks became mandatory on public transportation.

Spain has recorded more than 27,000 deaths from the coronavirus and more than 230,000 confirmed infections.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Public health officials in at least two-thirds of U.S. states are sharing the addresses of people who have the coronavirus with first responders. Supporters say the measure is designed to protect those on the front line, but it’s sparked concerns of profiling in minority communities already mistrustful of law enforcement.

The AP review shows public health officials in at least 35 states share the addresses of those who have tested positive for the coronavirus -- provided by the state or local health departments to emergency dispatch centers that request it. In at least 10 of those states, health agencies also share their names: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee. Wisconsin did so briefly but stopped earlier this month.

In Tennessee, the issue has sparked criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers who recently became aware of the data sharing. Some critics wonder why first responders don’t take precautions with everyone, given so many people with the virus are asymptomatic or present mild symptoms.

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GENEVA — Member states of the World Health Organization have unanimously passed a resolution brought by European Union members, African nations and others calling for an independent “comprehensive evaluation” of the international response to the COVID-19 outbreak coordinated by the U.N. health agency.

The United States has sharply criticized the agency and its relationship with China, where the outbreak erupted.

Overnight, U.S. President Donald Trump listed concerns and criticism about the WHO to its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Nations rallied around the resolution that calls on the director-general to initiate “at the earliest appropriate moment” an evaluation that would “review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19.”

It was not immediately clear how, when or by whom that evaluation will be conducted.

The resolution pointed to the “role of extensive immunization against COVID-19 as a global public good,” and called on international organizations to “work collaboratively” to produce safe, effective and affordable medicines and vaccines.

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MOSCOW — Russia’s prime minister has fully resumed his duties after recovering from the coronavirus.

Mikhail Mishustin, 54, announced he was infected on April 30.

On Tuesday, Mishustin’s office says he's checked out of the hospital and returned to his duties in the Cabinet headquarters. He's set to take part in a video conference with President Vladimir Putin later in the day.

Several Cabinet ministers and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov also have been infected. Peskov says he had double pneumonia caused by the virus. He noted he hadn’t met with Putin in person for more than a month.

Putin has limited public appearances and held most of his meetings online during the virus pandemic.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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