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:
— COVID-19 deaths spike in Ohio nursing homes.
— Miss America pageant canceled, will resume next year.
— Half of Spain’s population to see restrictions eased.
— New York governor warns about potentially fatal condition in children.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The number of people dying from the coronavirus in Ohio’s nursing homes has continued to increase at an alarming pace.
Close to 500 residents of long-term care centers have died of COVID-19 in the past three weeks, according to data released by the state this week. That’s nearly double the total reported for the previous two weeks.
The increase in deaths could be attributed to a significant jump or a backlog of cases being added over the past week, said Melanie Amato, a spokeswoman for the state health department.
Since mid-April, more than 4,300 nursing home residents and staff members have tested positive for the virus.
The numbers don’t tell the entire story of how the virus has devastated nursing homes during the pandemic because the Ohio Department of Health has only released the totals for just the past three weeks.
Before that, the state didn’t require local health departments to report nursing home deaths linked to the virus, so any numbers collected before mid-April may not be accurate, Amato said Friday.
Overall, the nursing home deaths reported since April 15 account for 40% of all the virus-related deaths in Ohio since the first one was reported in mid-March.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Restaurants throughout South Carolina can soon reopen with limited, indoor dining service.
Starting Monday, Gov. Henry McMaster said restaurants could open for indoor dining as long as they kept patrons to 50% occupancy, placed tables 6-to-8 feet apart and followed stringent cleaning and sanitizing guidelines. Among the new guidelines are to keep hand sanitizer at entrances and remove previously shared condiments from tables.
“A lot of iconic restaurants have actually gone out of business, and the whole state regrets that,” the governor said Friday, in announcing what he calls “phase 2” of a process to get dining rooms back open.
The Republican governor is gradually lifting restrictions initially put in place to stem the coronavirus outbreak and promising to soon discuss reopening other businesses.
This week, restaurants were allowed to open for limited outdoor dining. Next week, McMaster said he would likely address “close-contact” businesses like hair and nail salons, which have been closed for weeks to help slow the spread.
CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has released the city’s five-step path toward reopening, which includes some stricter standards than the state plan released earlier this week.
The Democratic mayor warned on Friday that progress is dependent on residents continuing to stay home through the month of May to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed 1,248 people in the nation’s third-largest city.
Lightfoot’s plan projects substantial changes to life in the city even after restrictions start to loosen, including continuing to require people to wear face coverings through the fourth phase. Chicago is in the second phase of the plan, which requires people to stay home except for essential activities or work.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan split the state into four regions that can advance — or be forced to pull back — independently of the others based on certain factors. Chicago is included in the northeastern region along with the rest of Cook County and eight surrounding counties.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Add the Miss America pageant to the list of events canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Miss America Organization announced Friday that a competition will not be held this year. The pageant will resume next year, which will be its 100th anniversary.
The most recent Miss America, Camille Schrier of Virginia, was crowned in December at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
A location for the 2020 pageant had not yet been announced. Its longtime home had been Atlantic City, aside from a brief detour to Las Vegas.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s nonpartisan legislative analyst says the state can expect budget deficits through at least 2024 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek released an analysis on Friday showing the deficits could total up to $126 billion depending on the severity of the recession.
Petek says the deficit for the upcoming budget year could be as high as $31 billion. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is projecting a deficit of $54.3 billion in the upcoming budget year.
The numbers are different because the governor’s projection is based on his January budget proposal. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimate is based on the current budget.
MADRID — Spain’s health minister says the government will relax restrictions on the movement of just over half the country’s population next week.
Salvador Illa said Friday the areas that have met targets to ease an almost two-month national lockdown account for 51% of Spain’s about 47 million people.
Starting Monday, the places that qualify for the next phase of a gradual loosening of constraints will be allowed to reopen outdoor seating areas for smaller restaurants and bars, with 50% of their seating capacity made available.
Social gatherings of up to 10 people, family reunions, open-air markets, church services and museum openings will also be permitted, though with some limitations.
The Madrid region, which leads Spain with more than 64,000 confirmed cases from the virus, and most of Catalonia, with more than 51,000, did not qualify for the partial lifting of restrictions.
Spain has reported 26,299 deaths from COVID-19 and 260,177 confirmed cases.
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the death of a 5-year-old boy who showed symptoms of a rare condition is challenging assumptions that children can’t be hurt by COVID-19 complications.
Cuomo did not provide details about the child who died Thursday. But the Democratic governor said said there have been 73 reported cases in the state of youngsters showing symptoms like those of Kawasaki disease — a rare inflammatory condition in children — and toxic shock syndrome.
New York is the hardest-hit U.S. state in the coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo calls it “every parent’s nightmare” that a child could be affected by the virus.
Dozens of children elsewhere in the U.S. have been hospitalized with the condition, which scientists think may be linked to the coronavirus and has been seen in Europe. Symptoms include prolonged fever, severe abdominal pain and trouble breathing.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey reported 48 new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours — the lowest number of daily fatalities in more than a month. The country’s total death toll now stands at 3,689.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also announced 1,848 more confirmed cases, bringing the total number of infections to 135,569.
At least 86,396 COVID-19 patients have recovered, according to figures the minister posted Friday on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry announced new guidelines for taxis. Drivers and passengers will be required to wear masks and the maximum number of passengers will be limited to three. The guidelines came as Turkey prepares to ease some restrictions and reopen malls, beauty salons, hairdressers and barber shops on Monday.
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Thousands of people are protesting against the center-right government in Slovenia for a third week in a row by riding their bicycles through the capital Ljubljana and other cities.
Blowing whistles and chanting “thieves,” the demonstrators on Friday streamed down the central streets of Ljubljana. Most of the people were wearing face masks in line with the measures against the spread of the new coronavirus.
Police have blocked access to the areas outside the government and parliament buildings.
The protests first erupted after a whistleblower revealed alleged political pressure in the purchase of protective equipment during the virus outbreak. Slovenia’s anti-corruption bodies opened an investigation as the government denied any wrongdoing.
Slovenia has started easing its lockdown after a fall in the number of infections.
Right-wing Prime Minister Janez Jansa’s government was formed shortly before the outbreak. Critics have accused him of attempts to consolidate power during the emergency situation.
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced that 13 more western counties, including much of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, can shed his most restrictive pandemic orders on movement and businesses next week.
The counties announced Friday by Wolf comprise nearly 2.7 million residents.
The only western county held back, Beaver County, is home to perhaps the state’s worst nursing home outbreak, where dozens have died and a congressman is calling for an investigation.
Otherwise, the area of approximately 10,000 square miles (15,000 square kilometers) can undertake a limited reopening next Friday.
It will join people in 24 counties across a swath of primarily rural northern Pennsylvania who are the first to have pandemic restrictions eased under Wolf’s reopening plan, including Erie, Lewisburg, Williamsport and State College.
Those places began opening stores Friday that had been shut down since March under Wolf’s orders, while residents began leaving their homes. People in those parts of the state had been under a stay-at-home order since April 1.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief is pushing back against misinformation that heating or cooling the body can help fight the coronavirus.
Dr. Michael Ryan said Friday he’d heard “various stories” suggesting it might be important “to be very hot or be very cold” to fight COVID-19.
“This has no impact on the virus,” he said.
Ryan’s comments were the latest attempt to dispel urban legend and other speculation about how to defend against, counteract or seek miracle home remedy-style cures for the pandemic disease.
Ryan noted that viruses and infectious diseases often cause the body to have fevers.
“Having a temperature in itself is not necessarily a bad thing,” he said. “But also that temperature has to be carefully monitored, especially in children.”
“But the idea that temperature itself is affecting the way the virus will behave in the body is not true.”
LONDON — Britain’s minister for the environment, food and rural affairs says Prime Minister Boris Johnson won’t be announcing immediate changes to the country’s coronavirus lockdown when he addresses the nation on Sunday.
George Eustice said the U.K. is “not out of the woods” and that there “isn’t going to be any dramatic overnight change” to the lockdown. He said the government will be “very, very cautious” in loosening the restrictions.
Johnson is expected to set out a roadmap of how the U.K. can start easing the lockdown in the future. Only minor changes, such as allowing individuals to sunbathe in parks and removing the limit on one daily outing for exercise, are anticipated.
Eustice also revealed that another 626 people have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in all settings, including hospitals and care homes. That takes the U.K. total to 31,241, the second highest official death toll in the world behind the United States.
LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization says the agency needs $1.7 billion to fund its response efforts for COVID-19 for the rest of the year — and that it’s about $1.3 billion short.
Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was suspending funding to the U.N. health agency, saying WHO botched its response to the coronavirus pandemic and was acting as a public relations agency for China. WHO said previously it was conducting an assessment of what the loss of U.S. funding would mean for its operations.
In a press briefing on Friday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said WHO’s COVID-19 strategic plan is focused on several objectives, including providing technical and logistical support to all countries, particularly those with fragile health systems. He said the estimated $1.7 billion “only covers WHO’s needs, not the entire global (community’s) needs.”
Tedros noted that Friday marked 40 years since the day smallpox was officially eradicated from the planet. “That same solidarity built on national unity is needed now more than ever to defeat COVID-19,” he said.
OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine — Parts of New England are slowly emerging from weeks of pandemic-induced restrictions.
Greenhouses, golf courses and barber shops are rolling out the welcome mat for customers eager to return to some sense of normalcy. But the partial reopening comes amid concerns about adequate testing, contact tracing and even protective gear for health care workers.
Maine is allowing the use of golf courses and most state parks; visits to dentists, barbers and hairdressers; and stay-in-vehicle religious services. New Hampshire is allowing the restricted reopening of restaurants, hair salons and other businesses throughout May. Vermont is gradually allowing more commercial activity and outdoor recreation for groups of 10 or fewer, including golf courses and tennis courts.
Rhode Island is taking its first step with a soft reopening Saturday, the day after a stay-at-home order expires. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo envisions a plan in which more stores will be allowed to reopen but restaurants, bars and salons will remain closed.
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