AP News in Brief at 11:09 p.m. EDT | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Current Conditions

Mostly Cloudy
29.1°C

AP News in Brief at 11:09 p.m. EDT

March 21, 2020 - 8:09 PM

As virus spreads, growing need for hospital beds, supplies

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic took an increasingly bleak toll Saturday in the U.S. and Europe, producing staggering caseloads in New York and Italy and setting off a desperate scramble to set up thousands of additional hospital beds as the disease notched another grim advance.

Italy, at the heart of Europe's rampaging outbreak, announced nearly 800 new deaths and 6,600 new cases — its biggest day-to-day increase yet. In New York, state officials sought out desperately needed medical supplies and hospital beds as confirmed coronavirus cases soared above 10,000 statewide, with 56 deaths.

“Everything that can be done is being done,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, adding, "We are literally scouring the globe looking for medical supplies.”

Across the world, streets, squares and highways in major cities were deserted as curfews and lockdowns multiplied to try to stop the spread of COVID-19. In the U.S., New Jersey and St. Louis were added to a growing list of areas where residents were ordered to stay home. Health care workers from Oklahoma City to Minneapolis sought donations of protective equipment. Staff at a Detroit hospital began creating homemade face masks for workers. Even rural hospitals were strained as people increasingly felt the pandemic closing in.

In the farming community of Vidalia, Georgia, Dr. Robert Wagner said medical staffers at his emergency room are wearing face masks for their entire 12-hour shifts and changing in and out of full protective gear every time they see people considered a potential coronavirus case — all while dealing with a regular flow of patients injured in car crashes and suffering chest pains or other maladies.

___

The Latest: Australia unveils stimulus package, beach shut

PERTH, Australia (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 307,100 people and killed more than 13,000. 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 92,300 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

—Australia unveils stimulus package to ward off recession.

—South Korea reports 98 new cases.

—Target apologizes for selling masks in Washington state.

___

McConnell: 'Very close' on rescue package topping $1T

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top-level negotiations between Congress and the White House pushed toward resolution late Saturday on a ballooning $1 trillion-plus economic rescue package, as President Donald Trump urged a deal to steady a nation shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic.

With a population on edge and financial markets teetering, all sides indicated a deal is within reach. At issue is how best to keep paychecks flowing for millions of workers abruptly sidelined by the crisis.

Talks also narrowed on a so-called Marshall Plan for hospitals as well as industry loans to airlines and others all but grounded by the virus outbreak and national shutdown. The post-World War II Marshall Plan helped to rebuild Western Europe.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced late Saturday all sides were “very close” to a bipartisan resolution.

McConnell instructed committee chairmen to assemble draft legislation. Officials put the price tag at nearly $1.4 trillion and said that with other measures from the Federal Reserve it could pump $2 trillion into the U.S. economy.

___

Moderates may decide Trump's political fate in wake of virus

LARGO, Fla. (AP) — As restaurants across the country stacked chairs on tables and shut their doors to try to contain the deadly coronavirus, what would be the final visitors streamed into the Conservative Grounds coffee shop in Largo, Florida.

Fox News played on the televisions. Patrons posed for photos in a replica of the Oval Office. An 80-year-old man, defying officials' advice to stay home, beamed near a life-sized cutout of a grinning President Donald Trump.

This Trump-themed coffee shop embodies the right edge of the country's political divide. Outside its walls, state officials put in place an unprecedented shutdown of public life and Trump scrambled to fight a virus that he had accused political opponents and the media of pushing as a “new hoax.” Criticism of the president's preparedness was rampant.

Inside, customers gave Trump an A-plus on his response to the spreading pandemic. “He’s doing great things,” the owner said Wednesday.

America has a history of unifying in trying times and rallying around the president. But after years of deep division, in the earliest, head-spinning days of the pandemic, a fractured electorate largely viewed Trump's performance through the lens they chose long ago. But the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. The body count will rise; the economy will almost certainly crater. Trump's political fate may be left up to the sliver of moderates in the middle, who will choose whether to blame him for the crisis spiraling on his watch.

___

N Korea says Trump's letter offers anti-virus co-operation

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — President Donald Trump sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seeking to maintain good relations and offering co-operation in fighting the viral pandemic, Kim’s sister said Sunday.

The latest correspondence came as Kim observed the firing of tactical guided weapons over the weekend, drawing criticism from South Korea, as the nuclear talks remain deadlocked.

In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency, Kim’s sister and senior ruling party official, Kim Yo Jong, praised Trump for sending the letter at a time when “big difficulties and challenges lie ahead in the way of developing ties" between the countries.

In the letter, she said Trump explained his plan to “propel the relations between the two countries ... and expressed his intent to render co-operation in the anti-epidemic work” in an apparent reference to the global coronavirus outbreak. She said her brother expressed his gratitude for Trump's letter.

North Korea has repeatedly said there hasn’t been a single case of the coronavirus on its soil. Some foreign experts question that claim and say an outbreak in the North could cause a humanitarian disaster because of its poor medical infrastructure. Last month, the State Department expressed concerns about North Korea’s vulnerability to a potential coronavirus outbreak and said it was ready to support efforts by aid organizations to contain the spread of the illness in the North.

___

Nursing home outbreaks lay bare chronic industry problems

NEW YORK (AP) — Burgeoning coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes in Washington, Illinois, New Jersey and elsewhere are laying bare the industry’s long-running problems, including a struggle to control infections and a staffing crisis that relies on poorly paid aides who can't afford to stay home sick.

That came into clear focus at the deadliest single spot in the nation’s coronavirus crisis, the Life Care Center in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, where federal investigators believe a contributing factor in 35 deaths so far was low-pay workers who came to work with the illness and potentially even spread it to other nearby facilities where they took shifts.

Beyond that outbreak, at least 15 more have died and dozens have been infected at long-term care facilities across the nation, with major outbreaks of 46 infected in the Chicago suburb of Willowbrook, four deaths in at least two facilities in New Jersey, 13 infected in Little Rock, Arkansas, and 11 infected in Troy, Ohio, with 30 more showing symptoms.

“Nursing homes would always have been ground zero, but given we already have huge staffing shortages, this will be magnified,” said David Grabowski, a Harvard Medical School professor who has studied staffing problems at homes. “It could be worse for today’s nursing homes than ever.”

Most troubling, he said, is that 75 per cent of the nation’s nursing homes don't meet federal suggested minimum levels for staffing and many workers are inexperienced. Four out of five nursing home employees are hourly workers, and given the low wages often leave for retail and restaurant jobs just as they become familiar with proper care procedures.

___

Taking stock of strange days: The week that America changed

Change came to the United States of America during the third week of March in 2020.

It did not come all at once, though it came quite rapidly. As had happened in other lands, there was no explosion, no invasion other than a microscopic one that nobody could see. There was no fire, no flood, no famine. There were no barbarians at the gates.

Change came quietly in most towns and cities, because the change was one of withdrawal, a shutting of municipal and regional and national doors.

The weather was the same weather. The streets were the same streets. The emptiness fell bit by bit, piece by piece, until the most crowded of places became some of the most ghostly.

Some stopped going out in the evening. Then in the afternoon. Then all day. Some stopped getting haircuts, and some stopped cutting hair. Some stopped going out to eat, and some restaurants shut their doors except for takeout and delivery.

___

Election limbo as coronavirus outbreak upends US primaries

ATLANTA (AP) — U.S. elections have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. At least 13 states have postponed voting and more delays are possible as health officials warn that social distancing and other measures to contain the virus might be in place for weeks, if not months.

The states that have yet to hold their primaries find themselves in a seemingly impossible situation as they look to balance public health concerns with the need to hold elections. While election officials routinely prepare for natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires, the virus outbreak poses a unique challenge.

“Usually when we are dealing with a crisis in elections, it’s something that happens and then it’s done,” said Chris Harvey, Georgia's director of elections. “The difference now is that it’s a spreading threat, a fast-growing threat. We don’t know where, when or how it is going to end.”

Primaries scheduled for Georgia, Ohio, Maryland, Indiana, Louisiana, Connecticut and Kentucky have all been postponed to May or June. The Rhode Island Board of Elections has recommended the primary be delayed to June, while officials in Wisconsin are debating what to do.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has insisted the April 7 primary be held as scheduled, but a state elections commissioner said this past week that doing so would put people at risk. The state's chief elections official cited a host of problems Wisconsin could face if it moved forward with the election: a poll worker shortage, lack of polling places and potential disruption of absentee voting if mail service in the U.S. were to shut down.

___

AP Exclusive: 1st fed inmate tests positive for coronavirus

WASHINGTON (AP) — An inmate at a federal jail in New York City has tested positive for coronavirus, marking the first confirmed case in the federal prison system.

The inmate, who is housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, complained of chest pains on Thursday, a few days after he arrived at the facility, the federal Bureau of Prisons told The Associated Press. He was taken to a local hospital and was tested for COVID-19, officials said.

The inmate was discharged from the hospital on Friday and returned to the jail, where he was immediately placed in isolation, the agency said. The Bureau of Prisons learned Saturday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

The inmate remained isolated away from other prisoners on Saturday, but medical and psychiatric staff were visiting him routinely, officials said.

The confirmation of the first coronavirus case in the system by the BOP comes as jails and prisons across the country are taking precautions to slow the spread of coronavirus. Health officials have been warning for more than a decade about the dangers of outbreaks in jails and prisons, which are ideal environments for viruses: Inmates share small cells with total strangers, use toilets just a few feet from their beds, and are herded into day rooms where they spend hours at a time together.

___

Henley, Tucker, Cyrus and others mourn the death of Rogers

Some reactions from the world of music and beyond to the passing of Kenny Rogers, who died Friday night at age 81.

"In addition to his tremendous talent, Kenny was a generous and caring man, a wise mentor to so many of us. He loved his friends, his family, his fellow musicians and his fans, and they loved him, right back. Fifty years ago, The Gambler took a gamble on me and my first band from small-town Texas, and his big-hearted support launched many careers, including mine. He also gave me some of the best career advice I ever got: ‘You’d better be nice to the people you meet on the way up, because you’re going to meet those same people on the way back down.’ — Don Henley

"What a career, what a talent, what a legacy. Now this world is left with a big shadow, centre stage where Kenny Rogers stood. No one else can take his place. Now he's taken his place amongst the Heavenly stars. It's a very sad day for all of us. But God is smiling. Rest easy my friend. —Tanya Tucker

“No one bridged the gap between country and pop more often and better than K.R. He will be missed but his music and diverse style of story-telling will live on forever.” — Billy Ray Cyrus

"I loved Kenny with all my heart and my heart is broken and a big ole chunk of it is gone with him today." — Dolly Parton

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

  • Popular kamloops News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile