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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

April 01, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Trump resists national shutdown, leaving it up to states

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is resisting calls to issue a national stay-at-home order to stem the spread of the new coronavirus despite his administration's projections that tens of thousands of Americans are likely to be killed by the disease. One by one, though, states are increasingly pushing shutdown orders of their own.

Trump said Wednesday he wants to give governors' “flexibility” on whether a stay-at-home policy is the best option for their constituents, but acknowledged that he's looking at limiting air and rail travel between hot spots within the United States. The president remains hesitant to press a unified policy even after the White House released “sobering” new projections on Tuesday that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will likely succumb to the coronavirus even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday the nation's federalist system leaves much of the authority on how to properly respond to catastrophes to individual state governors and local officials.

“We trust the governors and the mayors to understand their people and understand whether or not they feel like they can trust the people in their states to make the right decisions,” Adams said on ABC's “Good Morning America.”

On Wednesday alone, five more states — Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada and Pennsylvania — added or expanded their stay-at-home orders.

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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

As hot spots flared around the United States in places like New Orleans, Detroit and Southern California, New York was the hardest hit of them all, with bodies loaded onto refrigerated morgue trucks by gurney and forklift outside overwhelmed hospitals. And the worst is yet to come, with Vice-President Mike Pence comparing the U.S. trajectory to that of Italy.

Experts warned that there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. even if social distancing guidelines are maintained. America now has more than 4,000 dead from the outbreak.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Wednesday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic. Follow APNews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates through the day and APNews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak for stories explaining some of its complexities.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:

— Scientists offered more evidence Wednesday that the coronavirus is spread by seemingly healthy people who show no clear symptoms, leading the U.S. government to issue new guidance warning that anyone exposed to the disease can be considered a carrier.

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'A battlefield behind your home': Deaths mount in New York

NEW YORK (AP) — New York rushed to bring in an army of medical volunteers Wednesday as the statewide death toll from the coronavirus doubled in 72 hours to more than 1,900 and the wail of ambulances in the otherwise eerily quiet streets of the city became the heartbreaking soundtrack of the crisis.

As hot spots flared around the U.S. in places like New Orleans and Southern California, the nation's biggest city was the hardest hit of them all, with bodies loaded onto refrigerated morgue trucks by gurney and forklift outside overwhelmed hospitals, in full view of passing motorists.

”It’s like a battlefield behind your home," said 33-year-old Emma Sorza, who could hear the sirens from severely swamped Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.

And the worst is yet to come.

“How does it end? And people want answers," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "I want answers. The answer is nobody knows for sure.”

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More evidence indicates healthy people can spread virus

NEW YORK (AP) — Scientists offered more evidence Wednesday that the coronavirus is spread by seemingly healthy people who show no clear symptoms, and the federal government issued new guidance warning that anyone exposed to the disease can be considered a carrier.

A study by researchers in Singapore became the latest to estimate that somewhere around 10% of new infections may be sparked by people who carry the virus but have not yet suffered its flu-like symptoms.

In response to that study and others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed how it defined the risk of infection for Americans. The agency's new guidance targeted people who have no symptoms but were exposed to others with known or suspected infections. It essentially says that anyone may be a carrier, whether that person has symptoms or not.

The findings complicate efforts to gain control of the pandemic and reinforce the importance of social distancing and other measures designed to stop the spread, experts said.

“You have to really be proactive about reducing contacts between people who seem perfectly healthy,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, a University of Texas at Austin researcher who has studied coronavirus transmission in different countries.

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Los Angeles mayor urges everyone to wear masks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The mayor of Los Angeles on Wednesday told everyone in the nation’s second-largest city to start wearing masks to combat the coronavirus, but California’s governor isn’t ready to take that idea statewide.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday he’s focused instead on keeping people inside. He also announced the state may need 66,000 additional hospital beds, 16,000 more than previously forecast, to handle the crush of illnesses expected during the second part of May.

At an afternoon news conference, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he had been awaiting advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on mask-wearing but with the COVID-19 rate surging had decided to wait no longer.

The mayor said all 4 million residents who are performing essential tasks such as food shopping should wear homemade, non-medical face coverings, or even bandannas, as people in other COVID-19-struck countries have done.

“To be clear, you should still stay at home. This isn’t an excuse to suddenly all go out," Garcetti said.

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Coast Guard: Cruise ships must stay at sea with sick onboard

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has directed cruise ships to prepare to treat any sick passengers and crew on board while being sequestered “indefinitely" offshore during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new rules outlined in a memo are required for ships in the district that covers Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Puerto Rico. They also come with a stiff warning: Any foreign-flagged vessels “that loiter beyond U.S. territorial seas" should try first to medically evacuate the very sick to those countries instead.

Many South Florida cruise ships are registered in the Bahamas, where hospital capacity is limited and people are still recovering from last year's devastating Hurricane Dorian.

The rules, which apply to vessels carrying more than 50 people, were issued in a March 29 safety bulletin signed by Coast Guard Rear Admiral E.C. Jones, head of the seventh district. All ships destined for U.S. ports were already required to provide daily updates on their coronavirus caseload or face civil penalties or criminal prosecution.

Dozens of cruise ships are either lined up at Port Miami and Port Everglades or waiting offshore due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most have only crew aboard, but Carnival Corp., which owns nine cruise lines with a total of 105 ships, notified the SEC on Tuesday that it has more than 6,000 passengers still at sea.

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Feds: Man intentionally derailed LA train near hospital ship

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A train engineer intentionally drove a speeding locomotive off a track at the Port of Los Angeles because he was suspicious about the presence of a Navy hospital ship docked there to help during the coronovirus crisis, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The locomotive crashed through a series of barriers and fences before coming to rest more than 250 yards (230 metres) from the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Mercy on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a release.

Nobody was hurt.

Eduardo Moreno, 44, was charged with one count of train wrecking, prosecutors said. It wasn't immediately known if he has an attorney.

Moreno acknowledged in two separate interviews with law enforcement that he intentionally derailed and crashed the train near the Mercy, according to the criminal complaint.

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New Orleans jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis dead at 85

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Ellis Marsalis, jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical family that includes famed musician sons Wynton and Branford, has died. He was 85.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced Marsalis' death in a news release Wednesday night. She did not specify a cause of death. He had continued to perform regularly in New Orleans until December.

“Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” Cantrell said in a statement. “He was a teacher, a father, and an icon — and words aren’t sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world."

Because Marsalis opted to stay in New Orleans for most of his career, his reputation was limited until his sons became famous and brought him the spotlight, along with new recording contracts and headliner performances on television and on tour.

Four of his six sons are musicians: Wynton, the trumpeter, is America's most prominent jazz spokesman as artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. Branford, the saxophonist, led The Tonight Show band and toured with Sting. Delfeayo, trombonist, is a prominent recording producer and performer. And Jason, the drummer, has made a name for himself with his own band and as an accompanist. Ellis III, who decided music was not his gig, is a photographer-poet in Baltimore.

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Iowa governor got 2nd chance; she thinks felons should, too

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, will never forget the summer night 20 years ago when a state trooper stopped her minivan on Interstate 35 and found a nearly empty bottle of Black Velvet whisky on the seat behind her.

What followed was a sometimes humiliating series of hearings and counselling sessions as Reynolds pleaded guilty to her second drunken driving offence in less than a year and committed herself to treatment. It was a personal turning point for her, and now, so long afterward, it has also become the motivation for a stubborn campaign that has divided her from many in her own party.

After her treatment for alcoholism, Reynolds went on to build a career that saw her become Iowa's first female governor. Now she's pushing her GOP-controlled Legislature to end Iowa's status as the only state that permanently bars felons from voting unless the governor personally restores their rights.

Reynolds acknowledges that her painful experience gave her a different perspective from many of her colleagues.

“I am a firm believer that you can make a mistake but that shouldn’t define you," she said in an interview. “Everybody deserves a second chance."

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AP-NORC poll: Less than half back Trump's pandemic response

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans give high marks to state and local governments for their handling of the fast-moving coronavirus pandemic that has swiftly remade everyday life. But less than half approve of the job done thus far by President Donald Trump and the federal government, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Even so, and while he remains deeply polarizing, the poll finds Trump’s approval ratings are among the highest of his presidency. Forty-four per cent of Americans support Trump’s oversight of the pandemic, in line with his overall 43% approval rating. That’s at the high end for the Republican president during his more than three years in office.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has already killed more than 4,000 Americans and shut down much of the U.S. economy, is the most urgent and unpredictable crisis of Trump’s presidency. The coming weeks will likely shape how Americans view the wisdom of giving him a second term in the November election, where he is likely to face off against former Vice-President Joe Biden.

Trump initially downplayed the virus, comparing it to the flu. He also suggested restrictions on work and travel could be lifted by mid-April, arguing that the response to the virus shouldn’t be worse than the health crisis itself.

But the president has shifted his stance again in recent days, and on Tuesday, the White House estimated up to 240,000 Americans could die from coronavirus even if strict social distancing measures are maintained. If those steps aren’t taken, the number of deaths seems certain to increase.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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