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

March 29, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Trump extends virus guidelines, braces US for big death toll

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bracing the nation for a death toll that could exceed 100,000 people, President Donald Trump on Sunday extended restrictive social distancing guidelines through April, bowing to public-health experts who presented him with even more dire projections for the expanding coronavirus pandemic.

It was a stark shift in tone by the president, who only days ago mused about the country reopening in a few weeks. From the Rose Garden, he said his Easter revival hopes had only been “aspirational.”

The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires Monday and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. He instead decided to extend them through April 30, a tacit acknowledgment he'd been too optimistic. Many states and local governments have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings.

Trump's impulse to reopen the country met a sober reality check Sunday from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, who said the U.S. could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the pandemic. That warning hardened a recognition in Washington that the struggle against the coronavirus will not be resolved quickly even as Trump expressed a longing for normalcy.

“I want our life back again,” the president told reporters.

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The Latest: Cruise ships begin transiting Panama Canal

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 extends stay-at-home guidelines for another 30 days.

— New York state surpasses 1,000 coronavirus deaths

—Britain on emergency footing for first time since WWII.

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As virus makes goodbyes hard, fears of many more rise in US

NEW YORK (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans, the U.S. government's top infectious-disease expert warned on Sunday as family members described wrenching farewells through hospital windows with dying loved ones.

Faced with that grim projection and the possibility even more could die in the U.S. without measures to keep people away from one another, President Donald Trump extended federal guidelines recommending people stay home for another 30 days until the end of April to prevent the spread of the virus.

Trump's extension of the original 15-day guidelines was a stark reversal just days after he said he hoped the economy could restart in about two weeks and came after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the dire prediction of fatalities, adding that millions in the U.S. could become infected.

“We want to make sure that we don't prematurely think we're doing so great,” Fauci said of the extension of the federal guidelines.

By Sunday night, the U.S. had over 140,000 infections and 2,400 deaths, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases is thought to be considerably higher because of testing shortages and mild illnesses that have gone unreported.

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Tokyo's infection spike after Olympic delay sparks questions

TOKYO (AP) — Before the Olympics were postponed, Japan looked like it had coronavirus infections contained, even as they spread in neighbouring countries. Now that the games have been pushed to next year, Tokyo’s cases are spiking, and the city's governor is requesting that people stay home, even hinting at a possible lockdown.

The sudden rise in the number of virus cases in Tokyo and the government's strong actions immediately after the Olympic postponement have raised questions in parliament and among citizens about whether Japan understated the extent of the outbreak and delayed enforcement of social distancing measures while clinging to hopes that the games would start on July 24 as scheduled.

With the Olympics now off, many are voicing suspicion that the numbers are rising because Japan suddenly has no reason to hide them.

“In order to make an impression that the city was taking control of the coronavirus, Tokyo avoided making strict requests and made the number of patients look smaller," former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said in a tweet. “The coronavirus has spread while they waited. (For Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike) it was Olympics first, not Tokyo's residents.”

Experts have found a rise of untraceable cases mushrooming in Tokyo, Osaka and other urban areas — signs of an explosive increase in infections.

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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the country's voluntary national shutdown for a month, significantly changing his tone on the coronavirus pandemic only days after musing about the country reopening in a few weeks. He heeded public-health experts who told him the virus could claim over 100,000 lives in the U.S., perhaps more, if not enough is done to fight it.

COVID-19 continues its relentless spread, as the daily number of infections worldwide continues to jump sharply. World Health Organization figures show the increase in new infections is now about 70,000 per day - up from about 50,000 just days ago. More than 32,000 people have died worldwide. The U.S. had over 139,000 infections and 2,400 deaths, a running tally by a prominent university showed Sunday evening.

Italy reported more than 750 new deaths Sunday, bringing the country’s total to nearly 10,800 - vastly more than any other country. But the number of new infections showed signs of narrowing again. Officials said more than 5,200 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, the lowest number in four days, for a total of almost 98,000 infections.

Here are some of AP's top stories Saturday 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:

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John Prine in critical condition with COVID-19 symptoms

NEW YORK (AP) — The family of John Prine says the singer-songwriter is critically ill and has been placed on a ventilator while being treated for COVID-19-type symptoms.

A message posted on Prine's Twitter page Sunday said the “Angel from Montgomery” singer has been hospitalized since Thursday and his condition worsened on Saturday.

“This is hard news for us to share,” Prine’s family added. “But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and that John loves you.”

Prine’s wife and manager Fiona Whelan Prine earlier this month said that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. She said the couple were quarantined and isolated from each other.

The 73-year-old Prine, one of the most influential in folk and country music, has twice fought cancer. Most recently, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and had part of a lung removed. The surgeries affected his voice but Prine continued to make music and to tour. Before the onset of the virus, Prine had shows scheduled in May and a summer tour planned.

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Fit, healthy 33-year-old recounts falling ill to coronavirus

ROME (AP) — Andrea Napoli didn’t fit the usual profile of a coronavirus patient.

At 33, he was in perfect health, with no history of respiratory disease. And he was in top physical shape, thanks to regular workouts, including water polo training.

Still, Napoli, a lawyer in Rome, developed a cough and fever less than a week after Italy's premier locked down the entire nation, including the capital which had continued life as usual while the virus raged in the north. Until that day, Napoli was following his routine of work, jogging and swimming.

He received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 three days later.

Initially, Napoli was told to quarantine at home with the warning that his condition could deteriorate suddenly, and it did. By the next day, he was hospitalized in intensive care, with X-rays confirming he had developed pneumonia.

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A missing boy and a freezing swamp test tracker's instincts

EDGERTON, Wis. (AP) — Austin Schumacher parked his unmarked squad truck and watched pheasant hunters work their way into the woods under the overcast, late-fall sky. The rookie Department of Natural Resources warden had just popped the lid of his salad container when the radio squawked: a 13-year-old boy, missing.

The boy had run away from Edgerton Middle School after a dispute with his teachers — he swore at them before he ducked out of the school and headed into the swamp across the street. Principal Clark Bretthauser tried to follow, but lost him in the mucky underbrush.

The boy was clad only in a T-shirt and sweatpants. The temperature was 39 degrees Fahrenheit (3.89 degrees Celsius) and falling as the sun dipped toward the horizon; forecasts called for a snowstorm at nightfall.

Schumacher put down his salad, flipped on his lights and sirens and headed for Edgerton.

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Instacart workers seek strike as jobs get busier, riskier

NEW YORK (AP) — A possible strike by Instacart workers highlights the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the grocery delivery business, where workers are worried about their safety as they try to meet a surge in demand for online groceries.

A group called the Gig Workers Collective is calling for a nationwide walk-out Monday. They've been asking Instacart to provide workers with hazard pay and protective gear, among other demands. Instacart said Sunday it would soon provide workers with a new hand sanitizer upon request and outlined changes to its tip system. The group said the measures were too little too late.

While some workers say they intend to join the strike for at least a day — or have stopped filling orders already for fear of getting the virus — other, newer workers are content to have a paying job at a time of mass layoffs in other industries.

The San Francisco-based delivery app is trying to hire 300,000 more workers — more than doubling its workforce —to fulfil orders it says have surged by 150% year-over year in the past weeks. The company said 50,000 new shoppers joined its platform in just the past week. Some customers are waiting days to receive orders.

Instacart currently has a workforce of more than 200,000 contracted workers who make multiple trips a day to various grocery stores to fulfil and deliver orders that customers make through the app. It also directly employs about 20,000 part-time workers who are assigned to a single store, collecting groceries that are subsequently delivered to clients by a contracted Instacart worker.

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Largest US dam removal stirs debate over coveted West water

KLAMATH, Calif. (AP) — The second-largest river in California has sustained Native American tribes with plentiful salmon for millennia, provided upstream farmers with irrigation water for generations and served as a haven for retirees who built dream homes along its banks.

With so many competing demands, the Klamath River has come to symbolize a larger struggle over the increasingly precious water resources of the U.S. West, and who has the biggest claim to them.

Now, plans to demolish four hydroelectric dams on the river's lower reaches to save salmon — the largest such demolition project in U.S. history — have placed those competing interests in stark relief. Each group with a stake — tribes, farmers, ranchers, homeowners and conservationists — sees its identity in the Klamath and ties its future to the dams in deeply personal terms.

“We are saving salmon country, and we’re doing it through reclaiming the West," said Amy Cordalis, a Yurok tribal attorney fighting for dam removal. “We are bringing the salmon home.”

The project, estimated at nearly $450 million, would reshape the Klamath River and empty giant reservoirs. It could also revive plummeting salmon populations by reopening hundreds of miles of potential habitat that has been blocked for more than a century, bringing relief to a half-dozen tribes spread across hundreds of miles in southern Oregon and northern California.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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