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

April 06, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Virus deaths slow in places, but British premier gets worse

NEW YORK (AP) — The steep rise in coronavirus deaths appeared to be levelling off Monday in hard-hit New York, echoing a trend underway in Italy and Spain, while the crisis escalated alarmingly in Britain, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care after his condition deteriorated.

Johnson, 55, was conscious and did not immediately need to be put on a ventilator, his office said. The prime minister is the world's first known head of government to fall ill with the virus.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he asked “leading companies” to contact officials in London about therapies that could help Johnson, calling them complex treatments recently developed by the unnamed firms.

“We have contacted all of Boris’ doctors, and we’ll see what’s going to take place, but they are ready to go,” Trump told reporters.

The president said mitigation efforts are showing signs of slowing the spread of the virus. The nation’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was cautiously optimistic, saying that in New York, “what we have been doing has been working.”

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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to the intensive care unit of a London hospital after his coronavirus symptoms worsened Monday. In New York, there are faint glimmers of hope as deaths from the new coronavirus appear to be levelling off.

New York City remains the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., and New Orleans and Detroit still face worrying days ahead. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed careful optimism that new cases may be starting to slow down.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Monday 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:

— President Donald Trump said at an afternoon news briefing that he’d called New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier Monday to let him know that the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort can now be used for COVID-19 patients from New York and New Jersey.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to the intensive care unit of a London hospital after his coronavirus symptoms dramatically worsened Monday, just a day after he was admitted for what were said to be routine tests.

Johnson was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital late Sunday, 10 days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19, the first major world leader to be confirmed to have the virus.

The 55-year-old Conservative was conscious and did not require ventilation, but he was moved into intensive care in case he needs it later, his office said in a statement.

Britain has no official post of deputy prime minister, but Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been designated to take over should Johnson become incapacitated.

A grave-looking Raab said Johnson was “in safe hands” at the hospital, which is treating many virus patients.

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Wall Street leaps 7%, markets rally worldwide on virus hopes

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors grabbed hold of a few glimmers of hope Monday that the coronavirus pandemic could be slowing and sent stocks surging in a worldwide rally, capped by a 7% leap for the U.S. market.

The number of new coronavirus cases is dropping in the European hotspots of Italy and Spain. The centre of the U.S. outbreak, New York, also reported its number of daily deaths has been effectively flat for two days. Even though the U.S. is still bracing for a surge of deaths due to COVID-19 and New York’s governor said restrictions should stay in place to slow its spread, the encouraging signs were enough to launch the S&P 500 to its best day in nearly two weeks.

“We’re running on raw optimism, maybe that’s the best way to put it,” said Randy Frederick, vice-president of trading and derivatives at Schwab Center for Financial Research.

The S&P 500's gains accelerated throughout the day, and markets in Europe and Asia rose nearly as much. In another sign that investors are feeling a bit less pessimistic about the economy’s path, they sold bonds. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose for the first time in four days.

Investors have been waiting anxiously for signs that the rate of new infections may hit its peak, which would give some clarity about how long the upcoming recession will last and how deep it will be. Without that, markets have been guessing about how long businesses will remain shut down, companies will lay off workers and flights remain cancelled due to measures meant to slow the speed of the outbreak.

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Cardinal Pell welcomes court's dismissal of abuse conviction

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) —

Cardinal George Pell welcomed Australia’s highest court clearing him of child sex crimes Tuesday and said his trial had not been a referendum on the Catholic Church’s handling of the clergy abuse crisis.

Pope Francis’ former finance minister Pell had been the most senior Catholic found guilty of sexually abusing children and has spent 13 months in high-security prisons before seven High Court judges unanimously dismissed his convictions.

“I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice,” Pell said in his first public statement since he was convicted in December 2018. The ruling meant he was to be released from prison but whether it had happened was not immediately confirmed.

Pell said: “I hold no ill will toward my accuser,” a former choirboy whose testimony was at the core of the 78-year-old cleric’s prosecution.

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Congress, White House reach high for next virus bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional leaders are jolting ahead with another coronavirus rescue package as President Donald Trump indicated Monday that Americans will need more aid during the stark pandemic and economic shutdown.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said another $1 trillion is needed, beyond the just-passed $2.2 trillion effort. She wants another round of direct payments to Americans and more money for companies to keep making payroll. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said in recent days that health care should top the list, signalling his intent to get to work on a new bill.

“We’re going to take good care of our people,” Trump said Monday at his daily White House briefing. "It was not their fault.”

It's a rare sign of emerging consensus as Washington responds to the public health emergency and severe economic fallout that is ransacking communities nationwide, a crisis on par with a war effort or the Great Depression.

The contours of the package are still being debated and any votes in Congress remain a logistical conundrum. The House and Senate adjourned for most of the month, as part of strict stay-at-home orders from public health officials to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus.

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Wisconsin moves forward with election despite virus concerns

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Voters in Wisconsin will face a choice Tuesday of participating in a presidential primary election or heeding warnings from public health officials to stay away from large crowds during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hours after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers issued an order postponing the election for two months, the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday sided with Republicans who said he didn't have the authority to reschedule the race on his own. Conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court quickly followed with a ruling blocking Democratic efforts to extend absentee voting.

The decisions leave Wisconsin as the only state with an election scheduled in April that is proceeding as planned. As other states prepare to vote in May or June, Wisconsin will be closely watched for signs that fears of the coronavirus may depress turnout or cause other problems at the polls. Results won't be announced until next week.

Evers said he had no other options after the state court ruled against him.

“There’s not a Plan B. There’s not a Plan C,” Evers said earlier Monday. After the court rulings, Evers said voters will now have to “wake up and have to choose between exercising their right to vote and staying healthy and safe. ”

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Navy leader calls fired carrier captain 'naive' or 'stupid'

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an extraordinary broadside punctuated with profanity, the Navy’s top leader accused the fired commander of the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt of being “too naive or too stupid” to be in charge of an aircraft carrier. He delivered the criticism to sailors who had cheered the departing skipper last week.

Hours after the remark was widely reported in the news media, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly issued a written public apology, saying he does not believe Capt. Brett E. Crozier is stupid or naive.

“I apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused,” Modly wrote late Monday evening, referring to his speech aboard the Roosevelt on Sunday. “I also want to apologize directly to Captain Crozier, his family, and the entire crew of the Theodore Roosevelt for any pain my remarks may have caused.”

According to a person familiar with the conversation, Defence Secretary Mark Esper’s staff told Modly he must apologize. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation.

Modly had flown to Guam over the weekend and went aboard the carrier to deliver a lengthy and passionate speech. Crew members are being taken off the ship to be tested for the coronavirus. At least 173 sailors aboard the ship have tested positive, as of Monday, and about 2,000 of the 4,865 crew members had been taken off. The Navy has offered no estimate of when the ship might return to duty.

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'Modern Family' cast shares memories as series finale nears

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The group crying began after the final scene of the last episode of ABC’s “Modern Family” was taped — with the notable exception of Ed O’Neill, who plays patriarch Jay Pritchett.

“I said, ‘No tears?’” recalled his co-star, Jesse Tyler Ferguson. “He said, you know what? Things hit me in a really weird way. I’ll be getting a facial in two weeks and, all of a sudden, I’ll burst into tears.’ And the only thing I took from that is, Ed gets facials?”

After 11 seasons, the “Modern Family” actors who’ve come to know each other well — maybe minus spa treatments — compare saying goodbye to leaving high school. They marvel at the friction-free years they worked together and make plans to stay in touch, relying for now on digital group chats during the pandemic-imposed isolation.

In recent interviews, the cast and creators Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd shared favourite series moments, souvenirs they claimed, and what’s next for them. The hourlong finale airs at 9 p.m. EDT Wednesday, preceded at 8 p.m. by the retrospective special, “A Modern Farewell.”

GREAT JOB, GREAT MEMORIES

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Beloved Tigers star, Hall of Famer Al Kaline dies at 85

DETROIT (AP) — Fresh off the train and only 18 years old, Al Kaline ran into an immediate roadblock trying to join the Detroit Tigers. Called up to the majors, he couldn't get past the security guards at Briggs Stadium.

“I finally convinced them I was the guy who just signed a bonus contract for the enormous sum of $15,000. That was a lot back then,” Kaline recalled in a 1999 documentary.

His anonymity was short-lived.

Kaline, the Hall of Fame outfielder who played his entire 22-season career for Detroit, died Monday at his home in Michigan. “Mr. Tiger” — as he was affectionately known — was 85.

John Morad, a friend of Kaline’s, confirmed his death, and the Tigers did so as well in a statement. No cause of death was given.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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