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

March 28, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Trump: No quarantine, but travel advisory for NY, CT and NJ

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — President Donald Trump backed away from calling for a quarantine for coronavirus hotspots in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, instead directing Saturday night that a “strong Travel Advisory” be issued to stem the spread of the outbreak.

Vice-President Mike Pence tweeted that the CDC was urging residents of the three states “to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days.”

The notion of a quarantine had been advocated by governors, including Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who sought to halt travellers from the heavily affected areas to their states. But it drew swift criticism from the leaders of the states in question, who warned it would spark panic in a populace already suffering under the virus.

Trump announced he reached the decision after consulting with the White House task force leading the federal response and the governors of the three states. He said he had directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government.”

He added: “A quarantine will not be necessary.”

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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

President Donald Trump has backed away from calling for a quarantine for coronavirus hotspots in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, instead directing Saturday night that a “strong Travel Advisory” be issued to stem the spread of the outbreak.

Trump's talk earlier Saturday of what he called a quarantine for those hard-hit areas raised questions whether the federal government had the power to do so. Vice-President Mike Pence has since tweeted federal health officials are urging residents of the three states “to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days.”

The United States has more confirmed coronavirus infections than any other country. Cities including Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans are growing as hot spots of infection, while New York City continues to be pummeled. Nurses there are calling for more masks and other gear to safeguard themselves against the virus that has so far sickened more than 52,000 people and killed over 700 in New York state, mostly in the city. Italy's death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is the highest in the world, with 10,000 fatalities.

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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'Off the charts': Virus hot spots grow in middle America

DETROIT (AP) — The coronavirus continued its unrelenting spread across the United States with fatalities doubling in two days and authorities saying Saturday that an infant who tested positive had died. It pummeled big cities like New York, Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago, and made its way, too, into rural America as hotspots erupted in small Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens.

Elsewhere, Russia announced a full border closure while in parts of Africa, pandemic prevention measures took a violent turn, with Kenyan police firing tear gas and officers elsewhere seen on video hitting people with batons.

Worldwide infections surpassed the 660,000 mark with more than 30,000 deaths as new cases also stacked up quickly in Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. leads the world in reported cases with more than 120,000. Confirmed deaths surpassed 2,000 on Saturday, twice the number just two days before, highlighting how quickly infections are escalating. Still, five countries have higher death tolls: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy has more than 10,000 deaths, the most of any country.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday that an infant with COVID-19 died in Chicago and the cause of death is under investigation. Officials didn't release other information, including whether the child had other health issues.

“If you haven’t been paying attention, maybe this is your wake-up call," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

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What's essential? In France: pastry, wine. In US: golf, guns

The coronavirus pandemic is defining for the globe what's “essential” and what things we really can't do without, even though we might not need them for survival.

Attempting to slow the spread of the virus, authorities in many places are determining what shops and services can remain open. They're also restricting citizens from leaving their homes. Stay-at-home orders or guidance are affecting more than one-fifth of the world's population.

This has left many contemplating an existential question: What, really, is essential?

Whether it is in Asia, Europe, Africa or the United States, there's general agreement: Health care workers, law enforcement, utility workers, food production and communications are generally exempt from lockdowns.

But some lists of exempted activities reflect a national identity, or the efforts of lobbyists.

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The week that was: Stories from the coronavirus saga

The world changed remarkably this past week — yet again, just as it did the week before, as the coronavirus marched across the world. No corner of the planet was safe, it seemed: If the virus itself wasn't upending lives, it was the isolation that spread as the world locked down or the economic repercussions of the fight.

Associated Press journalists across the planet chronicled it. This guide to some of their words and images is a diary of a world at once on pause and in the middle of the biggest fight of its generation.

More than perhaps anyone, front-line medical professionals are seeing the virus' effects up close — and taking the biggest risks. This series of portraits from Italy, showing some of them up close, puts faces with the facts. And in Iran, another hard-hit area, belief in a false treatment that was poisonous killed hundreds.

New York City became a terrifying epicenter of the virus in the past week as a “cacophony of coughing” overran emergency rooms and health care workers worried they might be next. And as more was asked of Americans, an important question emerged: Are they ready for a once-in-a-generation kind of sacrifice?

In addition to covering breaking news, the AP is focusing on several overall areas in its coverage. Here's a look at some of the most significant work from those areas over the past week.

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AP FACT CHECK: Trump a rosy outlier on science of the virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — Groundless assurances keep coming from President Donald Trump, a rosy outlier on the science of the coronavirus pandemic.

It's been that way since before the virus spread widely in the United States, when he supposed that the warmer weather of April might have it soon gone, a prospect the public health authorities said was not affirmed by the research. Now he's been talking about a country revved up again by Easter, April 12, while his officials gingerly play down that possibility from the same White House platform.

A look at some recent statements during a week when the U.S. rose to No. 1 globally in the number of people infected by COVID-19 since the pandemic began:

TUNNEL VISIONS

TRUMP: “There is tremendous hope as we look forward and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” — briefing Tuesday.

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Brazil’s Bolsonaro makes life-or-death coronavirus gamble

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Even as coronavirus cases mount in Latin America’s largest nation, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has staked out the most deliberately dismissive position of any major world leader, calling the pandemic a momentary, minor problem and saying strong measures to contain it are unnecessary.

Bolsonaro says his response to the disease matches that of President Donald Trump in the U.S., but the Brazilian leader has gone further, labeling the virus as “a little flu” and saying state governors’ aggressive measures to halt the disease were crimes.

On Thursday, Bolsonaro told reporters in the capital, Brasilia, that he feels Brazilians’ natural immunity will protect the nation.

"The Brazilian needs to be studied. He doesn't catch anything. You see a guy jumping into sewage, diving in, right? Nothing happens to him. I think a lot of people were already infected in Brazil, weeks or months ago, and they already have the antibodies that help it not proliferate," Bolsonaro said. "I'm hopeful that's really a reality."

A video titled "Brazil Cannot Stop" that circulated on social media drew a rebuke from Monica de Bolle, a Brazilian senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

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Locked up: No masks, sanitizer as virus spreads behind bars

Something was wrong. The chow hall line at New York’s Rikers Island jail had halted. For three hours, the men stood and waited, without food, until a correctional officer quietly delivered the news: A civilian chef was among those who tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We was like, ‘What? The cook?’” said Corey Young, who spoke to The Associated Press last week by phone from Rikers. He and others wondered if the chef had sneezed on trays or into the food. Some men later floated the idea of a hunger strike to protest.

“I don't want to eat nothing that comes from the state,” Young said. “They are not going to take care of us properly here.”

Health experts say prisons and jails are considered a potential epicenter for America’s coronavirus pandemic. They are little cities hidden behind tall fences where many people share cells, sit elbow-to-elbow at dining areas and are herded through halls to the yard or prison industry jobs.

They say it’s nearly impossible to keep 6 feet away from anyone, adding to tensions. Medical services behind bars have long been substandard and even hand sanitizer is considered contraband in some facilities because of its alcohol content.

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North Korea test fires missiles amid worries about outbreak

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Sunday fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea, South Korea and Japan said, continuing a streak of weapons launches that suggests leader Kim Jong Un is trying to strengthen domestic support amid worries about a possible coronavirus outbreak in the country.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the projectiles flying from the North Korean eastern coastal city of Wonsan into the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Sunday morning. The projectiles flew about 230 kilometres (143 miles) at a maximum altitude of 30 kilometres (19 miles), the statement said.

The military described the launches as “very inappropriate” at a time when the world is battling the coronavirus outbreak. It urged North Korea to stop such military action.

Japan’s Defence Ministry said that presumed ballistic missiles were believed to have splashed into the sea outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone.

“Recent repeated firings of ballistic missiles by North Korea is a serious problem to the entire international community including Japan,” a ministry statement said.

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Canadian PM's wife has recovered from coronavirus illness

TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife said Saturday that she has recovered from being ill from COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus.

“I am feeling so much better,” Sophie Gregoire Trudeau said in a statement on social media. She said she received the clearance from her doctor and Ottawa Public Health.

Trudeau's office announced on March 12 that she had tested positive for the coronavirus after she fell ill upon returning from a trip to London.

The prime minister and his family have been in self isolation at home since then. He and their three children didn't show symptoms.

Justin Trudeau has been giving daily news conferences outside his residence. He said earlier Saturday that his wife was in in fine form.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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