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    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. HEALTH AND SCIENCE: THE VIRUS, AND FIGHTING IT Scientists are scrambling to find ways to protect people from the coronavirus including collecting the blood of recovered patients to harvest the antibodies they’ve already produced to fight the virus. The excitement about treating the new virus with a malaria drug now used against lupus and rheumatoid arthritis along with an antibiotic is raising hopes, but the evidence that it works is thin. With capacity also stretched thin, U.S. hospitals are rushing to find beds for a coming flood of patients, opening older closed hospitals and repurposing other medical buildings. And in the world's most densely populated cities, how do you practice social distancing? The distancing rules are affecting U.S. seniors in nuanced ways. Some are resilient and say the coronavirus crisis reminds them of World War II rationing and past disease epidemics. Others are isolated and lonely in senior homes that have imposed visitor bans. Those struggling with mental illness and substance abuse face challenges, too, from a pandemic that requires distancing and isolation. And in Europe, political leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19: simple pin-prick blood tests or nasal swabs that can determine within minutes if someone has, or previously had, the virus. The tests could reveal the true extent of the outbreak, but some scientists have challenged their accuracy. THE ECONOMY: RECESSION LOOMS The effects of the pandemic reverberated through the world economy. Businesses shut down, millions of people lost jobs, and governments scrambled to put together aid packages. Feel like you had whiplash? You’re not alone. Never before have economies screeched to such a sudden, violent stop. Some economists see a downturn that could rival the Great Depression. The U.S. reported astronomical unemployment figures, quadrupling the previous record for claims, set in 1982. Congress passed a $2.2 trillion emergency relief package, which led to examinations of the ways that might help people stay afloat and answers about the one-time checks for most Americans and enhanced unemployment benefits included in the package. President Donald Trump vowed that the U.S. economy would be open for business by mid-April, but experts warned that it’s not as easy as flipping a switch. In Europe, the crisis is already challenging farmers, with closed borders preventing seasonal workers from showing up to harvest crops. And in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, we started to get a sense of how things might look when restrictions ease, with millions of people heading back to work as authorities began lifting the last of the controls that confined them to their home. In places just starting lockdowns, people whose jobs could continue came to terms with the realities of working from home, admiring each others’ kitchen cabinets on video conference calls and dealing with interruptions from kids and pets. And in a bit of brighter news, volunteers around the world banded together to sew masks for hospital workers facing shortages of protective equipment. GOVERNMENTS: ARE THEY ACCOUNTABLE? Questions of accountability are at the core of the coronavirus saga. Who is doing what, and are they doing right? Are abuses of power taking place? Where can — and should — nations, government and businesses do better to protect people? From Washington, a $2 trillion legislative package to shore up the economy was carefully written to prevent President Donald Trump and his family from profiting from the fund. But the fine print reveals that businesses owned by Trump and his family still may be eligible for some assistance. The nation's governors are trying to get what they need from Washington, and fast. But that means navigating the disorienting politics of dealing with Trump, an unpredictable president with a love for cable news and a penchant for retribution. The Pentagon was racing to shield vital missions even as it faced urgent calls for help on the civilian front. And for prisons around the United States, plagued for years by violence, misconduct and staffing shortages, the coronavirus pandemic throws gasoline on the fire. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a scattershot policy on COVID-19 safety, and both advocates and even prison guards are calling for quick reform. INEQUALITY: THE STRUGGLING The world is getting used to a new normal of curfews, economic devastation and deep travel restrictions. For the people of Gaza, Sarajevo, Lebanon and other places that have known war and siege, this is all too familiar. Recalling life under siege in Kashmir, one man remembers: “It helped us to rediscover the family and social talk.' Overlooked people and communities everywhere are struggling with the new coronavirus. There are the Americans who’ve had their water shut off in an age when hand washing could save your life, and the smaller communities that are dealing with the crisis. Two families in San Francisco, one rich and one poor, face very different struggles as they navigate this frightening time. In this view from rural America, we meet people and communities filled with fear that, despite the natural social distancing there, the pandemic is coming. And in Europe, the mostly deserted streets of virus-riddled Spain are still populated with homeless people, as documented in a sobering photo essay. THE RIPPLE EFFECT: SOCIETY AND CULTURE As the virus spreads, life changes — for right now and, maybe in some cases, for the long term as well. People stuck at home changed entire family configurations, leading to some couples trying to figure out new challenges — and some partners and children becoming potentially more vulnerable to abuse. Other families drew closer, some by taking walks in their neighborhood, as seen in this profile of a Virginia community. More restaurant- and takeout-focused diners turned to — or turned back to — cooking. And laughter, long a go-to expression in tough times, was bursting forth in unusual, virus-specific ways. In Lebanon, COVID-19 managed to do what a string of wars could not: shut down nightlife. In France, where going out for the morning baguette is an irrepressible part of life, the push to isolate was creating new conversations about it. And an American milestone, baseball's opening day, passed without a single crack of a bat in ballparks that were empty and desolate. 'ONE GOOD THING' AP’s new daily series “One Good Thing” is designed to tell stories about the kindness of strangers and those individuals around the world who sacrifice for others during the outbreak. That means a sailmaker in Maine making masks and university veterinary departments loaning ventilators to ill-equipped hospitals. And in Berlin, “United We Stream” was dreamed up as a way to keep the moribund nightlife financially healthy while entertaining a quarantined city. GROUND GAME: INSIDE THE OUTBREAK Tune in daily to the virus edition of AP's “ Ground Game ” podcast, where host Ralph Russo taps the expertise of AP's global team covering the coronavirus story. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • President Donald Trump is raising the idea of what he's calling a quarantine involving New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, states hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. But there are questions as to whether the federal government has the power to do so. Trump says he was thinking it would just be “for a short period of time if we do it at all.” The United States has more confirmed coronavirus infections than any other country. Cities including Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans are growing as hotspots 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. New York's governor has delayed the state's presidential primary from April to June to keep people from gathering during the coronavirus pandemic. More than a dozen states have delayed some elections, in some cases including their presidential primaries. 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: — President Donald Trump says he is considering some type of an enforceable quarantine to prevent people in New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut from traveling. — The United States leads the world in of confirmed coronavirus infections, with cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans growing as hotspots. New York City continues to be pummeled by the outbreak. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delays his state's presidential primary from April until June. — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board domestic flights or intercity trains. The requirement will go into effect Monday. — Even though much of the U.S. has closed everything but food stores and medical facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic, many places down South remain open. — Census workers in the U.S. have to take a different approach to collecting information. Nonprofits and civic organizations leading census outreach efforts are pivoting to digital strategies. — Australian authorities press ahead with plans to fly 800 cruise ship passengers to Germany t his weekend. The ship, the Artania, is docked at Fremantle. — Thousands of tourists escaping cold weather in Europe are scrambling to find alternative ways to return home from Asia. — Virus prevention measures have taken a violent turn in parts of Africa as countries impose lockdowns and curfews or seal off major cities. ___ WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover. Here are the symptoms of the virus compared with the common flu. One of the best ways to prevent spread of the virus is washing your hands with soap and water. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends first washing with warm or cold water and then lathering soap for 20 seconds to get it on the backs of hands, between fingers and under fingernails before rinsing off. You should wash your phone, too. Here’s how. Misinformation overload: How to separate fact from fiction and rumor from deliberate efforts to mislead. TRACKING THE VIRUS: Drill down and zoom in at the individual county level, and you can access numbers that will show you the situation where you are, and where loved ones or people you’re worried about live. ___ IN OTHER NEWS: PRISONS AS EPICENTERS: Health experts say prisons and jails are considered a potential epicenter for America’s coronavirus pandemic. Inmates share cells and sit elbow-to-elbow at dining areas. VIRUS HITS POLICE DEPARTMENTS: More than a fifth of Detroit’s police force is quarantined; two officers have died from coronavirus and at least 39 have tested positive, including the chief of police. AP PHOTOS: The doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Another member of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet has developed symptoms of COVID-19, as the number of people with the coronovrius to die in the U.K. passed the 1,000 mark Saturday. Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said he had symptoms of the disease and was self-isolating a day after the prime minister and Britain's health secretary revealed they tested positive for the virus and were experiencing mild symptoms. Johnson. 55. is the highest-profile political leader to have contracted the virus. Jack sat beside him in the House of Commons on Wednesday before Parliament shut down until at least April 21 to reduce the risk of infections. Business Secretrary Alok Sharma said Johnson continues to show only 'mild symptoms' of coronavirus. “He continues to lead the government's effort in combating Covid-19,'' Sharma told reporters, 'This morning he held a video conference call and he will continue to lead right from the front on this. 'What this has reminded us is that no one is immune and that is precisely why we ask people to follow the Government advice in terms of staying at home where they are able to do that,'' Sharma said. Johnson has been accused of failing to follow the British government's distancing measures after he, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, 41, and the chief medical officer of England began self-isolating with symptoms Friday. The medical officer, Dr. Chris Whitty, has been advising the prime minister during the virus pandemic and not said if he was tested. The editor of the respected British medical journal The Lancet published a scathing editorial Saturday that criticized the government for doing too little, too late to protect public health and leaving the U.K.'s public health system “wholly unprepared for this pandemic.” Lancet editor Richard Horton wrote that despite numerous warnings, Britain's strategy for containing the virus failed, 'in part, because ministers didn't follow WHO's advice to 'test, test, test' every suspected case. They didn't isolate and quarantine. They didn't contact trace. “These basic principles of public health and infectious disease control were ignored, for reasons that remain opaque.” Horton said. Keith Willett, the National Health Service's strategic incident director for COVID-19, disputed the editorial’s conclusions. He said the NHS freed up 33,000 beds for virus patients - a third of all hospital capacity -and enabled 18,000 nurses and doctors to return to practice. Three new makeshift hospitals are being built. “In respect of our NHS responsibilities and response, the facts clearly speak for themselves,' Willett said. NHS employees have begun getting tested for the virus, a move seen as helping get self-isolating staff members back on the job. The issue of health workers going into self-isolation has proved to be a big problem for the NHS because workers are sometimes in that position because they have an ill family member, not because they themselves are infected. Meanwhile, authorities released photos of the inside of the ExCel center, an exhibition space which is being converted into a makeshift hospital. It will have two wards, and ultimately have a capacity of 4,000. Initially, however, it will house some 500 beds with ventilators and oxygen. The U.K. had 17,300 confirmed virus cases as of Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. British officials reported that the number of deaths increased by 260 from a day earlier, bringing the country's total for virus-related deaths to 1,019. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Salvador Calzadillas isn't worried about catching the coronavirus when he's picking mandarin oranges in the trees in central California. But he said the mere act of getting to the groves each day puts him and his wife, also a farmworker, at risk, and there’s nothing they can do to change that. Farmworkers, after all, can't work from home. Calzadillas and his wife are among half a dozen workers who crowd into a car or van to get to the groves a 40-minute drive away. There, they are huddled in a group to get daily instructions — without regard for social distancing, he said. “There’s been no changes so far, everything is the same,” Calzadillas said. “Many of my co-workers say it’s like we’re immortal, we’re working just the same. There’s no prevention, and we keep working.” The 31-year-old is one of many workers on farms operating as essential businesses in the heart of California's farm-rich Central Valley, supplying food to much of the United States even as schools, restaurants and stores have closed down because of the virus. More than a third of the country's vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts are grown in California, whose farms and ranches brought in nearly $50 billion in 2018, according to the state Department of Agriculture. Agriculture groups and union leaders are urging employers to take extra precautions to prevent the outbreak from spreading among California's farmworkers, who are already in short supply. Workers getting sidelined by illness could jeopardize crop yields and disrupt the food supply. Some farms are heeding the call, union officials and growers say. But it can be difficult to separate workers by 6 feet (2 meters) as recommended because of the way certain crops are grown, said Dave Puglia, president of Western Growers, a group representing family farmers in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. And efficiency is also critical, he said, with farmers facing pressure to restock grocery shelves. “You would have to stagger the workers who are harvesting,” Puglia said. “That is a very inefficient and a very, very costly way to operate, and most farmers wouldn't be able to do it. They would be losing way too much money.” Western Growers said many members have added sanitation stations in the fields and required hand-washing before and after work as well as spaced out workers in packing facilities. United Farm Workers is using the moment to push for longstanding requests, including removing the need for a doctor's note and other hurdles to getting sick pay. In a letter to the agriculture industry, the union said workers should be able to wash their hands frequently and be encouraged to stay home if they are sick. 'What we're finding is that most growers are not communicating with their employees to even share the basics: how to practice best practices (like) washing your hands' and keeping distance from others, said Armando Elenes, secretary treasurer at United Farm Workers, which represents up to 27,000 seasonal workers. Joe Pezzini, president of vegetable grower Ocean Mist Farms, said his office and sales staff are working remotely wherever possible. He said the company, which operates in California's Coachella Valley and Central Coast, had workers use gloves and sanitized equipment to ensure food safety long before the virus appeared. “One of the biggest changes is just in the training and education,” he said, including encouraging workers to keep a safe distance from each other, even on breaks. “Partly for personal safety, but it’s also for, ‘Hey, we’re feeding the nation. We’re creating food the nation needs right now.’” The coronavirus crisis has drawn fresh attention to farmers' critical role, with residents finding some supermarket shelves cleaned out by people stocking up and then hunkering down in their homes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the threat of contracting COVID-19 from food or food packaging is low. Farmers and workers are mostly concerned about passing it to each other. For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. As of Friday, more than 90 people have died of the virus in California and over 4,600 have tested positive, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Most cases are in the San Francisco Bay Area and around Los Angeles. Leti Martinez, who picks mandarin oranges, said her employer told her little about the virus except to explain that the farm is allowed to keep operating. The 31-year-old said she wears gloves to prevent her hands from getting cut and wraps a cloth around her face to keep out the dust. But she is worried about her commute with other workers and said they sometimes face a shortage of running water in the bathrooms once they’re there. Another concern is conditions for foreign workers in the U.S. on temporary agricultural visas, known as H-2As. They often live in close quarters, sometimes with bunk-style beds or in motels provided by their employers, and commute together in vans and buses. A coalition of farmworker advocates has asked U.S. officials to require employers to provide at least 6 feet between beds for such workers and that they be tested for the virus before entering the country. A Labor Department spokesman said this week that there were no announcements about changed working conditions for H-2A workers. Those workers account for a small percentage of farm labor overall but are significant in Colorado, which has a shorter growing season, and for certain crops, like berries, said Puglia of Western Growers. To address conditions at the thousands of farms that the California Farm Bureau Federation represents, its president, Jamie Johansson, said he has told farms to have workers go out in smaller groups “when possible.” His organization also says hand-washing on farms is routine for food safety reasons. Some small farms are taking extra measures. Heringer Estates, a 152-year-old family-owned vineyard and winery in Clarksburg, has 30 workers growing its grapes. Steve Heringer said workers now have more hand sanitizer and already use their own gloves for field work. “If they're working in rows, (we) have them working back to back” to maximize distance, he said. “It's had pretty little impact on the vineyard side, but we have a heightened awareness.” ___ Taxin reported from Orange County, California.
  • In tiny Munfordville, Kentucky, the closure of the public library has cut people off from a computer used only for filling out census forms online. In Minneapolis, a concert promoting the once-a-decade count is now virtual. In Orlando, Florida, advocates called off knocking on doors in a neighborhood filled with new residents from Puerto Rico. Across the U.S., the coronavirus has waylaid efforts to get as many people as possible to participate in the count, which determines how much federal money goes to communities. The outbreak and subsequent orders by states and cities to stay home and avoid other people came just as the census ramped up for most Americans two weeks ago. Thousands of advocates, officials and others who spent years planning for the U.S. government's largest peacetime mobilization are scrambling to come up with contingency plans for pulling it off amid a pandemic. “Right now, everybody is faced with figuring out how to outreach to our communities not being face to face,” said Jennifer Chau, leader of a coalition of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander organizations in Phoenix that passed out 300 reusable boba tea cartons in January to anyone who signed a card pledging to complete their census form. Nonprofits and civic organizations leading census outreach efforts are pivoting to digital strategies. Texting campaigns, webinars, social media and phone calls are replacing door-knocking, rallies and face-to-face conversations. But it comes at a cost: Experts say connecting with trusted community leaders in person is the best way to reach people in hard-to-count groups that may be wary of the federal government. 'It's making it exponentially more difficult to get the kind of accurate count that is needed for this census. There's no sugarcoating it. It's really tough,' said Arturo Vargas, CEO of NALEO Educational Fund, a Latino advocacy group. “Thank goodness for technology. We wouldn't be able to do what we're doing without it.” Although the U.S. Census Bureau is spending $500 million on outreach efforts, including advertising, it's relying on more than 300,000 nonprofits, businesses, local governments and civic groups to encourage participation in their communities. The groups are recalibrating their messaging to address the upheaval in people's lives, including job losses and stay-at-home orders, and to focus on how census numbers help determine the distribution of federal aid or medical supplies their communities may get during the coronavirus crisis. The groups also are emphasizing that if people answer the questionnaire online, by phone or by mail now, they can avoid having a census taker sent to their house to ask them questions come late spring and summer. “We want people to understand that even though we have this health emergency going on, there's a connection to the census with how the distribution of funds to states is all going to rest on how many people there are in a community,” Minnesota's demographer Susan Brower said. The 2020 census will help determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, as well as the distribution of some $1.5 trillion in federal spending. The coronavirus has forced the U.S. Census Bureau to delay the start of tallies of homeless people and other transient populations such as racetrack workers, college students, prisoners and nursing home residents. It has pushed back the deadline for wrapping up the count by two weeks, to mid-August. “Of all of our worst nightmares of things that could have gone wrong with the census, we did not anticipate this set of actions,' said Al Fontenot of the Census Bureau. “But our staff has been extremely resilient about looking for solutions.' On the plus side, more people at home now have time to answer the questionnaire, and the deadline extension offers chances to reach out to more people, Brower said. In some places, outreach done well before the virus spread in the U.S. is paying off, but organizers aren't sure it will last. For the first week that people could start answering the 2020 questionnaire, New York City — which had dedicated $40 million to outreach efforts — was well ahead of its 2010 pace of self-responses. But now it's the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak. The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, including fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. More than 30% of U.S. residents already had answered the census questionnaire as of Friday. Most of the temporary census takers hired by the government won't be sent out until May to knock on the doors of homes where people haven't yet responded. 'We are trending much better than 10 years ago, even in this craziness,' said Sheena Wright, president and CEO of United Way of New York City. That's despite events meant to generate participation getting canceled or delayed. Pittsburgh had commissioned Jasmine Cho, who uses cookie decorating to highlight Asian American and social justice issues, to lead decorating workshops with a census theme. An October session drew almost 50 people and grabbed attention, but workshops planned for March and April were canceled. “I'm hopeful that under the current quarantine measures, that people will actually pay more attention to their census mailings and take the time to complete it,” Cho said. The self-described “cookie activist” and the city are in talks to make an online instructional video about census-themed cookie decorating. San Francisco was supposed to ring in Census Day on April 1 with one of its famous cable cars rolling through iconic neighborhoods, but that became a casualty of COVID-19. Money from a $3.5 million budget earmarked for food and venues for census form-filling parties and town halls in the Bay Area will now go toward video marketing and printed materials, according to Stephanie Kim of the United Way Bay Area. “It's been hard to have to pivot on all the activities and events they were planning for for a long time,” Kim said. “So many organizations had planned for big community get-togethers.” ___ Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP. Tang reported from Phoenix and is a member of The Associated Press’ race and ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ttangAP.
  • China sent a plane loaded with medical personnel and supplies Saturday to help Pakistan fight the spread of the coronavirus in one of the world's most populous nations. Across the Middle East and elsewhere, the outbreak has raised concerns that health systems strapped by multiple wars, refugee crises and unstable economies won't be able to handle a growing numbers in cases. Iran is battling the worst outbreak in the region and state TV said Saturday another 139 people had died from the virus. That pushed the total fatalities in Iran to 2,517 amid 35,408 confirmed cases. China has sought to portray itself as a global leader in the fight against the outbreak, which began a few months ago in its Wuhan province. The plane carrying aid to Pakistan was met at the capital's airport Saturday by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureishi, who greeted the arriving Chinese doctors and officials. China had previously sent ventilators and masks to Pakistan, a key link in China's ambitious multi-billion-dollar One Road Project linking south and central Asia with China. China is also a key military supplier for nuclear-armed Pakistan, having supplied the country with missiles capable of carrying atomic weapons. Pakistan, with a population of 220 million, has 1,408 confirmed cases of the virus, including 11 deaths from the illness it causes, COVID-19. Most of the infected people there were travelers returning from neighboring Iran. Most people infected by the virus only experience mild symptoms, such as fever and cough, and recover within a few weeks. But the virus can cause severe respiratory illness and death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health problems. Pakistan has closed its borders with both Iran and Afghanistan, but has come under widespread criticism for its initial lax response to the virus. Even as the pandemic spread to the country, Pakistani authorities allowed tens of thousands of Islamic clerics from around the world to congregate for three days outside the eastern city of Lahore. Some 200 of the clerics are now quarantined at the site of the gathering, a sprawling compound belonging to an Islamic missionaries group, Tableeghi Jamaat. Many of the visiting clerics at the conference returned to their home countries, some of them carrying the coronavirus. The first two reported cases in the Gaza Strip attended the three-day gathering in Pakistan, and are now under quarantine in Gaza. Other linked cases have emerged elsewhere in the Middle East and Central Asia. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has refused to impose a countrywide lockdown saying it would devastate the country's poor, but ordered non-essential businesses closed, including restaurants, money changers and wedding halls. As of Saturday, the government still had not ordered mosques closed nationwide, instead relying on recommendations to worshippers not to gather for weekly Friday prayers. Pakistani officials are reluctant to defy local hard-line Islamic leaders, who can whip up mobs to protest any perceived insults to religion. Some of these clerics have taken to social media to urge the faithful to fill the mosques, saying it is their religious obligation. Pakistan's federal health authorities say the outbreak is so far concentrated in Punjab province, with 490 confirmed cases there, and Sindh province, which has 457 confirmed infections. Other cases are spread throughout several other regions, including the capital, Islamabad. Health authorities in the country's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province reported one additional death Saturday, a woman in the district of Dir. Ajmal Wazir, a spokesman for the provincial government, said the woman fell sick after returning from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, before dying in a government hospital where she tested positive for the coronavirus. In Iran, officials have repeatedly insisted they have the outbreak under control, despite concerns it could overwhelm the country's health facilities. Iran's government has faced widespread criticism for not acting faster to contain the virus. Only in recent days have authorities ordered nonessential businesses to close and banned travel between cities — long after other nations in the region imposed sweeping lockdowns. In Egypt the country's chief prosecutor warned that anyone convicted of spreading “fake news and rumors” about the coronavirus could be fined or sentenced to up to five years in prison. Public prosecutor Hamada el-Sawy's statement came just days after Egypt expelled a correspondent for The Guardian newspaper over a report citing a study that challenged the official count of coronavirus cases in the Arab world’s most populous country. Egypt's Health Ministry has confirmed 576 cases of the virus and reported six additional fatalities, bringing the number of dead to 36. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland on Saturday urged the country's warring groups to suspend fighting in and around the capital, Tripoli, as “an absolute necessity' to allow public health officials across the divided country to contain the epidemic. Libya's health system is near the point of collapse after years of civil war. It has so far reported three confirmed cases of coronavirus. Authorities in Gaza, which has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since the Hamas militant group seized power there in 2007, have reported nine confirmed cases. Gaza's health care infrastructure has been severely eroded by years of conflict and isolation. A major outbreak in the territory, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians, could be extremely difficult to contain. Organizers of weekly demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel frontier said they would cancel a rally that was scheduled for next week to abide by guidelines to avoid the spread of the virus. Khaled al-Batsh, head of the Great March of Return committee, said the rally was to mark the second anniversary of the protest movement. ___ Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb in Beirut, Fares Akram in Gaza and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.
  • As the United States led the world with confirmed coronavirus cases, cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans grew as hotspots Saturday, while the virus continued to pummel New York City and made its way into rural America. Elsewhere, Russia said its borders would be fully closed as of Monday, 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 650,000 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 115,000, but five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy alone now has 10,023 deaths, the most of any country. New York remained the worst-hit U.S. city. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said defeating the virus will take “weeks and weeks and weeks.” The U.N. donated 250,000 face masks to the city and Cuomo delayed the state's presidential primary from April 28 to June 23. But Cuomo said he knew nothing of President Donald Trump's suggestion of some kind of quarantine for New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, all hit hard by the coronavirus. The federal government generally does not have the power to impose such restrictions on states. Trump made the comments on his way to Norfolk, Virginia, to see off a U.S. Navy medical ship en route to New York City to help with the response there. Cases also have been rising rapidly in Detroit, where poverty and poor health have been problems for years. The number of infections surged to 1,381, with 31 deaths, as of noon Saturday. “At this time, the trajectory of Detroit is unfortunately even more steep than that of New York,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, the medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at the Detroit Medical Center. “This is off the charts,” she said. Chopra said many patients have ailments like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. She also acknowledged that in Detroit, one of the nation's largest African American cities, there is a distrust among some in the community of the medical system and government due to systemic racism. 'In Detroit, we are seeing a lot of patients that are presenting to us with severe disease, rather than minor disease,' said Chopra, who worried about a “tsunami” of patients. Louisiana has surpassed 3,300 infections, with 137 dead from COVID-19, according to the health department. Gov. John Bel Edwards said the region was on track to run out of ventilators by the first week of April. Officials urged residents and businesses to donate protective gear such as masks, gloves and face shields at New Orleans' fire stations. Worried that people would flee New Orleans, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered anyone arriving from Louisiana to self-quarantine. He said the Florida Highway Patrol and sheriff’s deputies will set up checkpoints to screen cars from Louisiana. Cases in Chicago and suburban Cook County accounted for about three-fourths of Illinois' 3,026 total as of Friday. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed popular lakeshore parks after people failed to practice social distancing, despite a statewide shelter-at-home order. Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan, providing money for the outbreak. He has done the same for New York, Louisiana and Illinois. The governor of Kansas also issued a stay-at-home order to begin Monday, as the virus takes hold in more rural areas, where doctors worry about the lack of ICU beds. The virus is straining health systems in Italy, Spain and France. Lockdowns of varying degrees have been introduced across Europe, nearly emptying streets in normally bustling cities. Germany has fewer deaths than some neighboring countries but still closed nonessential shops and banned public gatherings of more than two people until April 20. But it still had its share of grim news, with 12 residents of a nursing home in the northern town of Wolfsburg dying since Monday after being infected, news agency dpa reported. As Italy's deaths topped 10,000, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte told the nation Saturday night that he has signed a decree freeing 400 million euros ($440 million) for coupons and packages of food aid, to be delivered door-to-door if necessary. “People are suffering psychologically. They’re not used to staying in their homes. But they are also suffering economically,” Conte said. Italy has almost completed a three-week lockdown, with no end in sight. In Spain, where stay-at-home restrictions have been in place for nearly two weeks, the death toll rose to 5,812. Another 8,000 confirmed infections pushed that count above 72,000 cases. But Spain's director of emergencies, Fernando Simón, saw hope in that the rate of infection is slowing and figures “indicate that the outbreak is stabilizing and may be reaching its peak in some areas.” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, meanwhile, called for a more vigorous response from the European Union. Spain, Italy, France and six other EU members have asked the union to share the burden of European debt, dubbed “coronabonds” in the media, to help fight the virus. But the idea has met resistance from other members, led by Germany and the Netherlands. “It is the most difficult moment for the EU since its foundation and it has to be ready to rise to the challenge,” Sánchez said. “ As the epicenter has shifted westward, the situation has calmed in China, where some restrictions have been lifted. Some subway service was restored in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December, after the city had its virus risk evaluation reduced from high to medium. Five districts of the city of 11 million people had other travel restrictions loosened after their risk factor was reduced to low. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and lead to death. More than 135,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins. Countries are still trying to bring home citizens stranded abroad. On Saturday, 174 foreign tourists and four Nepali nationals in the foothills of Mount Everest were flown out days after being stranded at the only airstrip serving the world's highest mountain. Indian authorities sent buses to the outskirts of New Delhi to meet an exodus of migrant workers desperately trying to reach their home villages amid the world's largest lockdown, ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday that effectively put millions out of work. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered his country's borders fully closed as of Monday. International passenger flights were halted Friday. The order exempts diplomats as well as residents of the Kaliningrad region who must cross through another country to enter the rest of Russia. Trump invoked the Defense Production Act on Friday, ordering General Motors to begin manufacturing ventilators. He also signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package approved by Congress that will send checks to millions of Americans, boost unemployment benefits, help businesses and toss a life preserver to an overwhelmed health care system. Dr. John Brooks of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Americans remained “in the acceleration phase” of the pandemic. 'There is no geographic part of the United States that is spared from this,' he said. The first death was reported Friday in the rural Michigan town of Cadillac, while numbers grew in Detroit, a four-hour drive to the south. Detroit's homeless population is especially vulnerable, officials said. 'If any of these individuals got infected, it would be very easy to transmit it to other people without knowing,' said Chad Audi, executive director of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, adding he has since opened two new facilities to accommodate an increase in clients and implemented new safety precautions. “But in no circumstances will we close our doors because these individuals don't have any place to go. It's very important to us.” ___ Irvine reported from Chicago. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • The surge of coronavirus cases in California that health officials have warned was coming has arrived and will worsen, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday, while the mayor of Los Angeles warned that by early next week his city could see the kind of crush that has crippled New York. “We are now seeing the spike that we were anticipating,” Newsom declared while standing in front of the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship Mercy that arrived in the Port of Los Angeles. It will take non-virus patients to free up rooms at hospitals for infection cases. Newsom said California's cases grew 26% in one day even with the results of 65,000 tests still pending. Johns Hopkins University tallied more than 4,700 California cases Friday, with at least 97 deaths. After a slow start, testing has accelerated rapidly, from about 27,000 on Tuesday to 88,000 on Friday. In Los Angeles County — the nation's most populous with more than 10 million residents — there were 678 new cases in the past two days for a total of nearly 1,500. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said if the trend continues, the city's cases could double every two days. That would put Los Angeles on par with New York City's outbreak in five days. “We will be where they are,' Garcetti said. “We will have doctors making excruciating decisions. We will be trying to figure out what we do with that surge, how to get ventilators, where to find beds.' New York City has more than 26,000 cases and at least 366 deaths. Newsom has said the state could need 50,000 additional hospital beds. Since the crisis started. the state's 416 hospitals have been able to find space for 30,000 more patients in their facilities. State and local officials have scrambled to find other locations. Newsom obtained emergency funding from the state Legislature to lease room for more than 500 patients at two hospitals, one in the San Francisco Bay Area that is bankrupt and a Los Angeles facility that closed in January. Beyond the Mercy hospital ship, the military is providing eight field hospitals with room for 2,000 patients. The massive Los Angeles Convention Center also is being readied to serve as a location for patients. Meantime, state officials are trying to find 10,000 ventilators, and so far have 4,095. Newsom said the only federal help has been 130 ventilators sent to Los Angeles. It was a subtle, and rare, criticism from Newsom of the Trump administration during the crisis. While the Democratic governor has often sparred with Trump over policies, he has praised the Republican president for his response to the virus. In fact, Newsom's comments now are part of a Trump campaign ad titled “Hope.' At his news conference Friday, Newsom said it's “a time for partnership, not partisanship. As I said, an open hand, not a clenched fist. ... I'm candidly grateful for his leadership for the state of California.” Newsom and Garcetti continued to urge people to stay home and maintain social distancing when out on essential errands With sunny weather in the forecast, Los Angeles County ordered a three-week closure of public trails, beaches, piers, beach bike paths and beach access points. The order came after hordes of people visited beaches last weekend, the first under expanded closure orders. San Diego County and other local governments have similar restrictions. Garcetti said the city was prepared to step up its enforcement, including shutting off power to nonessential businesses that refuse to close. Garcetti added: “99.99 percent of this can be done without any criminal penalty, but we are prepared if anybody is an outlier.' In San Francisco, where nearly 300 people have tested positive and at least three have died, Mayor London Breed pleaded with people to stay inside. The National Park Service has closed parking lots to popular beaches and open fields. Breed asked people to walk to their neighborhood park if they need fresh air, but not to get in their cars to drive to the beach. “We know what happened last weekend,” she said. “Sadly, we saw a number of areas in our city that were just jam-packed, and we also saw people who were playing things like volleyball and basketball and other sports” that violate orders for people to stay apart from others. Meanwhile, Marin County in the San Francisco Bay Area reported its first death related to the virus: a man in his 70s who had been a passenger aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship during a February voyage to Mexico. The man died Friday after being hospitalized for nearly three weeks, county health officials said. Federal officials announced Thursday that two men who had traveled on the ship had died. Thousands of passengers on the vessel were quarantined earlier this month after a passenger from a previous trip died and nearly two dozen passengers and crew tesed positive for the virus. Two a former passenger on a previous trip died of the disease. The virus has had a crippling impact on the economy. Nationwide, more than 3.3 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. About a third of those claims are in California, where thousands of businesses have been forced to close. On Wednesday, five of the nation's largest banks plus hundreds of credit unions and state-chartered banks agreed to defer mortgage payments for people affected by the virus. Newsom took that one step further on Friday by ordering a ban on all evictions for renters through May 31. The order takes effect for rents due on April 1. And it only applies to tenants who are not already behind on their payments. To be eligible, renters must notify their landlords in writing up to seven days after rent is due. Tenants must be able to document why they cannot pay, which include termination notices, payroll checks, medical bills or “signed letters or statements form an employer or supervisor explaining the tenant's changed financial circumstances.' ___ Beam reported from Sacramento, California. Associated Press reporters Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento and Janie Har in San Francisco contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump issued an order Friday that seeks to force General Motors to produce ventilators for coronavirus patients under the Defense Production Act. Trump said negotiations with General Motors had been productive, “but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course.” Trump, who had previously been reluctant to use the act to force businesses to contribute to the coronavirus fight, said “GM was wasting time” and that his actions will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives. GM is among the farthest along of U.S. companies trying to repurpose factories to build ventilators. It is working with Ventec Life Systems, a small Seattle-area ventilator maker, to increase the company's production and GM will use its auto electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana to make the machines. Experts say that no matter how many ventilators companies can crank out, it may not be enough to cover the entire need, and it may not come in time to help areas now being hit hard with critical virus cases. U.S. hospitals now have about 65,000 ventilators fully capable of treating severe coronavirus patients. They could cobble together about 170,000, including some simpler versions that won't work in all cases, said Dr. Lewis Rubinson, chief medical officer at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey and lead author of a 2010 medical journal article on the matter. Some 960,000 people in the U.S. will need to be on ventilators at one point or another during the crisis, according to an estimate made in February by Dr. James Lawler, an associate professor and infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Rubinson said it’s unlikely the U.S. would need that many ventilators at the same time, estimating it will need more like 300,000 fairly quickly. If social distancing works, people will get sick at different times, allowing hospitals to use ventilators on multiple patients. In the most severe cases, the coronavirus damages healthy tissue in the lungs, making it hard for them to deliver oxygen to the blood. Pneumonia can develop, along with a more severe and potentially deadly condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome, which can damage other organs. GM said Friday it could build 10,000 ventilators per month starting in April with potential to make even more. After Trump invoked the act, GM said in a statement that it has been working around the clock for more than a week with Ventec and parts suppliers to build more ventilators. The company said its commitment to build Ventec’s ventilators “has never wavered.” Trump said from the Oval Office Friday afternoon that the government thought it had a deal for 40,000 ventilators but GM cut the number to 6,000 and talked about a higher price than previously discussed. “We didn't want to play games with them,' he said later that evening during his daily briefing, adding that GM now agrees with him and he may be able to end the enforcement of the act. Trump also said wasn't happy with GM for closing its factory in Lordstown, Ohio. “I didn't go into it with a very favorable view,” he said. Peter Navarro, White House trade adviser, said officials worked with more than 10 companies to get ventilators, including Ford and General Electric, and nearly all have been cooperative. But the government had problems with GM and Ventec, he said. “We cannot afford to lose a single day,” he said. GM asserts that it is offering resources to Ventec “at cost.” Ventec, not GM, is talking with the government, and the only changes Ventec has made have been at the government's request, said Chris Brooks, the company's chief strategy officer. GM would merely be a contract manufacturer for Ventec, he said. Ventec ventilators, which are portable and can handle intensive care patients, cost about $18,000 each, Brooks said. That's much cheaper than the more sophisticated ventilators used by hospitals that can cost up to $50,000, he said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has made multiple requests since Sunday for estimates of how many ventilators it can build at what price, and has not settled on any numbers, according to Brooks. That could slow Ventec's efforts to ramp up production because it doesn't know how many breathing machines it must build, he said. Trump invoked the Defense Production Act soon after a series of tweets earlier Friday attacking GM and CEO Mary Barra. The president also cajoled Ford to build ventilators fast. Ford responded that it's “pulling out all the stops.” It was a dramatic shift in tone from the night before, when the president told Fox News that pleas by hospitals for more ventilators are exaggerated. “I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” he said. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,' Trump continued. 'You know, you’re going to major hospitals sometimes, they'll have two ventilators. And now, all of a sudden, they're saying, ‘can we order 30,000 ventilators?’” When Trump was asked during Friday's briefing why he invoked the act if the ventilators won't be needed, he said he thought there is a good chance there'll be enough and that if there ends up being a surplus, the ventilators could be sent to other countries. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pleading for 30,000 more ventilators to handle an expected surge in critical virus patients during the next three weeks. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, said her state is facing a critical need for ventilators. Michigan has gone from three coronavirus deaths a week ago to a total of 92 on Friday. “I think we need to let the scientists and the doctors tell us what we need and not people without medical degrees or the background,” she said. __ Kevin Freking in Washington and David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this story.
  • Kathy Payne has a routine: She wipes down the trays holding the mail she’s about to deliver. She puts on gloves to sort the letters and packages, then a new pair when she climbs into her vehicle. As she fills people’s mailboxes throughout the day, she constantly cleans her steering wheel, fearing the coronavirus. “We don’t know where they come from, who's touched them,' she said of the envelopes. “It’s scary not knowing.' Payne, a postal carrier for 30 years in Rockwood, Tennessee, is among those making deliveries who are trying to protect themselves from the virus, whether it's no longer requiring signatures for packages or knocking on doors instead of ringing the doorbell. Health experts say the risks are very low that COVID-19 will remain on envelopes or packages and infect anyone who handles them. They say, however, to avoid touching your face and wash your hands after handling any deliveries, which have become more important as Americans stay home to reduce the spread of the virus. Payne, who delivers to more than 800 mailboxes a day in a town about 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Chattanooga, said her post office constantly wipes down door handles and has provided plenty of gloves. But “our biggest thing is the post office can’t get hand sanitizer, can’t get any supplies,” she said. That sent one co-worker to a Walmart to stock up on 12 canisters of sanitizing wipes, Payne said. Without the Postal Service providing much disinfectant, Payne brings a can of Lysol to spray down the surfaces she touches. Tests led by U.S. government scientists found that the virus can live on cardboard for up to a day, but that was in a controlled lab situation and does not reflect what might happen in daily life or with other materials, such as envelopes, said Julie Fischer, a microbiologist at Georgetown University's global health security research center. In the real world, packages and envelopes face varying weather conditions that affect how long the virus can live on them, she said. Even if the virus was on the mail, it would need to make its way to your mouth or nose to cause infection. 'As long as you wash your hands thoroughly and regularly after opening it and don't touch your nose and mouth ... that mail itself, that package, poses very little risk,' Fischer said. But 'postal workers are at risk because they are coming into contact with each other and the public,' she said. 'The biggest risk is still exposure to an infected person.' For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The U.S. Postal Service is keeping post offices open but ensuring customers stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart. It also is requiring appointments for passport applications. The agency said it is following guidance from public health experts, although there is no indication that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail. Shipping giants FedEx and United Parcel Service have stopped requiring signatures for packages. The National Association of Letter Carriers has advised its union members to avoid ringing doorbells and instead knock on doors — avoiding areas likely to have been touched by someone else — and to practice social distancing. In a letter to its members Wednesday, union president Frederic Rolando said 51 postal employees had tested positive for COVID-19 so far and that nearly 2,000 were in quarantine. One postal carrier, a 50-year-old from New York, died of complications related to the virus, though it was not clear if he was infected on the job. In hard-hit Italy, the postal service has scaled back services that require face-to-face interaction with customers but continues to deliver mail during the country's lockdown. Many post offices have reduced their opening hours or shut down temporarily to reduce the risk of the virus spreading among customers and staff. In the U.S., a Phoenix resident was so concerned about her mail carrier that she taped a bag with plastic gloves and a face mask to her mailbox, with a note saying, “Thank you for working!” B. Jefferson Bolender said she saw him wearing a hat, sunglasses and a large bandanna over his face as well as work gloves. 'And I was thinking he’s worried about having some protection, and then when I saw the work gloves, I thought, ‘Oh no,'” Bolender said.

News

  • With more states imposing “safer at home” and quarantine orders because of the coronavirus, families and friends are searching for ways to stay connected. Sure, the telephone works, but more people are using video apps for face-to-face contact. It’s a good way for older citizens to connect with grandchildren without worrying about coming in contact. While hugs may be precious, people are becoming more aware of staying isolated. There are plenty of ways to connect. Here is a look at 12 video-chatting applications: Zoom: This app appears to be geared toward business, but families can use Zoom too. Users initiating a meeting are taken to a virtual room that looks like a table in a conference room. Personal groups of up to 100 people can meet online for free. Business options include packages for sale that allow up to 1,000 participants. Facebook Live: Viewers can connect in real-time from their cellphones, computers and even through their television set. FaceTime: This app, though the Apple store, allows users to make video and audio calls to groups of up to 32 people. FaceTime is available on Apple products including iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Facebook Messenger: Similar to FaceTime, Messenger allows free video calling around the world for individuals or groups of up to six. It can be used on cellphones, tablets and computers. Skype: This app has been around for a while. Skype can accommodate groups of up to 50 people worldwide, It can be used on computers, mobile devices, XBox One and even smartwatches. WhatsApp: More than 2 billion users take advantage of the WhatsApp. The mobile app works on Android and iOS platforms, making it a good choice for people with friends owning diverse types of devices. The free app allows groups of up to four users per session. Tango: You know the old phrase. It takes two to Tango, and this app restricts video contact to two people. This free app is good but only two! The free app is good for video calling one other person at a time. You can also make voice calls, send messages and play games using Tango. Google Hangouts: This app is free in its basic form. Google Hangouts allows up to 10 participants at a time. You can even video chat through your Gmail accounts. Instagram: Up to six people can video chat at once via Instagram. Houseparty: This video chat app is owned by Epic Games, which developed Fortnite. Houseparty allows people to play video games or test trivia skills through its interface. It is available through Android, iOS, MacOs and Chrome. Snapchat: With Chat 2.0, Snapchat users can use a full, featured video chat service. Snapchat is free to use, but can chew up a lot of data time. It is recommended to connect to a wireless network before making your call. Viber: The Viber app is good for international calls and one-on-one video calls. Calls between Viber users are free, but a fee will apply for calling people without the app.
  • Tom Coburn, a former U.S. senator from Oklahoma known as a conservative political maverick, died after a battle with prostate cancer, according to The Associated Press. He was 72. Coburn retired from the Senate in 2015 after being diagnosed with cancer. He served two terms from 2005 to 2015, KOKI reported. “Oklahoma has lost a tremendous leader, and I lost a great friend today,' U.S. Sen. James Lankford said in a statement. “Dr. Coburn was an inspiration to many in our state and our nation. He was unwavering in his conservative values, but he had deep and meaningful friendships with people from all political and personal backgrounds. He was truly respected by people on both sides of the aisle.” In the Senate, Coburn was the ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and also served on the committees on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and Intelligence. From 1995 to 2001, Coburn represented Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. A family physician, Coburn was a member of the Committee on Commerce, where he sat on the subcommittees on Health and Environment as vice-chairman, Energy & Power, and Oversight and Investigations. Coburn was also selected co-chair of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in 2001. Services for Coburn have not been announced, KOKI reported.
  • Florida senior citizens who live in a downtown Orlando high-rise flickered the lights of their apartments Friday in a show of support for the doctors and nurses who are trying to thwart the spread of the coronavirus. Residents of Westminster Towers flickered their apartment lights at 9 p.m. to show support for the medical professionals working at Orlando Health. “Tonight, we flashed all of our lights to show our thanks to the hero health care workers at Orlando Regional Medical Center as they work hard to treat the sick and keep us safe from COVID-19,” Westminster Towers said on Facebook. “Thank you.” The display could be seen from the hospital campus, which is near the apartment building. “Thank you (Westminster Towers) for lighting up the night and our hearts,” the hospital network said on Facebook. “We’re all in this together.”
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia climbed to 2,366 Saturday as the state’s death toll reached 69. Since Friday evening, the confirmed number of Georgians who have died as a result of COVID-19 increased by four, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health.  » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia Health officials also confirmed an additional 168 cases since the 7 p.m. update. Of Georgia’s overall cases, 617 people remain hospitalized, a rate of about 26%, according to the state’s noon figures.  Fulton County still has the most cases with 373, followed by DeKalb with 240, Dougherty County with 205, and Cobb with 181.  As of Monday, the number of confirmed cases across the state was fewer than 1,000 Since Friday evening, Fulton has 26 new cases, while DeKalb has 21 more and 18 more people tested positive in Cobb. Four counties also reported their first cases, including Murray, Walton, Jenkins and Pike.  » MORE: City under siege: Coronavirus exacts heavy toll in Albany A total of 11,051 tests have been conducted so far in Georgia. About 21.4% of those returned positive results. On Friday afternoon, the DPH started releasing data on where people died. Dougherty County leads the count with 13 deaths, followed by Fulton with 12, Cobb County with eight, and Lee County with five. About 2.9% of Georgians who have tested positive for the highly contagious disease have died. » DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks. As numbers spike across the state, Gov. Brian Kemp is urging Georgians to stay home and practice social distancing. At a town hall broadcast Thursday evening, Kemp told residents to heed directives to avoid more restrictive measures, such as a statewide stay-at-home mandate. » RELATED: Kemp urges Georgians to heed virus warnings but balks at drastic steps Bars and nightclubs remain closed across the state, many public gatherings are banned, and the elderly and medically fragile are ordered to shelter in place. » PHOTOS: Metro Atlanta adjusts to shifts in daily life amid coronavirus crisis Many metro Atlanta cities and counties have issued their own stay-at-home orders to residents, shutting down nonessential businesses and imposing curfews. » MORE: DeKalb County issues stay-at-home order Speaking on CNN Saturday morning, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said metro Atlanta’s hospitals are already nearing capacity.  “...We are a large urban city in an even larger metropolitan area, so on a good day our hospitals and our ICU beds are at a premium,” she said. “What people have to realize is strokes don’t stop, diabetes and these things that send people into our emergency rooms, these things continue. It’s stressing our health care system and you add this pandemic on top of it and we have a real problem of it brewing right here in Atlanta.” » RELATED: Bottoms: Stay home so others ‘have an opportunity to simply live’ Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals.  — Please return to AJC.com for updates.
  • He has been a prominent face during the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings. Now, Anthony Fauci’s face is prominently featured on doughnuts in a New York shop. According to WHAM-TV, Donuts Delite, in Rochester, introduced the sweet treat Monday as a tribute to Fauci, 79, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a doctor for the National Institutes of Health. Nick Semeraro, owner of Donut Delites, said his employees have made “thousands” of doughnuts, the television station reported. “We wanted to find a way to cheer up the people in our neighborhood,” Semeraro told CNN. “We noticed Dr. Fauci on (television), and we loved his message and how thorough he was, and how he kept everyone informed during the crisis... so we wanted to give back and say thanks.” The shop printed Fauci’s face on edible paper and put it on top of a buttercream-frosted doughnut, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. Fauci’s image was then encircled with frosting decorated with red, white and blue sprinkles, the newspaper reported. “Right now, we’re selling over 100 an hour at least,” Semararo told WHAM. “We had no idea they would blow up like that. “It just started as a tribute,” Semararo told the television station. “It started as a thank you. It’s sticking, and I think it’s great. People are stuck at home and what’s happening is, it’s starting conversations. Whether they pick it up for someone, it starts that thinking outside of the box and giving back.” Semararo said he would continue to make the doughnuts as long as there is a demand. “I never met a guy that worldwide (who) is so loved,” Semeraro told CNN. “And a month ago, we never knew his first and last name... His political agenda is medical. It’s facts ... the American public needs facts now.”
  • The chief executive officer of Texas Roadhouse restaurants said he is giving up his salary and bonus so the chain’s front-line employees can be paid during the coronavirus pandemic. Wayne Kent Taylor will begin donating his checks from the pay period beginning March 18 through Jan. 7, 2021, Market Watch reported Wednesday. Louisville Business First reported Taylor’s total compensation package in 2018 was $1.3 million with his base salary being $525,000. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Texas Roadhouse said it is also suspending its dividend in an effort to conserve cash during the pandemic, according to Market Watch. Texas Roadhouse, a publicly traded company based in Kentucky, employs more than 56,000 workers and has 563 locations in the U.S. and internationally, the website reported. Taylor, 63, founded the chain in 1993, opening his first restaurant in Clarksville, Indiana, USA Today reported.