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The Latest: Brazil's Bolsonaro gathers crowds in Brasilia

Posted on Sunday, March 29th, 2020 By The Associated Press


A woman prays at the Santa Maria ai Monti church, in Rome Sunday, March 29, 2020. The Vatican has told Catholic Churches around the world to move indoors the traditional outdoor Palm Sunday procession and service which re-enacts Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem in the latest revision to Easter-time rituals given the coronavirus. 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. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP)

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— New York state nearing 1,000 coronavirus deaths.

—Britain on emergency footing for first time since WWII.

— Detroit convention center to be turned into 900-bed medical site.

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continues to defy calls from health officials looking to prevent gatherings that might spread the new coronavirus, posting videos of himself gathering small crowds in several neighborhoods in the capital of Brasilia.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, Bolsonaro has downplayed the risks of COVID-19, calling it a “little flu” that largely threatens the elderly and most vulnerable. He has urged them to self-isolate, but otherwise has stressed the need to keep Brazil's economy running. He has clashed with several state governors who have introduced quarantine measures, such as in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.

“The virus is here, we’re going to have to confront it. Confront it like a man, not a boy!” Bolsonaro told supporters outside his official residence on Sunday. "We're all going to die one day.”

As of Sunday, the Brazilian Health Ministry had reported 3,904 confirmed cases and 114 deaths linked to COVID-19.

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BEIRUT — Thousands of people around Lebanon stood and clapped on their balconies in a show of support to members of the country's medical sector who are leading the battle against the coronavirus.

At the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, a police force saluted doctors and nurses as well as the patients who are undergoing treatment. The hospital now is the main center in Lebanon to deal with coronavirus patients.

Lebanon's Health Ministry reported 26 new coronavirus cases, raising the total to 438. The ministry added in a statement carried by the state news agency that two more persons, both in their 70s, were killed by COVID-19, raising the total deaths in the tiny Arab country to 10.

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MOUNT AIRY, Md. — One resident of a Maryland nursing home died after contracting COVID-19 in an outbreak that has sickened dozens of the facility's residents and strained its staff, health officials said.

A man in his 90s who was a resident at the Pleasant View Nursing Home died Saturday night after testing positive for COVID-19, Carroll County Health Health Officer Ed Singer said at a news conference. Singer said 66 residents have tested positive and 11 were hospitalized, the same numbers that were reported the previous night.

Outside the nursing home on Sunday, a sheriff's deputy and state trooper parked their patrol vehicles and checked all incoming vehicles to make sure people were authorized to enter the premises.

The nursing home with 104 beds is also facing a staffing shortage as staff members say they can't come to work.

“They're struggling to be able to do their administration and to be able to staff and take care of their patients,” Singer said.

Singer said that to his knowledge, no staff members have tested positive for the virus but some say symptoms are keeping them from coming in.

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CENTRAL, La. — Hundreds of people flouted Louisiana's COVID-19 ban on gatherings, coming on buses and in personal vehicles to the first of three services at their church a day after New Orleans police broke up a funeral gathering of about 100 people.

An estimated 500 people of all ages filed into the mustard-yellow and beige Life Tabernacle church in Central, a city of nearly 29,000 outside Baton Rouge.

More than 3,500 Louisiana residents have been diagnosed with the disease caused by a new coronavirus, and more than 150 of them have died.

Across the street from the church in Central, neighbors gathered in a driveway, carefully staying at least 6 feet apart.

“Other congregations are using the Internet, Skype, and other safe ways to congregate. Why can’t they? What makes them so special?" said Paul Quinn. He said state police should enforce the ban.

In New Orleans, police broke up a “funeral repast” of about 100 people Saturday afternoon, issuing a warrant for a 28-year-old man who refused to shut it down and giving the band leader a summons, a news release said.

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NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state's coronavirus death toll is nearing 1,000. It accounts for more than 40% of coronavirus deaths in the U.S.

The number of disease-related deaths in the state, the vast majority in New York City, jumped from 728 to 965 in the last 24 hours. Figures released Sunday morning showed 678 coronavirus deaths in the city, which continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.

The number of patients being discharged at New York state's hospitals after they've been treated for the coronavirus has increased daily to a high of 845 on Saturday, Cuomo said. In all, more than 3,500 people have been discharged.

As of Sunday, more than 8,500 people remain hospitalized across the state because of the disease, including more than 2,000 in intensive care. In New York City, about 20% of coronavirus cases have led to hospitalizations.

Those totals are continuing to spike, but Cuomo said they're not multiplying nearly as quickly as they were last week. From March 16-19, the number of hospitalizations in the state doubled every two days. Now it's taking about six days for the number to double.

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MOSCOW — The mayor of Moscow has ordered a full regime of self-isolation for the Russian capital's residents.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that as of Monday all Muscovites must remain in their homes except in cases of emergency, to shop at the nearest store or pharmacy or if their presence is required at their workplace.

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LONDON — A surgeon has become the first front-line National Health Service worker to die after contracting COVID-19.

The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton say Amged El-Hawrani, 55, died at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester on Saturday.

El-Hawrani worked as an ear, nose and throat surgeon at the Queen's Hospital Burton.

A statement made on behalf of El-Hawrani's family said he viewed his role "as a doctor as one of life's most noble pursuits.’’

Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, says El-Hawrani’s death “is not just an individual human tragedy but a stark reminder to the whole country that we all must take this crisis seriously.’’

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Family members said three Michigan clergymen have died from the new coronavirus.

Auxiliary Bishop Robert Smith Sr. and Pastor Kevelin Jones, both from the Flint area, and Pastor Myron Lett of Detroit were leaders in the Church of God in Christ, according to the church's regional office.

"I thought the world of this dear, generous man,” Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton said of Jones.

Smith’s family announced his death on Facebook: “What we know about the new coronavirus is that no one is immune to it.”

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SOAVE, Italy — The number of coronavirus cases in Italy showed signs of narrowing again, with officials expressing cautious optimism that the most severe shutdown in the industrialized west is showing results.

Italy’s civil protection agency said 5,217 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours — the lowest number in four days and an increase of just 5.6% — bringing the total number to 97,689. In that period, another 756 people with the virus died, bringing Italy’s total deaths in the crisis to 10,779.

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LONDON — Britain has placed all parts of the country on an emergency footing — the first time such a thing has been done since World War II.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told reporters at a daily briefing that the move means strategic coordination centers will be established across the country.

He says “this is an unprecedented step in peace time — we haven't done anything like this since the Second World War.’’

Senior members of the emergency services and the military will be part of these groups.

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WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs says it has begun to offer medical care to some civilians in New York City as city officials scramble to meet a surge of coronavirus patients.

VA said it was freeing up 50 hospital beds at the New York Harbor Healthcare System’s Manhattan and Brooklyn campuses to treat non-coronavirus civilian patients, so that private hospitals have additional resources to treat those with COVID-19. The additional VA beds include 35 for acute care and 15 for intensive care.

Five civilian patients in the city already have been transferred from community hospitals to VA.

During national emergencies, the VA not only serves 9 million veterans but also acts as a backup health care system to the broader public. The department has been preparing for a “worst-case” scenario that 1 million veterans will be infected by the coronavirus.

According to VA, 778 veterans nationwide to date have been infected by COVID-19, and 16 have died. More than 10,000 veterans have been tested.

___

TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will continue to self-isolate at home even though his wife has recovered from the coronavirus.

Trudeau says although he was careful, he will remain in isolation for now because he was in the same home as someone who tested positive. Trudeau says wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau has taken their three children to the prime minister's summer residence in Harrington Lake, Quebec.

Sophie Trudeau received clearance from her doctor and Ottawa Public Health on Saturday.

Trudeau's office said March 12 she had tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from a trip to London.

The prime minister and his family have been in self isolation at home since then. He and the children have not shown symptoms.

___

DETROIT — The federal government says a convention center in Detroit will be turned into a 900-bed medical site.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said construction at TCF Center will begin after contracts are wrapped up in 24 to 36 hours.

The June auto show has been canceled.

Michigan and the communities surrounding Detroit are among the hardest-hit areas in the nation. Michigan had 4,650 cases of the coronavirus Saturday and 111 deaths.

___

ATHENS, Greece - Greece has added six new fatalities from COVID-19 to its total in the past 24 hours.

The death toll now stands at 38. The Greece health ministry also said there are 95 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 1,156.

___

WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is confident the U.S. economy will recover strongly by fall even with the coronavirus outbreak.

Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump won’t lift national guidelines urging people to stay home and nonessential businesses to shutter until he has confidence that COVID-19 is controlled. The virus has so far killed more than 2,000 Americans.

The government last week reported 3.3 million new weekly unemployment claims, four times the previous record. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a TV interview the economy “may well be in a recession.”

Mnuchin on Sunday declined to say how bad the economy may be hit, but predicted a strong rebound in the third quarter.

He says: “We are going to kill this virus. We are going to reopen this economy. And in the third quarter of this year, you're going to see this economy bounce back with very large GDP numbers and low unemployment, back to where we were beforehand.”

___

WASHINGTON -- White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says he’s hopeful the $2.2 trillion stimulus package will be enough to see the country through the coronavirus pandemic.

Kudlow said on ABC’s “This Week” he doesn’t know how many weeks the crisis will last and notes it could be four weeks, or even eight. "That’s what some of the science experts are telling us. I don’t know if they’ll be right.”

Kudlow said the direct checks of $1,200 to most Americans will probably come out in two weeks, while the loans to small businesses will be ready for processing Friday.

___

PRAGUE — Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has recommended U.S. President Donald Trump make it mandatory to wear face masks in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Czech Republic is among the countries where people must wear a face mask in all public places.

Babis tweeted to Trump on Sunday to "try tackling the virus Czech way,” and claimed the cloth mask decreases the spread of the virus by 80%.

The Czech Republic had 2,716 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday with 13 deaths.

___

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has added Connecticut and Oregon to the list of states where a disaster has been declared due to the coronavirus. A disaster declaration makes a state eligible for federal assistance to supplement state and local efforts to respond to the pandemic.

The White House said Sunday that Trump had approved the two new disaster declarations.

The addition of Connecticut and Oregon brings the list of states where a disaster has been declared to 18, along with Guam and Puerto Rico.

___

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities have sealed off two villages as a part of stringent measures designed to contain the spreading of the coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases in the Indian ocean island nation has now risen to 115 with one fatality.

The villages of Atalugama and Akurana were sealed off after several COVID-19 patients were reported from those areas.

More than 6,00 people have been arrested and 1,533 vehicles seized for violating curfew.


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