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The Latest: Italy's virus cases showing signs of narrowing

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

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:

—Trudeau to continue to self-isolate at home.

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

—Britain on emergency footing for first time since WWII.

—Mnuchin confident U.S. economy will recover strongly by fall.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s main opposition candidate in the presidential election has called for a boycott of the planned May 10 vote out of concern for the nation’s health amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska of the pro-European Civic Platform party said she was suspending her campaign in order to send a strong signal to the ruling team that the election should be postponed. She appealed to other candidates to follow suit.

Head of the ruling right-wing party Jaroslaw Kaczynski says a postponement is not needed and wants the sick and those in quarantine to be able to vote remotely. But President Andrzej Duda has suggested the May 10 election date may not be realistic.

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WASHINGTON -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says a decision whether to reopen the nation back for business as early as Easter will be a health decision not an economic one.

Mnunchin acknowledges surging unemployment numbers and declining GDP as 1 in 3 Americans remain under government orders to stay at home to slow the coronavirus that has killed over 2,000 Americans.

But he says President Donald Trump’s top objective is the health of the American public.

Mnuchin tells “Fox News Sunday” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” that his own top focus is getting stimulus money from the just-passed $2.2 trillion aid package from Congress immediately into the hands of workers and businesses.

He said American workers will get direct deposits of money in three weeks, while a federal program aimed at helping half the workforce by encouraging small business to take out loans to hire back their workers for eight weeks will be up and running by Friday.

He said the stimulus package should help keep the economy and workers afloat for 10 weeks, and if more time is needed to stem the coronavirus, the administration will assess what else is needed at that time.

___

WASHINGTON — Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana warns the quick spread of the coronavirus could soon overwhelm the state’s health care system.

Edwards said on ABC’s “This Week” that Louisiana is on a trajectory to overwhelm its health care system and will need more ventilators by the end of the first week of April. He says the state will be out of hospital beds several days into April.

He said they have orders out for more than 12,000 ventilators through the national stockpile and private vendors, but Louisiana so far has only been able to get 192.

He made a plea to the people of Louisiana to shelter at home in an effort to slow the spread in the state, which per capita has the third highest number of cases and second highest number of deaths in the country.

___

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he was fine with President Donald Trump’s travel advisory and his state will take it seriously. Murphy noted it’s essentially already in effect because people are getting the message to stay home.

Murphy said on ABC’s “This Week" that New Jersey will take stronger steps to enforce the stay-at-home order if needed.

Murphy said New Jersey is getting some of the PPEs it needs but is still short of ventilators. He said he had a “very specific conversation” with the White House about ventilators and made clear receiving more is the state's top priority.

___

MOSCOW — The Russian capital has deployed trucks equipped with loudspeakers to broadcast a message discouraging Muscovites from using parks and asking them to stay at home.

A video posted by a journalist for the Interfax news agency showed a truck parked Sunday at an entrance to Patriarch's Ponds, blaring the message as a handful of people strolled through the popular park.

Non-essential businesses in Moscow were closed beginning Saturday. About two-thirds of the 1534 coronavirus infection cases reported in Russia occurred in Moscow.

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government's foremost infection disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the U.S. will certainly have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths.

As the U.S. tops the world in reported infections from the new coronavirus, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases predicts 100,000-200,000 deaths from the outbreak in the U.S.

The U.S. is currently reporting more than 124,000 cases and more than 2,100 deaths.

Fauci was speaking to CNN’s “State of the Union” as the federal government is discussing rolling back guidelines on social distancing in areas that have not been hard-hit by the outbreak.

Fauci says he would only support the rollback in lesser-impacted areas if there is enhanced availability of testing in place to monitor those areas. He acknowledged “it’s a little iffy there” right now.

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LISBON, Portugal — The Portuguese health minister says a 14-year-old boy with COVID-19 has died. Authorities said the boy had prior health conditions.

Minister Marta Temido said the boy tested positive for the coronavirus but health expert still need to investigate if he died of the disease caused by the virus or other health problems.

Portugal reported Sunday it has 119 total deaths from the virus and 38,042 infections.

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WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump shouldn’t be rushing to reopen schools and businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The top Democrat in Congress says the government should be “taking every precaution” and that there needs to be more testing for the virus in place to determine if areas currently showing fewer infections are truly at lower risk.

Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union, Pelosi said Trump’s “denial” early in the crisis was “deadly.”

She says: “As the president fiddles, people are dying, and we have to take every precaution.”

Pelosi says Congress will have to investigate whether Trump heeded advice from scientific experts as part of an after-action report on the pandemic response. She asks: “What did he know and when did he know it?”

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6 Stocks That May Not Survive the Coronavirus

Companies that are in a shaky financial position may sometimes attract investors in a bull market. Traders seeking a short-term profit can often use an oversold condition to capture a quick gain. But in a bear market, these companies frequently are left on the sidelines.

But a declining stock price by itself should not be enough to scare investors off. What investors really need to pay attention to is the company’s ability to finance existing debt or take on additional debt. Companies with low credit ratings face the problem of having too much debt on their books and an inability to finance it at more favorable rates.

That’s one reason we’ve put together this presentation that highlights 6 companies that may not survive the coronavirus. These companies have low stock prices. In fact, many of them are, or will be, in danger of being delisted if they cannot bring their stock above the $1 threshold. And on top of that, these companies each carry credit ratings of CCC+ or lower and are at risk of seeing those ratings even go lower.

Each of the companies presented here are considered to be among the weakest, if not the weakest, in their sector. If you have any of these falling knives in your portfolio now is the time to cut your losses and walk away.

View the "6 Stocks That May Not Survive the Coronavirus".

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