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The Latest: Mitch McConnell says wearing masks is important

Thursday, May 28, 2020 | 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.

— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell preaches importance of wearing masks.

— Nurse group says COVID-19 has killed more nurses in Brazil than anywhere else.

— U.N. chief warns of historic levels of famine.

— South Africa eases bans on alcohol sales, church services.

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OWENSBORO, Ky. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday preached the importance of wearing masks in public as the nation’s economy reopens from the “cataclysmic” damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

During a tour of hospitals in his home state of Kentucky, the Republican leader stressed wearing masks in public and following social distancing guidelines.

“There should be no stigma attached to wearing a mask,” McConnell said during an appearance Thursday in Owensboro. “And even among age groups that are least likely to either contract this disease or die from it, you could be a carrier. So I think what we all need to do is say, ‘OK, I’m going to take responsibility not only for myself but for others.’”

McConnell, who is in his late 70s and is in the midst of his own re-election campaign, has worn masks at his appearances. On Thursday, he stuffed the face covering into his coat jacket to speak, then donned it again afterward.

President Donald Trump has refused to wear face coverings. Manw coronavirus epidemic, some two weeks ago. The country has been gradually lifting virus restrictions as the number of new cases fell to none or one or two daily.

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MADRID — Spanish authorities are reporting no setbacks in the gradual easing of restrictions on movement over the past month as some regions prepare to further loosen limits starting Monday.

Fernando Simón, the head of Spain’s emergency medical response, said Thursday that the improving quality of data about the spread of the new coronavirus is allowing officials to act quickly to stamp out any resurgence. He said an outbreak this week in Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta is “perfectly manageable.”

Authorities in Ceuta say several “fiestas” and lax compliance with social distancing rules at bars and on restaurant terraces compelled officials to order the self-isolation of 271 people over the past week. They had been in contact with nine new cases there.

Different regions of hard-hit Spain are emerging at different speeds from a national lockdown as they meet targets stipulated by health officials.

Authorities on Thursday announced 182 new cases over the previous 24 hours, taking the official total to almost 238,000.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington officials say the state has recovered $300 million paid to criminals who used stolen personal information to file fraudulent unemployment benefit claims amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said Thursday that she could not yet reveal the precise amount that was paid out in fraudulent claims, but she said that the initial recovery was a result of the state’s collaboration with federal law enforcement and financial institutions across the country.

LeVine first detailed the scope of the fraud last week, saying that the information of tens of thousands of people in the state was used to fraudulently receive hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A rural northern county in California is temporarily rescinding an order allowing the reopening of restaurants, shopping and other services after reporting its first cases of the new coronavirus.

Lassen County had been one of only two counties in the state without any reported coronavirus cases and now has at least five.

The county, which has 30,000 people, had reported no cases until last Friday.

Lassen County had started reopening businesses under state rules on May 11.

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RIO DE JANEIRO — The new coronavirus has killed more nurses in Brazil than in any other country, according to the International Council of Nurses.

The group did not provide exact figures but said it is in the process of updating its data and will be releasing a new statement regarding the global situation early next week, Richard Elliot, the council’s communications director, said in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

Brazil has registered 157 deaths of nurses, nurse technicians and nursing assistants from COVID-19 so far, according to the Brazilian Federal Council of Nursing. The council said the trend is for the death toll among the workers to continue growing and warned its scale depends on several factors, including supply of personal protective equipment and the virus’ spread in the general population.

Brazil has reported about 411,000 infections and 25,000 deaths from the pandemic thus far, by far the hardest hit country in Latin America.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is relaxing several restrictions that were put into place to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that a ban on travel between cities most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak will be lifted, while restaurants, cafe, museums, sports centers parks and beaches will re-open on Monday. Public service workers, except those with chronic illnesses, will also return to work and child care facilities will be allowed to reopen.

However, in a televised address following a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan said that a stay-at-home order for people aged 65 and over, and for minors, will remain for a while longer, while those aged 19 and 20 are now allowed outdoors.

The country resumed limited intercity train services Thursday and mosques are scheduled to partially reopen Friday.

Meanwhile, the total number of confirmed infections in the country surpassed 160,000, with the Health Ministry announcing 1,182 new cases in the past 24 hours. The ministry also reported 30 new deaths, raising the total COVID-19 fatalities to 4,461.

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LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s record jobless figures continues to climb, with more than 18,000 people filing first-time benefits claims last week, adding to the all-time-high 28.2% statewide unemployment figure in April.

Thursday’s report from the U.S. Labor Department comes after Gov. Steve Sisolak announced earlier in the week that casinos can reopen June 4.

Nevada, which relies heavily on tourism and entertainment, saw unemployment soar to the highest rate since the national jobless rate was estimated at 25% in 1933 during the depths of the Great Depression, said David Schmidt, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

The governor closed casinos and businesses in mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus after about 75 people had tested positive for COVID-19 and one died. On Thursday, state health officials reported more than 8,100 positive tests and at least 402 deaths, mostly in the Las Vegas area.

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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief is warning world leaders that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause “unimaginable devastation and suffering around the world,” with historic levels of hunger and famine and up to 1.6 billion people unable to earn a living unless action is taken now.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a high-level meeting Thursday that COVID-19 could also lead to “a loss of $8.5 trillion in global output, the sharpest contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s.”

Guterres called for Immediate and collective action in several critical areas: enhancing global financial liquidity; providing debt relief; engaging private creditors; promoting external finance; plugging leaks in tax evasion; money-laundering; and corruption. He also wants to make sure the recovery tackles the climate crisis.

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PARIS — France is reopening its restaurants, bars and cafes starting next week as the country eases most restrictions amid the new coronavirus crisis.

All city parks will reopen and more children will be accommodated in schools with classes capped at 15 students.

French Prime minister Edouard Philippe also pledged to revive “cultural and sport life.”

Although life is returning closer to normal, public gatherings larger than 10 people are still banned, contact sports are not allowed, and night clubs will remain closed.

France, one of the world’s hardest-hit countries, has reported at least 28,596 coronavirus-related deaths.

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ROME — Italy registered 593 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, nine more than the previous day-to-day figure from the Health Ministry.

Lombardy in the north registered 382 new cases, nearly the same as a day earlier. All other regions registered far fewer than 100 new cases, most with fewer than a dozen.

There were 70 deaths in the 24-hour period ending on Thursday evening, raising the nation’s overall known death toll to 33,142. Italy has logged 231,732 known cases of COVID-19.

Lombardy’s situation is concerning health experts ahead of a looming government decision on whether Italians can resume travel between regions and if people can arrive from abroad without having to quarantine.

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STORM LAKE, Iowa — A rural Iowa county that's home to two meatpacking plants has seen an increase of nearly 500 coronavirus cases in the past few days.

The state health department reported 697 cases Thursday in Buena Vista County, where Tyson Foods has pork and turkey processing plants. Health officials say the number of coronavirus cases in the county had jumped from around 250 on Tuesday as more testing has been done.

A Tyson pork processing plant in Storm Lake has had more than 550 employees out of more than 2,500 test positive, said Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter.

Tyson Foods is in the midst of testing all employees at the two plants. Company officials say they plan to release results once the testing of the roughly 3,100 employees is completed sometime in the next week.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced another easing of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England,.

Johnson said Thursday at the government’s daily press briefing that schools will start reopening Monday. He also said that some outdoor-based businesses can reopen, but social distancing guidelines have to be observed in all the changes.

Johnson said the limited changes are possible because the government’s five tests on easing the lockdown, in effect since March 23, have been met. Those include a sustained and consistent fall in virus infections and the daily death rate.

Though the number of people dying after testing positive for COVID-19 has fallen since the peak in early April. the U.K. still recorded another 377 deaths, taking the total to 37,837.

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- The South African government says it will allow people to buy alcohol and attend church services starting Monday as part of its phased relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown.

Both activities will be subject to restrictions in a country with the highest number of cases in Africa.

Alcohol sales, banned since March 27, will be allowed four days a week. No alcohol can be purchased on Fridays and over the weekend and bars remain closed. Alcohol may be consumed only at home.

Churches can reopen but must limit congregation size to 50 people. Churchgoers and officials must wear masks and maintain social distancing. For those entering church, hand sanitizing and screening will be compulsory.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, also said cigarette sales remain banned but a national night curfew will be lifted, and outdoor exercise will be allowed at any time.

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MILAN -- The governor of Sardinia is urging Italy’s government to back a coronavirus testing regime that would give domestic tourists a greater sense of safety.

Borders between Italian regions are to reopen Wednesday after three months, and Sardinia is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destination. Italy’s minister for regional affairs opposes such a system of ‘’immunity passports,’’ saying none of the tests so far offers clarity.

But Gov. Christian Solinas said Thursday that while neither nasal tests to determine if someone is positive nor antibody tests indicating exposure offer ‘’certainty,’’ the island region would like an alternative ‘’to nothing.’’ He said testing arriving tourists’ body temperatures was not enough.

Sardinia’s insistence on a standardized testing regime has rubbed some the wrong way, with Milan’s mayor saying when he considers where to go for a break he will look elsewhere.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Companies Mentioned in This Article

CompanyBeat the Market™ RankCurrent PricePrice ChangeDividend YieldP/E RatioConsensus RatingConsensus Price Target
Tyson Foods (TSN)2.6$55.58-4.1%3.02%10.35Hold$77.83

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