WASHINGTON — This article contains ongoing U.S. and international updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Here are some key updates for Monday, April 27, 2020. You can find more details by scrolling through the story.
- White House unveils new overview of its efforts to make testing for COVID-19 more widely available
- The head of Japan's medical association says it will be difficult to have Japan host the world's athletes at the Olympics until a vaccine is found.
- Los Angeles Lakers received loan through Paycheck Protection Program, then returned it when funding ran out
- New York has canceled its Democratic presidential primary
- Tyson Foods says 'the food supply chain is breaking'
- Poll says there is rising support for mail voting amid pandemic
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to work
- Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is adding 14 more countries to the entry ban list.
- South Korea mulls reopening schools after 26th straight day under 100 new cases
- China reports just 3 new virus cases, no new deaths for the 12th day in a row
There were more than 979,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 3:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 55,000 deaths in the U.S. and more than 209,000 deaths worldwide.
The global total of confirmed cases is more than 3 million.
For most, the virus 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 or death.
RELATED: CDC adds 6 new COVID-19 symptoms
Trump: U.S. death toll could reach 70,000
President Donald Trump is projecting that coronavirus deaths in the United States could reach 70,000, but says original projections were much higher as he explained why voters should consider re-electing him in November.
Trump has at times this month cited 60,000 as the estimate of how many people would die from COVID-19.
Trump was asked during a White House news conference on Monday whether an American president deserved to be re-elected after losing more Americans in six weeks than died in the Vietnam War. Approximately 58,000 U.S. troops were killed during the Vietnam War.
The number of dead in the U.S. from COVID-19 surpassed 55,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Olympics without a vaccine will be difficult, official says
The head of Japan’s medical association thinks it will be difficult to hold the Olympics without an effective coronavirus vaccine.
“I hope vaccines and drugs will be developed as soon as possible,” Japan Medical Association President Yoshitake Yokokura said Tuesday.
Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games until July next year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Japan is under a monthlong state of emergency amid a rapid increase of infections throughout the country, where hospitals are overburdened.
Yokokura did not say whether he opposes the Olympics without a vaccine.
“The key is a situation with the infections at that point. If the infections are under control only in Japan, it will still be difficult to hold the games unless the pandemic is over in the rest of the world,” he said.
Experts have said it could take 12-18 months or longer to develop a vaccine that is safe and effective for clinical use.
White House unveils plan for testing, reopening
The White House unveiled what it describes as a comprehensive overview of its efforts to make testing for COVID-19 more widely available. The CDC released new priorities for coronavirus testing Monday, including testing asymptomatic individuals in high-risk settings.
The White House is aiming for states to have enough tests and needed supplies to test at least 2.6% of their populations per month — a figure needed to catch asymptomatic spread.
The administration is also releasing a “testing blueprint” for states, outlining how they should prioritize testing as they devising their reopening plans. It includes a focus on surveillance testing, as well as “rapid response” programs to isolate those who test positive and identify those they came in contact with.
The administration aims to have the market “flooded” with tests for the fall, when COVID-19 is expected to recur alongside the seasonal flu.
Attorney General William Barr has directed federal prosecutors across the country to “be on the lookout” for state and local coronavirus-related restrictions that could be unconstitutional.
Barr issued a two-page memo on Monday to U.S. attorneys, saying the department would pursue action in court, if necessary.
Parts of Colorado began allowing elective surgeries and other activities Monday after Gov. Jared Polis eased some restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus. But the Denver area remained under strict stay-home orders imposed by local officials.
Lakers received loan through small business program
The Los Angeles Lakers said Monday that it applied for and initially received $4.6 million in federal loans from a program that was meant to help small businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
When funding for the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program quickly ran out, the Lakers said it returned the money it had been given.
"The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program," the Lakers said in a statement to ESPN and CNBC. "Once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan so that financial support would be directed to those most in need. The Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community."
The Paycheck Protection Program was part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and enabled small businesses with fewer than 500 employees to apply for loans to help cover employee salaries and other costs. As ESPN noted, the Lakers were eligible for a PPP loan because they have just around 300 employees.
New York nixes Democratic presidential primary due to virus
New York has canceled its Democratic presidential primary originally scheduled for June 23 amid the coronavirus epidemic in an unprecedented move.
The Democratic members of the State’s Board of Elections voted Monday to nix the primary. New York will still hold its congressional and state-level primaries on June 23. New York City-run health clinics will soon take a new tack on coronavirus testing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that the clinics will begin using a procedure that lets people collect samples themselves at a health care worker’s direction. He says the “self-swab” tests would allow for more and easier testing and make it safer for test-seekers and health care workers alike.
'Pandemic far from over' says WHO Head Tedros Adhanom
The World Health Organization held a press conference Monday discussing the coronavirus about four months after the start of the outbreak.
WHO Head Tedros Adhanom discussed how some countries are dealing with other health strugglings on top of the pandemic, like malaria. However, he added solidarity worldwide is needed to fight this crisis.
He said, "this virus will not be defeated if we aren't united."
All countries are recommended to follow the WHO's advice related to the coronavirus. Adhanom said the organization's decisions are based on science and evidence.
"If you remember, on January 30 we declared the highest level of emergency globally on COVID-19," he said. "During that time there were only 82 cases outside China. So, the world should have listened to WHO then carefully... and every country could have triggered all its public health measures. I think that suffices the importance of listening to WHO's advice."
President of Brown University says reopening colleges should be priority
The president of Brown University says reopening college campuses this fall should be a “national priority” for the well-being of the economy as the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Higher education employs about three million people and as recently as the 2017-18 school year accounted for more than $600 billion of spending into the national gross domestic product, Christina Paxson wrote in an op-ed piece in the New York Times on Sunday.
The loss of revenue if colleges do not reopen in the fall would be “catastrophic,” and could force the closure of many institutions, she said.
Colleges and universities should be developing public health plans now, which include aggressive testing for the virus, contact tracing and changing the way events that attract large crowds are handled, said Paxson, who has led the Ivy League school in Providence since 2012.
Students should be prepared for dramatic changes to campus life. They may be required to wear masks on campus, and even large lecture classes may still be held online.
“Imagine athletics events taking place in empty stadiums, recital halls with patrons spaced rows apart and virtual social activities replacing parties," she wrote.
The White House says President Trump will hold a press conference Monday
The White House canceled Monday afternoon's previously scheduled coronavirus task force press briefing, but later Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that the president would in fact hold a press conference.
McEnany said in the tweet that Trump would speak to the press to update the public on "additional testing guidance and other announcements about safely opening up America again."
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said there will be briefings later in the week, but she said they "might have a new look to them, a new focus to them."
President Trump faced criticism last week after making a remark in a briefing that people could possibly inject or ingest disinfectant to kill coronavirus, a comment he later said was meant to be sarcastic.
Tyson Foods says 'the food supply chain is breaking'
Tyson Foods is warning that "millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain."
In an ad published in The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, John H. Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods' executive board, said "the food supply chain is breaking."
"In small communities around the country where we employ over 100,000 hard-working men and women, we're being forced to shutter our doors," Tyson wrote. "This means one thing - the food supply chain is vulnerable."
Tyson Foods has already been forced to close pork plants in Waterloo, Iowa and Logansport, Indiana last week so that workers could be tested for this virus, according to CNN.
Tyson said that given these challenges, there will be a limited supply of products available in grocery stores.
AP-NORC poll: Rising support for mail voting amid pandemic
Americans’ support for mail-in voting has jumped amid concerns about the safety of polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.
But a wide partisan divide suggests President Donald Trump’s opposition to vote by mail may be resonating with his Republican backers. A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds Democrats are now much more likely than Republicans to support their state conducting elections exclusively by mail — 47% to 29%.
In 2018, about half as many Democrats were in favor, and there was little difference in the views of Democrats and Republicans on the question.
Back at work, Boris Johnson urges patience over UK lockdown
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Britain is at a dangerous stage in the coronavirus outbreak, and easing social and economic restrictions too soon would create a second spike of infections.
Johnson spoke to the nation on his first day back at work after recovering from COVID-19. He said the U.K. is reaching “the end of the first phase of this conflict” but warned that a quick end to the lockdown was not in sight. He said “we simply cannot spell out now how fast or slow or even when" restrictions would be loosened.
Johnson spent a week in a London hospital earlier this month with the coronavirus, including three nights in intensive care.
Nations, US states each chart their own path on reopening
Nations and U.S. states have begun gradually easing coronavirus lockdowns, each pursuing its own approach but all with a common goal in mind: restarting their economies without triggering a new wave of infections.
The easing of restrictions are being implemented piecemeal, with no clear signs of coordination. Technology is likely to play an important role in helping countries ease their restrictions. Many governments are working on mobile virus-tracking apps and other technology, keen for automated solutions. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was back at work Monday, after spending time in intensive care with coronavirus.
He urged citizens to be patient and abide by the coronavirus restrictions.
Repair work at Notre Dame resumes amid virus
Work began Monday to refit the construction site at fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral to protect workers from the virus and allow cleanup efforts to resume.
More than a year after the fire, workers still haven’t finished stabilizing the medieval cathedral, much less rebuilding it. And the coronavirus outbreak caused a new setback: Work on the cathedral halted in mid-March, when France imposed strict confinement measures.
On Monday, workers began to rearrange the construction site to make it virus-safe, according to an official with the state agency overseeing the project. The site is hidden from the public by high barriers.
Notre Dame rector Mgr Patrick Chauvet told reporters that includes rearranging showers and cloakrooms to allow more distance between workers, and installing a place to eat because all restaurants in France are currently closed. He said the workers will stay in nearby vacant hotels so they won’t have to take public transport.
The cleanup work itself is scheduled to start gradually resuming next week.
Formula One chairman Carey hopes season starts July 5
Formula One chairman Chase Carey says the season could start in July despite the first 10 races being canceled or postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic. The French Grand Prix canceled its race on June 28 rather than postponing it.
The targeted start date is now the Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on July 5.
Carey says “we are now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer" and that 15-18 races can take place. The forecasted season would end with races in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
India reports positive results from lockdown
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has said the monthlong ongoing lockdown has yielded positive results and that the country has managed to save “thousands of lives.”
Modi, who had a videoconference with various heads of the states on Monday, said the impact of the coronavirus, however, will remain visible in the coming months, according to a press statement released by his office.
During the meeting with state heads, Modi advocated for social distancing of at least two yards (6 feet) and the use of face masks as a rapid response to tackle COVID-19.
He said that states should put their efforts of converting hotspots, or red zones, into “orange and thereafter green zones.”
Japan adds 14 more countries to entry ban list
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that his country is adding 14 more countries, including Russia, Peru and Saudi Arabia, to the entry ban list as the country steps up border control as the coronavirus infections continued to spread in the country.
Japan has already banned entry from more than 70 other countries, banning foreigners with records of visiting those countries in the past two weeks, while invalidating visas for the rest of the world. The additional step on the 14 countries will take effect Wednesday, Abe said.
The entry ban and the visa restrictions, initially set to end on April 30, are extended until the end of May.
Japan is now under a month-long state of emergency through May 6, for now. Officials and experts are now gauging its effect and whether to extend the measure.
Fort Campbell sends soldiers to help with pandemic relief
The 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell has deployed about 10 soldiers from the Kentucky post to New Jersey to help with coronavirus pandemic relief there.
The post, located on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, said the soldiers are logistics experts assigned to the 101st Division Sustainment Brigade. They deployed to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, where they will provide logistical support to medical forces operating in the northeast.
Fort Campbell deployed on March 26 around 300 soldiers from the 531st Hospital Center, who have been working at the Javits New York Medical Station; on April 14 approximately 10 soldiers from the Division Sustainment Brigade to the northeast region; and on April 18 around 70 soldiers from the 501st Medical Company to Boston.
South Korea mulls reopening schools
South Korea reported only 10 new cases of the coronavirus, its 26th straight day below 100 as officials mulled reopening schools amid the slowing caseload.
The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday brought the national totals to 10,738 cases and 243 deaths.
At least 1,044 infections have been linked to international arrivals, but such cases have also declined in recent weeks amid tightened border controls.
Using an active test-and-quarantine program, South Korea has so far managed to slow its outbreak without imposing lockdowns or business bans. But schools remain shut while providing children remote learning.
Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun during a virus meeting Monday instructed education officials to prepare measures to ensure hygiene and enforce distance between students at schools so the government could announce a timeline for reopening schools no later than early May.
China reports 3 cases, no new deaths
China reported just three new coronavirus cases Monday, and no new deaths for the 12th day in a row.
A total of 723 people remain hospitalized and just under 1,000 were being kept in isolation and under monitoring for being suspected cases or for having tested positive for COVID-19 without showing symptoms.
Beijing added one additional postmortem death to its count, raising China’s overall death toll to 4,633 among 82,830 cases. Of the new cases, two were imported and one was detected in the province of Heilongjiang bordering Russia, according to the National Health Commission.
Thousands pack beaches during SoCal heat wave
A lingering heat wave lured people to Southern California beaches, rivers and trails again Sunday, prompting warnings from officials that defiance of stay-at-home orders could reverse progress and bring the coronavirus surging back.
Tens of thousands of people packed the sand at Newport Beach in Orange County, where residents compared weekend crowds to the Fourth of July and lifeguards reminded people to stay apart if they were in groups of six or more.
Neighboring Huntington Beach also saw big gatherings, despite the closure of parking lots and metered parking restricted along Pacific Coast Highway. Temperatures were close to 90 degrees.
Robin Ford surveyed the crush of visitors with concern.
“Unless all these people are in one household, it does look like they are not social distancing," Ford told the Orange County Register. "They could be spread out more.”