The Latest COVID-19 Updates (March 30)

Staff Writer

6:30 p.m. WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says America will be sending surplus equipment to European nations to help them combat the new coronavirus. Trump says as U.S. companies ramp up production of ventilators, the U.S. will be able to send excess ventilators to Italy, France, Spain and other hard-hit countries when possible. Trump, speaking at a coronavirus briefing in the White House Rose Garden, says he spoke with the Italian prime minister on Monday and that the U.S. will be sending about $100 million in medical and hospital items to Italy.

3 p.m. HARRISBURG — Reporting nearly 700 new cases of COVID-19 since Sunday afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday announced the indefinite closure of Pennsylvania's schools and non-life-sustaining businesses. He also added four more counties to the stay-at-home order.
Previously, Wolf had been setting dates for the reopening of schools and businesses. Now, the closure will remain in place until the situation changes.
"I know this isn't easy to hear," Wolf said. "We humans are built to want to work, to learn, to socialize, and it's hard being confined to one place. We miss being with our friends; we miss being with family members. But if we want to save lives, we must continue to distance ourselves from each other."
He added that the state is working on a plan to provide education for students whose home schools are not currently offering options for distance education. He said the administration hopes to have a plan for an alternative to brick-and-mortar schools on the table early next week.
He also announced the addition of four more counties to the stay-at-home order: Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuykill. Twenty-six counties are now under the order. The others are Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York.

1:30 p.m. WUHAN, China (AP) — The city at the center of China's virus outbreak was reopening for business Monday after authorities lifted more of the controls that locked downs tens of millions of people for two months. “I want to revenge shop,” one excited customer declared as she traversed one of Wuhan's major shopping streets,
Customers were still scarce, though, as those who did venture out were greeted by shop employees who wore masks and carried signs that told them to “keep a safe distance.”
Among them was this teacher, who was visiting her family when most access to the city of 11 million was suspended Jan. 23 to stem the coronavirus spread.
“I’m so excited, I want to cry,” said the woman, who gave only her English name Kat as she eyed the wares in the Chuhe Hanjie pedestrian mall.
“After two months trapped at home, I want to jump,” she added, jumping up and down excitedly.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — With millions of people suddenly out of work and rent due at the first of the month, some tenants are vowing to go on a rent strike until the coronavirus pandemic subsides.
New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and St. Louis are among many cities that have temporarily banned evictions, but advocates for the strike are demanding that rent payments be waived, not delayed, for those in need during the crisis. The rent strike idea has taken root in parts of North America and as far away as London.
White sheets are being hung in apartment windows to show solidarity with the movement that is gaining steam on Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites. Fliers urging people to participate are being posted in several cities, including bus stops in St. Louis, where 27-year-old Kyle Kofron still has his job at an ice cream factory, but his three roommates have suddenly found themselves unemployed. Their property manager so far hasn’t agreed to a payment plan, Kofron said.
“For me personally, with everyone losing their jobs and unable to pay, it’s really the only thing we can do,” Kofron said of the strike. “It’s just like we the people have to do something. We just can’t stand idly by while the system takes us for a ride.”
NEW YORK (AP) — Macy's says it will stop paying tens of thousands of employees who were thrown out of work when the chain closed its stores in response to collapsing sales during the pandemic.
The majority of its 130,000 employees, including stock people and sales clerks, will still collect health benefits, but the company said that it is transitioning to an "absolute minimum workforce" needed to maintain basic operations. Macy's has lost the bulk of its sales due to the temporarily closing of all 500 of its stores starting March 18.

12:30 p.m. MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump discussed possible cooperation between the two countries in the fight against the novel coronavirus in a telephone call.
A Kremlin statement said the call took place at Washington's initiative.
The leaders also discussed the world oil market, where prices have fallen since Russia rejected an OPEC proposal to cut production; demand for oil has lowered amid the coronavirus pandemic.
GENEVA — A United Nations agency is urging the world’s top powers to commit $2.5 trillion to help developing nations weather the novel coronavirus outbreak, including a “Marshall Plan” for health recovery.
Just days after influential G20 nations announced plans to inject $5 billion into an ailing global economy, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development insisted the developing world should not be left out.
UNCTAD says the $2.5 trillion in support should come through “Marshall Plan”-style grants, debt forgiveness, and access to assets known as special drawing rights.
The International Monetary Fund on Friday estimated that emerging markets have “finance needs” totaling $2.5 trillion, calling that a “lower-end estimate” that their own reserves cannot satisfy.
Richard Kozul-Wright, head of globalization and development strategies at UNCTAD, said the coronavirus crisis has forced a lot of change, and “ideas that were previously deemed odd” are suddenly in play.
MIAMI — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn't want the people on a cruise ship where four people died and others are sick to be treated in Florida.
DeSantis says it would be "a mistake" to bring them into South Florida, which already has a high and growing number of coronavirus infections. He says the area's hospital beds need to be saved for residents and not "foreign nationals."
He says he wants the cruise line to arrange to have “medical personnel dispatched to the ship.”
Officials say in addition to the four dead, more than 130 Zaandam passengers and crew have symptoms. Four doctors and four nurses were on board to treat 1,243 passengers and 586 crew members, many of whom are American or Canadian, says Holland America, which is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.
A sister ship, the Rotterdam, took on passengers who didn't appear to be infected. They were allowed through the Panama Canal on Sunday night and are about three days from Florida.

11:30 a.m. HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court was asked Monday to order the release of some inmates from county jails to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
A petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said that tight inmate quarters, a lack of sanitation, and a limited ability to treat and quarantine people suspected of having COVID-19 presents an “extraordinary public health risk” to inmates, staff and surrounding communities.
Once COVID-19 enters a jail, it is “virtually certain to spread like wildfire through the prison population, correctional staff and into the nearby community,” the petition said.
The high court was asked to order the release of inmates at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19, as well as those nearing the end of their sentences, eligible for work release or held on cash bail before trial.
The plaintiffs are the Pennsylvania Prison Society, an advocacy group, along with five inmates, including two who say they have health conditions that elevate their risk of serious illness from the virus.
Other states, including New Jersey, Washington, Maine, Montana and South Carolina, have taken steps to reduce their jail populations, as have Allegheny, Lackawanna and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania.

9:30 a.m. LONDON — Prince Charles has ended his period of isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The prince’s Clarence House office says Charles is in good health after completing the seven-day quarantine recommended by U.K. health authorities for people with COVID-19 symptoms.
Royal officials said last week the 71-year-old heir to the British throne was showing mild symptoms of COVID-19 and self-isolating at the royal family’s Balmoral estate in Scotland. His wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, tested negative but will be in self-isolation until the end of the week.
Charles’ mother Queen Elizabeth II, 93, is at her Windsor Castle home west of London with her 98-year-old husband, Prince Philip.

9 a.m. DETROIT (AP) — Twelve days ago, General Motors put hundreds of workers on an urgent project to build breathing machines as hospitals and governors pleaded for more in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
But President Donald Trump, claiming the company wasn't moving fast enough, on Friday invoked the Defense Production Act, which gives the government broad authority to direct companies to meet national defense needs.
Experts on managing factory production say GM is already making an extraordinary effort for a company that normally isn't in the business of producing ventilators.
“That is lightning-fast speed to secure suppliers, learn how the products work, and make space in their manufacturing plant. You can’t get much faster than that,” said Kaitlin Wowak, a professor at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on industrial supply chains.
GM expects to start making ventilators in mid-April, ramping up to a rate of 10,000 per month at as quickly as it can. The company is working with Ventec Life Systems, a small Seattle-area ventilator maker, and both say the Defense Production Act of 1950 doesn’t change what they’re doing because they’re already moving as fast as they can, fronting millions in capital with an uncertain return.
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says smaller U.S. cities that don't yet have large numbers of COVID-19 cases are ripe for the type of acceleration that occurred in New York City.
The U.S. government's top infectious disease expert told ABC's “Good Morning America” the “dynamics of the outbreak” of the coronavirus in New Orleans and Detroit show signs that “they're going to take off.”
He's also concerned about smaller cities across the country.
“There are a number of smaller cities that are sort of percolating along, couple hundred cases, the slope doesn't look like it's going up,” Fauci said. “What we’ve learned from painful experience with this outbreak is that it goes along almost on a straight line, then a little acceleration, acceleration, then it goes way up.”
Fauci says that “very consistent pattern” is the same as what's occurred in New York, Italy, France, Germany and Spain.
"We're going to have all of these little mini outbreaks throughout various cities in our country," he said.
Asked about how long the Trump administration's recommended social distancing guidelines might be in effect, Fauci says, “I think April might do it...but we kept an open mind when we presented it to the president."
TOKYO — The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in July, the same slot scheduled for this year's games.
Tokyo organizers say the opening ceremony will take place July 23, 2021. That is almost exactly one year after the games were due to start this year. The IOC and Japanese organizers last week postponed the Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The rescheduled Olympics will start July 23, with the closing ceremony on Aug. 8. The Paralympics were rescheduled to Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is the latest senior government figure to show symptoms of the coronavirus.
Johnson’s office says Cummings developed symptoms over the weekend and is self-isolating at home.
Johnson announced Friday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and has mild symptoms. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also tested positive, while the chief medical officer of England, Chris Whitty, says he is self-isolating after showing symptoms.
Senior U.K. officials have been criticized for holding face-to-face meetings until recently, even while urging the rest of the country to stay home and avoid all but essential contact with others.
Cummings is a controversial figure — a self-styled political disruptor who helped lead Britain’s pro-Brexit referendum campaign in 2016. He has been blamed for briefing journalists that the U.K. was seeking “herd immunity” against the coronavirus by letting most of the population get it.
The government and its scientific advisers deny that ever was their strategy.