The Latest: Trump scolds lawmakers critical of response

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The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 307,200 people and killed more than 13,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 92,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

– Trump scolds lawmakers critical of federal response.

– France reports first death of a hospital doctor.

– Greece reports 2 more deaths to bring total to 15.

– Immigrant advocates file federal lawsuit demanding detention centers release immigrants.

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is lashing out at governors and other lawmakers who have been critical about the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that they should not be “blaming the federal government for their own shortcomings.”

He added: “We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!”

Democratic lawmakers such as Illinois’ governor and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were on various TV news shows Sunday saying they had to fight with states over medical resources and questioned why Trump hasn’t yet made military resources available despite triggering the Defense Production Act late last week.

Trump has said repeatedly his administration is not to blame for the growing pandemic including a lack of resources for medical teams.

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PARIS – France’s health minister has said the country reached a grim milestone – the first hospital doctor to have died of the coronavirus.

Oliver Veran said Sunday he had learned of the death of the unnamed 68-year-old emergency doctor from Compiegne in Oise the day before and “shared the pain of the family.”

It is, he said, “to my knowledge… the first case that struck a hospital doctor.”

In the Le Parisien newspaper, the doctor’s son said his father’s illness hit suddenly, saying the family is “sad and angry.”

He added: “He came back very tired after being on duty. He quickly fell ill, no longer ate, had no taste in spite of being of a bon vivant. Despite everything — knowing he was sick, he wanted to go back to work.”

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ATHENS, Greece – Greece has reported an additional two fatalities from the COVID-19 virus.

That brings the total to 15. Also, 94 new cases were confirmed on Sunday, bringing the total to 624. Of those, 124 are hospitalized and 34 people are in intensive care.

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WASHINGTON – Immigrant advocates have filed a federal lawsuit demanding that family detention centers release immigrants because of an eminent risk of a coronavirus outbreak.

Lawyers filed the lawsuit in the District of Columbia on Saturday. They say the country’s three detention centers where families are held: Berks in Pennsylvania, Karnes and Dilley in Texas, have failed to take adequate measures to protect families from COVID-19.

They say there is no justification for risking their health and safety.

Immigration enforcement has a wide latitude on when to release people detained. Earlier this year, Homeland Security officials said they would detain families as long as possible in an effort to discourage migrants from crossing the border.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said officers are taking precautions to avoid an outbreak in detention facilities.

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ISLAMABAD – A young doctor who was infected with the coronavirus in northern Pakistan while screening pilgrims returned from Iran into Gilgit Baltistan has died.

Rashid Arshad, spokesman for chief minister of Gilgit Baltistan, said Dr Osama Riaz dead was removed from a ventilator after two days with the consent of his family.

Riaz was admitted to Gilgit’s main hospital in critical condition after he passed out Friday. He was treating suspected COVID-19 cases with proper safety gear but they were short in supply in the far mountainous terrain.

Riaz joined the hospital as medical officer after passing first stage of fellowship in medicine. With Riaz’s death number of dead due to COVID-19 in Pakistan is now four.

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WASHINGTON – The government’s top infectious disease expert insists he has no disagreement with President Donald Trump over whether a drug to treat COVID-19 is actually at hand.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Trump had heard anecdotal reports that a malaria drug could be used for the coronavirus and so was expressing the hope “that if they might work, let’s try and push their usage.”

Last week, Trump asserted that tests had provided evidence the drug is useful for COVID-19, a statement Fauci contradicted during televised White House briefings. Trump also falsely suggested that the FDA had just cleared the drug specifically for the viral pandemic, when it had not.

On Sunday, Fauci explained that Trump’s views reflected a layperson who was “trying to bring hope to the people” whereas his own job is to “prove definitively from a scientific job that they do work.”

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SKOPJE, North Macedonia – North Macedonia has announced the first death from the COVID-19 virus.

Health minister Venko Filipce said Sunday the victim was a 57- year old woman from the town of Kumanovo. Her health deteriorated rapidly at the hospital, but cause of death was only determined after. Filipce did not specify when the woman died.

Filipce said 29 people have tested positive on virus over the past 24 hours, all but seven from the capital Skopje. This brings the number of confirmed cases to 114.

North Macedonia has imposed a 9 pm curfew that begins Sunday night. Two regions in the west of the country, near the border with Albania, have been sealed off for 30 days. More then 7,600 people are quarantined.

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ATHENS, Greece – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a lockdown, starting at 6 a.m. Monday.

All citizens and residents must stay at home or risk a fine.

There are specific exemptions to the lockdown such as going to work, visiting a doctor, shopping, exercise and walking the dog. Everyone must carry an ID or passport with them.

Also, people returning to their permanent place of residence are exempt from the measure as they travel.

Other government officials will specify the measures and their enforcement.

Mitsotakis thanked “the vast majority of citizens” who followed the quarantine instructions when it was first imposed more than a week ago, and blamed the “frivolous, flippant” few who “put everyone in danger” by defying the instructions.

Earlier Sunday, government spokesman Stelios Petsas had chastised those “who have interpreted the quarantine as a holiday season” by crowding public spaces or leaving the capital Athens en masse for the countryside, taking advantage of the mild weather.

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WASHINGTON – The government’s top infectious disease expert says he remains hopeful the U.S. is not on the same trajectory as Italy in the coronavirus struggle.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says the stringent measures being put in place in the U.S. including travel restrictions, the closing of schools and many businesses and other social distancing will go “a long way” to prevent the U.S. from becoming like Italy.

Italy has seen over 50,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 5,000 deaths.

Fauci tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that it’s hard to know exactly why Italy is “suffering so terribly” but that they did not appear to shut out as well the input of infections originating from China and other parts of the world.

He says the U.S. is “going to be hit, no doubt about it,” but it appears to be in a better position because “we have from the beginning put a kind of clamper” on the virus.

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SAARLAND, Germany – Germany’s small western state of Saarland became the third to offer medical help to neighboring France, which is struggling with a surge in coronavirus patients.

Gov. Tobias Hans said his state would use available hospital beds with ventilators to treat severely ill patients from France’s Grand-Est region.

Public broadcaster SR quoted Hans on Sunday saying that “we will only win the battle again the virus together.”

Saarland came under French control after World War II but was returned to West Germany in 1957 following a referendum.

Germany’s southwestern states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg, which also border France, have already offered spare hospitals beds to treat French patients.

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WASHINGTON – Illinois’ governor says his state is not receiving enough medical supplies.

Gov. Jay Pritzker tells CNN’s “State of The Union” that they got a recent supply but it was a fraction of what was requested. He says they’re buying supplies from the open market and competing with other states also in need of supplies.

He said it’s a bad system.

Pritzker is hopeful that now that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in charge of response he is hopefully it will improve. He says that FEMA is more prepared to manage the crisis than other federal agencies.

Pritzker ordered all 12.7 million people in Illinois to stay at home starting Saturday evening, and said he wished there would be stay-at-home orders nationwide.

He says unless leaders tell citizens to stay home, they just won’t.

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WASHINGTON – Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf says illegal border crossings have dropped by 50% after restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump administration is turning back anyone crossing illegally, among other restrictions.

Wolf says because migrants often come without identification paperwork it’s unclear how to trace their medical history and to determine if they are arriving from an area hard-hit by the virus.

But the Trump administration has also made restriction immigration a top priority, regardless of the pandemic and had already been sending thousands of asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait out their cases. The nation’s immigration courts are still operating with limited closures and some hearings delayed.

Wolf said on Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures” that the borders between the U.S. and Mexico and U.S. and Canada are not shut down, but are only allowing for necessary trade and travel.

He says there’s more than $2 billion combined trade at both borders and it’s important to keep that going. But he says anyone coming for tourism should stay home.

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MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he plans to extend the national state of emergency that includes strict measures to combat the coronavirus.

It means the countrywide lockdown will last at least one month.

Spain is finishing its first week of what was initially a 15-day state of emergency that imposes stay-at-home restrictions and store closings. But with infections and deaths continuing to rise, Sánchez has decided not to wait to extend the lockdown.

To do so, his government will ask the Parliament for its necessary approval on Tuesday.

Spain, the hardest hit country after China and Italy, has 28,572 infections and 1,720 deaths.

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STOCKHOLM – The city of Stockholm says it has teamed up with the Swedish military to build a make-shift hospital inside a large fair and convention center south of the Swedish capital to accommodate a rapidly growing number of coronavirus patients.

Stockholm region officials said the building of the facility will start immediately in co-operation with the Swedish Armed Forces. It will include an intensive care unit.

Stockholm had 661 confirmed cases and seven deaths by Sunday. Nationwide, Sweden has seen a large hike in coronavirus cases in the past week with 1,747 cases and 20 deaths confirmed in the country Sunday.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he expects Congress and the White House to reach full agreement later Sunday on an economic stimulus package that could approach $2 trillion to address the coronavirus crisis.

The package would include $3,000 checks to families and other aid to last the next 10 weeks.

Mnuchin tells “Fox News Sunday” that there is a “fundamental understanding” reached with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to provide significant aid.

He says the deal includes federal loans to small businesses so they can retain their workers; cash payments averaging $3,000 for a family of four as well as “enhanced” unemployment insurance.

The package also will allow the Federal Reserve to leverage up to $4 trillion of liquidity to support the nation’s economy, while hospitals will get “approximately” $110 billion to address a crush of people infected with the virus.

Mnuchin says President Donald Trump has “every expectation” the aid package will help workers and the economy improve “four or eight weeks from now,” but if the virus is still raging after 10 weeks, “we’ll go back to Congress again.”

Mnuchin says he expects a Senate vote on the deal on Monday morning.

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WASHINGTON – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says her state needs the federal government to provide not only more test kits and masks but also clear guidance on how best to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Whitmer said her state and others are doing the best they can, “but it would be nice to have a national strategy.” As it is, she said the states are “all building the airplane as we fly it.”

She criticized the federal government for not focusing on the threat much earlier. She also said she didn’t want to belabor the point because she needs to be able to work with the federal government.

She said she doesn’t want to fight with the White House, but says a point will come in which failures will need to be examined.

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LONDON – Authorities in Britain’s remotest regions say an influx of people trying to get away from crowded urban areas is putting local lives at risk.

Scottish authorities told people heading to the sparsely populated Highlands to stay at holiday homes or in camper vans to go home.

The Road to The Isles group, which represents tourism businesses in part of the scenic region, said its area had an aging population and just one ambulance, with the nearest hospital 100 miles (160 kms) away.

Chairwoman Sine MacKellaig-Davis urged people “to stay home, care for loved ones and, as soon as it’s safe to do so, the Road to the Isles and its communities and businesses will welcome you.”

Judy Murray, mother of tennis star Andy Murrray, had a blunter message. She tweeted “Message for those relocating to the countryside” above a picture of a car and trailer with “Go home idiots” and “Covid-19” painted on the side.

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PRAGUE – The Czech Foreign Ministry is sending a military plane to the Baltics and secured deals with commercial airlines to take home stranded Czech nationals in Egypt, Philippines and Vietnam.

Various restrictive measures on movement adopted by the governments around the globe due to the outbreak of the coronavirus have made it difficult for many to return.

Altogether some 600 Czechs should return by those flights, plus 100 people from other EU countries who were offered seats.

The government have already been sending buses for the Czechs stranded at the airports in Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin in Germany as well Vienna in Austria.

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WASHINGTON – Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey says his state is desperate for more face masks and other personal protective equipment and is not getting nearly what it needs from the federal government.

Murphy said, “We’ve had a big ask into the strategic stockpile in the White House. They’ve given us a fraction of our ask.”

New Jersey is now fourth in the country in terms of the number of positive cases, which the governor says hit more than 1,300 on Saturday with 16 fatalities.

He also cited an urgent need for direct financial assistance from the federal government to help workers and small business. He said, “We think New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut alone, those four states, need $100 billion, direct cash assistance, to allow us to continue the fight.”

Murphy spoke Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Long-haul carrier Emirates says it will suspend all passenger flights beginning Wednesday over the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision is a major one for the Dubai-based, government-owned airline built on linking the East to the West.

A statement from the carrier quoted Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, its chairman and CEO, as saying: “The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is an unprecedented crisis situation in terms of breadth and scale: geographically, as well as from a health, social, and economic standpoint.”

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka has indefinitely extend the closure of the arrival terminal at it’s main international airport to prevent imported cases of the coronavirus.

The Indian ocean island nation stepped up efforts to contain the spreading of virus as the number of positive cases has now risen to 82.

Early this week, the government suspended arrival flights until March 25. On Sunday, the government announced that the restrictions of arrival flights “will continue until the country returns to normalcy.”

However, the airport’s departure terminal will continue to be operational and flights are allowed into the country to take departing passengers.

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NEW YORK – New York City’s mayor is telling New Yorkers at the epicenter of the U.S. pandemic that it’s only going to get worse.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that his city is in desperate need of ventilators and other medical supplies and staff. He also lambasted the White House response as non-responsive.

He says he’s asked “repeatedly” for the U.S. military to mobilize, and has heard nothing.

The Mayor said the actions taken by American citizens are “much farther ahead than anything we’ve seen out of the White House.”

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LONDON – British doctors and nurses are making urgent pleas for more protective equipment as the number of coronavirus patients in U.K. hospitals soars.

Almost 4,000 medical workers signed a letter to the Sunday Times saying front-line staff felt like “cannon fodder.” They warned that medics would die if they did not receive better equipment.

The letter said that intensive-care doctors and anaesthetists “have been carrying out the highest-risk procedure, putting a patient on a ventilator, with masks that expired in 2015.”

Britain’s coronavirus outbreak is not expected to peak for weeks, and already staff at some hospitals have complained about shortages of ventilators and protective equipment like face masks, safety glasses, gloves and protective suits.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that hospitals would receive new stocks of protective equipment by Sunday afternoon.

The government has also ordered thousands of ventilators and has struck a deal with private hospitals to use thousands of beds and 20,000 medical staff to treat coronavirus patients.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Una mujer y un niño con mascarillas como precaución contra un nuevo coronavirus se toman un selfie dentro de un metro casi vacío en Santiago, Chile, el viernes 20 de marzo de 2020. (Foto AP/Esteban Félix)
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