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:
– FDA commissioner on White House virus task force in self-quarantine for 2 weeks.
– Spain’s prime minister says coronavirus â€˜has not disappeared.â€™
– Belarus hosts large military parade despite sharply rising infections.
WASHINGTON – The federal government is sending supplies of the first drug that appears to help speed the recovery of some COVID-19 patients to six states, where it will be distributed by health departments.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday that it is delivering 140 cases of the drug remdesivir to Illinois, 110 cases to New Jersey, 40 cases to Michigan, 30 cases each to Connecticut and Maryland and 10 cases to Iowa. Each case contains 40 vials of the drug, the department said in a statement.
â€œState and local health departments have the greatest insights into community-level needs in the COVID-19 response,â€ the statement said.
The company that makes the antiviral drug, California-based Gilead Sciences, has said it is donating its entire current stockpile to help in the U.S. pandemic response.
Remdesivir was cleared for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration last week.
The department says the doses have to go to more critical patients including those on ventilators or in need of supplemental oxygen.
WASHINGTON – FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, is in self-quarantine for the next two weeks after coming in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Stephanie Caccomo, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration, says Hahn tested negative for the virus after he learned of the contact. He wrote a note to staff on Friday to alert them to the contact.
Hahn was scheduled to testify before a Senate panel on Tuesday, along with infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Robert Redfield.
The administration is not confirming the person Hahn had contact with that tested positive for the virus. But the news follows the confirmation that two people who work in the White House complex are known to have tested positive for the virus this week.
BERLIN – A Germany union that represents workers in the food industry says recent coronavirus outbreaks in slaughterhouses were the result of â€œa sick system.â€
Freddy Adjan, a senior NGG union official, says the meat industry has for years been relying on â€œdubious subcontractorsâ€ that exploit workers. â€œThe employers arenâ€™t just outsourcing the work, but handily also all responsibility to the subcontractors.â€
The union wants comprehensive checks and rules for the industry, including for workersâ€™ accommodation.
Adjan didnâ€™t name specific companies. But a major meat producer in western Germany has come under fire after 180 workers in the town of Coesfeld tested positive for the virus. Thereâ€™s also been a large outbreak at a slaughterhouse in northern Germany.
Adjan says â€œthis crisis makes clear how overdue it is to press the stop button and end the ruinous price battle over meat.â€
ATHENS, Greece – Greek authorities announced one death from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 151.
There were 19 confirmed new infections to total 2,710. There are 28 people on ventilators and 86 people have exited intensive care.
Authorities are concerned about people flocking to beaches during the first weekend of relaxed quarantine measures. Young people also are congregating in public squares despite the ban on large groups and have occasionally clashed with police.
MADRID – Spainâ€™s Prime Minister Pedro SÃ¡nchez says loosening the nearly two-month lockdown will be for naught if people donâ€™t obey social distancing rules.
He reminded Spaniards on Saturday, two days before 51% of the nation of 47 million will be allowed to sit at outdoor cafes, â€œthe virus has not disappeared.â€
On Monday, many regions not as hard hit by the virus will permit gatherings of up to 10 people and reopen churches, theaters, outdoor markets and other establishments with limits on occupancy.
Madrid and Barcelona will stay under stricter confinement. Two-meter social distancing rules remain in effect.
â€œThe struggle goes on and will last until we find a vaccine,â€ Sanchez said. â€œMeanwhile, we have to live with the virus, that is why we must reinforce our health care system and strengthen its capabilities.â€
SÃ¡nchez and Spainâ€™s army have warned of possible surges in the coming months.
Spainâ€™s health ministry reported 179 new confirmed deaths on Saturday, increasing the death toll to 26,478. A month ago, Spain was averaging 900 daily deaths.
VATICAN CITY – The Vatican Museums are gearing up to resume visits to the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens and papal estate outside Rome after a two-month coronavirus lockdown.
New protocols will require reservations in advance, protective masks and likely afternoon and evening visiting to stagger crowds.
The Vatican hasnâ€™t announced a reopening date for the museums. The head of the Vatican City State that oversees the museums, Bishop Fernando VÃ©rgez Alzaga, suggested Saturday it might not be ready to coincide with the May 18 reopening of Italian museums.
But he says the Vatican was finishing the installation of scanners to check temperatures of museum visitors and preparing protocols for tours of the Vatican Gardens and the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo on Lake Albano.
The Vatican Museums usually receive 7 million visitors a year and are the main source of income funding the Holy See bureaucracy. Vergez says the museums have a â€œsolidâ€ economic foundation.
The Vatican, a city state in the center of Rome, imposed a lockdown in tandem with the rest of Italy, which was the first European country hit hard by COVID-19. This week, Italy began a cautious and gradual reopening.
PATNA, India – About 70 people fled from a quarantine center in the Indian state of Biharâ€™s Nawada district, alleging poor facilities and lack of food.
They are among the tens of thousands of migrant workers who left Indiaâ€™s cities when a nationwide virus lockdown was imposed March 25, walking toward their home villages fearing starvation if they remained.
Local TV broadcast images of the migrants running from the center with their belongings on Saturday. As many as 150 migrants are quarantined at Aadarsh Inter School at Sirdala block in Nawada district, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from the state capital of Patna.
District magistrate Yashpal Meena says 50 of the migrants fled after one of the occupants tested positive for COVID-19. He says at least 15 were found and brought back to the center.
Indiaâ€™s pace of infection has spread in recent days since Prime Minister Narendra Modi partly lifted the lockdown to ease the economic hardships on migrant workers. The government is running special trains to give immigrants rides back home after 14 days in quarantine.
India has reported just under 60,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and 1,981 deaths.
LONDON — The U.K.â€™s coastguard says it received the highest number of calls for assistance since the coronavirus lockdown began on March 23.
It says there were 97 incidents or 54% more than the average of 63 recorded for the previous month. The coastguard is typically used to help rescue swimmers or people in boats.
Matt Leat, duty commander with the Coastguard, says he understood why people may have been â€œtemptedâ€ to go seaside on a recent warm public holiday. But he adds itâ€™s â€œreally vitalâ€ to observe stay-at-home orders and social distancing.
He urged people to exercise locally and â€œstretch your legs, not our resources.â€
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to extend most of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions for another three weeks when he addresses the nation on Sunday.
MINSK, Belarus – Tens of thousands of people have turned out in the capital of Belarus despite sharply rising coronavirus infections to watch a military parade celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
Belarus has not imposed wide-ranging restrictions to halt the virusâ€™ spread. Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has dismissed concerns about it as a â€œpsychosis.â€
At Saturdayâ€™s parade of some 3,000 soldiers, Lukashenko says Belarusâ€™ ordeal in the war â€œis incomparable with any difficulties of the present day.â€
Some aged war veterans in the stands at the parade wore masks, but in general there were few masks seen among the throng of spectators. Belarus, a country of about 9 million, has recorded more than 21,000 cases of coronavirus infection.
BERLIN – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says Europe must acknowledge that it â€œwasnâ€™t well-preparedâ€ for the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement marking Europe Day, Maas says initially most countries, including Germany, were focused on coping with the outbreak at home.
While defending the national response as â€œnecessary, in order to safeguard our ability to act and then also help other,â€ Maas says the European Union had â€œgrown in the crisis.â€
The EUâ€™s sluggish response has given way to cross-border medical aid, a massive financial support package and coordinated scientific research programs.
Maas called the solidarity provided by EU member states â€œunique in the world,â€ adding Germany wants the bloc to emerge from the crisis stronger. Berlin takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the 27-nation EU on July 1.
MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has marked the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II in a ceremony shorn of its usual military parade and pomp by the coronavirus pandemic.
Putin laid flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier just outside the Kremlin walls and gave a short address honoring the valor and suffering of the Soviet army during the war.
Victory Day is Russiaâ€™s most important secular holiday. This yearâ€™s observance had been expected to be especially large because it is the 75th anniversary. The Red Square military parade and a mass procession called The Immortal Regiment were postponed as part of measures to stifle the spread of the virus.
The only vestige of the conventional show of military might was a flyover of central Moscow by 75 warplanes and helicopters.
SEOUL, South Korea – Seoul has shut down more than 2,100 nightclubs, hostess bars, and discos after dozens of infections were linked to clubgoers who went out last weekend as the country relaxed social distancing guidelines.
The measures imposed by Mayor Park Won-soon on Saturday came after the national government urged entertainment venues around the nation to close or otherwise enforce anti-virus measures, including distancing, temperature checks, keeping customer lists and requiring employees to wear masks.
Park says the entry bans on the facilities will be maintained until the city concludes the infections risks as meaningfully lowered.
South Koreaâ€™s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier said 18 fresh cases were reported in the 24 hours to midnight Friday, all but one of them linked to a 29-year-old man who visited three clubs in Seoulâ€™s Itaewon district last Saturday before testing positive on Tuesday.
But Park says 16 more cases were confirmed in Seoul alone in the following hours since. He said this brought the total number of infections linked to clubgoers to 40 – 27 in Seoul, 12 in neighboring Incheon and Gyeonggi province towns, and one in the southern port city of Busan.
The KCDC, which complies data from local governments, couldnâ€™t immediately confirm Parkâ€™s numbers.
FRANKFORT, Ky. – A federal court has halted the Kentucky governorâ€™s temporary ban on mass gatherings from applying to in-person religious services.
The temporary restraining order issued Friday prevents Democratic Gov. Andy Beshearâ€™s administration from enforcing the ban on mass gatherings at â€œany in-person religious service which adheres to applicable social distancing and hygiene guidelines.â€
The ruling sided with the Tabernacle Baptist Church, but applies statewide. Two other federal judges had previously ruled the ban was constitutional. But also on Friday, one of those judges in a separate order granted Maryville Baptist Church an injunction allowing in-person services at that specific church.
Beshear had previously announced that places of worship could hold in-person services starting May 20, as part of a broader plan to gradually reopen the stateâ€™s economy. Earlier Friday, he outlined reopening requirements, including limiting attendance at in-person services to 33% of building occupancy capacity.
Beshearâ€™s office had not issued a statement on the injunctions as late Friday
NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana’s governor says the state will have 250 workers in place by the end of next week to contact people infected with the new coronavirus and track down people they have been in close contact with.
Such â€œcontact tracingâ€ is a key factor in whether the state will be able to start easing restrictions and closures of businesses.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is under increasing pressure from Republican officials to restart Louisiana’s economy. Increased testing is also a factor, and Edwards said the state plans to complete a total of 200,000 tests for the month of May.
Edwards said the state has signed contracts with two companies that will establish the contact tracing system. That will bolster the 70 contact tracers currently working. The state expects to eventually hire as many as 700 contract tracers if needed.
Edwardsâ€™ current emergency order, banning gatherings of more than 10 people and closing many nonessential businesses, expires May 15. He plans to announce Monday whether the restrictions will be extended.
Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.