The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 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:
– Michigan lifts nearly 10-week coronavirus coronavirus stay-at-home order
– llinois shuts community-based COVID-19 testing sites amid protests
– Oklahoma to stop releasing nursing home infections info
– Louisiana to allow bars, spas to reopen this coming weekend
– 2 of worldâ€™s largest casinos partially reopen to general public
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has lifted Michiganâ€™s nearly 10-week coronavirus stay-at-home order, letting restaurants reopen to dine-in customers next week and immediately easing limits on outdoor gatherings while keeping social-distancing rules intact.
The governor on Monday moved regions comprising 93% of the stateâ€™s population to phase 4 – â€œimprovingâ€ – two weeks after she announced that northern Michigan could advance to that stage. Businesses where close contact is necessary, such as gyms, hair salons, theaters and amusement parks, will remain closed under a new order.
Retailers can reopen to customers without an appointment on Thursday and restaurants can offer dine-in service on June 8, with capacity limits. Childrenâ€™s day camps, pools, libraries and museums can also reopen June 8. Groups of up to 100 can gather outside if they stay 6 feet apart, up from a threshold of 10 people. In-home services such as housecleaning can resume.
People must continue to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces.
___ OKLAHOMA CITY – Officials in Oklahoma say they will no longer release specific information about COVID-19 infections and deaths in nursing homes, cities or by zip code.
Oklahoma State Department of Health Agency spokeswoman Donelle Harder said attorneys at the department and in the governorâ€™s office agreed state law prohibits the release of such detailed information but that they did so under the powers granted to the governor under the Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act. Those powers were not renewed by the Legislature and expired on Monday.
A recent analysis of the stateâ€™s 334 COVID-19 deaths shows nearly half have been residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
The head of the Oklahoma Press Association, a trade group that represents newspapers across the state, immediately denounced the agencyâ€™s decision.
â€œIt boggles the mind to understand why OSDH would take a highly informative report and render it useless to local citizens throughout Oklahoma,â€ said OPAâ€™s Executive Vice President Mark Thomas. â€œKnowing COVID-19 by zip code and city allows citizens to be fully informed during this time of high anxiety.â€
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced that heâ€™s allowing bars and spas that have been shuttered because of the coronavirus outbreak to reopen this coming weekend, as he further eases restrictions on businesses in a state once one of the nationâ€™s hot spots in the pandemic.
Edwards said Monday the state is â€œheaded in the right direction,â€ but he cautioned its residents to remember that â€œthere still is a lot of COVID out there.â€
The latest loosening of the rules will start Friday, under the plans announced by the Democratic governor, and they will be in effect until June 26. They wonâ€™t take effect in New Orleans, however, where city officials say they want more time to gather data.
In the rest of Louisiana, bars, massage facilities, bowling alleys, recreational pools and tattoo shops will be able to restart operations, with heavy restrictions on how they interact with customers. Churches, restaurants, hair salons and other businesses that have reopened at 25% capacity since mid-May can move to 50% of their occupancy rate. Bars without a food permit will be restricted to 25% capacity, with patrons required to be seated.
The requirements outlined Monday are based on what are known as â€œPhase 2â€ reopening guidance issued by the White House.
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Electronic signs are warning travelers to two of the worldâ€™s largest casinos about COVID-19 on Monday, the first day they partially reopen to the general public over the governorâ€™s objections.
Four portable signs installed by the state Department of Transportation near Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun flashed: â€œAvoid Large Crowds, Donâ€™t Gamble With COVIDâ€ as cars – many with Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York license plates – passed by.
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont had asked the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owners of the Foxwoods Resort Casino, and the Mohegan Tribe, owners of Mohegan Sun, to delay their reopenings, to no avail.
Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, conceded the signs were â€œkind of catchyâ€ and credited Lamont with not taking stronger action.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The U.S. Naval Academy is planning to have its 4,400 midshipmen return to campus in Annapolis, Maryland, for the fall, after students completed the last semester with online learning from their homes around the nation due to the coronavirus.
Vice Adm. Sean Buck, the superintendent, told the academyâ€™s Board of Visitors Monday he has been communicating with the leaders of the nationâ€™s other service academies, and they also plan to have their students on campus in the fall.
â€œI can tell you, as of this morning, every single military service academy in this country is opening in the fall,â€ Buck told the board in an online meeting. â€œWe all are developing very detailed plans with regards to health, safety and the protocols that we need to put in place to manage risk.â€
Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, a spokesman for the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., said the academy will have a fall semester with cadets present, though the academy is still making plans. The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, did not immediately return an email and call seeking comment on its plans.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Nearly three dozen medical associations in Nicaragua have called on people to observe a â€œnational quarantineâ€ of at least three or four weeks in an attempt to slow the pandemic, a step the government has not taken.
â€œThe exponential increase of COVID-19 cases has caused the collapse of the public and private health systems,â€ the groups said in an open letter Monday. They said hospitals were full, there werenâ€™t enough beds, medicines were lacking and essentials like oxygen were in short supply.
The government of President Daniel Ortega has not enacted the social distancing measures of its neighbors despite growing evidence of the virusâ€™ spread. Schools remain open and the government has continued to organize mass gatherings even as Nicaraguans report that some people are being rushed from hospitals to immediate burial by workers wearing protective suits..
The medical associations called for the voluntary closure of nonessential businesses, urged people to remain in their homes, limit grocery shopping to once a week, maintain a safe distance from others and wear masks.
PRAGUE – The Czech government says that as of June 15 Czechs will be allowed to travel to 29 European countries.
The citizens of 19 countries that are considered safe will be able to travel to the Czech Republic without any restrictions. Those countries are: Austria, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Ten other countries – Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Portugal, Spain, Andorra and Italy – are considered more risky due to their current outbreak situation and their citizens can cross the Czech border only if they present a negative COVID-19 test or will otherwise have to be quarantined.
VALLETTA, Malta – The Mediterranean island of Malta will open on July 1 to tourists from 16 European countries, Israel and two Italian islands â€“ Sicily and Sardinia — but not from all of Italy, where the COVID-19 outbreak began in Europe.
Malta announced on Monday that Maltese citizens can visit those same places and return home without being required to quarantine.
With rich history, lively night life and sea resorts, Malta is a tourist mecca, mostly attracting arrivals from Britain, Italy, Germany and France. But only Germany is on the list of countries whose tourists will be able to visit Malta starting next month.
The tiny nation has registered 619 cases of coronavirus infection and nine deaths.
LONDON – The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization said Central and South America are currently witnessing the most intense transmission of the coronavirus worldwide, but itâ€™s difficult to predict when the epidemic might peak there.
In the last 24 hours, Dr. Michael Ryan said five of the 10 countries reporting the highest number of cases are in the Americas: the U.S., Brazil, Peru, Chile and Mexico. He said that while the growth of COVID-19 was not exponential in all those countries, officials were seeing a progressive increase in cases and that hospitals were starting to strain under the pressure.
â€œWeâ€™re particularly concerned about places like Haiti because of the inherent weaknesses in the system,â€ Ryan said at a press briefing on Monday. â€œI think we now absolutely need to focus on supporting particularly Central and South America,â€ he said. He added that while officials previously had very serious concerns about COVID-19â€™s impact in South Asia and Africa, outbreaks in those regions, although difficult, were now stable.
â€œI donâ€™t believe weâ€™ve reached the peakâ€ in the Americas, Ryan said, noting that several factors in the region, including the number of urban poor and fragile health systems, made outbreaks in those countries particularly dangerous.
KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine has further eased its coronavirus restrictions, allowing intercity travel and opening gyms.
Ukraineâ€™s railways announced that intercity passenger trains and local commuter trains could resume starting Monday in 10 of Ukraineâ€™s 25 regions. The authorities also allowed gyms and swimming pools to reopen across the country and permitted tourist visits to the tightly controlled zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the worldâ€™s worst nuclear accident in 1986.
Ukrainian officials also said that transit across the borders with Moldova and Slovakia will also resume starting Monday.
Earlier, the country allowed non-food stores to reopen and lifted restrictions on city transportation.
Ukraine has registered over 24,000 infections, including 718 deaths. Despite a relatively low number of cases, the nationâ€™s underfunded health care system has struggled to cope with the outbreak.
ROME – Italy has registered one of the lowest day-to-day increases in coronavirus infections since the early days of March, before the strict national lockdown.
The Health Ministry said Monday there were 178 confirmed new COVID-19 cases since Sunday evening, raising to 233,197 the total number of known coronavirus cases in the nation. Authorities say the actual number is undoubtedly much higher, since many people with no or mild symptoms go untested.
The nation also saw one of its lowest daily death counts since early in the outbreak. There were 60 confirmed deaths in the 24-hour period ending on Monday evening. Italyâ€™s official death toll in the pandemic now stands at 33,475.
Italy on Wednesday will open its borders to tourism from most European countries as well as permit tourism travel between regions for the first time since lockdown began three months ago.
MADRID – Spain says itâ€™s reporting no deaths in a 24-hour period from the new coronavirus for the first time since March.
Emergency health response chief Fernando SimÃ³n said Monday the development is â€œvery, very encouraging.â€
He told a news conference there were only 71 new infection over the past 24 hours.
â€œWe are in a very good place in the evolution of the pandemic,â€ SimÃ³n said. â€œThe statistics are following a trend. They are going the right direction.â€
Spain reported its first two deaths on March 3. On April 2, it recorded 950 deaths in 24 hours – the peak death toll.
The official death toll now stands at 27,127, with 240,000 cases.
KEY LARGO, Fla. – The Florida Keys reopened for visitors Monday after the tourist-dependent island chain was closed for more than two months to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
As the Keys took down barriers, Miami-Dade County decided to keep its beaches closed because of protests over the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck.
Roadblocks were taken down shortly after midnight near Key Largo. Almost half of all workers in the Keys are employed by hotels, bars and other hospitality industries, and many of the rest are involved in commercial and sport fishing.
Also opening Monday in Florida was Legoland in Winter Haven. Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World are planning to reopen in the coming days.
ISLAMABAD – Pakistanâ€™s prime minister says he is relaxing more coronavirus restrictions implemented in March, including a ban on tourism, as authorities reported 60 more COVID-19-related deaths.
Imran Khan said Monday Pakistanis must learn how to live with the coronavirus, as lockdown is not a treatment for the disease.
His blunt televised remarks drew criticism on social media when he said the virus would continue to spread, causing more deaths if people did not observe social distancing rules.
Pakistan has registered 1,543 fatalities amid 72,460 cases.
The country has witnessed an increase in coronavirus-related deaths since it eased lockdown ahead of the holiday of Eid-ul Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Gazaâ€™s Hamas rulers are fully reopening mosques in the Palestinian enclave after nearly two months of closure to contain the coronavirus.
The announcement Monday adds to a series of easing measures the Islamic group has taken after succeeding so far to keep the virus at bay. Mosques are set to reopen Wednesday after Hamas allowed for a partial reopening last month for one weekly prayer.
It has already lifted a ban on restaurants, cafes and markets. The Gaza Strip, blockaded by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took power in 2007, has 61 confirmed cases and one death – all inside quarantine centers where people from outside the territory must remain upon arrival.
Experts fear an outbreak in the impoverished territory could overwhelm its already under-resourced health care system.
VATICAN CITY – Some 1,600 people reserved tickets in advance to see the Sistine Chapel on the first day the Vatican Museums opened to the public after a three-month coronavirus shutdown.
Museum employees measured the temperature of visitors at the entrance, and everyone was required to wear masks throughout their visits.
Museum director Barbara Jatta said Monday was a day of â€œgreat joyâ€ and a return to a semblance of normalcy after so many weeks of fear in the onetime epicenter of the European virus outbreak.
Jatta said museum staff used the weeks of closure to ensure the safety of visitors as well as the art. She said: â€œWe want to share this patrimony but we want to share in safety.â€
Across town, Romeâ€™s other big attraction – the Colosseum – also opened its doors, but it appeared there were more television crews than tourists on hand.
PODGORICA, Montenegro – Montenegro, the first country in Europe to declare itself â€œcoronavirus-free,â€ has started letting in foreign tourists as of Monday as it seeks to salvage the tourism season following the virus outbreak. But thereâ€™s a catch.
The tiny Adriatic stateâ€™s authorities have listed 131 countries whose citizens can enter without any restrictions, if they currently have at most 25 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
Nevertheless, Montenegroâ€™s government tweeted Monday that â€œtourists mostly from Western European countries started arriving as of midnight.â€
In a bid to attract wary European tourists looking for a safe place to spend their holidays, Montenegro has been advertising itself as a â€œcorona-freeâ€ destination since it officially has had no new cases of COVID-19 infections for the past several weeks.
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