CORONAVIRUS:

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    More than 1.2 million people worldwide – including more than 312,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Saturday, April 5, continue below:  Third passenger from Coral Princess cruise ship dies Update 10:52 p.m. EDT April 5: A third passenger from the Coral Princess cruise ship has died, CNN reported. The passenger was taken from the cruise ship after it docked to a hospital and later died. Two passengers had died before the ship docked early Saturday morning in Miami. Florida congressman, first to test positive, now rid of virus Update 9:46 p.m. EDT April 5: A U.S. congressman from Florida who was the first representative to test positive, has recovered from the coronavirus. Rep. Mario Daiz-Balart said Sunday he was virus-free. “Today, after being deemed #COVID19 free by my doctor, I was able to reunite with my family in Miami,” Diaz-Balart said on social media. 'Though still a bit weak, I feel well, & I applied to participate in the (Red Cross) plasma donation to help those with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections.” He later stressed the importance of social distancing. “I want to reiterate the seriousness of this sickness, and I encourage everyone to continue to follow the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines,” he said. Italy sees lowest death rate in weeks Update 8:56 p.m. EDT April 5: Health officials believe the curve is flattening in Italy where the country recorded its lowest death rate in nearly two weeks. Italy’s Civil Protection Service said Sunday 525 people died in a 24-hour period, the lowest since March 19 when 427 people died, The Associated Press reported. “The curve, which had been plateauing for days, is starting to descend,' health officials Silvio Brusaferro said Sunday. More than 15,800 people have died from the virus in Italy, according to Johns Hopkins virus tracking site. There are more than 128,000 confirmed cases. The country recorded more than 4,300 new cases Sunday. However, that number is a decrease from earlier in the outbreak when daily cases topped 6,000.The country has been on lockdown for nearly four weeks. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Washington sending 400 ventilators from national stockpile to New York Update 7:56 p.m. EDT April 5: Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday that Washington will be returning more than 400 ventilators from the federal government to help the state of New York, which is experiencing a higher number of coronavirus cases. 'I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together. This should guide all of our actions at an individual and state level in the coming days and weeks,' Inslee said. The ventilators were sent from the Strategic National Stockpile, KIRO-TV reported. Washington recently purchased more than 750 of its own ventilators that will arrive over the next several weeks. “Thanks to the mitigation efforts the governor has put in place and the cooperation of Washingtonians, we have seen fewer infections in our communities than anticipated. Our current status allows us to help others who have a more immediate need,' said Raquel Bono, a former vice admiral and director of Washington state’s COVID-19 Health System Response Management. There are more than 7,400 confirmed cases and 319 deaths in Washington state, according to The New York Times. In New York state, there are more than 122,500 confirmed cases and 4,159 deaths. Boris Johnson admitted to hospital with virus Update 6:06 p.m. EDT April 5: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital Sunday because of the coronavirus. He went to the hospital because he still has symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus, The Associated Press reported. Officials said the move is a “precautionary step,” the BBC reported. Johnson is expected to stay overnight. Johnson, 55, has been quarantined since testing positive March 26. Tiger at Bronx Zoo tests positive for virus  Update 4:56 p.m. EDT April 5: A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the coronavirus. It is believed the big cat was exposed to the virus by an employee at the zoo, accoridng to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Several lions and tigers were showing symptoms of the virus March 27, but only the one tested positive. All of the big cats are expected to recover. The zoo has been closed to the public since about mid-March. Other animals in the zoo are not showing signs of the virus. Death Valley National Park temporarily closes Update 3:26 p.m. EDT April 5: Death Valley National Park has been temporarily closed, effective Saturday due to public health concerns surrounding the spread of the coronavirus, the National Park Service said on its website. The National Park Service said Daylight Pass and California highway 190 will remain open at the park, which is located in California and Nevada. The order means all park facilities, restrooms, viewpoints, trails, roads, and campgrounds are closed until further notice, according to the website. Fauci says coronavirus could become seasonal Update 3:11 p.m. EDT April 5: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. said there is a very good chance the new coronavirus “will assume a seasonal nature” because it is unlikely the disease will be under control globally. “Unless we get this globally under control, there’s a very good chance that it will assume a seasonal nature,” Fauci, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,' said Sunday. “We need to be prepared, that since it unlikely would be completely eradicated from the planet, that as we get into (the) next (flu) season, we may see the beginning of a resurgence.” Trump approves disaster declarations for Delaware, South Dakota Update 2:06 p.m. EDT April 5: President Donald Trump approved disaster declarations for Delaware and South Dakota, according to CNN. The president has now approved disaster declarations for 42 states, the U.S. Virgin islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Navy captain relieved of aircraft carrier command tests positive Update 12:46 p.m. EDT April 5: Brett E. Crozier, the Navy captain removed from command of the coronavirus-stricken U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, has tested positive for COVID-19, The New York Times reported, citing who was removed from command of the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, The New York Times reported, citing two Naval Academy classmates of Crozier’s who are close to him and his family. A Navy spokesman declined comment on the captain’s status, the newspaper reported. Crozier was removed from the warship Thursday. He was fired after the San Francisco Chronicle reported Crozier emailed a letter to Navy leaders that listed failures in providing necessary resources to disinfect the ship as the virus spread through it, the Times reported. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” there were 155 confirmed coronavirus cases among sailors aboard the aircraft carrier. “There is an investigation ongoing,” Esper said on “State of the Union.” “All the services at times relieve commanders without the benefit of an investigation up front because they’ve lost confidence in them. It’s certainly not unique to the Navy.” NJ governor says state has secured 500 ventilators Update 12:14 p.m. EDT April 5: In a tweet Sunday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said his state has secured about 500 additional ventilators after having “multiple” conversations with the White House. “Ventilators are our No. 1 need right now,” Murphy tweeted. “I won’t stop fighting to get us the equipment we need to save every life we can.” Queen Elizabeth II: 'History will remember your actions’ Update 10:44 a.m. EDT April 5: Queen Elizabeth II, making a rare address to the nation, is expected to urge citizens in the United Kingdom to exercise discipline and resolve during the coronavirus crisis. Normally the queen, now 93, makes one speech annually, but this will be the second in two months, the BBC reported. 'I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time,” she said, according to excerpts obtained by The Associated Press. “A time of disruption in the life of our country; a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.” The queen has given an address like this on only three other occasions, according to the AP: After the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, before the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997, and during first Gulf War in 1991. “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” the queen said in remarks that will be broadcast Sunday night. “Those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.” ‘Hardest and saddest’ week ahead, surgeon general says Update 10:26 a.m. EDT April 5: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the upcoming week will be the “hardest and the saddest” for Americans. Adams, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” characterized the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic as a “Pearl Harbor moment” and a “9/11 moment.” “I want Americans to understand that as hard as this week is going to be, there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Adams said on the news program. DC, Maryland, Virginia see increase in cases Update 10:10 a.m. EDT April 5: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in the area around Washington, D.C. Sunday morning, there were 6.422 cases in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, The Washington Post reported. There were 3,126 cases in Maryland, 2,410 in Virginia and 906 in the District of Columbia, the newspaper reported. The total of virus-related deaths stood at 126 -- 52 in Virginia, 53 in Maryland and 21 in D.C. Pastor at Falwell’s church tests positive Update 8:59 a.m. EDT April 5: Charles Billingsley, worship leader of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, tested positive for the coronavirus, Pastor Jonathan Falwell told WDBJ. Falwell posted the announcement on his Facebook page Saturday. He says Billingsley’s symptoms are mild and he is getting better each day. Legendary NFL kicker Tom Dempsey dies from complications Update 8:42 a.m. EDT April 5: Former NFL placekicker Tom Dempsey, who set an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in 1970, died Saturday from complications from the coronavirus, his family said. He was 73. Dempsey contracted COVID-19 in March during an outbreak at a New Orleans retirement home, NOLA.com reported. He is one of 15 residents at the home to die from the virus. Dempsey was born without fingers on his right hand and wore a small, flat shoe on his kicking foot, the website reported. His record-setting field goal, on the last play of the game against the Detroit Lions on Nov. 8, 1970, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, helped the Saints rally to a 19-17 victory. His field goal beat the previous mark by seven yards. NBA, Knicks, Nets work with Chinese official to donate 1M surgical masks to New York Update 7:50 a.m. EDT April 5: The NBA and two professional basketball teams are working with a Chinese official to provide 1 million surgical masks to “essential workers” in New York. According to Reuters, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the donation – a collaborative effort involving the league, the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets and Chinese Consul General Huang Ping – Saturday on social media. “New York thanks you,” Cuomo tweeted Saturday afternoon. “We are beyond grateful for this gift of critically needed PPE.” >> See the tweet here As of Sunday morning, New York had reported at least 114,174 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 3,565 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday Mass without public Update 6:52 a.m. EDT April 5: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis took a different approach to his Palm Sunday Mass, typically celebrated outside in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City with tens of thousands of people looking on. According to The Associated Press, the pope celebrated the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Only a few prelates, nuns and guests were invited to attend, the AP reported. As of Sunday morning, Italy had reported 124,632 COVID-19 cases – the third-highest in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Italy also had logged at least 15,362 deaths, more than any other country. Oprah Winfrey donating $10 million to relief efforts Update 5:45 a.m. EDT April 5: Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is donating $10 million amid the coronavirus pandemic, she said last week. In an Instagram post Thursday, Winfrey praised America’s Food Fund, a donation drive started by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurene Powell Jobs, Apple and the Ford Foundation. According to the initiative’s GoFundMe page, it is currently benefiting two food charities: Feeding America and World Central Kitchen, founded by celebrity chef José Andrés. “I was struck by the work these organizations are doing, and while everyone’s priority right now is to stay safer at home, I know there are many of us looking for ways to help,” Winfrey wrote. “I believe that America’s Food Fund will be a powerful way to make a difference for our neighbors in need and am committing $1 million to this fund to support those facing food insecurity.” She added that she is “donating $10 million overall to help Americans during this pandemic in cities across the country and in areas where I grew up.” >> See the post here As of Sunday morning, America’s Food Fund’s crowdfunding campaign had raised more than $13 million toward its $15 million goal. Tokyo to report 143 new cases, breaking city’s single-day record Update 4:43 a.m. EDT April 5: Tokyo on Sunday will report 143 new coronavirus cases, topping the city’s single-day record, the Japan Times is reporting. Japan’s capital city has reported more than 1,000 cases of the virus, according to the newspaper. On Sunday morning, Johns Hopkins University reported 3,139 confirmed coronavirus cases and 77 deaths in Japan. BBB warns of fake coronavirus stimulus check, other scams Update 3:40 a.m. EDT April 5: Scammers across the United States continue to trick people in an attempt to steal their money or information, WHBQ-TV is reporting. The Better Business Bureau said that most of the recent scams reported involves the stimulus checks that the government will be sending out to citizens. Here are some of the scams reported to the BBB this week: A phone call saying that student loans qualify you for immediate COVID-19 relief. The woman who reported this scam said she doesn’t have any student loans. Two Facebook messages from someone posing as a government official that that says you qualify for an immediate COVID-19 grant. Both targets were offered grants of $50,000 to $300,000 if they paid an upfront fee by gift cards or wire. One victim said the person communicating with her was posing as William Barr, U.S. Attorney General. A Facebook message from a “friend” that asks you to call a specified number and give your Social Security Number so you can find out when you’ll get your government relief check. The woman who reported this scam said several of her church members had told her about it thinking it was real. A text message asking for your Social Security Number to see if you qualified for $50,000 from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The money was for seniors affected by coronavirus. A text message stating that if you confirmed your bank account information and paid $50, you could get your stimulus check immediately. The FBI has warned of a text message scam that appears to be from Costco offering you $100 to spend there. The FBI says if you click on the link, malware will be downloaded to your device. The Better Business Bureau said to remember: The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get the stimulus money. No fees. No charges. No nothing. The government does not need you to provide your personal information in order to receive your payment. They will deposit money into the account you gave on your tax return last year or send you a check. Anyone asking for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number is a scammer. The checks are not in the mail … yet. Anyone who tells you they can expedite your check for a fee is a scammer. Never give your bank account information to someone you don’t know. Scammers will call and pressure you to divulge your bank account information so they can steal the money in the account. Look-alikes and sound-alikes aren’t the real thing. Just because the a caller claims to be with the government doesn’t mean he is. Scammers make up official-sounding names to fool you. Phone numbers can deceive. Con artists “spoof” their phone numbers to change what you see in caller ID. They could be calling from anywhere. If you spot a scam, please report it to the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org/scamtracker. HIV drug showing signs of successfully treating coronavirus patients Update 1:44 a.m. EDT April 5: A drug used to treat HIV and cancer patients has shown success in treating some of the most severe coronavirus patients and was just cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to start a phase two clinical trial. Much of the work behind the drug is happening in Washington state. The drug was developed by a company called CytoDyn in Vancouver, Washington. It is manufactured by a company in Bothell, Washington, AGC Biologics, which makes a special molecule that is the key ingredient in the drug, KIRO-TV reported. Scientists at CytoDyn figured out it could work to treat COVID-19, and the first severely sick patients who’ve tried it have shown improvement. The drug is called leronlimab, comes in a vial and is a two-shot-per-week dose over two weeks. It is being tried on 10 of the most critically ill COVID-19 patients at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The patients are on ventilators, and some are barely conscious. “The first four patients who were intubated, two were extubated. One of them self-extubated and became alert,” said Nader Pourhassan, the CEO of CytoDyn. Now the two patients are out of the intensive care unit. Pourhassan said when he heard the results, he had to stop what he was doing. “And cried for about five minutes. It was very, very emotional,” Pourhassan said. He said studies show that in the U.S., 85% of COVID-19 patients who end up needing ventilators will die. But the patients who’ve gotten shots of this drug have shown strong results. “All eight patients we’ve analyzed so far – the first eight patients – saw immunological benefits. The FDA immediately allowed us to have a phase two randomized trial. We are initiating that today,” Pourhassan said Friday. He said the results were even seen in COVID patients who only got the shots three days, though it takes two weeks for the drugs to take full effect. Read more here. U.S. cases soar past 312,000, including nearly 8,500 deaths Update 12:53 a.m. EDT April 5: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 312,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 312,146 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 8,496 deaths. Worldwide, there are 1,203,099 confirmed cases and 64,774 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 126,168 reported in Spain and the 124,632 confirmed in Italy. Of the confirmed deaths in the U.S., 3,565 have occurred in New York, 846 in New Jersey, 540 in Michigan and 409 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 114,174 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 34,124, Michigan with 14,225 and California with 13,878. Five other states have each confirmed at least 10,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Louisiana: 12,496, including 409 deaths • Massachusetts: 11,736, including 216 deaths • Florida: 11,545, including 195 deaths • Pennsylvania: 10,444, including 139 deaths • Illinois: 10,359, including 244 deaths Meanwhile, Washington state has confirmed at least 7,500 novel coronavirus infections, while Texas and Georgia have confirmed at least 6,000 cases each. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Seminole County deputies said they found trafficking amounts of heroin and cocaine after detectives found a stolen car Thursday morning at a Florida home. Deputies said cash and several handguns were also seized at the home in unincorporated Lake Mary. A baby alligator was also being kept illegally in the home, deputies said. Four suspects are facing several felony charges. “Make no mistake, any criminals thinking they can use our coronavirus emergency to take advantage know that our dedicated men and women are keeping our neighborhoods safe,” said Sheriff Dennis Lemma.
  • The ACLU said Sunday it is seeking an injunction to block part of Puerto Rico's strict curfew against the new coronavirus, arguing that some of its restrictions are unconstitutional as the governor imposed even tighter measures, including requiring anyone entering a business to wear a face mask. The curfew imposed March 15 has shuttered non-essential businesses in the U.S. territory and ordered people to stay home from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. and remain there even outside those hours unless they have to buy food or medicine, go to the bank or have an emergency or health-related situation. Violators face a $5,000 or a six-month jail term, and police have cited hundreds of people. “There’s been no martial law declared, and there are no circumstances for it,” the ACLU argued. “As such, emergency states cannot be used to suspend fundamental rights.” Gov. Wanda Vázquez said she had not yet read the entire lawsuit but stressed she would take any and all measures to protect Puerto Ricans. It is the first time the ACLU has filed a lawsuit in a U.S. jurisdiction related to a coronavirus curfew. In a statement last month, the ACLU said it will keep monitoring the use of emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic. “History teaches that our government is most prone to committing abuses in times of crisis, and we must ensure that broad presidential powers are not misused beyond legitimate needs,” it said. Puerto Rico has reported 20 deaths and more than 470 confirmed cases, and many expect the island's curfew to be extended. On Sunday night, Vázquez announced stricter regulations for Holy Week as she and other government officials wore face masks during a news conference. She said nearly all businesses including supermarkets and banks must close on the three days from Good Friday through Easter Sunday, with only pharmacies and gas stations allowed to operate. She said people will be allowed outside during that period only if they are seeking medical help or an essential service. In addition, Vázquez ordered that until further notice, businesses prohibit entry to anyone not wearing some kind of face mask. She said scarves wrapped around the face would be acceptable. Officials did not say whether the curfew now scheduled to end April 12 might be extended. “The worse is yet to come for Puerto Rico,” said Health Secretary Lorenzo González, who warned that the peak of cases is expected between mid-April and early May. The government's executive order already bars people who aren't part of a “family nucleus” from getting together for meetings, parties or other gatherings. The ACLU suit filed Saturday argues that the state cannot decide who forms part of a family nucleus, nor determine who should be kicked out and fined inside a home. The lawsuit names three Puerto Ricans who say exemptions to the ban are confusing and that they worry about being arrested as they leave their homes daily to care for elderly mothers, including giving insulin injections. While the order allows people to leave their homes for emergencies or health-related situations, the ACLU argues the order is too vague and leaves too many interpretations in the hands of police officers who haven't been properly briefed. “The (executive) order pretends that constitutional rights be handed over blindly to the government, and that is unacceptable. The government cannot interfere with who you interact with within your home or define your family nucleus,” the lawsuit states. Fermín Arraiza, legal director of Puerto Rico’s ACLU chapter, said in a phone interview that another issue is the creation of new misdemeanors, an action that under the Constitution requires approval from the legislative branch. The ACLU filed the lawsuit in Puerto Rico’s Court of First Instance.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday that Washington will be returning more than 400 ventilators from the federal government to help the state of New York, which is experiencing a higher number of coronavirus cases. “I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together. This should guide all of our actions at an individual and state level in the coming days and weeks,” Inslee said. The ventilators were sent from the Strategic National Stockpile. Washington recently purchased more than 750 of its own ventilators that will arrive over the next several weeks. “Thanks to the mitigation efforts the governor has put in place and the cooperation of Washingtonians, we have seen fewer infections in our communities than anticipated. Our current status allows us to help others who have a more immediate need,' said Raquel Bono, a former vice admiral and director of Washington state’s COVID-19 Health System Response Management. There are more than 7,400 confirmed cases and 319 deaths in Washington state, according to The New York Times. In New York state, there are more than 122,500 confirmed cases and 4,159 deaths.
  • Police in a Louisiana city blared a siren signaling the start of curfew -- unknowing that it sounded similar to the alarm in the horror movie “The Purge.” Crowley police sounded the siren Friday night, prompting complaints from residents familiar with the horror franchise, KATC reported. Chief Jimmy Broussard said he was not familiar with the movies. The department will no longer use any type of siren to note curfew hours, KATC reported. The siren sounded eerily similar to the alarm in the movie “The Purge,” where it signaled all crimes, including murder, were legal for a 12-hour period. The Acadia Parish sheriff distanced his department from the noise. “Last night a ‘Purge Siren’ was utilized by the Crowley Police Department as part of their starting curfew,” K.P. Gibson said in a statement. “We have received numerous complaints with the belief that our agency was involved in this process. We were not involved in the use of the ’Purge Siren’ and will not utilize any type of siren for this purpose.”
  • A small coastal city in Georgia that thrives on tourism closed its beach, fearing carefree crowds of teenagers and college students posed too great a risk for spreading the new coronavirus. Two weeks later, the state's governor has reversed that decision, saying people weathering the outbreak need fresh air and exercise. The clash has thrust tiny Tybee Island, east of Savannah, into a thorny debate that keeps cropping up during the coronavirus pandemic: How much can officials curtail freedoms during the crisis? And should those calls be made at the federal, state or local level? Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions, sworn in barely three months ago, has taken on Gov. Brian Kemp after state officials on Friday reopened the beach in this community of 3,100 people. The beach typically operates with city-funded lifeguards, police patrols and trash cleanup. The change resulted from the Republican governor's order that people statewide should “shelter in place” — that is, they should stay home unless working jobs deemed essential, seeking medical care, shopping for groceries, or other exceptions including exercising outdoors. It also invalidated any restrictions already imposed by local governments if they went beyond the governor's limits. That meant a unanimous decision by Tybee Island’s city council to close its beach was suddenly overridden, and Sessions said the governor's office declined to reconsider when asked. Her blunt, public rebuttal to what she called the governor’s “reckless mandate” drew attention far beyond her small coastal home. “As the Pentagon ordered 100,000 body bags to store the corpses of Americans killed by the coronavirus, Governor Brian Kemp dictated that Georgia beaches must reopen,” Sessions said in a statement posted Saturday on the city’s website that was quickly spread on social media and quoted in news stories. Tybee Island mayors are elected in nonpartisan races, and Sessions doesn't identify as Democrat or Republican. Kemp noted Sunday on Twitter that state law enforcement officers were monitoring beaches at Tybee Island and elsewhere to ensure crowds weren’t gathering, and that beach traffic appeared sparse. Kemp said “beach gear and parties are prohibited.” “Patrols are vigilant so people can get fresh air and exercise while following social distancing rules,” the governor tweeted. The back-and-forth reflects the broader debate in the U.S. about whether severe limitations on people's movement are necessary, causing unacceptable disruption or even constitutional. Some faith leaders, for instance, have argued that bans on gatherings that applied to services violated religious freedom protections. The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a court to block part of Puerto Rico’s strict curfew, expressing concern about overreach. The Los Angeles County sheriff reversed his decision to shut down firearms dealers after he was sued by gun-rights groups. On Sunday, there were no lifeguards were on duty on Tybee's beaches, and local officials left in place plywood signs blocking boardwalks and wooden barricades to keep cars out of beachfront parking lots. “I would say we’re going to leave them up until somebody takes them down,” Sessions said in a phone interview. The mayor said she doesn’t understand why the state would assert control during the pandemic. Kemp’s office did not immediately respond to an email Sunday seeking further comment on the governor’s rationale. Kemp’s spokeswoman, Candice Broce, said in a statement Saturday that governor’s staff was in contact with Sessions and would provide resources as needed to enforce social distancing. Sessions said she’s thinks few people ventured to the beach over the weekend because they weren’t sure whether it was open or closed. She’s concerned that could change. The city moved to shut down the beach after thousands of young people swarmed to the sand and surf as schools and colleges canceled classes. Local officials worried that carefree crowds posed too great a risk for spreading the virus. Still, it was a painful decision for a city that’s typically hungry for spring tourists after the economically lean winter. “We are a very high-risk community. We have an older population and two nursing homes. We don’t have a medical facility,” Sessions said. “The sooner we take these actions, the sooner we’ll be able to get back to some type of normalcy.” For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and lead to death. On Sunday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported more than 6,600 confirmed infections statewide and 211 deaths. Chatham County, which includes Tybee Island and neighboring Savannah, had more than 80 cases and three deaths. At least one Tybee Island resident is among those infected, Sessions said, as is an officer on the community’s small police force. Kemp’s order that reopened the beach also lifted a temporary ban Tybee Island had imposed on people checking into vacation rental homes. Sessions said she spotted license plates from New York, New Jersey and other states reeling from the pandemic as she walked the island over the weekend. And she fears many more visitors will show up for the upcoming Easter weekend. “I tell people it’s such a small sacrifice,' said Sessions, who’s still urging people to stay off the beach. 'The beach is going to be there in two months. But will we be there to enjoy it?”
  • A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the coronavirus. This is the first known infection in an animal or a tiger anywhere, The Associated Press reported. It is believed Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger, was exposed to the virus by an employee at the zoo, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Several lions and tigers were showing symptoms of the virus March 27, but only the one tested positive. All of the big cats are expected to recover. The zoo has been closed to the public since about mid-March. Other animals in the zoo are not showing signs of the virus. The zoo on Tuesday shared video on social media of the tigers enjoying a swim. Agriculture officials are warning people infected with the coronavirus to avoid their pets, like they would other people. “Anyone sick with COVID-19 should restrict contact with animals, out of an abundance of caution including pets, during their illness, just as they would with other people,” agriculture officials said in a statement. “Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the new coronavirus, in what is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the U.S. or a tiger anywhere, federal officials and the zoo said Sunday. The 4-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia — and six other tigers and lions that have also fallen ill — are believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who wasn't yet showing symptoms, the zoo said. The first animal started showing symptoms March 27, and all are doing well and expected to recover, said the zoo, which has been closed to the public since March 16 amid the surging coronavirus outbreak in New York. The test result stunned zoo officials: “I couldn't believe it,” director Jim Breheny said. But he hopes the finding can contribute to the global fight against the virus that causes COVID-19. “Any kind of knowledge that we get on how it’s transmitted, how different species react to it, that knowledge somehow is going to provide a greater base resource for people,” he said in an interview. The finding raises new questions about transmission of the virus in animals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which confirmed Nadia's test result at its veterinary lab, said there are no known cases of the virus in U.S. pets or livestock. “There doesn’t appear to be, at this time, any evidence that suggests that the animals can spread the virus to people or that they can be a source of the infection in the United States,' Dr. Jane Rooney, a veterinarian and a USDA official, said in an interview. The USDA said Sunday it’s not recommending routine coronavirus testing of animals, in zoos or elsewhere, or of zoo employees. Still, Rooney said a small number of animals in the U.S. have been tested through the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories, and all those tests came back negative except Nadia's. The coronavirus outbreaks around the world are driven by person-to-person transmission, experts say. There have been a handful of reports outside the U.S. of pet dogs or cats becoming infected after close contact with contagious people, including a Hong Kong dog that tested positive for a low level of the pathogen in February and early March. Hong Kong agriculture authorities concluded that pet dogs and cats couldn’t pass the virus to human beings but could test positive if exposed by their owners. Some researchers have been trying to understand the susceptibility of different animal species to the virus, and to determine how it spreads among animals, according to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been recommending that out of an abundance of caution, people ill with the coronavirus should limit contact with animals — advice that the veterinary group reiterated after learning of the tiger's test result. In general, the CDC also advises people to wash their hands after handling animals and do other things to keep pets and their homes clean. At the Bronx Zoo, Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions developed dry coughs, and some of the cats exhibited some wheezing and loss of appetite, said Dr. Paul Calle, the zoo's chief veterinarian. The staff figured there could be a relatively routine explanation for the cats' symptoms but tested Nadia for coronavirus out of “due diligence and an abundance of caution,” Breheny said. Only Nadia was tested because it takes anesthesia to get a sample from a big cat, and she had already been knocked out to be examined. Calle said the test was different from the one used for people and was carried out by a veterinary school laboratory, not one that handles human samples. “There is no competition for testing between these two very different situations,” he said. The seven sickened cats live in two areas at the zoo, and the animals had contact with the same worker, who is doing OK, zoo officials said. They said there are no signs of illness in other big cats on the property. Staffers who work with the cats will now wear infection-protection garb, as primate keepers have done for years because of the animals' closer genetic ties to human beings, Breheny said. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as a fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and can be fatal. ___ Associated Press Medical Writer Mike Stobbe contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.
  • A Florida man is accused of torturing a dog before killing it and then placing the animal in a hot oven, authorities said. Vicasso Lara, 24, of Lehigh Acres, was charged with torturing an animal, inflicting pain and serious injury, and causing death, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release posted on its Facebook page. “I’m speechless,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said in a news release. “This is possibly the most brutal and horrific example of animal abuse my team or I have ever seen.” Deputies conducted a well-being check at a Lehigh Acres residence at 10 p.m. Friday, the Fort Myers News-Press reported. After speaking with Lara and a witness, they responded to another residence, where they saw several pools of blood outside the home and bloody footprints near its rear entrance, the Sheriff’s Office said. Detectives executed a search warrant and discovered the body of a dog in a kitchen oven, which had been turned up to its highest setting, WINK-TV reported. Detectives said the dog had been stabbed and bludgeoned before it was placed in the oven, the television station reported. Lara was arrested early Saturday and booked into the Lee County Jail, according to arrest records. He is due in court May 4.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has brought the airline industry nearly to a halt. In March, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced that its revenue fell by $2 billion due to the spread of COVID-19 and a drop in demand for air travel. On Sunday, Delta Air Lines has begun notifying its flyers about changes to its well-known SkyMiles program due to the sudden drop in air travel. “On behalf of all of us at Delta, I want to thank our customers for your continued loyalty during these unprecedented times. While our focus is on keeping customers and employees safe and healthy today and always, you are a part of the Delta family and we know how important these benefits are to you,” said Sandeep Dube, Delta’s senior vice president – customer engagement and loyalty, and CEO of Delta Vacations. “That’s why as coronavirus continues to dramatically impact travel across the globe, you don’t have to worry about your benefits – they’ll be extended so you can enjoy them when you are ready to travel again.” Here are the changes: Medallion members: All Medallion statuses for 2020 will be automatically extended for the 2021 Medallion Year. All Medallion Qualification Miles from 2020 are being rolled over to 2021 to qualify for 2022 Medallion status. Delta Sky Club Individual and Executive memberships with an expiration of March 1 or later will receive six additional months of Delta Sky Club access beyond their expiration date. Delta SkyMiles American Express Card members: If you have one of the following in your SkyMiles profile “My Wallet” that is valid now or has expired since March 1, 2020, Delta is extending the expiration dates to give you additional time to enjoy your benefits. SkyMiles members: If you have one of the following in your SkyMiles profile “My Wallet” that is valid now or has expired since March 1 Delta is extending the expiration dates to give you additional time to enjoy your benefits: The updates will happen automatically over the coming weeks, with no action needed from customers, Delta said. “We are continuously monitoring how coronavirus impacts travel and will make additional adjustments to support our customers’ needs as the pandemic evolves,” said Dube.