The Latest: Tokyo Olympics unrealistic without a vaccine?
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:
— Head of Japan’s medical association: Olympics difficult without vaccine.
— Trump projecting coronavirus deaths in United States could reach 70,000.
— Airline to require all customers wear face covering while traveling.
— Wuhan again reports no new coronavirus cases or deaths.
— Workers at Chicago-area nursing homes set May 8 strike date.
TOKYO — The head of Japan’s medical association thinks it will be difficult to hold the Olympics without an effective coronavirus vaccine.
“I hope vaccines and drugs will be developed as soon as possible,” Japan Medical Association President Yoshitake Yokokura said Tuesday.
Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games until July next year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Japan is under a monthlong state of emergency amid a rapid increase of infections throughout the country, where hospitals are overburdened.
Yokokura did not say whether he opposes the Olympics without a vaccine.
“The key is a situation with the infections at that point. If the infections are under control only in Japan, it will still be difficult to hold the games unless the pandemic is over in the rest of the world,” he said.
Experts have said it could take 12-18 months or longer to develop a vaccine that is safe and effective for clinical use.
Japan has 13,576 reported virus cases, plus 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year, with 389 deaths, the health ministry said Tuesday.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is projecting that coronavirus deaths in the United States could reach 70,000, but says original projections were much higher as he explained why voters should consider re-electing him in November.
Trump has at times this month cited 60,000 as the estimate of how many people would die from COVID-19.
Trump was asked during a White House news conference on Monday whether an American president deserved to be re-elected after losing more Americans in six weeks than died in the Vietnam War. Approximately 58,000 U.S. troops were killed during the Vietnam War.
The number of dead in the U.S. from COVID-19 surpassed 55,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Trump said the nation has lost a lot of people.
“But if you look at what original projections were — 2.2 million — we’re probably heading to 60,000-70,000. It’s far too many. One person is too many for this. And I think we’ve made a lot of really good decisions. The big decision was closing the border or doing the ban, people coming in from China.”
Trump added: “I think we’ve done a great job. I will say this, one person is too many.”
Trump is relying on a pandemic forecast that predicted 1.5 million to 2.2 million deaths in the United States in a worst-case scenario, without efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus through social distancing.
NEW YORK — JetBlue will start requiring all customers to wear a face covering while traveling, the airline announced Monday.
Passengers will be required to cover their nose and mouth during check-in, boarding, in flight and while deplaning. The policy goes into effect May 4.
“This is the new flying etiquette,” Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue, said in a news release. “Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others.”
Delta announced earlier Monday that it will require flight attendants to wear masks starting Tuesday, and American Airlines said Monday night it will mandate the same beginning May 1. The airlines will join United, JetBlue and Frontier in requiring masks be worn by flight attendants during flights.
The new regulations follow outrage on social media over a crowded American Airlines flight with many passengers not wearing masks. The Association of Flight Attendants, which represents United flight attendants but not those at JetBlue, American, Delta or Southwest, asked the federal government to require that passengers wear masks.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 14 new cases of the coronavirus and one more death, bringing its national totals to 10,752 cases and 244 fatalities.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday said four of the fresh cases were from the capital of Seoul and two were from the hardest-hit city of Daegu, where infections have waned after a surge in late February and early March that overwhelmed hospital capacities.
At least 1,056 infections have been linked to international arrivals. The country was reporting around 500 new cases per day in early March, but hasn’t reported a daily jump above 100 since April 1.
With its caseload slowing, South Korea has started to relax social distancing guidelines and shift its focus to easing the economic shock. President Moon Jae-in during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday said the trade-dependent economy is going through a “warlike situation” amid the pandemic that has hurt major industries including airlines, marine transport and shipbuilding while calling for “all-out efforts” to protect companies and jobs.
BEIJING — The Chinese city of Wuhan that was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic again reported no new cases or deaths Tuesday and its hospitals remained empty of virus patients for a second straight day.
China as a whole reported six new cases, three of them brought from overseas and three in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia. No new deaths were reported nationwide and 648 current confirmed cases remained registered. Another 1,006 people were under isolation and monitoring, suspected of having the virus or after testing positive without showing any symptoms.
China, where the virus first emerged late last year, has reported a total of 4,633 deaths among 82,836 cases.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Surfers greeted a spectacular sunrise in Christchurch, construction workers purchased their favorite espresso coffees and some lawmakers returned to Parliament in the capital of Wellington on Tuesday as aspects of New Zealand life began returning to normal.
The country had been in a strict lockdown for more than a month but those conditions were eased a little beginning at midnight Monday to allow some parts of the economy to restart. Among those places to reopen were construction sites, and cafes and restaurants that sell takeout food and coffee. People are still required to work from home if they can and maintain social distancing.
New Zealand on Tuesday reported three new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its total to 1,472. There have been 19 deaths.
CHICAGO — Workers at 40 Chicago-area nursing homes announced they have set a May 8 strike date over wages as many of the facilities are treating patients suffering from the coronavirus.
Members of the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 10,000 workers at 100 nursing homes, most in the Chicago area, are negotiating with the Illinois Association of Healthcare Facilities to replace a contract that expires April 30.
Shaba Andrich of the union’s nursing home division said many of the workers are making little more than Chicago’s minimum wage of $13 an hour while taking care of society’s most vulnerable members, adding they are seeking at least $15 an hour and hazard pay for working during the pandemic. The workers are also demanding improved staffing, better training and more personal protective equipment.
The strike threat comes a day after Illinois officials announced a jump to 625 deaths from the coronavirus of people who live or work at long-term care facilities. The Illinois Department of Public Health says the state has about 1,200 long-term care facilities. As of Friday, at least 278 facilities had 4,298 cases of residents and workers who tested positive for COVID-19.
The association representing nursing home operators say they have offered an 11% pay hike, stable employee health insurance contributions, earlier access to sick time during the pandemic and creation of a training fund, among other contract enhancements.
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. humanitarian chief says $90 billion could provide income support, food and a health response to the coronavirus pandemic for 700 million of the world’s most vulnerable people — a price tag just 1% of the $8 trillion stimulus package the 20 richest countries put in place to safeguard the global economy.
Mark Lowcock said on a video briefing most experts agree the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t reached the poorest parts of the world, but might peak there in the next three to six months.
He said about 700 million people — 10% of the world’s population — are most vulnerable and concentrated in about 30 to 40 countries that already receive humanitarian assistance, and will see a big drop in incomes as the virus spreads and governments impose restrictive measures and lockdowns.
Lowcock said “if you wanted to protect them against that drop in income, then probably for about $60 billion you could do that.”
And he said for something like $30 billion, the poorest people facing the threat of starvation can get food, and the health response to COVID-19 can be financed.
Lowcock said probably two-thirds of the $90 billion could come from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and the rest could be financed by a one-time increase in government aid to developing countries.
He said “$90 billion is a lot of money but it is an affordable sum of money.”
Lowcock said the United Nations is not going to appeal for $90 billion, but “what I am suggesting is a lot of the suffering and loss of life can be contained within sums of money which are imaginable.”
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state may be just weeks away from “meaningful changes” to its stay-at-home order that took effect March 19.
But he warned Monday that progress will be jeopardized if people crowd beaches as they did in some places over the warm spring weekend. It’s one of his most optimistic timelines yet for easing coronavirus-related restrictions, though he didn’t give a firm date.
It comes as local governments seek their own changes, with some rural counties seeking to ease restrictions and those in the San Francisco Bay Area extending them through the end of May.
WASHINGTON — The CDC planned to release new priorities for coronavirus testing Monday, including testing asymptomatic individuals in high-risk settings.
And the White House was set to unveil what it described as a comprehensive overview of its efforts to make testing for COVID-19 more widely available.
The White House is aiming for states to have enough tests and needed supplies to test at least 2.6% of their populations per month — a figure needed to catch asymptomatic spread.
The administration is also releasing a “testing blueprint” for states, outlining how they should prioritize testing as they devise their reopening plans.
It includes a focus on surveillance testing, as well as “rapid response” programs to isolate those who test positive and identify those they came in contact with.
The administration aims to have the market “flooded” with tests for the fall, when COVID-19 is expected to recur alongside the seasonal flu.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott outlined a slow reopening of one of the world’s largest economies amid the coronavirus pandemic, allowing restaurants, retailers, movie theaters and malls to start letting customers trickle into their establishments starting Friday.
The Republican’s plan allows those establishments to let in customers up to 25% of capacity as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.
Those in counties that have reported fewer than five cases of the coronavirus will be able to serve customers at a 50% threshold unless officials see a spike in new cases.
Abbott also said he will let his monthlong stay-at-home order expire on Thursday. Bars, barbershops, hair salons and gyms remain closed.
Abbott began easing some of the restrictions last week, starting with reopening state parks, allowing “retail-to-go” and letting doctors perform nonessential surgeries.
Abbott has been under some pressure for a quicker re-opening but chose a cautious route intended to avoid a spike in new cases.
His plan will likely be met with caution in the state’s largest cities, where officials have enforced more aggressive restrictions and expressed concern that Texas ranks near the bottom per capita in testing.
LIBERTY, Mo. — All Missouri businesses and social events will be allowed to re-open next week as long as residents and business owners continue to practice proper social distancing requirements, Gov. Mike Parson announced.
The Republican governor said the first phase of the re-opening might look different in various regions of the state and local governments will be able to impose stricter limitations if their officials believe it is necessary.
But he said as of next Monday, Missourians will be able to return to all businesses, such as restaurants, manufacturing plants, gyms and hair salons, along with churches, sporting events and social gatherings.
Kansas City’s stay-at-home order is scheduled to continue through May 15. St. Louis, which has had a majority of the state’s cases, has not yet said when it will lift its order.
There will be no limit on the size of social gatherings if people maintain the current 6-foot social distancing efforts but some businesses — such as retail stores — will be required to take extra steps, such as limiting occupancy, he said.
The governors of Nevada and Colorado say they will join three West Coast states in coordinating on issues for reopening society amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said Monday that they are now part of the Western States Pact, which was announced April 13 by the governors of California, Oregon and Washington.
The group of states don’t have specific plans on how to scale back stay-at-home orders or reopen businesses.
Instead, they said they would coordinate those decisions while first considering the health of residents.
Northeastern states made a similar announcement April 13, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Polis and Sisolak emphasized the sharing of data and best practices among the Western states for modifying stay-at-home and other protective measures to combat the pandemic.
Sisolak called the partnership vital for Nevada’s recovery because of the millions of people from the West who vacation and travel to his state.
BOSTON — The coronavirus kept a tight grip on hard-hit Massachusetts, which added 1,000 new deaths in just five days as the pandemic peaks in the state.
Reported deaths hit 3,003, and there are indications the true death toll could be much higher.
Officials are hopeful things could be turning a corner, but newspapers print page after page of death notices.
“The state is “still in the surge and very much in the fight against COVID-19,” Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said.
Massachusetts ranks third in confirmed U.S. cases, behind New York and New Jersey.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has announced that activities such as fishing, hunting and golfing can resume on May 5, at which time people can also return to state parks and other state lands for day trips.
However, Inslee said Monday that if the state sees an uptick in infections of the coronavirus or if people don’t continue to abide by social distancing protocols, the activities could once again be restricted.
Public gatherings and events, team sports and camping are all still prohibited under the current stay-at-home order that has been in place since March 23.
SYDNEY — Sydney’s Bondi Beach has been re-opened to swimmers and surfers despite the local area having Australia’s highest concentration of COVID-19 cases.
The beach was opened from 7 a.m. on Tuesday until 5 p.m. with officials keeping tallies of the number of beach goers coming and going through gates to ensure social distancing. People were not permitted to linger on the sand.
Hundreds braved cool autumn weather to return to the water soon after the gates opened.
Police closed the beach five weeks ago because of thousands of people congregating there in defiance of social distancing regulations. Weeks later, a virus testing tent was established behind the beach because of the high rate of infections, particularly among backpackers who often live locally in crowded conditions.
The Waverley municipality in wealthy eastern Sydney, which includes Bondi, says it continues to have the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Australia.
Waverly Mayor Paula Masselos says the waters of Bondi, plus Bronte and Tamarama beaches to the south were re-opened “for the sole purpose of exercising.”