Tourists enter reopened Grand Canyon despite virus concerns

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — Tourists appeared ready to roam Grand Canyon National Park again after it partially reopened Friday, despite objections from Navajo officials and others that it could hurt efforts to control the coronavirus.

By 7:30 a.m., more than two dozen people were enjoying viewpoints along the South Rim.

The Grand Canyon had been closed since April 1, one of the last big national parks to shut down completely to visitors. At the time, health officials in Coconino County said keeping the park open put employees, residents and tourists at risk.

Park officials said the South Rim entrance will only open from 6-10 a.m. through Monday. Commercial services within the park remain closed. Those include hiking trails, visitors centers, hotels and restaurants — the places people tend to congregate. There are no overnight accommodations available. Some restrooms along with portable ones were available.

Meanwhile, the residential area where more than 2,000 people live year-round was cordoned off with cones and barrels to keep visitors away from the housing areas. About 20 miles (32 kilometers) of roadway were accessible to tourists that allow them to walk along the rim of the canyon and stand at a number of viewpoints.

Mexico reports 47,144 cases, 5,045 deaths

MEXICO CITY - Mexico registered 47,144 cases of coronavirus on Saturday, with the country's death toll rising to 5,045, health authorities said.

Mexico has seen a slightly higher death rate from coronavirus than the global average so far due to the widespread presence of pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity, experts say.

Obama tells 2020 high school graduates they'll have to grow up fast

Former President Barack Obama gave a virtual commencement address to graduating high school seniors across the country Saturday night during a televised event hosted by NBA star LeBron James.

It was part of a special called "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020" that included appearances by numerous musical stars, celebrities and athletes, including the Jonas Brothers, Megan Rapinoe, Pharrell Williams, Maren Morris and Malala Yousafzai.

The former president expressed pride in the class of 2020, especially because "the world is turned upside down by a global pandemic," he said.

"You’re going to have to grow up faster than some generations," he said.

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A 46-year-old doctor with coronavirus was critically ill but made startling recovery

A 46-year-old physician in Arizona with no prior health issues contracted the coronavirus and was so ill that his doctors feared he would die. But Karl Viddal ended his nearly two-month hospital stay on Friday after being put on a life-support machine that is not widely available.

His treatment illustrates how hospitals around the country are using a variety of methods to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The Phoenix-area physician came down with flu-like symptoms soon after returning from a trip abroad in March, according to an account of his illness and recovery by the Dignity Health hospital system. As he began to feel worse and had trouble breathing, the father of three young children was admitted to a hospital in Gilbert, Arizona, on March 22.

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Wisconsin nurse went to bar to help sister reopen, now apologizes for 'lapse in judgment'

Wisconsin nurse who was interviewed on TV while at a local bar to support her sister's reopening is now apologizing for not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing.

The apology from Katie Koutsky comes after she was interviewed Wednesday by NBC affiliate WTMJ in Milwaukee for a story on crowds gathering at bars in the nearby city of West Allis after the state Supreme Court struck down the governor's stay-at-home order.

“I have a toddler at home, and I’m a full-time nurse, so it’s been very stressful and hard to not be able to go out and be with my friends and family at the bars,” Koutski said at the time, telling the outlet that she didn't think being at the bar presented a greater risk than going to a grocery store.

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Obama slams Trump administration's leadership amid coronavirus pandemic

WASHINGTON — Former President Barack Obama criticized “the folks in charge” for their response to the coronavirus pandemic in a commencement address Saturday, offering some of his most pointed condemnation of President Donald Trump’s administration.

“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Obama said in the address, which was streamed online. “A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

“If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you," said Obama, who has rarely criticized Trump publicly since leaving office three years ago.

The commencement address was delivered to 27,000 students at 78 historically black colleges and universities in a two-hour event called “Show Me Your Walk H.B.C.U. Edition.”

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Pence to visit Florida on Wednesday

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence announced he will travel to Florida on Wednesday to meet with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss the state’s phased economic reopening. 

Pence’s office said the vice president will also deliver personal protective equipment to a nursing home and attend a roundtable discussion with hospitality and tour tourism industry leaders. 

Pence’s trip comes as both he and the president have started to make out of town visits to battleground states to highlight their coronavirus relief response.

DeSantis, a close ally of President Donald Trump, has been criticized for his response to the pandemic, including allowing some beaches to remain open to spring breakers and rushing to reopen the state.

New York will reopen racetracks as COVID-19 deaths keep declining

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that the state will on June 1 reopen its horse-racing tracks. Watkins Glen International automobile racetrack will also reopen. But events at all the tracks will be without fans.

The state is "looking for all opportunities to reopen economic activity without crowds," Cuomo said.

In addition, Westchester County and Suffolk County in the New York City metropolitan area will soon be able to perform elective surgeries and provide ambulatory care. 

"Hospitals are safe places to go," said Cuomo. "We want to make sure that people who need medical services get it."

As the state continues it's phased reopening, Cuomo said officials anticipate a possible increase in coronavirus cases, but, he added, "We don't want to see a spike" that would overwhelm hospitals' capacity to care for COVID-19 patients.

The number of deaths from the virus increased on Friday to 157, compared to the previous day's 132, which was the lowest number of fatalities the state saw this week. The number of new hospitalizations was 400, down from the prior day's tally of 431, Cuomo said.

NYC tourist who posted pics at the beach in Hawaii arrested for violating quarantine rule

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A New York City tourist in Hawaii was arrested for violating the state's quarantine rule after he shared photos of himself on Instagram at the beach, authorities said.

Tarique Peters, 23, was arrested on Friday after local residents saw the pictures and alerted Hawaiian authorities.

"He allegedly left his hotel room the day he arrived and traveled many places using public transportation," a press release from the state's COVID-19 information center states.

Peters posted numerous photos of himself as he walked around Waikiki, went to the beach with a surfboard and sunbathed, the release states.

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