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Angela Merkel quarantined, Rand Paul tests positive, Ohio on lockdown

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: The nearly empty 42nd Street in New York on March 22, 2020.
The nearly empty 42nd Street in New York on March 22, 2020.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The number of global coronavirus cases surged past 300,000 on Sunday, with more than 13,000 deaths worldwide, according to John Hopkins University, which reported that China, Italy and the U.S. had the most people diagnosed with the respiratory illness.

The news came as the number of Americans under virtual lockdown grew to over 80 million on Saturday, and Ohio issued new shelter-in-place orders.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is herself in quarantine after a doctor who treated her tested positive for coronavirus, her press office announced Sunday.

And Sen. Rand Paul became the first known U.S. Senator to test positive for coronavirus.

“He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events,“ the senator’s Twitter account said on Sunday.

Elsewhere, China ended a three-day streak of reporting no new coronavirus cases after 46 people tested positive positive for COVID-19. On the same day, China's National Health Commission also reported six new deaths. Five of the deaths occurred in Wuhan in Hubei province, where the outbreak originated late last year.

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How are imposters imitating the World Health Organization?

The World Health Organization warned over the weekend of an uptick in criminals disguising themselves as WHO workers to steal money or personal identity information vulnerable people. 

The United Nations branch responsible for public health around the globe urged people to verify the authenticity of anyone claiming to be from WHO. It also issued a list of questions and information the organization will never ask for.  

The only request for financial support WHO has made, it said, was for people to give to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. "Any other appeal for funding or donations that appears to be from WHO is a scam," the organization said.  

The World Health Organization will:

never ask for your username or password to access safety information

never email attachments you didn’t ask for

never ask you to visit a link outside of

never charge money to apply for a job, register for a conference, or reserve a hotel

never conduct lotteries or offer prizes, grants, certificates or funding through email.



IOC says canceling Tokyo Olympics wouldn't solve anything and 'isn't on the agenda'

The International Olympic Committee said Sunday that canceling the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo "is not on the agenda," even as Australia and Canada became the first two countries to pull out of the games because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Olympic committees of both countries issued statements late Sunday (midday Monday in Australia) saying they wouldn't send teams unless the games are postponed for a year. The games are scheduled to open in just four months.

In a long statement, the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, said the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, had led the organization's executive board to conclude that "the IOC needs to take the next step in its scenario-planning."

But it said "a cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody."

"Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda," it said.

Parks, trails closed in Los Angeles area

More than 75,000 acres of parks and trails were closed indefinitely in and around the Los Angeles region Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said.

The announcement, by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, expands on an order Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued earlier Sunday closing sports and recreation at city parks and parking at city beaches as images of packed trails and beaches sparked an outcry while California is under a statewide stay-at-home order.

"This is serious. Stay home and save lives," Garcetti tweeted.

The two orders effectively close all parks and restrict access to many beaches across tens of thousands of acres from Los Angeles north across the San Fernando Valley, including the popular Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

Canada, Australia pull out of Olympics

Canada and Australia will not send athletes to the Olympics later this year if the games are not delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Sunday.

In a statement, the Canadian Olympic Committee said it was “urgently” calling on the groups that organize the games to postpone the event for one year. “This is not solely about athlete health — this is about public health,” the group said.

In a similar statement announced Monday in Australia, that nation's organizing committee said its board had "unanimously agreed that an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad."

Read the full story.

Americans staying at home struggle to balance work, family

Trump approves 'major disaster' declaration for California

President Donald Trump on Sunday approved a major disaster declaration for California in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said.

The declaration provides extra federal assistance to the state, where nearly 1,500 cases of the disease have been confirmed and 27 people have died.

The funding will cover virus-related crisis counseling. The White House said direct federal assistance is also available. A major disaster declaration for Washington state was declared earlier Sunday.

Senate fails to pass stimulus package

A vote to advance the massive coronavirus stimulus bill failed on Sunday night in the Senate, as negotiations so far had yet to produce a deal on the more than trillion-dollar aid package.

Republicans, who needed 60 votes to move forward on the bill, weren't able to win over any Democrats to proceed, meaning that no aid will flow to the economy — including checks to individuals, help for small businesses and bailouts for big corporations — until a deal is reached.

Democrats said they dissatisfied with worker protections in the bill, which was written by Republicans, and say the rules on corporate bailouts are too lax.

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Medical volunteers step up to help

Website selling phony test kits shut down, DOJ says

A federal court in Texas temporarily shut down what prosecutors said was a fraudulent website claiming to offer coronavirus test kits, authorities said Sunday.

The Department of Justice said the site, “,” claimed to provide access to vaccine kits from the World Health Organization. Customers would pay a $4.95 shipping charge for that access.

“In fact, there are currently no legitimate COVID-19 vaccines and the WHO is not distributing any such vaccine,” the DOJ said in a statement.

The site’s operator, which wasn’t named in a criminal complaint, faces civil charges of wire fraud. A federal court judge issued a temporary restraining order in response to the department’s complaint, blocking public access to the site, the DOJ said.

Tito’s vodka to make hand sanitizer

Tito’s Handmade Vodka is the latest liquor company to announce it will be using its distillery as a production facility for hand sanitizer. The company said it has enough supplies to make 24 tons of hand sanitizer over the next couple of weeks, and it plans to make more “as needed.”

“Currently, we are testing our formula, procuring necessary components of supplies and packaging, and preparing for production as we wait for the additional required ingredients to be delivered to the distillery,” the company said in a statement.

Tito’s joins the list of major liquor production companies and local distilleries converting their factories into facilities for producing hand sanitizer. Pernod Ricard USA, which oversees Absolut Vodka and Kahlua among other major alcohol brands, said on Wednesday it is planning to use all of its manufacturing sites to produce hand sanitizer. Several local distilleries are pitching in to do the same.

Trump activating National Guard in California, New York, Washington state

President Donald Trump on Sunday announced he would activate the federal National Guard to assist Washington, California and New York, three of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

He added that those three states have either been approved or will soon be approved for major disaster declarations to allow the federal government to more seamlessly provide supplies.

Trump said there are large quantities of masks, respirators, gowns, face shields and other items currently en route to those states, due to arrive within days. He added that he has ordered the government to set up large federal medical stations in each of the states.

The Sunday evening announcement came as governors clamored for more assistance from the federal government in combating COVID-19, which is expanding its reach across both the U.S. and the world. Much of the United States is now under some level of economic shutdown.

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