States react to Trump's plan to reopen U.S. while some hear a call to arms

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Medical workers are seen as they take swab samples from people to be tested for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on April 16, 2020.Hector Retamal / AFP - Getty Images

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A number of governors said that while they would take President Donald Trump's new guidelines to reopen state economies under consideration, they were wary of moving too fast in the face of unresolved issues like testing shortages.

But some Americans are calling for a quick return to business as normal and marched on state capitols Friday to make their voices heard. Meanwhile, extremists have interpreted Trump's recent tweets to "LIBERATE" certain states as a call to arms.

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Sign of the times, cont'd

Seattle eyes reopening economy

Seattle was the country's first coronavirus hot spot, and soon it could be one of the first big cities to reopen its economy. When and how that happens will depend largely on the region's ability to get adequate testing and protect its front-line health care workers, Mayor Jenny Durkan said.

"It's a marathon, not a sprint," she said. "We're not even really halfway through, even though we've hit the peak."

Read the full story here.

Michigan gov. says she hopes to have 'some relaxing' of stay-at-home order by May 1

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that she hopes to be in a position to ease her state’s strict stay-at-home order by May 1, although she warned that it must be a decision based on scientific data to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus.

“I do hope to have some relaxing come May 1, but it's two weeks away and the information and the data and our ability to test is changing so rapidly, it's hard to tell you precisely where we'll be in a week from now, much less two,” Whitmer said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The Democratic governor did not elaborate Friday on which part of the order she might be willing to lift. She said they’ve had to be “really aggressive” in their response to the coronavirus outbreak because she said Michigan has the third highest death rate in the country. She has faced fierce backlash from Michigan residents, drawing large protests, after instituting one of the most restrictive stay-at-home orders in the nation. 

Read the full story here.

Norway releases prisoners to prevent spread of coronavirus in prisons

Norway has released almost 100 prisoners with ankle monitors in the last month, with plans to send up to 200 more home in the coming weeks, the country's Directorate of Correctional Service announced on Friday. 

Prisoners serving sentences of up to six months or who are in the last six months of a longer prison sentence have been able to remain in their homes with ankle monitors in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 since early March, the department wrote in a statement on its website. 

The country of over 5 million people has reported 6,891 cases since the crisis began, with 136 deaths so far. Kindergartens, after-school clubs and elementary schools are expected to reopen across the country by the end of April. 

CDC chief warns 'it's important not to let up at all' as parts of U.S. seek to reopen

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that as parts of the U.S. seek to reopen amid the coronavirus outbreak, people should still be vigilant by practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing their hands.

“It’s important not to let up at all,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.

Those in areas where there are still significant ongoing transmissions, such as New York, Boston, Baltimore and Washington, should continue following the mitigation strategies recommended by the federal government, Redfield said.

“We need to be very vigilant in that this new opening up — which has that requirement of early case diagnosis and isolation, contact tracing — is really embedded, as you'll see in the phases, with still maintaining that personal vigilance, that personal mitigation, so that we can continue to limit and protect the vulnerable in this nation,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Africa could see 300,000 coronavirus deaths this year

Africa could see 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus this year even under the best-case scenario, according to a new report released Friday that cites modeling from Imperial College London.

Under the worst-case scenario with no interventions against the virus, Africa could see 3.3 million deaths and 1.2 billion infections, the report by the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa said. Even with “intense social distancing,” under the best-case scenario the continent could see more than 122 million infections, the report said.

Any of the scenarios would overwhelm Africa’s largely fragile and underfunded health systems, experts have warned. Under the best-case scenario, $44 billion would be needed for testing, personal protective equipment and treatment, the report said, citing UNECA estimates. The worst-case scenario would cost $446 billion.

The continent as of Friday had more than 18,000 confirmed virus cases, but experts have said Africa is weeks behind Europe in the pandemic and the rate of increase has looked alarmingly similar.

Serbia under full lockdown for Orthodox Easter weekend

Serbia will be under curfew for its longest lockdown to date due to the coronavirus for the upcoming Orthodox Easter weekend, similar to the full lockdown style implemented in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated. 

All residents will be under curfew from 5 P.M. local time on Friday until Tuesday 5 A.M., Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in a TV interview earlier in the week.

All supermarkets and businesses will be fully closed, although dog-walking will be allowed close to home for no more than 20 minutes. Serbia has confirmed around 5,000 reported cases as of Friday.

Pandemic 'potentially catastrophic' for millions of children, UN says

While children have largely escaped the most severe symptoms of COVID-19, the social and economic impact “is potentially catastrophic for millions" of them according to a U.N. report released Thursday evening.

“All children, of all ages, and in all countries, are affected,” it said. “However, some children are destined to bear the greatest costs.” Those badly hit will be children most affected by poverty: those living in refugee and displacement camps, conflict zones, institutions and detention centers, the report said.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres also issued a statement, saying the pandemic is putting many of the world’s children “in jeopardy” and urged families and leaders everywhere to “protect our children.”

Guterres said the lives of children “are being totally upended” by COVID-19, pointing out that almost all students out of school, family stress levels are rising as communities face lockdown, and reduced household income is expected to force poor families to cut back on health and food expenditures which will “particularly affect children.”