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White House considers scaling back daily briefings after disinfectant comments

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Georgia
Jessica King sits under a dryer at Three-13 Salon, Spa and Boutique, during the phased reopening of businesses and restaurants from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in the state, in Marietta, Ga., on April 24, 2020.Bita Honarvar / Reuters

The White House is considering scaling back President Donald Trump's daily briefings on the coronavirus pandemic as his aides and allies increasingly worry that his lengthy appearances may backfire politically.

Those concerns reached an inflection point when the president suggested on Thursday evening that people might be able to inject household cleaning items or disinfectants to deter the coronavirus, sparking immediate and universal backlash from the medical community.

The evaluation of Trump's briefings comes as the worldwide death toll for the coronavirus surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Over 20,000 of those fatalities have been in the United Kingdom, the country's health minister said Saturday, making it the fifth nation to reach that grim milestone.In China, where the pandemic began, the government reported no new deaths for a 10th straight day.Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 26 for coronavirus news.

1019d ago / 1:51 AM UTC

Californians head to the beach despite stay-at-home order

Summer-like weather across much of California drove large crowds to the beaches Saturday despite a statewide stay-at-home order intended to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Temperatures reached into the 80s and 90s in Southern California, where people were swimming in the Pacific and sunbathing on beaches that had previously been closed to discourage large gatherings. Not all were reopened but some counties had eased restrictions while warning people to maintain social distancing.

Read the full story here.

1019d ago / 12:33 AM UTC
1019d ago / 11:35 PM UTC
1019d ago / 11:32 PM UTC

1918 flu carries lessons on dangers of reopening too soon

When the clock struck noon, the masks came off.

It was Nov. 21, 1918, and San Francisco residents gathered in the streets to celebrate not only the recent end of World War I and the Allies’ victory, but also the end of an onerous ordinance that shut down the city and required all residents and visitors to wear face coverings in public to stop the spread of the so-called Spanish flu.

Now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, as President Donald Trump urges the reopening of the country and some states, such as Georgia, move to resume normal business even as new cases emerge, how officials acted during the 1918 flu pandemic, specifically in cities such as San Francisco, offers a cautionary tale about the dangers of doing so too soon.

Read the full story here.

1019d ago / 11:32 PM UTC
1019d ago / 11:14 PM UTC

Coronavirus spreads in a New York nursing home forced to take recovering patients

The coronavirus patients began arriving the last week of March, transferred to the Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center under a New York state mandate requiring nursing homes to accept those recovering from COVID-19, even if they still might be contagious.

At the time, the Long Island nursing home had only one known resident who had contracted the virus, according to the facility’s president and CEO, Stuart Almer.

A month later, Gurwin is battling an outbreak that’s killed 24 residents — only three of whom were hospital transfers — and one staff member, who worked in housekeeping, Almer said. And the nursing home is still mandated to take in recovering hospital patients known to have the virus, potentially increasing its spread in the facility.

Three states hit hard by the pandemic — New York, New Jersey and California — have ordered nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to accept coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals. The policy, intended to help clear in-demand hospital beds for sicker patients, has prompted sharp criticism from the nursing home industry, staff members and concerned families, as well as some leading public health experts.

Read the full story here.

1019d ago / 11:12 PM UTC

Elective surgeries set to resume, with complications and concerns

Austin Wall left work with severe pain and knew something was not right.

Wall, 42, a Caterpillar dealership parts coordinator in Irving, Texas, went to an urgent care clinic nearly a month ago and was quickly sent to the Medical City Hospital in Arlington -- his kidney stones were causing problems in his digestive system and his right kidney was functioning at a loss.

While his doctors were able to put a stent into his left kidney, they were unable to perform laser surgery to break up the large stone in his right one because of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 22 executive order postponing all surgeries that were not “immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient.”

As COVID-19 has spread across the country in recent months, hospitals have postponed elective surgeries, nonemergency procedures such as Wall's that are scheduled in advance. Cosmetic surgery, hernia repair and cancer operations are among the wide range of elective surgeries that come with varying degrees of complexity and urgency.

Read the full story here.

1019d ago / 11:07 PM UTC

Hospital ship discharges few remaining patients before NY exit

Image: The USNS Comfort is seen docked at Pier 90 in Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York
The USNS hospital ship Comfort docked at Pier 90 on Manhattan's West Side in New York on April 3.Mike Segar / Reuters file

The Navy hospital ship sent to relieve stress on New York City hospitals at the height of the pandemic is discharging or transferring its last 12 patients this weekend as it nears the end of its mission, according to Northwell Health, which provides operational assistance to the vessel.

The USNS Comfort, docked at a Manhattan pier since March 30, will soon leave for its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, where it will restock and be readied for another possible assignment, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. He did not provide a date for the ship’s departure.

As of Saturday, the 1,000-bed hospital ship had treated just 182 patients.

Originally deployed to care for patients without coronavirus, the Comfort switched gears and started accepting them as the city’s hospitals became overrun with people suffering from the disease.

1019d ago / 10:14 PM UTC

Los Angeles shows some love for health care workers, first responders

1019d ago / 10:12 PM UTC

Miami Beach mayor: 'We are not a city built for social distance'

Dan Gelber, the mayor of Miami Beach, Florida, is defending his decision not to reopen the tourist hot spot's beaches until at least June.

"Listen, everybody in the world knows how beautiful our beaches are, but unfortunately the eight miles of our beaches cannot be opened -- they'll just attract too many people," he told MSNBC's Alicia Menendez on Saturday. "We are not a city built for social distance, so we have to be extra careful given the millions, millions of people that would flock to our beaches."

Some of the state's beaches have reopened in recent weeks, with some restrictions, drawing crowds of beachgoers.

Gelber says he wants to see widespread use of COVID-19 countermeasures, like contact testing, before he decides to restart the city's tourism industry. And the Democrat says he wants the federal government to do more.

"You know, unfortunately, the federal government hasn't been particularly kind to cities about a lot of things," he said. "Frankly, this is just one of them. We're going to get by. But it would be nice if somebody up there would notice that it's not just my residents, we're a small city, it's the fact that we are the tip of the economic iceberg for the arrow-- for the entire state,"

1019d ago / 9:04 PM UTC

Connecticut dad, 32, writes heart-wrenching note to wife, kids before dying of coronavirus

A Connecticut father who was battling the coronavirus wrote a letter to his wife and young children telling them how much he loved them and how lucky he was to have them in his life.

Jonathan Coelho, 32, wrote the note the day before doctors at a hospital in Danbury intubated him and weeks before his April 22 death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

His wife, Katie Coelho, stumbled upon the letter when she opened up her husband's phone shortly after he died.

"I love you guys with all my heart and you’ve given me the best life I could have ever asked for," Jonathan wrote to his family, according to a Facebook post Katie shared.

Read the full story here.

1019d ago / 8:52 PM UTC

Savannah mayor says it's 'absolutely premature' to reopen despite governor's order

Savannah, Georgia Mayor Van Johnson is asking businesses to remain closed after Gov. Brian Kemp allowed businesses such as bowling alleys, hair salons and gyms to reopen Friday as the state continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases.

"It's absolutely premature" to reopen, Johnson said told MSNBC's Alex Witt, adding that his city is not doing widespread coronavirus testing and has not seen infections plateau for more than 14 days.

However, he's encouraging business owners who decide to open to implement a "pay it forward" system where customers can pay for services now that they can redeem weeks or months later when the threat of coronavirus has diminished.

"Pay for it now and do the appointment later. Lets' make sure we're able to continue payroll and income for these folks and just do the appointment later," said Johnson. "Some businesses have to open and again, we're not mad, we understand it's economics."

Businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters are expected to start opening on Monday. Johnson said Gov. Kemp hasn't contacted him to discuss reopening the city amid the coronavirus outbreak.

1019d ago / 8:00 PM UTC

White House considering scaling back Trump's daily coronavirus briefings in coming weeks

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WASHINGTON — After nearly 50 coronavirus press briefings in March and April, President Donald Trump’s aides and allies are increasingly worried that his lengthy appearances may backfire politically and White House officials say they are evaluating whether to reduce his participation in news conferences in the weeks to come.

Concerns that the pressers were hurting the president reached an inflection point Thursday evening when Trump suggested that people might be able to inject household cleaning items or disinfectants to deter the coronavirus, sparking immediate and universal backlash from the medical community.

“The president has taken questions for 49 briefings since the end of February. This president's the most accessible in modern history, the most transparent,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Saturday when asked by reporters why Trump cut the Friday briefing short, adding that he had taken “many, many” questions from reporters earlier in the day during a bill signing ceremony. It was there he told reporters his injection remarks were "sarcastic."

When asked if Trump would stop holding the briefings, McEnany said “I leave that to the president. That is entirely his decision.”

There was no briefing on the president’s schedule for Saturday, but his schedule is always subject to change.

Click here for the full story.

1019d ago / 7:46 PM UTC

Florida Gov. DeSantis: No fans at sporting events through May: 'That's for TV, so people have some content'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his plans to bring sporting events to the state are for TV viewers at home -- and at least through May, there will be no fans in attendance.

"We're not doing in-person sports yet, no matter what. That's just not going to happen in May," he said. While Floridians won't be able to enjoy sports in person, the state plans to host WWE and UFC matches as well as a golfing fundraiser with icons Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. 

"That's for TV, so people have some content," DeSantis said. He said he would like for bigger events to come to the state "but that's going to be far in the future." 

DeSantis previously declared sports an essential service, which allowed the WWE to continue to broadcast live shows from a facility outside Orlando.

He wrote in a tweet Friday that the state would be hosting a match in May with Woods, Mickelson and NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He said the event will raise millions of dollars for coronavirus relief to give "sports fans something to look forward to during this difficult time." 

1019d ago / 6:46 PM UTC

Texas mayor apologizes after violating stay-at-home order to go to nail salon

Image: Becky Ames
beaumonttexas.gov

The mayor of a southern Texas city apologized for violating her own stay-at-home order after a photo surfaced on social media of her at a nail salon.

The trip Tuesday by Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames to the closed salon has sparked an investigation by the district attorney.

In the image, the mayor is seen wearing a face mask as she's seated at a table with her hands in a bowl of water. According to NBC affiliate KBMT in Beaumont, the photo was taken at The Nail Bar.

Read the full story here. 

1019d ago / 6:16 PM UTC

49 residents at Massachusetts nursing home have died from the coronavirus

A Massachusetts nursing home where 30 residents had died from the coronavirus said that there have been more than a dozen additional deaths.

Belmont Manor administrator Stewart Karger wrote in a letter released Friday that 49 residents have died and 116 tested positive for COVID-19. Some tests have not yet come back. 

"The loss this represents is nothing short of devastating. Our collective hearts are broken for the families of these residents, each of whom was the center of someone’s world. Rest assured that our staff did their very best to provide them both care and comfort," the letter read. 

Many of the residents are asymptomatic and Karger said they have seen "encouraging signs of recovery" among those who are showing symptoms. He said the facility is working hard to get residents healthy again. 

More than 70 staff members, many of whom are asymptomatic, have also tested positive. The ones who did not have symptoms have passed a 10-day period since testing and have returned to work, the facility said. "We remain extraordinarily appreciative of the efforts of our staff. Their professionalism, compassion and commitment has been inspiring to me personally in this challenging time," Karger wrote.

1019d ago / 6:04 PM UTC

Global death toll passes 200,000

COVID-19 has killed more than 200,000 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The global death toll on Saturday reached 200,698. Fifteen days earlier, on April 10, the number of fatalities was 100,000.

More than 2.8 million cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed worldwide, including 924,000 in the United States.

1019d ago / 5:41 PM UTC
1019d ago / 4:42 PM UTC

New York expanding testing to health care workers, first responders, other essential employees

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that the state is expanding its testing criteria for the coronavirus to include health care workers, first responders and other essential, frontline employees "who are risking their health to get us through this crisis."

The governor said in his daily press briefing that the state is doing about 20,000 coronavirus tests daily and expects to double that capacity with help from the federal government.

Toward that end, he said he will be signing an executive order to allow more than 5,000 independent pharmacies in the state to collect samples that could be sent to laboratories for testing. 

The state is also expanding antibody testing and will start with health care workers.

News of the testing criteria expansion comes as the state saw a slight uptick in reported deaths to 437 on Friday, compared to 422 the day before. At the same time, the number of new hospitalizations in New York continues to decline.

"Our efforts are working, but we must keep it up if we want the curve to decline faster," Cuomo said.

1019d ago / 3:36 PM UTC

Detroit health care worker dies after being denied coronavirus test 4 times, daughter says

Deborah Gatewood had two years to go before she could retire from a Detroit hospital.

But Gatewood, a phlebotomist for three decades, will never celebrate that milestone. She died April 17 from symptoms related to the coronavirus.

Her daughter said that prior to her mother's death she was denied a coronavirus test four times by her employer, Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills.

"They said she wasn't severe enough and that they weren't going to test her," said Kaila Corrothers, Gatewood's only child. "They told her to just go home and rest."

Read the full story here.

1019d ago / 3:18 PM UTC

Why so many people are experiencing weird pandemic dreams

People around the world may be physically separated in pandemic lockdowns, but they are joined in at least one way — many are experiencing vivid and bizarre coronavirus dreams.

Nighttime visions of bugs, natural disasters and difficulties breathing are just a few of the recurring themes, traded in countless Zoom get-togethers, WhatsApp conversations and on social media, as "quarandreams" spread as quickly as the pandemic itself.

Florida-based dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg, who uses psychology to interpret people’s dreams, says lockdown stress, job and relationship worries and the sudden loss of familiar comforts have triggered a wave of surreal overnight encounters. Since the beginning of the lockdowns, she has found her Facebook inbox full of requests for appointments from people wanting to talk through their experiences.

Read the full story here.

1019d ago / 3:18 PM UTC

Britain's death toll surpasses 20,000

The death toll from the coronavirus in hospitals across the U.K. has risen to 20,319 — an increase of 813 in 24 hours — the health ministry said on Saturday. The country has nearly 150,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Saturday.

Britain has the fifth-highest virus death toll in the world, after the U.S., Italy, Spain and France.  Back in mid-March the government's chief scientific adviser said that keeping the death toll below 20,000 would be a "good outcome," according to Reuters. 

As the death toll rises, the U.K. government has faced criticism over its response to the pandemic while it struggles to raise its testing capacity.

1019d ago / 3:05 PM UTC

Pope singles out funeral home workers for prayer

Pope Francis has singled out funeral home workers for people’s prayers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, during his early morning Mass on Saturday.

In Italy and some other countries, the deaths of people with virus infections have meant funeral parlor workers must deal with the grief of families who aren’t allowed to hold public funerals as part of government-ordered measures to try to contain the pandemic.

“What they do is so heavy and sad. They really feel the pain of this pandemic so close," he said. 

1019d ago / 3:04 PM UTC

Amid quarantine, thousands are escaping to tropical islands — via 'Animal Crossing'

Characters celebrate the opening of Resident Services in "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" on the Nintendo Switch.
Characters celebrate the opening of Resident Services in "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" on the Nintendo Switch.NBC News

For Amy Okuda, not being able to spend time with her mother, who lives just five miles down the road, has been one of the most difficult parts of being in quarantine.

Disenchanted with FaceTime and Zoom, Okuda and her mother found another way to connect — by making trips to tropical islands to fish, catch bugs and pick fruit together.

“I know a lot of people are doing Zoom dates, but most of my hangout sessions are via ‘Animal Crossing,’” Okuda, 31, of Los Angeles, said.

She is one of thousands of people who have picked up Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” since it was released on the company's Switch console in March, right as the coronavirus quarantine was going into full effect for most of the nation.

Read the full story here.

1019d ago / 3:02 PM UTC

Hundreds protest against lockdown at Polish-German border

Image: Cross-border workers stage protest at Polish-German border demanding to be exempt from the mandatory quarantine during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the crossing in Rosowek
Cross-border workers stage protest at Polish-German border demanding to be exempt from the mandatory quarantine during the coronavirus outbreak on Friday.Krzysztof Hadrian / Agencja Gazeta via Reuters

Hundreds of people who live in Poland and work in Germany protested on Friday evening in the southwestern Polish border town of Zgorzelec against a mandatory coronavirus quarantine for those who cross the border.

Poland was one of the first European Union states to close borders due to the outbreak. It also imposed a mandatory two-week lockdown for those who enter its territory — a major jolt for those who live their lives in between two E.U. states. The protest was staged on a foot bridge connecting Zgorzelec and the German town of Gorlitz, which functioned as one town before the borders were closed.

Around 300 people gathered at the Polish side and some 100 at the German, some wearing face masks. The two groups were separated by a provisional metal fence that has been erected in the middle of the bridge to prevent people from crossing the border.

1019d ago / 2:25 PM UTC

Air France and KLM received billions in state bailouts

The French and Dutch governments announced at least 9 billion euros ($9.7 billion) in bailout money Friday to rescue Air France and KLM, which are fighting for survival as most of their planes are grounded by virus lockdowns around the world.

The partner airlines had been negotiating for weeks with their respective governments, as carriers worldwide are collapsing or seeking government bailouts. The past several weeks of travel restrictions have upended the entire industry, and Air France and KLM said earlier this month that they expect their joint traffic to be down more than 90 percent in the coming months.

With no clear end to the crisis in sight, Air France will get 3 billion euros in direct loans from the French state and a 4-billion-euro bank loan guaranteed by the state, the airline said in a statement.

"We have to save our national airline," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on TF1 television Friday. He said the government, the airline's largest single shareholder, is not currently considering nationalizing Air France.

1019d ago / 2:19 PM UTC

Richard Engel on the urge to reopen and need for travel standards

1019d ago / 1:40 PM UTC

WHO warns against concept of ‘immunity passports’

The World Health Organization cautioned against the idea of “immunity passports” in a briefing released on Saturday, saying there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected from a second infection.

“Immunity passports” or “risk-free certificates” has been suggested by some governments as a means to enable people to travel or to return to work assuming they cannot be re-infected. But the WHO said more research on immunity is needed before this can be considered.

“At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an ‘immunity passport’,” the brief said.

People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive antibody test result may ignore public health advice. As such, the use of such certificates at this point may also increase the risks of continued transmission, it said.

1019d ago / 12:47 PM UTC

Muted Anzac Day memorials take place in Australia and New Zealand

Traditional crowds at dawn services for the Anzac Day memorial holiday in Australia were replaced Saturday with candlelit vigils in driveways and neighbors gathering to listen to buglers play "The Last Post."

Restrictions on social gatherings due to coronavirus meant that the commemorations, also marked in New Zealand, were more muted. 

Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the day that soldiers from both countries, known as Anzacs, landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in modern day Turkey, during World War I in 1915. It also honors those killed in all wars.

In Australia's capital, Canberra, Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke at a crowd-free commemorative service held inside the Australian War Memorial. 

In New Zealand, where even tighter crowd restrictions are in place, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood at dawn on the driveway of Premier House, the leader’s official residence, for a ceremony

1019d ago / 12:09 PM UTC

Greek economy expected to shrink by 5-10 percent this year, minister says

The Greek economy, hit hard by coronavirus restrictions, is expected to shrink by 5-10 percent this year, the country’s finance minister said Saturday.

“It seems we have been settling at a range of between 5 and 10 percentage points,” Finance Minister Christos Staikouras told Open television station. He added that estimates are changing constantly, depending on the impact of the restrictions and on how those restrictions will be lifted.

As of late Friday, Greece had reported 2,490 cases of COVID-19, including 130 deaths, a low rate compared to many fellow E.U. member countries. The country, which exited its three international bailouts in 2018, had been on a recovery path since a 10-year debt crisis that brought a 25 percent contraction. 

1019d ago / 11:25 AM UTC
1019d ago / 10:54 AM UTC

Sri Lanka reimposes countrywide 24-hour curfew

Sri Lanka has reimposed a countrywide 24-hour curfew over the weekend after a surge in the number of confirmed virus cases, most of them navy sailors who were hunting those evading quarantine.

The 46 new infections on Friday were the highest in a day. They brought to 420 the number of COVID-19 patients in the Indian Ocean island, including seven deaths.

Sri Lanka had partially lifted a monthlong curfew last week during daytime hours in more than two thirds of the country. The new curfew remains in effect until Monday. Police have so far arrested more than 30,000 violators.

1019d ago / 10:18 AM UTC

Quarantine breakers to be given electronic tracking wristbands in South Korea

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South Korea will strap electronic wristbands on those who have ignored home-quarantine orders starting next week, according to the country's Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures headquarters. 

The so-called "Safety Band" will regulate the people violating self-isolation, South Korea’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said on Friday. Those who refuse to wear the bands after breaking quarantine will be sent to shelters where they will be asked to pay for accommodation, he said according to the Associated Press. 

South Korea has reported 10 new cases of the virus on Saturday — the eighth day in a row its daily jump was below 20. No new deaths were reported Saturday for the second straight day, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The figures brought national totals to 10,718 cases and 240 deaths on Saturday. South Korea has largely managed to bring its epidemic under control due to an extensive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing.

1019d ago / 9:41 AM UTC

India, Pakistan ease restrictions for some businesses amid lockdown

The Indian government allowed a limited reopening of small businesses in residential areas on Saturday, more than a month after the nation went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, officials said.

Late Friday the federal home ministry said retail shops could start operations with the staff number reduced by 50 percent, while also requiring appropriate social distancing, wearing of masks and gloves during work. The sale of liquor and other non-essential items will continue to be prohibited, and no shops in large market places or malls will be allowed to open for business until May 3.

India has reported 24,506 cases of the virus and 775 deaths, with authorities setting up new teams to focus on compliance and implementation of lockdown measures.

In neighboring Pakistan, the government extended the nationwide lockdown till May 9. However, it is switching to a so-called "smart lockdown" from Saturday for targeted tracking and tracing of cases while allowing some industrial and commercial activities to begin under safety guidelines.

1019d ago / 8:59 AM UTC
1019d ago / 8:28 AM UTC

China reports no new deaths for tenth straight day

No new deaths have been reported in China for the tenth consecutive day on Saturday. 

The country's National Health Commission also recorded just 12 new cases, 11 of which it said were brought in from overseas. There was a local transmission in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang bordering on Russia, according to the Associated Press.

The country has reported a total of 4,632 deaths and 82,816 cases, but the total number of active cases is now below 1,000. As a result officials have slowly started to loosen restrictions on residents.

1019d ago / 6:28 AM UTC
1019d ago / 6:23 AM UTC

Brazil becoming coronavirus hot spot as testing falters

RIO DE JANEIRO — Cases of the new coronavirus are overwhelming hospitals, morgues and cemeteries across Brazil as Latin America’s largest nation veers closer to becoming one of the world’s pandemic hot spots.

Medical officials in Rio de Janeiro and at least four other major cities have warned that their hospital systems are on the verge of collapse, or already too overwhelmed to take any more patients.

Health experts expect the number of infections in the country of 211 million people will be much higher than what has been reported because of insufficient, delayed testing.

Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro has shown no sign of wavering from his insistence that COVID-19 is a relatively minor disease and that broad social-distancing measures are not needed to stop it. He has said only Brazilians at high risk should be isolated.

The health ministry has confirmed nearly 53,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 3,600 deaths. By official counts, the country had its worst day yet on Thursday, with about 3,700 new cases and more than 400 deaths, and Friday was nearly as grim.

Experts warned that paltry testing means the true number of infections is far greater. And because it can take a long time for tests to be processed, the current numbers actually reflect deaths that happened one or two weeks ago, said Domingos Alves, adjunct professor of social medicine at the University of Sao Paulo, who is involved in the project.

1019d ago / 6:05 AM UTC

Judge says government must release migrant children

A federal judge said in a ruling Friday that the Trump administration must "make every effort to promptly and safely release" the minors.

Los Angeles-based U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee said the administration was again violating a longstanding agreement that generally compels the government to release migrant children detained at the border within 20 days.

Plaintiffs represented by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law alleged the coronavirus crisis has caused further delays in the mandated release of migrant children, who could face increased risk of exposure in government-funded detention.

"This court order could very well prevent hundreds of children from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 infection, and may even save some children’s lives," longtime plaintiffs' attorney Peter Schey said by email.

Read the full story here.

1019d ago / 5:36 AM UTC