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Coronavirus updates: 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

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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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Group of Olympic athletes want Tokyo Games postponed, IOC to decide within 4 weeks

A group of Olympic athletes on Sunday called for the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee to postpone the 2020 games until the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

The Olympics are scheduled to take place in Tokyo in July and August.

The group, Global Athlete, said in a statement that they've heard from "hundreds of athletes" who want to postpone the Olympics. Public health measures shutting down training facilities and restricting travel have prevented athletes from adequately preparing for the Tokyo Games, the statement says, and proceeding with the Olympics as scheduled would jeopardize the health of the athletes by exposing them to coronavirus.

The demand came on the same day that the International Olympic Committee announced that it would step up “scenario planning” for the games. The committee said this would better allow it to decide whether or not to proceed with the games as planned, adding that they expect to make a decision within four weeks.

Louisiana issues stay-at-home order

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the state would be under a stay-at-home order beginning Monday at 5 p.m. 

The announcement comes just after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a similar order. 

Nearly 16,000 cases of coronavirus in state of New York

While announcing that coronavirus cases in the state of New York are almost at 16,000, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Sunday that New York City has to implement more serious measures to keep people from congregating in large groups, especially in parks and other outdoor spaces.

Cuomo also said that Manhattan’s Javits Convention Center was a possible temporary hospital site as projections estimate the state will need more than double its available hospital beds.

“These temporary hospitals are helpful, but they don’t bring supplies and they don’t bring staff, and that compounds our problem of not having enough medical supplies,” Cuomo said. "And frankly, compounds our problem of not having enough medical staff, because we are trying to increase capacity in our existing hospitals.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that he fears the worst has yet to come as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City inch closer to 10,000. “The truth is, and New Yorkers and all Americans deserve the blunt truth, it is only getting worse. And in fact, April and May are going to be a lot worse,” the mayor told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Photo: Washington National Cathedral, empty

Sunday Mass from the Washington National Cathedral was delivered via live webcast today.Patrick Smith / Getty Images
Empty seats at the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday. Patrick Smith / Getty Images

Ohio issues new shelter-in-place order

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a new stay-at-home order on Sunday for everyone outside of essential workers as part of the state's efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

DeWine announced the order in a press conference and on his official Twitter account.

"There is nothing in the order that we haven't already been talking about," DeWine said. "There is nothing in this that I haven't been asking you to do for the last few weeks."

Though the order urges residents to stay home, it does allow for exceptions such as seeking health services, shopping for necessary supplies and services and limited outdoor activity, according to the governor.

Pelosi on coronavirus relief plan: Democrats will "be introducing our own bill’

Top Democrats said Sunday they're not yet ready to sign off on the major coronavirus stimulus package — and will be preparing their own legislation — as Congress attempts to ready the bill for passage as soon as Monday.

Just prior to an 11 a.m. meeting between the top Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters "from my standpoint, we are apart."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters ahead of the meeting that "we need a bill that puts workers first, not corporations" and declined to say whether he supports the current bill.

Read the full story here.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in quarantine after her doctor tests positive

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a press conference in Berlin on March 22, 2020.Michael Kappeler / Pool via AP

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

The doctor had given her a vaccination on Friday afternoon and has since tested positive for the coronavirus, her office said. She will continue to perform her official duties from her home during her self-quarantine. 

"She will be tested regularly over the next few days because a test would not yet be fully meaningful," her office said.

The announcement comes just as Germany announced stricter measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including the shut down of nonessential businesses. 

Among the new policies is one that states people will only be allowed out in public alone, with members of the same family or with only one other person not of the same residence. Police will also be permitted to intervene in any public parties or similar activities that go against the social distancing advice of medical professionals. 

Sen. Rand Paul tests positive for coronavirus

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Sunday became the first known senator to test positive for coronavirus. "Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19," Paul's account tweeted. "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. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person."

"He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time," the thread continued. "Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Rand Paul."

Paul is the third member of Congress to announce a positive test for coronavirus, following Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Ben McAdams, D-Utah.

Read the full story here. 

At least 23 die in Colombia prison violence as inmates riot over coronavirus fears

BOGOTA, Colombia — Authorities in Colombia said Sunday that 23 prisoners died and another 83 were injured in a riot and attempted escape over poor conditions inmates argue will help spread the new coronavirus.

The violence happened overnight at the La Modelo jail in Bogota — where all of the deaths occurred — along with several other penitentiaries. Officials said seven workers were injured, two of them in critical condition.

Relatives gathered outside the jail Sunday wearing masks and clamoring for information. Videos shared by inmates online showed fires inside several jails, prisoners outside their cells and inmates complaining of conditions.

Colombia has confirmed 231 coronavirus cases. Authorities say none are in jails.

School closures skyrocket, nearly 54 million students sent home

WASHINGTON — Beyond the health effects and the impact on the economy, the coronavirus has created a long tail of impacts in the United States and the world, and one of the biggest impacts has come in education. The number of K-12 school closures has skyrocketed in the last few weeks with a great deal of uncertainty about when the virus may be tamed and when normal school days will resume.

The affected areas range from classroom instruction to meals for lower-income children and they are spread far and wide around the country.

As of Friday evening, 45 states and Washington D.C. had closed schools for at least several weeks. The state of Kansas went further and closed schools for the rest of the academic year. The last day of school there was slated for May 15. And these closures have come remarkably fast, the first state to close its schools was Ohio, only 10 days ago.

Currently, there are five states that have not closed all schools: Idaho, Iowa, Maine Nebraska and Wyoming – and even in those states, the majority of schools are shuttered.

Read the full story here. 

Nearly a billion people now confined to their homes

Richard Engel reports on the latest about the coronavirus pandemic, including an AFP report that estimates nearly a billion people are now on lockdown in their homes.