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The Latest: NY, NJ, area governors form regional task force

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— N.Y., N.J., four other states will work together to reopen their economies once outbreak subsides.

— Macron announces the extension of France’s lockdown until May 11.

— White House asking governors for help in getting lab machines up and running to process tests.

— UN suspends troop deployment in its 13 global peacekeeping missions until June 30.

— UK’s daily death toll expected to rise this week.

— Italy’s day-to-day increase in COVID-19 cases is one of the lowest in weeks, bolstering generally downward trend.

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New York, New Jersey and four other states will work together to reopen their economies once the coronavirus outbreak begins to subside, governors of those states said Monday.

They held a conference call to announce that they will share information and form a task force to help guide the reopening of the states’ economies when it’s time.

“The house is still on fire. We still have to put the fire out, but we do have to begin putting in the pieces of the puzzle that we know we’re going to need ... to make sure this doesn’t re-ignite,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said.

President Donald Trump asserted Monday that he is the ultimate decision-maker for determining how and when to reopen the country.

Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, however, said that considering governors had the responsibility for closing states down, “I think we probably have the primary responsibility for opening it up.”

Wolf also asserted that it is a “false choice” to choose between public health or the economy.

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Officials in Washington, California and Oregon have announced they’ll be working together on a shared approach to re-opening their economies.

In a news release Monday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the partnership with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

The written statement says that while each state is building a state-specific plan, the three states have agreed to a framework that focuses on them working together, putting their residents’ health first, and having health outcomes and science guiding their decisions.

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PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron announced the extension of France’s strict lockdown until May 11, on his third televised address to the nation on the virus crisis from the Elysee palace.

France has been under lockdown since March 17.

Macron said he sees “hopeful signs” as the spreading of the virus in the country appears to be stabilizing. But he urged the French to keep respecting strict confinement rules for the moment.

Starting from May 11, schools will reopen “progressively”, he said. Restaurants, cafes, hotels, cinemas, museums and concert halls will remain closed and no big gatherings will be allowed until mid-July, he added.

Macron acknowledged “failures and deficiencies” in a reference to the lack of masks and other equipment.

As a response to the criticism that the country has not conducted enough coronavirus tests, he promised that by May 11, all those who have symptoms will be able to get tested.

French health authorities have reported Monday a drop in numbers of people in intensive care for the fifth straight day.

The country registered 574 deaths over the past 24 hours in hospitals and nursing homes, bringing the total number of deaths from the COVID-19 to 14,967 since the outbreak began in France.

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WASHINGTON — The White House is asking governors for help in getting high-tech lab machines up and running to process coronavirus tests.

In a conference call with governors Monday, Vice President Mike Pence asked governors for “whatever you can do” to help get testing machines found in hospitals, research laboratories and other places running at full capacity. The Associated Press obtained audio of the call.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said on the call that she’s working with labs around the country to make sure the machines are running at full capacity.

The machines “have a need for a lot of technical support” and require trained operators to run them, Birx said.

“In the last three weeks, we could have run 3 million tests. We’ve run 200,000,” she said.

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ATLANTA — U.S. government health researchers say data from mobile devices in four cities suggests that social distancing policies prompted more people to stay at home in March and might have curbed the spread of the coronavirus.

A company that collects anonymous location data from mobile devices provided key information for the study released Monday by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Location information came from a daily average of almost 758,000 devices in New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle.

Researchers say people increasingly left their devices — and themselves — home as cities, states and the federal government adopted increasingly restrictive closures and social distancing policies.

The report “provides some very early indications that these measures might help slow the spread of COVID-19,” the authors said.

Cases climbed in all four cities during the study period, Feb. 26 to April 1. The authors say more evidence is needed to assess how social restrictions affect virus transmission. Also, data came from a small fraction of mobile devices in each city, and tracked only device location, not people, who may have left home without them — limitations the authors acknowledged.

“However, this analysis suggests that policies to increase social distancing when case counts are increasing can be an important tool for communities as changes in behavior result in decreased spread of COVID-19,” they wrote.

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UNITED NATIONS — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has suspended the deployment and rotation of U.N. peacekeeping troops and international police in its 13 global peacekeeping missions until June 30 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The U.N. has about 85,000 soldiers and police serving in missions in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix made the announcement Monday saying: “We don’t want to be part of the problem.”

He stressed: “We want to be on the safe side. We want ... to not in any way contribute to the spread of the virus.”

Lacroix said the secretary-general’s guidance provides for exceptions, and any new deployments will be quarantined before and after arrival for 14 days.

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare said there have been 12 cases of COVID-19 in U.N. peacekeeping missions, but only three among uniformed personnel and all were treated in the countries where they serve.

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LONDON — The British government’s chief scientific adviser has warned that the U.K.’s daily death toll from coronavirus will likely rise this week before plateauing for potentially two to three weeks, and then subsequently declining.

Patrick Vallance said at the government’s daily press briefing that the U.K. is tracking behind Italy, the European country with the highest death toll from COVID-19, and “following the same sort of path.”

He said he thinks “we are going to see a further increase” this week before a plateau as the effects of social distancing come through.

Earlier, government figures showed that another 717 people who tested positive for the coronavirus had died in the hospital, taking the total in the U.K. up to 11,329.

Though that was the third straight daily decline in the daily death toll, Vallance’s comments suggest that the numbers may have been artificially depressed over the four-day Easter holiday weekend.

With Italy seemingly the other side of the peak, there are growing expectations that the U.K. will end up being the European country with the most coronavirus-related deaths.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputizing for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he convalesces following his week-long stay in a hospital with coronavirus, said the government does ”not expect to make any changes” to the lockdown measures in place when it assesses the situation this week.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has registered 4,093 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, pushing the total to 61,049.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on his Twitter account on Monday that Turkey’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 1,296, with 98 additional fatalities.

A total of 1,786 people are in intensive care, including 1,063 intubated patients, Koca said. At least 3,957 people have recovered.

Koca noted that the number of cases recorded Monday was fewer than in previous days despite an increase in the number of tests conducted.

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MEXICO CITY — Health workers briefly blocked a street in Mexico City on Monday to demand more protective gear as their hospital receives more patients suffering from COVID-19.

Dozens of nurses, doctors and other personnel from the October 1 Hospital carried handwritten signs and shouted for assistance. The hospital is part of Mexico’s public health system for government workers.

One nurse, who had worked at the hospital for more than 20 years, but requested anonymity to avoid repercussions, said she received only one flimsy mask per day even though she works on a floor with dozens of patients with the new coronavirus.

At least one nurse has already died at the hospital and a doctor is in intensive care, she said. Calls to the hospital and the agency that runs it were not immediately answered.

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ROME — Italy’s day-to-day increase in new COVID-19 cases is one of the lowest in weeks, bolstering a generally downward trend.

Authorities announced on Monday that there were 3,153 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours – approximately a 1.9 percent increase.

That brings Italy’s overall toll of known cases to nearly 160,000. The day-to-day death toll, 566, however, was up, from the 431 new deaths registered on Sunday.

Cases being registered on Monday reflect contagion from some time past, stressed Giovanni Rezza, head of the infectious disease department at Italy’s national health institute.

The number of new cases are “diminishing, slowly diminishing,” Rezza told reporters.

On Tuesday, Italy, which, with more than 20,000 fatalities, has Europe’s highest death toll, starts a sixth week of national lockdown.

Some slight easing of restrictions are about to take effect in some sectors, such as permission to allow stores selling necessities for newborns or stationery items to reopen.

The lockdown will last at least through May 3, under the latest government decree.

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LONDON — Scientists at the World Health Organization say they still do not have enough information to know if people are immune to subsequent COVID-19 infections once they have recovered from the disease.

At a briefing on Monday, WHO emergencies chief Dr. Mike Ryan said that they assume people who have survived the new coronavirus and have a detectable level of antibodies should have some level of protection, but that “we just don’t know what that period of time is.”

He said scientists can make estimates based on immunity from other coronaviruses, but that even that data is quite limited.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19 said the information WHO has on antibody response and immunity is “mixed” and that they need much more information on recovered patients.

She said that there are more than 3,000 patients globally who have so far recovered from the disease and that numerous studies are currently under way to try to answer the immunity question.

“Right now, we don’t have a full picture of what immunity looks like,” she said. “And until we do, we can’t give a complete answer.”

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GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization says he believes U.S. President Donald Trump is “supportive” of the U.N. health agency.

Just days after Trump launched repeated criticism of the agency and threatened funding cuts amid the COVID-19 outbreak, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says he hopes U.S. funding will continue — and said WHO’s relationship with the U.S. is “very good.”

Tedros did not elaborate, and did not respond to a question at a Monday news briefing in Geneva about the possible impact of a U.S. funding cut.

WHO officials used the briefing to reiterate the agency’s insistence that countries should not be too quick to ease control measures aimed to fight the outbreak.

Tedros said evidence shows the disease linked to the novel coronavirus outbreak is 10 times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic, and “the way down is much slower than the way up.”

WHO plans Tuesday to issue “updated strategic advice” for countries that are considering lifting control measures, including six criteria to consider before doing so.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have recorded 31 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s total so far to 2,145. One new death was also recorded between Sunday and Monday evening, with the total now at 99.

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MADRID — Spanish authorities have let some workers begin returning to their jobs, but Health Minister Salvador Illa says the government will move carefully on allowing others to end their self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Illa said officials will proceed with “the utmost caution and prudence ... and always based on scientific evidence” in easing restrictions.

“We’re in no position to be setting dates” about when isolation might end, he told a Madrid news conference Monday. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves.”

The Spanish government, looking to get the economy moving again, has allowed workers to return to some factory and construction jobs. But retail stores and services must remain closed and office workers have to keep working from home.

He said Spain, a country of 47 million people where the death toll officially attributed to the coronavirus is 17,489, is carrying out some 20,000 tests a day and plans to increase that number.

Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said a program to distribute 10 million face masks began Monday.

“We’re still at an early stage” in fighting the coronavirus, Grande-Marlaska said. “Once it is defeated, we will have to rebuild our country, socially and economically.”

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy says an aircraft carrier crew member who was hospitalized in intensive care on the island of Guam last week has died of what officials called COVID-19-related complications.

The sailor was among nearly 600 crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt to have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

In announcing the death on Monday, the Navy said the sailor had been found “unresponsive” during an April 9 medical check while in isolation on Guam. The Navy said fellow sailors and an onsite medical team at the house in which the sailor was staying administered CPR.

The Navy says the sailor was then moved to an intensive care unit at a local hospital. It did not identify the sailor.

The Roosevelt aircraft carrier pulled into port at Guam on March 27, shortly after the first coronavirus cases on board were detected.

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LONDON — The mother of a nurse who cared for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he was in intensive care with COVID-19 says her daughter found the experience “surreal.”

Jenny McGee, from Invercargill on New Zealand's South Island, and her Portuguese colleague, Luis Pitarma, were singled out by Johnson after his discharge from St. Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday for the care they gave him.

Caroline McGee told broadcaster TVNZ that her daughter was “very professional” and waited until Johnson was out of the ICU to let her parents know she'd had the prime minister as a patient.

She says her daughter told them “she had just had a most surreal time in her life, something she will never forget, and that she had been taking care of Boris.”

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also “personally conveyed” his thanks to Luis Pitarma, who is from the city of Aveiro, for his care and supervision of Johnson.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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