The Latest: Broadway theater to remain shut down through May
NEW YORK — Fans of Broadway will have to wait a little longer for shows to resume, until at least late May.
Although an exact date for various performances to resume has yet to be determined, Broadway producers are now offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for shows through May 30.
Broadway theaters abruptly closed on March 12, knocking out all shows -- including 16 that were still scheduled to open -- and scrambling the Tony Award schedule. Producers, citing health and city authorities, previously extended the shutdown to Jan. 3.
Actors’ Equity Association, the national union that represents actors and stage managers, has urged lawmakers to include arts funding and loans to help those who work in the live performing arts.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— President Trump still contagious? Experts say it’s difficult to know
— Spain declares state of emergency in Madrid to contain surge
— As virus fills French ICUs anew, doctors ask what went wrong
— China to join coronavirus vaccine alliance, reversing earlier stance. Richer countries agree to buy into potential vaccines to help finance access for poorer ones. The U.S. has opted out.
— British government will announce more support for businesses to retain staff in the coming months if they are forced to close because of lockdown restrictions.
— President Donald Trump says he wants to try to hold a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday, despite his recent COVID-19 diagnosis.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — Dr. Kate O’Brien, the World Health Organization’s director of immunization, says even though fast-track approval processes have been started for COVID-19 vaccines, no shots will be approved unless they can demonstrate minimum levels of efficacy and safety.
She noted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently said it would require at least two months of follow-up safety data before licensing a vaccine and advanced trials were designed so researchers could examine data at certain points before the trial’s completion to know if the vaccine works.
Dr. Alejandro Cravioto, the group’s chair, says careful monitoring of any COVID-19 vaccines used in broad immunization programs was critical.
He says there’s a need to “follow the safety of these vaccines for a longer time once they start being used in this much more massive way." He calls for surveillance systems to be reinforced in countries to evaluate the vaccine’s impact on COVID-19 deaths and other factors.
LONDON — Buckingham Palace says the Countess of Wessex is self-isolating at home after contact with someone who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
The palace says the 55-year-old Countess Sophie hasn’t experienced symptoms but is following relevant government guidelines. Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones married Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, in 1999.
The royals have been touched by the pandemic in the past. Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, tested positive for the coronavirus in March.
Charles, 71, recovered and described himself as one of “the lucky ones” with only mild symptoms.
MADRID — Spain’s government has declared a state of emergency in Madrid so that it can resume partial restrictions on movement there that were struck down by a court.
The government announced the measure after an emergency Cabinet meeting Friday to decide what to do about the Madrid region, which is witnessing one of Europe’s most concerning coronavirus clusters.
The region’s 14-day infection rate of 563 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents is more than twice Spain’s national average of 256 and five times the European average rate of 113 for the week ending Sept. 27.
The national government had ordered police in Madrid to fine people if they leave their municipalities without justification. The measure covers 4.8 million residents in Madrid and nine suburban towns.
But the Madrid regional government opposes the national government’s restrictions in the capital, saying they are draconian and hurt the economy. Madrid’s regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, says her more moderate measures are enough to fight the virus.
A Madrid court on Thursday upheld the regional government’s legal challenge, saying the national government’s imposition of restrictions violated people’s fundamental liberties.
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting with the mayors of Germany’s largest cities as coronavirus cases rise in metropolitan areas.
Germany’s disease control center reported 4,516 new cases overnight Friday. Merkel’s meeting by video conference with 11 mayors will discuss slowing the spread of the virus.
Germany won plaudits for its early containment. However, many cities have reached the critical warning level of 50 new infections per 100,000 residents. Berlin’s figure is at 51 per 100,000 residents, while Bremen is 53.9, followed by Cologne (49.8)and Essen (48.4), according to the Robert Koch Institute.
Overall, German has confirmed 314,660 cases and 9,589 deaths, a toll one-fourth of Britain and one-third of Italy.
PARIS — Intensive care wards across France are filling up again with COVID-19 patients. Doctors are scrambling to create new ICU beds elsewhere to accommodate the sick.
The COVID-19 patients now occupy 40% of ICU beds in the Paris region, and more than a quarter of ICUs nationwide, after infections among young people spread to vulnerable populations.
National health agency figures and doctors at multiple hospitals say France hasn’t added significant ICU capacity or the staff needed to manage them since the pandemic’s first wave. That’s despite France being among the hardest-hit nations in the spring.
The COVID-19 patients now occupy 1,427 ICU beds nationwide — a figure that has doubled in less than a month. France’s overall ICU capacity is 6,000.
The government defends its management of the virus crisis, and President Emmanuel Macron says it’s a question of “organization” and not resources.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Coronavirus infections in Slovakia have hit a record high for the third straight day, reaching almost 1,200 in a day for the first time.
The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase of those infected reached 1,184 on Thursday, up from the previous record of 1,037 set a day earlier.
In reaction to the record numbers, the government announced Friday that it will deploy 267 service members to help health authorities with contact tracing, conduct tests and distribute protective equipment.
Prime Minister Igor Matovic said more restrictive measures will be imposed next week if the surge doesn’t slow down over the weekend.
Slovakia has had 16,910 reported cases since the start of the pandemic, with 57 deaths.
MOSCOW — Russia has reported more than 12,000 new coronavirus infections, its highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic.
The government task force dealing with the outbreak says the 12,126 infections reported Friday took the country’s total close to 1.3 million.
Russia has the world’s fourth-largest number of reported cases since the pandemic began. It has also reported 22,000 deaths.
Russian authorities insist there is no immediate plan to impose a second lockdown in the country, which has lifted most virus-related restrictions imposed in the spring.
But authorities in Moscow, which has seen a quick rise in new cases with 3,701 infections reported over the past 24 hours, have encouraged businesses to have at least one-third of their employees work from home and recommended that the elderly self-isolate at home. This month’s school holidays in the capital were extended from one to two weeks.
PRAGUE — New reported coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic were their highest for a third straight day, registering another 5,394 cases.
The new cases take the country’s total since the pandemic began to more than 100,000.
The government has responded by imposing further restrictive measures to contain the surge, some of them becoming effective on Friday and others on Monday.
Among them, all theaters, cinemas, zoos, museums, art galleries, fitness centers and public swimming pools will be closed for at least two weeks.
Also, all indoor sports activities will be banned. Outdoors, only up to 20 people will be allowed to participate in sport activities, a measure that will badly hit professional competitions such as soccer leagues.
Restaurants and bars will have to close at 8 p.m. and only four people will be allowed at one table.
NEW DELHI — India has reported another 70,496 new infections in the past 24 hours, taking the country’s total since the pandemic began to more than 6.9 million.
The Health Ministry on Friday also reported 964 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 106,490.
India is seeing infections spread at a slower pace than last month, when daily infections touched a record high of 97,894 cases. India is averaging more than 70,000 cases daily so far this month.
Since the pandemic began India has reported the second most total cases in the world behind the United States.
Health experts have warned that congregations during major festivals later this month and in November have the potential for the virus to spread.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan health authorities are working to contain a growing cluster of new coronavirus infections, ordering the closure of bars, restaurants, casinos, nightclubs and spas.
The Indian Ocean island nation over the weekend reported its first locally transmitted infection in more than two months, which led to the discovery of a cluster centered around a garment factory in densely populated Western province.
By Friday the number of infections linked to the cluster climbed to 1,053, with more than 2,000 more people asked to quarantine at home. The majority of infected people are co-workers of the first patient, who is a worker at the garment factory.
BEIJING — China is joining the world’s coronavirus vaccine alliance known as COVAX. It previously declined to join, missing a deadline in September.
China has four vaccine candidates in the last stage of clinical trials, making it farther ahead in development timelines than others.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China was joining to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines and in hope more capable countries will also join. It is not yet clear the exact terms of the agreement and how China will contribute.
The alliance is designed so participation by richer countries helps finance access for poorer ones. The Trump administration in the U.S. has declined to join.
HARTFORD, Conn. — Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus task force says she is concerned about the uptick in coronavirus cases in the Northeast.
She said Thursday at the University of Connecticut’s Hartford campus that a “very different” kind of spread is happening now.
She says it’s not happening in the workplace so much because people are taking precautions. She says more people are becoming infected because of indoor family gatherings and social events as the weather cools.
She says that was a lesson learned in the South during the summer when people went indoors for air conditioning.