The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 307,200 people and killed more than 13,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 92,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

Rudy Gobert, the Utah Jazz player whose positive test for the novel coronavirus triggered a shutdown by the NBA and had a cascading effect across sports leagues, reported Sunday that he has lost the senses of smell.

“Just to give you guys an update, loss of smell and taste is definitely one of the symptoms, haven’t been able to smell anything for the last four days,” Gobert tweeted. “Anyone experiencing the same thing?”

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, that isn’t unusual. In a post on its website Sunday, it cited growing anecdotal evidence indicating that lost or reduced sense of smell and loss of taste are symptoms associated with covid-19. The organization alerted ear, nose and throat physicians that both have been seen in patients who tested positive but showed no other symptoms. In the absence of allergies, sinusitis or rhinitis, the loss of smell or taste should “warrant serious consideration for self-isolation and testing,” it advised.

“We really want to raise awareness that this is a sign of infection and that anyone who develops loss of sense of smell should self-isolate,” Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, wrote in an email to The New York Times. “It could contribute to slowing transmission and save lives.”

Gobert tested positive for coronavirus March 11, leading to the postponement of Utah’s game in Oklahoma and the costly suspension of the NBA season hours later. Other leagues followed shortly thereafter and the Jazz announced that a second player, later revealed to be Donovan Mitchell, had tested positive.

Gobert has admitted to being “careless” after mockingly touching reporters’ mics and recording devices during a news conference March 9, before his positive test. He has since apologized and pledged $500,000 to efforts aimed at offering relief to workers affected by the NBA shutdown.

FED ANNOUNCES UNLIMITED BOND PURCHASES IN UNPRECEDENTED MOVE

The Federal Reserve announced Monday an unlimited expansion of bond purchasing programs to backstop the credit markets, as millions of American households and businesses are getting crushed by the economic shutdown due to the spreading coronavirus.

The Fed said it would purchase Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning,” an indication the central bank is willing to do a lot more than the $700 billion in new purchases announced last week. This is an extraordinary move that effectively puts no limits on assets the Fed is willing to buy, an effort to goes even further than the 2008-09 financial crisis playbook.

In a series of sweeping moves, the Fed has taken bold action to ensure companies, cities and households have access to credit. On Monday, the Fed said it also expects to announce “the establishment of a ‘Main Street Business Lending Program’ to support lending to eligible small businesses” in the near future, another unprecedented step.

“The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support households, businesses, and the U.S. economy overall in this challenging time,” Fed leaders wrote in a statement.

These move come as Congress has stalled on a major $1.8 trillion relief package for the nation and markets around the world plunged again. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard predicted Sunday that unemployment could hit 30% in the second quarter, a higher level than during the Great Depression.

“It has become clear that our economy will face severe disruption,” the Fed said. “Aggressive efforts must be taken across the public and private sectors to limit the losses to jobs and incomes and to promote a swift recovery once the disruptions abate.”

The Fed also said Monday that it will support the commercial lending market by purchasing commercial mortgage-backed securities in addition to mortgage-backed securities made up of home loans.

CANADA SAYS NO ATHLETES TO TOKYO THIS YEAR

The Canadian Olympic Committee says it won’t send athletes to the Tokyo Games unless they’re postponed for a year, becoming the first country to threaten such a move in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee sent out a statement Sunday evening saying it was willing to help the IOC search for alternatives, but that it was not safe for athletes, “their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training for these Games.”

“In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.”

Canada brought 314 athletes who combined to win 22 medals at the Rio Games in 2016.

Some of its most notable performers included swimmer Penny Oleksiak and sprinter Andre De Grasse.

Canada joins a number of countries — including Norway, Brazil and Slovenia — that have pressed the IOC on a possible postponement. But none had flat-out said they wouldn’t go if the games start when they’re scheduled on July 24.

The IOC on Sunday said it would take up to four weeks to consider alternatives, which include postponement. It has taken the possibility of canceling the games off the table.

U.S. STOCKS FUTURES FALL SHARPLY SUNDAY

NEW YORK — Futures for U.S. stocks fell sharply at the start of trading Sunday as investors watch to see if Congress can agree on a huge rescue package to try to stem the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Futures for the S&P 500 fell by 5%, triggering a halt in futures trading.

Wall Street is coming off its worst week since 2008. The S&P 500 fell 15% as large swaths of the U.S. economy shut down and investors waited for Washington to deliver financial support for American workers and battered industries such as airlines and hotels. Democrats have argued the package was tilted toward corporations rather than workers and healthcare providers, so negotiations are ongoing.

Oil prices also tumbled as the broad global economic slowdown threatens demand for energy. The price of U.S. oil fell 6% to $21.26 a barrel, while the international benchmark dropped 7% to $25.10

SENATE DOESN’T ADVANCE COVID-19 PACKAGE

WASHINGTON — The Senate has refused to advance the coronavirus rescue package in a procedural vote with Democrats rejecting a draft from Republicans and pushing for more aid for workers.

Negotiations are expected to continue into the evening Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged senators to “signal to the public that we’re ready to get this job done.” He wants passage by Monday.

But Democrats have resisted, arguing the nearly $1.4 trillion measure needs to bolster aid and put limits on how businesses can use the emergency dollars.

More voting is possible.

Read the story here.

WHITE HOUSE URGES LABS TO PRIORITIZE TESTS

WASHINGTON — The White House is urging commercial labs to prioritize the testing of hospital patients as they work to clear a backlog of tests for the coronavirus.

Vice President Mike Pence says the Department of Health and Human Services will issue formal guidance Monday, but that the federal government is encouraging all labs to “prioritize inpatient testing.”

Pence says the government hopes to have the backlog of existing tests — a milestone the White House hoped to reach on Monday — cleared by the middle of the week.

The White House is encouraging those without symptoms against seeking testing, warning it depletes already scarce supplies of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers.

TRUMP SAYS HE ORDERED FEMA TO HELP STATES

WASHINGTON — President Trump says he’s ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ship mobile hospital centers to the hard-hit states of Washington, California and New York amid the coronavirus pandemic. For New York, that would mean another 1,000 hospital beds.

Trump is also revealing for the first time the number of respirators and other personal protective equipment sent to the hard-hit states by the federal government. It comes as state and local leaders have appealed on the federal government to provide far more, and as Trump has held off on using his fully authorities under the Defense Production Act to marshal the private sector’s capabilities.

Trump says it’s up to states to try to get the materials first. He says: “We’re sort of a backup for states.”

Trump says he’s also giving governors in those three states in calling up their national guard, keeping it under local control but providing federal funding.

LOUISIANA ISSUES STATEWIDE ‘STAY AT HOME’ DIRECTIVE

BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a statewide “stay at home” directive, ordering all 4.6 million people in Louisiana to stay at home starting at 5 p.m. on Monday unless they’re performing an essential task like getting food or medicine.

Workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors’ offices and other critical infrastructure are exempt from the governor’s directive.

“The bottom line is we are in a race against time when it comes to this coronavirus and it’s rapid spread in Louisiana,” Edwards said Sunday.

New York, California, Illinois and some cities have issued similar shelter in place or stay at home orders in the last few days. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell had issued a similar order for that city two days ago.

As of Sunday, coronavirus infections in Louisiana have climbed to more than 830. Twenty people in the state have died of COVID-19, state health officials said.

RAND PAUL FIRST U.S. SENATOR TO TEST POSITIVE FOR VIRUS

WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is the first U.S. senator to test positive for COVID-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus.

That’s according to a tweet from the senator, who is a top ally of President Trump.

The senator is “feeling fine,” the tweet said. He is “asymptomatic,” and in quarantine.

He was not aware “of any direct contact with any infected person,” the tweet said.

This comes shortly after the nation’s capital announced its second death to coronavirus.

Read the story here.

GERMAN CHANCELLOR IN QUARANTINE AFTER BEING EXPOSED

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has gone into quarantine after being informed that a doctor who administered a vaccine to her has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Merkel’s spokesman said the German chancellor was informed about the doctor’s test shortly after holding a news conference Sunday announcing new measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Merkel had received a precautionary vaccine Friday against pneumococcal infection.

Seibert said in a statement that Merkel, 65, would undergo “regular tests” in the coming days and continue with her work from home for the time being.

ITALIAN CASES, DEATHS CONTINUE TO RISE

ROME — The number of deaths of people with the coronavirus in Italy jumped 651 to 5,476 in the last 24 hours, while new infections rose by 10% to over 59,000. The head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, Angelo Borrelli, noted that the increases had narrowed from recent days, adding ‘’we hope that this trend can be confirmed in the coming days. We should not lower our guard.’’

23 PRISONERS DEAD AFTER RIOT OVER POOR CONDITIONS

BOGOTA, Colombia — Authorities in Colombia say 23 prisoners died and another 83 were injured in a riot and attempted escape over poor conditions inmates argue will spread the 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.

FAUCI SAYS HE HAS NO DISAGREEMENT WITH TRUMP

WASHINGTON — The government’s top infectious disease expert insists he has no disagreement with President Donald Trump over whether a drug to treat COVID-19 is actually at hand.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Trump had heard anecdotal reports that a malaria drug could be used for the coronavirus and so was expressing the hope “that if they might work, let’s try and push their usage.”

Last week, Trump asserted that tests had provided evidence the drug is useful for COVID-19, a statement Fauci contradicted during televised White House briefings. Trump also falsely suggested that the FDA had just cleared the drug specifically for the viral pandemic, when it had not.

On Sunday, Fauci explained that Trump’s views reflected a layperson who was “trying to bring hope to the people” whereas his own job is to “prove definitively from a scientific job that they do work.”

NORTH MACEDONIA ANNOUNCES FIRST DEATH

SKOPJE, North Macedonia — North Macedonia has announced the first death from the COVID-19 virus.

Health minister Venko Filipce said Sunday the victim was a 57- year old woman from the town of Kumanovo. Her health deteriorated rapidly at the hospital, but cause of death was only determined after. Filipce did not specify when the woman died.

Filipce said 29 people have tested positive on virus over the past 24 hours, all but seven from the capital Skopje. This brings the number of confirmed cases to 114.

North Macedonia has imposed a 9 pm curfew that begins Sunday night. Two regions in the west of the country, near the border with Albania, have been sealed off for 30 days. More then 7,600 people are quarantined.

GREECE GOES ON LOCKDOWN

ATHENS, Greece — Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a lockdown, starting at 6 a.m. Monday.

All citizens and residents must stay at home or risk a fine.

There are specific exemptions to the lockdown such as going to work, visiting a doctor, shopping, exercise and walking the dog. Everyone must carry an ID or passport with them.

Also, people returning to their permanent place of residence are exempt from the measure as they travel.

Other government officials will specify the measures and their enforcement.

Mitsotakis thanked “the vast majority of citizens” who followed the quarantine instructions when it was first imposed more than a week ago, and blamed the “frivolous, flippant” few who “put everyone in danger” by defying the instructions.

Earlier Sunday, government spokesman Stelios Petsas had chastised those “who have interpreted the quarantine as a holiday season” by crowding public spaces or leaving the capital Athens en masse for the countryside, taking advantage of the mild weather.

FAUCI HOPEFUL U.S. IS NOT ON ITALIAN TRAJECTORY

WASHINGTON — The government’s top infectious disease expert says he remains hopeful the U.S. is not on the same trajectory as Italy in the coronavirus struggle.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says the stringent measures being put in place in the U.S. including travel restrictions, the closing of schools and many businesses and other social distancing will go “a long way” to prevent the U.S. from becoming like Italy.

Italy has seen over 50,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 5,000 deaths.

Fauci tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that it’s hard to know exactly why Italy is “suffering so terribly” but that they did not appear to shut out as well the input of infections originating from China and other parts of the world.

He says the U.S. is “going to be hit, no doubt about it,” but it appears to be in a better position because “we have from the beginning put a kind of clamper” on the virus.

GERMANY CONTINUES TO AID FRANCE

SAARLAND, Germany — Germany’s small western state of Saarland became the third to offer medical help to neighboring France, which is struggling with a surge in coronavirus patients.

Gov. Tobias Hans said his state would use available hospital beds with ventilators to treat severely ill patients from France’s Grand-Est region.

Public broadcaster SR quoted Hans on Sunday saying that “we will only win the battle again the virus together.”

Saarland came under French control after World War II but was returned to West Germany in 1957 following a referendum.

Germany’s southwestern states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg, which also border France, have already offered spare hospitals beds to treat French patients.

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR SAYS THEY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SUPPLIES

WASHINGTON — Illinois’ governor says his state is not receiving enough medical supplies.

Gov. Jay Pritzker tells CNN’s “State of The Union” that they got a recent supply but it was a fraction of what was requested. He says they’re buying supplies from the open market and competing with other states also in need of supplies.

He said it’s a bad system.

Pritzker is hopeful that now that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in charge of response he is hopefully it will improve. He says that FEMA is more prepared to manage the crisis than other federal agencies.

Pritzker ordered all 12.7 million people in Illinois to stay at home starting Saturday evening, and said he wished there would be stay-at-home orders nationwide.

He says unless leaders tell citizens to stay home, they just won’t.

ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSINGS DOWN, OFFICIAL SAYS

WASHINGTON — Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf says illegal border crossings have dropped by 50% after restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump administration is turning back anyone crossing illegally, among other restrictions.

Wolf says because migrants often come without identification paperwork it’s unclear how to trace their medical history and to determine if they are arriving from an area hard-hit by the virus.

But the Trump administration has also made restriction immigration a top priority, regardless of the pandemic and had already been sending thousands of asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait out their cases. The nation’s immigration courts are still operating with limited closures and some hearings delayed.

Wolf said on Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures” that the borders between the U.S. and Mexico and U.S. and Canada are not shut down, but are only allowing for necessary trade and travel.

He says there’s more than $2 billion combined trade at both borders and it’s important to keep that going. But he says anyone coming for tourism should stay home.

SPAIN EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY

MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he plans to extend the national state of emergency that includes strict measures to combat the coronavirus.

It means the countrywide lockdown will last at least one month.

Spain is finishing its first week of what was initially a 15-day state of emergency that imposes stay-at-home restrictions and store closings. But with infections and deaths continuing to rise, Sánchez has decided not to wait to extend the lockdown.

To do so, his government will ask the Parliament for its necessary approval on Tuesday.

Spain, the hardest hit country after China and Italy, has 28,572 infections and 1,720 deaths.

STOCKHOLM BUILDING MAKE-SHIFT HOSPITAL

STOCKHOLM — The city of Stockholm says it has teamed up with the Swedish military to build a make-shift hospital inside a large fair and convention center south of the Swedish capital to accommodate a rapidly growing number of coronavirus patients.

Stockholm region officials said the building of the facility will start immediately in co-operation with the Swedish Armed Forces. It will include an intensive care unit.

Stockholm had 661 confirmed cases and seven deaths by Sunday. Nationwide, Sweden has seen a large hike in coronavirus cases in the past week with 1,747 cases and 20 deaths confirmed in the country Sunday.

MNUCHIN EXPECTS STIMULUS DEAL SUNDAY

WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he expects Congress and the White House to reach full agreement later Sunday on an economic stimulus package that could approach $2 trillion to address the coronavirus crisis.

The package would include $3,000 checks to families and other aid to last the next 10 weeks.

Mnuchin tells “Fox News Sunday” that there is a “fundamental understanding” reached with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to provide significant aid.

He says the deal includes federal loans to small businesses so they can retain their workers; cash payments averaging $3,000 for a family of four as well as “enhanced” unemployment insurance.

The package also will allow the Federal Reserve to leverage up to $4 trillion of liquidity to support the nation’s economy, while hospitals will get “approximately” $110 billion to address a crush of people infected with the virus.

Mnuchin says President Donald Trump has “every expectation” the aid package will help workers and the economy improve “four or eight weeks from now,” but if the virus is still raging after 10 weeks, “we’ll go back to Congress again.”

Mnuchin says he expects a Senate vote on the deal on Monday morning.

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR SAYS SHE NEEDS TEST KITS, MASKS

WASHINGTON — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says her state needs the federal government to provide not only more test kits and masks but also clear guidance on how best to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Whitmer said her state and others are doing the best they can, “but it would be nice to have a national strategy.” As it is, she said the states are “all building the airplane as we fly it.”

She criticized the federal government for not focusing on the threat much earlier. She also said she didn’t want to belabor the point because she needs to be able to work with the federal government.

She said she doesn’t want to fight with the White House, but says a point will come in which failures will need to be examined.

BRITAIN URGES CITIZENS TO STAY PUT

LONDON — Authorities in Britain’s remotest regions say an influx of people trying to get away from crowded urban areas is putting local lives at risk.

Scottish authorities told people heading to the sparsely populated Highlands to stay at holiday homes or in camper vans to go home.

The Road to The Isles group, which represents tourism businesses in part of the scenic region, said its area had an aging population and just one ambulance, with the nearest hospital 100 miles (160 kms) away.

Chairwoman Sine MacKellaig-Davis urged people “to stay home, care for loved ones and, as soon as it’s safe to do so, the Road to the Isles and its communities and businesses will welcome you.”

Judy Murray, mother of tennis star Andy Murrray, had a blunter message. She tweeted “Message for those relocating to the countryside” above a picture of a car and trailer with “Go home idiots” and “Covid-19” painted on the side.

CZECHS WORKING TO GET CITIZENS HOME

PRAGUE — The Czech Foreign Ministry is sending a military plane to the Baltics and secured deals with commercial airlines to take home stranded Czech nationals in Egypt, Philippines and Vietnam.

Various restrictive measures on movement adopted by the governments around the globe due to the outbreak of the coronavirus have made it difficult for many to return.

Altogether some 600 Czechs should return by those flights, plus 100 people from other EU countries who were offered seats.

The government have already been sending buses for the Czechs stranded at the airports in Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin in Germany as well Vienna in Austria.

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR SAYS HE IS DESPERATE FOR SUPPLIES FROM FEDS

WASHINGTON — Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey says his state is desperate for more face masks and other personal protective equipment and is not getting nearly what it needs from the federal government.

Murphy said, “We’ve had a big ask into the strategic stockpile in the White House. They’ve given us a fraction of our ask.”

New Jersey is now fourth in the country in terms of the number of positive cases, which the governor says hit more than 1,300 on Saturday with 16 fatalities.

He also cited an urgent need for direct financial assistance from the federal government to help workers and small business. He said, “We think New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut alone, those four states, need $100 billion, direct cash assistance, to allow us to continue the fight.”

Murphy spoke Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

NYC MAYOR SAYS IT WILL GET WORSE FIRST

NEW YORK — New York City’s mayor is telling New Yorkers at the epicenter of the U.S. pandemic that it’s only going to get worse.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that his city is in desperate need of ventilators and other medical supplies and staff. He also lambasted the White House response as non-responsive.

He says he’s asked “repeatedly” for the U.S. military to mobilize, and has heard nothing.

The Mayor said the actions taken by American citizens are “much farther ahead than anything we’ve seen out of the White House.”

BRITISH DOCTORS PLEAD FOR EQUIPMENT

LONDON — British doctors and nurses are making urgent pleas for more protective equipment as the number of coronavirus patients in U.K. hospitals soars.

Almost 4,000 medical workers signed a letter to the Sunday Times saying front-line staff felt like “cannon fodder.” They warned that medics would die if they did not receive better equipment.

The letter said that intensive-care doctors and anaesthetists “have been carrying out the highest-risk procedure, putting a patient on a ventilator, with masks that expired in 2015.”

Britain’s coronavirus outbreak is not expected to peak for weeks, and already staff at some hospitals have complained about shortages of ventilators and protective equipment like face masks, safety glasses, gloves and protective suits.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that hospitals would receive new stocks of protective equipment by Sunday afternoon.

The government has also ordered thousands of ventilators and has struck a deal with private hospitals to use thousands of beds and 20,000 medical staff to treat coronavirus patients.

 


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