The Latest COVID-19 Updates (May 21)

Staff Writer

3 p.m. WASHINGTON (AP) — Views of how government at all levels is handling the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. have deteriorated somewhat over the past month, as a growing minority of Americans prefer that states lift restrictions on social and economic life.
Still, Americans remain more likely to approve of the actions of their state government than of the federal government or Congress. At the same time, the new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows ratings of President Donald Trump’s overall performance remain remarkably steady, as they have for much of his presidency.

1 p.m. MOSCOW — The United States has delivered 50 ventilators to Russia as part of a $5.6 million humanitarian donation to help the country cope with the pandemic.
The U.S. Embassy said the first shipment of U.S.-manufactured breathing machines arrived in Moscow on Thursday, and another 150 will follow next week.
U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan emphasized that “particularly in times of crises we must work together,” adding “we must set aside policy differences and focus on the needs of our people.”
Russia has reported more than 317,000 infections and more than 3,000 deaths. Officials have scrambled to secure ventilators and other essential supplies as COVID-19 spread.
Russia sent a planeload of medical supplies, including ventilators, to the U.S. last month. Russia’s state investment fund said this week it has fully funded the delivery.
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HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — A Mississippi church was destroyed by a suspected arson fire about a month after its pastor sued the city over gathering restrictions amid the pandemic.
First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs burned down Wednesday, news outlets reported. Investigators from the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office found graffiti in the church parking lot that read: “Bet you stay home now you hypokrites” (sic).
“We’ve kind of racked our brains and we have no idea,” said Jerry Waldrop, the church pastor. “No enemies that we know of.”
Waldrop filed a lawsuit against the city of Holly Springs last month, alleging police officers disrupted a bible study and Easter service. The city said nearly 40 parishioners inside the church were not practicing social distancing on April 10 when a citation was issued.

12:30 p.m. HARRISBURG — Jefferson County still has seven confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Thursday statistical update. The surrounding counties stood as follows: Clearfield, 33 cases; Indiana County, 88 cases, four deaths; Armstrong, 58 cases, two deaths; Clarion, 25 cases, two deaths; Forest, seven cases; and Elk, six cases.

9:30 a.m. WASHINGTON — The top Democratic leaders are urging President Donald Trump to fly flags at half-staff on public buildings across the country when the U.S. coronavirus death toll reaches 100,000.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made the request in a letter sent to Trump on Thursday. They say the gesture would “serve as a national expression of grief so needed by everyone in our country.”
There have been more than 93,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.
The White House had no immediate response to the letter.
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WILKESBORO, N.C. — Meat producer Tyson Foods is reporting 570 cases of COVID-19 at a poultry processing complex in North Carolina.
Tyson said in a statement it tested more than 2,000 staff members and contractors who work at its facility in Wilkesboro. Tyson said that most of the 570 didn’t show symptoms.
The company said it is increasing testing and health care options at 30 of its facilities. Tyson said it’s also providing face masks, putting physical barriers between workstations and implementing social distancing.
Tyson had temporarily closed parts of the North Carolina complex that houses multiple plants for deep cleaning, including a multiday closure announced last week.
Surrounding Wilkes County health officials said that as of Thursday the area had about 450 COVID-19 cases, including two deaths and 20 current hospitalizations.

9 a.m. ISTANBUL — Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is urging international cooperation in combating the new coronavirus, saying any drug or vaccine must be “fairly” accessible and nations must assist less developed countries.
The prime minister spoke by videoconference Thursday during a ceremony led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to mark a hospital opening.
The 2,600-bed Basaksehir Pine and Sakura City Hospital in Istanbul was built by Turkey’s Ronesans Holding in partnership with Japan’s Sojitz Corporation.
Turkey is separately constructing two other hospitals in Istanbul, including one on the site of the now-closed Ataturk Airport, as part of plans to turn the nation into a major destination for medical tourism.
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ROME — Italy’s government is seeking to turn the coronavirus emergency into an opportunity to pass “the mother of all reforms” to simplify the country’s notoriously bulky bureaucracy, invest in education and research and make Italy more attractive to foreign investment.
Premier Giuseppe Conte told parliament’s lower chamber on Thursday that an upcoming “simplification” decree aims to provide a “shock” to the economy, which was heading toward recession even before the pandemic turned Italy into the onetime European epicenter. He said it aims to make Italy more competitive and transparent, while maintaining checks to prevent organized crime from infiltrating public and private contracts.
He said: “If we don’t succeed in simplifying now, in this state of absolute emergency, I frankly doubt we’ll be able to do it in the future.”
Conte also updated lawmakers on the status of Italy’s reopening, which began May 4 and accelerated this week. He said Italy now leads the world in per capita virus testing, and that antibody tests would begin May 25 on a sample 150,000 people — three weeks later than planned.
He said Italy’s contact-tracing app would begin tests “in the coming days” but he made no mention of whether Italy had hired teams of contact-tracers to actually conduct interviews and get in touch with people who had been in contact with COVID-19 patients, as other European countries have done.

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