SPOKANE, Wash. — A pasta company has announced there was a coronavirus outbreak at its Spokane factory as Washington state prepares to reopen parts of its economy.

The Spokesman-Review reported that Philadelphia Macaroni Company Inc. said in a statement Friday that 72 workers were tested for COVID-19 and 24 were positive. Health officials say there was an increase in Spokane County with 31 new positive cases between Thursday and Friday.

Company officials say all of the factory employees have since been tested and the facility was disinfected. The company is working with the Spokane Regional Health District to conduct contact tracing and determine further prevention measures.

China reports just three new cases in day

BEIJING — China on Sunday reported three new confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Two of the cases were brought from outside the country and one locally transmitted in the northeastern province of Jilin that has experienced a minor outbreak now apparently largely contained.

No new deaths were reported and 79 people remain in treatment, with another 380 under isolation and monitoring for being suspected cases or having tested positive for COVID-19 without showing any symptoms.

China has reported a total of 4,634 COVID-19 deaths out of 82,974 cases.

New Mexico says mass gatherings may not be an option for over a year

SANTA FE, N.M. — A New Mexico state official says gatherings of more than 100 people may not be possible for more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said it could be a year or 18 months before there’s either a vaccine or herd immunity. That creates the prospect that sports stadiums, concert halls and conference centers in the state could remain empty for months.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Schroer spoke during a webinar Thursday on reopening the state’s hospitality industry.

The state had nearly 6,800 cases of COVID-19 with 308 deaths as of Saturday.

New York Times’ front page lists virus victims

NEW YORK — The New York Times has devoted Sunday’s entire front page to a long list of names of people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

The names and brief descriptions culled from obituaries from around the country fill six columns under the headline “U.S. Deaths Near 100,000, an Incalculable Loss,” with a subheadline reading: “They Were Not Simply Names on a List. They Were Us.”

The all-text list takes the place of the usual articles, photographs and graphics in an effort to convey the vastness and variety of lives lost, according to Simone Landon, assistant editor of the graphics desk.

A tally kept by Johns Hopkins University says more than 96,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States.

Tom Bodkin, chief creative officer of The Times, said he did not remember any front pages without images, though there have been pages with only graphics, during his 40 years at the newspaper.

Protesters rally at California state Capitol

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hundreds of protesters rallied outside California’s state Capitol on Saturday to protest stay-at-home orders even as residents entered the Memorial Day weekend with newly expanded options for leisure.

California Highway Patrol officers closed the Capitol lawn to demonstrators, so speakers addressed the crowd from the back of a flatbed truck as an airplane flew above towing a banner with a picture of Gov. Gavin Newsom and the words “End his tyranny!”

Protesters waved dozens of flags and signs, many in support of President Donald Trump. Few people wore masks and there was little room for social distancing.

The protest came as restrictions eased across much of the state. Some 45 of 58 counties have received permission to reopen most stores and many public spaces by meeting state standards for controlling the novel coronavirus.

Authorities continue to warn people to practice social distancing and other anti-virus measures, noting that the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to rise.

North Carolina farmers euthanizing 1.5 million chickens

RALEIGH, N.C. — Coronavirus outbreaks at meat processing plants are forcing North Carolina farmers to euthanize 1.5 million chickens, according to a state official.

Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Joe Reardon told The News & Observer that this is the first time during the pandemic that farmers in the state have had to euthanize their animals. Roughly a third of the 1.5 million chickens already had been killed, Reardon said.

Chicken and hog farmers in other states also have been euthanizing millions of animals during the COVID-19 pandemic. North Carolina hog farmers have not taken steps to euthanize their animals, Reardon said.

Ramadan ending in Iraq with spike in coronavirus

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Health Ministry is reporting the steepest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the government began recording cases in late February.

The ministry reported 308 new cases Saturday, one day ahead of celebrations to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Curfew hours had been relaxed during the month of fasting, which contributed to higher daily rates of infection.

According to ministry figures, more than 4,200 people have tested positive for the virus in Iraq. At least 152 people have died.

Roads have been clogged with traffic and supermarkets and shops have been packed with people preparing for the celebrations, likely contributing to the increase in infections.

New York state records 24-hour death total under 100

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state reported its lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths in weeks in what Gov. Andrew Cuomo described Saturday as a critical benchmark.

The daily death tally was 84 after a peak of 799 on April 8.

Reducing the state’s daily death count to fewer than 100 seemed almost impossible several weeks ago, the Democratic governor said. That figure has remained stubbornly high even amid other signs of encouragement.

“In my head, I was always looking to get under 100,” Cuomo said. “For me, it’s a sign that we’re making real progress.”

The number of hospitalized patients in the state that has been the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. continued to fall, dropping to over 4,600.

Cuomo also announced that the region along the Hudson River north of New York City and south of Albany is set to begin reopening Tuesday, and that Long Island could follow suit Wednesday.

New coronavirus cases low in much of Italy

ROME — Italy on Saturday registered 669 new cases of COVID-19, two-thirds of them in the northern region of Lombardy, which has been the hardest-hit since the outbreak began.

Figures from the most recent 24-hour period since Friday evening saw 119 deaths registered. Officially, Italy has 32,735 deaths from COVID-19.

According to Health Ministry data, the latest cases raised the nation’s overall tally of confirmed coronavirus cases to 229,327. All of Italy’s regions, with the exception of Lombardy, registered no more than a few dozen new cases each on Saturday, and many regions had numbers of new infections in the single digits.

Eager to revive tourism, the government has said people will be allowed to resume travel between regions starting June 3, but travel restrictions could remain if there’s an uptick of infections.

Italy eased many stay-at-home restrictions on May 18, including allowing public Masses to be held and restaurants and cafes to serve sit-down customers.

Trump visits his private golf club in Virginia on Memorial Day weekend

STERLING, Va. — President Donald Trump is visiting one of his private golf clubs for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump opened Memorial Day weekend with a trip Saturday to Trump National Golf Club in northern Virginia.

It’s his first time at one of his private golf properties since an early March trip to his golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida. That was several days before Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak.

The outing came a day after Trump said places of worship are “essential” and told governors to allow them to reopen. He has been pushing for states to fully reopen months after closing businesses and outdoor venues to help slow the spread of the virus.

The U.S. leads the world with a reported 1.6 million coronavirus cases and more than 96,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Los Angeles holds off on reopening until July

LOS ANGELES — While most of California took another step to partly reopen in time for Memorial Day weekend, Los Angeles County didn’t join the party.

The nation’s most populous county is not looking to reopen more widely until July 4th. The number of coronavirus cases haven’t lowered to meet the new state standards for allowing additional businesses and recreational activities.

The large nursing home population has accounted for many cases and deaths, along with dense neighborhoods of people more at risk of exposure.

Los Angeles County, with a quarter of the state’s nearly 40 million residents, accounts for about half of its COVID-19 cases and half of the state’s more than 3,600 deaths.

Far-right party protesting against Spanish government

MADRID — Several thousand followers of Spain’s far-right Vox party have gathered in Madrid and other cities to protest the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Vox called for protesters to come in their cars and motorbikes to skirt the current prohibition on social gatherings in effect under the nation’s two-month long state of emergency.

“Let your desire be heard for the resignation of the government,” Vox leader Santiago Abascal said from the open-top bus leading the cars inching down a Madrid boulevard.

Vox called the protest the “Caravan for Spain and Liberty.”

Most cars were decked with Spanish flags and there were also small groups of people who participated on foot, with some not respecting the two-meter social distancing rules.

More protests were held in Barcelona, Sevilla and other provincial capitals.

Over 28,000 Spaniards have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19.

The lockdown successfully reduced the daily contagion rate of over 20% at the height of the crisis to under 1% for the past week.

Syria announces largest single day jump

DAMASCUS, Syria — The Syrian government has announced the largest single day jump of recorded cases in the country, where so far testing has been limited.

The health ministry said Saturday that 11 people tested positive upon their return from Kuwait, and that they were among Syrians repatriated from the Gulf country.

It brings the total recorded infections in Syria to 70 and four deaths. The war-torn nation has limited testing capabilities and a heavily damaged health system.

Two regions in the country’s north with a population of nearly 8 million people are outside of government control, so testing there has also been even more limited.

Health authorities have reported no infections in the rebel-held northwest.

In the northeast, the Kurdish-led government began carrying out its own testing and has so far recorded three infections and one death.

New cases top 6,000 in India for second straight day

NEW DELHI — New cases of the coronavirus in India topped 6,000 for a second consecutive day, marking another record jump for the South Asian country in a 24-hour period.

India reported 6,654 new cases on Saturday, bringing the nationwide total to 125,102, including 3,720 deaths.

The rate of infection in the country of 1.3 billion has risen as a two-month lockdown has eased.

States with relatively few cases have seen spikes in recent days as residents, including migrant workers traveling on special trains, have returned home.

Authorities in the northeastern border state of Assam introduced criminal charges on Saturday for quarantine violators after more than 100 people in state quarantine facilities tested positive for COVID-19.

Several members of church test positive after attending services

BERLIN — A parish leader says that several members of a congregation have tested positive for the coronavirus after a church service in Frankfurt.

News agency dpa reported Saturday that Wladimir Pritzkau, the deputy head of the Evangelical Christian Baptist congregation involved, as saying the service took place on May 10. He did not say how many people were affected but said that most are at home and six are in hospital.

Religious services have been allowed in the region since May 1, with conditions that include a 1.5 meter (5-foot) distance between worshippers and the provision of disinfectant.

Pritzkau said rules were adhered to. The church has canceled all gatherings and is now conducting services online.

The head of the city’s health office wouldn’t confirm or deny the case, citing medical confidentiality.

Christian landmark in Jerusalem to reopen

JERUSALEM — The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem will open on Sunday for the first time in two months.

It is built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected,

Leaders of the three denominations sharing the site said in a statement Saturday that entrance will be limited to 50 people at a time.

Worshippers cannot enter if they have symptoms and must wear face masks and should keep a distance of 2 meters (six feet). They should also avoid touching or kissing stones and other objects at the holy site.

The church was closed in March along with most other sites in the Holy Land, in keeping with strict measures imposed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to contain the outbreak.

It remained closed throughout Holy Week and Easter last month, when Jerusalem’s Old City is normally packed with tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists. Priests observed Holy Week rituals in small groups, mostly behind closed doors.

Vatican museums to open June 1

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican Museums will open up again on June 1 with all visitors wearing face masks and having their temperature checked before entry.

The Vatican said Saturday that medical staff will be present and that, since reservations will now be required, advance ticketing fees of 4 euros ($4.50) are being waived.

On the Museums itinerary is the Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling frescoed by Michelangelo, while on Fridays and Saturdays thirsty visitors can reserve an aperitif at sunset in a Vatican courtyard.

Ticket sales and souvenir revenues are a major source of income for the Holy See. For now, the Museums are suspending the free-entry initiative on the last Sunday of each month.

Open bus tours of the manicured Vatican Gardens will be offered, and on weekends the public can tour the summer residence of popes in Castel Gandolfo, a hill town near Rome.

There have been 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in tiny Vatican City State or among its employees.

Nations float European counterproposal

BERLIN — Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden have put forward a counterproposal for a European coronavirus recovery fund with a two-year time limit and a concentration on loans.

The Austria Press Agency reported that the countries issued their position paper on Saturday. It follows a French-German proposal for a fund of $550 billion that would make outright grants to help countries and endorses common borrowing.

The agency states that the four countries must not agree to “instruments or measures that lead to a mutualization of debt or significant increases” in the European Union’s budget.

The proposal didn’t put a figure on the aid that should be given, but APA reported that the Austrian chancellery said the money must be used for “the rebuilding and resilience of the health sector and the economy.” Research, innovation and climate-related investments could be backed.

The EU’s executive commission is expected to unveil its own proposal for a recovery fund next week, from which the EU member states must then find a compromise.

Merkel urges Germans to follow distancing rules

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is defending her country’s coronavirus restrictions and calling on her compatriots to keep respecting social distancing rules.

Germany started loosening its lockdown restrictions on April 20 and since then has at least partly reopened many sectors. At the same time, the country has seen frequent protests against lockdown measures.

Merkel said in her weekly video message Saturday that the measures were necessary, and that officials must continue to justify why some restrictions can’t be lifted while ensuring that they are proportionate.

Merkel said that Germany has “succeeded so far in achieving the aim of preventing our health system being overwhelmed.”

France allowing religious services to resume

PARIS — France is allowing religious services to resume starting Saturday after a legal challenge to the government’s ban on such gatherings.

Religious leaders welcomed the decision but said it will take time to put the necessary safety measures in place.

To prevent further spread of the virus, visitors to French places of worship must wear masks, wash their hands upon entering, and keep a distance of at least one meter (three feet) from other people.

The French government had banned religious services until June 2 even though stores and other businesses started reopening last week. The Council of State, the country’s highest administrative body, struck down the ban, and the government published a decree Saturday allowing services to resume.

The French Bishops Conference said it would work with church leaders to prepare for reopening, notably for Pentecost Sunday services May 31.

The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris said that it will not be ready to reopen for services Sunday marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Infections lead to quarantine after reopening in Germany

BERLIN — Authorities say seven people appear to have been infected with the coronavirus at a restaurant in northwestern Germany, in what would be the first known such case since restaurants started reopening in the country two weeks ago.

The local government in Leer county said Friday night that the cases, reported between Tuesday and Friday, led to at least 50 people being quarantined.

Previously, no new cases had been confirmed in the area for over a week.

Germany started loosening its coronavirus restrictions on April 20 and that process has gathered pace recently. Lower Saxony state, where Leer is located, allowed restaurants to reopen May 11 with hygiene precautions.

Those currently include a 6 ½-foot distance between tables, masks for waiters and an obligation to take the name, address and phone number of guests so that possible infections can be traced.

 


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