Coronavirus: Louisiana gov. extends stay-at-home order

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Louisiana gov. extends stay-at-home order

Update 11:30 p.m. EDT April 27: Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday that he is extending Louisiana’s stay-at-home order through May 15, saying some regions haven’t shown enough progress in fighting the coronavirus outbreak to lessen widespread restrictions on businesses and public gatherings.

But if the state’s rate of infections continues to fall, the Democratic governor said he expects his constraints will begin to loosen on May 16. He said more churches and retailers would thus be allowed to open statewide at that time, including hair and nail salons and some restaurant dine-in services — all at only 25% of their legal occupancy rates.

Until mid-May, however, Edwards’ current March 23 order banning gatherings of more than 10 people, limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery and closing casinos, gyms, bars, theaters, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors and salons will largely remain in place.

Edwards said he made the decision in consultation with infectious disease specialists and other public health experts, as Louisiana ranks sixth in the nation for confirmed virus cases per capita. He said they used the White House guidelines for phased reopening, and Louisiana didn’t yet meet the first phase. He said he told Vice President Mike Pence about the extension of the stay-home order and Pence supported the decision.

“If we move too quickly that wouldn’t be good for public health or for our economy” because that could cause new spikes in virus cases, and the state would have to “slam on the brakes,” Edwards said.

“The worst thing I can do is ignore the reality and pretend we’re in a better place than we are,” he said.

Congress set to reopen, but new virus aid faces divisions

Update 9:40 p.m. EDT April 27: Congress is plunging ahead on a new coronavirus relief package, but deepening partisan divide and uncertainty in the schedule could stall the federal response to the health crisis and deteriorating U.S. economy.

Leaders of both parties announced the House and Senate will return May 4, despite objections from their ranks. Senior lawmakers were told in a briefing by the Capitol physician Monday that they may not be able to convene full House sessions, with staffing, for at least a year amid the ongoing crisis. Negotiations are set to resume Tuesday on proxy voting proposals.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday it might be time to consider a “guaranteed income” as 26 million Americans are suddenly jobless. She insists the next bill must provide “heroes” aid to state and local governments to pay police, fire and other front-line workers.

“We may have to think in terms of some different ways to put money in people’s pockets,” Pelosi said on MSNBC.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell countered that his priority is to shield health providers and business owners during the pandemic from what could be “the biggest trial lawyer bonanza in history.” He has suggested changing the laws to let states declare bankruptcy.

“The American people do not need tangential left-wing daydreams,” McConnell said.

While the coronavirus pandemic did the unthinkable in Washington, sparking a rare bipartisanship accord between Democrats and Republicans on the biggest rescue package in history — a $2 trillion effort last month, followed by $500 billion last week — it may not extend to the new effort.

Pence to visit Mayo Clinic to learn about testing ‘moonshot’

Update 8 p.m. EDT April 27: Vice President Mike Pence has an appointment Tuesday at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic to learn about a new coronavirus testing “moonshot” that has the famed clinic partnering with the state and its flagship university to quickly boost the state’s capacity to 20,000 tests a day.

It’s an approach that leverages a health care infrastructure not all states can match. And it should help Minnesota become one of the most aggressive states at testing on the scale experts say is necessary to safely reopen the economy. Minnesota is one of several states that have quit waiting for the federal government for help.

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz unveiled the state’s partnership with the University of Minnesota and Mayo last Wednesday, promising that every resident with symptoms of the coronavirus can get tested once the plan ramps up in the next few weeks.

“This is not a state that’s just going to get through COVID-19; this is a state that’s going to lead this nation and the world out of this,” Walz vowed of his ”moonshot.”

Pence recognized Walz’s efforts at a White House briefing Thursday, where he also praised Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine for an initiative to boost his state’s testing capacity to 22,000 per day through a partnership with reagent manufacturer Thermo Fisher. The vice president also cited Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for a partnership with Utah-based startup Nomi Health aimed at increasing her state’s lagging testing capacity by 3,000 per day from its current 1,000-2,000.

NJ governor outlines 6-step plan aimed at restarting economy

Update 6:40 p.m. EDT April 27: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled a six-point plan Monday to begin reopening the state’s economy even as the coronavirus outbreak persists.

The first-term Democratic governor projected optimism but cautioned the state is not ready to end its stay-at-home order or quit the weekslong social distancing guidelines that have hobbled the economy.

“We will move as quickly as we can, but as safely as we must,” Murphy said.

Murphy also announced Monday at a news conference that the positive cases reached 111,000, with the death toll climbing by 106 people to 6,044.

The six-part plan consists of four steps that must be completed first, the governor said:

— Sustaining downward trends in new COVID-19 cases and other metrics.

— Expanding testing capacity.

— Boosting contact tracing.

— Ensuring safe places for residents with the virus to isolate.

The next two steps, he said, are:

— Restarting the economy “responsibly.”

— Ensuring resiliency.

Murphy didn’t provide a timeline but said he is seeking trend lines to show decreases over 14 days. He cautioned against using just one day or a “snapshot”in time as a basis for reopening.

Census says restart to field operations will be in phases

Update 5:30 p.m. EDT April 27: The U.S. Census Bureau’s return to field operations for the 2020 national head count will take place in phases based on a region’s lockdown orders and the availability of protective gear against the new coronavirus, bureau officials told lawmakers late last week.

Census Bureau officials told members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform last Friday that there would be a phased start to the resumption of field operations on June 1. The spreading virus, and subsequent stay-at-home orders, forced the bureau in mid-March to halt field operations such as hiring and training, reaching out to college students in off-campus housing and dropping off paper questionnaires to households without traditional addresses.

The bulk of the field operations in which hundreds of thousands of census takers knock on the doors of homes where people haven’t yet answered the questionnaire isn’t starting until August, after the pandemic forced a delay from a May start.

NASCAR may return in 3 weeks

Update 4:55 p.m. EDT April 27: Sports will eventually start again and all eyes are on NASCAR, which appears to be racing full speed ahead to get there.

The sanctioning body is working on a revised schedule that could have NASCAR back on track in roughly three weeks. The May 9 race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia is the eighth postponement so far, but NASCAR hopes to race the following weekend.

Any event would be without spectators, strict limitations on who can attend from each team and at a track within driving distance for the North Carolina-based teams.

That would certainly favor Darlington Speedway in South Carolina for a one-day race either May 16 or 17. The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway scheduled for May 24 could also be held on Memorial Day weekend for the 60th consecutive year if the North Carolina governor signs off.

NASCAR has held only four of its 36 races and is desperate to get back to racing and generate revenue that has been on hold since early March.

Texas governor will allow stay-at-home order to expire April 30

Update 3:55 p.m. EDT April 27: Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas announced Monday that he plans to allow his stay-at-home order to expire April 30 as several states begin to ease off social distancing measures put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to multiple reports.

“We’re ready to open Texas safely and in phases," Abbott said Monday, according to KVEO. "Phase one begins this Friday, May 1.”

Although the order will expire, Abbott emphasized that businesses in the state were not “going to open up and hope for the best,” KTRK-TV reported.

“We don’t want to reopen just to close again,” Abbott said, according to KVEO.

He said the number of coronavirus infections reported in the state have been declining over the last 17 days, KTRK-TV reported.

Pennsylvania to reopen golf courses, marinas, campgrounds

Update 3:35 p.m. EDT April 27: Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania announced Monday that golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and private campgrounds will be allowed to reopen for business in the state beginning May 1, WPXI-TV reported.

The governor said the businesses will be required to follow updated life-sustaining business guidance and rules, according to WPXI-TV.

In a statement released Monday, Wolf said that though the focus has been on maintaining physical health, the decision to reopen some businesses was aimed at helping to shore up the mental health of Pennsylvanians during these “extraordinary times.”

“As the weather warms and daylight lengthens, enjoying time outdoors is an important way to manage stress,” Wolf said. “As we start to take measured, limited steps to reopen our commonwealth, reopening these industries will help to rebuild our economy and strengthen our mental health.”

Nevada, Colorado to coordinate reopening plans with other Western states

Update 3:20 p.m. EDT April 27: The governors of Nevada and Colorado say they will join three West Coast states in coordinating on issues for reopening society amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said Monday that they are now part of the Western States Pact, which was announced April 13 by the governors of California, Oregon and Washington.

The group of states don’t have specific plans on how to scale back stay-at-home orders or reopen businesses. Instead, they said they would coordinate those decisions while first considering the health of residents.

Northeastern states made a similar announcement April 13, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Polis and Sisolak emphasized the sharing of data and best practices among the Western states for modifying stay-at-home and other protective measures to combat the pandemic.

Sisolak called the partnership vital for Nevada’s recovery because of the millions of people from the West who vacation and travel to his state.

Ohio governor unveils plan to reopen businesses starting May 1

Update 3 p.m. EDT April 27: Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio shared details Monday of the state’s plan to reopen parts of the economy beginning May 1, according to WHIO-TV.

DeWine said protocols for businesses will include requiring face coverings, conducting daily health assessments and remaining stringent about hand washing and workplace sanitation, WHIO-TV reported. Businesses will also be allowed to serve no more than half of their maximum fire code capacities, according the news station.

Senators to return next week to Capitol Hill despite coronavirus fears

Update 2:50 p.m. EDT April 27: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that senators will return to Washington next week for work despite fears over the possible spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We will modify routines in ways that are smart and safe, but we will honor our constitutional duty to the American people and conduct critical business in person,” McConnell said Monday in a statement.

“If it is essential for doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, truck drivers, grocery store workers and many other brave Americans to keep carefully manning their own duty stations, then it is essential for senators to carefully man ours and support them.”

Global case count tops 3 million

Update 2:40 p.m. EDT April 27: More than 3 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, according to numbers compiled by John Hopkins University.

The count includes 978,690 coronavirus infections reported in the United States, the most in any country. The second hardest-hit country is Spain, where 229,422 cases of COVID-19 have been reported, according to Johns Hopkins.

Spain is followed by Italy, where 199,414 coronavirus infections have been recorded, and then France and Germany.

Massachusetts governor says state has ‘flattened the curve’

Update 2:35 p.m. EDT April 27: Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said Monday that the state has “flattened the curve” of new coronavirus infections, WFXT reported Monday.

“It seems to have plateaued, depending upon which part of Massachusetts you’re in,” he said Monday at a news conference. “The expectation is it will start to fall, but it will probably fall slowly.”

He acknowledged that the state has become a national hot spot for coronavirus infections and noted that nursing homes have been particularly hard hit by the “insidious virus,” according to WFXT.

As of Sunday, the most recent date for which information is available, officials had confirmed nearly 55,000 cases of COVID-19 statewide. Officials said 2,899 people have died of coronavirus infections.

Trump will hold coronavirus news briefing Monday

Update 2:25 p.m. EDT April 27: Hours after she told Fox News that White House officials weren’t expecting to hold a news briefing Monday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that President Donald Trump will hold a coronavirus news conference later Monday.

Iowa allowing some businesses to reopen beginning May 1

Update 2:20 p.m. EDT April 27: Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa signed a proclamation Monday which will ease social distancing measures and allow for some businesses to reopen beginning May 1.

The proclamation will allow restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, race tracks and other businesses to reopen with social distancing measures in place in 77 of the state’s 99 counties.

Restaurants, fitness centers, malls and libraries will be allowed to serve no more than half of their maximum legal occupancy capacities, according to Reynolds’ proclamation. Race tracks and speedways will be allowed to reopen so long as they don’t permit spectators, though Reynolds noted that horse and dog race tracks would not be allowed to reopen.

UK officials report 4,209 new cases of COVID-19

Update 2:15 p.m. EDT April 27: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 4,209 new coronavirus infections Monday, raising the country’s number of COVID-19 cases to 157,149.

Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced that a total of 21,092 have died in the U.K. due to the novel coronavirus. The number is 309 higher than the fatal cases reported nationwide Sunday.

Florida governor: State starting to see ‘a light at the end of the tunnel’

Update 2 p.m. EDT April 27: Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said Monday that state officials are starting to see “a light at the end of the tunnel,” WFTV reported.

The Florida Department of Health said Monday morning that 610 new cases of COVID-19 had been identified in the state, raising the total number of cases to 32,138, WJAX-TV reported. As of Monday morning, 1,088 people have died of COVID-19 in the state.

DeSantis said Monday that decisions on when and how to reopen businesses in the state will be data-driven, methodical and “slow and steady,” WFTV reported.

Trump questions why states should be bailed out amid coronavirus pandemic

Update 1:45 p.m. EDT April 27: President Donald Trump asked Monday on Twitter why the federal government should be expected to bail out states struggling financially due to the coronavirus using taxpayer funds.

“Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?” Trump wrote. “I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?”

State funding has not been included in any of the coronavirus economic stimulus bills to pass through Congress in recent weeks. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that the law should be amended to allow states to file for bankruptcy, drawing sharp criticism from some governors, including New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“It makes no sense that the entire nation is dependent on what the governors do to reopen … but then you’re not going to fund the state government," Cuomo said Thursday at a news conference. "You think I’m going to do it alone? How do you think this is going to work?”

On Monday, he said the state had too few funds to pay unemployment benefits.

“That’s why the federal government has to provide funding -- because we don’t have the money,” he said.

More than 27,000 cases of COVID-19 reported in Louisiana

Update 1:35 p.m. EDT April 27: Officials in Louisiana reported 295 new coronavirus infections Monday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 27,068.

The number is slightly higher than the 261 new infections reported Sunday.

Officials said that statewide, at least 1,697 people have died of COVID-19.

Officials cancel New York’s Democratic presidential primary

Update 1:30 p.m. EDT April 27: Officials in New York announced the cancellation Monday of the state’s Democratic presidential primary, calling it a “beauty contest” unnecessary amid the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reported.

The decision came after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced his exit from the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, leaving only former Vice President Joe Biden in the running.

Sanders’ campaign had urged the New York State Board of Elections to hold the contest anyway, saying in a letter Sunday that was obtained by The Huffington Post that “removing Senator Sanders from the ballot would undermine the Democratic Party’s interest in self-governance and unification."

However, the Board of Election’s Democratic co-chair, Douglas Kellner, said the board made its decision because without any other challengers in the running, the vote would have no significant purpose, according to the Times.

“What the Sanders campaign wanted is essentially a beauty contest that, given the situation with the public health emergency, seems to be unnecessary and, indeed, frivolous,” he said.

Number of COVID-19 patients continues to decline in Italy

Update 1 p.m. EDT April 27: The number of active coronavirus infections reported in Italy continues to decline, falling Monday to 105,813, according to numbers released by health officials.

Last week, Italian officials noted a slow decline in active COVID-19 cases. The number reported Friday was the lowest reported to-date in the country since March 19, according to The Guardian.

Health officials said that as of Monday, 26,977 have died in the country of novel coronavirus infections.

Since the beginning of the viral outbreak, officials have identified 199,414 COVID-19 cases in Italy. The country has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world behind Spain, which has more than 229,000 cases, and the United States, which has more than 972,000 cases, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Self-swab testing to start this week in New York City

Update 12:40 p.m. EDT April 27: Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said self-swab coronavirus testing will be available in the city beginning this week.

“Testing is the way forward,” the mayor said Monday at a news conference. “We have been working to confirm for weeks now that there was a better way to do this."

De Blasio said the self-administered test will still need to be conducted through health care professionals, who will walk patients through the process. It will involve patients swabbing the inside of their noses with a cotton swab much smaller than the one used thus far in medical testing. Patients will then spit into cups and submit the samples to medical professionals.

“Those two samples provide enough information for the testing to be done much simpler, much easier for everyone involved,” de Blasio said. He added that since patients will be administering the tests themselves, health care providers won’t have to suit up in personal protective equipment in order to test possible COVID-19 patients.

He said the process was “simpler but also safer, especially for that health care worker, so many of whom have been putting their lives on the line now for weeks and weeks.”

WHO: Coronavirus pandemic is ‘far from over’

Update 12:15 p.m. EDT April 27: The head of the World Health Organization warned Monday that the global coronavirus pandemic is “far from over.”

“WHO continues to be concerned about the increasing trends in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and some Asian countries,” the UN health agency’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Monday at a news briefing. “As in all regions, cases and deaths are underreported in many countries in these regions because of low testing capacity.”

He said officials have “a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to do” before the threat of the novel coronavirus passes.

“If we’re not united, the virus will exploit the gaps between us and create havoc. Lives will be lost,” he said. “We can only defeat this virus through unity at the national level and solidarity at the global level.”

Cuomo says he’ll extend stay-at-home orders in some parts of New York

Update 12 p.m. EDT April 27: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Monday that he’ll extend stay-at-home orders in several parts of the state and allow others to expire on May 15.

Cuomo issued his stay-at-home order, dubbed New York State on PAUSE, last month to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. With more than 228,000 cases of COVID-19, New York has the highest number of confirmed cases nationwide and more than any country other than the U.S. itself.

“I will extend (the stay-at-home orders) in many parts of the state but in some parts of the state, in some regions, you could make the case that we should unpause on May 15," Cuomo said. "You have to be smart about it.”

At his daily news briefing, Cuomo said it will be imperative that plans are in place before parts of the state begin to “unpause.”

“If you are not smart you will see that infection rate go right back to where it was, right where we were 58 days ago,” the governor said.

New York reports 337 new fatal coronavirus cases

Update 11:45 a.m. EDT April 25: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said the number of new coronavirus-related deaths continued its slow descent Monday, though he said they were “still tragically high.”

The governor said 377 more COVID-19 patients have died. As of Monday, more than 17,000 people have died.

“It’s still tragically high, but on the decline if you look at it over the last few days.,” Cuomo said.

The governor said the state’s coronavirus-related hospitalization rate remained flat Monday.

“Flat is not great,” he said. “But flat may be a reaction to the weekend.”

New York City to hire 1,000 contact tracers

Update 11:35 a.m. EDT April 27: Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said Monday that the city plans to hire 1,000 contact tracers immediately to create “a contact tracing network in this city like’s never been seen before on a vast scale.”

“If you have experience in the health care field, if you’re ready to lend your talents to this fight, we need you and we need you right away," de Blasio said Monday at a news conference. “We’re hiring immediately.”

De Blasio said the network would enable officials to immediately begin determining whether to isolate and test people who may have had unknowing contact with COVID-19 patients.

“There are no short cuts," de Blasio said. "To get where we need to get, to really beat this disease back is a long and tense process that everyone has to participate in.”


12th inmate dies at Michigan prison where over 50% of inmates have tested positive for COVID-19

Update 11:10 a.m. EDT April 27: Officials with the Michigan Department of Corrections said a 12th inmate at a prison where more than half of the population has tested positive for novel coronavirus infections died Sunday.

The inmate had been housed at Lakeland Correctional Facility, according to the Department of Corrections.

Of the more than 1,400 inmates tested at the prison as of Monday, more than 50% -- 785 inmates -- have tested positive for coronavirus infections, according to authorities. Officials said they plan to test all prisoners at the facility by the end of the week.

As of Monday, 33 prisoners in Michigan have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

White House won’t hold briefing Monday, press secretary says

Update 10:45 a.m. EDT April 27: White House officials don’t plan to hold a news briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said amid reports that officials are looking to reduce President Donald Trump’s appearances at coronavirus news briefings.

“Today we are not tracking a briefing,” McEnany told Fox News on Monday morning.

The decision comes after Trump skipped Saturday and Sunday’s coronavirus news briefings, marking the first two he’s missed since at least Easter.

Unidentified sources told Axios on Friday that a number of Trump’s advisors have urged the president to stop doing daily briefings, which have recently been dominated by his squabbles with reporters. Trump has resisted the suggestions, pointing to high ratings for the briefings, according to Axios.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence plan to instead hold more events focused on reviving the economy, CNN reported.

Nearly 4,000 cases of COVID-19 reported in DC

Update 10:35 a.m. EDT April 27: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Monday that 51 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the area, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in Washington to 3,892.

Bowser said seven more people between the ages of 17 and 94 also died of COVID-19. As of Monday, 185 Washington D.C. residents have died of coronavirus, officials said.

‘The food supply chain is breaking,’ Tyson Foods board chairman says

Update 10:15 a.m. EDT April 27: Poultry manufacturing giant Tyson Foods said Sunday that plant closures prompted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic show “the food supply chain is breaking.”

“As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain,” John Tyson said in a full-page ad published in The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“In addition to meat shortages, this is a serious food waste issue. Farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation. Millions of animals -- chickens, pigs and cattle -- will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities. The food supply chain is breaking.”

In recent weeks, Tyson Foods and other meat manufacturers have been forced to close several plants due to the coronavirus. Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, suspended production at a facility in Pasco, Washington last week after nearly 100 workers tested positive for COVID-19. In Wisconsin, JBS USA, a beef production plant, was forced to close its fourth location after nearly 200 employees tested positive for coroanvirus infections.

US stocks climb as governments plan to ease virus lockdowns

Update 9:45 a.m. EDT April 27: Stocks opened higher Monday on Wall Street as governments around the world prepared to gradually lift restrictions they’ve imposed on businesses to slow the sweep of the coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P 500 added 0.8% at the start of a week chockablock with market-moving events. Several major central banks are meeting, including the Bank of Japan, which announced its latest stimulus measures to prop up markets. A slew of the biggest U.S. companies are also scheduled to report how much profit they made in the first three months of 2020.

Bond yields rose and the price of oil fell.

USNS Comfort expected to return to Virginia after treating final patient in New York

Update 9:35 a.m. EDT April 27: The U.S. Navy hospital ship sent to New York to help treat patients amid the coronavirus pandemic is expected to return this week to its home port in Norfolk, Virginia after discharging its final patient Sunday, according to ABC News.

The USNS Comfort docked in New York late last month and began taking its first patients April 1. Initially, medical professionals on the ship were treating only non-COVID-19 patients ahead of expected crowding of local hospitals. The ship later opened to treat coronavirus patients as well.

As of Saturday, only 182 patients had been treated on the 1,000-bed hospital ship, according to WNBC.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters that he and President Donald Trump agreed that the USNS Comfort could be moved from the state after demand for hospital beds failed to reach expected highs. He said he believed that “Comfort not only brought comfort but saved lives,” WNBC reported.

Trump said last week that the USNS Comfort will return to Virginia before being sent to its next location.

“We will be bringing the ship back at the earliest time and we’ll get it ready for its next mission, which I’m sure will be a very important one also,” the president said.

SC governor expected to extend ‘Work or Stay at Home’ order

Update 7:51 a.m. EDT April 27: South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is expected to issue a new State of Emergency order Monday, according to WSOC-TV.

The Post and Courier reports that state law limits the orders to 15 days, but the governor can renew it with a new declaration.

Monday’s State of Emergency declaration would be McMaster’s third since the pandemic began, and it would keep the “Work or Stay at Home" order in place until the governor lifts it.

McMaster said he is still concerned about the widespread threat of coronavirus. Last week, he created the group Accelerate SC, which is an advisory team that will help determine when the state can fully reopen for business.

Last Tuesday, McMaster lifted restrictions on thousands of businesses in the state and let them reopen. This included some non-essential businesses like clothing, shoe, jewelry and department stores.

These stores must limit customers inside to 20% of the building’s maximum capacity.

Some Mississippi businesses reopening today

Update 7:30 a.m. EDT April 27: Some businesses across Mississippi will begin reopening today.

According to WHBQ-TV, Gov. Tate Reeves said businesses such as retail stores can reopen but are required to operate at 50% capacity.

Some health care facilities, such as dentist’s offices, can open under local health department guidelines.

Theaters, gyms, salons, bars, tattoo parlors and casinos must remain closed.

Employers must monitor employees for any COVID-19 symptoms and send them home if they are sick.

Restaurant dining rooms, theaters allowed to reopen in Georgia today

Update 7 a.m. EDT April 27: All eyes are on Georgia this morning as the state becomes one of the first in the nation to reopen restaurants.

According to Atlanta’s WSB-TV, Georgia restaurants have been allowed to continue carry-out and delivery orders, but starting today, dining rooms can reopen.

“This is a dress rehearsal for the entire country,” said Bo Peabody, a member of the Georgia Restaurant Association. “If this goes well, I think most restaurants in Atlanta will be open by the middle of May. If it doesn’t, then I think the whole country will be set back by a month or two. That’s the risk.”

One requirement includes only allowing 10 diners per 500 square feet of dining room space. Tables will be at least 6 feet apart, and servers and restaurant staff will be wearing face masks.

Some restaurant owners said the biggest hurdle will be paying for your meal without contact.

Restaurants are looking for ways to use technology so that you are not handing off your credit card or cash to pay for meals.

Movie theaters and private social clubs are also included in what’s allowed to reopen today. Many national chains, including AMC and Regal, said they will remain closed.

UK PM Boris Johnson returns to work, addresses public after recovering from virus

Update 6:22 a.m. EDT April 27: Weeks after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was treated at a London hospital, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has returned to work.

Addressing reporters Monday morning outside 10 Downing St., Johnson, 55, asked the public to be patient as the country’s lockdown restrictions, which are slated for review May 7, continue.

“I’m sorry I’ve been away from my desk for much longer than I would have liked, and I want to thank everybody who has stepped up,” he began before thanking Secretary of State Dominic Raab, who has been filling in for him, and the public for the “sheer grit and guts” they’ve shown in the face of the pandemic.

″This is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war, and I in no way minimize the continuing problems we face," Johnson said. “And yet it is also true that we are making progress – fewer hospital admissions, fewer COVID patients in ICU and real signs now that we are passing through the peak.”

The United Kingdom is “beginning to turn the tide,” he added.

“If this virus were a physical assailant, an unexpected and invisible mugger – which I can tell you from personal experience it is – then this is the moment when we have begun together to wrestle it to the floor,” Johnson said.

But although he described this moment as an “opportunity,” he cautioned that the country is also currently facing “maximum risk."

”I know that there will be many people looking now at our apparent success and beginning to wonder whether now is the time to go easy on those social-distancing measures," Johnson said. “And I know how hard and how stressful it has been to give up, even temporarily, those ancient and basic freedoms. ... So let me say directly also to British businesses, to the shopkeepers, to the entrepreneurs, to the hospitality sector, to everyone on whom our economy depends: I understand your impatience. I share your anxiety.”

However, he said, people “must also recognize the risk of a second spike.”

“That would mean not only a new wave of death and disease, but also an economic disaster, and we would be forced once again to slam on the brakes across the whole country and the whole economy,” Johnson warned.

According to the BBC, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 last month and was hospitalized April 5. His weeklong hospital stay included three nights in the ICU, The Associated Press reported.

As of Monday morning, the U.K. had reported at least 154,037 confirmed coronavirus cases and 20,795 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Georgia girl, 3, gets special birthday parade from first responders

Update 4:35 a.m. EDT April 27: A Georgia toddler got one very special birthday celebration this year.

Ryann Simone Hylton just turned 3 years old. Her community couldn’t congregate for a formal birthday party because of social-distancing measures amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Ryann Simone got the next best thing: a parade of city of South Fulton first responders.

“The city of South Fulton police and fire departments arrived to the Lakes at Cedar Grove with sirens blaring,” Cedric Hylton said. “Neighbors within the community drove by, honked horns and shouted happy birthday to Ryann Simone.”

Even city of South Fulton Mayor Bill Edwards made an appearance to wish Ryann Simone a happy birthday.

Some neighbors dropped off gifts from their cars. Several firefighters – wearing masks, of course – got out of their vehicles to wish Ryann Simone happy birthday in person.

Videos show the toddler wearing a pink crown and dancing and waving at fire trucks, police cars and even a mail truck that drove by to share her special day.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis discusses plan on reopening state, unemployment website

Update 3:20 a.m. EDT April 27: Florida’s state unemployment website is set to be back online Monday morning.

According to Orlando’s WFTV, the website was shut down over the weekend to speed up processing claims.

As of Friday, 80% were still unpaid.

“I’m less concerned about a specific date than I am about getting it right,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Getting empty workplaces humming with people again won’t be instantaneous.

“It’s not turning on a light switch, and all of a sudden, we’re back to Feb. 1,” DeSantis said.

There are a lot of precautions being taken now that businesses will have to maintain.

“Make sure every employee before they come into work self-screens, not just self-screens for the most common symptoms, but for all of those rare symptoms,” said Dr. Jamal Hakim.

That’s a growing list that now includes fever, shortness of breath, dry cough, nasal congestion, a loss of smell or taste, gastrointestinal symptoms, unsteadiness and general weakness.

Doctors at Orlando Health formed a task force aimed at training and educating companies on how to educate their employees about things like how to take off a mask, something many don’t do correctly because they were never taught how.

Continuing social distancing will be part of the state’s phase one restart.

On Saturday, DeSantis made it clear that movie theaters, sports arenas and bars will not reopen right away.

While theme park workers and many more will be out of work even longer, DeSantis acknowledged the unemployment system he called “designed to fail” has to do a better job of processing claims.

“It’s required a lot of 24/7 technical work to be able to get. So this weekend, they’re working hard to process things that have been held up,” DeSantis said.

It also includes getting the federal benefit of $600 to supplement Florida’s low benefit of $275 a week out as quickly as possible.

Anglers protest Washington state fishing ban

Update 2:30 a.m. EDT April 27: Dozens of boats with fishermen filled Lake Union in Seattle, Washington, on Sunday, demanding Gov. Jay Inslee lift the ban on fishing during his stay-at-home order.

They said they should be allowed to pursue the sport they have already paid fees to enjoy.

The fishermen said fishing, by its nature, is a sport of social distance; they were angry that the governor’s order is keeping them from the sport they love.

“Our customers are incredibly important to us and we know the imposition these closures bring,” said Kelly Susewind, the state’s Fish and Wildlife director, in a video posted nearly a month ago.

Susewind explained why he was shutting down fishing and hunting in response to COVID-19.

“We make these decisions to protect you and the communities across Washington state," he said.

On April 18, hundreds in Richland took to the waters at Columbia Point Marina and protested WDFW’s ban on recreational fishing and shellfishing statewide in response to the governor’s order.

Fish and Wildlife said the ban will remain in effect until at least May 4.

Read more here.

SC National Guard fighter jets to fly over hospitals to show support for health care workers

Update 1:44 a.m. EDT April 27: F-16 fighter jets from the South Carolina Air National Guard will fly over hospitals around the state Monday to show support for health care workers, WPDE reported.

Officials said the Swamp Fox pilots’ flyover is to salute those at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic and to boost morale in the state.

Commander of the 169th Fighter Wing, Col. Akshai Gandhi, said this is their way of saying “thank you” to frontline “heroes” working during the pandemic.

“Look up on Monday morning and know your South Carolina Air National Guard is proud to serve with you. Our intent is to boost morale in our great state," Gandhi said.

Officials also said South Carolina National Guard airmen and soldiers teamed up with state health officials to deliver “much-needed medical supplies to all 46 counties as the state continues its fight to protect South Carolinians from COVID-19.”

US deaths pass 54K; total cases top 965K

Update 12:50 a.m. EDT April 27: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States passed 965,000 early Monday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 965,942 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 54,876 deaths. Of those cases, more than 288,045 have been reported in New York, meaning the state has, itself, confirmed more cases than any other nation outside the United States, including the United Kingdom with 154,037 cases, Germany with 157,770, France with 162,220, Italy with 197,675 and Spain with 226,629.

Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 22,269 – or roughly 41% of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 5,938 in New Jersey, 3,315 in Michigan, 2,899 in Massachusetts, 1,933 in Illinois and 1,924 in Connecticut.

In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak with at least 288,045 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 109,038, Massachusetts with 54,938, Illinois with 43,903, California with 43,717, Pennsylvania with 42,616 and Michigan with 37,778.

Five other states have now confirmed at least 20,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including:

Florida: 31,532, resulting in 1,075 deaths

Louisiana: 26,773, resulting in 1,729 deaths

Connecticut: 25,269, resulting in 1,924 deaths

Texas: 24,968, resulting in 651 deaths

Georgia: 23,481, resulting in 916 deaths

Meanwhile, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Washington state, Colorado and Virginia each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases; Tennessee and North Carolina each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; Rhode Island, Missouri, Arizona and Alabama each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases; Mississippi, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Iowa each has confirmed at least 5,000 cases; Nevada, Utah, Kentucky and Delaware each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; the District of Columbia, Minnesota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arkansas each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and New Mexico, Oregon and South Dakota each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.