The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
—President Trump heads to Phoenix to tour Honeywell plant.
—South Korea reports only two new fresh cases of coronavirus
—Britain’s official coronavirus death toll becomes highest in Europe.
NEW DELHI — Indian authorities have decided to shut down liquor shops in Mumbai, India’s financial capital which is the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, after the police found it extremely difficult to control the surging crowds at the vends over the past two days.
Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi in an order late Tuesday said that only groceries and pharmacies will be allowed to be opened in Mumbai which is battling a rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases.
Mumbai currently has around 10,000 positive cases and 387 deaths. On an average it has been getting more than 400 cases per day.
After some lockdown restrictions were eased in India on Monday, thousands turned up at liquor stores across the country without following social distancing guidelines. This led the authorities to shut many of the liquor shops. In some places, the police had to resort to baton-charge to disperse crowds.
Authorities in India’s capital imposed a special tax of 70% on liquor purchases on Tuesday to dissuade huge gatherings of thirsty drinkers at stores. The new tax is called the “special corona fee.”
India’s total positive cases have touched 46,711 with 13,161 recoveries and 1,583 deaths, according to India’s Health Ministry.
BEIJING — China has lowered the danger level in a key border area with Russia following a sharp drop in new virus cases.
Shuifenhe had seen a spike in infections among Chinese citizens crossing the border, leading authorities to close land crossings and set up a field hospital to handle an expected overload of patients. Tight restrictions on both sides of the border appear to have been effective and authorities lowered the risk level on Wednesday from high to low, allowing businesses to re-open and factories to restart production.
China on Wednesday reported just two new virus cases and no new deaths. Both cases were reported as having come from abroad and detected in the northern province of Shaanxi. Another 908 people were being observed as suspected cases or for having tested positive for the virus but showing no symptoms. China has recorded a total of 4,633 deaths from COVID-19 among 82,883 cases.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The coronavirus outbreak has forced Indonesia to delay its simultaneous regional elections slated for Sept. 23 that would reach more than 100 million of voters.
President Joko Widodo has signed a Government Regulation in Lieu of Law on Monday that regulates the postponement of this year elections from September to December or even longer depending on the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the world’s fourth most populous nation, the official website of the State Secretariat said late Tuesday.
The elections have planned to be held simultaneously in 270 regions across the archipelago nation to elect 9 governors, 37 mayors and 224 district chiefs, with the number of eligible voters reached at least 105 million.
The regulation was issued following the country’s General Election Commission decision to postpone its preparation stages of the regional elections at the end of March after revealing that election organizers have also caught the COVID-19 disease and stakeholders moved to delay the polls.
”Postponing this year’s regional elections was the most viable option to avoid COVID-19 from further spreading to rural areas,” the election authority has said earlier.
Indonesia, which is home to nearly 270 million, has recorded a total of 12,071 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 872 fatalities as of Tuesday afternoon
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported two fresh cases of the new coronavirus as its outbreak continues to slow.
Figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday brought national totals to 10,806 infections and 255 virus-related deaths. The KCDC says both new cases were detected during screening at airports and that no fresh local transmissions were reported from South Korean cities and towns.
While more than 1,100 of the country’s cases have imported, such cases have declined in recent weeks as authorities stepped up border controls, such as imposing two-day quarantines on all passengers arriving from abroad.
With its caseload slowing, South Korean authorities have relaxed social distancing guidelines and are preparing to reopen school. South Korea’s professional baseball league began its new season without fans in the stands on Tuesday.
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun during a virus meeting on Wednesday called for vigilance and instructed officials to prepare for a possible second wave of infections. He said preventing an overwhelming of hospitals in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area would be key.
NEW YORK -- The New York Democratic presidential primary must take place June 23 because canceling it would be unconstitutional, a judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres ruled after hearing arguments a day earlier as lawyers for withdrawn presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang argued that it was wrong to cancel the primary.
The judge said there was enough time before the primary occurs to figure out how to carry it out safely.
The Democratic members of the State’s Board of Elections voted to cancel the primary even though New York was still planning to hold its congressional and state-level primaries June 23. They cited the coronavirus as a reason to cancel the election since Joe Biden is now unopposed.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge says California Gov. Gavin Newsom had the right to ban church assemblies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Judge John Mendez ruled Tuesday that Newsom had the right to temporarily ban church gatherings in the interest of public health.
The Cross Culture Christian Center in Lodi and pastor Jonathan Duncan had alleged Newsom’s stay-at-home order in March violated their constitutional rights to freedom of religion and assembly. The church held services until the church’s landlord, under threat of misdemeanor from county health officials, changed the locks on the church doors, barring the congregation from assembly on Palm Sunday.
A lawyer for the church says the judge’s rejection of a temporary restraining order request will not stop them from pressing on with their case.
Mendez said state and local stay-at-home orders were a valid exercise of emergency police powers and didn’t violate the church’s constitutional rights. Mendez noted that the Supreme Court over 100 years ago upheld the government’s right to exercise police powers to promote public safety during a public health crisis.
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s stay-at-home restrictions are being eased starting Friday.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order on Tuesday. His administration says COVID-19 cases are generally stable, and testing, tracing and health care supplies have improved enough to warrant increased commerce and movement.
Cooper’s decision to loosen the order after five weeks comes after governors in many other Southern states acted.
Cooper says health officials are driving when decisions are made, with input from employers and businesses on the types of restrictions.
North Carolina has reported more than 12,250 positive cases and over 450 related deaths, according to state health data.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Federal prosecutors have charged a Kentucky man who had a stockpile of weapons at his home with threatening Kentucky’s governor and state police on social media.
The man, 25-year-old Jeremiah Wooley, apparently made the threats in reference to a social media post about state troopers going to a Kentucky church to enforce social distancing, according to court documents filed in the federal case.
State police arrested Wooley at his home in Kevil last week and charged him with making threats against the governor and state police under a false name. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Louisville announced those charges and a federal firearms charge against Wooley on Tuesday.
Investigators found about a dozen firearms at Wooley’s home, including what federal agents described as “assault-style rifles,” a .50-caliber rifle and a bucket of 50 hand grenades that were either inert or were made as novelty items. Police said the house also had components to assemble the grenades, including black powder.
TRENTON, N.J. — The maker of a drug that can speed recovery of COVID-19 patients says it’s working with other companies to enable them to manufacture its remdesivir for other parts of the world.
However, Gilead Sciences didn’t say anything about what price it would set for the injections, in the U.S. or elsewhere.
The California company got U.S. approval on Friday for use of remdesivir on an emergency basis. That came two days after a Gilead study found the medicine shortened recovery time for hospitalized virus patients to an average of 11 days, versus 15 days for those receiving standard supportive care.
Gilead says it’s discussing granting voluntary licenses with multiple pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers to make remdesivir “for Europe, Asia and the developing world through at least 2022.” It envisions a consortium of manufacturers to make enough of the drug for the world.
Gilead has been pressed by patient groups, politicians and others to make remdesivir affordable, given the high prices it charges for its medicines for HIV and hepatitis C.
There is no cure for the virus, which has killed more than 255,000 people worldwide.
AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is giving Texas hair and nail salons permission to reopen this week. Gyms will be allowed to reopen later this month.
The Republican made the announcement while emphasizing the state’s coronavirus infection rates are declining. Some health officials continue to warn that easing restrictions too quickly will result in new infection hot spots.
Abbott’s push to let barbershops and hair salons open Friday has Texas moving faster than he suggested just a week ago when the governor allowed his stay-at-home order to expire. Restaurants and retailers were allowed to reopen last Friday under limited capacity.
Texas has 33,000 cases and more than 900 deaths linked to the virus. But Abbott continued to stress that the infection rate in Texas is below 5 percent, which is down from more than 7 percent two weeks ago.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania has reported another 554 coronavirus deaths to pass 3,000 total, while Gov. Tom Wolf says he is not committing to a particular schedule to lift stay-at-home pandemic restrictions in the state’s counties or regions.
The large number of new deaths reported by the state Department of Health were spread out over the previous two weeks, the agency said, as it reconciles its figures with deaths being reported by local agencies or hospitals.
Still, it was as stark a figure as the state has reported and comes as Wolf’s administration moves to lighten its restrictions on movement and business activity.
Wolf maintained Tuesday that he would stick to a reopening process that relies on what he sees as indicators tied to safety.
NEW ORLEANS — The number of Louisiana deaths attributed to the disease caused by the new coronavirus surpassed 2,000 in figures released by the state health department, and the number of confirmed cases neared 30,000.
More than 20,300 of those infected are now presumed recovered, according to the figures. The number of those hospitalized with the disease remained above 1,500, but still well below the peak of more than 2,100 hospitalizations in early April. The number requiring ventilators stood at 194, down from 220 a day earlier.
The number of deaths — 2,042 — was up from 1,991 a day earlier.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri is moving ahead with plans to execute a convicted killer on May 19, unlike other states that have postponed executions during the coronavirus pandemic.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Gov. Mike Parson is not planning to postpone the execution of Walter Barton. Other states have put executions on hold because of the risks of spreading the virus and social distancing restrictions on the size of gatherings.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann says each of the three execution witness rooms will be limited to 10 or fewer people, in accordance with the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine moved executions scheduled for July and August to 2022. The Tennessee Supreme Court delayed an execution scheduled in June until early 2021. Texas delayed five executions.
BETHEL, Maine — A restaurant owner who recently shared what he said was the Maine governor’s private cellphone number on live national television has flouted her orders again.
Rick Savage allowed dine-in customers in his Sunday River Brewing Co. after he concluded doing so would not imperil his federal beer-making permit. He had previously lost his state licenses on Friday after opening for dine-in customers.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ pandemic-fighting orders allow restaurants to open only for takeout orders until June 1. The governor’s office did not respond Tuesday to request for comment.
Savage complains Mills is not acting fast enough to reopen the economy after ordering restrictions to fight the coronavirus. Savage became a voice of angry business owners last week when he denounced Mills on Fox News Channel and shared the phone number.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has announced a limited opening of some state parks, outdoor recreation facilities, and other areas for day use in a partial easing of restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus.
Officials say day-use will slowly return to other state parks starting next week. The popular Columbia River Gorge parks and recreation areas and coastal areas will remain closed for now. Brown says Oregonians should recreate responsibly.
LONDON — A leading epidemiologist whose work heavily influenced Britain’s lockdown measures has resigned from his position as a government adviser after a newspaper revealed he broke social distancing rules.
Professor Neil Ferguson says he “made an error of judgment” and regrets “any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing.”
His statement came after the Telegraph reported he had allowed his married lover to visit him at home during the lockdown.
Ferguson leads a team at Imperial College London who modeled the spread and impact of the coronavirus in data that was instrumental in prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose lockdown measures.