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Live updates: Global death toll surpasses 150,000; U.S. governors set timelines to end stay-at-home orders

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Fauci assumed another role this week, reaching out to reassure black congressional leaders that the Trump administration is pursuing strategies to mitigate the outsize impact of the disease on minority communities.In an hour-long conference call with the Congressional Black Caucus, Fauci heard from members who emphasized the need to surge federal testing resources and medical gear to black communities, which data have shown are at a higher risk of being infected by and dying of the novel coronavirus.Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said she quoted Fauci’s own words, from an interview with MSNBC host Al Sharpton on Sunday, that the administration has “got to bring the resources where the risk and vulnerability is.”Read more here.ISTANBUL — A group of 24 organizations advocating for free expression are demanding that Turkey’s government release journalists, human rights activists, lawyers and others from custody amid fears about the spread of the novel coronavirus in Turkish prisons.A law passed by Turkey’s parliament last week, intended to ease overcrowding in prisons during the pandemic, released 90,000 inmates, either temporarily or permanently.But it excluded people imprisoned on terrorism charges, which the authorities frequently have used to detain media workers, rights activists or the government’s political opponents.Abdulhamit Gul, Turkey’s justice minister, said last week that 17 inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus and three had died. Seventy-nine prison employees had also tested positive, he said.Turkey has detained thousands of people since a failed coup in 2016, including thousands of followers of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Turkish Muslim cleric accused of masterminding the coup attempt.Also arrested were members of opposition political parties, academics, journalists, civil society activists and others.Human rights groups and families of detained dissidents have been especially concerned for the safety of elderly prisoners and those with underlying medical conditions.In their letter, which was released Friday, the free-expression organizations highlighted the case of Ahmet Altan, a 70-year-old novelist sentenced to more than ten years in prison on charges of “aiding a terrorist organization.” Rights groups have also called for the release of Selahattin Demirtas, an imprisoned human rights lawyer and the former co-chair of Turkey’s second-largest opposition party, who suffers from a heart condition.“Many thousands of individuals whose only crime is the exercise of their right to freedom of expression are effectively excluded from release and are at increased risk of contracting the disease in prison,” read the letter, which was signed by groups such as Article 19, PEN International and Reporters Without Borders.President Trump on Friday amplified his call to reopen the country, suggesting citizens should “liberate” themselves even as governors and local officials in areas he said were ready to return to normal expressed concern about moving too soon.Republican governors have been slow to embrace Trump’s call to lift statewide stay-at-home orders in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic that is killing thousands of Americans. "We're not getting any new requests for rentals right now," she added.With the travel season less than six weeks away, would-be tourists and entrepreneurs alike are struggling to decipher whether the East Coast’s beach towns will open by Memorial Day — and if they do, how social distancing guidelines implemented to combat the spread of the coronavirus could reshape what is, historically, one of the country’s most communal activities.Read more here.Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) on Friday floated plans to reopen parts of the state that have shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic, joining several other governors who are looking to ease social distancing restrictions and restart business.Speaking in a news conference, Dunleavy didn’t offer a specific timeline, but said the Alaska would chart its own path in the coming weeks, saying the state faced a unique set of challenges given its vast size and abundance of isolated communities.“We’re going to be looking at Alaska almost as if it’s its own country when we’re going about opening up sectors,” he said, noting that some locales were cut off from the state’s economic center and not accessible by road. He added that the state was increasing its capacity for testing and contact tracing.The goal, Dunleavy said, was to restart society as soon as possible without jeopardizing public health.“If we come across a flare up or a cluster somewhere, we’ll get in there very fast,” he said.At least nine people have died of coronavirus in Alaska and 300 have been infected as of early Saturday.The NBA and WNBA began selling team-branded face coverings Friday, with all proceeds going to hunger-relief organizations (Feeding America in the United States and Second Harvest in Canada) amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.The masks are available at the leagues’ online stores.NBA partners with Fanatics to produce cloth face masks amid COVID-19 pandemic“As a global community, we can all play a role in reducing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic by following the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] recommendation to cover our nose and mouth while in public,” Kathy Behrens, the NBA’s president for social responsibility and player programs, told ESPN. Bowser said the early wrap-up will “preserve” three weeks of instructional time, indicating that the 2020-2021 year could start early for at least some students.Read more here.LONDON — All across Europe, the numbers are coming down.In Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Britain, public health officials — their faces often drained by exhaustion — are now expressing cautious optimism that the first wave of Europe’s devastating pandemic is ending.From Ireland to Greece, officials are seeing hopeful signs that coronavirus infections are peaking and have begun to plateau or recede, pointing to intensive care beds that are slowly opening up and a daily reduction in the number of new hospitalizations.In Paris, Milan and Madrid, hospitals and staff that were stressed to their limits just a few weeks ago, as thousands of coughing, fevered, breathless patients surged through their doors, are now reporting empty beds in their ICUs. There are ventilators to go around.Read more here.Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei confirmed on Friday that many migrants on a deportation flight from the United States this week contracted the novel coronavirus, and that at least 12 had tested positive so far.In a televised address, Giammattei said that at least a dozen people tested positive for the virus after random tests were administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who had already purchased badges for entry have the option to receive a full refund or have their tickets transferred to next year’s SDCC, which, for now, is scheduled to take place July 22 to 25, 2021.“Continuous monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the Governor of California have made it clear that it would not be safe to move forward with plans for this year,” the statement said.Read more here.A growing number of Republican lawmakers across the country are pushing for a more rapid reboot of the American economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the risk of spreading more sickness — and even death — is outweighed by the broader economic damage that widespread stay-at-home orders have wrought.They are taking cues from and breathing energy into a grass-roots conservative movement of resistance against government-ordered quarantine measures — one that President Trump appeared to back in several tweets Friday — but are facing defiance within their own party from Republican congressional leaders, governors and fellow lawmakers who warn that a rash reopening could reinvigorate the virus’s spread.The emerging “open it up” caucus has spoken out on key conservative media platforms, including some of Trump’s favorite programs. In a prime-time Fox News Channel appearance Wednesday, for instance, Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) said that balancing the health of Americans with a functioning economy amid the pandemic was “like choosing between cancer and a heart attack.”Read more here.A federal judge ruled Friday that the state of Tennessee can’t block abortions under a temporary ban on nonessential medical procedures intended to contain the novel coronavirus.In a late-night ruling, Judge Bernard Friedman of the Middle District of Tennessee said abortion was a “time-sensitive procedure” and that women could face immediate harm if abortions were restricted during the pandemic, according to the Nashville Tennessean.“Delaying a woman’s access to abortion even by a matter of days can result in her having to undergo a lengthier and more complex procedure that involves progressively greater health risks, or can result in her losing the right to obtain an abortion altogether,” the judge wrote.The judge also rejected arguments from state attorneys that personal protective equipment for front-line medical workers would be spared if abortions were temporarily halted, as the Associated Press reported.The ruling reins in part of an executive order Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued earlier in April barring “non-emergency” medical procedures during the pandemic. This global wave of experimentation has involved data sets long considered so personal and sensitive — capable of revealing how smartphone users spent their days, and with whom — that many government officials shied away from their use out of fear of public backlash.Read more here.With the number of the covid-19 tests hovering at an average of 146,000 a day, businesses leaders and state officials are warning the Trump administration that they cannot safely reopen the economy without radically increasing the number of available tests — perhaps into the millions a day — and that won’t happen without a greater coordinating role by the federal government.Though the capacity of private business to produce those volumes remains unclear, state leaders and health experts say that the administration should move with a greater sense of urgency and could do several relatively easy things to speed the production and distribution of tests.On Friday, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry said there were still critical supply chain issues that stand in the way of ramping up testing, including a lack of protective equipment for technicians who run the tests, and a shortage of swabs and reagents — chemical solutions required to run the tests.Read more here.Ticketmaster announced Friday that it was finalizing its plans to issue refunds for more than 18,000 events postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.According to the ticket retailer, starting May 1, once postponed shows announce the rescheduled dates, fans will begin to receive emails from Ticketmaster to initiate a full refund.

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