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Protesters, Trump pressure states to reopen; Celebs host 'One World: Together At Home'

Here is a look at some of the latest news on COVID-19 from the U.S. and around the world on Saturday.

This article contains ongoing U.S. and international updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Here are some key updates for Saturday, April 18, 2020. You can find more details by scrolling through the story. 

  • Trump properties furloughs about 2,000 workers in several states, CNN reports citing public documents.
  • The Defense Department extended the military-wide travel ban to June 30, but it could be lifted early.
  • Italy reports nearly identical increase in cases as the previous day.
  • Canada and the U.S. will keep their border closed to non-essential travel another 30 days.
  • Spain has reached 20,000 deaths in the pandemic.
  • Africa now has more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19.
  • Representatives are looking to house homeless in Japan's Athletes Village for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
  • Hospitals in Japan are increasingly turning away sick people in ambulances.
  • Queen Elizabeth wants low-key birthday, as Britain has nearly 15,500 deaths.

There were more than 734,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States shortly after 10:30 p.m. EDT Saturday, after there had been 706,000 cases at 8:45 a.m. EDT, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been over 38,000 deaths in the U.S. and 66,000 recoveries. More than 3.6 million tests have been conducted.

Worldwide, there have been 2.3 million cases, 160,000 deaths and 594,000 recoveries.

Governors eager to rescue their economies and feeling heat from President Donald Trump are moving to ease restrictions meant to control the spread of the coronavirus. They're acting even as new hot spots emerge and experts warn that moving too fast could prove disastrous. 

Adding to the pressure are protests against stay-at-home orders organized by small-government groups and Trump supporters. They staged demonstrations Saturday in several cities after the president urged them to “liberate” three states led by Democratic governors. Protests happened in Republican-led states, too. Meanwhile, infections kept surging in the Northeast.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

RELATED: Senators urge anti-bias police training over mask fears

RELATED: Trump pushes states to lift coronavirus restrictions, hopes to hold campaign rallies soon

Medal of Honor recipient, Alabama Vietnam war veteran dies from virus

A Vietnam War veteran who was awarded the U.S. military's highest decoration has died following his battle with COVID-19.

Local news outlets report that Medal of Honor recipient, author and Alabama businessman Bennie Adkins has died at the age of 86. Army Sgt. Maj. Adkins deployed to Vietnam three times, and President Obama gave him the medal in 2014 for his actions in 1966.

The Opelika-Auburn News, Montgomery Advertiser and others reported Adkins died Friday from complications associated with the new coronavirus.

Family members and his foundation, on social media, confirmed his passing.

'One World: Together At Home' airing on TV as celebrities join in coronavirus fight


An all-star event aimed at fighting the coronavirus pandemic is underway. 

R&B singer Andra Day performed her inspirational anthem “Rise Up,” former One Direction member Niall Horan thanked health care workers and teachers, and pop star Kesha played piano while singing positive lyrics in the early moments of “One World: Together At Home." 

Matthew McConaughey, Jack Black, Heidi Klum and others also made appearances in the first hour of the eight-hour event broken in two formats: A six-hour stream followed by a two-hour TV special at 8 p.m. EDT featuring Lady Gaga, The Rolling Stones, Billie Eilish and more. 

RELATED: Celebrities join in coronavirus fight with 'One World: Together At Home'

Navajo Nation orders use of protective masks

The Navajo Nation is ordering all people on the tribe’s sprawling reservation to wear protective masks when out in public to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Tribal officials announced Friday night that the Navajo Department of Health issued an emergency health order for the reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The Navajo Nation has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other Native American tribe. The tribe and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service said the number of positive coronavirus tests reached 1,127 as of Friday with 44 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

RELATED: Healthcare systems, families strained as COVID-19 cases continue to rise on the Navajo Nation

California to acquire 15,000 hotel rooms for homeless 

California is on its way to acquiring 15,000 hotel rooms to house the homeless during the pandemic, said Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday as he reminded people to stay indoors while outbreaks continue to crop up throughout the state.

Standing in front of a Motel 6 outside the city of San Jose, Newsom said more than 4,000 people have been moved out of shelters and off the streets and into motel rooms. He took the opportunity to scold leaders of unnamed cities for blocking efforts to house the homeless, asking them to “please consider the morality” of their decisions.

His announcement came a day after the state reported another 87 deaths from the coronavirus. Meanwhile, California’s death toll from the virus rose above 1,050 on Saturday, according to a tally by John Hopkins University.

RELATED: Governor Newsom updates state initiative on keeping homeless safe from COVID-19

France's number of ICU patients drops for 10th day in a row

France’s national health agency says the number of virus patients in intensive care dropped for the 10th straight day, while the number of overall virus hospitalizations has fallen for three consecutive days.

Health officials say confinement is “stopping the viral spread.”

The total number of deaths in France from COVID-19 reached 19,323, and nursing home deaths amount to more than one third of the total.

Michigan prisoner who delayed parole over supervision dies from COVID-19 complications

A Michigan prisoner who declined to be paroled earlier this year after decades behind bars has died from COVID-19 complications.

William Garrison died at a hospital after nearly 44 years in prison. The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 500 inmates in Michigan prisons and killed 17.

The 60-year-old Garrison was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man during a 1976 robbery when Garrison was 16 years old. He could have been paroled two weeks ago but decided to wait until September, when he would be eligible for a complete release without the rigors of parole supervision, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The parole board approved his application in March.

RELATED: Whitmer says no plans for early release of prisoners during COVID-19

Britain to get major PPE shipment from Turkey; Queen wants low-key birthday

Britain is due to receive a major shipment of personal protection equipment from Turkey. The consignment of 84 metric tons of safety equipment includes 400,000 medical gowns.

Governments and hospitals are scrambling to source supplies of personal protection equipment as supplies run low during the pandemic. Turkey has ramped up production equipment to meet the booming demand. Turkish officials have said that 88 countries had asked Turkey to supply PPE.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t want a gun salute for her birthday because she doesn’t think it’s appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic. The British monarch, who turns 94 on Tuesday, decided not to publicly mark the occasion in any special way, including the artillery salute she traditionally gets on her birthday.

“Her Majesty was keen that no special measures were put in place to allow gun salutes as she did not feel it appropriate in the current circumstances,” Buckingham Palace said. She’ll also be keeping private any phone and video calls with her family.

The queen has previously stressed the importance of lockdown measures, saying in her Easter message that “by keeping apart we keep others safe.”

RELATED: 'I owe them my life' | Boris Johnson hails hospital staff, discharged after contracting coronavirus

Trump properties have furloughed almost 2,000 workers

According to a report by CNN, citing public documents, Trump properties have collectively furloughed about 2,000 workers across multiple states. In the report, other properties including sites in Illinois, New York, Nevada, Washington, D.C. and Virginia have reportedly furloughed over 1,200 additional employees. 

713 additional workers were furloughed at Trump properties in two locations in Florida. Those numbers came from documents the Trump Organization filed with the state of Florida's Labor Department, CNN reported. These are among a list of hundreds of furloughed workers at properties at various locations around the U.S. 

In another report out Saturday from the Washington Post, none of the Trump Organization's hotels are known to be offering up rooms to house doctors as many U.S. hotels have been doing. 

While the White House has commended hotels for offering rooms to healthcare workers at reduced rates or for free in some cases during the pandemic fight, none of the hotels connected to President Trump are known to be participating in these efforts, The Washington Post reports

Italy reports similar increase in confirmed infections as previous day

The Health Ministry in Italy says there were 3,491 new coronavirus cases, nearly identical to the previous day increase in confirmed infections.

There were 482 more deaths, raising the overall official toll to 23,227 in Italy, which has Europe’s highest number of deaths.

The country is approaching the end of its sixth week of nationwide lockdown, with people allowed out of their homes only for essential work or buying food and tending to family members.

Overall, Italy has nearly 176,000 confirmed cases.

The Department of Defense extends military-wide travel ban to June 30

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley have extended a military-wide travel ban until June 30 according to Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew P. Donovan. 

The decision was made “after careful consideration and assessment" Donovan told reporters. The decision will be reviewed every 15 days and there is a possibility the travel ban could be lifted early. The decision was made as some 100,000 US troops and their families prepare for the yearly Permanent Change of Station season, the Military Times reports

Trudeau: Canada-U.S. border to remain closed to non-essential travel another 30 days

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the U.S. and Canada have agreed to keep the border closed to nonessential travel for another 30 days.

Trudeau says it will keep people on both sides of the border safe amid the pandemic. U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday the U.S.-Canada border will be among the first borders to open. Nearly 200,000 people normally cross the border daily.

The U.S. has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world. The U.S. and Canada agreed last month to limit border crossings to essential travel amid the pandemic. The agreement was due to expire this week.

Spain reaches 20,000 deaths from coronavirus

Spain has reached 20,000 deaths for the coronavirus pandemic and total infections increased to more than 190,000.

Spain’s health authorities reported 565 deaths in the last 24 hours. Only the United States and Italy have more deaths.

New infections rose by nearly 4,500. More than 74,000 people in Spain have recovered.

This week, health authorities said there were discrepancies in the statistics of virus deaths and infections reported by regional administrations. The central government has ordered regions to give more precise data and use the same parameters.

As the outbreak’s spread slows, pressure on hospitals has relaxed. Authorities have closed one part of a huge field hospital with thousands of beds set up by the military in a convention center in Madrid.

But strict confinement rules are expected to be extended beyond April 26.

13 countries unite to demand global cooperation

A group of thirteen countries including Britain, Brazil, Italy and Germany is calling for global cooperation to lessen the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint statement, the group said it is committed to “work with all countries to coordinate on public health, travel, trade, economic and financial measures in order to minimize disruptions and recover stronger.”

The countries emphasized the need to maintain "air, land and marine transportation links” to ensure the continued flow of goods, including medical equipment and aid, and the return home of travelers.

They want key transport hubs around the world to remain open and for airlines to maintain major routes.

The group — also including Canada, France, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, South Korea, Singapore and Turkey — stressed “the importance and critical role of the scientific community in providing guidance to governments” and suggested pooling scientific resources.

Africa has more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19

Africa now has more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 52 of the continent’s 54 countries have reported the virus, with the overall number of cases more than 19,800 as of Saturday morning.

The World Health Organization has noted a 51% increase in cases in Africa and a 60% jump in deaths.

But the WHO chief has warned that because of a shortage of testing “it’s likely the real numbers are higher than reported.”

The Africa CDC has said more than 1 million test kits will be rolled out starting next week.

Tokyo's homeless seek Olympic Athletes Village as shelter

A group representing the homeless is asking to use the Athletes Village for next year’s Tokyo Olympics as a shelter during the coronavirus pandemic. 

An online petition addressed to Tokyo Olympic organizers and the city government has drawn tens of thousands of signatures for permission to occupy the massive housing complex going up alongside Tokyo Bay. The village was to be home to 11,000 Olympic athletes and 4,400 Paralympic athletes. 

It is largely complete and empty now with the Olympic opening postponed by the virus outbreak until July 23, 2021. The real-estate project is financed by the city government and major developers. 

RELATED: Rescheduled Tokyo Olympics to open July 23, 2021

New wave of infections threatens to collapse Japan hospitals

Hospitals in Japan are increasingly turning away sick people in ambulances as the country braces for a surge in coronavirus infections.

The Japanese Association for Acute Medicine and the Japanese Society for Emergency Medicine say emergency medicine has already collapsed with many hospitals refusing to treat people including those suffering strokes, heart attacks and external injuries. Japan initially seemed to have successfully controlled the outbreak by going after clusters of infections in specific places, usually enclosed spaces such as clubs, gyms and meeting venues. 

But the spread of infections outpaced this approach and most new cases are untraceable.  

Credit: AP
In this Feb. 5, 2020, photo, an ambulance carrying a passenger onboard cruise ship Diamond Princess arrives at a hospital in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Hospitals in Japan are increasingly turning away sick people in ambulances as the country braces for a surge in coronavirus infections. The Japanese Association for Acute Medicine and the Japanese Society for Emergency Medicine say emergency medicine has already collapsed with many hospitals refusing to treat people including those suffering strokes, heart attacks and external injuries. (Kyodo News via AP)(Sadayuki Goto/Kyodo News via AP)

South Korea virus cases maintain downward trend

South Korea has reported 18 new cases of the coronavirus, its lowest daily jump since Feb. 20, continuing a downward trend as officials discuss more sustainable forms of social distancing that allows for some communal and economic activity.

Figures released by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday brought national totals to 10,653 cases and 232 virus-related deaths. The caseload continued to wane in the hardest-hit city of Daegu, where officials say the number of active cases dropped below 1,000 for the first time since a surge of infections in late February.

At least 993 of overall infections have been linked to arrivals from overseas. Most of these cases were detected in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area over the past month as thousands of students and other South Korean nationals returned home amid worsening outbreaks and suspended school years in Europe and the United States.

Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip on Saturday called for vigilance to maintain the hard-won gains against the virus, raising concern over continuing infections at hospitals and local transmissions health workers have been unable to trace. It would also take a week or two to assess the impact of Wednesday’s national parliamentary election, which showed the highest turnout in nearly three decades despite the epidemic.

Credit: AP
Protesters rally at the Texas State Capitol to speak out against Texas' handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, in Austin, Texas, Saturday, April 18, 2020. Austin and many other Texas cities remain under stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 outbreak except for essential personal. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)