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US reaches 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases

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

WASHINGTON — This article contains ongoing U.S. and international updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Here are some key updates for Tuesday, April 28, 2020. You can find more details by scrolling through the story.

Key updates:

  • Johns Hopkins University reported Tuesday afternoon that the U.S. has reached the 1 million mark with COVID-19 cases.
  • Kansas City Chiefs guard with a medical degree is now helping at a long-term care facility.
  • Nearly 70 residents sickened with coronavirus have died at a central Massachusetts home for aging veterans.
  • Two reports say MLB officials are hoping to have Opening Day by July 4th 
  • President Trump delivers remarks on supporting small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program
  • United Nations report says Zimbabwe could sink deeper into a hunger crisis
  • New poll finds a potential obstacle to keeping new infections down
  • Turkey has dispatched a planeload of personal protective equipment to US
  • The U.S. is likely to reach 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday
  • President Trump urges governors to consider reopening schools before summer
  • From Monday's blog: President Trump announces new coronavirus testing guidance

There were more than 1,000,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States by Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 56,000 deaths and more than 111,000 recoveries in the U.S. 

The global total of confirmed cases is more than 3 million, with 212,000 deaths and nearly 906,000 recovered.

For most, 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.

Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chief with medical degree is now helping at care facility

A member of the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs is spending his offseason using his doctorate in medicine to help in the fight against the coronavirus.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the starting right guard for the Chiefs, is now working at a long-term care facility in Quebec, according to a piece he wrote for Sports Illustrated

Duvernay-Tardif said he doesn't have a specialty yet and hasn't done a residency. But he wanted to help. Because he doesn't have a license, health officials were not sure how to use him. Initially, he used his name and platform to help get the message out to the public, such as encouraging younger people to engage in social distancing.

Since then, Duvernay-Tardif says Canada's health ministry has started recruiting health care professionals, including students. After training, he was eventually assigned to a long-term care facility near his home.

Duvernay-Tardif says he's also part of the NFL Players Association's task force on how to put safety measures in place so the NFL can play its games.

Veterans facility hit hard by coronavirus crisis

Nearly 70 residents sickened with the coronavirus have died at a central Massachusetts home for aging veterans. State and federal officials are trying to figure out what went wrong in the deadliest outbreak at a long-term care facility in the U.S.

While the death toll at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers’ Home continues to climb, federal officials are investigating whether residents were denied proper medical care while the state’s top prosecutor is deciding whether to bring legal action.

Sixty-six veteran residents who tested positive for the virus have died, officials said Monday, and the cause of another death is unknown. Another 83 residents and 81 staff have tested positive.

The home’s superintendent, who’s been placed on administrative leave, has defended his response and accused state officials of falsely claiming they were unaware of the scope of the problem there.

Reports: MLB could have Opening Day by July 4th

Major League Baseball is growing more confident that there will be a baseball season after all. On Tuesday, two reports identified late June or early July as a likely time frame for the 2020 season's Opening Day. 

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported the "most realistic time range for Opening Day — somewhere between mid-June and July 4, in the view of most officials — would allow for an 80- to 100-game regular season, with the schedule running through October." 

Rosenthal noted that plan would include an expanded postseason at neutral sites, with the World Series ending as late as early December. He also reported that some team officials believe ballparks will be able to welcome in limited fans in August or September. 

USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale also reported Tuesday that MLB officials are growing optimistic the season could start in late June, but not later than July 2.  

Nightengale added that MLB is considering a plan that would create three-divisions, with 10-teams each, and teams would only play within their division. The plan would allow teams to play at their home ballparks while cutting back on travel.   

Trump delivers remarks on supporting small businesses

Ivanka Trump joined President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House Tuesday as the president discussed the Payroll Protection Program and help for small businesses. 

The program is for organizations like small businesses and community bank programs. The president said that more that twice as many users are attempting to access the program on the second round in comparison to the first. According to the White House, 450,000 loans have been processed in phase two. 

Credit: AP
East Room of the White House, April 28, 2020, in Washington. (AP)

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New report says virus could worsen Zimbabwe's hunger crisis

A new United Nations report says Zimbabwe could sink deeper into a hunger crisis as the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on the country’s troubled economy and food supply. 

The southern African nation is called “one of the world’s top global food crises." The report says more than 4 million rural people, about a third of Zimbabwe’s population, “are in need of urgent action." Zimbabwe’s economy has imploded in the past year, with annual inflation rising to more than 600%. 

Shortages of cash, gas, clean water, electricity and staple foods highlight the once-prosperous country’s problems.

Germany cases uptick after lockdown easing

Germany’s disease control center says the country’s rate of coronavirus infections has slightly increased but the number of new infections remains at a manageable level.

Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute says the “R” factor -- the number of people infected by every person with COVID-19 -- is now 0.96. Authorities have said they want to try to keep it below 1 to keep the pandemic manageable for the health care system.

It had been around 0.7 before Germany eased lockdown restrictions on April 20 to allow smaller businesses to open, while keeping social distancing in place. It’s too early to say whether that move has led to the increase.

Official UK figures show scale of virus deaths

Official figures show that the number of deaths recorded in England and Wales in the week to April 17 was around double the usual amount — a clear indicator of the scale of the human cost of the coronavirus epidemic.

The Office for National Statistics said that a total of 22,351 of people in England and Wales died in the week, the highest since comparable records began in 1993. The total was 11,854 more than the rolling five-year average.

In its analysis of death certificates, which take longer to compile than deaths recorded in hospitals, the statistics agency said the coronavirus was mentioned as one of the causes of death in 8,758 cases, nearly 40% of the total.

It also said that 4,316 deaths involving COVID-19 had been registered up to April 17 outside of hospitals with 3,096 in care homes. The equivalent figure for hospital deaths over the period is 14,796.

The daily figures presented by the government only show the number of people dying in U.K. hospitals, including those in Scotland and Northern Ireland. As of Monday, 21,092 people had died in U.K. hospitals.

Cost makes nearly 1 in 10 leery of seeking COVID care

With some states gearing up to lift coronavirus restrictions, a new poll finds a potential obstacle to keeping new infections tamped down. 

Nearly 1 in 10 adults say cost would keep them from seeking treatment if they thought they were infected. The Gallup-West Health Healthcare Costs Survey out Tuesday found that younger people, members of minority groups, people with less than a college degree, and those making less than $40,000 a year were more likely to say they would avoid seeking treatment. 

That could create a blind spot for governors trying to calibrate economic reopening plans to keep watch for potential virus flare-ups. 

Turkey sends protective equipment to the US

Turkey has dispatched a planeload of personal protective equipment to support the United States as it grapples with the coronavirus outbreak.

A Turkish military cargo plane carrying the medical equipment took off from an air base near the capital Ankara on Tuesday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

A top official said Turkey is sending 500,000 surgical masks, 4,000 overalls, 2,000 liters (528 gallons) of disinfectant, 1,500 goggles, 400 N-95 masks and 500 face shields.

Turkey has sent similar medical equipment aid to a total of 55 countries — including Britain, Italy and Spain — in an apparent attempt to improve its global standing by positioning itself as a provider of humanitarian aid at times of crisis.

“We pledge to help our friends and allies in need to the best of our ability and stand in solidarity with nations around the world at this difficult time,” said Fahrettin Altun, the presidential communications director.

Trump urges states to consider opening schools before summer

President Donald Trump says states should “seriously consider” reopening their public schools before the end of the academic year, even though dozens already have said it would be unsafe for students to return until the summer or fall.

Trump made the comments Monday in a call with governors discussing how to reopen their economies, among other topics.

“Some of you might start thinking about school openings, because a lot of people are wanting to have the school openings. It’s not a big subject, young children have done very well in this disaster that we’ve all gone through," he said. While addressing Vice President Mike Pence, Trump added that it's something "they can seriously consider, and maybe get going on.”

None of the governors on the call responded to the suggestion, according to a recording obtained by The Associated Press.

Reopening schools is considered key to getting the economy moving again. Without a safe place for their kids, many parents would have difficulty returning to work.

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