The Latest: Oprah urges people to digest virus info wisely

Rajpath, India’s ceremonial boulevard is deserted, as India’s Presidential Palace is seen during a lockdown amid concerns over the spread of Coronavirus, in New Delhi, India, April 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

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:

— Hawaii ready to move to Phase 2 after reducing rate of infections

— South Korea reports 6 fresh coronavirus cases, continuing monthlong downturn

— Delaware is latest state with anti-lockdown protest.

— Trump says he hopes U.S. deaths stay below “horrible number” of 100,000.

— South Carolina to lift stay-at-home order on Monday.

— New Mexico governor seals off roads in bid to contain outbreak in city of Gallup.

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LOS ANGELES — Oprah Winfrey keeps updated with the coronavirus news, but she has often focused her attention more on the positive “acts of valor” while being on lockdown during the pandemic.

The media mogul said Friday evening that she wants people to digest daily information wisely during the Call to Unite 24-hour livestream global relief event. She was among 200 star-studded participants including President Bill Clinton and Julia Roberts to take part in the event.

The event was initiated to help inspire people to endure and overcome the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have a small diet and managed how I took in the news,” said Winfrey on Friday evening from her home, where she has been self-quarantining with three others for nearly 50 days. She said she hopes the event can help the world become better.

“If you leave it on all the time — as I know some people do — you will be consumed by the agitation, the hysteria, the confusion and constant angst that has been put into your phone, home and into your spirit,” she continued. “I have chosen to focus on so many acts of courage and valor, determination and people not giving up.”

Each participant will answer calls in their own way, whether through performing a song, sharing a story or offering a prayer.

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HONOLULU — Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Friday the state is moving into “Phase 2” of its effort against the coronavirus now that it has successfully reduced the rate of new infections and “flattened the curve.”

Green said in a video posted on social media that low-risk activities like elective medical procedures are resuming and officials in the next few weeks will consider authorizing medium-risk activities.

“Can our gyms open? Can restaurants that do social distancing open? That’s what we’re working on,” Green said.

The next step after these activities would be “higher risk stuff” like large gatherings of people and bars, he said.

On Friday, Hawaii reported one new case of COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 619. Sixteen people have died.

Gov. David Ige has extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 31. A 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving in the state also remains in effect.

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PHOENIX — Forty-six state corrections employees in Arizona have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Friday evening after refusing for weeks to specify how many workers had contracted the virus.

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry said 24 employees who tested positive have since recovered. The agency didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether any employees had died as a result of COVID-19.

Earlier this week, corrections officials declined to say whether any inmates who tested positive for the virus had died, even though medical examiners and a lawyer said three inmates had died. On Friday evening, corrections officials said there have been four potential COVID-19 deaths among prisoners.

Forty-five prisoners have tested positive for the virus as of Friday evening. The Department of Corrections had previously said 50 prisoners had tested positive and didn’t immediately respond to a request to explain why the total had been adjusted.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported six fresh cases of the new coronavirus, continuing a month-long streak of below 100.

Infections continue to wane in the hardest-hit city of Daegu, where no new cases were detected.

Figures released by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday brought national figures to 10,780 cases and 250 virus-related deaths.

At least 1,081 cases have been linked to international arrivals, but these cases have also declined in recent weeks as the government strengthened border controls, such as enforcing 14-day quarantines on all passengers coming from overseas.

With its caseload slowing, government officials have been relaxing social distancing guidelines and shifting focus to ease the shock on the economy. During the first three months of the year, the economy saw its worst contraction since late 2008 as the pandemic hit both domestic consumption and exports.

Health authorities still raise concern about a broader “quiet spread” and is planning antibody tests to learn how widespread the virus is.

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DOVER, Del. — Protesters gathered outside Delaware’s statehouse on Friday demanding that Democratic Gov. John Carney lift restrictions he has imposed on individuals and businesses in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

More than 400 people defied Carney’s prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people and mandates requiring social distancing and the wearing of face coverings in public. The rally was preceded by a noisy, flag-waving parade of vehicles slowly circling the capitol and Legislative Mall.

“It’s going to let him know that we’re not happy, at the very least,” said Bill Hinds of Newark. “There’s a lot of people being hurt by this lockdown. Losing their jobs, losing their businesses. … This is a life-changing event for everybody in Delaware.”

Carney said he understands people are getting frustrated, but he seemed unswayed by the protests.

“Everybody has the right to express their opinion and folks are doing that,” he said. “I guess I would have hoped that the protesters were more here to express their appreciation for what we’re doing and their support for what we’re doing. But obviously we hear and understand their opposition and their eagerness to get back to work.”

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says he is extending the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home order through at least May 31.

The Democratic governor said Friday he will ease the restrictions in four stages, starting with allowing retail curbside pickup, automobile sales and car washes by mid-May.

There will be a minimum of three weeks between each phase, though Inslee said some counties with lower numbers of cases and deaths may be able to open parts of their economy sooner if approved by the Department of Health.

Washington state had the nation’s first confirmed COVID-19 case in January, as well as the first deadly cluster, at a Seattle-area nursing home. Inslee in March was among the first governors to issue a sweeping social-distancing mandate.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he’s hoping that the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States will be below 100,000.

Even that, he acknowledged on Friday, is a “horrible number.”

Trump’s predictions of the expected U.S. death toll have changed over time, and he repeatedly has used high estimates to make the case that his administration’s actions, especially his decision to restrict travel from China, have saved lives. His actions have been challenged by state, local and public health officials who have complained about shortages of testing supplies and safety gear for doctors and nurses.

On March 29, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, revealed models projecting the deaths of 100,000 to 240,000 Americans, assuming social distancing efforts were ongoing.

At the same time, she said epidemiology models initially had predicted a worst-case scenario of 1.5 million to 2.2 million U.S. deaths without mitigation efforts such as social distancing, hand washing and staying home as much as possible.

Soon after, Trump began speculating that the 100,000 figure was an outer limit. Later, he leaned more toward a projection of 60,000, but that now has been eclipsed by the current death toll of more than 64,000. On Monday, he was thinking 60,000 or 70,000.

At a White House event on Friday, Trump said “maybe millions of lives” have been saved by shutting down the economy.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says he will end the state’s stay-at-home order on Monday.

McMaster’s announcement came Friday, the same day many hotels near the state beaches could reopen and state parks unlocked their gates for the first time in more than a month.

The Republican governor also said outdoor dining areas of restaurants can reopen Monday as long as they follow strict distancing requirements, restrict tables to no more than eight people and sanitize seats and tables after each customer.

Hotels in the state’s most popular tourist destination, Myrtle Beach, can only honor reservations already made before the COVID-19 pandemic until May 15. Then they can take new reservations.

City officials are requiring hotels to restrict guest elevators to one person or family and all must wear masks. That could make it unappealing for some guests in the sprawling 15- or 20-story resorts that dot the area.

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SALEM, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown says Oregon will launch an ambitious COVID-19 random testing program as it readies to reopen the economy.

The program will be carried out in a partnership with Oregon Health & Science University. A request for volunteers will go out mid-May.

When any of the 100,000 volunteers develop COVID-19 symptoms, they will be tested. Experts say the random testing helps determine where the virus is located in Oregon.

A few other states have started similar testing, but Oregon has “the opportunity to accelerate the impact and learn from the information,” Oregon Health & Science University President Danny Jacobs said.

Brown, a Democrat, also said some rural Oregon counties where there are almost zero coronavirus cases could begin reopening slowly starting May 15.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says he doesn’t foresee armed protesters disrupting lawmakers when a coronavirus-interrupted legislative session resumes Monday.

The Democratic governor noted that visitors aren’t allowed to bring firearms into Louisiana’s Capitol.

“I don’t expect to see that. Obviously we have some individuals around the state who want to give voice to their opinions, which are different than mine at the moment, with respect to the necessity of the stay-at-home order. And they have ample opportunity to do that,” Edwards said.

“I would ask those individuals to do that in an appropriate and safe manner. If they do that, then there won’t be any problems like you saw in Michigan.”

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas’ reopening is underway with sparsely filled shopping malls and a man facing felony charges for pushing a park ranger into a lake.

New virus deaths in Texas also dropped Friday, one day after a single-day record of 50 fatalities was set on the eve of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott lifting stay-at-home orders. More than 120 people have died over the past three days in Texas, the worst stretch since the state’s first coronavirus case in March.

But Abbott, who isn’t yet allowing hair salons or gyms to open, says hospitalizations remain steady and infection rates are down.

In Austin, police say a 25-year-old man was charged with attempted assault on a public service worker after a video posted on social media showed a city park ranger getting shoved into the water Thursday while asking a crowd to keep 6 feet of distance.

The video shows shirtless parkgoers, some in swimsuits, and laughter is heard after the park ranger is pushed into shallow water near the shore. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement it was “saddened” by the incident.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday that 24 counties in rural northern Pennsylvania will see some relief from his strictest orders for residents to stay at home and businesses to close as part of a strategy to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The counties have seen far fewer virus infections and deaths than most of the rest of the state.

The changes are to take effect next Friday, May 8, and affect about 1.5 million of Pennsylvania’s 12.8 million residents. Stay-at-home orders will be lifted and retail shops can start to reopen, though gyms, barbershops, nail salons, casinos, theaters and other such venues will remain closed and other restrictions will remain in place.

The state’s largest cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, will remain under the Democratic governor’s strictest orders.

The coronavirus has infected more than 45,000 Pennsylvania residents and killed nearly 2,300, according to the latest Health Department statistics.

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MOSCOW — Russia’s Minister of Construction has been hospitalized for treatment of coronavirus infection, the second high-ranking official to be infected in two days.

Construction minister Vladimir Yakushev will undergo treatment at a Moscow hospital, the ministry said Friday, according to Russian news agencies.

Deputy construction minister Dmitry Volkov also was diagnosed with the infection, the reports said.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Thursday he had contracted the virus.

Russia reported its largest one-day number of new inflections on Friday, nearly 8,000 new cases. Nearly 115,000 cases have been recorded nationwide.

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The governor of New Mexico invoked the state’s Riot Control Act on Friday as she sealed off all roads to nonessential traffic in the city of Gallup to help control a surging coronavirus outbreak in the former trading post city on the outskirts of the Navajo Nation.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also announced a ban on routine outings and required that businesses close from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. in the city of about 70,000 people.

COVID-19 infection rates in Gallup and surrounding McKinley County make it one of the worst U.S. hotspots for the pandemic as patients overwhelm intensive care facilities.

Lujan Grisham said the virus has run amok in McKinley County and physical distancing is not being maintained among residents.

“A problem in one part of our state, with a virus this contagious, is a problem for our entire state,” she said.

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CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — A resident of a suburban St. Louis nursing home is believed to be one of the oldest people in the world to survive the coronavirus.

Rudi Heider had two reasons to celebrate on Thursday — he turned 107 and he beat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Relatives couldn’t come into his room at Friendship Village in Chesterfield, Missouri, but gathered outside his window while Heider enjoyed a slice of his favorite dessert, lemon meringue pie.

Heider said he looks forward to being able to be with family and friends again.

Heider’s granddaughter, Janet Heider of Seattle, called her grandfather “amazing.”

“I had to tell him that he’s lived through the Spanish Flu, two World Wars, a stroke at 100 years old, and a fractured vertebra at 104 years old that he would not to lose to COVID-19, and he ended up beating it,” she said.

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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations secretary-general says the COVID-19 pandemic is causing “untold fear and suffering” for older people around the world who are dying at a higher rate, and especially for those over the age of 80 whose fatality rate is five times the global average.

Antonio Guterres said Friday that beyond the health risks, “the pandemic is putting older people at greater risk of poverty,” with an especially devastating impact on the elderly in developing countries.

The U.N. chief launched a 16-page policy briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on older people with several key messages, most importantly that “no person, young or old, is expendable” and “older people have the same rights to life and health as everyone else.”

Guterres also called for improved social support and “smarter efforts” to use digital technology to reach older people who may face great suffering because of isolation and restrictions on their movements.

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CHICAGO — A few hundred protesters chanting and carrying signs gathered Friday afternoon in front of Chicago’s Thompson Center building to call for a statewide lockdown to be lifted.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, and other state officials have offices in the building.

Demonstrators carried signs that read, “We demand Illinois opens now!,” “Reason over fear” and “The cure is worse than the disease.”

Others stayed put in cars, circling the block and honking their horns and waving American flags out their windows.

Some gathered outside wore masks, but many did not and stood close together. Police officers wore masks as they lined the street, directed traffic and hemmed protesters in on a sidewalk.

Among the organizers of the protest was Freedom Movement USA. It’s website describes itself as “a group of like-minded Republican activists” and said its members were avid supporters of President Donald Trump.

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