The Latest: Biden urges Trump to use full federal authority

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 350,000 people and killed over 15,000

March 23, 2020 - 12:44 pm
Employees of Eli Lilly check in members of the healthcare community as they begin drive-through testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the company headquarters in Indianapolis, Monday, March 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


By The Associated Press

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 350,000 people and killed over 15,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 98,800 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.


— Biden urges Trump to use full federal authority in fight against the coronavirus.

— EU urges U.S. to make clear sanctions on Iran and Venezuela do not target humanitarian aid.

— Klobuchar says husband has tested positive for the coronavirus.


ATLANTA — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Monday urged President Donald Trump to use the full force of federal authority in the fight against the coronavirus.

Biden gave an online address from his Delaware home imploring Trump to “start acting like” the wartime president Trump claims to be.

The former vice president also chided Republicans on Capitol Hill for pushing an economic stabilization bill that he said contains a “$500 million slush fund” for big corporations, rather than prioritizing workers.

Biden's remarks were the first of what his campaign describes as regular updates and commentary Biden will give as a counter to Trump’s appearances in the White House briefing room.

The 77-year-old Biden complimented Trump for activating the National Guard in New York, California and Washington.

Biden said Trump also should call up the military’s medical reserve forces and activate more state guards to erect temporary hospitals around the country.

He also criticized Trump’s apparent reluctance to use the Defense Production Act to compel American firms to meet certain supply shortages, especially masks, gloves and respirators.


BRUSSELS — The European Union is urging the United States to make clear that its sanctions on Iran and Venezuela do not target any humanitarian aid that might be delivered to them.

After chairing a video-conference between EU foreign ministers Monday, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the bloc is appealing to the International Monetary Fund on behalf of Iran and Venezuela to secure them financial assistance.

Borell says American sanctions that prevent Iran and Venezuela from selling their oil are ravaging economies as the countries try to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iran has been particularly badly hit by the coronavirus and Borrell says the EU hopes to distribute about 20 million euros ($21.6 million) in aid to Iran in coming weeks.


WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says husband John Besser has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The former presidential candidate said Besser began feeling sick when she was in Minnesota and he was in Washington. She said he immediately quarantined himself.

She said he sought a test and chest X-ray after he began coughing up blood, and was checked into a Virginia hospital with “very low oxygen levels which really haven’t improved.” She said he now has pneumonia and is on oxygen but not a ventilator.

Klobuchar said her doctor had advised her not to get a test.


ST. PAUL, Minn. — The lieutenant governor of Minnesota says her brother has died in Tennessee of complications of COVID-19.

Lt. Gov Peggy Flanagan posted on Instagram that her brother, Ron Golden, died Saturday. She said her brother had been diagnosed with cancer several weeks ago and his immune system was compromised.

He was put in a medically induced coma and placed on a ventilator.

She praised the former Marine, who died almost exactly two months after the family buried her father. Flanagan cited her brother's case as a reason citizens should socially distance and stay home.

Golden was the second recorded death in Tennessee from COVID-19.


ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s Aegean airline is suspending all international flights starting Thursday through April 30 because of increasing travel restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Aegean will continue running a limited number of weekly flights between Athens and Brussels to maintain the country’s connectivity with the administrative center of the European Union.

Aegean will continue to carry out domestic flights on a reduced frequency to assist in the movement of people and goods for basic necessities. It will also continue repatriation flights if asked by the Greek government.

The airline said it has already carried out repatriation flights from Morocco, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia and Georgia, and one flight from London to Larnaca, Cyprus, on behalf of the Cypriot government.

Aegean flies to 124 international destinations in 44 countries, and 31 domestic destinations carried out along with its subsidiary Olympic Air.


LONDON — The auto industry, idled by the coronavirus pandemic, is converting some of its unused capacity to help respond to the emergency.

In letter to employees, Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley said that the automaker was converting a plant in Asia to make face masks.

‘’We are working through the protocols to start production in the coming weeks and ultimately produce over a million face mask per month to donate to first responders and health care providers,’’ Manley said Monday.

Fiat Chrysler is also continuing to operate its parts supply department with workers who volunteer in order to ensure that the vehicles used by first-responders, health workers and other critical transport stays mobile.

Luxury sportscar maker Ferrari is helping Siare Engineering, which is one of the few companies making respirators, to double productivity.


NEW ORLEANS — A federal report shows that Louisiana, New York and Georgia lead the nation in the number of nursing homes with coronavirus cases.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency found there are at least seven homes in each of the three states where confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases have been detected.

Current or suspected cases of COVID-19 have been found in at least four nursing homes in each of three other states: Washington, Illinois and New Jersey.

The FEMA report breaks out the total number of nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities dealing with the virus.

In a separate category tracking assisted living facilities, the report shows that Washington state and New Jersey have some of the highest numbers of confirmed or suspected cases in those types of facilities.


ATHENS, Greece — Fourteen police officers in Greece have been placed in precautionary home quarantine after the arrest of a 26-year-old man who claimed he had the coronavirus.

Police said the incident occurred after the Greek man was stopped early Monday while smashing mirrors on parked cars. The suspect allegedly spat at officers involved in his apprehension.

It was later discovered that he had violated a quarantine order after recently traveling to Athens from the U.K.

Thirteen other arrests were announced Monday for alleged quarantine violations, an offense that carries a fine of 5,000 euros. Three people have been arrested, including a Greek Orthodox priest, for violating a ban on holding church services for the public. Two women were arrested for playing tennis on an empty private court on the day that a general circulation ban was imposed nationwide.

Separately, police say they have made 238 arrests since March 12 for violations of business operating restrictions.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has threatened to raid companies that produce face masks if they don't agree to sell them to the government.

The threat comes as Turkey scrambles to ensure health workers are sufficiently equipped to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu as saying Monday that the would not "shy away" from seizing factories if the producers don't sign contracts with Turkey's health ministry.

Soylu also said authorities had carried out simultaneous raids on warehouses belonging to companies suspected of hoarding face masks.

The country has also enlisted some vocational training schools to produce face masks.


BERLIN — Angela Merkel’s spokesman says the chancellor’s doing well and awaiting the results of a coronavirus test in quarantine after possible exposure from her doctor.

Steffen Seibert said Merkel led the government Cabinet meeting by telephone.

Merkel went into self-quarantine after being informed Sunday that a doctor who gave her a precautionary vaccine on Friday against pneumococcal infection had tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Seibert said Merkel was tested Monday and that he did not know when the results would be ready, but that the public would be informed once the details were known.

Seibert said there had been no need to go into quarantine himself despite being at a Sunday press conference with Merkel. He said he strictly followed guidance on keeping distance from each other and others.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark’s Prime Minister Metter Frederiksen extended a lockdown through April 13.

Schools, restaurants and public and private businesses had previously been ordered closed until March 30.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch public health institute has recorded a slight drop in the number of new coronavirus deaths and positive tests.

The institute said Monday that 34 people died from the virus in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 213. Another 545 people tested positive, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 4,749.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch foreign ministry has partnered with travel organizations and insurers to help residents of the Netherlands stranded overseas by the coronavirus.

There are believed to be tens of thousands of Dutch tourists and travelers who can't get home because of restrictions imposed by countries around the world aimed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The new initiative launched Monday set up a website where stranded travelers can register so the government and travel groups can organize flights home or find them safe places to stay.

The organizations already have been rescuing stranded travelers. Last week, they organized extra flights to bring home Dutch tourists stuck in Morocco.


MOSCOW — Hundreds of migrants from Central Asia are stuck in Moscow airports as countries close borders and airlines cancel flights amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Footage from state TV showed dozens of people lying on the floor at airport terminals, using camping mats to sleep on. Many of them say they’ve been there for several days.

As of Monday, there were 180 Kyrgyz nationals, 202 Uzbek nationals and more than 250 Tajik nationals waiting for flights to their home countries in three Moscow airports.

They all rushed home in panic over the ruble dropping along with oil prices and closing borders.

Several dozen people ended up trapped in the transit zone of the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport, having learned that their flights were canceled after they went through passport control.

Russia has reported 438 coronavirus cases and closed the border for foreigners and restricted air traffic with all countries last week.


DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh has ordered a 10-day general holiday through April 4 for all government and private organizations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The country’s Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said all government offices not involved in emergency services have been closed. The Monday announcement came after health authorities confirmed a third death due to COVID-19.

Officials also confirmed another six new cases of the virus, including two children below 10 and a doctor and two nurses.


ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The state of Alaska fears it will run out of money to pay doctors, hospitals and clinics who treat Medicaid patients.

The Anchorage Daily News reported effects of the shortfall on health care expected to begin Monday could not be precisely determined. The shortfall is a consequence of last year’s budget cuts and the Legislature's failure this year to approve a $360 million supplemental budget.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the Legislature cut nearly $170 million from the Medicaid budget last year. The governor has proposed to reverse cuts, but in the meantime the state’s Medicaid accounts have been depleted.


JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's coronavirus cases jumped to 402 on Monday. That is an increase of 128 cases from the day before as it is the country with the most cases in Africa.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to speak to the nation about the growing threat and many expect him to announce new restrictive measures to try to slow the spread of the disease.

More than half of South Africa's total cases are in the Gauteng province, which include Johannesburg and Pretoria. Johannesburg has 5.7 million people, South Africa has 57 million people.

The new government figures put South Africa ahead of Egypt, which has 372 cases. South Africa has not registered a death from the disease.


TAIPEI — Taiwan will ban airline passenger transits through the country starting Tuesday through April 7.

Taiwan confirmed 26 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the island to 195.


WARSAW, Poland — Poland has joined those calling for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Polish Olympic Committee says in a statement there is too much uncertainty at the moment to go ahead. It said that because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases, “Polish athletes have increasingly limited training options, Olympic qualifications are being cancelled and there is too much uncertainty."


LONDON -- Irish premier Leo Varadkar has warned further restrictions may be made on people's movements during the coronavirus pandemic because of failure to follow social distancing advice.

Varadkar says more recommendations are needed in light of weekend images of crowded public places in Ireland. They will be delivered Tuesday.

The Irish government has said four people have died from the COVID-19 disease and there are currently 906 positive cases of coronavirus.


CANBERRA, Australia: Australia’s Parliament has passed 83.6 billion Australian dollars ($48.4 billion) in economic stimulus measures to dampen the impact of the coronavirus.

A scaled-down Parliament passed the legislation in a single day on Monday. Dozens of lawmakers have been excused from attending to reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19.

A fourth lawmaker announced on Monday he had contracted the disease.

Australia has more than 1,700 confirmed cases in a population of 25 million and seven people have died with the respiratory illness.


HONG KONG — Foreign non-residents of Hong Kong will be barred from entering the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for 14 days beginning Wednesday.

The Asian financial hub will also ban travelers from mainland China, along with the nearby Chinese region of Macao and the self-governing island of Taiwan that is claimed by Beijing, if they have visited foreign countries over the past two weeks.


BERLIN — The German government has approved another large aid package to help companies and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The aid package breaks six years of balanced budgets by borrowing 156 billion euros ($167 billion) to finance it.

The government announced Monday that it will give small companies and self-employed people aid of up to 15,000 euros each over three months.

The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting that Chancellor Angela Merkel joined by telephone.

Merkel went into home quarantine on Sunday evening after learning that a doctor who administered a vaccination to her had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The new package comes on top of a previous pledge of at least 460 billion euros in loan guarantees to help Europe’s biggest economy handle the fallout from running down public life to a minimum.


PRAGUE — Czech authorities have established an air bridge with China to acquire medical equipment. The effort was done with help from NATO and Czech and Chinese airlines.

NATO provided a giant transport An-124 Ruslan plane as part of its program to help participating allies transport heavy and outsized cargo.

The first flight from the city of Shenzhen in south-eastern China delivered over 106 metric tons (117 tons) of equipment. Two more NATO backed flights are expected later in March.

Also, two planes by the China Eastern airline arrived on Friday and Sunday while the first plane by Czech airline CSA landed in Prague early Monday.

They all have been loaded with millions of face masks and respirators, protective googles and suits as well testers for the virus much needed by the health sector.

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said three flights a week will be landing with the supplies for at least six weeks.

The Czech Republic has 1,165 cases of COVID-19, and one death.


CAIRO — Egypt’s state-run television has reported the death of a senior military officer from the coronavirus.

Major General Safea Abdel-Halim Dawood tested positive to the virus following his participation in sterilization efforts which the military. He was head of major projects at the engineering authority of the Egyptian armed forces.

Dawood was the second highest official infected by the virus to date in Egypt, which has around 330 cases and 16 deaths.

On Sunday, the military announced the death of Major General Khaled Shaltout, who was infected also while taking part in sterilization.


WARSAW, Poland — The coronavirus pandemic is hitting some of Catholic Poland’s best loved traditions like the blessing of food in churches on Holy Saturday.

Poland’s bishops have advised against holding the tradition this year to avoid drawing the usual crowds to churches. People bring baskets of food to church that are placed together on a large table, the foods get a blessing and a sprinkle of Holy Water from the priest, as do the families gathered around the table.

With a “national quarantine” currently in place in the fight against the spreading virus, the bishops advise against the blessing and against the use of Holy Water in Easter liturgies in April.

Poland has 649 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and seven fatalities.


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The second death from COVID-19 in Puerto Rico is a tourist from the United States.

The Health Department says the victim is a 73-year-old man who was vacationing in the U.S. territory with his wife and had other health problems.

The island has 31 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 69 pending test results. Police have detained and cited more than 200 people for violating a two-week curfew imposed last week.


MADRID — The number of new infections of the coronavirus in Spain rose for the second day in a row.

Spain's new 4,517 new Monday brought the overall number since the beginning of the outbreak to 33,089. The day-to-day increase of around 15% is similar to the one seen the day before.

The exponential growth of infection was lower than in previous days, but the number of deaths jumped by 462. Spain now has 2,182 fatalities.

The Spanish government says deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo has been hospitalized with a respiratory infection and doctors are testing her for the coronavirus.

Spaniards are beginning their second week of confinement as worry spreads for the collapse of the country’s healthcare system amid an influx of COVID-19 patients requiring assisted respiration.

The Spanish government is seeking parliament approval to extend the state emergency for two more weeks until April 11, but harsher measures like halting overall industrial production have been ruled out.

No incoming travellers from outside Europe’s Schengen border area are allowed into the country starting from Monday.


LONDON — British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said people ignoring the government's social distancing advice are “very selfish."

Hancock warned on BBC radio the government may have to take “more action” if people continue to ignore the government's advice to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

His comments came after a series of images over the weekend showing crowds congregating in open spaces.

Snowdonia National Park in Wales, which experienced “its busiest ever visitor day” on Saturday, urged the government to be more explicit in its advice.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to hold his daily news conference Monday and has warned that Britain may soon have to endure an Italy-style lockdown if people continue to disregard the advice.


DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh now has three deaths from the coronavirus. The number of confirmed infections is 33.

Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, said that six new infections were reported Monday. The new infections include two children under 10 years, a doctor and two nurses.


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