The Latest: Protesters rally at California state Capitol

By The Associated Press

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:

— Protesters gather outside California’s state Capitol to
rally against stay-at-home orders.

— North Carolina farmers euthanizing 1.5 million chickens.

— Iraq sees spike in coronavirus cases as the holy month of
Ramadan comes to an end.

— New York state records 24-hour death total under 100.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hundreds of protesters rallied outside
California’s state Capitol on Saturday to protest stay-at-home
orders even as residents entered the Memorial Day weekend with
newly expanded options for leisure.

California Highway Patrol officers closed the Capitol lawn to
demonstrators, so speakers addressed the crowd from the back of a
flatbed truck as an airplane flew above towing a banner with a
picture of Gov. Gavin Newsom and the words “End his
tyranny!”

Protesters waved dozens of flags and signs, many in support of
President Donald Trump. Few people wore masks and there was little
room for social distancing.

The protest came as restrictions eased across much of the state.
Some 45 of 58 counties have received permission to reopen most
stores and many public spaces by meeting state standards for
controlling the novel coronavirus.

Authorities continue to warn people to practice social
distancing and other anti-virus measures, noting that the number of
COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to rise.

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HAGATNA, Guam — The Department of Agriculture in Guam has
invited hunters to participate in a pig-hunting derby to provide
food for families in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pacific Daily News reported that the department announced
that the two-day derby is scheduled to begin next Saturday. The
department released a statement saying the derby is intended to
feed families, foster familial hunter development and reduce the
feral pig population.

Event organizers are working with mayors to distribute pigs
whole and unprocessed to residents within their villages and
provide safe handling guidelines.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Coronavirus outbreaks at meat processing
plants are forcing North Carolina farmers to euthanize 1.5 million
chickens, according to a state official.

Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Joe Reardon told The News
& Observer that this is the first time during the pandemic that
farmers in the state have had to euthanize their animals. Roughly a
third of the 1.5 million chickens already had been killed, Reardon
said.

Chicken and hog farmers in other states also have been
euthanizing millions of animals during the COVID-19 pandemic. North
Carolina hog farmers have not taken steps to euthanize their
animals, Reardon said.

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FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Eighteen soldiers assigned to the U.S.
Army’s 101st Airborne Division have returned to Fort Campbell
after spending more than a month in New Jersey helping with
COVID-19 response operations.

Fort Campbell officials say the soldiers deployed April 14 to
help provide logistical support for the response to the new
coronavirus outbreak throughout the Northeast. The troops helped
receive, process and move supplies, equipment and personnel in
critical areas affected by the virus outbreak.

The soldiers will undergo a precautionary quarantine under
medical supervision. An official welcome-home event is being
planned, officials said.

The Fort Campbell Army post is located along the
Kentucky-Tennessee border.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is scrapping his
10-person limit on group gatherings and allowing churches to open
at 25% occupancy if certain safety guidelines are met.

Walz’s decision comes after the state reported a record number
of COVID-19 cases. He says the issue has been “a challenging
one” because large gatherings raise the risk of spreading the
virus.

Walz says he understands the toll the pandemic has taken on the
spiritual health of residents. His new executive order applies only
to religious gatherings and not receptions.

While the leader of the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and
Minneapolis welcomed the change, the governor said parishes should
not open if they don’t feel they can meet safety measures.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in a letter to parishioners that
limiting gatherings to 10 people had “burdened the Church’s
ability to fully meet the sacramental needs of our faithful.”

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A woman who raised questions about
Florida’s COVID-19 data after being ousted as the data’s
curator had been reprimanded several times for violating Health
Department policy, including for posting political commentary about
the information, state records show.

Rebekah Jones’ comments over the past week and a half in
emails to researchers, interviews with a handful of media outlets,
and blog posts have sought to sow doubt about the credibility of
the data now that she is no longer in that role.

State health officials strenuously deny any issue with the
information’s accuracy as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis seeks to
make a data-driven case for a step-by-step reopening of the
state’s battered economy following safer-at-home orders.

Jones has not alleged any tampering with data on deaths,
hospital symptom surveillance, hospitalizations for COVID-19,
numbers of new confirmed cases, or overall testing rates. She has,
however, suggested Health Department managers wanted her to
manipulate information to paint a rosier picture and that she
pushed back.

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A hairstylist served 84 clients over eight
days while experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, Missouri health
officials say.

Clay Goddard, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health
Department, said in a news briefing that the stylist worked between
May 12-20. All clients wore masks and will be tested, as will the
stylist’s coworkers, the Springfield News-Leader reports.

The announcement Friday came just days after city officials
announced plans to relax even more distancing requirements, and
about a week after the health department started seeing an influx
of new travel-related infections.

Goddard said health officials still had enough capacity to
pinpoint the origin of infections and potential spread, although
that could change.

The state health department reported 218 new confirmed cases of
the new coronavirus, bringing the total to 11,558 since the
pandemic began. That was the largest one-day total since 319 cases
were reported May 1. Ten new deaths brought that total to 671.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina has failed to change its
election laws to ensure that voters can safely cast ballots during
the COVID-19 pandemic, voting rights advocates claim in a federal
lawsuit.

The nonprofit Democracy North Carolina and the League of Women
Voters of North Carolina sued Friday on behalf of several elderly
or disabled residents whose medical conditions make them more
vulnerable to coronavirus.

The lawsuit alleges that several aspects of North Carolina’s
absentee vote-by-mail requirements are unconstitutional because
voters will have to risk exposure to COVID-19 to successfully
vote.

For example, mail-in absentee voters are required to complete
the ballot in the presence of two witnesses or a notary. State law
also requires voters to submit their registration applications at
least 25 days before the election or else register in-person at an
early voting site, the suit notes.

The lawsuit says that will result in millions of state residents
either losing their right to vote or being forced to compromise
their health in order to cast a ballot. The state Board of
Elections and other state officials are named as defendants.

___

STURGIS, S.D. — The mayor of Sturgis says city officials
can’t stop people from coming to the annual motorcycle gathering
in the Black Hills of South Dakota, regardless of the new
coronavirus.

The 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is scheduled for Aug. 7-16.
The City Council has said it would make an official decision in
mid-June on whether to go forward with hosting the event, the Rapid
City Journal reported.

Mayor Mark Carstensen said in a Facebook video that “tourism
is coming” to the Black Hills and Sturgis. A manager with The
Hotel Sturgis said all 22 rooms have been booked for the week of
the rally and there is a waiting list.

___

DOVER, Del. — The University of Delaware says it is laying off
more than 1,100 part-time employees, mostly students, in a move to
cut costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The News Journal reports that students account for 805 of the
1,146 part-time employees who were notified of their layoffs on
Thursday.

An email to employees said the layoffs, which take effect on
June 1, do not affect adjunct faculty, graduate students,
work-study students or employees whose wages are paid through
external funding.

But many adjunct professors will not have a teaching position in
the fall due to a hiring freeze.

In April, the university announced that it faced a $65 million
budget shortfall due to pandemic’s financial toll, including
revenue lost from prorated housing and canceled athletic
events.

The university hopes to reopen campus in phases starting June 1
with certain research facilities.

___

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Health Ministry is reporting the steepest
single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the
government began recording cases in late February.

The ministry reported 308 new cases Saturday, one day ahead of
celebrations to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Curfew
hours had been relaxed during the month of fasting, which
contributed to higher daily rates of infection.

According to ministry figures, more than 4,200 people have
tested positive for the virus in Iraq. At least 152 people have
died.

Roads have been clogged with traffic and supermarkets and shops
have been packed with people preparing for the celebrations, likely
contributing to the increase in infections.

___

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state reported its lowest number of
daily coronavirus deaths in weeks in what Gov. Andrew Cuomo
described Saturday as a critical benchmark.

The daily death tally was 84 after a peak of 799 on April 8.

Reducing the state’s daily death count to fewer than 100
seemed almost impossible several weeks ago, the Democratic governor
said. That figure has remained stubbornly high even amid other
signs of encouragement.

“In my head, I was always looking to get under 100,” Cuomo
said. “For me, it’s a sign that we’re making real
progress.”

The number of hospitalized patients in the state that has been
the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. continued to fall,
dropping to over 4,600.

Cuomo also announced that the region along the Hudson River
north of New York City and south of Albany is set to begin
reopening Tuesday, and that Long Island could follow suit
Wednesday.

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ATHENS — Two fatalities from COVID-19 were reported in Greece
during the most recent 24-hour period, bringing the death toll to
171, health authorities announced Saturday.

Another three new infections have been recorded since Friday
afternoon, raising the nation’s total to 2,876. The number of
patients on ventilators stands at 20, while 99 have left intensive
care.

Greek authorities say they have performed 152,998 tests for the
disease.

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ROME — Italy on Saturday registered 669 new cases of COVID-19,
two-thirds of them in the northern region of Lombardy, which has
been the hardest-hit since the outbreak began.

Figures from the most recent 24-hour period since Friday evening
saw 119 deaths registered. Officially, Italy has 32,735 deaths from
COVID-19.

According to Health Ministry data, the latest cases raised the
nation’s overall tally of confirmed coronavirus cases to 229,327.
All of Italy’s regions, with the exception of Lombardy,
registered no more than a few dozen new cases each on Saturday, and
many regions had numbers of new infections in the single
digits.

Eager to revive tourism, the government has said people will be
allowed to resume travel between regions starting June 3, but
travel restrictions could remain if there’s an uptick of
infections.

Italy eased many stay-at-home restrictions on May 18, including
allowing public Masses to be held and restaurants and cafes to
serve sit-down customers.

___

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health minister announced 32 new deaths
from COVID-19, bringing the country’s death toll to 4,308.

Fahrettin Koca also tweeted Saturday 1,186 confirmed infections
in the previous 24 hours, the highest number of the week. The total
number of infections has reached 155,686. The testing number also
was the highest, with more than 40,000 performed.

Turkey’s transport minister said some intercity trains will
resume limited operations on Thursday as the country readies to
restart domestic tourism. Passengers will be required to obtain a
travel certification code from a government phone application.
Those above 65 and under 20 will also need to get an additional
travel permit as a full curfew imposed on those age groups
continues, except for a few hours each week.

Turkey’s minister of youth and sports announced all quarantine
measures for Turkish citizens coming from abroad had been
completed. Some 77,441 people were placed in mandatory quarantines
in dormitories since March to curb the disease’s spread.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at
https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and
https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Source: FS – All – Interesting – News 2
The Latest: Protesters rally at California state
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