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Fauci warns not to expect summer to slow the virus

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, says don’t assume the coronavirus will fade during warm weather.

Fauci told ABC’s “Good Morning America” there’s precedent with other infections like influenza that “when the virus gets warmer that the virus goes down in its ability to replicate, to spread.”

But Fauci added “having said that, one should not assume that we are going to be rescued by a change in the weather. You must assume that the virus will continue to do its thing. If we get some help from the weather, so be it, fine. But I don’t think we need to assume that.”

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He was asked about a New York Times story that research indicates the coronavirus that began circulating in New York in mid-February came mainly from Europe, not Asia.

“I think that’s probably correct,” Fauci said. He notes that “Europe became the epicenter pretty quickly after China really exploded with their cases.”

Associated Press

In New York, numbersreflect loss — and hope

As it has for several days, the story of the coronavirus in New York had two strands Thursday: encouraging progress and devastating loss, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said.

In the past two weeks, the number of virus patients hospitalized has grown more and more slowly, from more than 20 percent a day at one point to single-digit percent increases this week.

From Wednesday to Thursday, the number increased by 200, to 18,279, or just 1 percent.

If the trend were to continue, the number of people in hospitals would soon start to decline — a sign that the virus had passed its apex.

But the number of people dying of the virus continues to grow. The state recorded 799 deaths from Wednesday to Thursday, another one-day high.

For the second straight day, Cuomo compared the toll of the virus to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, calling the virus a “silent explosion that ripples through society with the same randomness, the same evil that we saw on 9/11.”

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As he has done repeatedly in recent days, Cuomo stressed that social distancing and other restrictions would continue to be enforced, because they were necessary to maintain the progress the state has made.

He also cautioned that New York might only be in the first wave of the pandemic. The state would probably have enough hospital beds and ventilators to treat virus patients if current trends hold, he said, but its resources would be insufficient if the most drastic projections about the outbreak were realized.

“Everybody is assuming, well, once we get through this, we’re done,” Cuomo said. “I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that. This virus has been ahead of us from day one.

The governor again emphasized that New York’s Black and Hispanic communities were being hit the hardest by the virus, and he said that additional testing sites would be opened in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods.

New York Times

Unclaimed bodies will be buried sooner

NEW YORK — As New York City deals with a mounting coronavirus death toll and dwindling morgue space, the city has shortened the amount of time it will hold unclaimed remains before they are buried in the city’s public cemetery.

Under the new policy, the medical examiner’s office will keep bodies in storage for just 14 days before they’re buried in the city’s potter’s field on Hart Island.

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Normally, about 25 bodies a week are interred on the island, mostly for people whose families can’t afford a funeral, or who go unclaimed by relatives.

In recent days, though, burial operations have increased from one day a week to five days a week, with around 24 burials each day, said Department of Correction spokesman Jason Kersten.

Aerial images taken Thursday by the Associated Press captured workers digging graves on the island, a one-mile, limited-access strip off the Bronx that’s the final resting place for more than a million mostly indigent New Yorkers.

About 40 caskets were lined up for burial on the island on Thursday, and two fresh trenches have been dug in recent days.

Interments are typically done by inmates from the city’s Rikers Island jail complex, but during the coronavirus pandemic the job has been taken over by contractors.

Associated Press

Nursing home evacuated when staff stays home

A California nursing home where dozens have tested positive for the novel coronavirus was forced to evacuate Wednesday after a majority of its staff failed to show up to work for the second consecutive day, according to public health officials.

People wearing masks, gloves, and protective gowns could be seen wheeling residents of the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside, Calif., one by one on stretchers to waiting ambulances that would take them to other care facilities in the area.

At the time of the evacuation, the center was looking after more than 80 patients, 34 of whom have tested positive for coronavirus, Riverside County Public Health Officer Cameron Kaiser said at a news conference. Five employees have also contracted the virus, Kaiser said.

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Riverside County officials say they do not yet know why many of Magnolia’s staff members stopped reporting for duty.

As of Wednesday, Kaiser said his office had not received any complaints from the staff about working conditions at the 90-bed center, which bills itself as ‘‘one of the finest skilled nursing facilities in Riverside, California.’’

But no matter how justified the reasoning may be, Kaiser said he is concerned that the employees’ actions ‘‘could rise to the level of abandonment.’’

‘‘Nationwide, all of our health care workers are considered heroes and they rightly are,’’ he said. ‘‘But implicit in that heroism is that people stay at their posts.’’

Washington Post

All five national parksare closed in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — All five of Utah’s national parks are closed after Capitol Reef officials said Thursday they are shutting their gates to prevent further spread of the new coronavirus.

The park known for its sandstone cliffs was the last national park still open in Utah after Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands had previously closed under pressure from local government and health officials.

Capitol Reef’s decision comes after Utah Governor Gary Herbert on Tuesday urged people to stay close to home even though it is Easter week and spring break for many state residents.

Park officials referenced Herbert’s motto of “stay home, stay safe” in a posting on the Capitol Reef website explaining the decision.

Associated Press