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National notebook

US leads world in coronavirus infections, by far

Demonstrators rallying against Michigan’s coronavirus stay-at-home order at the State Capitol in Lansing on Thursday called for the public to defy the governor.
Demonstrators rallying against Michigan’s coronavirus stay-at-home order at the State Capitol in Lansing on Thursday called for the public to defy the governor.Paul Sancya/Associated Press/Associated Press

NEW YORK — The United States has the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world by far: 1.39 million infections and more than 84,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 4.3 million people and killed some 297,000. And experts say that the actual numbers are probably far higher.

Even as some states lift lockdowns, the virus persists.

From a hospital on the edge of the Navajo Nation to the suburbs of the nation’s capital, front-line medical workers in coronavirus hot spots are struggling to keep up with a crushing load of patients.

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The head of a hospital system in Maryland’s Prince George’s County, a majority-black community bordering the nation’s capital, said the area’s intensive care units “are bursting at the seams.”

The hospital in Gallup, N.M., is on the front lines of a grinding outbreak in the Navajo Nation that recently prompted a 10-day lockdown in the city, with police setting up roadblocks to discourage non-emergency shopping.

Medical staff last week staged a street protest to complain about inadequate staffing and urge the chief executive of Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital to resign. The departure last week of the hospital’s lung specialist has limited its ability to treat COVID-19 patients, as people with acute respiratory symptoms are transported to Albuquerque facilities about two hours away. About 17 nurses were cut from the hospital’s workforce in March, at least 32 staff have tested positive for the virus, and its intensive care unit is at capacity.

In Georgia, the state provided a network of hospitals with extra nurses so its exhausted employees could take some time off and recover. The Northeast Georgia Health System, which operates four hospitals, is still struggling to buy as many disposable protective gowns as it needs. It has assigned workers to collect and sanitize the suits so they can be reused. Community volunteers are sewing gowns and masks.

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“That’s our most critical need,” said Tracy Vardeman, the health system’s chief strategy officer. “We’re going through as many as 6,000 a day.” — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Trump says US medical stockpile will be replenished

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday announced plans to resupply and maintain the US stockpile of medical equipment, more than two months into a coronovirus pandemic that initially caught many hospitals with shortages of ventilators and protective gear.

The United States will keep 90 days of supplies to gird against flare-ups of the outbreak as the nation begins to reopen its economy, according to the Trump administration.

“I’m determined that America will be fully prepared for any of the future outbreaks,” Trump said after touring an Owens & Minor Inc. distribution center for medical supplies in Allentown, Pa.

As part of the effort, Trump signed an executive order seeking to encourage domestic medical supply production by providing loans through the International Development Finance Corporation.

The order gives the chief executive of the agency, Adam Boehler, authority under the Defense Production Act “for the domestic production of strategic resources needed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, or to strengthen any relevant domestic supply chains.”

The president and his administration were widely criticized by state and local officials and medical workers for shortages of basic protective gear at hospitals as coronavirus cases surged in March and April. Trump on Thursday blamed President Obama, saying he left the stockpile depleted. But Trump did not address why his administration, three years into office, had not replenished it.

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Trump toured the distribution center without wearing a face mask. His chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was seen aboard Air Force One wearing a mask emblazoned with the presidential seal. Almost everyone around Trump during his visit wore a mask, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

Large parts of New York state preparing to reopen

ALBANY, N.Y. — Large swaths of central and northern New York state that appear to be at low risk of a COVID-19 surge are poised to start to reopening Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, urging businesses to prepare plans to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

While central New York, the Mohawk Valley, the Finger Lakes, the North Country, and the Southern Tier are expected to begin reopening Friday, Cuomo said New York City, its suburbs, and western and eastern counties have yet to meet the state’s criteria.

Cuomo’s plan allows construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, manufacturing, and wholesale trade businesses to start reopening in the first phase. Retail stores can provide curbside or in-store pickups or drop-offs.

The state is still advising residents to wear masks, practice social distancing, and avoid contact with vulnerable individuals. And prohibitions on large gatherings of any size remain in effect.

Cuomo urged New Yorkers to proceed with caution.

“There is no law or regulation that tells you how to interact with your personal relationships,” he said. ‘‘That’s up to you. I hope you do it smartly.”

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The state reported another 157 people tested positive for COVID-19 in nursing homes and hospitals died Wednesday. The overall number of hospitalizations is continuing to gradually decline, but the average of new COVID-19 patients entering hospitals has ticked up for a third day to 420, from 401. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Protestors call for defiance of stay-at-home order

LANSING, Mich. — About 200 people angry or frustrated about Michigan’s stay-at-home order protested again outside the State Capitol Thursday, braving heavy rain to call for a loosening of restrictions and for business owners to reopen in defiance of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The demonstration was smaller than previous rallies. It was led by Michigan United for Liberty, a conservative activist group that has sued the Democratic governor and organized or participated in several protests since early April. People in the crowd held signs declaring “Every worker is essential,’’ “Make Michigan work again,” and “Stop the tyranny.”

“We can get some businesses back open,” said David Saxton, a 40-year-old IT specialist from Alma. He said he lost his job, is receiving unemployment benefits, and noted that a COVID-19 vaccine may not be ready for 18 months. “Staying shut down that long is not practical. You will kill the state. You just will.’’

Though state police and Michigan’s attorney general had warned they’d enforce bans on brandishing guns or ignoring directives to stay six feet apart, there were no arrests. Some carried guns even though lawmakers from both parties criticized certain demonstrators for intimidating and threatening tactics two weeks ago, when they carried semi-automatic rifles into the Capitol. —ASSOCIATED PRESS

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