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The Latest: Biden: Sending help to India during virus surge

President Joe Biden responds to a question from reporters about COVID-19, on the North Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By The Associated Press,

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says the U.S. is sending “a whole series of help” to India to combat the coronavirus, including live-saving therapeutics.

Biden says the U.S. is sending “mechanical parts” India needs to domestically produce COVID-19 vaccines. The president adds the administration is engaging in discussions about when the U.S. could send vaccine doses to India.

“I think we’ll be in a position to be able to share vaccines as well as know-how with other countries who are in real need. That is the hope and expectation,” Biden says.

On Monday, the White House announced it would share about 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine with the world once the vaccine passes federal safety and quality reviews.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— CDC: Vaccinated people in US can go outside without mask

— Minnesota child dies of COVID-19 complications

— India records more than 320,000 new cases of coronavirus

— Harry, Meghan to lead ‘Vax Live’ fundraising concert in LA

— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemicand https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

O’FALLON, Mo. — The number of people in Missouri infected with the coronavirus has topped the half-million mark.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Tuesday cited 524 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 500,071. The state also reported 37 new deaths, although 34 that occurred since November were uncovered in the state’s weekly review of death certificates. In total, 8,732 Missourians have died from the virus.

The state’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 36.9% of Missourians have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine, and 26.5% have completed vaccination. Missouri continues to rank in the bottom third among states for per capita vaccinations.

To increase outreach, the state on Tuesday announced the launch of a Spanish language version of the Missouri Vaccine Navigator, a registry tool aimed at helping direct residents to vaccination sites. The health department said it will offer additional languages soon.

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Want a beer with that shot? Health officials hoping to entice more people to be vaccinated by joining forces with a local brewery in Buffalo, New York.

People who receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during a May 8 clinic at Resurgence Brewing Company will receive a token worth one drink of their choice.

The promotion is called a “drink for a dose.”

“While demand has slowed for COVID-19 vaccine, there are still people in Erie County for us to reach. We are going to shift to more innovative tactics, based on data and input from the community,” Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said in a statement.

Burstein said the county, which includes Buffalo, is seeing a significant number of new coronavirus cases among 20-to-39-year-olds.

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DALLAS — Lawyer Mark Melton of Dallas began posting advice on social media for people who might end up facing eviction early in the coronavirus pandemic.

He was soon inundated with phone calls and messages. Just over a year later, he’s recruited more than 175 attorneys who have helped more than 6,000 people.

The volunteer attorneys have helped renters understand the protections put in place to temporarily stop evictions and how to access government funds to pay rent. Melton’s efforts come as more than 4 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction or foreclosure in the next two months, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. In Texas, that number is more than 250,000.

A federal moratorium on evictions was extended through June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A review of data from over 20 cities and states found about 81% of landlords had lawyers while only 3% of tenants did, according to the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel.

Studies indicate legal representation saves cities and states tens of millions of dollars on homeless shelters.

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WORCESTER, Mass. — A nurses strike at a Massachusetts hospital is no closer to a resolution after the first negotiating session with management in two months ended without an agreement.

Nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester met with representatives of hospital owner Tenet Healthcare on Monday to discuss ending the strike that started March 8. The nurses are demanding increased staffing, which they say is important for patient safety, but their concerns were not addressed.

Tenet says staffing levels are in line with industry standards and it won’t budge. A spokesperson for the union says membership was insulted by Tenet’s offer of creating an audit committee on staffing.

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BOSTON — Students at all nine schools in the Massachusetts state university system will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to participate in on-campus activities this fall.

The schools’ presidents announced Monday the requirement applies to undergraduate and graduate students attending in-person classes, conducting on-campus research, living on campus or participating in other campus activities. Medical and religious exemptions will be made.

Combined, the nine schools have about 52,000 students.

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DETROIT — Attorneys for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration defended coronavirus testing for school athletes, telling a judge Tuesday that Michigan law gives the health director extraordinary power to respond to a pandemic.

A parent group called Let Them Play Michigan is seeking an injunction to stop weekly coronavirus tests, which started April 2 for athletes ages 13-19, and related quarantines and mask requirements.

The group argues that the policy must go through a formal rule-making procedure, a process that would take weeks or months.

“Student-athletes have a protected liberty interest in associating with their peers and mentors and participating in athletic competitions as a component of their education,” attorney Peter Ruddell said in a filing at the Court of Claims.

Assistant Attorney General Darrin Fowler said state law is clear: A health director can use emergency orders to combat a pandemic. Fowler said the broader interests of public health far outweigh the group’s claim of injuries.

“Epidemics are unique situations that can evolve, just as we have seen COVID-19 evolve,” he said, “and they require quick and malleable responses to meet the changing understanding of conditions on the ground.”

Judge Michael Kelly heard arguments Tuesday over Zoom, with more than 1,000 people watching. Kelly said he’ll decide soon.

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NEW YORK — U.S. health officials say fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks outdoors unless they are in a big crowd of strangers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the updated guidance Tuesday. Previously the CDC had been advising that people should wear masks outdoors if they are within 6 feet of each other.

The change comes as more than half of U.S. adults have gotten at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, and more than a third have been fully vaccinated.

The CDC guidance says fully vaccinated or not, people don’t have to wear masks outdoors when they walk, bike or run alone or with members of their household. They also can go maskless in small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people.

Unvaccinated people should wear masks at outdoor gatherings that include other unvaccinated people. They also should keep using masks at outdoor restaurants.

The coronavirus has killed more than 570,000 people in the U.S., the highest death toll in the world.

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SEATTLE — In Washington state, Amazon has started vaccinating thousands of its warehouse and delivery workers, contractors and their families.

Amazon.com Inc. hosted its first clinic on Monday. The Seattle Times reported company spokesperson Karen Riley Sawyer says a second vaccination clinic is set to open Tuesday at a Spokane warehouse. That will be followed by additional company vaccination opportunities at other facilities across the state.

Critics have claimed the company didn’t take proper safety precautions for its workers during the coronavirus pandemic. While some staff worked from home, about 1 million warehouse workers globally were required to report to their facilities as workloads soared because of increased demand for online shopping. But some warehouse workers stopped showing up as concerns increased about the coronavirus.

Amazon then rolled back its COVID-19 benefits, including pay increases and unlimited sick leave. The company has said its workers contracted the virus at rates comparable or lower than the national average.

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SAO PAULO — Brazil’s Senate on Tuesday began an inquiry into the government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, a probe that analysts say could jeopardize the re-election of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro has been one of the world’s most prominent opponents of restrictions aimed at curbing the disease, whose effects he has often downplayed. He has encouraged use of medications that scientists say are worthless. Critics say his policies, along with a bungled vaccine campaign, have contributed to the world’s second-highest death toll from the coronavirus.

While the investigation isn’t formally aimed at criminal allegations, it potentially could lead to charges. It’s also likely to provide a drumbeat of embarrassing accusations ahead of the October 2022 presidential election.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and instead blames governors and mayors, saying their restrictions on activity have caused more problems than the coronavirus.

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FRANKFURT, Germany — Europe is ramping up its financial recovery plan, with Germany and France expected to use billions from a recovery fund.

Finance officials say the continent trails the U.S. and China in recovering from the recession brought on by the pandemic.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and French couterpart Bruno Le Maire laid out plans Tuesday for spending on digitalization and fighting climate change. France should get about 40 billion euros ($48 billion) from the EU’s 750 billion euro recovery fund, and Germany around 30 billion euros ($36 billion).

Last year, France’s economy shrank by 8.3% amid the virus crisis, the worst slump since World War II, according to national statistics institute INSEE.

Country leaders are being asked to fix longstanding problems in their economies in return for the money, which leaders hope will start arriving as early as July. Italy’s 221.1 billion euro ($267.3 billion) recovery plan includes steps to reduce its backlog of court cases, considered a drag on businesses that can’t get commercial disputes quickly resolved.

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KENILWORTH, New Jersey — Merck announced a deal with five makers of generic drugs in India to produce molnupiravir, an experimental antiviral similar to the COVID-19 medicine remdesivir but in a more convenient pill form.

Late-stage testing of the drug just started in the United States, and it’s unclear when the medicine might be used in India or elsewhere. A mid-stage study gave encouraging results, suggesting the drug quickly reduced virus levels when used early after infection.

Remdesivir is widely used for certain hospitalized patients but must be given as an infusion, which limits its use.

Molnupiravir, a pill that Merck is developing with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, has shown wide activity against many types of respiratory viruses, according to Dr. George Painter, an Emory University professor who helped discover it.

“It’s my assumption that those generic drug manufacturers who have enormous capacity either have this on hand or will make it quickly,” he said.

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan cancelled all school exams until June amid a surge in deaths and infections from coronavirus, which has flooded the country’s hospitals.

The decision was announced by education minister Shafqat Mahmood days after students took to Twitter, saying their lives were endangered by holding exams of Cambridge International in Pakistan.

However, Mahmood continued vowing to go ahead with the exams, which began on Monday amid the pandemic. As the criticism grew, Mahmood said Tuesday all schools exams will be held in October.

The latest development came hours after Pakistan reported 142 deaths from coronavirus, one of the highest single-day deaths since last year. Pakistan is currently in the middle of the third wave and the steady increase in infections and deaths from coronavirus has flooded the country’s hospitals.

Pakistan has reported more than 17,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and more than 800,000 confirmed cases.

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LOS ANGELES — Prince Harry and Meghan will serve as the campaign chairs of Global Citizen’s effort to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to medical workers in the world’s poorest countries.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will appear at “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World,” to be taped Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and air on ABC, CBS, FOX, YouTube and iHeartMedia broadcast radio stations on May 8.

The event was announced Tuesday by Global Citizen, an anti-poverty nonprofit. Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans told the Associated Press that 60 nations still hadn’t received any COVID-19 vaccines as of April.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will appear during the broadcast as part of the “We Can Do This” initiative to increase confidence in COVID-19 vaccines. French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Croatian Prime Andrej Minister Plenković also will appear at the concert, which will be hosted by Selena Gomez and headlined by Jennifer Lopez.

Harry and Meghan are leading an effort to raise money for the vaccine-sharing program COVAX, which hopes to produce $19 billion to pay for vaccines in poorer countries.

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MADRID — Spain’s government has placed a quarantine on all travelers coming from India amid a major rise in infections in the Asian country.

The government didn’t specify the length of the quarantine, but in February it applied a 10-day quarantine on travelers from Brazil, South Africa and other countries because of the spread of more virulent strains of COVID-19.

In a meeting of Spain’s Cabinet on Tuesday, the government also approved a shipment of seven tons of medical supplies to the hard-hit India.

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BEIJING — China says it will hold a video conference with South Asian governments to discuss fighting the coronavirus, and India is welcome to join.

The announcement comes amid ongoing tensions with New Delhi over a border dispute, and as India is being engulfed by a devastating surge of COVID-19 infections.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing organized Tuesday’s meeting with the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. A spokesman said India was welcome to “take an active part in the meeting.”

China and India are locked in a standoff over a remote section of their border, after deadly clashes there last June.

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BRUSSELS — Belgium is shutting its borders to travelers from India, Brazil and South Africa in an effort to block coronavirus variants.

Prime minister Alexander De Croo’s government says a ministerial order banning passengers’ travels from the three countries will be published as soon as possible. The government says diplomats, sailors and a limited number of professional working in the transportation sector or major international organizations will still be allowed on Belgian soil.

India is currently hit by a devastating surge of COVID-19 infections spurred by a new variant that emerged there and has been detected in Belgium.

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MARSHALL, Minn. — A young child from southwestern Minnesota has died of COVID-19 complications, according to the state Department of Health.

Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams says the child, who died Sunday, was a first grader at Park Side Elementary.

While coronavirus deaths in children are rare, they can occur in otherwise healthy children, health officials said. “Since the start of the pandemic, three Minnesota children under age 18 have died due to COVID-19,” the health department said.

Gov. Tim Walz released a statement Monday in response to the death, calling it “heartbreaking.” Walz’s office said the child didn’t have underlying health conditions.

According to the school district, 22 students and staff are in quarantine at the elementary school, which will continue in-person instruction.

Department of Health officials say children under 16 years old are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. They say the best approach is making sure others are vaccinated, along with testing, social distancing, wearing face masks and frequent hand washing.

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NEW DELHI — India recorded more than 320,000 new cases of coronavirus infection as the surge weighed on the country’s health system.

The 323,144 new infections Tuesday raised India’s total past 17.6 million. It ended a five-day streak of recording the largest single-day increases in any country throughout the pandemic, but the decline likely reflects lower weekend testing rather than reduced spread of the virus.

The health ministry also reported another 2,771 deaths, with roughly 115 Indians succumbing to the disease every hour. The latest deaths pushed India’s total to 197,894, which experts say are probably an undercount.

Foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi tweeted photos Tuesday of the first shipment of medical aid India received from Britain. It included 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators.

Other nations like the U.S., Germany and Pakistan have also promised medical aid to India.

For Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-ve) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point

For Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-ve) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point

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