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Sen. Lamar Alexander will self-quarantine “out of an abundance of caution” after one of his staff members tested positive for the coronavirus. The Tennessee Republican will chair a Senate health committee hearing Tuesday by video, a spokesman said Sunday. Alexander tested negative Thursday and does not have symptoms, his chief of staff said in a statement.

All four top health officials scheduled as witnesses plan to make remote appearances as well after potential virus exposure in the White House. Several members of the White House’s coronavirus task force are taking precautions as a widening circle of exposure underscores the difficulty of keeping the country’s top leaders and their staff members safe.

Here are some significant developments:

  • White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that Americans face an economy that will worsen in the coming months, with predictions that the unemployment rate will jump to 20 percent from the 14.7 percent reported Thursday.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Britain on Sunday that the lockdown in the country will mostly continue through May. He also introduced a new government slogan that led to some head-scratching and was widely panned on social media.
  • Washington residents who complained about businesses violating coronavirus restrictions have faced harassment and threats of violence.
  • Republicans are increasingly nervous about losing the Senate this fall amid worries over Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
  • Even a partial reopening of the country could pose life-threatening risks to 1 in 3 Americans, said the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
  • The coronavirus has altered almost every hard-hit country in deep and lasting ways. But the changes are particularly perilous in Italy.

As virus spreads in Egypt, Sissi sees opportunity to tighten his grip

CAIRO — Egypt’s military-backed government is using the coronavirus pandemic to tighten its grip on the country, human rights activists say.

In recent weeks, authorities have ordered up punishments, including prison terms, for anyone they accuse of contradicting official accounts about the pandemic. Political opponents have been linked to the virus and targeted. And under coronavirus-related restrictions, political prisoners are more isolated than ever from the world as the virus threatens them.

On Friday, President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi approved amendments to the nation’s emergency law, giving himself and security agencies additional powers. The stricter measures, the government claims, are needed to address a legal “vacuum” and prevent the spread of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Read more here.

Navy’s top officer to self-quarantine after contact with family member who tested positive

Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, seen in December on Capitol Hill. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Adm. Michael Gilday, the Navy’s top officer, will be self-quarantining this week after coming into contact with a family member who tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Defense Department confirmed Sunday.

Gilday, 57, has tested negative, a Defense Department spokesman told The Washington Post in a statement. According to CNN, the chief of naval operations was tested Friday but still did not attend a Saturday meeting at the White House with other senior military leaders and President Trump.

Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, also was not at the meeting, CNN reported.

Lengyel tested positive for covid-19 on Saturday afternoon, but a subsequent test that same day came back negative, the Defense Department spokesman told The Post.

“He will undergo a third test on Monday morning to confirm his negative status,” the spokesman said.

The news about Gilday and Lengyel comes amid heightened fears about the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak at the White House, where two staffers — Vice President Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller and an unidentified personal valet to Trump — recently tested positive.

Gilday joins the growing list of politicians and administration officials who have announced that they are self-quarantining after potentially being exposed to the virus.

Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said they would self-quarantine or telework for two weeks because of exposure to a coronavirus case at the White House, The Post reported Saturday. On Sunday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said he would be self-quarantining “out of an abundance of caution” after one of his staff members tested positive.

Meanwhile, others including Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, are taking greater precautions but will not completely isolate themselves.

Dan Lamothe and Hannah Knowles contributed to this report.

Less than 1 percent of MLB employees tested positive for covid-19 antibodies

Chase Field in Phoenix. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

A study involving thousands of staffers and players from most Major League Baseball teams revealed that 0.7 percent of those who completed test kits had antibodies for covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, indicating that they had been infected at a previous time.

That number is greater than the rate of reported cases, approximately 0.4 percent, among the overall U.S. population. However, most of the country has not been tested, either for antibodies or in point-of-care diagnostic tests, making the MLB study an important and unprecedented “snapshot,” researchers said Sunday.

“In one sense, it suggests that only a small fraction of the population has been infected,” Jay Bhattacharya, a medical researcher at Stanford University, told reporters in a conference call. Still, he noted, covid-19 is “also further along than what you might expect by just looking at case numbers.”

Read more here.

NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal says league should ‘scrap’ rest of season

From left, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, seen in 2004. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Nearly two months ago, the National Basketball Association abruptly shuttered itself when Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Now, with sports organizations beginning to determine how to reopen, one retired superstar and current TV commentator is ready to call off the rest of the pro basketball season.

“I think we should scrap the season. Everybody go home, get healthy, come back next year,” Shaquille O’Neal told USA Today. “Just scrap the season. Just scrap it. To try and come back now and do a rush playoffs as a player? Any team that wins this year, there’s an asterisk. They’re not going to get the respect.

“What if a team that’s not really in the mix of things all of a sudden wins with a new playoff format? Nobody is going to respect that. So scrap it. Worry about the safety of the fans and the people. Come back next year.”

Read more here.

Mother’s Day sees fewest new coronavirus cases and deaths since late March

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From singing in the rain to driveway dancing, families separated by social distancing still found ways to celebrate on Mother's Day weekend. (The Washington Post)

Mother’s Day has shaped up to have the lowest reported number of new coronavirus-related deaths in the United States since March 31 and the fewest new cases since March 30.

There were 793 new deaths reported as of Sunday evening and 20,693 new cases, according to The Washington Post’s tracking of numbers from state and county health departments.

Numbers have typically dipped on weekends. But the latest totals still stand out as leaders look for positive trends and turn toward reopening a devastated economy, amid worries that the virus could resurge. Last Sunday had a reported 25,429 new cases and 1,381 deaths.

March 31 was the last day that fewer than 900 new deaths were reported in the country.

The numbers have moved in a positive direction over the past week: The high for new cases in that span came Friday (27,303) while the most new deaths were reported on Wednesday (2,679). There were just two days with more than 2,000 new deaths.

The previous week had three days of more than 30,000 new cases and three days of more than 2,000 new deaths. There were two days this week with fewer than 1,000 new deaths.

Sen. Lamar Alexander will self-quarantine, chair upcoming hearing remotely after staffer tests positive

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, says farewell to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on Thursday after a hearing of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee about new coronavirus tests. (Anna Moneymaker/Pool/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) will self-quarantine “out of an abundance of caution” after one of his staff members tested positive for the novel coronavirus. He’ll chair a health committee hearing Tuesday by video, a spokesman said Sunday, and all four top health officials scheduled as witnesses plan to make remote appearances because of virus exposure in the White House.

Alexander tested negative Thursday and does not have symptoms, David Cleary, his chief of staff, said in a statement. But he will still self-quarantine in Tennessee for 14 days, the virus’s approximate incubation period, rather than returning to Washington.

“Almost all of the senator’s Washington, D.C., staff are working from home, and there is no need for any other staff member to self-quarantine,” Cleary said.

Earlier on Sunday, Alexander said in a statement that “in an abundance of caution for our witnesses, senators, and the staff, all four Administration witnesses will appear by videoconference due to these unusual circumstances.” Several members of the White House’s coronavirus task force are taking precautions as a widening circle of exposure underscores the difficulty of keeping the country’s top leaders and their staff members safe.

Two White House aides — Vice President Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, and an unidentified personal valet to President Trump — recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Those potentially exposed have responded differently, with some senior members of the pandemic task force self-quarantining while others plan to continue going to work.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said they would self-quarantine or telework for two weeks because of exposure to a coronavirus case at the White House. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, said Sunday he will wear a mask at all times in public but will not completely isolate himself after “low-risk” exposure to an infected staff member.

The Post reported Saturday that even as positive tests rattled the Trump administration, several officials said White House staff members were encouraged to come into the office by their supervisors.

Street Sense was a lifeline for D.C.’s homeless. Now the presses are stopped.

Ron Dudley, right, gets an elbow bump greeting from Marcus Bose, a delivery driver who knows Dudley, outside a Trader Joe's in the District. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

After waking up on a recent Monday, Ron Dudley pulled on his Washington Nationals jersey and walked down his street, past a bus stop where he had slept one night, and stopped in front of Trader Joe’s for the first time in three weeks. “When Trader Joe’s opens, I open,” he thought that morning.

But unlike every other time he had stood outside of the grocery store on 14th Street in Northwest Washington for the past three years, Dudley had not a single newspaper to sell.

Dudley works for Street Sense Media, a nonprofit that publishes a newspaper focused on poverty and sold by people experiencing homelessness. On March 26, the newspaper suspended print publication for the first time in its nearly 20-year history because of coronavirus concerns. The shutdown cut off a vital resource for more than 100 Street Sense vendors like Dudley, who rely on selling the $2 newspaper for income.

Read more here.

Parenting while working from home: The chaos of family quarantine

Jenny Cross Senff, right, and her husband, Toby, background, try to work on their computers while contending with kids Avery, 6, and Colby, 3, at home, (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

It is 8:45 a.m. on a Tuesday and the following has already occurred inside a 1,400-square-foot rowhouse in Washington: A mother rose at 5:15 a.m. to exercise, work, shower and walk the dog. A father answered emails for an hour. A 3-year-old boy cried because he did not want to come downstairs for breakfast. His 6-year-old sister was asked once, twice, three times to brush her hair. The two children had a collision, prompting tears, a parental intervention and an apology. The boy tried to turn a dining room chair into a surfboard. The girl was reminded to finish her yogurt, blueberries and Pop-Tart, didn’t, and was reminded again.

Another day is beginning for a young family in quarantine. It’s been beginning for hours. Weeks. It never stops beginning.

Read more here.

Customers pack Colorado restaurant defying state orders with indoor dining on Mother’s Day

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Customers formed long lines and packed tables on May 10 at C&C Coffee and Kitchen, defying statewide orders aimed at stemming the spread of covid-19. (Nick Puckett via Storyful)

Customers formed long lines and packed tables Sunday inside a Colorado restaurant that defied statewide orders aimed at stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Restaurants, bars and coffee shops in Colorado are banned from offering dine-in services until May 26, although they are allowed to fill delivery and takeout orders. On Saturday, however, C&C Coffee and Kitchen in Castle Rock, a city of 65,000 between Denver and Colorado Springs, announced that it would open fully for Mother’s Day, the Denver Post reported. Officials nationwide have been warning against Mother’s Day gatherings.

“We are standing for America, small businesses, the Constitution and against the overreach of our governor in Colorado!!” the restaurant tweeted.

On her Facebook page, owner April Arellano displayed a photo of a sign that read, in part, “Our freedom doesn’t end where your fears begin. If you are scared stayed at home.”

In photos and video posted on social media Sunday, few customers wore face masks.

Violating the state order is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $1,000 or up to a year in jail.

Mother’s Day weekend also drew large crowds to the Flower Mart in Los Angeles, where Fox 11 reported that people shopped despite state guidelines allowing delivery and curbside pickup only. In Eugene, Ore., authorities prepared for Mother’s Day crowds at popular Hendricks Park by setting up one-way traffic and asking residents to visit other parks.

Elsewhere, businesses mourned low traffic on a typically lucrative day. Around Daytona Beach, Fla., where restaurants are allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity following Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s revised guidelines last week, there were few patrons.

“It’s definitely nowhere near what we expected,” Scott Smith, general manager of Grind Gastropub in Ormond Beach, told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “It’s a bit saddening. I’m used to working here on Mother’s Day when the sun’s out, there’s a packed crowd and you can see a lot more smiling faces.”

Top White House advisers, unlike their boss, increasingly wary of massive stimulus spending

Senior Trump administration officials are growing increasingly wary of the massive federal spending to combat the economic downturn and are considering ways to limit the impact of future stimulus efforts on the national debt, according to six administration officials and four external advisers familiar with the matter.

Some White House officials have gone as far as exploring policies such as automatic spending cuts as the economy improves, or prepaying Social Security benefits to workers before they become eligible, although these measures are unlikely to advance, given the political stakes, said these officials and advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of internal deliberations.

‘We were the epicenter’

The small parcel of land beneath the Tobin Bridge just north of Boston is, to commuters, a blur of industrial sprawl. Mountains of road salt along Marginal Street wait to be hauled to nearby towns. Waterfront tanks of fuel go on to heat the region and refill planes at neighboring Logan International Airport. Tractor-trailers trek in and out relentlessly.

Amid that commotion is Chelsea, Mass., a dense, 1.8-square mile community of immigrants that powers Boston and its well-to-do suburbs. In normal times, tens of thousands of service industry workers span out across the metro area from their homes in Chelsea to clock shifts as grocery cashiers, landscapers and restaurant back-of-housers. While the physical weight of the economy has long fallen on the shoulders of communities like Chelsea, they are especially vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, Chelsea has the highest infection rate in Massachusetts, a state where more than 75,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, behind only New York and New Jersey for number of confirmed cases.

Fearful of covid-19, older people are changing their living wills

Last month, Minna Buck revised a document specifying her wishes should she become critically ill. “No intubation,” she wrote.

Buck, 91, had been following the news about covid-19. She knew her chances of surviving a serious bout of the illness were slim. And she wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be put on a ventilator under any circumstances.

Some seniors’ greatest fear amid the coronavirus pandemic is being hooked up to a machine, helpless, with the end of life looming. For others, there is hope that the machine might pull them back from the brink, giving them another shot at life.

Read more here.

Britain’s lockdown to continue mostly through May, as new slogan spawns confusion

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said continuing to cut covid-19 infections in Britain would require "testing literally hundreds of thousands of people every day." (Reuters)

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Britain on Sunday that its lockdown will continue mostly through May. Some shops and schools could reopen in June, and restaurants might start serving again in July — but only if the coronavirus is deemed under control.

“All of this is conditional,” Johnson warned in a televised address to the country from Downing Street.

On Monday, the prime minister encouraged those who cannot work from home — such as those employed in construction and manufacturing — to return to their jobs. How those workers will get there is unclear, as Johnson said they should avoid “public transport if at all possible” and instead travel by car, by bicycle or on foot. At work, employers should establish strict social distancing rules.

Johnson said the government would carefully monitor the number of new cases and the infection rate. The prime minister said travelers flying in from abroad would be required to quarantine upon arrival. The government has not described how these periods of isolation would be enforced.

Johnson also introduced a government slogan on Sunday that led to some head-scratching and was widely panned on social media.

The old slogan, throughout the seven weeks of lockdown, was “Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives,” putting priority on keeping the National Health Service from being overwhelmed. The new slogan is “Stay alert, control the virus, save lives.”

Many were asking, “Stay alert for what?” and “Control the virus how?” Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, said Scotland will stick with the “Stay at home” message. She criticized the new slogan as confusing, “catastrophic” advice.

The British government's new slogan in the fight against the coronavirus. (George Wood/Getty Images)

The wait for a death, or a recovery, from 760 miles away

It’s a Tuesday evening when the bad news comes. Alyce LaGasse can barely hear her son over the phone. He is hoarse and struggling to breathe. He’s calling from a hospital in Salt Lake City, where he arrived in an ambulance.

Alyce had been thinking a lot about covid-19 before this moment, and not just because she’s 70. She’s read those news stories about people dying alone, with no relatives allowed to hold their hand or hold a proper funeral, and it makes her heart hurt.

And now here’s Adam on the phone. Adam, her baby boy, even if he’s now 48. Adam, the vulnerable one, the paralegal living for years with diabetes, who just took the biggest leap of faith in his life a few months ago, when he left Oregon and moved to Utah because he finally met someone great.

Read more here.

Lockdown protesters gather in Melbourne, defying social distancing rules

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Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced May 10 that New South Wales — Australia's largest state — would start easing coronavirus restrictions May 15. (Reuters)

About 100 protesters gathered outside the state parliament building in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday to call on the government to ease lockdown restrictions.

At least 10 people were arrested during the demonstration, in which participants violated social distancing rules, Australian media reported. Photos from the scene show protesters with signs that said “Fight for your freedom and rights” and “Enough.”

The Guardian reported that some speakers referenced conspiracy theories regarding the origins of the virus and that some shouted, “Arrest Bill Gates!”

Several participants face charges in the assault of a police officer, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

“Police are continuing to investigate the events of today in order to identify other people who were in attendance,” the Victoria police said in a statement, according to ABC. “Once individuals are identified we will be issuing them with fines.”

Australia has reported nearly 7,000 cases of the virus, and some parts of the country are starting to ease restrictions.

The Melbourne protest is among several incidents worldwide signaling lockdown fatigue. Several lockdown protests also have occurred in the United States.