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Easter ceremonies on Sunday looked as they never have before, with coronavirus restrictions discouraging or banning large-scale gatherings, including at churches. Some pastors went forward with in-person services. Meanwhile, debate about how and when to reopen the United States continued as the creator of an influential model predicted a resurgence in cases if rules ease on May 1, while the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases said some restrictions could begin to be lifted next month.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Pope Francis, in a Sunday letter to Catholic religious communities and groups, said the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus “may be the time to consider a universal basic wage.”
  • Former vice president Joe Biden outlined his plan to reopen the country in a Sunday New York Times op-ed, emphasizing a need for continued social distancing. In hard-hit New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was too early to predict timing for a return to normalcy.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, perhaps the world’s best-known coronavirus patient, was released from a London hospital nearly a week after entering the intensive care unit.
  • A special envoy to the World Health Organization said the virus may be a health threat that “stalks the human race for quite a long time.”
  • Spain warned that confinement would continue even as the nation’s strict lockdown ends Monday. Italy reported its lowest number of new deaths since March 19.

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3:53 a.m.
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Virus closes South Dakota pork processing plant, one of country’s largest

One of the largest pork processing facilities in the United States will close until further notice, Smithfield Foods said Sunday, in a foreboding sign of how the novel coronavirus may affect the labor-intensive meatpacking industry.

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” said Kenneth Sullivan, the CEO of the Virginia-based meat processing company.

The virus mainly spreads through person-to-person contact and is not considered a food safety risk. Employees in meat and poultry processing plants have been labeled “essential” workers during the pandemic.

But the industry is often set up to discourage workers from calling in sick, ProPublica reported. The outbreak that spread among employees of Smithfield’s Sioux Falls facility accounts for more than half of South Dakota’s 430 active cases.

Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) and local officials recommended the closure of the facility, which produces up to 5 percent of the country’s pork and employs about 3,700 people.

But with other companies’ plants in Iowa and Pennsylvania also shutting their doors due to sick employees, Sullivan warned that the effect could be felt by consumers, too.

“It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” he said. “These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain.”

2:49 a.m.
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Real estate developer friend of Trump dies of coronavirus

New York real estate developer Stanley Chera, a billionaire donor and personal friend of President Trump, died after being infected with the coronavirus.

News of Chera’s death was reported Saturday by the Real Deal, a publication that covers the New York real estate industry.

A person familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss it, confirmed Chera’s death and friendship with Trump to The Washington Post.

At a White House briefing last month, Trump had described a friend who was “a little older” and “heavy” who was in a coma with the virus while recounting the viciousness of the illness. That friend was Chera, Vanity Fair reported on Saturday.

According to Politico, Trump continued to allude to a friend who was “unbelievably sick” and then fell into a coma.

“He’s sort of central casting for what we’re talking about, and it hit him very hard,” Trump said April 1. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

During a 2019 rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., Trump called Chera, his campaign donor, “one of the biggest builders and real estate people in the world.”

“He’s a great guy, and he’s been with me from the beginning,” Trump said, according to Politico.

2:32 a.m.
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FDA gives emergency authorization to sterilize 4 million N95 respirators per day

Citing the need for more respirators on the medical front lines, the Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization to sterilize 4 million per day for reuse in hospitals fighting the novel coronavirus.

The action came two days after the FDA gave permission to sterilize and reuse 750,000 N95 respirators daily.

Sunday’s authorization was granted to Advanced Sterilization Products, an Irvine, Calif., company that has almost 10,000 sterilizing systems in about 6,300 U.S. hospitals. Each machine can sterilize approximately 480 respirators per day, the FDA said.

“Our nation’s health care workers are among the many heroes of this pandemic and we need to do everything we can to increase the availability of the critical medical devices they need, like N95 respirators,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said in a written statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website that such disposable respirators are “not approved for routine decontamination and reuse as standard of care.” But the measures “may need to be considered as a crisis capacity strategy,” the CDC says.

2:09 a.m.
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A West Virginia church spent Easter making face shields using 3-D printers

Last year, Crossroads Church held an egg hunt in the grass for families and packed a local school with 600 people on Easter Sunday.

Now the congregation of about 150 people in West Virginia’s coal country is spending Easter using 3-D printers to make face shields and producing other personal protective equipment for health-care workers who work for its hospital.

Churches across the country have looked for innovative ways to help their communities while remaining isolated during the spread of the coronavirus.

Read more here.

1:29 a.m.
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Dozens of grocery workers have died of the coronavirus in recent weeks

At least 41 supermarket employees have died of the novel coronavirus so far — including a Trader Joe’s worker in New York, a Safeway employee in Seattle, a pair of Walmart associates near Chicago and four Kroger employees in Michigan. Thousands more have tested positive for the virus.

A longtime Kroger employee in Seattle, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he fears retribution, says it never occurred to him that the supermarket job he applied for 13 years ago to support his new wife and infant could one day put his life at risk. He feels vulnerable and scared.

“Nobody told us,” he said, “that when the world falls apart, it’s going to fall on our shoulders.”

Read more here.

12:48 a.m.
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Roger Goodell will announce this year’s NFL draft picks from his home

The work-from-home format of the upcoming NFL draft will include Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell will participate in the draft from his home, according to a league official. That will include making the announcements of teams’ first-round selections during the draft’s opening night, April 23.

The NFL previously ordered teams’ general managers, coaches and other staffers to work from their homes throughout the seven-round, three-day draft that concludes April 25.

Read more here.

12:16 a.m.
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Disney World to furlough 43,000 employees

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has become the latest company to temporarily lay off portions of its immense employee base.

The Service Trades Council Union announced Saturday that approximately 43,000 nonessential employees at Disney World, the iconic Florida theme park, will be furloughed without pay beginning April 19.

Full-time furloughed workers will be eligible to sign up for unemployment benefits and retain group insurance benefits for 12 months. However, with uncertainty surrounding how long the theme park will remain closed due to the coronavirus, workers will go without regular paychecks until further notice.

Disney World, the theme park responsible for turning Central Florida into a tourism hub, has been closed since March 16.

The pandemic has crippled industries, leading companies such as J.C. Penney, Boeing, Tesla, Macy’s, General Electric and more to announce voluntary and involuntary furloughs or layoffs. Over a month’s time, more than 17 million people in the United States have filed for unemployment benefits.

Disney-owned theme parks generated more than $26 billion in revenue during the last fiscal year, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

11:36 p.m.
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Oil-producing nations agree to cut output by 10 percent

With prices tumbling amid the coronavirus pandemic, oil-producing countries Sunday agreed to slash output by 10 percent.

A deal among the 23 nations, including the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia, was reached in principle Friday but required a last agreement with Mexico, which will cut production by only 100,000 barrels a month.

The global cutback of 9.7 million barrels will go into effect May 1, several countries confirmed.

The pandemic has undercut travel demand worldwide and damaged manufacturing levels, two sectors that rely heavily on fossil fuels. The Department of Energy said U.S. oil producers had already reduced output by 2-3 million barrels per day.

Last month, oil-producing countries had failed to strike a deal on supply reduction, allowing prices to continue falling and, in the United States, bringing economic pressure to shale companies burdened with high production costs.

The shale industry’s 2020 budget anticipated barrels selling for $55 to $65. They were $31 Friday.

11:22 p.m.
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As leaders seize powers to fight coronavirus, fear grows for democracy

France and Bolivia have postponed elections. Peru handed its president broad new legislative authority. Israel sharply ramped up the reach of its surveillance state.

While leaders around the world fight the spread of the coronavirus, they’re amassing sweeping new powers. As legislatures limit or suspend activities in the name of social distancing, many of the norms that define democracy — elections, deliberation and debate, checks and balances — have been put on indefinite hold. The speed and breadth of the transformation is unsettling political scientists, government watchdogs and rights groups, who question how readily leaders will give up the powers they’ve accrued when the coronavirus eventually subsides.

“This is a situation where it’s far too easy to make arguments for undue interference with civil rights and liberties,” said Tomas Valasek, a Slovak lawmaker.

Read more here.

10:47 p.m.
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Turkey’s interior minister offered resignation over bungled curfew announcement, but Erdogan declined to accept

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s powerful interior minister said Sunday that he was resigning, two days after his ministry’s apparently bungled announcement of a weekend curfew sent a flood of people rushing to stores during the coronavirus outbreak.

The minister, Suleyman Soylu, wrote on Twitter Sunday that the round-the-clock curfew, imposed in dozens of cities late Friday, “was aimed entirely at preventing the epidemic.” But it was poorly executed, by almost every account.

The public was given two hours’ notice before the curfew started, so crowds quickly formed outside bakeries, supermarkets and corner stores, exposing untold numbers of people to danger. And the mayor of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, said he was not notified of the curfew in advance.

A few hours after Soylu offered his resignation, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected it. “He will continue to serve his position,” said a statement from the office of the presidency released Sunday.

Images of panicked shoppers were widely shared on social media, embarrassing Erdogan’s government as officials struggle to contain one of the most rapidly accelerating coronavirus outbreaks in the world. More than 55,000 people in Turkey have tested positive for the virus, and 1,198 have died, according to Sunday’s Health Ministry figures.

The Turkish leader had for weeks resisted calls to impose lockdowns in Turkey’s largest cities in order to keep the economy running. The weekend curfew, which reduced Istanbul’s roar to a whisper, was among the first signs that his government was considering far stricter measures to bring the outbreak under control.

They did not include parting ways with Soylu, who is widely seen as an enforcer of the government’s hard-line policies and whom Erdogan credited for reducing “terrorist attacks” as well as coordinating Turkey’s responses to natural disasters and the coronavirus crisis, the president’s statement said.

9:50 p.m.
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In Nicaragua, the president has vanished, and the VP — his wife — says covid-19 isn’t a problem

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — In the photo, a bunch of kids in swimsuits are sitting around a table at the beach. They’re drinking Cokes, waving, grinning.

“We have a unique country … and it’s best to enjoy it with your family!” wrote Juan Carlos Ortega, the son of Nicaragua’s president, in a tweet with the image of his children posted on April 4.

As much of Latin America shuts down in the face of the coronavirus, Nicaragua is striking out as a radical outlier — urging citizens to go to the beach, enjoy holiday cruises and turn out for Easter-season passion plays.

Read more here.

9:19 p.m.
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Coronavirus confinement: Carding your kid, sneaking a drive, arguing about the dishes

Even for those who have not fallen ill with the coronavirus, this is a time when many Americans don’t feel in control, a time of loneliness, a time when home is more a cage than a refuge, a symbol of a world flipped upside-down.

Across the country, the homebound are finding ways to cope, creative sources of joy, or just mindless pursuits to make the days go by. They also are bickering with the kids, missing their parents, counting the Oreos left in the bag, counting the hours.

Read more here.

8:55 p.m.
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Spikes in demand are creating shortages of asthma drugs and sedatives for ventilator patients

Hospitals in regions experiencing a surge of coronavirus patients are struggling to maintain supplies of antibiotics, antivirals and sedatives required for patients on ventilators and other drugs produced in countries where the coronavirus has shuttered or curbed manufacturing.

New York, the state with the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the country, has experienced spikes in demands for fentanyl and other sedatives needed for patients experiencing respiratory failure and placed on ventilators for up to two weeks. The Food and Drug Administration placed a sedative called midazolam on an official drug shortage list last month.

“Everyone has been discussing the requirements for more vents, but no one is discussing the needs for patients when they are on the vents, the sedatives, anesthetics and paralytic agents,'' said Onisis Stefas, vice president and chief pharmacy officer at Northwell Health, a 23-hospital system in New York, which has experienced the highest spikes in patients with the coronavirus in the United States.

“The pharmacy supply chain is really not built for this,” Stefas said.

Read more here.

8:32 p.m.
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Some churches defy restrictions, open for in-person Easter services

This Easter Sunday, while many Christians hunkered down at home, secluded with screens to hear prayers and sermons, a handful of pastors, with or without the blessing of state and federal officials, led services in person — risking the spread of the coronavirus within their faith communities.

Despite Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-La.) enacting a restriction on gatherings larger than 50 people, pastor Tony Spell, who leads Life Tabernacle Church near Baton Rouge, planned to host 2,000 during two Easter Sunday services, he told the Wall Street Journal. However, Central Police Department Chief Roger Corcoran stood outside the church and said he counted about 330 people enter the morning service.

“No one has advised him he couldn’t hold church,” Corcoran told The Washington Post. “It’s been suggested he do it a different way, just like every other church in the nation, by social media and live stream.”

Not all state leaders have commanded that churches close. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said churches are essential and could remain open if worshipers kept six feet apart.

Virginia allowed drive-in services, as long as observers stayed in their cars and no more than 10 people led the event. On Easter morning, pastor Terry Shuttlesworth paced as he delivered his sermon on the sidewalk outside Dominion Christian Center in Virginia Beach. He thanked the members of his congregations who were worshiping via live stream and the ones whose cars filled the parking lot.

“For now, turn that car into your pew,” he said.

After Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) required anyone attending a mass gathering, such as a church service, to have their license plates recorded and self-quarantine for 14 days, state troopers waited outside Maryville Baptist Church, one of a few that offered a service in person, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

But before cars even rolled into the parking lot, the Rev. Jack Roberts told the Journal he found piles of nails scattered at the entrances as a deterrent. Roberts said he wouldn’t encourage defiance of state law but covered his own license plate.