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Governors across the political spectrum insisted that the federal government must step up its support for states trying to roll out mass testing to safely reopen the economy, and President Trump continued to defend his approach but said he would seek to speed production of swabs.

Meanwhile, protests demanding the end of stay-at-home orders spread to more state capitals. Trump defended the protesters Sunday, arguing that some governors “have gone too far” in their social-distancing requirements during the pandemic.

And as deaths in the United States surpassed 40,000, Trump administration and congressional leaders say they are close to striking a $400 billion-plus deal to renew funding for a small-business loan program that ran out of money.

Here are some significant developments:

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Hundreds attend Orthodox Easter vigils in nation of Georgia

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Hundreds of people in the Eurasian country of Georgia congregated in churches on Sunday for Orthodox Easter services, according to Reuters, even as the nation’s government begged residents to stay home.

The former Soviet republic of nearly 4 million people had issued a state of emergency until mid-May, closing most businesses, banning gatherings of more than three people and issuing a nightly curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

But leaders of the Georgian Orthodox Church took far less drastic measures, issuing few warnings to parishioners and insisting earlier this month that traditional Easter services would continue, albeit with face masks and social distancing measures, according to Reuters.

Churches did not see crowds numbering into the customary tens of thousands. Still, dozens congregated at the country’s main cathedral in the capital of Tbilisi on Saturday night, entering before 9 p.m. and planning to stay until the curfew lifted after dawn the next day.

Church leaders have continued to provide the holy sacrament from the same spoon, Reuters reported, and suggested that the virus has caused Georgians to rely on God more significantly.

“We should not be afraid of temptation,” said Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, the church’s top figure. “The Christian takes problems with gratitude and sees God’s hand in everything … and at the same time tries to find the right solution in the current situation.”

Trump administration issues guidelines for doctors to start providing elective medical care again

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has published guidelines for doctors to start offering elective medical procedures again, as part of a phased process of reopening the country.

The guidelines, released Sunday, came about a month after federal officials advised halting nonessential care to focus efforts and precious personal protective equipment on treating and limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus. Officials said Sunday that some places are seeing declines in cases and hospitals are reporting extra capacity.

“As long as the rate of infections remains low in a community, we want patients to be able to go to their doctors, get clinically tested and have … surgeries, receive treatment for chronic conditions and resume preventative care,” President Trump said during Sunday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing.

The CMS guidelines urge medical providers to continue practicing proper social distancing and to offer elective treatments only if they can handle the needs of current and future coronavirus patients. The CMS said that the plan applies to doctors in areas that have low or “relatively low and stable” numbers of coronavirus cases.

“E​very state and local official has to assess the situation on the ground​,” Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said Sunday. “This won’t be like a light switch. It will be like a sunrise, where it will be a gradual process. Health-care systems need to decide what services should be made available.”

Virginia executioner turned death penalty opponent dies of coronavirus

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For 17 years, Jerry Givens led the second-busiest execution team in the country, presiding over 62 executions in Virginia, more than any state but Texas. The death certificate for each executed inmate cited the cause of death as “homicide.” But Givens was, as he put it, “not a natural killer.”

Inspired in part by the case of an innocent man he nearly executed, and by his own prayer-filled stint behind bars, Givens ultimately turned against capital punishment, emerging as one of the country’s most prominent opponents of the death penalty. He organized protests, testified before lawmakers and met with the family members of incarcerated people and their victims, as well as with corrections officers whom he urged to stay away from executions.

Givens was 67 when he died April 13 at a hospital in Richmond. The cause was complications of covid-19, said a niece and a family representative.

More than 1,800 inmates at an Ohio correctional facility have the coronavirus, officials say

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More than 1,800 inmates at a single correctional facility — almost three-quarters of its detainees — have tested positive for the coronavirus, Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction reported Sunday.

The Marion Correctional Institution, about 60 miles north of Columbus, has 667 inmates who have not tested positive for the virus, officials say. They have all been placed in quarantine, and the state’s DRC said Sunday that it “has taken an aggressive and unique approach to testing, which includes tests of all staff and inmates” at Marion, the Pickaway Correctional Institution and the Franklin Medical Center, a facility for Ohio’s inmates.

The state’s prison system has now reported 2,426 coronavirus cases, 21 percent of the state’s overall count. As of Sunday, Marion Correctional had not reported any inmate deaths related to covid-19, the disease the virus causes. There have been 109 positive tests and one virus-related death for the facility’s staff.

Nationally, some jurisdictions have started to release certain inmates, fearful of the pandemic’s spread inside prisons and jails.

“This is a real disaster waiting to happen,” David Patton, executive director of the nonprofit Federal Defenders of New York, told The Washington Post previously. “These are places that are particularly susceptible to contagion.”

Trump says he may use the Defense Production Act to secure additional swabs for coronavirus testing

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At Sunday’s coronavirus task force briefing, President Trump said he might use the Defense Production Act to compel the production of more swabs for testing, with capacity expected to increase by more than 20 million swabs each month.

The announcement comes as the governors of several states have called for the federal government to help them secure more supplies so they can meet the recommended requirements for gradually reopening their economies.

White House officials did not respond to requests for details about how the measure would be implemented, and as of Sunday evening, there was no official paperwork released showing that the Defense Production Act had been invoked for swabs.

Trump said officials are “preparing” to use the law to increase swab production at one U.S. facility, which he did not identify. “We’ve had a little difficulty with one,” he said.

“So we’re going to call in — as we have in the past, as you know, we’re calling in the Defense Production Act, and we’ll be getting swabs very easily,” he added. “Swabs are easy. Ventilators are hard. Ventilators are a big deal, and we are now the king of ventilators.”

Trump invoked the Defense Production Act last month to compel General Motors to manufacture ventilators to help handle the surge of coronavirus patients. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 6,000 of the ventilators are expected to be delivered by June 1, with the remaining 24,000 on track to be delivered by the end of August, months after an anticipated peak in need has passed.

Amid mounting criticism — Gov. Ralph Northam (D) of Virginia on Sunday called the Trump administration’s claims of sufficient resources “delusional” — the president continued to defend his approach to testing, reiterating that it should be a “local thing.” He said Vice President Pence will hold a call Monday with governors on “what more they can do and do together to develop locally tailored testing strategies.”

Trump added, though, that he wants to help states procure testing materials.

“I believe if they want it, we should give it to 'em and get it for 'em and work with them,” he said.

Trump defends those protesting coronavirus restrictions and says, incorrectly, that they were standing ‘six feet apart’

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President Trump on Sunday defended protesters who have gathered to oppose coronavirus restrictions across the country, claiming, incorrectly, that the demonstrators were standing six feet apart as recommended under federal social-distancing guidelines.

Photos and videos of last week’s protests in Michigan, Ohio and other states show groups of people demonstrating outside state government buildings. Many of the demonstrators were not wearing face masks and were standing close to one another as they waved flags and signs. The protests continued Sunday, as about 2,500 gathered in the Washington state capital.

“I watched the protest and they were all six feet apart,” Trump said at Sunday’s coronavirus task force briefing. “It was a very orderly group of people.”

Trump also said that he supports the protesters’ right to make their opinions heard, and he argued that some governors “have gone too far” in their social-distancing requirements.

“If people feel that way, you’re allowed to protest,” Trump said when asked about plans underway for more protests this week.

Some demonstrators have been photographed waving anti-Semitic signs, Confederate flags and posters comparing Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) to Adolf Hitler. But Trump said Sunday that all he has seen is the American flags present at many demonstrations.

“These are great people,” he said. “Look. They call it cabin fever — they’ve got cabin fever. … Their life was taken away from them.

”These people love our country," the president added later, saying he has never seen so many American flags at a rally. “They want to get back to work.”

Pressed on the Nazi flags that some protesters have waved, Trump replied: “Well that, I totally would say, no way. But I didn’t see that.”

Nursing homes nationwide must report coronavirus cases to patient families and the CDC, officials announce

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Nursing homes will be required to report all covid-19 cases to patients, families of patients and the CDC, officials said on April 19. (The Washington Post)

Nursing homes will now be required to report all coronavirus cases to patients, families of patients and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials announced at Sunday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing.

“It’s important that patients and their families have the information that they need,” said Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “And they need to understand what’s going on in the nursing home.”

This announcement came amid a widespread push for increased transparency in nursing homes. This weekend, California and Florida released lists of nursing homes that have had coronavirus cases. A handful of other states have published partial lists, including Georgia and New York. Others, including New Jersey, have not publicly reported which nursing homes have had positive tests for covid-19.

Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to covid-19, because of their age, preexisting medical conditions, current ailments or a combination of the three.

Verma framed the new policy as an effort to help federal and local officials contain the spread of the virus, especially as the country attempts to reopen in the future.

“This will support the CDC’s effort to have surveillance around the country, and to support efforts around contact tracing,” she said. “So we can mitigate the spread of the virus in communities that show spreads starting in the nursing homes.”

2,500 gather in Olympia, Wash., to protest stay-at-home order

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Protests demanding the end of stay-at-home orders spread Sunday to more state capitals, including in Washington, where about 2,500 people — a particularly large turnout among recent rallies flouting social distancing rules — demonstrated against Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s policies.

A day after gatherings in cities including Austin and Indianapolis, people turned out in Olympia, Wash., Denver and Nashville in efforts to push state officials to end measures implemented to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In a prepared statement, Inslee said: “These are difficult and frustrating times. I support free speech. But crowd counts or speeches won’t determine our course. This isn’t about politics. It can only be about doing what is best for the health of all Washingtonians.”

A spokesman for the Washington State Patrol said the crowd peaked at 2,500 and there were no arrests.

“We had some traffic issues with one minor accident,” said Chris Loftis, the spokesman. “No fights. Peaceful.”

Earlier in the day, Inslee criticized President Trump for encouraging protests, which, in Washington state, violate the governor’s order and the recommendations of pandemic experts.

“The president is asking people, ‘Please ignore Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, Dr. [Deborah] Birx. Please ignore my own guidelines I set forth,’" Inslee said on ABC’s “This Week."

Several hundred protesters came to the Colorado State House in Denver.

The office of Gov. Jared Polis (D) said in a statement, “No one wants to reopen Colorado businesses and lift these restrictions more than the governor, but in order to do that, Coloradans have to stay home as much as possible during this critical period.”

In Nashville, about 300 protesters chanted, “Open up Tennessee. Open up Tennessee,” according to the Tennessean. Demonstrations were planned in other cities around the state.

A small group rallied outside the Illinois State House in Springfield, the second such protest in four days.

‘How do we overcome fear?’: Americans need confidence before life can return to normal.

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Last week, President Trump released guidelines for beginning to reopen the country amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. But what Trump says won’t much matter if skittish elected leaders, business owners and customers don’t trust that they will be safe returning to their daily lives — and at the moment, most Americans don’t have that confidence.

In a poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center, three-quarters of U.S. adults said the worst is yet to come with the coronavirus and two-thirds were worried that restrictions would be lifted too soon.

Read more here.

Covid-19 has killed multiple bishops and pastors within the nation’s largest black Pentecostal denomination

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The Church of God in Christ, the country’s biggest African American Pentecostal denomination, has taken a deep and painful leadership hit with reports of at least a dozen to up to 30 bishops and prominent members of the clergy dying of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Officials from the denomination did not respond to requests for comment, but media reports and interviews with experts who study it show the denomination’s leaders have died in states such as Michigan, New York and Mississippi. Those are regions where the Church of God in Christ is prominent and the coronavirus has hit hard.

Stirrings of unrest around the world could portend turmoil as economies collapse

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BEIRUT — As more than half the people in the world hunker down under some form of enforced confinement, stirrings of political and social unrest are pointing to a new, potentially turbulent phase in the global effort to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

Already, protests spurred by the collapse of economic activity have erupted in locations around the world. Tens of thousands of migrant laborers stranded without work or a way home staged demonstrations last week in the Indian city of Mumbai, crowding together in defiance of social distancing rules.

In locked-down Lebanon, which was confronting financial collapse even before the novel coronavirus paralyzed the economy, angry people have swarmed onto the streets in Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli on at least three occasions. In Iraq, where a six-month-old protest movement demanding political reforms fizzled in the face of the country’s coronavirus curfew, there have been spontaneous but brief outbursts of rage in the city of Nasiriyah and the impoverished Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City.

Iowa cases spike as hundreds in meatpacking industry test positive; some plants remain open

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Iowa on Sunday experienced its largest daily count of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus as about 260 were reported in the meatpacking industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic spreading into rural sections of the country.

Iowa said 67 percent of the 389 statewide cases came from employees in that business, including 177 at National Beef in Tama County and 84 at Tyson Foods in multiple locations.

National Beef closed the Tama facility April 11 after several workers became ill. Tyson’s plant in Waterloo experienced an outbreak Thursday and remains open despite allegations of workplace safety violations from three state legislators. The company’s plant in Perry also remains open, while a Columbus Junction facility was closed April 6.

Ninety workers at a Tyson plant in Goodlettesville, Tenn., last week tested positive, according to multiple reports. Tyson officials said they are following federal guidelines, sanitizing production areas and deep-cleaning other parts of the facility.

Iowa’s previous daily high in new coronavirus cases was 191 on Friday. The state has reported 2,902 cases and 75 deaths to date.

Concerns about the coronavirus endangering workers and disrupting the meat industry’s supply chain accelerated last week, when Smithfield Foods, one of the largest meat-processing companies in the world, temporarily closed its plant in Sioux Falls, S.D. More than 600 employees there tested positive, making it among the largest hot spots in the country.

Protest against Netanyahu draws 2,000 Israelis — standing at least 6 feet apart

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About 2,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Sunday evening — all at least six feet apart, an arrangement captured in striking images — to protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strident coronavirus measures, which critics are calling undemocratic. Police made sure demonstrators complied with Israel’s social distancing rules.

Since mid-March, Netanyahu has enacted virus-related measures that have prevented lawmakers from forming committees to oversee the government and pushed back his own corruption trial. He also activated counterterrorism rules to track civilians who might be infected, acknowledging this would infringe on Israelis’ privacy.

“This is how democracies die in the 21st century,” lawmaker Yair Lapid said in a speech at the rally. “They don’t die because tanks took over parliament; they die from the inside.”

Haaretz reported protest organizers had to pay for the masks police required demonstrators to wear. Police also had the organizers mark spots at least six feet apart where people should stand.

Around the world, coronavirus restrictions have chilled pro-democracy movements. In Hong Kong, Chile and Iraq, where activists had taken to the streets for months to call for government changes before the pandemic, stay-at-home orders have forced demonstrators to adjust their tactics for social distancing.

Patients with heart attacks, strokes and even appendicitis vanish from hospitals

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Mount Sinai cardiovascular surgeon John Puskas was stumped: With nearly all of his unit’s beds occupied by victims of the novel coronavirus, where had all the heart patients gone?

Variations on that question have puzzled clinicians not only in New York, the most severely affected area in the U.S. outbreak, but also across the country and in Spain, the United Kingdom and China. Five weeks into a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, many doctors say the pandemic has produced a silent sub-epidemic of people who need care at hospitals but dare not come in. They include people with inflamed appendixes, infected gall bladders, bowel obstructions and, more ominously, chest pains and stroke symptoms, according to these physicians and early research.

“Everybody is frightened to come to the ER,” Puskas said.