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AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

Last Updated Apr 22, 2020 at 12:14 am EDT

Big unknowns about virus complicate getting back to normal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reopening the U.S. economy is complicated by some troubling scientific questions about the new coronavirus that go beyond the logistics of whether enough tests are available.

In an ideal world, we’d get vaccinated and then get back to normal. But, despite unprecedented efforts, no vaccine will be ready any time soon.

“We’re all going to be wearing masks for a while,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, infectious diseases chief at Massachusetts General Hospital, predicted during a podcast with the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Three big unknowns top the worry list:

WHO’S CONTAGIOUS?

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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

Iconic events like the U.S. national spelling bee in June, Spain’s Running of the Bulls in July and Germany’s Oktoberfest are being scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic, even amid growing impatience over shutdowns that have thrown millions of people out of work.

The push to reopen has set off warnings from health authorities and politicians about a crisis that by Tuesday had killed well over 170,000 people worldwide. Experts say the crisis is far from over and relaxing the stay-at-home restrictions too quickly could enable the virus to surge.

Meanwhile, a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid package flew through the Senate on Tuesday after Congress and the White House reached a deal to replenish a small business payroll fund and provide new money for hospitals and testing. Economic damage from the pandemic has mounted as stocks dropped around the world and oil prices suffered a historic collapse.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Tuesday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic. Follow APNews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates through the day and APNews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak for stories explaining some of its complexities.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:

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Trump bars new immigration green cards, not temporary visas

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced what he described as a “temporary suspension of immigration into the United States” on Tuesday. But the executive order would bar only those seeking permanent residency, not temporary workers.

Trump said he would be placing a 60-day pause on the issuance of green cards in an effort to limit competition for jobs in a U.S. economy wrecked by the coronavirus. The order would include “certain exemptions,” he said, but he declined to outlined them, noting the order was still being crafted.

“By pausing immigration we’ll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens, so important,” Trump said at the White House. “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labour flown in from abroad.”

An administration official familiar with the plans, however, said the order will apply to foreigners seeking employment-based green cards and relatives of green card holders who are not citizens. Americans wishing to bring immediate family will still be able to do so, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the plan was announced. About 1 million green cards were granted in the 2019 fiscal year, about half to spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens.

By limiting his immigration measure to green cards, Trump was leaving untouched hundreds of thousands of foreign workers granted non-immigrant visas each year, including farm workers, health care workers and software programmers. The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think-tank , estimated that some 110,000 green cards could be delayed during a two-month pause. Trump said he would consider extending the restrictions, depending on economic conditions at the time.

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Virus cancels events worldwide; opinions on reopening mixed

ATLANTA (AP) — Spain called off the Running of the Bulls in July, the U.S. scrapped the national spelling bee in June and Germany cancelled Oktoberfest five months away, making it clear Tuesday that the effort to beat back the coronavirus and return to normal could be a long and dispiriting process.

Amid growing impatience over the shutdowns that have thrown tens of millions out of work, European countries continued to reopen in stages, while in the U.S., one state after another — mostly ones led by Republican governors — began taking steps to get back to business.

Business owners in the U.S. who got the go-ahead weighed whether to reopen, and some hesitated, in a sign that commerce won’t necessarily bounce back right away.

Mark Lebos, owner of Strong Gym in Savannah, Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp announced that gyms and salons can reopen this week, said it would be professional negligence to do so right now.

“We are not going to be a vector of death and suffering,” he said.

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Analysis: Pandemic fallout tracks nation’s political divide

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s entrenched political divide is now playing out over matters of life and death.

Republican governors, urged on by President Donald Trump, are taking the first steps toward reopening parts of their states’ economies in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and without adhering to the president’s own guidelines. Democratic governors are largely keeping strict stay-at-home orders and nonessential business closures in place, resisting small pockets of Trump-aligned protesters and public pressure from the president.

The fault lines are familiar, exposing many of the same regional and demographic divisions that have increasingly come to define U.S. politics, as well as the stark differences in the ways the parties view the role of government in American life. But the stakes go far beyond the normal risks and rewards of an election cycle, instead putting the health and well-being of millions of Americans in the balance.

“We do imagine that in times of crisis, that will alleviate some of the political divisions we see in normal times. But every time we go through a crisis, small ones and severe ones, the political divisions re-emerge right away,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of political history at Princeton University.

It could be months before the ultimate consequences of the various shutdown and reopen orders are known. Public health officials concede no one-size-fits all approach exists, and the decisions being made by states are dependent on factors such as the density of major population areas, the capacity of medical resources and the availability of testing.

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Senate approves $483B virus aid deal, sends it to House

WASHINGTON (AP) — A $483 billion coronavirus aid package flew through the Senate on Tuesday after Congress and the White House reached a deal to replenish a small-business payroll fund and provided new money for hospitals and testing.

Passage was swift and unanimous, despite opposition from conservative Republicans. President Donald Trump tweeted his support, pledging to sign it into law. It now goes to the House, with votes set for Thursday.

“I urge the House to pass the bill,” Trump said at the White House.

After nearly two weeks of negotiations and deadlock, Congress and the White House reached agreement Tuesday on the nearly $500 billion package — the fourth as Washington strains to respond to the health and economic crisis.

“The Senate is continuing to stand by the American people,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to an almost empty chamber.

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Wuhan embraces Yangtze River as virus-hit city reopens

WUHAN, China (AP) — Bathed in golden late-afternoon light, Chen Enting snapped a photo of his ticket to commemorate his first ferry ride across the Yangtze River after a 76-day quarantine ended in the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic began.

The reopening of ferry services on the Yangtze, the heart of life in Wuhan for two millennia, was an important symbolic step to get business and daily life in this city of 11 million people back to normal.

Wearing goggles, gloves, a homemade mask and a black trench coat, Chen was checked by security guards in protective suits and bought a 1.5-yuan (20-cent) ferry ticket. He boarded with a dozen other passengers, some pushing electric scooters, and found a bench at the front beside a red flag with a yellow sickle. He sprayed the seat with disinfectant before sitting.

“The ferry on the Yangtze River is a symbol of Wuhan’s people,” said Chen, a 34-year-old cost engineer and Chinese Communist Party member.

“The choppy river symbolizes the force of life,” he said, as the sun set behind the Tortoise Mountain TV Tower. “Although Wuhan had such an ordeal, it will flow away just like the river and receive exuberant vitality.”

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Canadian police say 22 victims after rampage in Nova Scotia

TORONTO (AP) — Canadian police said Tuesday they believe there are at least 22 victims after a gunman wearing a police uniform shot people in their homes and set fires in a rampage across rural communities in Nova Scotia over the weekend.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they have recovered remains from some of the destroyed homes. Earlier, authorities had said at least 18 people were killed in the 12-hour attack.

Officials said the suspect, identified as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, was shot and later died on Sunday. Authorities did not provide further details or give a motive for the killings.

The dead include a 17-year-old as well as a police officer, a police news release said. All the other victims were adults and included both men and women. There were 16 crime scenes in five different communities in northern and central Nova Scotia, it said.

“Some of the victims were known to Gabriel Wortman and were targeted while others were not known to him,” the police statement said.

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AP source: A-Rod, J-Lo retain JP Morgan in bid for Mets

NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez, once again, wants to be like Derek Jeter.

A-Rod and Jennifer Lopez, who are engaged, have retained J.P. Morgan to represent them in raising capital for a possible bid for the New York Mets. The move was first reported by Variety and confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the decision who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was not announced.

A three-time AL MVP, Rodriguez retired in August 2016 with 698 home runs, a .295 average and 2,086 RBIs in 22 years. He was suspended for the 2014 season for violations of Major League Baseball’s drug agreement and labour contract.

A-Rod, now 44 years old, earned about $448 million as a player. The 14-time All-Star started his career with Seattle, signed a record contract with Texas in December 2000, and then moved from shortstop to third base when he was traded from the Rangers to the New York Yankees ahead of the 2004 season.

Jeter, the Yankees captain and shortstop, retired after the 2014 season and was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in January. He became CEO of the Miami Marlins as part of the team’s sale from Jeffrey Loria to a group headed by Bruce Sherman in October 2017.

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Pandemic and chill: Netflix adds a cool 16M subscribers

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Netflix picked up nearly 16 million global subscribers during the first three months of the year, helping cement its status as one of the world’s most essential services in times of isolation or crisis.

The quarter spanned the beginning of stay-at-home orders in the U.S. and around the world, a response to the coronavirus pandemic that apparently led millions to latch onto Netflix for entertainment and comfort when most had nowhere to be but home.

Netflix more than doubled the quarterly growth it predicted in January, well before the COVID-19 outbreak began to shut down many major economies. It was the biggest three-month gain in the 13-year history of Netflix’s streaming service.

The numbers — released Tuesday as part of Netflix’s first-quarter earnings report — support a growing belief that video streaming is likely to thrive even as the overall U.S. economy sinks into its first recession in more than a decade.

“Our small contribution to these difficult times is to make home confinement a little more bearable,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said while speaking to investors during a video call from a bedroom.

The Associated Press

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