Brazil set to become world’s number two coronavirus hotspot as pressure mounts on Bolsonaro

The speed and scale of new coronavirus cases in Brazil mean it is likely to overtake Russia when it updates its figures later in the day.
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Brazil President ‘Looking The Other Way’ As Nation Becomes World’s No. 2 Coronavirus Hotspot

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New Mexico takes more drastic measures against virus hotspot

A modern-day trading post on the southern outskirts of the Navajo Nation was on lockdown over the weekend under the watch of National Guard troops and state police to discourage nonessential travel and commerce as local coronavirus infections soar.

Invoking provisions of the state Riot Control Act, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered residents of Gallup to remain home except for emergencies and blocked roads leading in and out of town to nonessential travel and any vehicles carrying more than two people.

The restrictions were welcomed by local and state officials who have watched COVID-19 infections spread to nursing homes and homeless populations as well as overwhelm hospital intensive care units, leading coronavirus patients to be transferred to Albuquerque.

Some visitors were caught off guard as they traveled from the Navajo Nation to stack up on supplies, only to find entire sections of the Gallup Walmart cordoned off as sales were restricted to food and other essential commodities.

“They didn’t tell us on the radio or anything,” said Patrick Sandoval of Ganado, Arizona, who came in search of food, games, baby wipes and other items for his family and neighbors. “You don’t find out until you get in there that it’s just essential items.”

Despite restrictions, lines of shoppers outside Walmart stretched for hundreds of yards (meters) on Friday afternoon. Stores have been ordered to close under emergency provisions that expire at noon Monday and can be extended by order of the governor.

Gallup is a hub for basic household supplies, liquor sales and water-container refills for people living in remote stretches of the Navajo Nation — often without full indoor plumbing — and indigenous Zuni Pueblo. The Navajo Nation has imposed evening and weekend curfews on the reservation spanning parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

State Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, said the flow of visitors had gotten out of hand with little regard to state social distancing mandates, as federal stimulus checks arrived in March. He believes the crackdown had strong public support in Gallup.

COVID-19 infections in Gallup and surrounding McKinley County surpassed 1,060 confirmed cases on Friday and account for 30% of cases stateside, surpassing infections in much larger communities such as Albuquerque. In all, more than 3,500 cases have been reported in New Mexico, with more than 130 deaths.

Federal health officials have linked the severity of the problem in Gallup to an early outbreak at a detox center that was followed by infections among homeless people and nursing homes.

Homeless residents who contracted COVID-19 were being offered temporary shelter at four motels at the expense of the state to isolate them and slow the spread of the virus.

Lujan Grisham is holding fast to business restrictions and social distancing mandates until at least May 15 in the northwest of the state, including large portions of the Navajo Nation, where infections are surging.

She eased some restrictions Friday on nonessential businesses that can provide curbside service and allowed the reopening of gun shops and veterinary offices. Elective surgeries and procedures were reinstated at hospitals that resorted to furloughs and staff reductions as income from traditional sources plummeted.

City officials in Gallup requested the new state of emergency under the riot act that can prohibit people from walking the streets and using certain roads. Violations are punishable as misdemeanors on a first offense and as a felony on the second offense. Emergency declarations under the act expire after three days and can be renewed.

To the east, a pawn shop in Grants has been notified of a possible $ 60,000 fine for remaining open in defiance of a statewide public health order that restricted nonessential business operations.

That city of 9,000 has become a flashpoint of political conflict after Mayor Martin Hicks urged all businesses to reopen against the governor’s orders and advice from nearby Acoma Pueblo.

___

Fonseca contributed from Flagstaff, Arizona.

WSLS 10

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This 25-Year-Old EMT Deployed To A Pandemic Hotspot

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Solidarity: Foreign hospitals help French virus hotspot cope

The eastern French border city of Mulhouse was fought over by France and Germany across two centuries, but the horrors of the new coronavirus cluster tearing through this community of 110,000 is inspiring unusual solidarity.

While many countries have shut their borders to stem the march of the pandemic — even some nations within the borderless European Union are instituting ID checks — three German states have opened their hospitals to patients from eastern France. Hospitals in bordering Switzerland have done the same.

The Grand Est region is now the epicenter of the outbreak in France, which has buried the third most virus victims in Europe, after Italy and Spain. The crisis there can be traced largely to a dayslong evangelical church gathering in Mulhouse attended by hundreds of people at the end of February.

In a sign of the devastating toll, the local newspaper in Mulhouse has had to add extra obituary pages as the deaths from the coronavirus increase — as has been done in some areas of Italy. In France, only the area around Paris had confirmed more cases than Grand Est as of Sunday, but the capital region has a population more than twice the size.

“Every day we have eight to 12 people who arrive. We don’t know what to do,” said Dr. Patrick Vogt, a general practitioner at the hospital in Mulhouse who recalled a shift just two weeks ago answering the city’s emergency hotline when call after call came in for respiratory problems.

In Germany, the states of Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg have offered spare hospitals beds to treat French patients.

The spokesman of Baden-Wuerttemberg state’s health ministry said the state would “naturally try to help our French neighbors,” and authorities have asked all hospitals with free capacity to take in French patients requiring ventilators.

While Germany has many more confirmed virus cases than France, it has a much smaller number of deaths: 123, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, compared to France’s 1,100.

Today’s scenes in and around Mulhouse are sadly reminiscent of the bloodiest moments in the border region’s turbulent history. It was the stomping ground for armies in the 19th-century Franco-Prussian war and a site of intense battles during the 20th century’s two world wars, which included bitter territorial disputes over the Alsace region, now part of what’s called the Grand Est. The city was the site of France’s World War I opening attack against Germany in 1914’s Battle of Mulhouse, while bloody battles and burning villages tore it apart again during World War II as German and U.S. forces fought each other.

The countries are again fighting an enemy, the new coronavirus — but this time together. Regional health officials say that Grand Est is approximately one week ahead of the rest of France in terms of infection rates. As of Monday, according to French government data, the region had recorded over 4,900 cases in an area with around 5.5 million people. In contrast, the area around France’s capital of Paris, home to more than 12 million, had nearly 6,800 confirmed virus infections.

The analysis serves as a warning for France, where the population of 67 million people already is locked down, that the worst could be yet to come.

In addition to the help offered from abroad, Mulhouse has drawn the focus of French President Emmanuel Macron, who ordered a field hospital built to help tend to the sick.

Dozens of soldiers put up the temporary medical facility, which has equipment designed to make surgery possible in combat zones retrofitted to treat people with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Authorities readied the five tents, each with six beds, to start taking patients this week. About 100 military health personnel — anesthetists, nurses and nursing assistants — were assigned to operate the field hospital.

In an unprecedented move during peacetime, the French army has also started evacuating critical coronavirus patients from the country’s east.

On Tuesday, France’s defense minister announced another military airlift of patients hospitalized in Mulhouse. The first of several took place last week.

“The epidemic is in full swing. The virus continues to spread. The patients keeping coming in serious condition,” said Vogt, the doctor in Mulhouse. “So far, there are no signs of hope.”

___

Adamson reported from Leeds, England. Associated Press writers Sylvie Corbet and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

WSLS 10

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Tourism is coming… Northern Ireland turns into a Game of Thrones hotspot

Tourism boon for country as fans flock to visit sets and locations of the award-winning fantasy saga

The group, tourists from Britain, Germany, the US and half a dozen other countries, followed the guide deep into Tollymore Forest and gathered around a tree stump.

“Ladies and gentlemen, cameras ready,” said Eric Nolan, who had chaperoned them from Dublin to this state park in Northern Ireland this week. “This,” he said pointing, “is where Kit Harington’s arse sat.”

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Travel | The Guardian

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