A sweeping wave of coronavirus infections is blasting through the world’s largest prison population in the United States even as officials begin opening up their economies, saying the disease has plateaued.
One prison in Marion, Ohio has become the most intensely infected institution across the country, with more than 80 percent of its nearly 2,500 inmates, and 175 staff on top of that, testing positive for COVID-19.
Coronavirus deaths are on the increase in jails and penitentiaries across the country, with officials having few options—they are unable to force adequate distancing in crowded cells and facing shortages of medical personnel and personal protective gear everywhere.
The threat to the 2.3 million-strong US prison population was seen last week in the death of Andrea Circle Bear, a 30-year-old native American woman from South Dakota.
Pregnant when she was placed in a Texas federal prison in March on drug charges, she soon became sick with the disease and was placed on a ventilator, and gave birth by C-section.
She remained on the ventilator and died weeks later.
Las Vegas scene
A smattering of cars drove past the eerily quiet hotels and casinos, shuttered since mid-March, while a handful of tourists gathered by the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign to take photos.
But beneath the quiet of the world-famous Strip, Sin City is in turmoil.
A tug of war has emerged between the need for safety during the coronavirus pandemic and the survival of the gambling capital’s tourism industry, which some casino operators fear will never be the same.
Nevada’s Culinary Union Local 226, which represents some 60,000 casino and hotel workers, has had 98 percent of its members laid off, according to secretary-treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline.
At least 12 union members have died from the COVID-19 outbreak, out of Nevada’s total death toll of 243.
Europe on Sunday prepared for a further cautious easing of coronavirus restrictions following signs the pandemic may be slowing after Spaniards flocked to the streets to jog, cycle and rollerskate for the first time after 48 days of confinement.
After a two-month lockdown in Italy – with the second-highest number of virus deaths in the world – people on Monday will be allowed to stroll in parks and visit relatives. Restaurants can open for takeaway and wholesale stores can resume business.
And in Hungary, some stores and museums, outdoor spaces of restaurants and hotels, beaches and baths can reopen from Monday – but restrictions will remain in the capital Budapest, which has recorded about 70 percent of the country’s cases.
Germany will also continue its easing at the start of the week, with schools in some areas expected to reopen, while Slovenia and Poland will allow some businesses and public spaces to operate again.
France has said it will partially lift its lockdown on May 11.
The French government has said it will extend a health emergency imposed to fight the new coronavirus by two months, allowing it to keep stringent anti-virus measures in place even after a partial lifting of the country’s lockdown.
As part of the planned measures anybody entering France, foreign or French, will have to remain confined for two weeks, Health Minister Olivier Veran told a weekend news conference.
Once approved by lawmakers, the emergency period will last until July 24, Veran said.
This would typically concern “French people who traveled abroad and who want to come home,” he said.
Robots delivering meals, ghostly figures in hazmat suits and cameras pointed at front doors: China’s methods to enforce coronavirus quarantines have looked like a sci-fi dystopia for legions of people.
Authorities have taken drastic steps to ensure that people do not break isolation rules after China largely tamed the virus that had paralyzed the country for months.
With cases imported from abroad threatening to unravel China’s progress, travelers arriving from overseas have been required to stay home or in designated hotels for 14 days.
Beijing loosened the rule in the capital this week – except for those arriving from abroad and Hubei, the province where the virus first surfaced late last year.
At one quarantine hotel in central Beijing, a guard sits at a desk on each floor to monitor all movements.
Doctors in hazmat suits go from room to an room daily reminding occupants, including AFP journalist who had been in Hubei, to take their temperatures with the mercury thermometer provided at check-in, and to ask if any are experiencing symptoms.
People under home quarantine elsewhere in the city have had silent electronic alarms installed on their doors.