Southeast Texas COVID-19 updates April 21

BEAUMONT, Texas — This article contains ongoing U.S. and international updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Here are some key updates for Tuesday, April 21, 2020. You can find more details by scrolling through the story.

Key updates:

Oktoberfest in Munich has been called offAustralia’s prime minister strongly backs his foreign minister’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirusAmazon has started using thermal cameras for virus temperature checks.Look back at the Monday, April 20, blog at this link 

April 21, 7:30 a.m. --  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is gradually re-engaging with work as he recovers from the new coronavirus. Scroll down for more.

April 21, 7 a.m. --  Spain’s famous running of the bulls in Pamplona is the latest major European event to be called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. Scroll down for more.

April 21, 6:30 a.m. --  Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday confirmed that Italy can start reopening on May 4, but he doused any hopes of a total loosening of some of the strictest lockdown measures in a western democracy. Scroll down for more.

April 21, 6 a.m. --  A car used by the World Health Organization to transport swab samples to be tested for the COVID-19 virus has been attacked in western Myanmar, killing the driver and wounding a passenger. Scroll down for more.

April 21, 5:30 a.m. --  This year’s Oktoberfest in Munich has been called off because of the coronavirus pandemic. The cancellation of the world-famous annual celebration of beer, which was supposed to run from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, underlines expectations that the way back to normal life will be very long. Scroll down for more.

April 21, 5 a.m. --  Amazon has started using thermal cameras in its warehouses worldwide to screen workers for coronavirus symptoms, according to reports from BBC and Reuters. Scroll down for more.

April 21, 4:30 a.m. --  Australia’s prime minister strongly backs his foreign minister’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus. Scroll down for more.

April 21, 4 a.m. --  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday said the state is working with major retailers to open more drive-thru sites to test as many as 1,000 people a day for the coronavirus, especially people who don't have symptoms but still are required to work outside their home. Scroll down for more.

April 21, 3:30 a.m. --  Boeing and at least one other heavy-equipment manufacturer in the U.S. are resuming production amid pressure from President Donald Trump to reopen the economy. Scroll down for more.


There were more than confirmed 787,000 cases of COVID-19 in the United States by 7 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 42,000 deaths in the U.S., with more than 73,000 recoveries. More than 4 million tests have been conducted nationwide.

Worldwide, there have been 2.49 million cases and nearly 171,000 deaths.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

RELATED: Governors ask the White House to do more on testing


British Prime Minister Johnson to speak with Trump, queen

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is gradually re-engaging with work as he recovers from the new coronavirus.

Johnson’s spokesman says the prime minister remains at his country residence and “isn’t formally doing government work.” But he is getting updates from his staff and is scheduled to speak to U.S. President Donald Trump later Tuesday.

Johnson also plans to hold his weekly audience with Queen Elizabeth II by telephone later this week — the first such conversation in three weeks.

RELATED: Queen Elizabeth II marks 94th birthday without fanfare

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab continues to stand in for Johnson as head of government.

Johnson spent a week in a London hospital earlier this month, including three nights in intensive care, after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He was released last week and thanked staff at St. Thomas’ Hospital for saving his life.

RELATED: 'I owe them my life' | Boris Johnson hails hospital staff, discharged after contracting coronavirus

Running of the bulls called off due to virus

Spain’s famous running of the bulls in Pamplona is the latest major European event to be called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pamplona city hall announced Tuesday that the nine-day San Fermin festival held in July won’t take place this year.

It said in a statement that though the decision was expected, “it still brings sadness.”

Pamplona mayor Enrique Maya is infected with the virus.

The San Fermin fiesta was made famous internationally by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.”

Italy looks to start reopening in May

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday confirmed that Italy can start reopening on May 4, but he doused any hopes of a total loosening of some of the strictest lockdown measures in a western democracy.

“Many citizens are tired of the efforts that have been made so far and would like a significant loosening of these measures, or even their total abolition," Conte said in a Facebook post, adding that “a decision of that kind would be irresponsible.”

Conte indicated that moves to relax the restrictions would be announced by the end of the week, and that they would take into account the different circumstances among regions.

Italy’s north, hardest-hit by the virus and the country’s economic engine, has been straining to restart industry after a shutdown of nonessential manufacturing on March 26 — even as some have received permission to reopen with a much-reduced workforce in recent days.

WHO car used to transport swab samples attacked

A car used by the World Health Organization to transport swab samples to be tested for the COVID-19 virus has been attacked in western Myanmar, killing the driver and wounding a passenger.

The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported Tuesday that the vehicle bearing a U.N. license plate was attacked in Rakhine State en route to Yangon late Monday afternoon.

Rakhine has been the scene of bitter fighting between the government and the Arakan Army, an ethnic guerrilla group fighting for autonomy in Rakhine State. Each side blamed the other for the Monday attack.

The newspaper account said the driver and the passenger, a health worker, were taken to a nearby hospital. The father of the driver, 28-year-old Pyae Sone Win Mg, said his son died Tuesday morning.

Coronavirus cancels Oktoberfest in Germany

This year’s Oktoberfest in Munich has been called off because of the coronavirus pandemic. The cancellation of the world-famous annual celebration of beer, which was supposed to run from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, underlines expectations that the way back to normal life will be very long.

The Oktoberfest typically draws about 6 million visitors every year to the packed festival grounds in Bavaria’s capital.

Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said after meeting Munich’s mayor Tuesday: “We agreed that the risk is simply too high.” He added that “you can neither keep your distance nor work with facial protection” at the Oktoberfest.

Soeder noted that the festival attracts visitors from around the world, raising concerns about bringing new infections to Bavaria.

Amazon using thermal cameras for virus temperature checks

Amazon has started using thermal cameras in its warehouses worldwide to screen workers for coronavirus symptoms, according to reports from BBC and Reuters.

The cameras are used to help detect a fever. BBC said the new technology is a lot faster than the close-range thermometers the company previously relied on.

RELATED: Workers in several Amazon warehouses test positive for coronavirus

“We implemented daily temperature checks in our operations locations as an additional preventative measure to support the health and safety of our employees, who continue to provide a critical service in our communities," an Amazon spokesman told BBC News and CNET. "We are now implementing the use of thermal cameras for temperature screening to create a more streamlined experience at some of our sites.”

In a blog post, Amazon said it had been conducting temperature checks since the end of March. Anyone that has a temperature over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended 100.4F is asked to go back home.

Australian PM wants investigation into COVID's origins

Australia’s prime minister strongly backs his foreign minister’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

China’s Foreign Ministry rejected Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s call on Sunday for an independent review into the origins of the virus, including China’s handling of the initial outbreak.

But on Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Payne’s view had his “very, very strong support.”

“Such an inquiry is important," Morrison told reporters.

“It’s important for public health globally that there is a transparency in the way you can get access to this important information early. So it’s not pursued as an issue of criticism, it’s pursued as an issue of importance for public health,” he added.

Australia’s call for transparency comes after U.S. officials revealed intelligence agencies were assessing whether the respiratory virus escaped from a biological laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began.

RELATED: President Trump, aides, float outlier theory on origins of coronavirus

Michigan adds testing for essential workers without symptoms

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday said the state is working with major retailers to open more drive-thru sites to test as many as 1,000 people a day for the coronavirus, especially people who don't have symptoms but still are required to work outside their home.

“Robust testing is essential to have confidence about our strategies for safely reducing risk and re-engaging sectors of our economy,” Whitmer said.

She said Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid are part of the plan to open eight test sites across the state. Whitmer cautioned, however, that there's a shortage of swabs and chemicals needed to complete tests.

If labs had all the supplies they needed, 11,300 tests a day could be performed, the governor said.

Some US producers, states reopening amid political pressure

Boeing and at least one other heavy-equipment manufacturer in the U.S. are resuming production amid pressure from President Donald Trump to reopen the economy.

And Georgia's Republican governor announced aggressive reopening plans starting at the end of this week. The moves come as other governors say there is not enough testing to keep the coronavirus in check. Boeing resumed production on Monday, as oil futures plunged below zero and stocks and Treasury yields dropped on Wall Street.

RELATED: Pandemic squeezes finances of Democratic grassroots donors


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