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    The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments on Monday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus. ___ REPURPOSING STAFF: Britain’s health service is asking airline cabin crew who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic to go to work in temporary new hospitals being built to treat COVID-19 patients. The National Health Service says easyJet and Virgin Atlantic are writing to thousands of staff - especially those with first aid training - asking them to work at hospitals being built inside convention centers in London, Birmingham and Manchester. It said those who sign up will perform support roles under the supervision of doctors and nurses. ___ AIRLINES: European budget airline easyJet says it is grounding all of its 344 aircraft amid a collapse in demand. It said there was “no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights.” The carrier based in Luton, England, had already canceled most of its flights and said it has reached an agreement with unions on furlough arrangements for its cabin crew. Many airlines around the world are negotiating or calling for financial rescue packages from governments. Easyjet said it was in talks with financial liquidity providers. Britain’s government has so far demurred from creating a rescue package for aviation but has said it is ready for negotiations with individual firms once they had “exhausted other options.” Scottish regional airline Loganair said it expects to ask for a government bailout. ___ HANDOUTS: South Korea will provide as much as 1 million won ($817) in gift certificates or electronic coupons to all but the richest 30% of households to help ease the financial shock of the coronavirus outbreak. The country will spend around 9.1 trillion won ($7.4 billion) on the one-time giveaways, which will reach 14 million households. Officials are ruling out handouts of cash. South Korea’s has employed a variety of financial tools to support its economy in face of the global health crisis, such as cutting its policy rate to an all-time low, expanding short-term loans for financial institutions and introducing a rescue package for companies totaling 100 trillion won ($81.7 billion).
  • Presidential politics move fast. What we're watching heading into a new week on the 2020 campaign: ___ Days to next set of primaries: ? Days to general election: 218 ___ THE NARRATIVE The coronavirus pandemic has effectively put presidential politics on hold as elected officials work furiously to save lives and rescue the economy. It's unclear when the next Democratic primary contest will take place or whether there will be another primary debate. This is President Donald Trump's show for now as the Republican president is tasked with leading the nation through the worst public health crisis in the modern era. Democratic front-runner Joe Biden and his allies will try to break through, but they'll have to be content with taking a distant backseat for now as the focus stays with the dangerous business of governance in a public health crisis. ___ THE BIG QUESTIONS Can Trump lead an entire nation? Trump has spent much of his presidency speaking only to his conservative base. But in the midst of a pandemic that threatens the lives of Republicans, Democrats and independents, the Republican president's political survival likely depends on his ability to shelve the partisanship and lead all Americans. Seven months before Election Day, it's difficult to imagine a bigger test of presidential leadership. Trump has sent mixed signals, with strong moments in recent days, but he slipped into a dangerous bout of pre-pandemic partisanship over the weekend by threatening to withhold federal support from “the woman in Michigan” — referring to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat — and insulting her with a childish nickname on social media. His base may love it, but that kind of overt partisanship likely won't play well in November — especially in a state like Michigan, which Trump needs to win, and among female voters. Does the rescue package stabilize the economy? Trump has signed into law a $2 trillion bipartisan economic rescue package that represents the largest government expenditure in world history. This week we'll start to see its first effects. The stakes are high for millions of Americans' livelihoods and the November election. History suggests that the health of the economy will decide Trump's reelection as much as any other factor. The Dow is down more than 7,000 points since the beginning of the year, and a record 3.3 million newly unemployed Americans filed jobless claims last week. As bad as that is, market experts suggest it could get worse. We'll all be looking for new signs this week that the historically large stimulus helped stop the bleeding. Can Biden work from home? You've heard about Biden's home studio by now. Well, the 77-year-old Democrat hopes to host at least one virtual campaign event each day from the cozy confines of his Delaware rec room to help avoid being forgotten as the nation focuses on the immediate challenges of surviving a pandemic. It won't be easy. Trump's daily White House press briefings have quickly become must-see TV, no matter how much Democrats scream, while Biden's low-fi events have been awkward at times if you can even find them. With the Democratic nomination nearly his, this isn't the way the former vice president wanted to launch the next phase of his campaign. How do they raise money? Trump and Biden suddenly find themselves navigating perilous terrain as they eye the mountain of campaign cash they'll need to ramp up their campaigns. What used to be a routine request for political cash could now come across as tone-deaf or tacky with millions of Americans out of work and death tolls rising. Our colleague Brian Slodysko reports that the challenge is particularly acute for Biden, who is holding virtual fundraisers via video conferences that lack the exclusivity and tactile nature of an in-person event. Should Biden lock up the nomination, the former vice president will be immediately tasked with building out a nationwide campaign that's strong enough to compete with Trump's mammoth organization. Coronavirus or not, he can't afford to wait. ___ THE FINAL THOUGHT This is a moment in American history that should transcend politics. While politics may feel trivial at the moment, the decisions and strategies Democrats and Republicans adopt today will set the landscape for the November election — and with it, the direction of American leadership for years to come. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • In an abrupt turnaround, President Donald Trump extended lockdown measures across the United States as deaths in New York from the new coronavirus passed 1,000. Spain on Monday became the third country to surpass China in infections after the United States and Italy. With a population of only 47 million to China's 1.4 billion, Spain’s tally of infections reached 85,195 on Monday, a rise of 8% from the previous day. Spain also reported 812 new deaths in the last day, raising its overall fatalities from the virus to 7,300. The health systems in Italy and Spain have been crumbling under the weight of caring for so many desperately ill patients at once. The two European nations have more than half the world's 34,000 deaths from the virus that has upended the lives of billions of people and devastated world economies. In a situation unimaginable only a month ago, Italian officials were cheered when they reported only 756 deaths in one day on Sunday. In a stark reversal of his previous stance, Trump extended federal guidelines recommending that Americans stay home for another 30 days until the end of April to slow the spread of the virus. The turnabout came after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said up to 200,000 Americans could die and millions become infected if lockdowns and social distancing did not continue. “We want to make sure that we don't prematurely think we're doing so great,” Fauci said. The U.S. now has more than 143,000 infections and 2,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, while around the world almost 725,000 people are infected. The true number of cases is thought to be considerably higher because of testing shortages and mild illnesses that have gone unreported. Moscow went on its own lockdown Monday as all of Russia braced for sweeping nationwide restrictions. Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked all citizens to stay at home and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin began enforcing a strict lockdown for all city residents except those in essential sectors. “The extremely negative turn of events we are seeing in the largest European and U.S. cities causes extreme concern about the life and health of our citizens,” Sobyanin said. He said an electronic monitoring system will be used to control residents' compliance with the lockdown and warned 'we will steadily tighten the necessary controls.” Moscow, a city of 13 million, accounts for more than 1,000 of Russia's 1,836 coronavirus cases. In Italy, which has by far the most deaths from the virus worldwide, officials expressed cautious optimism that the drastic measures they have taken to keep people apart are having an impact. Italy has reported 97,689 infections and 10,779 deaths, but said the number of positive cases in the last day increased just 5.4%, and the number of deaths have shifted down about 10% a day since Friday. ‘’These are big changes that reflect the fact the health system is responding and of the impact of the measures that have been put in place,'' said Dr. Luca Richeldi, a lung specialist, told reporters. ‘’We are saving lives by staying at home, by maintaining social distance, by traveling less and by closing schools.'' Experts say the critical situations in hospitals in Italy and Spain will be soon heading toward the United States. Coronavirus patient Andrea Napoli, 33, told The Associated Press he didn't remotely expect that he would be hospitalized, struggling for his life from the virus, since he was a young, very fit man. But what he saw at a Rome hospital shocked him. While he was being treated, three patients died in his ward. He saw doctors stressed and exhausted from the long hours, out of breath from pushing equipment around, dressed in protective masks, suits and gloves. ‘’What I saw was a lot, a lot of pain. It was very hard,’’ Napoli said. ‘’I heard screams from the other rooms, constant coughing from the other rooms.’’ Cases across Africa rose closer to 5,000 in 46 countries. Zimbabwe began a three-week lockdown Monday and more cities across the continent were shut down. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia and can be fatal. More than 152,000 people have recovered. China’s National Health Commission on Monday reported 31 new COVID-19 cases, among them just one domestic infection. At the peak of China’s restrictions, some 700 million people were in areas ordered to stay home, but those rules are easing. New York state remained the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, with the vast majority of the deaths in New York City. But infections were spiking not only in cities but in Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens. West Virginia reported its first death, leaving only two states — Hawaii and Wyoming — with none linked to COVID-19. The virus is moving fast through nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other places for vulnerable people, spreading “like fire through dry grass,' New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The pandemic is also taking its toll economically around the world. A lockdown in India covering the country's 1.3 billion people has put day laborers out of work and left families struggling to eat. With no jobs, those living in the country's crowded cities are walking back to their native villages. Cases across Africa rose closer to 5,000 in 46 countries. Zimbabwe began a three-week lockdown Monday and more cities across the continent were shut down. In Europe, budget airline EasyJet grounded its entire fleet of aircraft — parking all 344 planes — amid a collapse in demand due to the COVID-19 crisis. Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. announced that its auto plants in Europe will halt production at least until April 20. Toyota has facilities in France, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Turkey and Portugal. At the same time, all its plants in China resumed normal production Monday, spokeswoman Kayo Doi said. Asian markets started the week with fresh losses. Japan's benchmark fell nearly 3% and other regional markets were mostly lower. Shares in Australia, however, surged 7% after the government promised more recession-fighting stimulus. Australia announced a 130 billion Australian dollar ($80 billion) plan to subsidize businesses, paying up to 6 million people a minimum wage for the next six months. “We want to keep the engine of our economy running through this crisis,' said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. U.S. futures rebounded, gaining nearly 1%, but oil prices were lower. ___ Rising reported from Berlin; Miller reported from Washington. Associated Press writers around the world contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Formula One team Mercedes has helped to develop a breathing aid that could keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care and ease some pressure on Britain’s strained health service. Mercedes worked with engineers at the University College London and clinicians at University College London Hospital to adapt and improve a device that bridges the gap between an oxygen mask and the need for full ventilation. The device, known as continuous positive airway pressure, has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to deliver oxygen to the lungs of coronavirus patients during the pandemic. UCL said the adapted devices have been recommended for use in Britain and that 100 of them are being sent to its hospital for clinical trials. There is the potential for quick roll-out by Mercedes to hospitals across the country. Tim Baker, a professor from UCL’s department of mechanical engineering, said clinicians called on the “capability of Formula One” to reduce a process “that could take years down to a matter of days,” with the adapted device taking less than 100 hours to develop from an initial meeting. 'We have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL,” said Andy Cowell, managing director of Mercedes, “to deliver the CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible time frame.' CPAP machines work by pushing a mix of oxygen and air into the mouth and nose at a continuous rate, helping to increase the amount of oxygen entering the lungs. They are used routinely by Britain’s National Health Service but are in short supply currently. There have been almost 20,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Britain, with more than 1,200 deaths. For most people, the new 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, including pneumonia and death. The F1 season has yet to start, with the first eight races of the schedule having been postponed or canceled. It means there will be no racing until the middle of June at the earliest. Mercedes is the leading team in F1 with defending champion Lewis Hamilton as its top driver. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • “We are already ruined. What more harm can coronavirus do?' Irene Kampira asked as she sorted secondhand clothes at a bustling market in a poor suburb of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. People in one of the world's most devastated nations are choosing daily survival over measures to protect themselves from a virus that “might not even kill us,” Kampira said. Even as the country enters a “total lockdown” over the virus on Monday, social distancing is pushed aside in the struggle to obtain food, cash, cheap public transport, even clean water. The World Health Organization's recommended virus precautions seem far-fetched for many of Zimbabwe's 15 million people. “It’s better to get coronavirus while looking for money than to sit at home and die from hunger,” Kampira said, to loud approval from other vendors. The southern African nation has few cases but its health system is in tatters, and the virus could quickly overwhelm it. Hundreds of public hospital doctors and nurses have gone on strike over the lack of protective equipment. Many Zimbabweans are already vulnerable from hunger or underlying health issues like HIV, which is present in 12% of the population. Last year a United Nations expert called the number of hungry people in Zimbabwe “shocking” for a country not in conflict. The World Food Program has said more than 7 million people, or half the country, needs aid. Harare, like most cities and towns across Zimbabwe, has an acute water shortage and residents at times go for months, even years, without a working tap. Many must crowd communal wells, fearing the close contact will speed the coronavirus' spread. “If the taps were working we wouldn’t be here, swarming the well like bees on a beehive or flies on sewage. We are busy exchanging coronavirus here coughing and spitting saliva at each other,” said 18-year old Annastancia Jack while waiting her turn. The government has closed borders and banned gatherings of more than 50 people while encouraging people to stay at home. But the majority of Zimbabweans need to go out daily to put food on the table. With inflation over 500% most industries have closed, leaving many people to become street vendors. Zimbabwe has the world’s second-largest informal economy after Bolivia, according to the International Monetary Fund. Police in recent days have tried to clear vendors from the streets, in vain. As in other African countries where many people rely on informal markets, a lockdown could mean immediate food shortages. Once-prosperous Zimbabwe was full of renewed promise with the forced resignation in late 2017 of longtime leader Robert Mugabe. But President Emmerson Mnangagwa has struggled to fulfil promises of prosperity since taking power. He blames the country's crisis in part on sanctions imposed on certain individuals, including himself, by the U.S. over rights abuses. Daily necessities in Zimbabwe make social distancing an elusive ideal. In downtown Harare, hordes of people congregate at banks for cash, which is in short supply. Others pack public transport. “We are the only ones practicing social distancing, we sit in our cars all day,” said Blessing Hwiribisha, a motorist in a fuel line snaking for more than a kilometer in the poor suburb of Kuwadzana. “Look at them,” he said. He pointed at a supermarket across the road where hundreds of people shoved to buy maize meal, which has become scarce due to a devastating drought and lack of foreign currency to import more. “What is happening in Zimbabwe is very scary. It’s like we are playing cards. Its either you win coronavirus or you win starvation,' said Tinashe Moyo at the supermarket. 'I am very scared.' Few health workers are available as doctors and nurses strike. “There is a difference between being heroic and being suicidal,” said Tawanda Zvakada, president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association. Health workers described a lack of disinfectants, sanitizers and even water at hospitals. And yet Health Minister Obadiah Moyo repeatedly says Zimbabwe is “well prepared” to deal with COVID-19 cases. But frightened health workers cited the death of a prominent broadcaster at an ill-equipped isolation center specifically reserved for COVID-19 cases. “They didn’t have a ventilator to help him,” Zvakada said. “The inability of our system to manage one patient is worrying. What about when there are 50 patients?” Zimbabwe has has less than 20 ventilators to help people in severe respiratory distress, he said. He said the country needs hundreds to adequately deal with the virus. “We see a situation where Zimbabwe can become a graveyard if we are not careful,” said Itai Rusike, director of the Harare-based Community Working Group on Health.
  • Bangladesh garment manufacturers says fashion retailers have cancelled or put on hold more than $3 billion in orders due to the coronavirus outbreak, though a handful have agreed to pay anyway. The data from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association released Monday reflected both orders already made or in the works and planned orders from the country, which is the world's second largest exporter of clothing after China. The cancelled orders, according to reports to the BGMEA from manufacturers, included tens of millions in purchases from many big buyers, including European buyers C&A and Inditex, Primark of Ireland, Britain's Marks & Spencer and Tesco and U.S. retailers like Walmart and Target. Bangladesh is just beginning to feel the direct impact of the pandemic and its government has ordered a shut down of most businesses to help contain it. But shocks to the country's export markets have been cascading into its economy for weeks. A survey of factory owners in Bangladesh released Friday showed millions of Bangladesh factory workers being sent home without the wages or severance pay they are owed. The BGMEA reported that $1.8 billion in orders have been put on hold and another $1.4 billion have been cancelled. Cancellations of planned orders, for April-December, amounted to nearly $1.7 billion, it said. The figures are conservative because they exclude orders that would go to multiple buyers. The new data were incorporated into a report by Pennsylvania State University's Center for Global Workers' Rights and the Worker Rights Consortium, a Washington, D.C.-based labor rights organization,. Bangladesh manufacturers and labor groups have been appealing to big retailers to honor their commitments to suppliers. Sweden's H&M has said it will pay suppliers for orders already under production. PVH, which owns the Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Heritage brands, has told suppliers it is releasing invoices that had been put on hold since March 18. Later invoices will gradually be processed. The commitment for orders already under production or finished products not yet shipped would enable factory owners to get financing to tide them over, said a letter to suppliers seen by The Associated Press. “PVH and H&M are doing the right thing, in contrast to the long list of brands refusing to pay for goods workers have already made for them,' said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium. Big Western brands came under heavy pressure to improve conditions in factories after huge fires and other disasters killed hundreds of workers. The store closures and other disruptions from the virus outbreak are straining a fragile supply chain in which big buyers have been squeezing their suppliers for years. More than 1 million of the more than 4 million garment workers in Bangladesh already have lost their jobs or have been furloughed because of order cancellations and the failure of buyers to pay for canceled shipments. ___ AP Asia Business Editor Kurtenbach reported from Bangkok.
  • Of a world in coronavirus turmoil, they may know little or nothing. Submariners stealthily cruising the ocean deeps, purposefully shielded from worldly worries to encourage undivided focus on their top-secret missions of nuclear deterrence, may be among the last pockets of people anywhere who are still blissfully unaware of how the pandemic is turning life upside down. Mariners aboard ballistic submarines are habitually spared bad news while underwater to avoid undermining their morale, say current and former officers who served aboard France's nuclear-armed subs. So any crews that left port before the virus spread around the globe are likely being kept in the dark about the extent of the rapidly unfurling crisis by their commanders until their return, they say. 'They won’t know,” said retired Adm. Dominique Salles, who commanded the French ballistic submarine squadron from 2003-2006. “The boys need to be completely available for their mission.” Speaking exclusively to The Associated Press, Salles said he believes submariners will likely only be told of the pandemic as they head back to port, in the final two days of their mission. “Those who are at sea don’t need this information,' said Salles, who also commanded the nuclear-armed French submarine “L'Inflexible.' “The commander, I think, is doubtless informed about what is happening. I don't think he'll have all the details,' he said. The French navy won't divulge what has or hasn't been said to submarine crews. Nor will it say whether any of the four French ballistic submarines, laden with 16 missiles that each can carry six nuclear warheads, left harbor before France instituted a nationwide lockdown on March 17. “Because the deterrent is wrapped in a bubble of protection and confidentiality, it is impossible to know whether the crews are informed or not of this situation,” French navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Olivier Ribard said. French submarine missions last 60 to 70 days, with about 110 crew members aboard. So a crew that left at the end of February wouldn't be expected back before the end of April. In that case, they will return to a world changed by the pandemic. On March 1, France had just 130 confirmed COVID-19 cases and two deaths. In under a month, those numbers have surged past 2,600 dead and over 40,000 sickened. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. For submariners, the return to land could be a shock. “They won’t have experienced the crisis as we did, with a bit of fear, the lockdown. So for them it will be quite a surprise. They will learn the history, but it will be a history that is related to them,' said a serving officer who was the doctor on the ballistic submarine “Le Triomphant' for four years. He spoke to the AP on condition that he be identified only by his first name and rank, in accordance with the rules of his branch of the French military. “All events that could affect or change the morale of the crew members are kept from them,' said the officer, Chief Doctor Gabriel. “Since there is no internet, no radio and no television on board, the only news you get comes from messages received by the commander, and the commander filters the messages to not give all of the information to everyone.” The doctor was underwater in 2012 when an Islamic extremist killed three French paratroopers and later killed a rabbi, his two young sons and grabbed an 8-year-old girl and shot her in the head. Only later did the officer learn of the attacks, “so when people talk to me about it, I find it impossible to imagine,” he said. “The only place where you are really cut off from all information is underwater, because even on a vessel in space there is still the radio, television, the internet,' he said. When bombings hit Madrid in 2004, Salles didn't inform submariners who were at sea for the ballistic flotilla that was then under his command. Salles said the situation now will be toughest for any crews that leave harbor in the weeks ahead, because they'll know they are leaving loved ones in the midst of the pandemic and, possibly, still living in lockdown. The French government has already extended its stay-home orders once, to April 15, and said it could do so again. Salles said he believes those crews will get regular coronavirus updates, but won't be told of any family deaths until they are returning to the l’Ile Longue submarine base near Brest in Brittany. Salles was at sea in a sub when his father died. The news was kept from him until he had finished his 60-day mission. “No matter how serious an event is, there is nothing a submariner can do about it. And since he cannot do anything, better that he know nothing,' Salles said. “They know that they won't know and accept it. It's part of our deal.” ___ Follow John Leicester on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnleicester ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Eleven days ago, General Motors put hundreds of workers on an urgent project to build breathing machines as hospitals and governors pleaded for more in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But President Donald Trump, claiming the company wasn't moving fast enough, on Friday invoked the Defense Production Act, which gives the government broad authority to direct companies to meet national defense needs. Experts on managing factory production say GM is already making an extraordinary effort for a company that normally isn't in the business of producing ventilators. “That is lightning-fast speed to secure suppliers, learn how the products work, and make space in their manufacturing plant. You can’t get much faster than that,” said Kaitlin Wowak, a professor at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on industrial supply chains. GM expects to produce ventilators at a rate of 10,000 per month starting in mid-April. The company is working with Ventec Life Systems, a small Seattle-area ventilator maker, and both say the Defense Production Act of 1950 doesn’t change what they’re doing because they’re already moving as fast as they can, fronting millions in capital with an uncertain return. “I don’t think anybody could have done it faster,” said Gerald Johnson, GM's global manufacturing chief. Peter Navarro, Trump’s assistant for manufacturing policy, said Saturday that invoking the act was needed because GM “dragged its heels for days' in committing to the investments to start making ventilators at an automotive electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana. It was only a few days earlier that Trump had been holding up GM and Ford as examples of companies voluntarily responding to the outbreak without the need for him to invoke the act. Then on Friday, he slammed GM on Twitter and during his daily briefing for foot-dragging. On Sunday, he was back to praising the company during another briefing: “General Motors is doing a fantastic job. I don't think we have to worry about them anymore.” But GM says it had been proceeding on the same course all along. The company got into the ventilator business on March 18 after being approached by stopthespread.org, a coalition of CEOs trying to organize companies to respond to the COVID-19 disease that has already claimed more than 30,000 lives globally. The organization introduced GM to Ventec, which makes small portable ventilators in Bothell, Washington. The automaker pulled together manufacturing experts, engineers and purchasing specialists, and the next day had people at Ventec’s facility, a short distance from a nursing home where the virus killed at least 35 people. They worked on speeding up Ventec’s manufacturing. A few days later, GM assigned more engineers and purchasing experts to figure out how it could make Ventec’s machines. Some Ventec parts makers couldn’t produce enough widgets fast enough, so GM went to its own parts bin to find suppliers to do the job, Johnson said. Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan law and business professor, said he thought Trump would commend GM and use it as an example for other manufacturers in the coronavirus fight. “What came out was a smack on the head,” he said. Gordon, who teaches a class in commercialization of biomedical goods, said Trump likely will claim credit when GM starts making the machines. “This is an election year, and on all sides you’re going to see political theater,” he said. Critics have urged Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act broadly to control the production, supply and distribution of ventilators and protective gear for hospital workers who are running short. That’s what the act was meant to do, and it was not for use against a single company, Gordon said. Even with increased production from all ventilator makers, however, the U.S. might not have enough of the life-saving machines. U.S. hospitals have about 65,000 of the ventilators that are sophisticated enough to treat critical coronavirus patients. It could probably cobble together a total of 170,000, including simpler devices, to help with the crisis, one expert says. A doctor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center estimates that 960,000 people in the U.S. will need to be on ventilators, which feed oxygen into the lungs of patients with severe respiratory problems through a tube inserted down the throat. Doctors hope social distancing will stop a huge number of people from getting sick simultaneously, flattening the curve of the illness so they can use one ventilator to treat multiple patients. Trump, in several appearances Friday, accused GM of promising 40,000 ventilators, then reducing the number to 6,000. He also said the company wanted higher prices than previously discussed. Ventec, which is negotiating with the government to provide more ventilators, said it only changed numbers and prices at the request of government agencies, which asked for a range of quantities and prices. The company said it’s selling the ventilators, which can treat severe virus patients, at distributor cost, and it has offered scaled down versions for a lower price. Up until late Sunday, Ventec and GM hadn't known how many ventilators the government would buy but those details are now being worked out. Ventec isn’t sure if it will make any money on the devices, which generally sell for $18,000 — far less than ventilators used in hospital intensive care units that can cost $50,000. Johnson says GM has no intention of making a profit. Ventec will need government money to help pay parts suppliers and ramp up its own production from 200 per month to 1,000 or more, said CEO Chris Kiple. Invoking the Defense Production Act “shined a light” on the need for ventilators, he said, but Ventec can’t move any quicker. “We’re still moving full speed ahead,” Kiple said. “We know there’s a shortage of ventilators.”
  • The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. TOP OF THE HOUR: — Spain surpasses China in coronavirus infections tally. — Laid-off airline workers in Britain asked to work at temporary hospitals. — Bulgaria postpones bid to adopt euro. ___ LONDON — Britain’s health service is asking airline cabin crew who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic to go to work in temporary new hospitals being built to treat COVID-19 patients. The National Health Service says easyJet and Virgin Atlantic are writing to thousands of staff — especially those with first aid training — asking them to work at hospitals being built inside convention centers in London, Birmingham and Manchester. It said those who sign up will perform support roles under the supervision of doctors and nurses. EasyJet announced Monday it was grounding all of its 344 planes amid a collapse in demand due to the COVID-19 crisis. It said there was “no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights.” Virgin Atlantic has cancelled most of its flights and has urged the British government to help keep struggling airlines aloft. ___ SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria is postponing its bid to adopt the euro in the wake of a global economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bulgaria’s central bank governor said Monday that his country will delay its accession process until next year. Dimitar Radev told private Nova TV channel that “the timeline for joining the banking union and participation in the exchange rate mechanism are not realistic anymore”. The government had said earlier that Bulgaria wants to enter the two-year process that leads to joining the euro, called ERM II, this July. Its hope is that a swift entry into the eurozone would guarantee Bulgaria’s deeper integration in the EU. Radev said that a delay until 2021 would not be “fatal”. He warned, however, that the country should not wait for a new entry cycle as it did during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. Bulgaria is one of the poorest EU members but has since 1997 kept a stable exchange rate between its currency, the lev, and the euro. ___ PARIS — Students at France’s most prestigious engineering school are engaging in remote tutoring to help high school pupils get their “Baccalaureat,” the state diploma awarded to pupils in their final lycée year. The world-renowned Ecole Polytechnique said Monday that 325 of its students will give one hour of their time every day to youngsters in need of support during the isolation period imposed by French authorities to limit the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus. “During this enduring quarantine period in France, many high school students feel they are lacking in family support when it comes to learning lessons on their own at home,” the school said in a statement. “This is either because their parents are directly implicated in the current pandemic, or because their parents may not have the academic level necessary to help.” Polytechnique said priority will be given to students whose parents are directly involved in the fight against the disease, including medical professionals, military personnel, police officers or firefighters. In addition, 25 English-speaking students from the school's Bachelor of Science program have offered to help with English tutoring lessons. The French government has ordered the closure of schools across the country but students will still be required to pass their baccalaureat tests in June unless it is postponed to a later date. ___ MADRID — Spain has become the third country to surpass China in coronavirus infections after the United States and Italy. With a population of 47 million, the country’s tally of infections reached 85,195 on Monday, a rise of 8% from a previous day. Monday also saw 812 fatalities to 7,300 since the outbreak started in earnest in early March, Spain’s Health Ministry said in a statement. In Madrid, where nearly half of the total deaths have been recorded, flags were hoisted at half-mast as authorities declared the official mourning, with a minute of silence expected at noon time. Authorities also step up the country’s half-a-month lockdown on Monday, beginning with a new two-week period of “hibernation,” as described by a Spanish Cabinet member in order to alleviate the pressure of the illness in the country’s health system. Only workers in hospitals, pharmacies, the food supply chain and other essential industries are required to work until the end of Easter, in mid-April, while the rest have been asked to scale back operations to weekend-level. At least six of Spain's 17 regions are at their limit of ICU beds and three more were close to it, authorities said, while frantic construction of field hospitals continues. ___ VIENNA — Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says that people will be obliged to wear face masks in supermarkets starting this week as the country battles to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Kurz announced the new measure on Monday, two weeks after Austria introduced restrictions on people’s movement. Austria borders Italy, Europe’s worst-hit country. So far, it has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, including over 100 deaths, according to the health minister. Kurz said that, likely starting on Wednesday, supermarket chains will start handing out simple face masks to people when they enter supermarkets and people will have to keep them on while they shop. He said that “in the medium term” the aim is for people to wear them in other public situations too. He emphasized that the new measure doesn’t lessen the need to people to keep their distance from others. ___ SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea says nearly half of its 172,000 eligible voters overseas will be denied absentee voting for next month’s parliamentary elections after polling was ruled out in dozens of diplomatic offices worldwide amid broadening coronavirus outbreaks. South Korea’s National Election Commission said polling preparations were halted at 65 diplomatic missions in 40 countries as of Monday, affecting some 80,500 voters, including those in major U.S. cities such as Washington, New York and Los Angeles. The commission says more diplomatic offices could decide to close for the April 1-6 absentee voting. Voters in South Korea will be required to wear masks and use disposable gloves at ballot booths during the parliamentary elections on April 15. Election workers will conduct temperature checks and provide separate polling places for voters with fever or respiratory symptoms. Some politicians had called for the country to postpone the elections, which will be a crucial moment for President Moon Jae-in’s government amid concerns about the epidemic’s impact on public health and the economy. ___ MOSCOW — The number of coronavirus cases in Russia topped 1,800 Monday, forcing the authorities to brace for a nationwide lockdown. The government’s headquarters overseeing efforts to fight the outbreak said that Russia now has 1,836 coronavirus cases, up more than 300 from the previous day. It said nine patients have died. The Russian capital has accounted for more than 1,200 of the new coronavirus cases. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered a lockdown starting Monday requesting all city residents except those working in essential sectors to stay home except in cases of medical emergency and shop only at nearby stores or pharmacies. New legislation is expected to be passed in the coming days to clear up questions over the legality of the new measures. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin instructed all regional governors to prepare for the introduction of similar lockdown across the vast country. ___ LONDON — EasyJet says it is grounding its entire fleet of aircraft amid a collapse in demand due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Luton-based carrier has parked all 344 of its planes, removing a significant cost as it copes with the impact of the virus. EasyJet also says it has a strong balance sheet and is in 'ongoing discussions with liquidity providers.’’ The budget carrier also announced it has reached an agreement with the Unite union on furlough arrangements for its cabin crew. The announcement comes as Scottish regional airline Loganair said it expects to ask for a government bailout. Britain’s government has so far demurred from creating a rescue package for aviation but has said it is ready for negotiations with individual firms once they had “exhausted other options.” ___ SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it will provide as much as 1 million won ($817) in gift certificates or electronic coupons to all but the richest 30% of households to help ease the financial shock of the coronavirus outbreak. Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki on Monday said the country will spend around 9.1 trillion won ($7.4 billion) on the one-time giveaways that will reach 14 million households. Hong says officials ruled out cash payments to ensure an increase in consumer spending. South Korea’s has employed a variety of financial tools to support its economy in face of the global health crisis, such as cutting its policy rate to an all-time low, expanding short-term loans for financial institutions and introducing a rescue package for companies totaling 100 trillion won ($81.7 billion). ___ ISLAMABAD — Pakistani health officials are confirming eight deaths from coronavirus, raising nationwide fatalities to 21. It was the biggest jump in deaths in the past 24 hours, which rose from 13 on Sunday to 21 on Monday. Authorities have so far confirmed 1,658 cases, and at least 10 patients are listed in critical condition at hospitals. The increase in cases and deaths happened despite nationwide lockdown and closure of Pakistani borders with neighboring China, India, Iran and Afghanistan. Authorities are trying to provide food to needy and poor people who have been unemployed and badly affected by the nationwide lockdown. ___ JOHANNESBURG — Cases across Africa rose closer to 5,000 on Monday morning as the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 4,760 cases in 46 countries, including 146 deaths. South Africa has the most cases with 1,280, but testing shortages and backlogs in that country and others could mean that the real numbers are higher. Zimbabwe’s three-week lockdown began Monday and more cities across the continent were shut down. ___ MOSCOW — Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Monday instructed regional governors across the vast country to prepare for the introduction of a lockdown introduced in Moscow to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered all city residents except for those working in essential sectors to stay home starting Monday. Residents are allowed to buy food and medicines at nearby stores and pharmacies and walk their dogs in close vicinity. Legislators are expected to quickly spell out fines and other administrative measures to enforce the lockdown. Sobyanin’s move follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to announce the current week as nonworking. Putin asked all Russians to stay home, leaving it to regional officials to work out specifics. Russia so far has registered 1,534 coronavirus cases, but their number has been rising steeply. ___ BANGKOK — Thailand's popular seaside resort island of Phuket has closed all land and sea entry and exit points until April 30 to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana says a ban on air travel will start on April 10. Phuket attracts many foreign tourists whose travel plans have been disrupted by the widespread cancellation of international flights. Thailand registered 39 million international arrivals last year. Phuket is a top destination for tourists, hosting more than 10 million visitors annually, including Thais. Phuket's land travel ban, which became effective Monday, makes exceptions for transport of food and essential items, emergency vehicles and vehicles carrying publications. Ships are banned from entering and leaving Phuket's international port, with exceptions for cargo ships, which can unload their cargoes but not allow crews to disembark before leaving as soon as possible. ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. TOP OF THE HOUR: — Coronavirus cases in Africa rise closer to 5,000. — Thailand seaside resort island of Phuket closes land and sea entry and exit points. — Australia announces plan to help businesses impacted by virus. ___ SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it will provide as much as 1 million won ($817) in gift certificates or electronic coupons to all but the richest 30% of households to help ease the financial shock of the coronavirus outbreak. Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki on Monday said the country will spend around 9.1 trillion won ($7.4 billion) on the one-time giveaways that will reach 14 million households. Hong says officials ruled out cash payments to ensure an increase in consumer spending. South Korea’s has employed a variety of financial tools to support its economy in face of the global health crisis, such as cutting its policy rate to an all-time low, expanding short-term loans for financial institutions and introducing a rescue package for companies totaling 100 trillion won ($81.7 billion). ___ ISLAMABAD — Pakistani health officials are confirming eight deaths from coronavirus, raising nationwide fatalities to 21. It was the biggest jump in deaths in the past 24 hours, which rose from 13 on Sunday to 21 on Monday. Authorities have so far confirmed 1,658 cases, and at least 10 patients are listed in critical condition at hospitals. The increase in cases and deaths happened despite nationwide lockdown and closure of Pakistani borders with neighboring China, India, Iran and Afghanistan. Authorities are trying to provide food to needy and poor people who have been unemployed and badly affected by the nationwide lockdown. ___ JOHANNESBURG — Cases across Africa rose closer to 5,000 on Monday morning as the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 4,760 cases in 46 countries, including 146 deaths. South Africa has the most cases with 1,280, but testing shortages and backlogs in that country and others could mean that the real numbers are higher. Zimbabwe’s three-week lockdown began Monday and more cities across the continent were shut down. ___ MOSCOW — Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Monday instructed regional governors across the vast country to prepare for the introduction of a lockdown introduced in Moscow to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered all city residents except for those working in essential sectors to stay home starting Monday. Residents are allowed to buy food and medicines at nearby stores and pharmacies and walk their dogs in close vicinity. Legislators are expected to quickly spell out fines and other administrative measures to enforce the lockdown. Sobyanin’s move follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to announce the current week as nonworking. Putin asked all Russians to stay home, leaving it to regional officials to work out specifics. Russia so far has registered 1,534 coronavirus cases, but their number has been rising steeply. ___ BANGKOK — Thailand's popular seaside resort island of Phuket has closed all land and sea entry and exit points until April 30 to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana says a ban on air travel will start on April 10. Phuket attracts many foreign tourists whose travel plans have been disrupted by the widespread cancellation of international flights. Thailand registered 39 million international arrivals last year. Phuket is a top destination for tourists, hosting more than 10 million visitors annually, including Thais. Phuket's land travel ban, which became effective Monday, makes exceptions for transport of food and essential items, emergency vehicles and vehicles carrying publications. Ships are banned from entering and leaving Phuket's international port, with exceptions for cargo ships, which can unload their cargoes but not allow crews to disembark before leaving as soon as possible. ___ CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia has announced a 130 billion Australian dollar ($80 billion) plan to subsidize businesses damaged by the new coronavirus to pay to up to six million staff a minimum wage to keep them in the work force for the next six months. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday that businesses that have lost 30% of revenue because of the COVID-19 outbreak would be eligible for the subsidy, which is part of what he describes as a hibernation strategy for the economy. The government would pay AU$750 a week of employees’ wages, which is equivalent to the minimum wage and 70% of Australia’s median wage. The government expects half of Australia’s employees will be subsidized. The government will have to recall Parliament to approve the spending. The measure brings total government economic support to response to the virus to AU$320 billion, which is 16.4% of GDP. Australia’s banks announced on Monday that 98% of businesses with bank loans are eligible for a six-month deferral of repayments on loans worth AU$250 billion. ___ TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday its auto plants in Europe will halt production, at least until April 20, because of the new coronavirus outbreak. Its European plants are in France, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Turkey and Portugal. All its plants in China resumed normal production Monday, spokeswoman Kayo Doi said. Japan’s top automaker also stopped production in Russia, through Friday. It earlier halted assembly lines in North America and has partially shut down production in Japan, South America and parts of Asia. ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak