What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Summer cancelled?

Across the continent, from Portugal’s Algarve to the islands of Greece, beaches are deserted. There are no visitors at the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, Edinburgh’s August festivals have been cancelled and the Netherlands’ flower fields are closed.

The big question facing Europe’s tourism industry, however, is whether it can still salvage summer.

“We have to endure the situation and get some revenue this summer,” said Goncalo Rebelo de Almeida, board member of Portuguese hotel chain Vila Gale. “I hope … that will at least allow us to pay fixed costs. And then we will bet on it returning to normal in 2021.”

In the meantime, calls are growing for economic support to haul hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agencies and cruise companies back from collapse.

Workplace wearables

Workers in the port of Antwerp will next month begin testing wristbands developed by a local technology company to reinforce social distancing as the world tries to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tech firm Rombit already supplies wearables resembling a sports watch that can warn workers of workplace dangers – newly installed software will now also give warning signals if workers come for example within 1.5 metres (five feet) of each other.

The developers believe it also could offer contact-tracing if someone becomes infected with the coronavirus. Such tools could be useful in helping companies restart work safely.

The vaccine race

An Oxford University team is launching this week trials in humans of a potential COVID-19 vaccine and say a million doses of it are being manufactured for availability by September – even before trials prove whether the shot is effective.

The experimental product – called “ChAdOx1 nCoV-19” – is one of at least 70 potential COVID-19 candidate shots under development by biotech and research teams around the world. At least five of those are in preliminary testing in people.

Job killer

Thursday’s weekly U.S. jobless claims report will likely show that a record 26 million Americans sought unemployment benefits over the last five weeks.

Put another way, that would mean that all the jobs created during the longest employment boom in U.S. history have been wiped out in about a month by the impact of coronavirus.

Ramadan congregational prayers

As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts this week, Pakistani doctors warned the government and clerics that it was ill-advised to allow prayer congregations at mosques.

Pakistan lifted precautionary restrictions on congregational prayers on Saturday, after several clashes between police and worshippers and with clerics rejecting such limitations.

The question now is whether other Muslim nations will also relent and relax bans on congregations in the light of pressure from local religious figures.

Sports calendar thins

Another day, another major sporting event bites the dust. The 2020 St. Andrews Trophy, scheduled to take place in Wales from July 23-24, has been cancelled due to the outbreak, the R&A and the European Golf Association has confirmed.

The tournament, contested between amateur golfers representing Britain & Ireland and Europe, was first staged in 1956 and has been held every two years since.

(Compiled by Mark John and Karishma Singh; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Tokyo Games moved to 2021 as ‘light at end of pandemic tunnel’

By Sakura Murakami and Karolos Grohmann

TOKYO/ATHENS (Reuters) – The Tokyo Olympics were postponed on Tuesday to 2021, the first such delay in the Games’ 124-year modern history, as the coronavirus crisis wrecked the world’s last sporting showpiece still standing this year.

Though a huge blow to Japan, which has invested $12 billion in the run-up, the move was a relief to thousands of athletes fretting over training as the world headed into lockdown to fight a disease that has claimed more than 16,500 lives.

Pressure had been building on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its president, Thomas Bach, with some athletes and sporting bodies angry that a seemingly inevitable decision had taken so long.

After a call between Bach and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, both said the July 24-Aug. 9 Games would move to summer 2021 at the latest in a hoped-for celebration of triumph over the pandemic.

The Olympic flame, already lit at Olympia in Greece and taken to Japan for a now-canceled torch relay, would stay in the host nation as a symbol of hope.

“Sport is not the most important thing right now, preserving human life is,” Bach said. “This Olympic flame will be the light at the end of this tunnel.”

Though it was the first Olympics’ postponement, the Games were canceled outright three times during the last century’s two World Wars. Cold War boycotts also disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Olympics in 1980 and 1984.

ATHLETES SAD BUT RELIEVED

Athletes were disappointed but broadly endorsed the delay, given health risks and disruption to their training as gyms, stadia and swimming pools closed around the world.

“I compete in a little bike race, which is nothing compared to what is going on in the world right now,” said American Olympic BMX champion Connor Fields, who had been looking forward to his sport’s Games debut.

Many began focussing on next year’s competition.

“We’ll be more ready than ever in 2021 and wearing the maple leaf with more pride than I thought possible,” said Canadian Olympic wrestling champion Erica Wiebe, describing her feelings as: “Utter relief. Excitement. Uncertainty.”

The coronavirus outbreak has raged around the world this year, infecting nearly 380,000 people and wiping out the international sporting calendar.

Though 2021 looks crowded, as the sports world makes up for this year’s cancellations, World Athletics said it was willing to move its world championships, scheduled for Aug. 6-15, 2021, in Oregon, to make way for the Olympics.

It was not yet clear whether athletes who had already secured spots in Tokyo this summer – more than half of those due to compete – would need to qualify again. The Athletics Association said a poll of more than 4,000 track and field competitors showed 78% had wanted the Games delayed.

“My heart breaks for you,” U.S. Olympic and Paralympic CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a message to athletes.

“This summer was supposed to be a culmination of your hard work and life’s dream, but taking a step back from competition to care for our communities and each other is the right thing to do. Your moment will wait until we can gather again safely.”

TWICE UNLUCKY FOR JAPAN

Tuesday’s decision came 122 days before the planned opening ceremony at Japan’s newly built National Stadium, which was to usher in the 16-day event featuring 11,000 athletes from 206 nations and territories.

It is not the first time a Japanese Olympics has run into problems. Both the 1940 Summer and Winter Olympics were to be held in Japan but were canceled due to World War Two.

Despite their disappointment, not to mention the logistical headaches and financial losses to come, a poll indicated that about 70% of Japanese agreed with a delay.

The postponement is a deep disappointment for Japan’s prime minister, who has staked his legacy on the Games’ success and hoped it would bring a tourism and consumer boom. Such was his enthusiasm that he appeared as video game character Super Mario at the 2016 Olympics’ closing ceremony.

Postponing the Olympics is almost certain to push Japan’s economy, the world’s third largest, into recession.

Ami Takada, 18, who just graduated from high school and was walking in a Tokyo restaurant district, wondered if the coronavirus would really be over by next year to allow a delayed Games to take place.

“If they don’t hold the Olympics, it’s the end for the Japanese economy,” he worried.

IOC boss Bach is also in a tricky situation, after his repeated statements that the Games were on track brought a backlash from athletes and some national Olympic committees.

That, combined with disquiet over his support for Russian athletes to continue competing as neutrals despite their nation’s doping scandal, has threatened his grip on the IOC.

Bach is up for re-election next year.

(Additional reporting by Reuters bureaux worldwide; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Nick Macfie, Gareth Jones, Hugh Lawson and Giles Elgood)

EU says clock is running out on summer-winter time change

FILE PHOTO: A giant sculpture constructed with the faces of clocks is seen outside a Paris train station, March 27, 2009 on the weekend when France moves its clocks forward one hour early Sunday morning, marking daylight savings time. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union said on Friday it would propose a legal change that would end the ritual of switching between summer and winter time, leaving it up to governments across the bloc to agree on whether to permanently use summer time or winter time.

The proposal comes after a survey found 84 percent of 4.6 million citizens across the EU’s 28 member states opposed changing the clocks ahead in the summer or back in the winter or just opposed switching either way.

In response, the EU’s chief executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, said Brussels would propose scrapping an EU law requiring member states to change their clocks.

“Millions … believe that summertime should be all the time,” Juncker said on German television.

Since 1996, EU law has been moving clocks forward an hour on the last Sunday in March and back an hour on the final Sunday in October. The proposal would drop that requirement, a Commission spokesman said. He rebuffed suggestions that would lead to confusing variations in keeping time from one country to the next.

“It would be surprising if the outcome of the directive was one that doesn’t make sense for European citizens and for business,” spokesman Alexander Winterstein told a news briefing.

Spain backs the proposal to stick with just one time, government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa said on Friday. But it may have to use another time zone more in line with its western geographical position following the Commission’s proposal, Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told reporters in Vienna.

Critics of the clock change say it can cause long-term health problems, especially among young children and elderly people. Supporters say making the switch to give extra morning daylight in winter and evening light in summer can help reduce traffic accidents and save energy.

Any change would need approval from national governments and European Parliament to become law – a process that can take up to two years.

Participation in the EU’s survey varied country by country. Germans, Austrians and Luxembourgers were the most active – 3.79 percent of people in Germany took part. Elsewhere, less than 1 percent of citizens took part. Italy, Britain, Spain and the Netherlands had some of the lowest participation.

Outside the EU, a handful of European countries have stopped switching between summer and winter time, including Russia, Turkey, Belarus and Iceland.

(Reporting by Gernot Heller and Andrea Shalal; Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonel in Brussels, Jesus Aguado in Madrid and Robin Emmott in Vienna; Editing by Larry King)

Iowa, Illinois investigating infections linked to McDonald’s salad

FILE PHOTO: The logo of a McDonald's Corp restaurant is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) – The Iowa and Illinois health departments said on Thursday that they were investigating cyclospora infections linked to salads at McDonald Corp’s restaurants.

McDonald’s shares fell 1.4 percent after-hours on Thursday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said it had seen about 90 cases, and the Iowa Department of Public Health said it had recorded 15 cases.

In about one-fourth of the Illinois cases people reported eating salads from McDonald’s in the days before they became ill.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, said in a statement that it had been in contact with public health authorities in both states.

It said that it had voluntarily stopped selling salads at the approximately 3,000 affected U.S. restaurants until it could switch to another lettuce blend supplier.

“We are closely monitoring this situation and cooperating with state and federal public health authorities as they further investigate,” the company said.

The parasite, cyclospora cayetanensis, infects the small intestine, typically causing watery diarrhea and frequent, sometimes explosive bowel movements. It is spread by ingesting food or water contaminated with feces and not directly from one person to another.

Several outbreaks have occurred in the United States in the past several years, especially during the summer months, that had been linked to imported fresh produce including raspberries, basil, snow peas, and lettuce.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru and Alana Wise in New York; Editing by Maju Samuel)

IT’S TIME! Summertime! And it’s also time for our Super Summer Sale LIVE on Grace Street

Super Summer Sale Event LIVE

Join Pastor Jim, Lori, Mondo, Ricky, Tammy Sue as well as other special family and friends on Monday, July 9th beginning at 7 am Central for an incredible Super Sale Event!  With $5, $10 and $15 dollar bargains there is no telling what other fantastic deals will pop up!

Besides these special prices on select items, we will be introducing our NEW Organic Food Bucket!  We’ll be giving you all the scoop on this wonderful new food bucket, demonstrating others and having a great time on Grace Street during this event and we wanted you to enjoy the day with us!  

You can watch this special Summer Sale event LIVE on the Jim Bakker Show website, the PTL Television Network website and on PTL network through Roku and Apple TV!  

Don’t miss it!  Monday, July 9th, beginning at 7 am Central!  

Celebrate Summertime with our Super Summer SALE!!!

Without rain, South Africa’s Cape Town may run out of water by April

By Wendell Roelf

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa’s Cape Town, one of the world’s iconic tourist destinations, could run out of water by April as the city’s worst drought in a century risks forcing residents to join queues for emergency rations.

“Day Zero” – the date taps are due to run dry – has crept forward to April 22 as city authorities race to build desalination plants and drill underground boreholes.

Almost 2 million tourists flock to Cape Town every year to bathe on sandy white beaches, explore natural features like Table Mountain or to sip wine in dozens of nearby vineyards.

Travel and tourism accounted for an estimated 9 percent or 412 billion rand ($33 billion) of South Africa’s economic output last year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

“At the current rate the city is likely to reach Day Zero on 22 April,” said councilor Xanthea Limberg, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for water.

“There is a real risk that residents will have to line up.”

At a trial water collection site, similar to an estimated 200 the city may introduce, people line up between metal fences waiting to fill up containers from standpipes.

A maximum 25 litres of water will be provided per person, per day, officials said.

Limberg said the dire situation was being worsened by some people ignoring a push for residents and visitors to use no more than 87 litres of water per person per day.

Cape Town is home to many wealthy residents who have swimming pools and sprinkler systems, although the city does not want to play a “blame game” as lots of affluent residents are saving water, she said.

Businesses in the hospitality industry also say they are trying to help, limiting showers to two minutes and using water used for washing dishes and clothes to water gardens.

Authorities want to reduce the city’s consumption to 500 million litres a day – half the amount used two years ago.

“Everyone is taking as many steps and measures that they possibly can to try and make sure we don’t reach Day Zero,” said Gabrielle Bolton, spokeswoman for the five-star Belmond Mount Nelson hotel.

In a possible sign of things to come, security guards have been monitoring a steady flow of cars and people lining up at AB-Inbev’s Newlands brewery to get up to 25 litres of free water from a mountain stream on its property.

The popular Newlands public swimming pool across the road from the brewery has been closed due to water restrictions with still two months of the South African summer left to run.

City officials say dam levels dipped below 30 percent in the first week of the new year, with only about 19.7 percent of that water considered usable. Residents will have to line up for water when dams reach 13.5 percent.

“I am concerned we will run out of water and it is difficult,” said Susan Jones, a grandmother who regularly visits the Newlands spring taps.

“We are making do. We have to.”

($1 = 12.3427 rand)

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Joe Brock)

U.S. Congress shrugs off guns, Zika as summer break nears

House Majority Leader

By Richard Cowan and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress is headed for a seven-week recess without addressing gun violence, the Zika virus outbreak and other pressing issues, amid persistent election-year bickering.

Despite recent gun violence, the House of Representatives will not vote this week on a proposal to keep firearms out of the hands of people on terrorism watch lists, that chamber’s Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday.

Similarly, President Barack Obama’s request for $1.9 billion in funds to combat the Zika virus and the birth defects it can cause has been stalled in Congress since February.

Republicans and Democrats were also at odds over spending bills that would keep the government functioning beyond Sept. 30, when current fiscal year funding expires.

When Republicans took over control of Congress, they vowed to get things done, but have had difficulty doing so during this election year, failing to pass a budget or even consider Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.

It did, however, approve bipartisan legislation helping Puerto Rico climb out of a crippling debt crisis and is trying to make progress on legislation aimed at improving police relations with local communities in the aftermath of gun violence.

With only four days left before the start of an unusually long recess, a failure to vote on guns this week would postpone any possible action by the House on the issue until Sept. 6 at the earliest. That is when lawmakers will return from break.

After that, lawmakers will be working only for short stints ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential and congressional elections.

A June 12 mass shooting in Orlando and gun violence in Dallas and other cities has again propelled gun control to prominence, but the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress so far have staved off even bipartisan legislation.

Gun control is generally opposed by Republicans and supported by Democrats. Some Republicans have talked about a gun bill possibly moving through Congress in the fall, in the midst of the campaign season, but Democrats were skeptical.

“This Congress will do nothing on curbing gun violence,” Representative Xavier Becerra of California, a member of the House Democratic leadership, told reporters.

There is even disagreement about whether House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi talked about a Democratic proposal to establish a special committee on gun violence. Democrats say Pelosi raised the issue with Ryan after the Dallas shootings. Ryan’s office says he has never discussed the topic with anyone.

Republicans in the House and Senate have signed off on a $1.1 billion Zika funding bill, but Democrats are balking over what they see as “poison pills” attached to the money that would deny funds to women’s healthcare provider Planned Parenthood and ease some environmental provisions.

House Speaker Paul Ryan meanwhile showcased his “A Better Way” agenda, flashing a glossy pamphlet at a press conference listing a set of proposals designed to lure votes in November’s elections but do nothing this year legislatively.

Republicans have also pushed for new federal probes of Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on her use of private emails while secretary of state.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, David Morgan and Kouichi Shirayanagi; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and James Dalgleish)

Utah Surprised with Summer Snow

Summer is just around the corner for the United States, but winter hasn’t given up yet.

Residents of Alta, Utah were surprised with nine inches of snow on Tuesday. More snow is expected in parts of the Northern Rockies until Thursday morning. Meteorologists report winds will gust up to 30 miles per hour and visibility will be less than half a mile during the worst parts of the storm.

“Seeing this in June is crazy,” Utah resident, Jan Frazier said. “I’ve never seen it. You wouldn’t expect thunderclouds like this turning into snow in June, you know?”

State officials hope the weather is a brief anomaly. Local meteorologists predict the temperatures will increase to the lower 90’s by Saturday.