US eyes new outbreaks as infections worldwide top 575,000

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans rushed to build a makeshift hospital in its convention center Friday as troubling new outbreaks bubbled in the United States, deaths surged in Italy and Spain and the world warily trudged through the pandemic that has sickened more than a half-million people.

Pope prays for ‘fragile’ humanity needing help in pandemic

VATICAN CITY — Praying in a desolately empty St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis on Friday likened the coronavirus pandemic to a storm laying bare illusions that people can be self-sufficient and instead leaves “all of us fragile and disoriented” and needing each other’s help and comfort.

Trump signs $2.2T stimulus after swift congressional votes

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law Friday, after swift and near-unanimous action by Congress to support businesses, rush resources to overburdened health care providers and help struggling families during the deepening coronavirus epidemic.

As virus toll mounts in NY, more hospitals sought

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking 4,000 more temporary hospitals beds across New York City and ordered schools closed statewide for two more weeks. President Donald Trump and elected leaders in New York are clashing again over the depth of the state’s coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, the outbreak is taking its toll on the state’s civil servants.

Hopkins to research blood plasma therapy uses against virus

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A public-private initiative will provide $4 million to a Johns Hopkins University-led team to study therapeutic uses of blood plasma recovered from COVID-19 patients, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gov. Larry Hogan, and Johns Hopkins University announced Friday.

4 passengers dead aboard cruise ship anchored off Panama

PANAMA CITY — Four passengers have died aboard a cruise ship now anchored off the coast of Panama and two people aboard the ship have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the cruise line said Friday, with hundreds of passengers unsure how long they will remain at sea.

‘Terrified’ South Africa nears lockdown; cases almost 1,000

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s president appeared in full military uniform for the first time since the end of apartheid and told troops to be a “force of kindness” as a three-week lockdown begins at midnight and they ensure that 57 million people stay home. The mission is the “most important in the history of our country” as coronavirus cases near 1,000, the highest in Africa.

World leaders vow to coordinate virus response in video call

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The head of the United Nations told leaders of the world’s 20 major industrialized nations during an emergency virtual summit Thursday that “we are at war with a virus — and not winning it” despite dramatic measures by countries to seal their borders, shutter businesses and enforce home isolation for well over a quarter of the world’s population.