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:

— White House requiring everyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask or face covering.

— WHO chief: there are around seven or eight “top” candidates for a vaccine to combat coronavirus.

— Study: Virus death toll in NYC worse than official tally.

— White House recommends coronavirus testing of more than 1 million nursing home residents and staff in next 2 weeks.

— Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will follow “modified quarantine” plan.

— Cape Town becomes South Africa’s virus hotspot.

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WASHINGTON — The White House is requiring everyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask or face covering after coronavirus scares near President Donald Trump.

A memo sent to all staff outlined the new directive Monday after two staffers last week tested positive for COVID-19.

The memo says: “We are requiring everyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask or facial covering.”

Staff will be allowed to remove their face coverings if they sit at least six feet apart from their colleagues.

The directive is meant to protect the president, who has refrained from wearing a mask in public and in private.

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UNITED NATIONS — The World Health Organization chief says there are around seven or eight “top” candidates for a vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a U.N. Economic and Social Council video briefing on Monday that “we have more than a hundred candidates, and we are focusing on the few candidates we have which can bring probably better results and accelerating those candidates with better potential.”

He did not identify the top candidates for a vaccine against COVID-19.

Tedros said the original thinking two months ago was that it may take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine, but an accelerated effort is under way, helped by 7.4 billion euros ($8 billion) pledged a week ago by world leaders, organizations and banks for research, treatment and testing.

He said the $8 billion will not be enough, and additional funds will be needed to speed up the development of a vaccine, but more importantly to produce enough “to make sure that this vaccine reaches everyone — (and) there’s no one left behind.”

Tedros stressed that COVID-19 is “very contagious and it’s a killer,” with more than 4 million cases now reported to WHO and almost 275,000 lives lost.

While new cases are declining in Western Europe, they are increasing in Eastern Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and other regions, he said.

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NEW YORK — New York City’s death toll from the coronavirus may be thousands of fatalities worse than the official tally kept by the city and state, according to an analysis released Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between mid-March and early May, about 24,000 more people died in the city than researchers would ordinarily expect, based on the season, the report said.

That’s about 5,300 more deaths than had been previously attributed to the coronavirus during that time period.

These so-called “excess deaths” could have been caused by byproducts of pandemic, the report found, including “the demand on hospitals and health care providers and public fear related to COVID-19” prompting delays in people seeking or receiving lifesaving care.

The report, based on data compiled by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, underscored the challenges authorities face in assessing — and quantifying — the human toll of the crisis.

Through Sunday, New York City had recorded nearly 14,800 deaths confirmed by a lab test and another nearly 5,200 probable deaths where no test was available, but doctors are sure enough to list the virus on the death certificate.

In its analysis, the report released Monday said the 5,293 excess deaths were on top of both confirmed and probable fatalities.

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ROME — Italy’s government has agreed to allow its regional governors to decide what lockdown restrictions within their jurisdiction can be lifted and when.

For weeks, regions, including in the north where the coronavirus outbreak had been heaviest, have been pressing the central government to be allowed to decide what’s best for their citizens and businesses.

Giovanni Toti, governor of Liguria, in northwest Italy, tweeted that Premier Giuseppe Conte during a videoconference on Monday had granted their request, so that starting on May 18, “we can open up activities based on territorial needs.”

Toti said regions must monitor the epidemiological situation of coronavirus cases in deciding what can open or not. Conte has warned citizens that if the infection rate starts rising again, restrictions on businesses or movement can be swiftly re-imposed.

Italy’s economy was already stagnant before the country was hit by Europe’s first outbreak in February. Governors say if some businesses, such as dine-in restaurants and hair salons, can’t resume receiving clients again, many might never re-open their doors.

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WASHINGTON — The White House is recommending that all nursing home residents and staff be tested for the new coronavirus in the next two weeks.

Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, told governors on a video conference call Monday that it’s the federal government’s strong recommendation that such testing be done.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force coordinator, told governors to focus over the next two weeks on testing all 1 million nursing home residents. She says the White House will help states that need it.

Nursing homes and the elderly have been shown to be especially susceptible to the virus.

The Associated Press obtained a recording of the meeting.

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ROME — For a fifth straight day on Monday, Italy’s daily number of new COVID-19 infections has declined.

According to Italian Health Ministry data, there were 744 confirmed new cases registered since Sunday evening.

That number is lower than daily caseloads when contagion containment measures went into effect nationwide in early March.

The country where Europe’s outbreak began now has 219,814 cases, a tally that experts say is surely significantly lower than actual infections, since many with mild or moderate coronavirus symptoms didn’t get hospitalized or tested.

In recent days, the number of daily new deaths also has been significantly lower than in early weeks, with 179 registered on Monday.

Still, the known death toll is one of the world’s highest —30,739. Health officials say it will be later this week at earliest before they can assess if a limited easing of lockdown restrictions on citizens’ movements, including the opening of public parks last week, has triggered any uptick in infections.

Italy is moving cautiously and gradually in reopening economic sectors and in removing travel limits.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s president announced a new four-day curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus even as the government began rolling back some restrictions.

In a televised address Monday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said several provinces would be under a lockdown starting from the weekend until May 19, which is a national holiday in the country.

The country has opted to impose short weekend curfews, instead of full lockdowns, fearing their possible negative effects on the already troubled economy.

Erdogan said however, that the government is lifting an entry and exit ban in nine more cities. The travel ban remains in place in 15 cities, including Istanbul — considered the Turkish coronavirus epicenter — and in the capital Ankara.

His announcement came hours after shopping malls, barber shops, hairdressers and beauty salons reopened for business for the first time in seven weeks.

Meanwhile, the health minister announced 55 new COVID-19 fatalities in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll in the country to 3,841. Fahrettin Koca also reported 1,114 more confirmed case, bringing the total number of infections to 139,771.

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WASHINGTON — Washington DC health officials announced that 117 positive new COVID-19 infections had been identified, bringing the total up to 6,389 with five new deaths for a total of 328.

Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency on March 11 and issued a stay-home order on March 30 for Washington’s approximately 700,000 residents.

Bowser has also announced plans to turn Washington’s convention center into a 1,500-bed field hospital.

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she will follow a “modified quarantine” plan after meeting with Vice President Mike Pence at a time when one of his aides tested positive for coronavirus.

Reynolds said that Pence’s aide was at the White House when she visited last Wednesday to brief Pence and President Donald Trump on Iowa’s response to the pandemic.

Reynolds met again with Pence on Friday when he visited Iowa to meet with religious leaders and food executives. Although Pence had just learned of his aide’s infection, he didn’t wear a mask during his visit and neither did the governor or other Iowa politicians.

Reynolds said that she had no contact with Pence’s aide when in Washington but that “out of an abundance of caution” she will take steps to isolate herself. Reynolds said that she tested negative Monday for coronavirus and is feeling healthy.

Reynolds said that her temperature will be taken before she enters the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, where she’s been working. She said that many of her aides will work from home. She said she’ll have only “minimal interactions” with others and will wear a mask and practice social distancing when she does.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf blasted local elected officials who plan to reopen in defiance of his shutdown orders, threatening Monday to yank coronavirus aid and declaring they are “choosing to desert in the face of the enemy.”

The normally mild-mannered Democrat fired back after several counties declared themselves in open rebellion against his restrictions on businesses and movement, saying local officials who pronounce themselves open for business will pay a steep price.

“To those politicians who decide to cave into this coronavirus, they need to understand the consequences of their cowardly act,” said Wolf, threatening to withhold state and federal funding to counties “that put us all at risk by operating illegally.”

Wolf also warned businesses that choose to “follow the whims of local politicians and ignore the law” by reopening in defiance of the shutdown that they risk businesses licenses, certificates of occupancy and other required governmental approvals to operate.

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NEW YORK — Several regions of upstate New York that have shown progress in taming the coronavirus outbreak are ready to gradually restart economic activity by the end of the week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Cuomo shut down the entire state March 22 as the New York City area emerged as a global pandemic hot spot, but the outbreak has been less severe in the state’s smaller cities and rural areas. He said three upstate regions have met all criteria for opening some business activity after May 15: the Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and the Finger Lakes. Other upstate regions are making progress and could follow soon after.

The reopening regions still need to work out logistics, such as creating regional “control rooms” to monitor the effects of the reopening.

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CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office says a senior staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, but the governor has tested negative.

The first-term Democrat’s office released a statement Monday saying all employees, including Pritzker, will work from home “for an appropriate isolation period.” The statement didn’t specify how long that would last.

The office says the staff member was asymptomatic, but tested positive last week and was in close proximity to the governor. Pritzker and all other staff have tested negative.

Roughly 20 administration officials have been working from a downtown Chicago office building where Pritkzer was holding daily news conferences during the pandemic.

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BERLIN — The German government is making available 750 million euros ($810 million) to speed up the production and development of a vaccine against the new coronavirus.

Science minister Anja Karliczek said Monday that about 500 million euros will go into scientific studies and vaccine trials, while 250 million euros will go into expanding production capacities in Germany.

Numerous universities and companies worldwide, including in Germany, are rushing to develop a vaccine for the pandemic-causing virus.

Germany has recorded more than 170,000 cases and at least 7,484 deaths since the start of the outbreak.

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JOHANNESBURG — Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape province have become South Africa’s coronavirus hotspot, accounting for more than half of the nation’s confirmed cases.

South Africa has confirmed more than 10,600 cases of COVID-19 and the Western Cape province has 5,621 cases, according to figures released Monday. Of the country’s 206 deaths caused by COVID-19, 116 have occurred in the province.

Cape Town, with its poor, densely populated townships, is the center of the cases in the province.

South Africa has the continent’s highest number of confirmed cases and has eased its restrictions to allow an estimated 1.6 million people to return to work in selected mines, factories and businesses.

However, the concentration of cases in Cape Town may see the city return to a stricter lockdown.

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WASHINGTON — The chief of the National Guard Bureau says he tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday, his second consecutive negative result after testing positive on Saturday during screening before a Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump.

Gen. Joseph Lengyel said in a brief statement that he was tested Monday at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Washington.

He was one of two members of the Joint Chiefs who missed the Trump meeting because of coronavirus concerns.

The other was Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations. Gilday went into quarantine after a family member tested positive for the coronavirus. Gilday tested negative.

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MONTREAL — Quebec is reopening elementary schools and day cares outside the Montreal area on Monday despite the province accounting for more than half of Canada’s coronavirus cases.

Students will be subject to physical distancing and frequent hand washing while school officials follow public health guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. Attendance is not mandatory and two school boards have said most of their students will be staying home for now.

The French-speaking province is also allowing most retail stores outside Montreal to open Monday. Quebec has more than 37,000 of Canada’s more than 68,000 cases of COVID-19.

Ontario, meanwhile, allowed nonessential retail stores to open for curbside pickup starting Monday. Schools throughout Canada’s most populous province remain closed.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.