NEW YORK (AP) — It was the eve of the deadliest day of the coronavirus spike that brought New York City to a trembling standstill. They were a handful of people doing what they could in the city's fight for survival, and their own.
A year ago, The Associated Press told the story of a day in the life of a stricken city through the eyes of New Yorkers on the front lines and in quarantine as they faced fear, tragedy, isolation and upheaval.
As the United States' most populous city turned into its most lethal coronavirus hot spot, some of these New Yorkers saw the virus' toll up close in an emergency room, an ambulance and a funeral home.
Others were suddenly looking from what felt like far away at the city and the lives they knew — a Broadway actor wondering when the curtain would go up again, a rabbi no longer able to hold the hands of dying people. A taxi driver and a woman running a local meals-on-wheels program who contended with the risks and challenges of jobs that were suddenly recognized as essential.
The AP recently returned to these New Yorkers to look at a full year of living through the pandemic in a city that has regrouped but not fully recovered.
Minorities in Myanmar borderlands face fresh fear since coup
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Before each rainy season Lu Lu Aung and other farmers living in a camp for internally displaced people in Myanmar's far northern Kachin state would return to the village they fled and plant crops that would help keep them fed for the coming year.
But this year in the wake of February's military coup, with the rains not far off, the farmers rarely step out of their makeshift homes and don't dare leave their camp. They say it is simply too dangerous to risk running into soldiers from Myanmar's army or their aligned militias.
"We can't go anywhere and can't do anything since the coup," Lu Lu Aung said. "Every night, we hear the sounds of jet fighters flying so close above our camp."
The military's lethal crackdown on protesters in large central cities such as Yangon and Mandalay has received much of the attention since the coup that toppled Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government. But far away in Myanmar's borderlands, Lu Lu Aung and millions of others who hail from Myanmar's minority ethnic groups are facing increasing uncertainty and waning security as longstanding conflicts between the military and minority guerrilla armies flare anew.
It's a situation that was thrust to the forefront over the past week as the military launched deadly airstrikes against ethnic Karen guerrillas in their homeland on the eastern border, displacing thousands and sending civilians fleeing into neighboring Thailand.
Trial in Floyd's death expected to turn to ex-cop's training
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The trial of a former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd's death is expected to turn toward the officer's training on Monday after a first week that was dominated by emotional testimony from eyewitnesses and devastating video of Floyd's arrest.
Derek Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of Floyd. Chauvin, who is white, is accused of pinning his knee on the 46-year-old Black man's neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds as Floyd lay face-down in handcuffs outside of a corner market.
Prosecutors say Chauvin's knee killed Floyd. The defense argues that Chauvin did what he was trained to do and that Floyd's use of drugs and underlying health conditions caused his death.
Floyd's treatment by police was captured on widely seen bystander video that soon sparked protests that rocked Minneapolis and quickly spread to other U.S. cities and beyond. The video, plus officers' body-camera video and previously unseen bystander footage, was a heavy component of the first week of the trial, reawakening traumatic memories for viewers of the livestreamed trial.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is expected to testify during the trial's second week, perhaps as early as Monday. Arradondo, the city's first Black chief, fired Chauvin and three other officers the day after Floyd's death, and in June called it "murder."
Hymns through masks: Christians mark another pandemic Easter
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Christianity's most joyous feast day was celebrated worldwide with the faithful spaced apart in pews and singing choruses of "Hallelujah" through face coverings on a second Easter Sunday marked by pandemic precautions.
From vast Roman Catholic cathedrals to Protestant churches, worshippers followed regulations on the coronavirus. In some European countries, citizens lined up on Easter for their turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
In the Lombardy region of Italy, where the pandemic first erupted in the West, a hospital gave a traditional dove-shaped Easter cake symbolizing peace to each person waiting to get vaccinated. Many who came were in their 80s.
A soccer team in Lyon, France, opened its stadium as a vaccination center for the long holiday weekend. Some 9,000 people were expected to receive their shots there over three days as the French government tries to speed up vaccinations amid a fresh outbreak of infections.
In the Holy Land, travel restrictions and quarantine regulations prevented foreign pilgrims from flocking to religious sites in Jerusalem during Holy Week, which culminates in Easter celebrations. Pope Francis lamented that the pandemic has prevented some churchgoers from attending services.
'Trial of the Chicago 7' takes top honors at SAG Awards
The starry cast of Aaron Sorkin's 1960s courtroom drama "The Trial of the Chicago 7" took the top prize Sunday at a virtual Screen Actors Guild Awards where actors of color, for the first time, swept the individual film awards.
The 27th SAG Awards, presented by the Hollywood actors' guild SAG-Aftra, were a muted affair — and not just because the red carpet-less ceremony was condensed to a pre-recorded, Zoom-heavy, one-hour broadcast on TBS and TNT. The perceived Academy Awards frontrunner — Chloé Zhao's "Nomadland" — wasn't nominated for best ensemble, making this year's postponed SAG Awards less of an Oscar preview than it is most years.
Still, the win for Netflix's "The Trial of the Chicago 7" marked the first time a film from any streaming service won the guild's ensemble award. Written and directed by Sorkin, "The Trial of the Chicago 7" had been set for theatrical release by Paramount Pictures before the pandemic hit, leading to its sale to Netflix. The streamer is still after its first best-picture win at the Oscars.
Frank Langella, who plays the judge who presided over the 1969 prosecution of activists arrested during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, drew parallels between that era's unrest and today's while accepting the award on behalf of the cast.
"'God give us leaders,' said the Rev. Martin Luther King before he was shot down in cold blood on this very date in 1968 — a profound injustice," said Langella, citing events leading up to those dramatized in "The Trial of the Chicago 7. "The Rev. King was right. We need leaders to guide us toward hating each other less."
Stanford holds off Arizona 54-53 to win women's NCAA title
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tara VanDerveer hugged each of her Stanford players as they climbed the ladder to cut down the nets, capping a taxing whirlwind journey and ending an exhausting championship drought for the Cardinal.
It took 29 years, that included 10 weeks on the road this season because of the coronavirus, for VanDerveer and the Cardinal to be crowned NCAA women's basketball champions again.
"We had some special karma going for us," VanDerveer said. "Had the comeback against Louisville, dodge a bullet against South Carolina, dodge bullet against Arizona. Sometimes you have to be lucky. I'll admit it, we were very fortunate to win."
Haley Jones scored 17 points and Stanford beat Arizona 54-53, giving the Cardinal and their Hall of Fame coach their first national championship since 1992 on Sunday night.
"Getting through all the things we got through, we're excited to win the COVID championship," VanDerveer said. "The other one was not quite as close, the last one. But we're really excited. No one knows the score, no one knows who scored, it's a national championship."
Florida works to avoid 'catastrophic' pond collapse
PALMETTO, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Sunday that crews are working to prevent the collapse of a large wastewater pond in the Tampa Bay area while evacuating the area to avoid a "catastrophic flood."
Manatee County officials say the latest models show that a breach at the old phosphate plant reservoir has the potential to gush out 340 million gallons of water in a matter of minutes, risking a 20-foot-high (about 6.1-meter-high) wall of water.
"What we are looking at now is trying to prevent and respond to, if need be, a real catastrophic flood situation," DeSantis said at a press conference after flying over the old Piney Point phosphate mine.
Authorities have closed off portions of the U.S. Highway 41 and ordered evacuations of 316 homes. Some families were placed in local hotels.
Manatee County Sheriff's officials began evacuating about 345 inmates from a local jail about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) away from the 77-acre pond first floor on Sunday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said models show the area could be covered with between 1 foot (30 centimeters) to 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water, and the second floor is 10 feet above ground.
Israeli PM back in court as parties weigh in on his fate
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was back in court for his corruption trial on Monday as the country's political parties were set to weigh in on whether he should form the next government after a closely divided election or step down to focus on his legal woes.
Between witness testimony in a Jerusalem courtroom and the consultations at the president's office across town, it promised to be a day of extraordinary political drama, bringing into sharp focus Netanyahu's increasingly desperate efforts to stay in power.
He is Israel's longest-serving prime minister and has clung to power through four hard-fought elections in less than two years, even as he has faced allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The March 23 election was largely a referendum on his leadership but produced no clear verdict.
Israel's political parties, meanwhile, began meeting with President Reuven Rivlin to recommend which candidate should be tasked with forming the next government.
After each election, Israel's president is responsible for designating a party leader to try to put together a governing majority. That decision is usually clear cut, but Rivlin faces a difficult choice given the fragmented election results that left the Knesset, Israel's parliament, divided between 13 parties with broad ideological differences.
Polish hospitals struggle with surge of virus patients
BOCHNIA, Poland (AP) — Polish hospitals struggled over the Easter weekend with a massive number of people infected with COVID-19 following a huge surge in infections across Central and Eastern Europe in recent weeks.
Tougher new pandemic restrictions were ordered in Poland for a two-week period surrounding Easter in order to slow down the infection rate. The country hit new records of over 35,000 daily infections on two recent days, and deaths have been in the hundreds each day.
The aim of the new restrictions was to prevent large gatherings over the long weekend culminating with Easter Monday. Meanwhile, the government is also trying to speed up the country's vaccine rollout, but the pressure on the country's hospitals is still relentless.
On Easter Sunday, coronavirus patients filled almost all of the 120 beds at the County Hospital of Bochnia, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the southern city of Krakow.
"It is a difficult situation, because there are a lot of patients," said Bozena Gicala, a nurse treating COVID-19 patients who spoke to Associated Press reporters visiting the hospital.
AP PHOTOS: Italy ballroom dancers twirl through lockdown
ROME (AP) — Social distancing isn't usually part of the ballroom dancing lexicon. But in an industrial zone on the outskirts of Rome, couples of every age twirl and turn across the dance floor, even through a pandemic, just as ballroom dancers have done for decades around the world.
While much of Italy is in a coronavirus lockdown, with live music and theatrical performances barred, cinemas shuttered and many sporting activities limited, competitive ballroom dancing is alive and well here, albeit with precautions.
The couples at the New Dancing Days hall are preparing for the Italian Championships in Rimini in July and as such are allowed to keep practicing, given that the government considers their activity in the national interest. It's the same allowance that has enabled other federally recognized competitive athletes to keep training in Italy even during the latest round of virus-related closures.
"Yes, we can do it. Here we can keep on dancing," said Raffaella Serafini, the 45-year-old owner of New Dancing Days and a 35-year veteran of competitive ballroom dancing.
In the huge hall with mirrors on the walls and multi-colored lights, couples wear masks during warm-ups and pauses but are allowed to remove them while performing traditional ballroom or Latin dances. Most keep them on anyway.