ROME — Their eyes are tired. Their cheekbones rubbed raw from protective masks. They don’t smile.The doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy are almost unrecognizable behind their masks, scrubs, gloves and hairnets — the flimsy battle armor donned at the start of each shift as the only barrier to contagion.Associated Press photographers fanned out on Friday to photograph them during rare breaks from hospital intensive care units in the Lombardy region cities of Bergamo and Brescia, and in Rome. In each case, doctors, nurses and paramedics posed in front of forest green surgical drapes, the bland backdrop of their sterile wards.Friday was a bad day: Italy registered the most deaths since the country’s outbreak had exploded five weeks earlier, adding 969 more victims to raise the world’s highest COVID-19 toll to 9,134. Lombardy accounted for 541 of them.Italy also surpassed China in total confirmed cases, and stands behind only the United States. But the National Institutes of Health also said there had been a slowing of infections in recent days, suggesting that a national lockdown was starting to show an effect after 2 1/2 weeks.For medical staff, any letup from the chaotic crush


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