Texas Sets Record For Cases with Nearly 10,800

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas set a record for confirmed new coronavirus cases in a single day with nearly 10,800.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott mandated face coverings this month. Some Texas sheriffs have said they won’t enforce the order.

But Abbott has increasingly emphasized face coverings as the way out of avoiding another lockdown, which he has not ruled out.

“If we were two shut down for two weeks, as some people are asking, once we open back up you would then see things begin to spread again,” Abbott told Houston television station KTRK on Wednesday. “Until there are medications to slow the spread of the coronavirus, there is only one thing that can slow the spread and that is by people adopting the use of wearing a face guard of some sort whenever they go out.”

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Oklahoma Gov. Stitt tests positive for coronavirus

— Florida tops 10,000 virus cases, reaches 300,000

— White House trade adviser Navarro critical of Dr. Fauci

— Cars have become mobile markets in Zimbabwe where enterprising residents are selling goods from their vehicles to cope with economic hardships caused by the coronavirus.

— It’s a fresh taste of bitter medicine for New Orleans: A sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is forcing bars to shut down again just a month after they were allowed to partially reopen.

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Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia school district says it plans hybrid instruction in the fall, with most students in class just two days per week and learning remotely the other three.

District officials also warned that it’s “highly likely” evolving coronavirus conditions will require individual schools or entire districts to shut down temporarily or for the balance of the school year.

“This school year will challenge all of us in new ways,” Superintendent William Hite Jr. said in a video message. “This new normal will not be simple or easy.”

The school district had hoped to offer elementary students four days of face-to-face instruction but says that plan was too costly. Special education students with complex needs and pre-kindergarten students will be at school four days a week.

While they’re at school, students and staff will be required to wear masks, with face shields offered as an alternative for younger students. Masks or shields will be required on buses.

The district says it wants to limit classroom occupancy to 25 “when feasible” and install barriers in classrooms that can’t space desks at least 6 feet apart.

The School District of Philadelphia is Pennsylvania’s largest, with an enrollment of about 200,000.

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ROME — Italy’s main nursing federation says 40 nurses with coronavirus died during the peak of the outbreak.

The National Federation of the Order of Nursing Professions released a breakdown of the deaths on Wednesday, based on reporting from its regional chapters in March, April and May. “It’s obvious that the lack of PPE, including the FFP2 masks, was one of the principal causes of infection transmission among nursing personnel,” the report said.

The toll adds to 172 doctors with coronavirus who have died, according to a tally kept by Italy’s main doctors’ association. Both associations included retired personnel.

The nursing group says 32 nurses died of COVID-19. For four others, coronavirus was a determining factor. Of four suicides, two were in hardest-hit Lombardy region.

Italy’s Superior Institute of Health has confirmed 29,768 positive cases among health care workers. Overall, Italy has 243,506 confirmed cases, with 163 infections and 13 deaths recorded Wednesday.

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MADRID — Authorities in Spain’s Balearic Islands are pulling the plug on endless drunken nights to the beat of techno music by closing bars and nightclubs in beachfront areas popular with young and international visitors.

To slow the spread of the coronavirus, regional authorities closed all establishments near the beach of Palma de Mallorca and the nearby Magaluf.

The region’s tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, says it wants to shake off a reputation of no social distancing and no masks that went virual and made headlines in Germany and Britain.

Spain has confirmed at least 28,400 deaths from the virus. It’s dealing with dozens of outbreaks reopening last month.

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt says he’s tested positive for the coronavirus and is isolating at home.

The first-term Republican governor has backed one of the country’s most aggressive reopening plans, has resisted any statewide mandate on masks and rarely wears one.

Stitt attended President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa last month, which health experts have said likely contributed to a surge in coronavirus cases there.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama will require masks in public after a surge of coronavirus cases filled hospitals.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s office announced the rule Wednesday, a day after the state reported a high of 40 confirmed deaths.

Officials say the mask requirement starts Thursday for people age 6 or older in public and within 6 feet (2 meters) of someone who is not a relative.

There are exceptions, including for people with certain medical conditions, exercising and some work activities. Ivey previously called a statewide mask order unenforceable.

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases Wednesday and reached 300,000 total infections.

Florida has 10,181 confirmed cases and a total of 301,810 since the outbreak began there March 1. The state confirmed 112 deaths -- the third time in the last seven days its eclipsed 100 – and 4,626 total COVID-19 deaths.

Florida’s rolling seven-day average for deaths has increased to 92 per day, triple the 31 posted a month ago.

As of Tuesday, Florida had the No. 2 death rate in the United States, slightly behind Texas.

When the coronavirus was ravaging New York three months ago, it recorded 799 deaths on April 9 and a top seven-day average of 763 deaths on April 14.

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LONDON — More countries have signed up for a global coronavirus vaccine initiative to ensure any vaccine is fairly distributed.

The vaccines alliance Gavi says 75 rich countries will join its new “Covax facility,” along with 90 low-income countries, which hope to receive donated vaccines. The Associated Press reported this week the plan may allow rich countries to reinforce their own coronavirus vaccine stocks while leaving fewer shots for more vulnerable populations.

When Gavi approached donor countries last month, it advertised the plan as an “insurance policy” for rich countries that have already struck deals with drug makers for experimental candidates.

Gavi told donor governments when an effective shot is found within its pool of coronavirus vaccines, all countries will receive enough to cover 20% of their populations, including rich countries that may have their own stockpiles.

It says countries would be encouraged, but not required, to give up any vaccine they might not need.

Gavi says it is aiming to raise $2 billion to buy vaccines.

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BRUSSELS — The Belgian government has decided to postpone a further relaxation of its coronavirus lockdown because of a recent increase in cases.

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes says despite the recent weekly 8% increase kept the overall numbers relatively low, the trend “is not good.”

Wilmes says, “the epidemic is gaining in strength,” and delayed until next week any decision on bigger indoor and outdoor events or the opening of night clubs.

Last weekend, the government imposed the mandatory wearing of masks in shops, museums, swimming pools and cinemas.

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LONDON — More countries have signed up for a global coronavirus vaccine initiative to ensure any vaccine is fairly distributed.

The vaccines alliance Gavi says 75 rich countries will join its new “Covax facility,” along with 90 low-income countries, which hope to receive donated vaccines. The Associated Press reported this week the plan may allow rich countries to reinforce their own coronavirus vaccine stocks while leaving fewer shots for more vulnerable populations.

When Gavi approached donor countries last month, it advertised the plan as an “insurance policy” for rich countries that have already struck deals with drug makers for experimental candidates.

Gavi told donor governments when an effective shot is found within its pool of coronavirus vaccines, all countries will receive enough to cover 20% of their populations, including rich countries that may have their own stockpiles.

It says countries would be encouraged, but not required, to give up any vaccine they might not need.

Gavi says it is aiming to raise $2 billion to buy vaccines.

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BRUSSELS — The Belgian government has decided to postpone a further relaxation of its coronavirus lockdown because of a recent increase in cases.

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes says despite the recent weekly 8% increase kept the overall numbers relatively low, the trend “is not good.”

Wilmes says, “the epidemic is gaining in strength,” and delayed until next week any decision on bigger indoor and outdoor events or the opening of night clubs.

Last weekend, the government imposed the mandatory wearing of masks in shops, museums, swimming pools and cinemas.

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LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed to holding an “independent inquiry” into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic at some point.

The U.K. leader mentioned it during his weekly question and answer session in the House of Commons. His Downing Street office later didn’t offer any details on the timing or conditions for such a probe.

Johnson has been under pressure to hold an inquiry in hopes of learning lessons to stave off a “second wave” of infection. Johnson says he doesn’t believe it is “the right moment to devote huge amounts of official time to an inquiry,’’ given the country is still battling the pandemic.

But he added “we will seek to learn the lessons of this pandemic in the future and certainly we will have an independent inquiry into what happened.”

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BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s president announced a 30-day extension for the nationwide state of alert declared for the coronavirus pandemic.

President Klaus Iohannis says the extension was needed because of the rising number of infections.

Among the measures in force are the mandatory wearing of face coverings on public transportation and in shops, while restaurants can only serve customers in outdoor locations.

Romania set a record for new infections on Saturday with 698 cases. That came days after the Constitutional Court banned the government from forcing people infected with the coronavirus to quarantine or stay in hospital for treatment.

The government is working on legislation to address the court’s concerns and set new regulations for people affected by the coronavirus.

Romania has 34,226 confirmed cases and 1,952 deaths.

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MOSCOW — A World Health Organization delegation visiting Turkmenistan, a country with no reported coronavirus infections, is recommending the country take stronger actions.

The WHO recommends “activating critical public health measures in Turkmenistan as if COVID-19 were circulating,” delegation head Dr. Catherine Smallwood said.

Smallwood didn’t directly comment on the credibility of the authoritarian and secretive country’s absence of reported cases.

“The responsibility of reporting outbreaks sits firmly with the member state and we rely on health authorities to inform WHO of any outbreaks,” she said. She noted based on what the delegation saw in its inspections the “country fully recognizes the risk currently posed by the virus.”

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s president says he hopes the country will have a vaccine for the coronavirus by the end of this year.

Aleksandar Vucic says it would cooperate with an unspecified country. Media reports in Serbia have indicated it could be China.

Vucic says the vaccine would be a “savior for Serbia and our economy.”

He added: “We are currently in talks with one country in connection with the vaccine. Its testing is done and it is being given to those exposed.”

Serbia has developed close political and trade relations with China. At the start of the pandemic, Vucic blasted the European Union and the West for allegedly showing little solidarity with Serbia -- an EU member candidate country -- while China quickly provided help in medical equipment and experts.

Nearly two dozen possible vaccines are in various stages of testing around the world.

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WASHINGTON — The White House says an opinion piece by its trade adviser that’s critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci is the adviser’s opinion “alone.”

Alyssa Farah, White House director of strategic communications, tweeted Wednesday the piece by trade adviser Peter Navarro “didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone.”

Farah adds President Donald Trump “values the expertise” of the medical professionals advising the administration. But Trump has also broken with Fauci and publicly accused him of making “mistakes” in his public guidance about combating the virus.

USA Today published Navarro’s piece. It outlines the ways Navarro says he has disagreed with Fauci, who is the leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases and serves on the White House coronavirus task force.

Navarro had shared his views with some reporters and the column comes as allies of Trump, including others inside the White House, have been waging a campaign to discredit Fauci.

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HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe has postponed the reopening of schools scheduled for the end of this month, citing rising numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government had insisted on a phased reopening of schools despite resistance from teachers’ unions, who argued the move would endanger pupils and teachers because of lack of adequate planning and personal protective gear such as facemasks and sanitizers.

Also, social distancing would be nearly impossible in many schools where up to 70 pupils are often crammed into small classrooms, the unions said. Many schools, like much of the country, have no running water, making it difficult for pupils, teachers and other school workers to practice hygiene methods such as hand washing.

The confirmed coronavirus cases reached 1,064 Wednesday and 20 deaths, up from seven at the end of June.

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TOKYO — Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike says the spread of infections in the Japanese capital has escalated to levels tantamount to “issuing an alarm,” and requested residents and business owners to step up preventive measures.

Koike specifically urged restaurants, shops and nightclub operators to fulfill safety measures and urged customers to stay away from places that don’t comply with guidelines.

Koike also asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to revise the law to authorize local governors to penalize business owners who violate requested safety measures.

She appealed to residents to avoid non-essential out-of-town trips, and to the government to “think carefully” if it’s an appropriate timing to push Abe’s unpopular tourism campaign.

Experts on the Tokyo task force say infections are no longer limited to younger generations linked to nightlife districts.

Hospital beds are quickly filling up and more are needed. Tokyo has had 8,189 confirmed cases and 325 deaths.

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LONDON — Authorities in the English town of Blackburn have imposed new restrictions on social mingling amid what they say is a “rising tide” of new coronavirus cases.

Director of Public Health Dominic Harrison says Blackburn’s infection rate is 47 per 100,000 people, one of the highest in the country.

He says the main issue is transmission within families, mostly in South Asian households. He told the BBC that “what we are seeing is a single case being infected, then going back to a household and all that household becoming infected.”

He says the borough was limiting the number of people residents can visit, requiring face masks in public places and sending mobile testing units out into the community.

Harrison says if infection numbers didn’t fall by July 27, officials would begin to reimpose lockdown measures such as the closing of shops and other businesses.

Harrison says he hoped Blackburn wouldn’t have to impose a blanket local lockdown like one in the city of Leicester. The government ordered restaurants, pubs and non-essential shops to close there on June 30 after the infection rate surged to 157 cases per 100,000 residents.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government would assess Leicester’s lockdown on Thursday when the latest coronavirus data is out.

Like Blackburn, Leicester has a large South Asian population. Statistics show that Britain’s ethnic minorities are more likely to contract the virus than their white counterparts. Experts point to a range of factors, including social inequality and the prevalence of underlying health conditions such as diabetes.

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MOSCOW — Russian authorities have lifted mandatory two-week self-quarantine for those arriving as part of easing coronavirus restrictions.

Starting Wednesday, both Russian and international travelers will have to either provide coronavirus test results at the border or take a test within three days of arrival in Russia. Self-quaratine will remain mandatory for those who test positive for the virus or whose health deteriorates upon arrival.

It’s one of several steps in an effort to reopen the country after health officials started reporting a slowdown in infections. Last month, authorities allowed travel abroad for the purpose of work, studying, medical treatment or taking care of relatives. They also let foreigners with work permits or those seeking medical treatment or taking care of family members into the country.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said Russia may resume international flights starting Wednesday, adding that the final decision would depend on the outcome of negotiations with other countries.

On Tuesday night, Belarus Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko announced reopening of the border with Russia and resuming transport ties between the two countries “in the coming days.” Russia has so far reported over 746,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.

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ATHENS, Greece — Stricter health checks have gone into effect at Greece’s border with Bulgaria following an increase in tourism-related COVID-19 cases.

Starting Wednesday, all incoming travelers crossing the border are required to carry negative test results, issued in the previous 72 hours and translated into English.

The new rules saw a drop in arrivals compared to recent days. The Promachonas-Kulata border with Bulgaria is the only crossing that has been open for non-essential travel after lockdown measures were eased.

Also, plans to lift a ban on direct flights from the U.K. officially went into effect, with service due to resume Thursday.

Health experts advising the government want tougher enforcement of health safety rules, warning that public compliance is low after months of strict lockdown.

Dozens of health care workers staged a protest outside the prime minister’s office to demand better staffing at public hospitals.

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NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus caseload is approaching 1 million with a surge of 29,429 in the past 24 hours, prompting authorities to reimpose lockdowns in high-risk areas in nearly a dozen states.

The new confirmed cases took the national total to 936,181. The Health Ministry reported another 582 deaths for a confirmed total of 24,309 deaths.

A two-week lockdown was imposed Wednesday in eastern Bihar state, where nearly 2.5 million migrant workers returned home after losing jobs in other parts of the country and further spread the virus.

India’s key southern technology hub, Bangalore, where the offices of Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are located, was put under a weeklong lockdown Wednesday.

About a dozen other states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, have put high-risk areas in lockdown, allowing only essential food supplies and health services.

India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said he expected the coronavirus cases to peak in various parts of the country at different times. He says more than 280,000 samples are being tested every day in the country, taking the total to nearly 12 million.

 

By The Associated Press - July 15. 2020

AP

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