The Latest: 2 Iowa schools rebuff governor’s return demand
Des Moines, IOWA — At least two school districts in Iowa are refusing to follow the governor’s demand that they return students to classrooms, rebuffing the idea that the state can override what local officials believe is the safest way to educate their children as coronavirus spreads in their counties.
Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday reiterated that the state will require at least half of a school’s instruction to be held in person and the state will decide when K-12 schools can send students home based on community virus spread and student illnesses.
She said at a news conference that districts will not be credited for days of home learning not approved by the state and that school administrators may be subject to “licensure discipline.”
“I want to be very clear schools that choose not to return to school for at least 50 percent in person instruction are not defying me, they’re defying the law,” she said.
On Monday school officials in Waukee said they would not seek permission from the state to keep students at home and board members in Urbandale, another suburban Des Moines district, voted Monday night to defy the state orders after the state denied a request for Rolling Green Elementary students to continue online learning.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Florida daily deaths at 245, nearly 5,500 new cases
— Arizona reports 66 more deaths, 1,000 new cases
— Wisconsin mask requirement aims to stem surging virus
— Education officials in Alabama say more than 4,000 new laptop computers bound for a school district are being held by customs due to human rights concerns.
— Possible wave of evictions expected in U.S. as moratoriums end in many states. Some 23 million people nationwide are at risk of being evicted, according to The Aspen Institute.
— South Dakota, which has seen an uptick in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, is bracing to host hundreds of thousands of bikers for the 80th edition of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana’s agriculture department said a dog in the state has tested positive for the coronavirus.
It’s the state’s first confirmed infection in an animal and was determined through a nasal swab test.
Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says no evidence suggests that pets play a significant role in helping to spread the virus. He urged people not to abandon their pets because of worry.
The agriculture department refused to provide details about the dog or where its owner lives, citing federal health privacy laws.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a small number of pets have been reported with coronavirus infections.
MINNEAPOLIS — A group of voters sued Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and other officials on Tuesday to try to block a requirement that voters wear face masks at polling places to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Members of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, backed by Republican lawmakers, argue that Walz’s mask mandate conflicts with a 1963 state law making it a misdemeanor for someone to conceal their identity with a mask.
The Star Tribune reports the group is seeking a federal court order to block the rule for people who vote in-person in next Tuesday’s primary.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement standing behind “the legality and constitutionality” of Walz’s executive order.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards says he’ll continue Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate and the business restrictions he enacted to combat the coronavirus outbreak for at least three more weeks.
The rules were set to expire Friday, but the Democratic governor said Tuesday he’ll extend them through Aug. 28.
Edwards says the state has “made early fragile gains” in slowing the virus spread but couldn’t risk lifting the restrictions yet.
Dr. Alex Billioux, the governor’s chief public health adviser, estimated Louisiana still has at least 50,000 active coronavirus cases where people can shed the virus to others. He said: “We are not in a position where we think we can start to peel away restrictions.”
Several lawsuits are trying to get some of the rules thrown out as overstepping Edwards’ authority.
The governor’s decision comes as Edwards joined the leaders of Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia in announcing an interstate compact to buy 3 million rapid-use coronavirus tests.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Tuesday that he’s setting a statewide order for people to wear masks in public amid a recent surge in confirmed coronavirus cases. The Republican also delayed the start of the school year for upper grades in eight counties that are hard-hit by COVID-19.
Reeves also said he will sign an order mandating that all adults and students wear masks in schools, unless there’s a medical reason that prevents them from doing so.
He is delaying the start of school for grades 7-12 in eight counties with more than 200 cases and 500 cases per 100,000 residents. The counties are Bolivar, Coahoma, Forrest, George, Hinds, Panola, Sunflower and Washington.
He had previously set a mask order in 38 of the 82 counties, saying he thinks a targeted order has been effective.
Reeves said most local school districts will keep control over when and how to open schools for the academic year.
Schools are dealing with the reopening in different ways. Some have already gone back to classroom teaching in recent days. Some are planning a mix of in-person and online classes. A few districts have said they will only have online classes for a while. And some are delaying the start of the school year by a few weeks, until early September.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The mayor of an Oklahoma City suburb alleges she was threatened by a state lawmaker because of a mandate she issued requiring bar and restaurant workers to wear masks in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Republican State Rep. Jay Steagall on Tuesday denied threatening Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby and says he was talking to her about his constituents’ concerns.
“I’ve never threatened anyone,” Steagall told The Associated Press. “I’ve tried to take constituent concerns to her.” No court records show that charges have been filed.
Selby, whose voter registration records indicate she is a Republican, issued the proclamation last month.
Selby said in an email to The Associated Press that she could not discuss the matter on Tuesday because she was working, but could talk on Wednesday. The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Tuesday reported 861 additional confirmed coronavirus cases and 15 more deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the illness.
The department said there are 39,463 confirmed cases and 566 deaths, an increase from 38,602 confirmed cases and 551 deaths reported Monday.
MADISON, Wis. — Epic Systems, one of the two largest providers of software for the health industry, is requiring its 9,000-plus employees to return to work in person at its sprawling campus outside of Madison, Wisconsin, by Sept. 21. It is one of the first large employers in Wisconsin to no longer give employees the choice of working from home.
Epic workers decried the order, saying company CEO Judy Faulkner was ignoring public health advice, according to a statement made in conjunction with the Industrial Workers of the World labor union.
Faulkner defended the decision in an email to employees on Monday, saying better work is done on campus than from home.
Epic had revenue of $3.2 billion in 2019 and has 28 buildings on its 1,048-acre campus.
SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico State Supreme Court has upheld the governor’s authority to fine businesses as much as $5,000 per day for violations of emergency health orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The court heard arguments from businesses claiming the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham overstepped its authority in response to the pandemic. The ruling was unanimous in the governor’s favor.
Chief Justice Michael Vigil says the Legislature clearly gave the governor authority to apply administrative fines higher than the $100 citations the businesses claimed was the maximum allowed. The state has fined 16 businesses up to $5,000 a day.
PHOENIX — Arizona health officials have reported 1,008 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 66 more deaths.
The state Department of Health Services says Tuesday that increased the confirmed case total to 180,505 and 3,845 deaths.
Data on coronavirus hospitalizations and virus-related use of intensive care beds and ventilators rose slightly Monday after trending downward since mid-July. The number of virus-related emergency room visits dropped slightly.
ATLANTA — Two suburban Atlanta school districts that began in-class instruction on Monday face questions about coronavirus safety protocols.
In Cherokee County, dozens of seniors gathered at two of the district’s six high schools for traditional first day senior photos. Students were shoulder-to-shoulder with no masks in the pictures at Sequoyah High School in Hickory Flat or Etowah High School in Woodstock.
In Paulding County, a photo of students changing classes in a crowded hallway at North Paulding High School in Dallas indicated less than half the students shown were wearing masks.
Cherokee County school district spokesperson Barbara Jacoby says the pictures were not a sanctioned activity and district officials only became aware when the group photos were posted on social media.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota State High School League voted to push the fall football and volleyball season to next spring because of coronavirus concerns.
The league also decided at an online board meeting that soccer and individual fall sports will start practice on time on Aug. 17.
All seasons will be shortened. Minnesota became the ninth state to delay its high school football season, the Star Tribune reported.
PORTLAND, Ore. — At least 25 campers and staff members at a camp east of Portland, Oregon, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the virus was first detected July 18 at Trout Creek Bible Camp near Corbett when a staff member tested positive, and the camp shut down for the season on July 21.
Multnomah County health officials say the outbreak has grown to 11 campers and 14 staff members, all 20 or younger. The camp’s executive director, Joe Fahlman, says the camp followed all requirements set forth by the Oregon Health Authority. Those include daily temperature checks of all campers and staff, frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer stations spaced throughout the 265-acre grounds.
The campers also were divided into groups of 10 or less.
MALTBY, Wash. — The owner of a plant nursery in Washington state has been fined $4,200 for failing to ensure a safe workplace by preventing staff from wearing masks. The Daily Herald reported that the state Department of Labor and Industries cited Flower World last week for violating state guidelines intended to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The violations include not requiring masks or face coverings, social distancing and employee temperature checks. Authorities say inspectors visited the Maltby business three times and discovered multiple violations of state regulations. Owner John Postema couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
ISTANBUL — Turkish health ministry statistics show an increase in daily coronavirus cases, with confirmed infections back above 1,000.
Ministry figures show 1,083 new cases and 18 deaths Tuesday, bringing total infections to nearly 235,000 and deaths to 5,765.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted the increase was “serious.”
Cases had dropped below 1,000 before Turkey began reopening businesses in early June. The cases had decreased to an average of 945 for the past three weeks.
St. PETERSBURG, Florida — Florida’s coronavirus death tally surged to 245 on Tuesday.
That brought its seven-day average in daily reported deaths to 184 — its highest rate yet and just behind Texas for the past week with 186.
The number of people being treated for coronavirus in hospitals statewide continued a nearly two-week downward trajectory, with 7,797 patients Tuesday from 7,991 the day before. That’s down from highs of more than 9,500 about two weeks ago, according to the Department of Health.
There were 5,446 positive coronavirus tests reported in a 24-hour period. However, many large testing sites were closed over the weekend and into Monday because of Tropical Storm Isaias. Those sites have since reopened.
NEW YORK — New York City replaced its top public health official Tuesday at a key point in its fight to keep the coronavirus from surging.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot is leaving. She’ll be replaced by Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, an official and primary care physician in the city’s public hospital system. He also worked in Louisiana’s Department of Health before and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Barbot told staffers in an internal memo she resigned because as the city braces for an expected eventual second surge of the coronavirus, the staff’s “talents must be better leveraged alongside that of our sister agencies” and the virus fight needs to proceed “without distractions.” Barbot had prioritized personal protective equipment go to health care workers and tangled with police officials who made requests for PPE.
De Blasio, a Democrat, thanked Barbot for her “important work” during the crisis when New York was the nation’s epicenter for the virus this spring.
TEL AVIV, Israel — The Israeli military says it will launch a coronavirus command this week meant to assist in reducing Israel’s surging infections.
Working with the Health Ministry, the military says the command will attempt to streamline testing, contact tracing, quarantine orders and other elements of pandemic control in a bid to bring down infection numbers. The command will begin work on Thursday.
The military was enlisted into Israel’s fight against the virus last month after a new coronavirus czar said it would be best placed to handle the logistics behind combating the outbreak.
Israel largely contained its first outbreak in the spring but has seen a surge in cases over the summer. It now has one of the world’s highest daily infection numbers adjusted for population.
MADISON, Wisconsin — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers recently issued a statewide mask requirement to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.
It took effect Saturday. Nearly a quarter of Wisconsin’s 55,328 total cases had been confirmed in the last 14 days, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Much of the spike has occurred in counties in the state’s densely urban southeastern corner. But the disease has spread with amazing speed in northern Wisconsin’s sparsely populated rural counties.
Evers, a Democrat, had issued a stay-at-home order shortly after the pandemic took hold in the state in March. The conservative-leaning state Supreme Court struck it down in May amid pressure from restaurants and taverns.
Republican legislators are talking about convening an extraordinary session to strike down the current mask mandate.
BERLIN — Germany’s government is lifting its travel warning against trips to certain popular destinations in Turkey after determining the coronavirus rate there is low.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer says the warning will be lifted for Antalya, Izmir, Aydin and Mugla, where the spread of the coronavirus has slowed.
Demmer says Turkey has developed a plan to ensure safe tourism to the areas. It will require people returning to Germany from Turkey to test negative for coronavirus within 48 hours before departure.
Germany is home to a sizable Turkish minority and Germans are among frequent visitors to Turkey.