The Latest: Arizona tops 4,000 deaths from coronavirus

PHOENIX — Health officials say the number of known coronavirus-related deaths in Arizona has now surpassed 4,000.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported Thursday another 1,444 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 70 more deaths. This brings the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 183,647 and the death toll to 4,002.

Some of the deaths were likely counted after health officials reviewed death certificates going back weeks. The news comes a day after Maricopa County public health officials confirmed 22 bodies were moved to portable storage coolers.

Officials say the action was taken after the medical examiner’s office in metro Phoenix became 86% full.



— US deaths predicted at nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1

— Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for virus

— Dr. Fauci says public health safeguards slow virus; hopes for vaccine in 2021

— Congressional negotiations on a huge COVID-19 relief package is still ongoing. Leaders are fast approaching a self-imposed Friday deadline for an agreement.

— A newsletter that updates residents of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, about the coronavirus pandemic is moving some readers to tears, thanks to weekly contributions from the city’s poet laureate.


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BATON ROUGE, La. — A Louisiana judge upheld Gov. John Bel Edwards’ statewide mask mandate and bar restrictions as legal and enforceable.

Judge Janice Clark delivered her ruling after a two-day hearing in which the plaintiffs argued Edwards’ regulations were illegal, unfair and an overreaction to the coronavirus outbreak. The Edwards administration countered the rules helped to slow the spread of the virus and protect public safety.

“The court is firmly of the opinion that the governor has exercised his power deliberately, on behalf of the people of this state and in an effort to be proactive to limit the loss of life,” Clark said.

She handed down her decision as Louisiana’s health department announced the death toll from the coronavirus has topped 4,000.

Louisiana has one of the nation’s highest per capita virus infection rates in the last two weeks. The state is reporting more than 1,700 confirmed cases per day over the last two weeks.


HELENA, Mont. — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has issued a directive allowing counties to hold all-mail elections in November to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The Democratic governor, who is running for U.S. Senate, says voters shouldn’t have to choose between voting and their health.

State officials on Thursday also announced they will spend up to $20 million on testing and contact-tracing efforts at public universities. Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian says the universities will not have universal testing policies. It will focus testing efforts on groups that are at a higher risk of spreading the virus and students who have a heightened risk of contracting it.


LANSING, Mich. — Dozens of Michigan teachers chanted and waved signs during a rally at the Michigan Capitol to bring attention to the danger of schools reopening for in-person learning in the fall.

The rally and speeches at the Capitol steps was organized by MI CORE, a teacher union caucus.

“We’re fighting for a safe return to school. For most of us that means starting online,” said Nichole Hartrick, a teacher in the Dearborn school district and one of the organizers of the event.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said more than a month ago that she was optimistic about returning to in-person instruction. Under her plan, in-person classes are allowed but not required. Several districts have announced plans to start with only online learning.


ROSWELL, N.M. — A state agency in New Mexico has reported 21 employees at a meatpacking plant in Roswell tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Roswell Daily Record reported the New Mexico Environment Department has advised USA Beef Packing LLC owner Jose Madrid on how to handle the influx in cases. Madrid says he is cooperating with the state as it investigates what has caused that number of cases and has decreased operations to about 10%.

Agency reports show the company reported its first positive test on July 28. The number of cases increased to 21 by Wednesday.


BILLINGS, Mont. — A Canadian company says two people working on the Keystone XL oil pipeline have tested positive for the coronavirus in northern Montana.

Calgary-based TC Energy told Yellowstone Public Radio the first pipe yard worker in Phillips County tested positive at a local clinic on July 28. Testing on six close contacts found a second worker with the virus.

Native American tribes and others along the pipeline’s 1,200-mile route have raised concerns that workers could bring the virus into rural communities unable to handle an outbreak. The company says the work will continue for the project.


ROME — Italy added another 402 coronavirus cases and six more deaths to its official tally.

While countries such as Spain, France and Germany have had infection spikes topping 1,000 new cases in recent days and weeks, Italy’s daily tally has stayed in the 200-300 range for several weeks.

Dr. Giovanni Rezza, head of infectious disease at the Superior Institute of Health, says Italy’s situation still merits “a lot of attention.”

An outbreak in an agricultural company in Mantua, in the hardest-hit region of Lombardy, accounted for 22 more cases Thursday. Other regions had double-digit increases to bring the official tally in the onetime European epicenter of the outbreak to 249,204.

In the weekly report through Aug. 2, government health authorities say the average age of those infected is decreasing to people in their 40s. Most are asymptomatic.

Italy’s official death toll now stands at 35,187.


WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says even if the coronavirus is around for decades, public health safeguards and an eventual vaccine will allow the world to successfully adapt.

The government’s leading infectious disease expert was asked about whether the coronavirus could become a fact of life for generations.

Fauci says the combination of public health measures — masks, hand washing, social distancing — and vaccines should mean that “you can very well control and essentially eliminate (the coronavirus) from any given country.”

He added: “Remember, there’s only been one virus in the history of the planet that’s been eradicated and that’s smallpox.”

Vaccines are under development and it’s unknown how effective they will be. But Fauci says he hopes it will be in the range of 70% to 80% effectiveness. A vaccine should be available in 2021, he says.


ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rescinded an order requiring people traveling from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to quarantine for 14 days.

Early in the national outbreak, the Republican ordered travelers arriving in Florida from then-epicenter New York City and its suburbs to quarantine for two weeks. New York’s statewide daily infection-rate has plummeted since late April and is currently about one-tenth Florida’s.

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued his own order in June, requiring residents in several states, including Florida, to quarantine upon arriving in New York.

On Thursday, Florida reported 7,650 new coronavirus cases and 120 deaths. The state has a total of 510,389 confirmed cases, second only to California. There have been at least 7,781 deaths, sixth in the nation.


SEATTLE — A widely cited University of Washington model predicts U.S. deaths from COVID-19 will reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1.

The forecast of 295,011 deaths is 137,000 more than the roughly 158,000 U.S. deaths reported so far. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model assumes that many states will impose new stay-at-home orders as deaths climb.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors the model along with forecasts from about 30 other modeling groups. Combined, the models predict from 168,000 to 182,000 total COVID-19 deaths by Aug. 22.


WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says if you can wear a face shield to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus, you might as well do it.

The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says he’s been asked by teachers worried about infection risks from kids in the classroom whether they should wear plastic face shields. They are now commonly used in hospital emergency departments, as well as dental and medical offices.

“It certainly can’t hurt,” says Fauci, who has also promoted the use of cloth masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Fauci took questions at a session sponsored by the nonprofit Alliance for Health Policy.

There’s no formal recommendation yet to wear face shields because the science isn’t clear, Fauci says, but there is a certain logic to it: So the virus doesn’t enter the body through the mouth, nose and eyes.


MADRID — A town of 32,000 people in northwestern Spain will begin lockdown Friday amid a local surge in coronavirus cases.

The senior health official in the Basque country reported 338 news cases in the region on Thursday. Authorities in the northwestern Castile and León region are quarantining Aranda de Duero after 103 new COVID-19 cases emerged there. Contact tracers have reported five active clusters.

New cases have risen steadily in Spain since a more than three-month lockdown ended on June 21, reaching 1,772 new infections reported on Wednesday. A total of more than 28,000 people in Spain have died since the pandemic began, the eighth highest total in the world.


LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization hopes the United States leadership will reconsider its departure from the U.N. health agency.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the U.S. was well recognized both for its generosity and support of global health projects in the past.

“You cannot defeat this virus in a divided world,” Tedros said of a country that contributes more than $450 million to the agency every year.

“When I was a minister in Ethiopia, when HIV/AIDS was ravaging the whole continent of Africa…it’s the U.S. generosity and leadership that gave hope to individuals, gave hope to families and gave hope to nations,” Tedros said.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused WHO of botching its response to the coronavirus and said it colluded with China in the pandemic’s early stages to cover up the extent of the outbreak.

WHO had denied that and recently start a probe into the global response to the pandemic.


WINDER, Ga. — More than 90 staff members in one Georgia school district have been quarantined due to coronavirus exposure or infection, prompting the district to start the year entirely online.

Barrow County Schools officials say the district about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta will begin with distance learning on Aug. 17.

Superintendent Dr. Chris McMichael says the district took “every precaution” and staff members were required to wear masks during preplanning before students returned to buildings. But dozens of employees were still infected or in quarantine due to a suspected case or direct contact with a confirmed case.

Also this week, about 260 employees for Gwinnett County Public Schools, the state’s largest public school district, reported testing positive for the virus.


WARSAW, Poland — Poland is reintroducing restrictions to some central and southern counties with the highest rates of coronavirus cases after the daily rate recently reached 726 new cases.

Starting Saturday, cinemas and gyms will be reclosed and no more than 50 people allowed to attend wedding parties or funerals in some among the 19 counties. People must wear protective masks in all public spaces.

Poland, a nation of 38 million, has registered nearly 50,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,770 deaths.


Duluth, Minn. — St. Louis County in northeastern Minnesota this week has added new coronavirus cases faster than any other county in the state.

Of the 475 cases in St. Louis County as of Wednesday, more than half were confirmed in July. The virus has been detected throughout the state’s geographically largest county, but about three-fourths of the cases came from Duluth, according to health officials.

While nursing homes were hit hard by the coronavirus in the spring and early summer, now nearly one-third of those infected in the county are in their 20s.

About 40% of people who tested positive say they’d attended restaurants or bars during the period they were likely exposed to the virus, the county’s public health director Amy Westbrook says.

Westbrook says the next few weeks will be critical. The number of daily new cases in the county is hovering close to 20.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reported its first two confirmed cases on the reservation, part of which is in St. Louis County, and a third case involving a band member tested in Duluth, the Star Tribune reported.


PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem is using coronavirus restrictions in other states to lure businesses to relocate to South Dakota.

In an online ad, Noem tells business owners to “grow their company” in South Dakota where government will stay out of their way.

“When it comes to supporting growth and eliminating government heavy-handed interference, South Dakota means business,” Noem said in the ad from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

The Republican governor says Minnesota’s COVID-19-related restrictions, including a mandate to wear face masks in public buildings, has created an opportunity for businesses there to cross the border to South Dakota.

Noem says in South Dakota, businesses won’t be shut down.

Noem has taken a relaxed approach to the pandemic. Even as Republican governors in states such as Texas have moved to require people to wear masks, Noem didn’t require physical distancing or masks at the July 3 celebration at Mount Rushmore, which President Donald Trump attended.


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