The Latest: California 2nd state to see 1 million infections

LOS ANGELES — California has become the second state to record 1 million confirmed coronavirus infections. Texas reached the mark earlier this week.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed Thursday that California surpassed the grim milestone. It comes nearly 10 months after the first cases were confirmed in the most populous state.

California was the first in the nation to implement a statewide stay-at-home order on its nearly 40 million residents in March.

After spiking in the summer, the rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases in California declined markedly into the fall but now is surging again, like much of the nation. This week, 11 counties had rates high enough that state restrictions were re-imposed on certain businesses and activities.

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

— Dr. Fauci: Keep wearing masks, stay socially distant to avoid lockdown

— White House Coronavirus Task Force recommends masks for Oklahoma surge

— Missouri Gov. Parsons loosens school quarantine rules; allows exposed kids

— School systems in Detroit, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and suburban Minneapolis are giving up on in-person classes. Some governors are re-imposing restrictions on bars and restaurants or getting more serious about masks.

— New research confirms fever and symptom checks miss many coronavirus infections.

— Surge of coronavirus cases appears to be slowing in Germany and France, but still straining hospitals.

— Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico on Thursday marked its highest daily count of confirmed COVID-19 cases and one of the highest daily death counts since the pandemic began.

Health officials reported an additional 1,753 cases to push the statewide tally to more than 60,770. Eighteen deaths were reported to push the total to 1,176.

“New Mexico has never been in a bigger crisis,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a tweet. She is scheduled Friday to address the situation and is expected to announce new public health restrictions aimed to curbing spread.

The state has been struggling in recent weeks, and health care officials have warned that many hospitals already are at or near capacity and that the current pace will be unsustainable as beds are filled and staff are stretched thin.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama has about six weeks to spend almost $1 billion in remaining coronavirus relief funds or the money will revert to Washington, D.C., prompting concerns from advocacy groups the state will leave money on the table that could be used to help hurting Alabamians.

States have until Dec. 30 to spend their share of CARES Act dollars or the money must be returned. Alabama has so far spent about $850 million of its $1.7 billion allocation, according to a dashboard maintained by the state Department of Finance.

“We’re in the same situation as all the other states,” said Rep. Steve Clouse, who heads the House General Fund budget committee. Clouse said he is concerned the state might have as much as $400 million unspent by the end of the year, and added the state may not have a choice but to send the money back unless Congress extends the deadline.

More than 80 organizations, including advocacy groups for low-income families and people with disabilities, sent Republican Gov. Kay Ivey a letter suggesting ways to use the money. The groups noted Alabama was one of the poorest states in the country, with 800,000 residents living in poverty “before this pandemic devastated the economy.”

“These CARES Act funds provide our best hope to ensure the economic downturn does not force these families into long term, catastrophic conditions that will impact generations to come,” said the letter signed by Alabama Arise, Alabama Appleseed and other organizations.

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JERUSALEM — Pfizer and BioNTech say they have reached a deal to supply eight million doses of their new coronavirus vaccine to Israel next year.

The companies announced the deal in a joint statement late Thursday. The deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, is subject to clinical success and regulatory approval of the vaccine.

The two companies said this week, based on early and incomplete test results, their COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective. They hope to seek FDA approval later this month.

“Our goal remains to create a global supply of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine for many people around the world, as quickly as we can,” added Sean Marett, chief business and chief commericial officer at BioNTech.

The vaccines, which are administered in two doses, would be enough to treat almost half of Israel’s 9 million people.

Israel’s health minister, Yuli Edelstein, says the first vaccines are to arrive in January, with deliveries throughout the year. He says the deal will make Israel one of the first countries to offer the vaccine to its citizens.

Israel is also seeking vaccines from other sources and developing a vaccine of its own.

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TOPEKA, Kan. – Public health officials in two of Kansas’ most populous counties have tightened restrictions on gatherings, and public schools in the state’s capital city have scrapped at least two weeks of in-person classes in favor online learning amid a statewide surge in coronavirus cases.

In Shawnee County, home to the state capital of Topeka, gatherings will be limited to 10 people whether they are held indoors or outdoors, starting Friday. An order from Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino, the county’s health officer, dropped the limits from 25 for indoor gatherings and 45 for outdoor gatherings and said bars and restaurants that can hold 100 or more people must operate at 50% of their capacities.

The limit on gatherings also will drop Friday to 15 from 45 in neighboring Douglas County, home to the main University of Kansas campus under an order issued by the county health officer, Dr. Thomas Marcellino.

With their orders, at least seven of the state’s 105 counties have issued more restrictive rules this week.

The Topeka public school district, with about 13,000 students and 2,400 staff, announced that it would suspend in-person classes for at least two weeks, starting Monday. The district, one of the largest in the state, had students splitting four days a week between in-person and online classes, with online classes Wednesdays.

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BOSTON — Health officials in Massachusetts say confirmed coronavirus deaths have surpassed 10,000, and they’re cautioning that the actual toll is likely much higher because of fatalities not attributed to COVID-19.

Massachusetts has the sixth-highest death toll in the nation behind New York, Texas, California, New Jersey and Florida.

Massachusetts’ pandemic nightmare began in late February, when a cluster of cases blamed on a conference at a Boston hotel organized by the Biogen biotech company seeded not just the state but the nation with the virus.

As of Thursday, the state — a Northeast hot spot — also had 174,953 confirmed cases, with 661 people currently hospitalized.

The biggest caseloads and death counts have been in and around Boston, in places where the Black and Latinx populations are largest, including Lawrence, Chelsea, Everett and Revere. But worrisome rates of infection increasingly have been reported around the state.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday how the state will allocate about $70 million in federal aid as the state braces for months of rising coronavirus cases, including $20 million for personal protective equipment.

Maryland already is exceeding the state’s goal of a 90-day supply of PPE for the most critical resources, Hogan said, and he encouraged local governments to use the remaining federal funds to increase their stockpiles of equipment, especially gloves, gowns and masks.

“Unfortunately, we have more tough times ahead of us and it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better, but we truly are all in this together, and if we all do our part to rise to this challenge and to meet this moment we will get through this together,” the Republican governor said at a news conference.

Other allocations announced by the governor include: $15 million for the state’s labor department to ramp unemployment insurance staffing to help residents, $10 million for rental housing assistance for low-income residents, $10 million for syringes and supplies for distributing a vaccine when it becomes available and $10 million for food banks.

The state also is allocating $2 million to increase call capacity at the Maryland Department of Human Services and extend its hours, another $2 million for foster care assistance and $1 million for a wastewater sampling program to detect COVID-19 outbreaks in vulnerable populations like public housing or correctional facilities.

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Don’t you dare close the schools.

That’s the impassioned message that dozens of parents and school administrators are sending to public health officials in Pennsylvania’s third-most populous county.

The Montgomery County Board of Health had been scheduled to vote Thursday on a proposed order mandating that all public and private K-12 schools in the offer fully virtual instruction for at least two weeks, and potentially for longer, because of a surge in virus cases.

The board delayed a vote after pushback from parents and school administrators.

Parents and school administrators denounced the proposal during the board’s public Zoom meeting, saying online-only education can’t meet children’s educational, social and emotional needs. Parents of special education students, in particular, said their children suffered when schools shut down in the spring.

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi reported 1,271 confirmed coronavirus cases and 17 deaths on Thursday.

The state health department says Mississippi has a confirmed total of 130,600 cases and at least 3,514 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says Mississippi has requested 183,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and partner BioNTech.

Vaccine candidates are still in the trial phase and have not been approved. They must be safe and effective before approval for use by the Food and Drug Administration.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon tallied 1,122 new confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, shattering its previous record as coronavirus continues to spread rapidly statewide.

The previous daily record was 988 on Saturday. Multnomah County, home to Portland, had 350 cases on Thursday.

State health officials attributed some of the new cases this week to at least five Halloween parties, including one that had 100 guests.

Several major hospitals in Portland are now curtailing elective surgeries amid the surge. State health data shows that about 20% of intensive care unit beds remain free statewide and 290 people are hospitalized with the virus.

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CHICAGO — Chicago has issued new COVID-19 restrictions, including limiting social gatherings to 10 people, in hopes of combating the surge in cases ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is urging people to stay home except for essentials, like work or getting groceries. The restrictions take effect Monday.

Lightfoot said Thursday the city must work to counteract the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases, including canceling traditional Thanksgiving plans to gather with friends and family.

A month ago, Chicago reported 500 daily cases on average. The city is now averaging roughly 1,900 daily cases.

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ATLANTA — After his wife tested positive for the coronavirus, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger plans to get tested and to quarantine just as the state is preparing for a hand tally of the presidential race, his office said.

Tricia Raffensperger tested positive Thursday, Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs told The Associated Press. Brad Raffensperger was en route to get tested and plans to self-quarantine as a precaution even if his test is negative, Fuchs said.

If the secretary of state tests positive, Fuchs said she and other members of his staff who have been in close contact with the secretary will get tested and quarantine.

Raffensperger on Wednesday announced that he had chosen the presidential race for a mandatory audit of election results. Because the margin in that race is so tight, the audit is resulting in a full hand tally of the votes, he said.

County election officials must begin the hand tally by 9 a.m. Friday and complete it by Wednesday night.

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The White House Coronavirus Task Force has again recommended a statewide mask mandate for Oklahoma amid a surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Oklahoma’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen from 1,185 to 2,080, according to data from Johns Hopkins University on Thursday. The task force report, released Wednesday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, says urgent action is needed.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has opposed a statewide mandate. The task force recommended restaurants be limited to 50% capacity with reduced hours and masks be worn by K-12 students and teachers.

The Oklahoma State Board of Education on Thursday again declined to require local school districts to implement a mask mandate.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest called it “a complete lack of leadership with potentially grave consequences for our students, educators, support professionals and communities.”

There were 2,357 cases reported Thursday, bringing the confirmed total to 144,691, according to the health department. More than 1,200 people are hospitalized.

With 11 more deaths, the confirmed total is 1,481 deaths in Oklahoma.

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LONDON — Britain hit a new daily high of 33,470 confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday.

That’s an increase of 10,520 more positives reported Wednesday and pushed the total number of cases in the U.K. to nearly 1.3 million.

Britain on Wednesday reported 595 deaths, raising the death toll to more than 50,000.

The government has imposed a one-month national lockdown on England through Dec. 2.

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PARIS — One in four deaths in France is linked to COVID-19, according to the prime minister.

There are more virus patients in French hospitals than during the country’s peak in the spring, says Prime Minister Jean Castex. He warned people shouldn’t plan big Christmas or New Year’s parties.

Restaurants, bars, gyms and tourist sites will remain closed until at least Dec. 1.

France has 1.9 million confirmed cases, more infections than any European country, and 42,960 virus-related deaths.

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NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana judge rejected an effort by Republican state House members to force an end to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ statewide mask mandate and other coronavirus-related restrictions.

A petition signed by 65 GOP members of the House essentially wanted Edwards to rescind a proclamation ordering the restrictions. The petition was issued under an obscure section of a 2003 state law allowing a majority in either the House or the Senate to sign a petition forcing the governor to end a public health emergency declaration.

Judge William Morvant of Baton Rouge says the Edwards proclamation has the force of law and couldn’t be blocked by an action of one legislative body.

Last week, Edwards renewed his latest round of restrictions, including a mask mandate and limits on public gatherings and bar and restaurant capacity.

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A provincial chief justice in northwest Pakistan has died after being tested positive for coronavirus.

Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth, who was chief justice at the Peshawar High Court, died Thursday night at a hospital in Islamabad.

The announcement about Seth’s death came hours after the country’s former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Mohammad Afzal, chairman of the National Disaster Management Authorities tested positive for the virus.

Although Pakistan last week imposed a partial lockdown in more than 4,000 residential areas across the country, deaths and new cases have increased.

On Thursday, Pakistan reported 1,808 coronavirus cases and 34 deaths.

The country has 349,992 confirmed cases and 7,055 deaths since its first case in February.

Categories: National & International News