The Latest: California unveils new plan to reopen businesses
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is announcing a new process for reopening businesses that is slower and more gradual than what the state tried earlier this summer.
The new rules announced Friday create a four-tier, color-coded system that counties will move through based on their number of cases and percentage of positive tests. It will rely on two metrics to determine which tier a county is in: case rates and the percentage of positive tests.
California has the most confirmed virus cases in the nation, with nearly 700,000 and third-most deaths at 12,550.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Thousands of U.S. Health departments tell CDC: Reverse testing guidance
— Four people at RNC event in Charlotte test positive for coronavirus
— TikTok celebrities charged with misdemeanors for large parties in LA
— Credibility of FDA and CDC damaged after controversial decisions that outside experts say imply political pressure from the Trump administration.
— Some college towns are dealing with too much partying and too many COVID-19 infections among students.
— Joe Biden and Kamala Harris prepare to travel more as campaign heats up. They’ve worn masks in public and Biden has called on governors to order mask-wearing in their states.
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SANTA FE, N.M. — Political party delegates from New Mexico who traveled to the Republican National Convention and President Donald Trump’s speech at the White House are obligated to self-quarantine as they return home to a state that requires face masks and limits public gatherings. A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday said the delegates are subject to the state’s current 14-day self-quarantine provision that applies to most travelers as they enter or return to New Mexico. The precaution is based on the incubation period of the coronavirus. New Mexico is relaxing its stay-at-home order gradually as the spread of COVID-19 slows across much of the state.
LOS ANGELES — TikTok celebrities Bryce Hall and Blake Gray were charged after hosting two parties in the Hollywood Hills despite a ban on large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Los Angeles city attorney’s office says prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges against Hall and Gray. They are accused of violating the city’s pandemic health order and a party house ordinance. Penalties include a year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
The internet celebrities share the home and have millions of followers on TikTok. Los Angeles police responded to both parties, which featured several hundred guests, and issued citations.
Mayor Eric Garcetti says with bars closed in town, large house parties can become “super spreaders.” City Attorney Mike Feuer says he isn’t aware of any coronavirus cases linked to their parties. However, he says with a public health crisis and so many followers, they shouldn’t be “violating the law and posting videos about it.”
Los Angeles County has recorded nearly 237,000 coronavirus cases and more than 5,700 confirmed deaths, making it the hardest-hit county in the state.
DETROIT — The Detroit school district reached a deal to start the academic year, a week after members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers authorized a strike over coronavirus safety.
The deal includes capping classroom size at 20 students, offering extra pay to teachers and checking daily temperatures of students and staff, officials say. Classes start Sept. 8.
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says the “agreement signals we will work together to provide equitable education opportunities for our children and families.”
The Detroit Public Schools Community District is the largest in Michigan with nearly 50,000 students. Despite the agreement with the union, some teachers don’t want to return to in-class instruction, citing the virus risk. The district say teachers will have the option of teaching online, though nearly all schools with have some in-person instruction.
The district say teachers could earn an extra $3,000 for the year for working in classrooms.
Michigan has nearly 100,000 coronavirus cases and 6,440 confirmed deaths.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government is extending financial support into next year for businesses and workers hit by the deep recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the latest support package, his government’s third virus bailout, amounts to more than 10 billion euros ($12 billion) to protect companies and safeguard jobs threatened by the economic downturn.
He says the new aid package also aims to help those whose business or job didn’t survive.
He says, “in that case, it’s very important that people are helped from one job to another.”
The coalition government’s current coronavirus aid package is due to end in October.
ROME — Italy had the highest one-day increase in coronavirus cases since May, with 1,462 confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours.
The Health Ministry says Lombardy, the region hardest hit in Italy in the pandemic, had the most cases at 316 on Friday.
Early in the outbreak, the average age of infected people in Italy was close to 70. Last week, the average age was 29, with most of the cases in travelers returning from vacations.
Italy has 265,409 total confirmed cases in the pandemic. With nine more deaths, the known toll in Italy rose to nearly 35,500.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua — More than 60,000 of the Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers in Costa Rica are going hungry during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.N. Refugee Agency said Friday.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, 93% of the Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica reported steady work-related income. By the end of July, that figure had dropped to 59% as the pandemic froze much of the country’s economic activity, the U.N. agency said.
“This leaves many also at risk of eviction and homelessness,” the statement said. One fifth of the refugees surveyed say they didn’t know where they would live in the next month.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Hungarian government says it will close its borders to foreigners from Sept. 1.
Hungarians returning from abroad will need to quarantine for two weeks unless they twice test negative for the coronavirus. Gergely Gulyas, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, says some exceptions would be made for foreigners, but he didn’t provide details.
Hungary has reported 5,511 coronavirus cases and 614 confirmed deaths. It registered 132 new cases on Friday, the second-highest figure since the start of the pandemic.
NEW YORK — Local health departments in the U.S. are pushing for reversal of a recent change to coronavirus testing guidance, saying it is undermining their work to stop outbreaks.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials and the Big Cities Health Coalition, which together represent about 3,000 local health departments, released the letter Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly posted the change Monday. The CDC previously had advised local health departments to test people who have been within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes. But the new guidance said those people did “not necessarily need a test” unless they were more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Public health experts have blasted the new guidance, saying testing contacts of infected people is key to keep outbreaks in check, and many infected people don’t show symptoms.
Under the guidance, doctors or public health officials could still recommend a test. “Testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients,” CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said in statement.
Local health officials said federal authorities didn’t offer any scientific evidence for the change, which effectively shifted more responsibility to municipalities.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Four people at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte have tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials in North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County say.
The two attendees and two people supporting the convention tested positive among the nearly 800 people tested, according to health officials.
County leaders say those four individuals were isolated and “any known close contacts were notified and issued quarantine instructions by Mecklenburg County Public Health.”
The Charlotte Observer reports the disclosures come after county health officials raised concerns about a lack of social distancing and mask wearing. Strict coronavirus protocols were required.
Mecklenburg Public Health Director Gibbie Harris has said the convention posed no infection risk to the greater Charlotte area.
RICHMOND, Va. — More than 550 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at colleges and universities in Virginia.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported it surveyed 41 four-year colleges across the state. It found at least 558 positive cases. Twenty-one colleges reported at least one positive case.
Some schools say positive cases were inevitable and that they are prepared to handle them. Other universities across the country have backtracked on plans to allow students on campus.
The New York Times says there are more than 26,000 cases and 64 deaths at colleges around the nation. No school in Virginia has reported a death from the virus.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi election laws could force people to choose between their health and their constitutional right to cast a ballot.
That’s according to a federal lawsuit that voting-rights groups filed to challenge the state’s restrictions on absentee voting.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Southern Poverty Law Center filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Jackson on behalf of three Mississippi residents, the League of Women Voters of Mississippi and the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP.
The lawsuit says Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson and Attorney General Lynn Fitch “have failed to take necessary steps to protect Mississippi voters’ fundamental right to vote despite the public health risks of voting in person during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Mississippi law says absentee voting is available to people who will be out of town on Election Day. It
Is also open to anyone who is at least 65 or who has a temporary or permanent physical disability.
Legislators added some temporary provisions related to the coronavirus, but the lawsuit says those are confusing and too narrow.
The lawsuit is similar to one filed Aug. 11 in state court, which points out the state Health Department recommends all people avoid “large social gatherings and community events.” The guidelines say people who have chronic conditions or are in poor health should “stay home as much as possible.”
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada reported 554 additional coronavirus cases and 21 deaths on Thursday. That brings the statewide totals to 67,220 cases and 1,271 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
In addition, the state task force overseeing reopening plans kept county-level restrictions in place.
Bars and taverns in high-risk areas including Las Vegas and Reno will remain closed.
The task force denied Elko County’s request to reopen bars. Reno-area officials told the task force they had identified house parties as the source of many of the region’s cases and planned to dispatch officials to monitor for compliance.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Amsterdam and Rotterdam municipalities say face masks will no longer be mandatory in busy parts of the Netherlands’ two biggest cities starting Monday.
The city officials say their experiments with masks on a limited number of busy streets, markets and shopping malls will end as planned on Aug. 31.
Amsterdam officials says in a statement that the experiment started on Aug. 5 will be evaluated before a decision is taken on whether to again mandate the wearing of masks in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Dutch capital, a popular destination for tourists, has had a rise in infections in recent weeks. Infections have risen in Rotterdam since lockdown measures were relaxed on July 1.
However, Amsterdam says with the busiest tourist season coming to an end it’s likely to be easier for people to stick to social distancing guidelines in busy parts of the city.
LONDON — Ryanair says a passenger was removed from a plane in London after he received a text message notifying him that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Authorities in hazmat suits boarded the plane Wednesday night and took the passenger and his companion off the plane at London’s Stansted Airport before their seats and overhead luggage bins were disinfected.
The flight from London to Pisa, Italy, was delayed for an hour and 20 minutes.
Ryanair says the two passengers were wearing masks and on the plane for a short period. They were sent to an isolation area and put in touch with authorities from Public Health England.
The airline says “there was little if any risk of C19 transmission to other passengers or crew members … all of whom were also wearing face masks at all times.’’
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel is cautioning that the coronavirus crisis will make life more difficult in the coming months than it has been over the summer and is calling on Germans to continue taking the threat seriously.
Germany’s response to the virus is generally viewed as relatively successful, but the country has seen a pickup in new infections in recent weeks, as have many others in Europe.
Merkel says, “We have to expect that some things will be even more difficult in the coming months than in the summer.”
She says it is important to keep infections down as people increasingly meet indoors and that “we will have to keep living with the virus.”
The long-time German leader says she had three priorities, including ensuring that children can continue access education despite the pandemic, ensuring economic revival and maintaining social cohesion at a time when many in society are suffering hardship.