The Latest: CDC official sees ‘distressing’ rise in cases

ATLANTA — The deputy director for infectious diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the United States is seeing a “distressing trend” with coronavirus cases increasing in nearly three-quarters of the country.

Dr. Jay Butler said at a briefing Wednesday one factor in the rises, particularly in the Midwest, is that people are spending more time indoors with the arrival of cool weather.

He adds “that smaller, more intimate gatherings of family, friends and neighbors may be driving infections as well” at which people pay less attention to the need for face coverings and social distancing.

Butler says it’s important for people not to let down their guard. He says: “I recognize that we are all getting tired of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives. We get tired of wearing masks. But it continues to be as important as it’s ever been.”



— Spain reaches 1 million cases of coronavirus

— North Dakota Republican governor calls National Guard to help with test results

— CDC redefines coronavirus close contact, adds brief encounters

— Next up in hunt for COVID-19 vaccine: Testing shots in kids. Pfizer received permission last week to test its vaccine in U.S. kids as young as 12.

— Boston schools will switch to all-remote learning in response to rising coronavirus cases in the city.

— Brazil President overrules own health minister, rejecting purchase of 46 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine tested in Sao Paulo state.


Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at and



IOWA CITY, Iowa — The number of Iowa residents dying from the coronavirus is quickly rising again after weeks of increasing hospitalizations and outbreaks at nursing homes.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 31 new COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, the highest daily figure since the beginning of the pandemic. The deaths didn’t all happen in a 24-hour period, but were only confirmed to state officials.

At the state’s peak for deaths in May, an average of about 14 people were dying daily from the coronavirus. A month ago, Iowa was averaging about six deaths a day, and the rate has climbed to about nine a day over the last two weeks. In all, 1,582 people have died since March.

State data updated Tuesday evening showed a record 534 people hospitalized with COVID-19.


MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota has reported 35 new COVID-19 deaths, equaling the state’s single-day high set May 28.

It’s possible that some of the 35 deaths reported Wednesday did not happen during the previous 24 hours because it can take several days for deaths to be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Minnesota had risen over the past two weeks from 9.71 to 11 as of Tuesday.

The latest deaths raised the state’s cumulative toll to 2,281. About 70% of the deaths have occurred among residents of long-term care facilities.


MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin has recorded its highest one-day total of new COVID-19 deaths and the first patient was admitted to a field hospital near Milwaukee that opened last week to help hospitals coping with the influx of patients.

The surge that began in early September showed no signs of slowing with 48 new deaths reported Wednesday and a whopping 43% of those tested coming back as positive.

There have been 1,681 deaths to date from the coronavirus pandemic while nearly 183,000 people have tested positive, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported. That is up by 4,205 from the day before, although department spokeswoman Jennifer Miller said there was still some backlog in the reporting of positive cases following a data upgrade over the weekend.

The seven-day average of new confirmed cases also reached a new record high of 3,444, which is nearly double what it was a month ago and nearly five times what it was two months ago.

On Wednesday, the state reported its first patient to the field hospital on the state fairgrounds in West Allis outside of Milwaukee. The state health department declined to reveal any details about the patient, citing privacy concerns.


ROME — The Italian region of Lazio, which includes Rome, is imposing an overnight curfew to combat surging coronavirus infections.

Lazio’s Gov. Nicola Zingaretti, who was ill with COVID-19 early in the pandemic, signed an ordinance Wednesday. Starting at midnight Friday and for the next 30 days, people in Lazio won’t be allowed to leave their homes from midnight to 5 a.m. daily, except to go to or return from work or other urgent reasons such as health issues.

Earlier on Friday, Premier Giuseppe Conte, briefing senators, appealed to Italians to “limit” what he called “unnecessary” moving from place to place as well as “superfluous actions,” which he didn’t define. With Conte’s center-left central government so far avoiding any unpopular return to Italy’s severe lockdown earlier this year, regional leaders have been scrambling in recent days to devise their own strategy.


PHOENIX — An Arizona State University researcher says Arizona is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases that resembles the early stages of the summer spike that made the state one of the world’s worst hotspots.

Dr. Joshua LaBaer of the ASU Biodesign Institute said Wednesday the latest spike can be attributed to fatigue with masks and social distancing. He says holding strong on mitigation efforts can limit the spread of the disease.

Arizona on Wednesday reported 975 new confirmed coronavirus cases and another 17 deaths. Hospitals reported 832 beds used by COVID-19 patients, the highest number since late August but well below the peak of about 3,500 in July.


HONOLULU — Honolulu police have issued warnings or citations to thousands of people in violation of coronavirus protocols since Hawaii launched a pre-arrival testing program to reopen to tourists.

The Honolulu Police Department says officers issued 4,500 warnings and 470 citations for not wearing masks or failing to social distance since the launch of the traveler testing program Thursday.

Police say they do not separate visitors and residents on their list of citations and warnings. Officers also arrested several people for violations of the city’s emergency orders. Supporters of reopening say tourists pose fewer risks than large gatherings of residents.


TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and the first lady tested negative for coronavirus on Wednesday, just hours after he abruptly left an event.

The Democrat was speaking at a workforce development event his office organized with Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross at Camden County College when he learned a recent contact had tested positive.

The 63-year-old governor say he has no symptoms and last tested negative on Monday. Murphy spokesperson Mahen Gunaratna says Tammy Murphy also tested negative on Wednesday afternoon. The governor and first lady will quarantine until the end of the weekend and take a test before resuming any in-person events.

The state’s daily coronavirus figures have doubled in the past month, state officials said this week. New Jersey has reported more than 222,000 positive cases and 14,438 confirmed deaths.


NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is easing restrictions slightly in some coronavirus hot spots in New York City, but adding them in areas along the Pennsylvania border.

The tweaks will mean that schools in parts of Brooklyn and Queens can reopen, with boosted testing efforts, and houses of worship can increase attendance.

New York recorded more than 2,000 new infections in a single day for the first time since mid-May. Cuomo announced the reinstatement of coronavirus restrictions in two upstate counties where the virus is spreading.


MADRID — Spain has become the first western European country to reach more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases.

Spain’s health ministry says the total since the start of the pandemic has reached 1,005,295 after reporting 16,973 additional cases in the past 24 hours.

The ministry says the country has 34,366 confirmed deaths. Health experts say the real numbers of infections and deaths are probably much higher because insufficient testing, asymptomatic cases and reporting issues impede the true scale of the outbreak.

Health authorities in charge of health policy in Spain’s regions are tightening restrictions in hopes of stemming the surge.


BERLIN — Germany Health Minister Jens Spahn has tested positive for the coronavirus and is self-isolating at home.

The health ministry says Spahn is showing “cold symptoms” and people in close contact are being informed.

Germany’s approach to the pandemic has been widely lauded. The 40-year-old Spahn has been ubiquitous throughout, appearing regularly at briefings or events to push the government’s message of adherence to mask regulations, social distancing and hygiene rules.

Spahn regularly wears a mask when it’s not possible to keep a safe distance.

Germany’s numbers have increased in the past weeks. The Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control center, says 7,595 new cases were registered on Wednesday. The number of new cases per 100,000 over the last seven days have risen to 51.3.

Germany has recorded 385,907 cases (No. 18 in the world) and 9,849 confirmed deaths (No. 20).


BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s coronavirus cases are rising so fast, the Republican governor is deploying the National Guard to notify people of positive test results.

Gov. Doug Burgum and the North Dakota Department of Health announced they’re shifting 50 National Guard members who had worked in contract tracing to notify people who test positive. It’s been taking health officials up to three days to notify people after they’ve tested positive, the department said.

Public health officials will no longer notify close contacts of people who tested positive; instead those individuals will be instructed to self-notify close contacts and direct them to the department’s website.

North Dakota’s 1,224 new cases of the coronavirus per 100,000 people in the past two weeks is the highest per capita in the nation, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.

The state’s numbers have prompted questions over how Burgum, a former Microsoft executive up for re-election, has handled the coronavirus. He’s asked citizens to voluntarily wear masks.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, a surgeon, has called for a mask mandate statewide. The mayor says there’s “better compliance if it’s the whole state.”


ROME — The Italian military is mobilizing 200 drive-in test sites operated by armed forces personnel to help combat the surge in coronavirus cases.

The Italian defense ministry announced 1,400 members of the armed forces will have the nationwide sites operational within the next days. It will conduct as many as 30,000 swab tests per day.

By month’s end, laboratories in Italian military hospitals will help speed up test results.


BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania hit an all-time high Wednesday with 4,848 positive coronavirus cases as authorities carried out a record number of tests.

Romania reported 37,025 coronavirus tests, the highest so far. It added 69 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The rate of infections over the past 14 days passed the threshold of three people per 1,000 in 255 localities nationwide, all of which entered the “red scenario,” according to data from Romania’s Emergency Services Department.

In the red scenario, masks are mandatory in all public venues and restaurants, cafes, theaters and cinemas are closed. Schools are shut down and switch to online learning.

Romania has reported 191,102 coronavirus cases and 6,065 confirmed deaths.


ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s military-backed National Command and Operation Center has issued a warning that another lockdown could be imposed to contain COVID-19 deaths if people don’t stop violating social distancing rules.

The announcement on Wednesday came after Pakistan reported reported 660 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours and 19 deaths.

The daily death toll was one of Pakistan’s highest in more than two months. Deaths from COVID-19 have steadily increased since the government lifted its months-long lockdown in August.

Pakistan has reported 324,744 confirmed cases of the virus and 6,692 virus-related deaths since February.


WARSAW — Poland has reported a new record for daily coronavirus cases after conducting a record number of virus tests.

The country on Wednesday reported 10,040 new confirmed cases and 13 deaths, plus another 117 people died of COVID-19 combined with other health issues. There were 60,000 tests performed in 24 hours.

Authorities in large cities are taking steps to turn conference halls into temporary COVID-19 hospitals, and the city of Krakow is planning to reopen a disused hospital to treat coronavirus patients.

Polish lawmakers are debating legislation that would give more funds to medics and temporarily exempt them from legal responsibility for mistakes that take place while treating people for COVID-19.

The country of 38 million has almost 203,000 total reported cases and nearly 3,900 confirmed deaths.

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