The Latest: Chicago to require masks in public indoor places
CHICAGO — Chicago will require masks in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status as daily COVID-19 case counts rise.
The mandate takes effect Friday citywide for everyone over age 2. Chicago’s top doctor said Tuesday that the city is reporting roughly 400 cases daily, which is a threshold public health officials say signals a higher transmission risk.
Still, public health officials say it’s much lower than a winter peak when it was over 3,000 cases a day.
Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says no further restrictions or closures are currently planned and the goal is to remain open, but careful.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Britain OKs Moderna vaccine for ages 12 and up
— New York City begins proof of vaccination at eateries, gyms, cultural venues
— Sources: U.S. to recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters at 8 months
— New Zealand to enter lockdown after single virus case found
— Among France’s poorest, once-lagging vaccine rates increase
— More U.S. cities to require masks in public
— Hawaii’s largest private hospital system runs out of ICU beds
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A major state employer, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System, said Tuesday it would require workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 12.
The requirement affects 16,000 employees and others working in hospitals and could help boost the state’s last-in-the-nation ranking for the shots.
Employees of UAB Health already are required to be vaccinated against other health threats including the flu, the system said, and COVID-19 is threatening its ability to provide care.
Nearly 100 doctors, nurses and other workers have contracted COVID-19 at UAB Hospital, a report showed.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is reinstating a mask mandate for all indoor public places, regardless of vaccination status.
Grisham’s office also announced Tuesday that more people will be required to get vaccinated, such as workers at hospitals, nursing homes, juvenile justice facilities and residential treatment centers.
All workers at schools in New Mexico must also get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.
Officials noted that vaccination rates remain stagnant, but infections are rising.
ATLANTA — Parents in Georgia’s second largest school district plan to rally again to try to force school officials to require masks amid a statewide surge in coronavirus cases that has disrupted classroom instruction for thousands of students.
The plans for a rally on Thursday by Cobb County school parents come as coronavirus cases in the school system and other districts around the state continue to rise.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday reiterated his opposition to mask and vaccine mandates and said he has no plans for statewide school restrictions.
PHOENIX — A western Arizona school district is considering a proposal to ban any discussion between staff and students about vaccines and masks.
The Colorado River Union High School’s governing board is set to meet on the matter Tuesday night.
The measure would allow for disciplinary action to be taken against any district employee who speaks on “anything related to vaccine status or encouraging/discouraging vaccines or mask with students.”
District officials did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
HONOLULU — Hawaii’s largest private hospital system has run out of ICU beds amid a surge of new coronavirus cases.
Jason Chang, chief operating officer of The Queen’s Health Systems and president of The Queen’s Medical Center, says all of the hospital system’s beds are completely full.
The hospitals were canceling some elective surgeries and procedures and diverting emergency patients to other hospitals, Chang said.
Hospital workers are tired and frustrated because most of the COVID-19 patients they are caring for are not vaccinated, Chang said.
Hawaii, with a population of nearly 1.5 million people, has averaged 652 new cases a day over the past week and has a 7.5% positivity rate, according to state data. In early July, the state was averaging 50 cases a day.
At least 308 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized statewide.
LAS VEGAS — Vaccine verification at major venues has become a coronavirus fighting front in Nevada.
Las Vegas’ biggest trade conference on Tuesday followed the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders announcing they’ll require attendees to prove they’re inoculated.
The sponsor of the CES gadget show said attendees in January will have to show they’ve been vaccinated to enter venues including the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center.
The announcement came a day after Gov. Steve Sisolak said indoor venues with 4,000 or more attendees can opt out of the state’s mask requirements if they opt in to a program ensuring that attendees have inoculations.
Sisolak said one dose of a two-dose vaccination will get people in the door, but they’ll still have to wear face coverings.
Fully vaccinated people won’t have to wear masks.
The Raiders unveiled their first-in-the-NFL policy to require fans to show proof of vaccinations beginning Sept. 13.
JACKSON, Miss. — A top Mississippi health official said Tuesday 20,000 students are currently quarantined for COVID-19 exposure in the state — 4.5% of the public school population, according to the state’s latest enrollment figures.
The data comes from reports made by 800 schools to the Mississippi State Department of Health last week, Mississippi State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said during a call with state pediatricians.
The school outbreaks have resulted in many school officials rethinking their policies after beginning the academic year without restrictions, like mask mandates. Around 600 schools have now implemented universal masking for indoor settings, Byers said.
But there are still many settings where many restrictions that could keep kids safer are not in place — or not enforced.
DES MOINES, Iowa — State Fairs in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin are offering COVID-19 vaccinations as the delta variant spreads across the country.
In Iowa, a vaccination booth nestled among corn dog and funnel cake stands vaccinated 150 people in the first four days of the fair in a state where only half of the population is fully vaccinated. All but three of Iowa’s 99 counties are experiencing a substantial or high rate of spread.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ policy of personal responsibility allows fairgoers to decide whether to be vaccinated or wear a mask. Public health officials recommend wearing a mask in crowds. The fair is on track to attract an estimated 1 million visitors.
At the Indiana State Fair, 304 vaccines have been administered since July 30. And at the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee, 608 people were vaccinated over 11 days, perhaps enticed by the promise of a free cream puff pastry.
PHOENIX — Five Arizona school districts have joined the growing list of districts requiring students and staff to wear masks, even though a state law bars such mandates.
Two districts in the Tucson area and three in metro Phoenix issued mask requirements after a Maricopa County judge ruled Monday that the state doesn’t take effect until Sept. 29.
A teacher who filed a lawsuit challenging a mask mandate at one Phoenix district argued it took after lawmakers approved it in late June. In all, at least 16 districts in Arizona are requiring students and staff to wear masks while indoors amid fears over the delta variant.
TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s Health Ministry reported 451 new cases and two deaths related to the coronavirus.
That is a significant increase compared to last month when there were less than 10 new cases per day.
Authorities have made August a free month for receiving a vaccine, urging all people 18 and older to get one. Albania uses Sinovac, Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and some Sputnik V vaccines. Albania has given 1.3 million shots to a population of 2.8 million.
Neighboring Kosovo is noting a serious increase in the daily numbers. Authorities reported 1,765 new cases and five deaths on Tuesday, a significant increase compared to July.
About one-third of its 1.8 million population has gotten at least one shot of the Pfizer or Astra Zeneca vaccine.
TORONTO — Canada’s largest province of Ontario is pausing all further reopenings, offering a third COVID-19 shot to vulnerable populations and encouraging health and education workers to get vaccinated against the virus or take regular tests.
The province’s top doctor announced the new measures as part of a response to the delta variant that has been driving a recent rise in infections. The government says it will pause any further lifting of public health restrictions and will remain in Step 3 of its reopening plan, maintaining capacity limits on businesses and other settings.
It also says transplant recipients, patients with certain cancers, and long-term care and retirement home residents will be offered third COVID-19 vaccine doses starting as early as this week.
Employers in health and education will need to have policies that ask staff to disclose their vaccination status and require those who are unvaccinated to take an education session and be subject to regular tests.
The province is also expanding eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine to children born in 2009, who will turn 12 this year.
NEW YORK — New York City is asking restaurants, gyms, museums and many other indoor venues to have patrons show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
The new rules are part of the city’s latest campaign to control a pandemic that had crippled the city’s economy. The rapid spread of the delta variant has caused infections and hospitalizations to soar in recent weeks. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes the new rules will persuade more people to get vaccinated.
If not, the mayor says they risk being shut out from much of the city’s amenities, including restaurants, bars, gyms, public performances, museums and other cultural venues.
The new rules went into effect Tuesday, but enforcement won’t begin until Sept. 13. The mayor announced about 100 pop-up vaccination sites and more than 600 canvassers to help in public outreach. New York City averaged 2,000 daily coronavirus cases in the past seven days, up from around 200 in late June.
Since early August, more than 300,000 more people have gotten at least one shot of a vaccine, according to city data. At least 5.2 million of the city’s 8.8 million residents have gotten at least one shot, with nearly 5 million fully vaccinated.
Leon Ellis, the owner of Chocolate, a restaurant in the Harlem neighborhood, says sacrifices are needed to keep the coronavirus from wreaking more havoc on businesses. He says, whatever the guidelines are, “we will comply.”
CALLAHAN, Fla. — A surge in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations hitting Florida is scaring some skeptics into rethinking their opposition to the vaccines.
In rural western Nassau County, newspaper columnist Roger West had written that he didn’t trust the federal government and adamantly opposed the coronavirus shots. Then two friends got sick from the virus in mid-July, and another died.
After prayer and pleas from relatives, he got his first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Others are doing the same
State health data shows that nearly 4,400 people got vaccinated in Nassau County in the three-week period ending Aug. 12, enough to increase the county’s total vaccinations by nearly 11%. At the end of July, the county had the highest rate of new infections in Florida.
Some residents who thought the pandemic had all but ended have seen multiple family members infected during the latest wave. One young woman in Callahan, a town of about 1,000 people, saw her fiancé, her mother and her grandmother all die from COVID-19 within a week.
LE BOURGET, France — The poorest region in mainland France has dramatically improved its COVID-19 vaccination rate.
That’s notably thanks to walk-in pop-up centers aimed at reaching people where they live and work. The multicultural, working-class region of Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris, initially struggled spreading the word on vaccines.
The region had France’s highest rise in mortality when the coronavirus first hit but now its vaccination rates are above the national average.
Many residents are immigrants who don’t speak French or lack access to regular medical care. More than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line.
Manuela Buval, 53, waited for her teenage son, who got his first vaccine shot Friday in a public park in Le Bourget. “Everybody in the neighborhood walks through the park … whether on their way to work or to come play with their children,” she says.
WASHINGTON — The United States this week is shipping the first vaccine doses of the 500 million COVID-19 global sharing commitment it made at the Group of Seven summit in June.
The U.S. is sending 488,370 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Rwanda, of which 188,370 come as the first batch of the half-billion dose order placed by the U.S. to share with lower and moderate-income countries.
The White House says the balance of the doses will come from existing U.S. surplus of shots.
The U.S. has already shared more than 110 million surplus doses this summer. The Pfizer order is expected to make available at least 200 million doses through the end of this year to be donated around the world, with 300 million more delivered in the first half of 2022.
The announcement comes as the U.S. is expected to recommend a third dose of the mRNA vaccines for all ages, approximately 8 months after the second dose, to boost protection against the coronavirus.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida’s largest school district will likely require students to wear face masks when classrooms open next week, following the recommendation of a task force of medical experts and defying Gov. Ron DeSantis’s ban on mandatory face mask rules.
The Miami-Dade County School Board is expected to approve the measure on Wednesday. “My mind is pretty made up on the way to move forward,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.
Students in neighboring Broward County will be wearing masks when they return for the fall semester on Wednesday. People in both districts have been keeping an eye on the Tampa area, where classes started last week. The Hillsborough County School Board, which has not required masks in classrooms, scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday to discuss additional protections against COVID-19.
NEW YORK — Americans cut back on spending last month as a surge in COVID-19 cases kept people away from stores.
Retail sales fell a seasonal adjusted 1.1% in July from the month before, the U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday. It was a much larger drop than the 0.3% decline Wall Street analysts had expected.
The report is the first glimpse into whether a surge in COVID-19 cases in July has kept people from heading out to shop. According to Tuesday’s report, spending fell at stores that sell clothing, furniture and sporting goods.
The Commerce Department reported even online sales have started to stall, falling 3.1% from the month before. Companies have reported a slowdown after astronomical growth last year as people stayed home and shopped more online during the pandemic.
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, said online sales grew 13% in its most recent quarter, the company’s smallest quarterly online sales growth in two years.
AMSTERDAM — The European Medicines Agency says it is deciding whether a third dose of coronavirus vaccines will be needed, in light of U.S. regulators considering booster shots.
The EU drug regulator says it’s “engaging with vaccine developers” to coordinate submission of the necessary data and says it is aware numerous European countries are considering giving booster shots to their already immunized populations.
“At this stage, EMA has not yet determined if and when a booster dose for COVID-19 vaccines will be needed,” the agency said in an email. “Further data from companies marketing the vaccines are expected in the coming weeks and EMA will be reviewing the product information on that basis.”
The regulator says it was already working with other European health officials, including national immunization groups “in case booster doses may become necessary.” It said it was waiting to assess real-world effectiveness data from Europe and other regions. Countries, including Israel and France, have recently begun giving third doses to some people whose immunity may have faded.
The World Health Organization has urged rich countries to hold off administering third doses so unvaccinated populations can get immunized.
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has officially expanded and extended the nation’s coronavirus state of emergency as government advisers recommend legal changes that would allow penalties for violations.
The measures, approved by a government task force, add seven prefectures to the six areas already under a state of emergency and extend it to Sept. 12.
Ten other prefectures were put under a “quasi-emergency,” bringing about two-thirds of the nation under some form of emergency. Hospitals have been stretched thin and some seriously sick people have been turned away. The government has taken pride in avoiding compulsory measures or a lockdown, but some experts and critics are wondering if voluntary measures are enough.
The emergency measures center around asking restaurants and bars to close at 8 p.m. and not serve alcohol. Under the latest measures, department stores and shopping malls will be asked to restrict the number of customers to reduce crowding.
Requests remain in place for people to work from home, but some bosses require staff to work in the office. Commuter trains and Tokyo streets remain crowded, although most people wears masks.
Tokyo has been the worst hit, with 4,377 new cases recorded on Tuesday.