The Latest: Coronavirus leaves its mark on Halloween
Ghosts, skeletons, princesses and black cats roamed the streets as usual this Halloween, but they kept their distance, wore face coverings and carried hand sanitizer in their quest for treats.
Like with everything else this year, the pandemic also left its mark on Halloween. Parades, parties and haunted houses were canceled due to bans on large gatherings and concerns that spooky celebrations could spread the coronavirus.
But across the U.S., parents and costumed kids found ways to preserve the essence of the holiday Saturday while also observing the rules of social distancing.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced England will start a monthlong lockdown next week.
— Italy adds record 31,758 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.
— Germany’s Merkel pledging financial help for companies hit by partial shutdown.
— Two top Turkish officials who work closely with Turkey’s president say they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus.
— Italian nurse sees the nightmare return of the coronavirus. The 54-year-old nurse saw the virus in the unmasked faces of fellow vacationers this summer and her worry grew.
Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
JERUSALEM – Dozens of members of Israel’s Druze Arab minority stormed a hospital in northern Israel and seized the body of a sheikh who died from the coronavirus. Later Saturday, his followers held a large funeral for him against safety guidelines.
The crowd stormed the hospital late Friday in the northern town of Safed. TV stations showed videos of dozens of followers entering the building. The funeral took place in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams, which has been placed under a lockdown due to the high rate of coronavirus infections. Thousands of Druze people participated in the funeral procession, despite a ban on large gatherings.
Later Saturday, Sheikh Muwafaq Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Druze sect, said the family of the deceased and the Druze leadership were not consulted before the body was taken from the hospital. He appealed for Druze to abide by health restrictions, Israel’s public radio Arabic service reported.
The Druze community, which follows a secretive offshoot of Islam, generally has good relations with the national government.
The reports say that Israeli police are investigating the incidents.
Israel has begun easing its second nationwide lockdown this month after succeeding in lowering the infection rate, which in September had risen to be one of the highest in the world.
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada topped 100,000 total coronavirus cases on Saturday.
State officials reported 977 more cases, increasing the total to 100,763.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases went from 584 on Oct. 16 to 874 on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press.
The positivity rate rose from 8% to 10%. However, average number of daily deaths dropped from 7.1 to 5.6.
Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak says, “Now is not the time to get complacent or to give into COVID fatigue.”
Sisolak urged residents to wear masks, practice social distancing, frequently wash hands and avoid large crowds. He told people to take the virus seriously to protect others and the economy.
Nevada reported no deaths on Saturday, keeping the confirmed total at 1,777.
JUNEAU, Alaska — Lawmakers, employees and reporters must be screened for the coronavirus when entering the Alaska Capitol.
The Alaska Legislative Council approved the measure, which requires masks in the building and other legislative offices. The council voted to keep the Capitol building closed to the public until at least January, when the next Legislature convenes.
Alaska reported 384 coronavirus cases and four deaths on Friday.
There’s been more than 15,000 cases and 81 confirmed deaths, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.
ROME — Italy added a record 31,758 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours and doubled the deaths to nearly 300 on Saturday.
The Health Ministry says approximately one of every seven people receiving swab tests has tested positive in recent days.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte is considering more stringent virus measures. Demonstrators took to the streets of Rome on Saturday to protest recent measures.
Italy has nearly 680,000 confirmed cases and 38,618 deaths, the second-highest deaths in Europe.
PHOENIX — Arizona reported nearly 1,900 new cases and 45 deaths on Saturday.
Hospitalization rates in late October have started to reach levels last recorded in late May, with 880 people hospitalized for COVID-19 on Friday. Nearly 200 were in intensive care.
The seven-day rolling average of new daily cases rose from 772 on Oct. 16 to 1,166 on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press.
The daily deaths went from 8.6 to 9.9 and the positivity rate increased from 8.2% to 10.5%.
Arizona has reported 245,946 confirmed cases and 5,979 deaths.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece surpassed 2,000 coronavirus cases for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Authorities says there were 2,056 new cases in the past day and six deaths.
The government announced new lockdown measures Saturday to stem the rapid rise in new cases. The restrictions, including the closure of bars, cafes, restaurants and gyms in large swaths of the country, will take effect Tuesday through at least the end of November.
The total confirmed coronavirus cases reached 39,251 and 626 deaths.
VIENNA — Austria will impose a partial shutdown Tuesday that closes restaurants, bars and recreation facilities.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says Austrians will stay home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., although they can go out for work and exercise. He requested citizens work from home when possible.
Kurz says the restrictions will last through November. He characterized it as a “second lockdown” but more lenient because schools, non-essential shops and hairdressers can stay open.
Austria has reported 301 cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days. That compares with 110 in neighboring Germany, which is imposing a somewhat lighter four-week partial shutdown starting Monday.
Austria has confirmed a total of 106,000 coronavirus cases and 1,097 deaths.
PRAGUE — The Czech Red Cross launched a program of one-day training for volunteers to assist medical personnel in hospitals and nursing homes amid a staff shortage.
The volunteers will learn the basics treatment of patients, says Katerina Havlova, the director of Red Cross branch in the northern town of Jablonec nad Nisou.
Her branch, one of eight providing training across the Czech Republic, plans to train more than 100 volunteers.
Approximately 15,000 medical staff in the country’s hospitals have tested positive for the coronavirus. Currently, 7,281 people are hospitalized, more than twice the number two weeks ago.
The Czech Republic has 323,673 confirmed cases and more than 3,000 deaths.
LONDON — Britain has recorded more than 1 million cases of the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak.
The British Department of Health on Saturday announced 21,915 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 1.01 million cases.
The United States, India, Brazil, Russia, France, Spain, Argentina and Colombia also have recorded more than 1 million cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Scientists say the number of cases is likely much higher because of a lack of testing and reporting.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce new restrictions Saturday to help combat a coronavirus surge.
Britain’s confirmed death toll is 46,555, the highest in Europe and fifth highest in the world.
NEW YORK — Federal health officials announced new rules to eventually help cruise ships sail again in U.S. waters.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says companies must demonstrate procedures for testing, quarantining and isolating passengers and crew. Ship owners must test all passengers and crew at the start and end of all voyages, which are limited to seven days.
The companies will need test labs on all ships and arrangements to isolate or quarantine passengers on shore, if needed. The CDC says this may take months to coordinate.
“This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible sailing,” says CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield.
In mid-March, the CDC issued an order suspending cruise ship operations at U.S. ports. That came after coronavirus outbreaks on ships and concerns about spreading the virus. The no-sail order ended Saturday.
ISTANBUL — Two top Turkish officials who work closely with Turkey’s president say they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus.
Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says in a tweet he had light symptoms and was nearing the end of treatment.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu says in a tweet that he, his wife and daughter were hospitalized but feeling “a bit better.”
Soylu was criticized in April for announcing the first weekend lockdown just 2 hours before it went into effect, leading to chaos at markets. Erdogan didn’t accept his resignation after the event.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported 2,213 new coronavirus cases and 75 deaths on Saturday. Turkey has more than 373,100 confirmed cases and reported more than 10,200 deaths.
ROME — Premier Giuseppe Conte says his government is deciding if more restrictions are needed to rein in the spread of coronavirus infections.
“The contagion curve is so rapid now it puts in-class schools at risk,’’ says Conte, five days after closing restaurants in the evening and closing down gyms, cinemas and theaters.
Elementary and middle school children can still attend class. However, 75% of high school instruction must be done remotely, in accordance with nationwide rules that started this week.
On Monday, Lombardy’s governor will consult with the local mayors, including of its main city Milan, before deciding whether to lock down the region.
Some citizens have participated in anti-lockdown protests this week to vent their anger about the restrictions. In Florence on Friday night, four demonstrators were detained.
Italy has more than 647,000 confirmed cases and more than 38,000 deaths.
ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has tested negative for coronavirus after having exposure to someone who tested positive.
A statement on his Twitter account says the Republican governor is quarantining as a precaution. It says first lady Marty Kemp also tested negative.
In a separate announcement Friday, U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson says he tested positive for coronavirus and is working from home while in quarantine. Ferguson appeared with Kemp at a rally on Thursday.
Kemp was among the earliest to allow businesses to reopen. He has avoided a statewide mask mandate, including this summer, when Georgia recorded the highest per capita infections nationwide.
Georgia has 360,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 7,950 deaths,
according to the state Department of Public Health.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece will shut down restaurants, bars, cafes, cinemas and gyms across a large part of the country, including the capital Athens, after a surge in coronavirus cases.
Outlining the measures in a televised address, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the changes will take effect Tuesday morning and last for the whole of November.
The areas affected are most of northern Greece and the Athens region.
Though closed for sitting customers, restaurants in these areas will be able to offer food for takeaway and deliveries.
In other measures, Mitsotakis said masks will become mandatory across the whole of Greece and a curfew will come into force from midnight to 5 a.m. University classes across the country will have to be conducted online.
In contrast to the spring lockdown, travel within the country will not be affected and retail shops will stay open.
Like other countries in Europe, Greece is in the grip of a resurgence of the virus. Daily infections surged over 1,000 this week, peaking at 1,690 Friday.
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel is pledging to help companies hit by a new German partial shutdown “quickly and unbureaucratically” as the country reports the latest in a string of daily coronavirus infection records.
German officials decided this week to shut down bars, restaurants and leisure facilities for four weeks starting Monday and impose new contact restrictions. The aim is to curb a rapid rise in new infections and prevent an overwhelmed health system.
The government plans to spend up to 10 billion euros ($11.7 billion) to compensate companies hit by the latest shutdown.
Merkel said in her weekly video message, “we will not leave companies that face difficulties because of the current crisis through no fault of their own alone. We want to help quickly and unbureaucratically.”
On Saturday, the national disease center, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 19,059 confirmed cases in the last 24 hours and 103 deaths. That’s up from the previous record set Friday of 18,681.
Germany’s total cases since the pandemic started has increased to 518,753 and its death toll to 10,452.