The Latest: COVID rises in Connecticut’; jury trials on hold

HARTFORD, Conn. — Rising rates of the novel coronavirus in Connecticut have postponed plans to resume jury trials in state courts, judicial officials said Monday.

Chief Justice Richard Robinson in September announced a proposal to have residents begin reporting for jury duty again on Nov. 2, about eight months after trials were put on on hold in March as the virus swept through the state.

The plan has been put on hold indefinitely and will be reassessed weekly, said Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, a spokeswoman for the Judicial Branch.

The latest 14-day average positivity rate in Connecticut is about 3%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Connecticut, The Associated Press calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project from Oct. 15-29.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s office has said the number of cases has been rising steadily, including a one-day positive test rate of 6.1% on Thursday. Friday’s rate was back down to 2.5%. The rate had been below 1% over the summer.

Connecticut also continues to see an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. There were 329 people in the state hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, the most since early June. The state also reported seven more virus-related deaths Friday, bringing the state’s total during the pandemic to 4,616. More than 71,000 people in the state have tested positive.

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

— America stands at a crossroads the day before Election Day, facing a stark choice between candidates in the midst of historic pandemic

— U.S. hospitals are scrambling to hire more nurses as the coronavirus pandemic surges, leading to stiff competition and increased costs.

— Germany kicks off a partial lockdown, as several European countries tighten restrictions this week

— The BBC says Britain’s Prince William had the virus in April, around the same time as his father Prince Charles

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

HONOLULU — U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is pleading not guilty to being in a Hawaii park that was closed amid coronavirus restrictions.

Adams’ attorney, Michael Green, entered the plea on his behalf. Adams was not in Hawaii for Monday’s hearing. His assistant, who was also cited with him last month, also pleaded not guilty.

Adams and his aide were in Hawaii helping with a spike in coronavirus cases. When a police officer found them at Kualoa Regional Park, which was closed to prevent gatherings of people, Adams was taking in the view and snapping photos at the park on Oahu’s northeastern coast, according to the citation.

Adams told the officer he was visiting Hawaii to work with the governor for COVID-19 and didn’t know parks were closed.

The offense is punishable as a misdemeanor and carries a penalty of a fine of up to $5,000, up to a year in jail, or both.

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BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker announced a series of new measures Monday meant to curb rising COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, including a revised stay-at-home advisory, earlier closing times for many businesses, and a tougher face-covering mandate.

The new measures come as the cases of the virus are up by 278% since Labor Day and hospitalizations are up by 145% during the same time period.

The revised stay-at-home advisory instructs residents to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The advisory allows certain activities like going to work, taking a walk and running critical errands to get groceries and address health needs.

Baker issued a new executive order requiring the early closure of many businesses and activities each night at 9:30 p.m., including requiring restaurants to stop table service and requiring liquor stores to stop selling alcohol. Movie theaters must also close at 9:30 p.m.

The Republican also revised the state’s mask mandate to require anyone above the age of five to wear a mask in public.

An earlier mandate said people should wear a mask in public if they couldn’t socially distance. Baker said the new mandate removes the social distancing language.

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PHILADELPHIA — A colonial-themed restaurant on the site of a 1773 tavern in Philadelphia’s Old City has closed due to decreased business stemming from the cnavirus pandemic.

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that City Tavern’s last day of operations was Saturday.

Longtime chef-proprietor Walter Staib tells The Philadelphia Inquirer that the closure was “bittersweet” and followed months of slow business four nights a week. He said the restaurant had lost its core clientele of international travelers from China, Italy and Japan.

According to the restaurant’s website, the tavern in 1774 was “the unofficial meeting place” of delegates to the first Continental Congress at nearby Carpenters’ Hall, with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams among the participants. It was also the site of a farewell dinner in 1787 after the signing of the Constitution and a 1789 banquet for Washington as he was heading to New York for his inauguration.

The restaurant’s site said the National Park Service owns the property and opened City Tavern in 1976 to coincide with the bicentennial after a restoration based on period images, written accounts and insurance surveys. The original structure had been razed in 1854 following heavy damage from a fire two decades earlier.

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas has set another record for its largest number of reported coronavirus cases over seven days.

Based on the health department’s data, the state had a rolling average of 1,507 new confirmed and probable cases a day for the seven days ending Monday. That was nearly 18% higher than the previous high of 1,279 cases a day for the seven days ending Friday.

The health department said the state has had 89,227 coronavirus cases since the pandemic reached the state in early March, an increase of 4,046 or 4.7% over three days.

The state reported an additional 17 COVID-19-related deaths since Friday, bringing the pandemic total to 1,046. The rolling average was 10 additional deaths a day for the seven days ending Monday. The state has reported more than 500 deaths since mid-September.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas has surpassed California in recording the highest number of positive coronavirus tests in the U.S. so far.

The most recently available data from Johns Hopkins University says that as of Sunday there had been 937,317 COVID-19 cases reported in Texas. California has had 936,198 cases, followed by Florida with 807,412.

The Johns Hopkins data shows that Texas’ seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate has risen over the last two weeks from 7.12% to 10.72% In cases per 100,000 population, Texas ranks 19th.

The true number of cases is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A county clerk’s office in Utah is under quarantine Monday after the staff was exposed to COVID-19, but officials say it likely won’t delay when election results are announced.

The Summit County clerk’s office staff was exposed to the coronavirus over the weekend and will quarantine until the end of the week, said clerk Kent Jones. The office says it received approximately 18,000 ballots through Friday. Those results will be posted on Election Day.

The clerk’s office will process all additional ballots returned through the mail or a drop box when staff members are cleared to end their quarantine, said Jones. The official ballot count will still be available on Nov. 17 as planned.

If any election workers do become sick, other counties would be available to help finish processing ballots, Jones said.

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CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan authorities say they’re resuming international flights to four friendly nations seven months after the novel coronavirus quarantine halted commercial airline travel.

The National Institute of Civil Aviation said Monday that flights are resuming to Turkey, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Iran. President Nicolás Maduro in March ordered dramatic quarantine measures, attempting to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Authorities say domestic flights throughout Venezuela will remain restricted, except for short flights to Los Roques, an archipelago of Caribbean islands prized by Venezuela’s elite.

Venezuela officials report a steady decline in new cases, with just a few hundred daily. They say in total 800 people have died out of roughly 92,000 total infections. Government critics say that’s a vast undercount.

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PARIS — French health authorities on Monday reported 52,518 new COVID-19 infections in 24 hours, the highest daily number since the country began widespread testing.

The death toll from the virus increased by 418. In total, 37,435 people have died in French hospitals and nursing homes since the start of the pandemic, the world’s seventh-highest reported death toll.

COVID patients now occupy more than 70% of France’s intensive care units, a proportion that has doubled in two weeks.

France’s government has shut down all nonessential businesses and ordered people to stay indoors for at least one month to slow accelerating virus infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

The main exception to this lockdown is schools, which are allowed to stay open to reduce learning gaps and allow their parents to keep working.

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MADRID — Spain’s total number of COVID-19 infections has climbed to more than 1,240,000, but the government said Monday it won’t be introducing stricter lockdown conditions for now.

Over the weekend, a spate of violent protests in a dozen cities were held in response to a nightly curfew introduced last week in Spain. Mostly young protesters set fire to vehicles and trash cans, blocked roads and threw objects at riot police.

Spain’s Minister for Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá told Antena 3 television Monday that “this kind of behavior is to be expected” as people grow weary of restrictions against the spread of COVID-19.

The Health Ministry reported just over 55,000 new cases in Spain since it last published official figures on Friday. More than 36,000 people have died in Spain since the pandemic began.

Asturias, a region on the north coast, asked the national government to order people in the province to stay at home for two weeks.

The Health Ministry refused, saying it is waiting to see the results of the central government’s latest restrictions, introduced last week. A strict lockdown from March to June brought down the number of cases but hit the economy hard.

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GENEVA — A top World Health Organization scientist focusing on the coronavirus response says there has been no transmission or clusters at the agency’s Geneva headquarters.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic, made the comments to reporters after the U.N. agency’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced that he was starting a self-quarantine after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for the virus.

“I am well and without symptoms, but will self quarantine in the coming days in line with WHO protocols,” Tedros said via video conference from his home during a regular WHO news conference on Monday.

Van Kerkhove said the agency was tracking all cases among staff and carrying out contact tracing to ensure that transmission wasn’t taking place at its Geneva headquarters.

“We haven’t had any transmission take place on the premises, and we have no clusters on the premises,” she said. “But it is something that we’re monitoring every day.”

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O’FALLAN, Mo. — Missouri hospital leaders are raising alarms about bed capacity as coronavirus cases continue to spike, with some urging Gov. Mike Parson to issue a statewide mask mandate.

Meanwhile, an eastern Missouri eighth-grader died days after his COVID-19 diagnosis, the state’s first child under age 14 to die since the onset of the pandemic. Washington School District Superintendent Lori VanLeer said in a statement that 13-year-old Peyton Baumgarth died over the weekend, less than two weeks after he last attended classes.

The National Center for Health Statistics report for Oct. 28 cited just 80 deaths nationwide among children ages 14 or younger.

Missouri, like many Midwestern states, is seeing a big rise on COVID-19 cases, and many of the illnesses are severe enough to require hospitalization. The state health department on Monday cited 1,659 hospitalizations statewide, eclipsing by 10 the previous record set a day earlier. The state also cited 2,651 more confirmed cases and five additional deaths. All told, Missouri has reported 188,186 confirmed cases and 3,031 deaths from the virus.

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LANSING, Mich. — Meals at Michigan restaurants came with a new side dish Monday: What’s your name and phone number?

Restaurants must be able to contact customers if there’s a virus case linked to the business, according to the latest order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s health department.

Michigan’s coronavirus cases have risen significantly, setting a new daily high Saturday at 3,792, the health department said.

The Michigan Restaurants & Lodging Association insists COVID-19 transmission doesn’t occur much at restaurants. The group predicts job losses and more financial strife because of the requirement.

“You have guests that feel it’s intruding on their personal liberties and freedoms, and now we’ve got to be the arbitrator of that,” said Jeff Lobdell, president of Restaurant Partners Management, which operates 12 eateries in western Michigan.

Restaurants, bars and other venues must seat no more than six people at a table. The state said indoor settings are much more likely to drive COVID-19 outbreaks than outdoor settings.

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ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has announced new national restrictions aimed at halting the increase of coronavirus cases, including closing shopping malls on the weekends, shuttering museums and limiting movements between regions.

Conte outlined the new measures to lawmakers Monday, ahead of a new decree expected soon. He said shopping malls will be closed on weekends, except for food stores, newsstands, drugstores and tobacco shops located inside. He also announced the closure of gambling parlors and video game arcades.

He added that there will be a “late evening” curfew, but without providing a time. Currently only some regions, including Lazio where Rome is located, have a curfew.

He also said high schools, which are currently on ¾ distance learning, can go on full-time distance learning in a bid to help alleviate pressure on public transport.

Conte told lawmakers on that one big difference this time – compared to measures during the virus’s last peak in March – is that some measures will vary by region, depending on how critical the virus’ spread is and pressure on hospitals.

Italy’s new cases count eased slightly in the last 24 hours, adding 22,253 new cases to bring the pandemic total to 731,588. Nearly one-quarter of the cases are in hard-hit Lombardy, the epicenter of both virus surges.

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LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday defended his decision to impose a second national lockdown, ignoring criticism that weeks of delay have meant thousands more infections and hundreds of needless deaths.

The comments came as Johnson gave the House of Commons details of the proposed four-week lockdown in England that is set to begin Thursday. The plan was hurriedly announced Saturday after updated projections showed that rapidly rising infection rates risked swamping hospitals in a matter of weeks.

The new policy comes three weeks after Johnson announced plans for a three-tiered regional approach to combatting the virus, with tighter restrictions imposed on areas with higher infection rates. The government chose that strategy in an effort to reduce the economic and social impact of new restrictions, even though a committee of scientific advisers on Sept. 21 recommended a short lockdown as a “circuit breaker” to slow the spread of COVID-19.

But that approach became untenable after new analysis showed COVID-19 was spreading so rapidly that the number of deaths this winter could more than double those recorded earlier this year.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said the cost of delaying a lockdown 40 days after scientific advisers recommended such a move was recorded in statistics of the pandemic. On Sept. 21 the U.K. recorded 11 deaths from COVID-19 and about 4,000 new infections. Forty days later, there were 326 deaths and more than 22,000 cases.

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BERLIN — A four-week partial shutdown has started in Germany, with restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas and other leisure facilities closing down until the end of the month.

The restrictions that took effect Monday are milder than the ones Germany imposed in the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic in March and April. This time around, schools, kindergartens, non-essential shops and hairdressers are to remain open.

But leading officials decided last week that a “lockdown light” was necessary in light of a sharp rise in new infections that has prompted many other European countries to impose more or less drastic restrictions.

On Saturday, the national disease control center reported the highest number of infections in one day — 19,059 — since the pandemic began. Figures at the beginning of the week tend to be lower, and the center reported 12,097 cases Monday. But that compared with 8,685 a week earlier, underlining the upward trend. Germany has reported over 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governors are to review the situation after two weeks.

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