The Latest: Dorm-room parties blamed for U of Miami outbreak
MIAMI — Dorm-room parties are being blamed for a coronavirus outbreak at the University of Miami, where some students who tested positive have been relocated into isolation rooms and two entire floors of a residential tower are under quarantine.
Other students have been kicked out of residence halls and suspended for not following public health directives, said Dr. Julio Frenk, the university’s president.
A new online dashboard by the university says 156 people have tested positive in the university system. Most are students; 69 of them have been placed in isolation and another 94 under quarantine in the past seven days. The positivity rate is slightly above 5%.
“It would have been unrealistic to assume that there would be no cases of COVID-19 in our campus,” Frenk said in a video message.
Frenk said a pattern of infection emerged at one of the residence halls. In response, everyone who tested positive was moved into isolation, and those who were potentially exposed to the virus have been ordered to stay in their rooms.
Similar challenges are being addressed at other colleges in Florida, where the Department of Public Health reported 4,545 COVID-19 hospitalizations Tuesday, along with about 2,600 new virus cases.
The University of Tampa begins classes Wednesday, but it has already temporarily suspended some students who participated in a large gathering at a residence hall as they were moving in. Florida A&M University is imposing curfews for residential students.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Brazil president’s son tests positive for virus, fourth in family
— FDA Commissioner Hahn: Sorry for overstating plasma benefits
— New virus cases decline in United States and experts credit masks
— Virtual learning sites are sprouting up to help working parents.
— With many schools still closed by the coronavirus pandemic, public and private alternatives are sprouting up across the nation to watch over children as they study.
— A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds 45% of Americans say they are setting aside more money than usual during the coronavirus pandemic.
— The World Health Organization is cautioning that using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat other patients is still considered an experimental therapy.
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: OKLAHOMA CITY — Patients at the The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City will each be allowed two visitors starting Wednesday, while some adults at University of Oklahoma hospitals in Oklahoma City and Edmond will be allowed one visitor each.
The hospitals have been limiting visitor numbers in recent months in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Oklahoma State Health Department on Tuesday reported 54,172 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma County Jail Trust has approved $3 million to be paid as bonuses to county jail employees who continue working during the pandemic. This will amount to $1,000 per worker. Also Tuesday, The University of Oklahoma announced that tailgating will be banned on campus for the 2020 football season.
“In past years, a typical game day in Norman draws over 100,000 people to campus,” said OU Vice President for University Operations Eric Conrad. “While we realize these decisions will be disappointing to many, it is imperative that the university does its part to slow the spread of the virus on campus and in our community so we can protect each other.”
The university also requires everyone on campus to wear masks, including at all athletic events.
DES MOINES, Iowa — The Des Moines school district has sued the state of Iowa, challenging a policy that forces districts to hold at least half of their educational programs in-person in classrooms unless their areas meet a high threshold of positive coronavirus cases.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday by Iowa’s largest school district asks the court to reverse the state’s rejection of its plan to begin the school year with students at home and to prevent the state from forcing it to reopen schools “when it is unsafe to do so.”
The lawsuit also seeks a court judgment that invalidates Gov. Kim Reynolds’ July 17 proclamation requiring district to return unless they are in counties with especially high levels of coronavirus cases and meet other department of education guidelines.
The lawsuit names the governor, other state officials and the Board of Education, Education Department and Public Health Department.
The court filing comes as the Ames school district announced Tuesday it would take similar legal action. Last week, the Iowa State Education Association and the Iowa City school district sued, saying Reynolds’ requirements are dangerous for students and staff.
In the Des Moines district, which has over 5,000 employees and 32,500 students, the lawsuit states that more than 31% of the staff have underlying health conditions, 47% are over age 50 and 10% is over age 60. Those factors put them at higher risk of a severe, potentially fatal, cases of COVID-19.
A spokesman for Reynolds did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about the lawsuit.
JACKSON, MISS. – State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs says a Mississippi high school that announced it would shut down for two weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak was forced to close because of a large “unnecessary” social gathering where social distancing guidelines weren’t followed.
Dobbs said officials at Biloxi High School made the “exactly right decision” when they announced Monday that kids would learn virtually until at least Sept. 8. Extracurricular were also temporarily suspended, including some of the first football games of the season, causing some negative reactions from athletes and parents.
“If we want to have football, if we want to have school, we can’t have social events that violate the executive orders that are on the books,” Dobbs said during a press briefing.
Gov. Tate Reeves said the school made the decision to close after between a third and a fifth of all students were exposed, a situation he described as a “learning experience” for Biloxi and other districts in the state. The school announced publicly Monday that 15 people in the community tested positive COVID-19 and 324 students were sent to quarantine.
While Biloxi High School is closed, other schools in the district for younger students will remain open.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Don’t lick your fingers!
That’s what Kentucky Fried Chicken signaled to customers as the company suspended its “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” tagline after 64 years, deeming it “the most inappropriate slogan for 2020” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The suspension will affect the slogan’s use in global advertising “for a little while,” the company said in a statement.
“We find ourselves in a unique situation — having an iconic slogan that doesn’t quite fit in the current environment,” said Catherine Tan-Gillespie, the company’s global chief marketing officer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus safety measures calls for people to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands to reduce exposure to the virus.
For now, the company, which is a subsidiary of Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum! Brands, is telling fans not to worry.
“The slogan will be back,” the statement said. “Just when the time is right.”
CHICAGO — Illinois is expanding its rules requiring masks while dining indoors, saying customers have to wear face coverings during every single interaction with servers or other restaurant workers. That includes while servers are taking orders or bringing a bill.
The requirements go into effect Wednesday, the same day indoor dining will be barred in two counties because of a high COVID-19 rate.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced 1,680 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 29 additional deaths.
In Chicago, city officials looking ahead to winter launched a challenge to propose outdoor dining solutions for when temperatures drop.
PHOENIX — A fight over whether Phoenix-area gyms, bars, movie theaters and water parks can reopen could be a moot point by Thursday if Maricopa County’s downward trend in coronavirus cases holds, the state’s top health officer said.
Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Department of Health Services, said she expects the state’s most populous county will hit levels for “moderate” spread of the virus on that day. That means gyms that have been seeking waivers from the department can reopen even without one at reduced capacity under state guidelines.
Arizona was a national virus hotspot in late June and July but new cases, hospitalizations and transmissions have fallen dramatically since their peak.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf says he doesn’t have the legal authority to extend Pennsylvania’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures beyond Aug. 31.
That means renters will no longer be shielded from losing their homes for failing to pay rent during the pandemic. In a letter to both legislative chambers, released Tuesday, Wolf says the state’s Emergency Services Code prevents him from acting.
The Democrat called on state lawmakers in the Republican-controlled General Assembly to pass legislation to extend the statewide moratorium, which has been in place for more than five months.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon is joining the list of states applying for the federal government’s new assistance for unemployed workers.
State officials say, if approved, people would receive $300 per week, for an estimated three to five weeks. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 500,000 people in Oregon have filed for unemployment.
Last week, Oregon launched a $35 million relief check program created to issue a one-time payment of $500 to 70,000 Oregonians still waiting for unemployment benefits. Just three days later, the program ended after all the checks had been distributed.
DANBURY, Conn. — State and local officials are urging residents of Danbury to get tested for coronavirus and answer calls by contact tracers because of an increase in cases.
Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican, says state and local officials are relying on contract tracing and stepped-up testing at nursing homes and throughout the community to stop further spread.
The city has also taken other steps, such as asking churches to hold remote rather than in-person religious services and delaying plans for in-person learning at the public schools until at least Oct. 1.
The city, which borders New York, has been seeing a rolling average of 22 new daily cases per 100,000 people. That represents a roughly 6-7% infection rate, officials say. Statewide, the infection rate is about 1%.
Boughton says there is less than two weeks to slow the spread, otherwise it’s a “runaway freight train.”
BRASILIA, Brazil — The eldest son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he’s tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation with no symptoms.
Sen. Flávio Bolsonaro is the fourth member of President Jair Bolsonaro’s direct family infected by the coronavirus. The president, first lady Michelle Bolsonaro and Jair Renan Bolsonaro, another son, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Brazilian president has downplayed the severity of the virus, arguing against restrictions on economic activity he claims will prove far more damaging than the disease. His approach to the pandemic runs counter to most recommendations by health experts.
Flávio Bolsonaro says he’s being treated with azithromycin and chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug touted both by Brazil’s president and by U.S. President Donald Trump, despite clinical trials that found it ineffective or even dangerous.
Several members of Bolsonaro’s staff have tested positive, among them eight Cabinet members.
Brazil has 3.6 million confirmed cases and more than 115,000 deaths, second in the world only to the United States.
MADISON, WIS. — Wisconsin’s statewide mask mandate should end because Gov. Tony Evers doesn’t have the legal authority to order it, three western Wisconsin residents represented by a conservative law firm argue in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
It’s the first legal challenge to the mask order Evers issued to help slow the spread of the coronavirus after cases began to spike again in mid-June. Evers issued the order on July 30, it took effect Aug. 1, and is set to run until Sept. 28. The order requires everyone age 5 and older to wear a mask while indoors, except at home. Violators could be fined $200.
Evers’ spokeswoman Britt Cudaback accused Republicans and their allies of trying to prevent the governor from keeping people healthy and safe.
The state reported 168 new cases per 100,000 people during the past two weeks, ranking 26th in the country. Wisconsin has nearly 71,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,081 deaths.
FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Fairfield University is retesting students and staff for the coronavirus after school officials discovered some previous test results might have been erroneous or sent to the wrong patients.
Fairfield officials say they’ll stop using that lab and are advising anyone who has already taken a saliva test for the school to disregard their results.
The school says its brought in 35 rapid testing machines from Abbot Laboratory and will be retesting school community members on site with swab tests results in 15 minutes. The school says the machines can process up to 800 tests a day.
Students and staff are given the option of getting their own tests from another provider.
Classes are set to start on Sept. 1. The school says anyone who receives a positive test result will be asked to return home if possible. Anyone who lives further than 300 miles from the school or can’t go home will be quarantined on campus.
MILAN — The number of confirmed positives for coronavirus remained below 1,000 for the second straight day, even as the number of swab tests increased significantly.
Italy registered 878 new infections on Tuesday, according to health ministry data, down from 953 on Monday. The number of tests performed in the last 24 hours hit 72,341, up from around 46,000 a day earlier.
Officials recently closed down discos, which have been a large source of contagion, including 60 cases linked to a disco in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, owned by former Formula One manager Flavio Briatore. Britatore was hospitalized in Milan for the virus on Tuesday.
The death toll in Italy rose by four, bringing the confirmed toll to 35,445.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Tuscaloosa is closing bars for the next two weeks after what University of Alabama officials call an unacceptable rise in coronavirus cases on campus.
The University of Alabama has recorded 531 cases of coronavirus on campus since the fall semester began last week, according to the school on Tuesday.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announced Monday the closures along with the end of bar service at restaurants during a news conference with campus officials.
School officials say there’s been a rapid rise in cases, particularly among fraternities and sororities. The university on Friday announced a moratorium on student gatherings both on and off campus.
Maddox says an unchecked spread of the virus threatens to overwhelm the health care system and sink the local economy if students are sent home for the semester for remote learning.
University of Alabama President Stuart Bell says the rise in cases is unacceptable. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey praised the mayor and university officials for acting swiftly.
NASHVILLE, Tenn, — Tennessee is facing a lawsuit over Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s decision to let counties issue certain orders to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on their authority to require people to wear masks.
The group Citizens for Limited Government and Constitutional Integrity, also known as Tennessee Stands, and two individuals filed the lawsuit Monday in Davidson County Chancery Court. Lee is the defendant in his role as governor.
The lawsuit claims a state law dealing with the governor’s powers during an emergency violates sections of the Tennessee Constitution, including provisions about the separation of powers.
A recent opinion by the state attorney general cites the law in describing the governor’s ability to delegate duties during an emergency.
Meanwhile, four University of Tennessee at Knoxville students are facing disciplinary proceedings for not abiding by safety restrictions.