The Latest: Dr. Fauci: Public health safeguards slow virus
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says even if the coronavirus is around for decades, public health safeguards and an eventual vaccine will allow the world to successfully adapt.
The government’s leading infectious disease expert was asked about whether the coronavirus could become a fact of life for generations.
Fauci says the combination of public health measures — masks, hand washing, social distancing — and vaccines should mean that “you can very well control and essentially eliminate (the coronavirus) from any given country.”
He added: “Remember, there’s only been one virus in the history of the planet that’s been eradicated and that’s smallpox.”
Vaccines are under development and it’s unknown how effective they will be. But Fauci says he hopes it will be in the range of 70% to 80% effectiveness. A vaccine should be available in 2021, he says.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— US deaths predicted at nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1
— Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for virus
— Dr. Fauci says public health safeguards slow virus; hopes for vaccine in 2021
— Nearly 1.2 million laid-off Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week, evidence that the coronavirus keeps forcing companies to slash jobs.
— North Korea says it is quarantining thousands of people and shipping food and other aid to a city locked down over coronavirus concerns.
— A newsletter that updates residents of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, about the coronavirus pandemic is moving some readers to tears, thanks to weekly contributions from the city’s poet laureate.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rescinded an order requiring people traveling from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to quarantine for 14 days.
Early in the national outbreak, the Republican ordered travelers arriving in Florida from then-epicenter New York City and its suburbs to quarantine for two weeks. New York’s statewide daily infection-rate has plummeted since late April and is currently about one-tenth Florida’s.
Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued his own order in June, requiring residents in several states, including Florida, to quarantine upon arriving in New York.
On Thursday, Florida reported 7,650 new coronavirus cases and 120 deaths. The state has a total of 510,389 confirmed cases, second only to California. There have been at least 7,781 deaths, sixth in the nation.
SEATTLE — A widely cited University of Washington model predicts U.S. deaths from COVID-19 will reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1.
The forecast of 295,011 deaths is 137,000 more than the roughly 158,000 U.S. deaths reported so far. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model assumes that many states will impose new stay-at-home orders as deaths climb.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors the model along with forecasts from about 30 other modeling groups. Combined, the models predict from 168,000 to 182,000 total COVID-19 deaths by Aug. 22.
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says if you can wear a face shield to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus, you might as well do it.
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says he’s been asked by teachers worried about infection risks from kids in the classroom whether they should wear plastic face shields. They are now commonly used in hospital emergency departments, as well as dental and medical offices.
“It certainly can’t hurt,” says Fauci, who has also promoted the use of cloth masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Fauci took questions at a session sponsored by the nonprofit Alliance for Health Policy.
There’s no formal recommendation yet to wear face shields because the science isn’t clear, Fauci says, but there is a certain logic to it: So the virus doesn’t enter the body through the mouth, nose and eyes.
MADRID — A town of 32,000 people in northwestern Spain will begin lockdown Friday amid a local surge in coronavirus cases.
The senior health official in the Basque country reported 338 news cases in the region on Thursday. Authorities in the northwestern Castile and León region are quarantining Aranda de Duero after 103 new COVID-19 cases emerged there. Contact tracers have reported five active clusters.
New cases have risen steadily in Spain since a more than three-month lockdown ended on June 21, reaching 1,772 new infections reported on Wednesday. A total of more than 28,000 people in Spain have died since the pandemic began, the eighth highest total in the world.
LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization hopes the United States leadership will reconsider its departure from the U.N. health agency.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the U.S. was well recognized both for its generosity and support of global health projects in the past.
“You cannot defeat this virus in a divided world,” Tedros said of a country that contributes more than $450 million to the agency every year.
“When I was a minister in Ethiopia, when HIV/AIDS was ravaging the whole continent of Africa…it’s the U.S. generosity and leadership that gave hope to individuals, gave hope to families and gave hope to nations,” Tedros said.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused WHO of botching its response to the coronavirus and said it colluded with China in the pandemic’s early stages to cover up the extent of the outbreak.
WHO had denied that and recently start a probe into the global response to the pandemic.
WINDER, Ga. — More than 90 staff members in one Georgia school district have been quarantined due to coronavirus exposure or infection, prompting the district to start the year entirely online.
Barrow County Schools officials say the district about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta will begin with distance learning on Aug. 17.
Superintendent Dr. Chris McMichael says the district took “every precaution” and staff members were required to wear masks during preplanning before students returned to buildings. But dozens of employees were still infected or in quarantine due to a suspected case or direct contact with a confirmed case.
Also this week, about 260 employees for Gwinnett County Public Schools, the state’s largest public school district, reported testing positive for the virus.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland is reintroducing restrictions to some central and southern counties with the highest rates of coronavirus cases after the daily rate recently reached 726 new cases.
Starting Saturday, cinemas and gyms will be reclosed and no more than 50 people allowed to attend wedding parties or funerals in some among the 19 counties. People must wear protective masks in all public spaces.
Poland, a nation of 38 million, has registered nearly 50,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,770 deaths.
Duluth, Minn. — St. Louis County in northeastern Minnesota this week has added new coronavirus cases faster than any other county in the state.
Of the 475 cases in St. Louis County as of Wednesday, more than half were confirmed in July. The virus has been detected throughout the state’s geographically largest county, but about three-fourths of the cases came from Duluth, according to health officials.
While nursing homes were hit hard by the coronavirus in the spring and early summer, now nearly one-third of those infected in the county are in their 20s.
About 40% of people who tested positive say they’d attended restaurants or bars during the period they were likely exposed to the virus, the county’s public health director Amy Westbrook says.
Westbrook says the next few weeks will be critical. The number of daily new cases in the county is hovering close to 20.
The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reported its first two confirmed cases on the reservation, part of which is in St. Louis County, and a third case involving a band member tested in Duluth, the Star Tribune reported.
PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem is using coronavirus restrictions in other states to lure businesses to relocate to South Dakota.
In an online ad, Noem tells business owners to “grow their company” in South Dakota where government will stay out of their way.
“When it comes to supporting growth and eliminating government heavy-handed interference, South Dakota means business,” Noem said in the ad from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
The Republican governor says Minnesota’s COVID-19-related restrictions, including a mandate to wear face masks in public buildings, has created an opportunity for businesses there to cross the border to South Dakota.
Noem says in South Dakota, businesses won’t be shut down.
Noem has taken a relaxed approach to the pandemic. Even as Republican governors in states such as Texas have moved to require people to wear masks, Noem didn’t require physical distancing or masks at the July 3 celebration at Mount Rushmore, which President Donald Trump attended.
NES ZIONA, Israel — Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz says the country will begin human trials on a coronavirus vaccine in the fall.
Gantz made the announcement Thursday after a visit to the Israel Institute for Biological Research, a research center under the Defense Ministry.
Gantz says the human trials would begin after the upcoming Jewish new year holidays, which take place in September and early October.
“All of the successful preliminary trials offer very significant news and a great deal of hope,” Gantz said. “The next phase, as we’ve determined, is to start trials in humans after the autumn holidays.”
More than two dozen experimental vaccines are in various stages of human testing worldwide.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A northern Norway university hospital says two more crew members who worked on a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, bring the total to 55.
Following the outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen, the ship’s owner halted all cruises on Monday and Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks.
The University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle, where the ship currently is docked, said the two were admitted Thursday. They were described as foreign nationals working on the MS Roald Amundsen.
Earlier, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said during the ship’s two journeys last month, a total of 37 crew members and 16 passengers tested positive. The passengers all registered as living in Norway.
The cruise liner often acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port along Norway’s west coast. Some passengers disembarked along the route and authorities fear they may have spread the virus to local communities.
LONDON — The British government says it won’t be using 50 million face masks it bought during a scramble to secure protective equipment for medics at the height of the coronavirus outbreak because of safety concerns.
The masks were part of a 252 million pound ($332 million) contract the government signed with investment firm Ayanda Capital in April. Papers filed in a court case reveal that the masks will not be distributed because they have ear loops rather than head loops and may not fit tightly enough.
The government says another 150 million masks supplied by Ayanda are unaffected but are still being tested.
The papers are part of a lawsuit against the Conservative government by campaigning groups the Good Law Project and EveryDoctor.
As the coronavirus outbreak accelerated across the U.K. in March, it became clear that the country lacked sufficient stockpiles of masks, gloves, gowns and other protective gear for health care workers and nursing home staff. That sparked a race to buy billions of pieces of equipment from suppliers in the U.K. and abroad.
Opposition parties are calling for an urgent investigation into the way personal protective equipment was acquired.
JOHANNESBURG — As Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases near 1 million, the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that “we cannot at all exercise fatigue” in the pandemic response.
John Nkengasong spoke to reporters as the continent’s cases are now at more than 992,000. More than half are in South Africa.
Africa has seen an 11% increase in cases in the past week, lower than in recent weeks, but Nkengasong says that while it’s tempting to see a decrease, the numbers must be observed over several weeks to determine the real trend of infections on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
Five countries account for 75% of cases: South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana and Algeria.
The low rate of testing remains a concern, but Nkengasong says that if countries do the right things “we have a good chance of beating back this pandemic.” He says the CDC is closely watching countries including Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan as cases climb.
BERLIN — Germany’s health minister says authorities will require people arriving from a large number of countries deemed high-risk to take coronavirus tests starting on Saturday.
German officials have voiced alarm over a steady upward creep in the number of new infections over recent weeks. The national disease control center on Wednesday recorded more than 1,000 cases in a day for the first time in three months.
As school holidays end, the government is keen to keep tabs on potentially infected vacationers entering the country. Last Saturday, it started offering free tests for people returning to the country.
People entering Germany from countries deemed high-risk — most of them outside Europe — are currently required to quarantine for 14 days unless they can present a negative test result no more than two days old.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said that starting on Saturday, arrivals from those countries will be obliged to take a test — unless they bring a new test result with them.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines reported 3,561 new coronavirus cases Thursday, overtaking Indonesia with the most infections in Southeast Asia, as Manila plunged into a recession.
The latest jump brings confirmed cases to 119,460, including 2,150 deaths. Indonesia reported a total of 118,753 confirmed infections as of Thursday, with 5,521 deaths.
The economy slumped by 16.5% in the second quarter in the worst contraction on record in decades that caused the Philippines to slip into a recession.
The stagnant economy has begun to rebound slightly after President Rodrigo Duterte eased a three-month lockdown in June. But he put the capital and outlying provinces of more than 25 million people back under a two-week moderate lockdown Tuesday, after medical groups warned the health care system was being overwhelmed and could collapse.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says, “I’ll be honest with you, the economy can no longer withstand a much longer lockdown.”