The Latest: Dr. Fauci: Rethink usual plans for Thanksgiving
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans should rethink their usual plans for Thanksgiving gatherings, citing increased coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.
Fauci told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday that given the rise in cases, “we’ve really got to double down on fundamental public health measures that we talk about every day because they can make a difference.”
As for Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans travel to gather with families and friends, Fauci says this November may need to be different. “We really have to be careful this time that each individual family evaluates the risk-benefit.”
The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert says its especially important because people traveling over the holiday often pass through crowded transportation hubs such as airports.
“If you have vulnerable people, the elderly or people that have underlying conditions, you better consider whether you want to do that now or maybe just forestall it and wait,” Fauci says.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Dr. Fauci criticizes ‘herd immunity’; suggests people rethink Thanksgiving travel
— France sets curfew at 9 p.m. Friday; health workers march in Paris
— WHO: European cases rocket, says strong coronavirus limits needed
— Most Americans highly critical of President Donald Trump’s handling of both the coronavirus pandemic and his own illness.
— London moves to second-highest coronavirus alert level amid rise in cases.
— Nominations for the Tony Awards will have just 18 eligible plays and musicals because of the coronavirus interrupting on the Broadway season.
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PARIS — France will deploy 12,000 police officers to enforce a curfew that starts Friday night and plans to spend another 1 billion euros helping businesses hit by the new restrictions.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex and other government ministers laid out new rules Thursday aimed at what he called a “sudden acceleration” of infections.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin says 12,000 police officers would be deployed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. to enforce the new curfew, imposed on some 20 million people in Paris and eight other French cities.
Amid protests by restaurant owners and others hit by this latest wave of virus restrictions, the government pledged to expand temporary unemployment payments and spend another 1 billion euros for hard-hit sectors.
Coronavirus patients occupy a third of France’s intensive care units and virus hospitalizations are increasing. About 1,000 nurses, doctors and other public hospital workers marched Thursday in central Paris to demand more investment, staff and salary raises after years of cost cuts.
France reported 22,591 new infections Wednesday and has a total of 33,037 confirmed deaths.
MEXICO CITY — Ricardo Salinas Pliego, one of Mexico’s wealthiest men and an adviser to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Salinas, the founder and president of Grupo Salinas, which includes TV Azteca and Banco Azteca among other companies, has been outspoken in his criticism of quarantine as a measure to slow the pandemic’s spread.
The 64-year-old Salinas announced his test result Wednesday night on Twitter. “Take care of yourself and don’t be afraid, like I always said,” he wrote. He’s at home but didn’t say if he had COVID-19 symptoms.
Mexico has reported more than 825,000 confirmed cases and nearly 85,000 deaths.
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is criticizing a declaration by a group of scientists that supports the concept of “herd immunity,” which the White House is using to bolster a push to reopen schools and businesses.
Fauci says backing herd immunity — the idea that a disease will stop spreading once nearly everybody has contracted it — is “total nonsense.”
The top U.S. infectious disease expert says: “If you talk to anybody who has any experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases, they will tell you that that is risky and you’ll wind up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and death,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday. “So I think that we’ve just got to look that square in the eye and say it’s nonsense.”
The U.S. leads the world with 7.9 million coronavirus cases and nearly 217,000 confirmed deaths. Globally, there have been 38 million reported cases and 1.09 million confirmed deaths.
BERLIN — The German Hospital Federation says the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the country has doubled in the past week.
The head of the federation, Gerald Gass, says the first wave showed it takes about 14 days for the rise in infections to affect hospitals. He says the number of patients receiving intensive care is likely to pass 2,000 by November at current rates.
Germany’s well-funded health system has helped the country keep the death rate from COVID-19 significantly below other large European countries.
During the first wave of infections in spring, Germany took in dozens of patients from France, Italy and the Netherlands as their hospitals struggled to care for seriously ill patients.
Bavaria’s governor Markus Soeder says his state has received a request to treat patients from the neighboring Czech Republic, where case numbers have surged in recent days.
LONDON — Britain’s health secretary says London has moved to the second-highest coronavirus alert level amid a rise in cases.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons the government acted because infection rates are rising rapidly in the capital and swift action was necessary to control the virus.
The move comes as millions of people in northern England are waiting to learn if they’ll be placed under the government’s tightest restrictions, like Liverpool.
The “high risk” category in the government’s new three-tier regional COVID-19 strategy would require closing bars and banning social gatherings outside one’s own home.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan says he’ll continue to lobby the government for further financial assistance for those affected.
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal is restricting social gatherings to a maximum of five people.
It’s also making masks mandatory outdoors and will impose fines on those disregarding measures against the record numbers of coronavirus infections.
Some of the new measures will last initially 15 days and come under a state of calamity that came into force in the early hours of Thursday, a day after it was adopted by the Portuguese Cabinet.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa has called the surge in coronavirus cases as “serious” but has rejected imposing a strict lockdown.
Attendance at weddings, baptism ceremonies and other family functions will be limited to 50 people. Businesses that break rules on opening times and on serving of alcohol will face fines up to 10,000 euros ($11,700), twice as much as the current amount.
Portugal has more than 90,000 confirmed infections and 2,100 deaths.
LONDON — The surge of coronavirus cases across Europe has warranted the restrictive measures in numerous countries, making them “absolutely necessary,” the head of the World Health Organization’s Europe office says.
Dr. Hans Kluge warned more drastic steps could be taken if the pandemic doesn’t recede.
He called for countries to be “uncompromising” in attempts to control the virus, saying most of the COVID-19 spread is happening in homes, indoor spaces and communities not complying with protection measures.
“These measures are meant to keep us all ahead of the curve and to flatten its course,” said Kluge, while wearing a mask. “It is therefore up to us to accept them while they are still relatively easy to follow.”
Kluge cited epidemiological models that suggested if 95% of people wear masks and other social distancing measures are applied, Europe could avoid about 281,000 deaths by February. But he warned that relaxing measures could lead to a five-fold increase in deaths by January.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic’s military will establish a hospital at Prague’s exhibition center to treat COVID-19 patients, the first such facility in one of the hardest-hit European countries.
Thursday’s announcement by Interior Minister Jan Hamacek comes amid a record surge of new coronavirus cases in the country that reached a record high of 9,544 a day earlier.
Reacting to growing number of coronavirus hospitalizations, Prime Minister Andrej Babis says the government is planning to buy 4,000 extra hospital beds. The country’s hospitals currently treat 2,678 coronavirus patients and the government says the hospitals could reach their full capacity by the end of October.
“We have to build extra capacity as soon as possible,” Babis said Thursday. “We have no time, the prognosis is not good,” Babis told reporters ahead of his trip to Brussels for an EU summit.
Health Minister Roman Prymula said sports grounds and other venues can also be used for treating coronavirus patients.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek civil servants have walked off the job in a 24-hour strike demanding, among other things, better pay for health and education workers and more hiring during the coronavirus pandemic.
The strike Thursday shut down public services across the country, while the participation of air traffic controllers forced airlines to cancel or reschedule flights until 8 a.m. Friday.
Hundreds of health care workers marched through central Athens ahead of the main strike demonstration set for the center of the capital later Thursday.
The country’s main civil servants’ union, ADEDY, called the strike over a series of demands, including an increase in health spending, more intensive care unit beds and new permanent hirings in education to let school classes be limited to 15 pupils.
Greece has been experiencing a resurgence in the pandemic that has increased pressure on the health system. The government has increased the number of intensive care unit beds available for coronavirus patients.
The country of around 11 million people has seen new daily coronavirus cases hovering around the 300 to 400 mark. It currently has a total of 23,495 confirmed cases, with 469 deaths.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is registering a new record high in coronavirus infections with the new confirmed cases in one day almost reaching 2,000.
The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase of those tested positive was 1,929 on Wednesday. The previous record of 1,887 was set on Friday.
Slovakia imposed new restrictive measures on Thursday, making it mandatory again to wear face masks outdoors and banning all public events. Fitness and wellness centers, public swimming pools, theaters and cinemas will be closed. Restaurants are banned from serving meals indoors and the number of people in stores is limited.
Slovakia has seen 24,225 confirmed infections with 71 deaths
PRAGUE — Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have hit a new record high, surpassing 9,000 confirmed cases in one day for the first time.
The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase registered on Wednesday reached 9,544, more than 900 more than than the previous record set on Friday in the nation of over 10 million.
The Czech Republic has had a total of 139,290 cases since the beginning of the pandemic with 1,172 deaths.
The record surge is followed by the growing number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals. Of the 77,217 currently ill with the virus, 2,678 needs hospitalization while 518 are in serious condition.
The government says the hospitals could reach its full capacity by the end of October while working to increase the number of beds available to 10,000.
The Health Ministry has imposed a series of restrictive measures in efforts to contain the spike with schools and restaurants closed and public events banned.
BERLIN — Germany has reported more than 6,600 new coronavirus cases, its highest recorded daily total since the pandemic began.
The national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said early Thursday that 6,638 infections were reported over the past 24 hours. That is about 1,500 higher than a day earlier, and exceeds the previous high of nearly 6,300 seen in late March. Testing has been expanded considerably over recent months.
While Germany is still in better shape than many other European countries, the latest figures underscore concern about a rapid rise in infections over recent weeks.
On Wednesday night, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors agreed to tighten mask-wearing rules, make bars close early and limit the number of people who can gather in areas where coronavirus infection rates are high.
In total, Germany has reported more than 341,000 cases of COVID-19, including 9,710 deaths. On Thursday, 33 new deaths were reported.