The Latest: France extends curfew nationwide to fight virus
PARIS — All of France will be under a stricter curfew starting Saturday at 6 p.m. for at least 15 days to fight spread of the coronavirus.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex also announced strict new controls for those arriving in France from countries outside the European Union. Starting Monday, they must produce a PCR test with negative results and self-isolate for seven days followed by a new, negative test.
France wants to coordinate a response with the European Union about arrivals from EU countries, he says. The French government is trying to avoid a third lockdown with partial measures like curfews the prime minister calls both “preventative” and “reactive.”
Most regions were under an 8 p.m. curfew, but now “everyone must be home at 6 p.m.,” Castex says. That means that stores must close by then. Bars and restaurants have been closed for months.
The average contamination rate for the coronavirus stands at about 16,000 people per day. France has one of the highest death counts in Europe, at more than 69,000, and ranks No. 7 in the world.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus plan will stress vaccines, masks in a speech on Thursday night. California counties want more coronavirus vaccine from Gov. Newsom. President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club’s failure to enforce Palm Beach County’s mask ordinance at New Year’s Eve bash results in warning but no fine.
Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MADRID — Spain reported 35,878 confirmed coronavirus cases and 201 new deaths from the coronavirus.
That increases the totals to 2.2 million cases and more than 53,000 since the start of the pandemic.
Fernando Simón, who heads Spain’s health emergency coordination center, is at odds with independent experts who say the spiraling contagion requires a stricter lockdown.
Spain’s 14-day cases for 100,000 inhabitants surged to 522 on Thursday.
ROME — Italy’s vaccination program is moving faster than expected, with those over age 80 receiving their first injection this week instead of early February.
Health officials say by Thursday evening, more than 900,000 people in Italy had received a shot of one of the two vaccines so far approved for use by the European Union. The vaccination process first began with doctors, nurses and other health services.
The government’s special commissioner for the pandemic, Domenico Arcuri, says if EU approval comes later this month for a third manufacturer’s vaccine, as many as 50 million people in Italy could be vaccinated this year. Italy has a population of 60 million.
Italy on Thursday registered 17,246 new infections, raising the total to 2.3 million confirmed cases. There were 522 confirmed deaths since Wednesday, bringing the overall known death toll to 80,848, one of the highest in Europe and sixth highest in the world.
PHOENIX — Arizona is expanding its COVID-19 vaccination program with plans for opening another state-run site in metro Phoenix.
Officials say the vaccination site will open Feb. 1 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium near the Phoenix-Tempe border, with registration starting Tuesday.
The state’s vaccination program was slow to get off the ground. But officials say the first state-run large site, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, is administering thousands of doses daily.
The state announced Wednesday that people 65 and older starting can sign up next week to get vaccinated. Arizona had the worst state diagnosis rate the past week, with one of every 107 people diagnosed with the coronavirus from Jan. 6 to Wednesday.
Arizona on Thursday reported 7,311 confirmed cases and 182 more deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 649,040 cases and 10,855 deaths.
CHICAGO — The city of Chicago is opening six mass coronavirus vaccination sites that expect to deliver roughly 25,000 weekly shots once fully operational.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot visited a new site Thursday at a community college. Most sites will be at City Colleges of Chicago campuses. All six sites are expected to open later this month. Lightfoot says Chicago needs far more doses from the federal government so more people can be vaccinated quickly
Chicago has been receiving fewer doses each week, she says. From about 38,000 first doses two weeks ago to about 32,000 last week. Lightfoot says at the current rate, it’ll take 1.5 years to vaccinate all Chicagoans.
Currently, shots are going to health care workers and residents and employees of long-term care facilities. The next phase includes residents age 65 and older and essential workers, but health officials haven’t said when that will begin.
WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York says he has the coronavirus.
He’s the latest House member to report testing positive since dozens of lawmakers huddled together for protection during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Espaillat says in a statement that he’s quarantining at home and will keep up his work representing his Upper Manhattan district.
It’s not clear where and when the lawmakers caught the virus. But the Capitol’s attending physician has told House members they might have been exposed to someone in the room who had the virus.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has received the vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac company.
He announced it on messaging apps in a bid to encourage others to get the shot, adding a smiley face emoji. He called on other political leaders and legislators to get inoculated to set an example.
An image shared by his office showed Erdogan getting the shot with the sleeve of his black t-shirt pulled up.
Turkey rolled out its vaccination program against COVID-19 on Thursday, a day after Turkish authorities gave the green light for the vaccine’s emergency use.
Some 256,000 health care workers received shots on the first day of the inoculation program. Erdogan said he expects a Turkish-developed vaccine to be available in May.
WILMINGTON, Del. — A coronavirus action plan from President-elect Joe Biden centers on a mass vaccination campaign and closer coordination among all levels of government.
The plan comes as more than 380,000 Americans have died.
Biden hopes his multidimensional strategy will put the country on the path to recovery, aiming for 100 million vaccinations in his administration’s first 100 days.
The nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start. About 10.3 million people received the first of two shots, although more than 29 million doses have been delivered.
As part of the plan to be unveiled in a speech Thursday evening, Biden will ask Americans to recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings.
A record of more than 4,400 deaths were reported on Tuesday.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Flights were delayed when an air traffic control center near Jacksonville, Florida, closed for several hours for extensive cleaning after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus.
Jacksonville International Airport tweeted Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration’s flight-control center in Hilliard would be closed “into the evening which may cause extensive delays and/or cancellations.” It advised passengers to check with their airlines regarding delayed flights.
It was the second time this year that this center has been closed for cleaning due to the coronavirus. Overall, the Hilliard facility has had 12 personnel testing positive since June, and the nearby Jacksonville International Airport tower also has had a dozen infections, according to data provided by the FAA.
The FAA data show hundreds of coronavirus infections among air traffic control workers since the pandemic began.
BANGKOK — Thai health authorities say they’ll maintain strict coronavirus regulations imposed after a surge in cases last month in a province next to Bangkok.
Thailand had just 4,008 confirmed cases of the infection on Dec. 1. But after the surge — discovered among migrant workers and another among attendees of illegal gambling dens — spread to 60 of Thailand’s 77 provinces, the total increased to 11,262 on Thursday.
Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for Thialand’s COVID-19 Situation Administration, said measures to combat the spread of the virus would be maintained at least until the end of January.
Restrictions vary by province according to the severity of the threat. Those include lockdown measures and mandated closures of public areas. Generally, monitoring and enforcement of social distancing has been stepped up, and events drawing crowds banned.
LOS ANGELES — California counties are asking for more coronavirus vaccine as the state added a potential 4 million people to those eligible for the doses.
State public health officials followed federal guidance Wednesday by announcing that people 65 and older could get it. But Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents and an epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, says it can’t do that before inoculating some 800,000 health care workers first.
California received more than 2.4 million vaccine doses but only a third have been used. The state aims to administer 1.5 million doses by Friday.
Nearly 50 state lawmakers signed a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for counties to receive supply updates and a “reliable” four-week forecast on expected vaccine quantities.
They also asked the governor to expand authorization for who can administer doses to include nursing students, retired medical workers, firefighters and National Guard members with medical training.
Newsom says the state’s priority is to deliver vaccines “as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences.”
NAIROBI, Kenya — A World Health Organization official says Africa should get the first coronavirus vaccine doses from the global COVAX effort in March.
The continent is recording about 30,000 new virus cases per day compared to 18,000 during the first surge months ago. Africa’s top public health official says that “unfortunately, our deaths are increasing very rapidly” this time.
The African Union chair on Wednesday said 270 million doses have been secured from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca via the Serum Institute of India.
Some 600 million doses are expected to come from COVAX.
Doses will be allocated to countries based on population size and the severity of the outbreak, with health workers considered highest priority.
The continent of Africa has more than 3.1 million confirmed virus cases, including more than 75,000 deaths. South African leads with more than 35,000 deaths.
STOCKHOLM — Sweden reported 351 more deaths, with the death toll surpassing 10,000.
Sweden, which approached the coronavirus pandemic by keeping large parts of the society open, has registered 518,783 cases.
Karin Tegmark Wisell of Sweden’s Public Health Agency says most deaths included people over 70.
Last year, Swedish authorities were criticized for failing to protect the country’s elderly and nursing home residents. An independent commission said elderly care in Sweden has major structural shortcomings and authorities have proved unprepared and ill-equipped to meet the pandemic.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has confirmed Pope Francis received the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine on Thursday.
No photos of the 84-yer-old pontiff receiving the shot have been released. The pope has advocated that everyone should get the vaccine, calling it an “ethical option” performed not only for one’s own health but for the “lives of others.”
The Vatican has beefed up coronavirus restrictions amid a spike in cases in Italy. The pope, who is missing part of one lung since a surgery in his 20s, has been saying the traditional Angelus blessing from a library in the Apostolic Palace, and not a window overlooking St. Peter’s, in a bid to prevent gatherings.
The Vatican launched its vaccination program this week, administering the Pfizer vaccine. Vatican City has had at least 27 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including a cluster among the Swiss Guards last fall.
DAKAR, Senegal — The World Health Organization says a coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa has been confirmed in three other African countries.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, says Botswana, Gambia and Zambia have the new variant. It already has been confirmed in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.
South African health officials have said the variant is possibly more transmissible.
South Africa, with a population of 60 million, has reported 1.2 million confirmed cases. That represents more than 30% of cases in Africa, which this week exceeded 3 million.
There have been more than 35,000 confirmed deaths in South Africa.