The Latest: Germany, France challenge US role in WHO reforms
BERLIN — Germany and France have challenged Washington’s role in leading talks over reforming the World Health Organization, citing the U.S. decision to quit the global body.
Germany’s Health Ministry said the issue was discussed during a call of health ministers from the Group of Seven leading economies Thursday.
In a statement Saturday, the ministry said that in view of the United States’ withdrawal from WHO, “Germany and France currently see no mandate for the U.S. to lead the WHO reform process for the G-7.”
“How can you be leading while you are leaving?” the ministry added.
The Trump administration, which holds the rotating presidency of the G-7 this year, has accused WHO of bowing to pressure from China in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— US hiring slows amid signs of longer-lasting economic damage
— US reports show racial disparities in kids with COVID-19
— 4 US deaths tied to methanol-based hand sanitizers
— A false report claiming five Ukrainians had died after taking an American-made vaccine spread in just a matter of days from a small Kremlin-friendly Ukrainian website to an audience of thousands in U.S.-based Facebook groups.
— Thousands of bikers are pouring into the small South Dakota city of Sturgis as the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally rumbles to life despite fears it could lead to a massive coronavirus outbreak. The bike rally could become one of the largest public gatherings since the pandemic began.
— A last-ditch effort by Democrats to revive collapsing Capitol Hill talks on vital COVID-19 rescue money has ended in disappointment. That makes it increasingly likely that Washington gridlock will mean more hardship for millions of people who are losing enhanced jobless benefits and further damage for an economy pummeled by the still-raging coronavirus.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — People in Britain must wear masks in most indoor settings starting Saturday as the country tries to squash a rise in coronavirus infections that has followed the easing of lockdown measures.
England and Scotland now require face-coverings in most indoor spaces, including places of worship, museums, cinemas, banks and libraries. They were already mandatory in shops and on public transit.
A swath of northern England has been put under tougher restrictions that bar households from mixing, after a surge in infections that authorities blame partly on people meeting up in homes and pubs.
Britain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at more than 46,500, the highest in Europe.
The Office for National Statistics says the number of people testing positive for the virus has risen since the end of June — just after the country began to ease its lockdown — but may have leveled off. It estimated there were 3,700 new infections a day in the community in England in the week to Aug. 2, down from 4,200 a day the week before.
BERLIN — Travelers arriving in Germany from most non-European Union countries and some regions within the bloc that have high numbers of coronavirus cases will have to undergo compulsory testing from Saturday.
The tests for people entering from so-called high risk regions are free for the first three days after arrival. Travelers from those countries already have to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they can present a negative test.
German authorities are concerned about the rising number of cases in the country.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, the nation’s disease control center, recorded more than 1,000 new infections nationwide for the third day running Saturday.
NEW DELHI, India — India has recorded 933 COVID-19 fatalities in the past 24 hours as fresh infections surged by another 61,537 cases to reach nearly 2.1 million.
The Health Ministry says the total deaths touched 42,518, including more than 20,000 in the past 30 days. An average of around 50,000 new cases are reported each day since mid-June.
The ministry asked state authorities to test grocery shop workers and street vendors, saying that if undetected they can potentially spread infection to a large number of people.
India has the third-highest caseload in the world after the United States and Brazil. It has the fifth-most deaths but its fatality rate of about 2% is far lower than the top two hardest-hit countries.
Even as India has maintained comparatively low mortality rates, the disease has spread widely across the country.
HONOLULU — Hawaii officials say the state’s public school students will begin the academic year with remote learning only, after a spike of coronavirus cases.
Gov. David Ige said Friday that all public students will spend the first four weeks of the school year learning online from home.
Officials had originally planned to start the year with a mostly hybrid model in which students would alternate between online and in-person classes. The state will go to the hybrid approach in September if community transmission of the virus is brought under control.
Oahu has seen the majority of new cases in recent weeks, filling up hospital beds and spurring officials to close beaches, parks and hiking trails.
MELBOURNE, Australia: — Australia’s Queensland state has closed road access from neighboring New South Wales because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Only essential workers and locals living along the boundary will be allowed to enter Queensland. Police say nearly 150 people had been turned away in the early hours of the shutdown.
Queensland’s chief health officer has declared New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, which contains the national capital of Canberra, to be coronavirus hot spots. That led to Queensland closing its southern border for the second time since the coronavirus crisis began.
The Queensland government will review the border closure at the end of August. The state has had few new COVID-19 cases in the past month.
PHOENIX — A judge in Arizona has rejected a request from Gov. Doug Ducey to delay the process for reopening health clubs, which have been kept closed for five weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Judge Timothy Thomason made that decision Friday after ruling earlier in the week that the governor’s gym closure order violated the clubs’ due process rights. The judge said further that delaying creation of a process for reopening their businesses could further harm their rights as they suffer staggering financial losses.
The judge’s ruling Friday came as the daily number of newly confirmed cases statewide continued to decline. Arizona health officials reported 1,406 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 79 coronavirus-related deaths.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico has posted 6,717 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, increasing the country’s accumulated total to 469,407.
Officials also said Friday that the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths rose by 794 to a total of 51,311.
Hopes for a significant decline in cases have been frustrated by continued high infection rates. Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said Friday that “this is going to be a prolonged pandemic.”
Mexico was stung Thursday when the United States imposed a Level 4 “do not travel” warning for Mexico, citing COVID-19 rates and disruptions to normal services.
BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana health department has persuaded a judge to temporarily shut a barbecue restaurant that refuses to require its workers and customers to obey the statewide mask mandate.
The temporary restraining order issued Friday by state District Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks prohibits Firehouse BBQ in Livingston Parish from operating, at least until an Aug. 18 hearing.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has called the business’ refusal to require face coverings “extremely reckless and irresponsible.”
Firehouse BBQ posted on its Facebook site that customers and employees “are given the option to wear a mask or not.” The restaurant called the governor’s order “an illegal mandate” and continued operating after the state revoked its food permit.
On Thursday, another judge upheld Edward’s mask order and other restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
ROME — Cruise ships can resume operating in Italy starting Aug. 15.
The government on Friday night gave the OK in one of its latest moves to boost Italy’s vital tourism industry, which has been pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic.
The approval came despite COVID-19 infections being confirmed in passengers and crew in recently resumed cruises in other European nations. Norway decided to close its ports to cruises ships for two weeks after dozens aboard a cruise liner tested positive for the coronavirus.
With tourism now largely limited to Italians and some other Europeans during the pandemic, many cafes and trattorias risk going out of business.
The government at the Cabinet meeting earmarked some 600 million euros ($720 million) to shore up the restaurant industry and the farm sector.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Fans can watch September’s NASCAR race at Darlington in person and have a four-course meal while watching a medieval jousting tournament in South Carolina thanks to exceptions granted to the state’s rule banning gatherings of more than 250 people during the coronavirus pandemic.
The South Carolina Department of Commerce, which reviews the requests, says at least 71 events have been given permission to draw the larger crowds even as COVID-19 cases spread at rates well above the national average.
Those events include some multiday versions of the same event or concerts, a bridal expo in Florence, a sporting tournament, the Showstopper Dance Competition and the South Carolina Farm Bureau’s annual meeting.
Republican Gov. Henry McMaster lifted the ban on gatherings of up to 250 people on Aug. 3, but allowed anyone who wanted to have more people to ask the state’s business agency for an exception. The Commerce Department requires any group with a large gathering to require masks and detail other ways they can keep the crowd safe from COVID-19.
The larger crowds come as South Carolina’s COVID-19 outbreak appears to have ended nearly two months of rapid spread. The state health department says the virus hasn’t stopped — there were 1,265 newly diagnosed cases Friday.
South Carolina should top 100,000 people infected with the virus in the next two to three days. Health officials report 1,883 people died and the state’s seven-day average of more than 39 deaths a day is the sixth highest rate in the country.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards is questioning why Louisiana must pay a portion of the costs to use the state’s National Guard in coronavirus response work if the federal government is picking up the full tab in some other states.
The Democratic governor sent a letter Friday to President Donald Trump asking the federal government to continue to cover all costs of activating the Louisiana National Guard as it did earlier this year.
Edwards says if Louisiana has to pay a 25% cost share, that would cost the state $2.5 million a month.
Louisiana is using 1,100 members of the National Guard to staff virus testing sites, support food bank operations and distribute protective equipment.
Edwards says at least two other states — Texas and Florida — are still receiving full federal funding to cover the costs of their National Guard activation.
More than 128,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Louisiana, which has 4.6 million residents. The state health department says 4,089 people have died from the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus.