The Latest: Hawaii to take over veterans home where 26 died
HONOLULU — A state-owned health care organization in Hawaii will take over a veterans care home where 26 residents have died of the coronavirus.
The arrangement announced on Friday will see Hawaii Health Systems Corporation take over as the operators of Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo. The previous operator, Utah-based Avalon Health Care, will relinquish all control over the facility.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that the veterans home has had a history of falling short on health standards. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave the home a health inspection rating of one star out of five.
There were 89 residents living at the care home before the outbreak. Since then, 71 residents have contracted the virus along with 35 employees.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Progress against virus brings complacency in parts of Africa
— Italy’s coronavirus Patient No. 1 takes part in long-distance relay race
— New York state tops 1,000 confirmed cases in a day for the first time since early June
— London police, protesters clash at COVID-19 demonstration
— Questions remain about the role tiny particles known as aerosols may play in spreading the virus, but some scientists say the time to take protective measures is now.
— Hundreds of thousands of people have taken one of the four leading vaccine candidates in China, raising questions of safety and ethics.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ATHENS, Greece — Authorities are closing street kiosks and minimarkets from midnight to 5 a.m. in the Greek capital and other areas in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Such vendors are a popular after-hours source of alcohol for young people, many of whom have been congregating in squares without adhering to social distancing or wearing masks. The closures are set to begin at midnight on Saturday.
Greek health officials on Saturday reported 315 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 7 more deaths. That raised the country’s total case count to 17,228 since the pandemic began and its death toll to 376,
There are 68 people on ventilators, but many more are in intensive care units and the government is concerned about the capacity of the public health system if trends continue.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska health officials say the state’s COVID-19 death toll has risen by six, which is the biggest one-day jump for the state since the pandemic began.
The state also reported 128 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, which was the most recent available data.
The deaths include three men in their 60s, one man in his 50s and two men in their 70s. The state previously reported a high of four deaths, on Aug. 25.
Alaska has had 8,202 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 52 deaths from the disease since the pandemic started.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida reported 107 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday, a day after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he was lifting restrictions on restaurant capacity.
The state also reported 2,795 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing its total since the pandemic began to just under 699,000. Overall, 14,190 people have died in Florida during the pandemic, including 168 non-residents.
There were 2,109 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Saturday morning, or 26 fewer than the day before. Florida has had the third-most confirmed COVID-19 cases of any state, trailing only two larger states, California and Texas.
On Friday, DeSantis issued an order allowing restaurants throughout the state to immediately reopen at full capacity. The order prevents cities and counties from ordering them to close or to operate at less than half-capacity unless they can justify a closure for economic or health reasons.
DeSantis also banned local fines against people who refuse to wear masks.
CODOGNO, Italy — Italy’s coronavirus Patient No. 1, whose case confirmed one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks was underway, is taking part in a 180-kilometer (112-mile) relay race in memory of COVID-19 victims and as a sign of hope after he himself recovered from weeks in intensive care.
Mattia Maestri was suited up Saturday for the start of the two-day race between Italy’s first two virus hotspots. It began in Codogno, where Maestri tested positive Feb. 21, and was ending Sunday in Vo’Euganeo, where Italy’s first official COVID death was recorded the same day.
Wearing a black mask, Maestri said the race was a “beautiful initiative” uniting the two hard-hit cities, and that he was thrilled to be even alive to participate.
“I feel very lucky,” he said at the starting line.
NEW YORK — More than 1,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for COVID-19 in a single day for the first time since June 5 the state has seen a daily number that high.
The number of positive tests reported daily in the state has been steadily inching up in recent weeks, possibly because more businesses have been reopening and students have been returning to schools and college campuses.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday there were 1,005 positive cases tallied on Friday out of 99,953 tests, for a 1% positive rate.
From late July through the start of September, the state had an average of around 660 people test positive per day. In the seven-day period that ended Friday, it averaged 817 positive tests per day.
That number of daily positive tests in a state of more than 19 million people still puts New York in a much better position than many other states. And it is worlds better than the situation in the state in April, when the number of positive tests per day routinely topped 9,000 even though tests then were hard to get and people were being encouraged not to seek one unless they were gravely ill.
LONDON — Police moved into London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday afternoon to break up a protest against coronavirus restrictions after demonstrators ignored warnings to observe social distancing rules.
Thousands of people, most of whom weren’t wearing masks, crowded into the iconic square to hear speakers who criticized government-imposed restrictions as an overreaction to the pandemic that needlessly restricted the public’s human rights and freedom of expression.
The Metropolitan Police Service said before the event that officers would first encourage protesters to follow social distancing rules and would take enforcement action if demonstrators failed to comply. As the event began, officers were visible around the perimeter of the square, but they didn’t move into the crowd for about three hours.
The demonstration came as Parliament was preparing to review COVID-19 legislation and the government was imposing new restrictions to control the disease. It also came a week after a similar event during which thousands of people crowded into the iconic square. Police say several officers were hurt during that event when a “small minority’’ of protesters became violent.
Britain has Europe’s worst death toll from the pandemic, with nearly 42,000 confirmed deaths tied to COVID-19. New infections, hospitalizations and deaths have all risen sharply in recent weeks.
BERLIN — Germany recorded another rise in daily COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with authorities confirming a further 2,507 infections in the past 24 hours.
The country’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, said the total number of cases recorded since the start of the outbreak now stands at 282,730.
Germany’s COVID-19 death toll as of Saturday stood at 9,452, which was an increase of nine from Friday.
BARCELONA, Spain — Spain’s health minister has reiterated his plea for Madrid’s regional authorities to apply more stringent restrictions on mobility in Europe’s worst coronavirus hotspot.
Minister Salvador Illa said Saturday that “the situation in Madrid is complicated, serious. Tough weeks are on their way.”
For the second time in as many days, Illa urged Madrid’s health authorities in charge of the capital’s health crisis to “revise their decisions” and “put in the limits on movement on the whole of the city of Madrid.”
On Friday, Madrid increased the number of neighborhoods under restrictions that prohibit unnecessary movement outside the area, reduce occupancy in shops and restaurants and close parks. Those measures apply to around 1 million people of the 3.3 million who live in the capital.
Spain has been able to stop a second wave of the virus that has claimed over 31,000 lives in the country.
MANILA, Philippines — Confirmed coronavirus infections in the Philippines have soared past 300,000, the latest bleak milestone in a country which has gradually reopened its battered economy despite having the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia.
The Department of Health on Saturday reported a daily tally of 2,747 new and recent infections, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 301,256, with 5,284 deaths.
Officials have tried to ease alarm by highlighting the massive number of COVID-19 recoveries, but critics say the outbreaks remain uncontrolled and coronavirus cases may be undercounted despite an increase in testing capacity in recent months.
President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration have walked a tightrope in reviving the battered economy and containing infections. The government said the central city of Iloilo was placed under a mild lockdown Friday for two weeks due to infection spikes but at the same time announced that the popular Boracay island beach resort in a nearby region would be opened to more local tourists.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is facing a record surge of coronavirus infections with the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassing 500 in one day for the first time.
The Slovak Health Ministry says the day-on-day increase was 552 on Friday.
Slovakia still has been less hit than most other European countries. The country has had a total of 8,600 infected, with 44 deaths.
Prime Minister Igor Matovic said his government is ready to impose new restrictive measures to curb the surge on Monday. Those should include limits on public gatherings such as weddings, both indoors and outdoors, officials said.
NEW DELHI — India reported 85,362 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours with infections slowing down this month.
The Health Ministry raised the nation’s confirmed total to more than 5.9 million on Saturday. It said 1,089 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 93,379.
Authorities have decided to hold the first legislative election in Bihar state since the pandemic. Nearly 72 million people are eligible to cast votes during three days beginning the end of October with social distancing restrictions.
The average new cases in India have fallen by around 7,000 daily in the past week, after reaching a record of 97,894 on Sept. 16. However, authorities are preparing for a major religious festival season beginning next month that generally sees huge congregations in temples and shopping districts.
MELBOURNE, Australia — The health minister in Australia’s Victoria state has resigned in the fallout from an inquiry into why security guards were used instead of police or the military at quarantine hotels. Lapses in security at the hotels were given as the major reason for a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Victoria reported just one more coronavirus death as Melbourne’s new case average continued to fall. The death took the state toll to 782 and the national figure to 870. There were 12 new cases, while Melbourne’s 14-day average fell again on Saturday to 23.6.
Melburnians, who have been in lockdown for more than a month, are waiting for the easing of restrictions on Monday. It’s expected to include a staged return to school for some students and outdoor gatherings of five people from two households.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on Saturday issued a statement confirming her resignation, just a day after Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews gave evidence to the inquiry and pointed partial blame at Mikakos for her role in the bungled quarantine program.
Mikakos appears to be taking the blame when no one else would. After six weeks of hearings into the hotel inquiry, it was still not known who made the decision to use security guards instead of police or soldiers, which were used in other Australian states.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California has begun to see concerning upticks in coronavirus data after a period of decline.
The state health secretary said Friday that there have been increases in the number of newly confirmed cases, hospital emergency department visits for COVID-19 and new hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases.
Dr. Mark Ghaly says the trends appear largely attributable to the Labor Day holiday and could lead to an 89% increase in hospitalizations in the next month.
Ghaly notes the state is heading into another hot weekend, which could increase people gathering with others. He urged renewed efforts to prevent spread.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 61 new cases of the coronavirus, the first time in four days its daily increase has been below 100 as officials urges citizens to be vigilant ahead of a major holiday break.
The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the national caseload to 23,516 cases, including 399 deaths.
Health officials say the annual Chuseok harvest festival that begins Wednesday and continues through next weekend will be a critical period in the country’s anti-virus campaign. Millions of South Koreans usually travel across the country during Chuseok to visit relatives, but officials are pleading for people stay home this year to help stem transmissions.
WASHINGTON — The nation’s top infectious disease expert is cautioning people not to let pandemic fatigue weaken efforts to keep the coronavirus from spreading.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says that “people are exhausted from being shut down” and some give up on doing things that contain the virus.
The head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made the comment Friday in a podcast with a medical journal editor.
Fauci urges people to remember that “there is an end to this” and “we just have to hang in there a bit” as researchers work on a vaccine. Fauci says that “what we don’t want to have to do is to shut down again” if cases really spike.