The Latest: Kentucky gov urges schools do delay reopening
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Saying “we shouldn’t want our kids to be the canaries in the coal mine,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear urged schools in the state to delay reopening in-person classes until late September to provide more time to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Democratic governor said Monday that he wants to get children back in school safely during the pandemic, but acknowledged that the state doesn’t have the virus under control.
“Getting them back (in school) at the height of the pandemic, I think, would be irresponsible,” Beshear told reporters. “So our goal is to ensure that we have our timing right. That we don’t act like some of the states that reopened the fastest and reaped repercussions. And then we shouldn’t want our kids to be the canaries in the coal mine.”
The governor recommended that school districts wait until Sept. 28 to resume in-person classes. Beshear, the father of two children, called it a tough but necessary step as the state comes off an escalation of virus cases in July.
Beshear has aggressively combated the virus with a series of executive actions, including a requirement that most Kentuckians wear masks in public.
“Masks are working but we do not have control over this virus,” he said. “And to send tens of thousands of our kids back into in-person classes when we don’t have control on this virus isn’t the right thing to do for our kids. It’s not the right thing to do for their faculty.”
Schools across Kentucky shut down in-person learning in March as the coronavirus spread.
Heading into the new academic year, at least 30 Kentucky districts had already announced they would start with virtual instruction only, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. Other districts were planning to return later in August or early September.
Last Friday, the Kentucky Education Association called on school officials to delay the beginning of in-class instruction until the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate drops.
Beshear said he consulted with school administrators before offering his new guidance.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Extreme poverty rises; a generation sees a future slip away
— Schools mull outdoor classes amid virus, ventilation worries
— States on hook for billions under Trump’s unemployment plan
— Pandemic wrecks global Class of 2020′s hopes for first job
— Health officials are quitting or getting fired amid outbreak
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Long-term care facilities in Minnesota soon will be allowed to open up more to visitors during the coronavirus pandemic but will have to follow the state’s strict guidance.
The Minnesota Department of Health outlined the new visitation guidelines, which take effect Aug. 29. Minnesota Public Radio News reports the guidance includes several factors, such as the latest COVID-19 case numbers in the surrounding community.
Minnesota health officials on Monday reported 625 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus and three additional deaths. Of the newly reported deaths, two were in private homes and one was in a long-term care or assisted living facility.
___ ALABAMA – Gov. Kay Ivey is evaluating President Donald Trump’s proposal to offer an additional $400 a week in unemployment payments and has not decided if the state will sign on to the plan, which requires states to pick up a fourth of the cost, a spokeswoman said Monday.
There are many unknowns about Trump’s plan announced over the weekend, including if he has the power to extend benefits by executive order, leaving state officials seeking additional information about how it would work and the affordability of the proposal.
“As we continue working to get Alabamians safely back to work, we are exploring the options we have available to provide the necessary assistance. The governor along with the Department of Labor are closely evaluating the most recent directions now,” Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said in a statement.
Tara Hutchison, a spokeswoman for the the Alabama Department of Labor, said the department is “expecting to receive guidance this week from national authorities to properly interpret the implementation and funding options that are available for states.”
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says the state must find a way to retest residents and staff at nursing homes and people at state correctional facilities for the coronavirus after recent outbreaks.
The Republican governor also floated the possibility at a news conference that visitations to nursing homes might have to temporarily stop.
There have been 13 virus-related deaths at a southern West Virginia nursing home since the pandemic began, including 11 reported in recent days. And dozens of confirmed cases have been reported at two other nursing homes as well as a pair of state regional jails.
“I don’t know how we’re going to do it because (of strained) testing supplies and testing availability,” Justice said Monday. “We need to develop plans right now to go back through and retest every single person that’s in all the nursing homes again. And we need a plan to be able to go through and retest every person in our correctional facilities again.”
That would happen on top of the testing for thousands of students who are returning to college campuses this month.
JACKSON, MISS – More than 500 people in one of the poorest counties in Mississippi were tested for the coronavirus by the state Department of Health over the past week as part of a new experimental initiative to slow the spread of the virus by community transmission.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said medical professionals went in with the goal of testing every resident in Lexington, the Holmes County seat, where 2,000 people live. By identifying those who are asymptomatic, Dobbs said, officials hoped to limit cases of the virus being passed unknowingly from person to person.
“We didn’t quite get every resident, but if we got 500, I was going to consider it a success, and we surpassed that,” he said Monday.
A total of 561 people were tested in Lexington, 14 of whom weren’t previously aware they had been infected with the coronavirus. The majority of those 14 people were asymptomatic.
Holmes County has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s one of the smallest counties in the state, and it’s seen 900 cases of coronavirus, according to the Department of Health. That’s around 5% of the population.
ATLANTA — Georgia’s governor says the reopening of some of the state’s schools amid the coronavirus outbreak has gone well except for photos shared on social media showing students crowded together in hallways.
“I think quite honestly this week went real well other than a couple of virtual photos,” Gov. Brian Kemp said at a news conference with the U.S. surgeon general on Monday.
Photos shared widely on social media last week showed hallways packed shoulder to shoulder with students at North Paulding High School northwest of Atlanta. School officials later announced that six students and three staff members had tested positive for the coronavirus, and that the school would be closed Monday and Tuesday while the building is disinfected.
In nearby Cherokee County, 12 students and two staff members from a dozen schools tested positive for the virus during their first week back. The Cherokee County system reported that more than 250 students with potential exposure had been sent home to quarantine for two weeks.
Cherokee County also drew attention because of online photos. Dozens of students at two of its high schools squeezed together for first-day-of-school senior photos. None wore masks.
NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s department of health has reported that a fourth child or young person has died from a rare condition linked to the coronavirus.
As of Monday, the department said that 44 Louisiana residents between the ages of 1 month and 19 years have been diagnosed with the condition that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.
The department says those who died ranged from 2 to 19 years old. The health department says that underlying medical conditions were reported in two of the four deaths.
CDC data shows that as of Thursday, health departments nationwide have reported 10 deaths and 570 confirmed cases of the condition in 40 states and Washington, D.C.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Students have begun returning to some Florida college campuses and some public school classrooms in rural districts have opened with new safety precautions in place as the state reports its lowest number of daily cases of COVID-19 in more than a month.
Robert Brown, a grandfather of five and foster father of another child, had mixed emotions about students returning to school. Brown lives in Hamilton County, located in North Florida on the Georgia border, and he was aware of news reports of students at Georgia schools contracting the virus after recent reopenings.
“It’s leaving me with some skepticism, because kids are kind of irresponsible,” Brown said.
One of his grandsons attended first grade in person on Monday. Another granddaughter was returning to a private school on Tuesday. His other grandchildren were doing online classes, including one with sickle cell anemia.
Brown and his wife also care for a 14-year-old foster daughter, who is doing online school.
“I’m worried,” said Brown, who is also a Hamilton County commissioner. “It’s a tough situation for everybody.”
Meanwhile, Florida reported 4,155 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the smallest daily caseload increase since the end of June.
NEW YORK — Antonio Banderas says he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is celebrating his 60th birthday in quarantine.
The Spanish actor announced his positive test in an Instagram post on Monday. Banderas said he would spend his time in isolation reading, writing and “making plans to begin to give meaning to my 60th year to which I arrive full of enthusiasm.”
“I would like to add that I am relatively well, just a little more tired than usual and hoping to recover as soon as possible following medical instructions that I hope will allow me to overcome the infection that I and so many people in the world are suffering from,” wrote Banderas.
Earlier this year, Banderas was nominated for the Academy Award for best actor for his performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain & Glory.”
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi legislators have returned to the state Capitol for the first time since a coronavirus outbreak in early July hospitalized several legislators and killed one person.
Mississippi’s state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said Monday that 49 total legislators tested positive in the outbreak — more than one-fourth of the entire body.
Lawmakers left the building July 1 after working there throughout the month of June, many without wearing masks or following social distancing regulations. The first cases in the group were confirmed in the early days of July.
The health officer said at least four legislators were hospitalized and three required intensive care. Dobbs said that at least 12 others, including lobbyists and staff, were infected, including one non-legislator who died.
Among those who tested positive in the heavily Republican body are the GOP presiding officers, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann.
LONDON — The British government is laying off 6,000 coronavirus contact tracers and deploying the rest to work in local teams, in an acknowledgment that the centralized track-and-trace system is not working well enough.
The U.K. has been criticized for failing to keep track of infected people’s contacts early in the pandemic, a factor that contributed to the country’s high death toll of more than 46,500, the most in Europe.
Since May the country has rapidly set up a test-and-trace system to try to contain the outbreak, recruiting thousands of staff in a matter of weeks. But the system, which relies on telephone call centers, has failed to reach more than a quarter of contacts of people who have tested positive for the virus.
Some frustrated local authorities have set up their own contact-tracing networks, which have proved more effective because they know communities better and can go door-to-door if needed.
The national test-and-trace program said Monday it was officially adopting that localized approach. Some 6,000 contact tracers will be laid off this month, and the remaining 12,000 will work with local public health authorities around the country.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s culture ministry is closing down the Museum of the Ancient Agora, a major archaeological site in central Athens, for two weeks after a cleaner there was diagnosed with COVID-19.
A ministry statement Monday said the museum would be comprehensively disinfected, while the actual site of the Ancient Agora, which was the administrative, political and social center of the ancient city, will remain open.
Greek sites and museums are open to visitors, with the wearing of masks obligatory in museums.
The closure also comes as Greece has announced 126 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the last day, bringing the country’s total to 5,749, and one more death for a total death toll of 213 amid a spike in daily infections.
Of the new cases, 17 were migrants who arrived on the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos who arrived from the nearby Turkish coast.
The government announced new measures Monday to curb the spread, including orderings bars, restaurants and cafes in several regions to shut between midnight and 7 a.m. Other measures include requiring those arriving in the country from land borders, as well as those flying in from several European countries, to have proof of a negative coronavirus test.
BANGKOK — Thailand is making plans to allow at least 3,000 foreign teachers to enter the country, even as it continues to keep out tourists and tightly restricts other arrivals to guard against new coronavirus infections.
Attapon Truektrong, secretary-general of the Private Education Commission, said Monday that those who have registered include teachers returning to their jobs after leaving during the pandemic, as well as newly employed teachers.
The teachers, who come from countries including the Philippines, New Zealand, the United States and Britain, will have to be quarantined for 14 days after arrival. Thailand barred scheduled passenger flights from abroad in early April
Thailand hosts many international schools and there is a general shortage of qualified teachers of English and other non-Thai languages.
ISLAMABAD — The incoming president of the United Nations General Assembly has praised Pakistan for quickly containing the coronavirus, saying the South Asian nation’s handling of the pandemic is a good example for the world.
The Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir made his comment Monday at a news conference in the capital, Islamabad.
Bozkir was recently elected as the president of the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly.
Upon his arrival in Islamabad, he met with the country’s prime minister, Imran Khan, who wants international financial institutions and rich nations to give a debt relief to poor countries whose economies have badly been affected by the new virus.
Bozkir’s visit comes amid a steady decline in COVID-19 deaths and infections in Pakistan.
Pakistan reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus in February and in March it imposed a nationwide lockdown, which has gradually been lifted in recent weeks. Pakistan on Monday reported 15 fatalities from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising its total COVID-19-related fatalities to 6,097.
WATERLOO, Iowa — The family of a fourth worker who died from the coronavirus during an outbreak at Tyson Foods’ largest pork processing plant is suing the company over his death.
The lawsuit says that Isidro Fernandez, of Waterloo, Iowa, died April 26 from complications of COVID-19, leaving behind a wife and children.
The lawsuit is similar to one filed in June by the same lawyers on behalf of the estates of three other deceased Waterloo employees.
The lawsuits allege Tyson put employees at risk by downplaying concerns and covering up the outbreak to keep them on the job. They allege the company failed to implement safety measures, allowed some sick and exposed employees to keep working, and falsely assured the public that the plant was safe.
The company says the workers’ deaths are tragic but that it vigorously disputes the allegations. Tyson says that it worked during the pandemic to follow safety guidelines and has invested millions of dollars to keep workers safe.