The Latest: Louisiana gov. urges parents to mask children
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is calling on parents to take seriously the coronavirus risks for children and to ensure students wear face masks.
Schools that resumed classes this month already have reported more than 5,300 students and 750 employees who have tested positive for the virus. Those numbers are expected to grow larger.
Edwards has enacted a statewide mask mandate that includes schools. That has prompted angry outcries from some parents who argue they should decide whether to put a mask on their children.
The governor said Friday: “Transmission is very high. Simply put, we cannot keep our schools open or our kids safe today without masks.”
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— U.S. appeals court keeps CDC’s pause on housing evictions
— San Francisco: Full vaccination needed to enter restaurants, bars
— AP-NORC poll: Vaccine requirements favored in U.S.
— South Africa opens vaccines to all adults to boost participation
Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SANTA FE, N.M. — Dozens of health care workers and state employees have protested New Mexico’s mandate that they get a coronavirus vaccine.
Nurses, hospital clerical workers and state prison guards joined about 150 people at the state capitol Friday to demonstrate against the requirement.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered state workers to get vaccinated earlier this summer. A public health order issued this week expands the mandate to private industry workers in sensitive areas such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
Under the order, only certain workers can decline vaccines if they submit to weekly virus testing. Some unvaccinated hospital workers say their employers will fire them in the coming weeks.
HONOLULU — Sports teams at the University of Hawaii will open the fall season with no fans in the stands at home contests.
Honolulu officials notified the university that fans won’t be allowed at season-opening events due to the state’s current surge in coronavirus infections and hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
The university said Friday that a decision to host fans will be re-evaluated in coming weeks.
The decision applies to all fall sports, including football and women’s volleyball and soccer.
ORLANDO, Fla. — The mayor of Orlando, Florida, is asking residents to stop watering their lawns and washing their cars for a least a week, saying water usage needs to be cut back because of the recent surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Mayor Buddy Dyer said said Monday that the liquid oxygen and other supplies ordinarily used to treat the city’s water have been diverted to hospitals for patients suffering from the virus.
The city-owned utility says it typically goes through 10 trucks of liquid oxygen a week but its supplier recently said it would be cut back to five to seven trucks a week to accommodate hospitals.
The utility says about 40% of the city’s potable water is used for irrigation so any strains on the water supply will be greatly reduced if residents stop watering their lawns, washing their cars or using pressure washers.
MIAMI — Florida officials are threatening to withhold funds equal to the salaries of school board members if school districts in two counties don’t immediately do away with strict mask mandates.
School boards in Broward and Alachua counties received a warning Friday from the State Board of Education giving them 48 hours to walk back their decisions to require masks for all students.
Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a statement that the districts in those two areas are violating the Parents’ Bill of Rights and a late July executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis that prompted rules limiting how far districts can go with mask requirements.
DeSantis maintains that masks can be detrimental for children’s development and that younger children simply don’t wear masks properly.
LAS VEGAS — Half of all eligible Nevadans are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, pushing the state closer to the national vaccination rate of about 60% for all people 12 years of age and older, state health officials said Friday.
Gov. Steve Sisolak said the 50% of residents 12 and older who are now fully vaccinated is an “incredible milestone to reach.”
Among those 12 and older, 60.5% have initiated vaccination, Nevada health officials said.
Nevada’s 14-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases and positivity rate both continued recent declines through the week after a steady rise began in early June when statewide restrictions were dropped.
Average daily new cases stood at 928 on Thursday, the third daily decline since the average was 1,107 on Monday. That was the highest average since 1,113 on Jan. 31 before numbers began a steady decline to as low as 135 in early June.
ATLANTA — The mayors of some of Georgia’s largest cities are slamming Gov. Brian Kemp’s new order that aims to limit local efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
In an open letter on Friday, the mayors of Atlanta, Savannah, Athens-Clarke County and Augusta-Richmond County suggested the Republican governor was putting politics above public health.
The four Democrats also defended masks as necessary during the state’s latest COVID surge. An email sent to the governor’s office by The Associate Press was not immediately returned.
Kemp signed an executive order Thursday that says cities cannot require businesses and sports teams to enforce local pandemic restrictions.
The move came amid an explosion in COVID cases fueled by the delta variant among those who are unvaccinated.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s health agency became the latest group Friday to ask lawmakers to make it clear that school districts can require students to wear masks without losing state budget money or any other penalties.
The General Assembly put the mask ban item into the budget in early June when South Carolina was seeing an average of 150 COVID-19 cases a day. Ten weeks later, the state is seeing about 3,520 new cases each day.
About 700,000 public school students have just completed their first week back in classrooms.
House and Senate leaders have not responded.
Gov. Henry McMaster is against requiring masks in schools.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Western Michigan’s two largest counties ordered masks in schools through sixth grade Friday, citing the risk of the COVID-19 delta variant and young children who don’t qualify for vaccines.
The orders came from health departments in Kent and Ottawa counties.
Teachers and staff members who are vaccinated still must wear masks in schools, the counties said.
Kent and Ottawa join at least three counties with similar school mask policies: Allegan, Kalamazoo and Genesee. Some school districts elsewhere are acting on their own.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declined to order a statewide mask mandate in schools, though her chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said it would likely reduce the spread of COVID-19.
SALT LAKE CITY — The mayor of Salt Lake City has issued a mask order in the city’s schools as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus spreads.
Mayor Erin Mendenhall said Friday that she used her emergency powers to issue the order. She says she plans to work with health officials to determine when it can be lifted.
The order comes a week after the Salt Lake County Council overturned a school mask mandate that the county’s top health official issued. Mendenhall says the majority of council members had privately told her that they feared retaliation and urged her to issue the order.
Masks were required in classrooms last year, but under a new state law, school mask mandates are now banned. Local health departments can issue a rule but only with the support from elected county leaders, and anti-mask advocates have been vocal in their opposition.
JACKSON, MISS. — Mississippi’s only Level 1 trauma center and teaching hospital announced Friday it will mandate all employees and students to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s policy requires employees and students be vaccinatedi by Nov. 1.
The policy is a reversal from a previous rule put in place last month that allowed employees or students to skip the vaccine if they agreed to wear a N95 mask while on campus.
In a letter Friday, a top official at the medical center said it’s time for the institution to take aggressive action. Mississippi has the highest per capita rate of new coronavirus cases in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Those who refuse vaccination may face “corrective action up to and including termination or dismissal,” according to the letter by Dr. Alan Jones, the center’s associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs. He adds those seeking accommodations must submit requests by Sept. 10.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has opened vaccine eligibility to all adults to step up the volume of inoculations amid a coronavirus surge fueled by the delta variant.
The nation started offering shots to everyone aged 18 and older Friday as the number of vaccinations stalled to less than 200,000 a day, down from 250,000 earlier this month. It’s significantly lower than the target of 300,000 the government had hoped to achieve by this time.
On Friday, South Africa recorded more than 13,000 new cases and 317 confirmed deaths. South Africa has 2.6 million confirmed cases, 35% of the Africa’s total.
South Africa has vaccinated more than 10 million of its 60 million people, of which more than 4.6 million are fully vaccinated. Nearly 80,000 people have died during the pandemic.
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco became the first major city in the nation to require proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 on Friday for people dining inside restaurants, working out in gyms or attending indoor concerts.
Restaurants and bars posted signs and added extra staff to begin verifying people’s proof of vaccination before allowing them in.
The new rule goes beyond New York City, which requires people to be at least partially inoculated for a variety of indoor activities. Local business groups have supported the new vaccine mandate, saying it will protect their employees’ and customers’ health and keep them from having to limit capacity indoors.
The majority of 36,000 city workers say they are vaccinated, but about 4,300 have not. This week, the city sent letters recommending a 10-day suspension without pay for 20 employees in police, fire and sheriff’s departments who refused to report their vaccination status by the Aug. 12 deadline, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Friday allowed the COVID-related pause on evictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remain in place.
That sets up a likely showdown before the nation’s highest court. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a bid by Alabama and Georgia realtors to block the eviction moratorium reinstated this month.
The realtors are likely to appeal to the Supreme Court, which voted 5-4 in June to allow the moratorium to continue through the end of July. But Justice Brett Kavanaugh — who joined the majority — warned the administration not to act further without explicit congressional approval.
As of Aug. 2, roughly 3.5 million people in the United States said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
The new moratorium temporarily halted evictions in counties with “substantial and high levels” of virus transmissions and would cover areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives. The court fight allows time for the distribution of $45 billion in rental assistance that’s been approved but not yet used.
BOSTON — The acting mayor of Boston says masks will be required for all indoor public places starting Aug. 27 to help contain rising coronavirus infections.
Kim Janey’s office says the mandate will apply to everyone age 2 and older who enters a business, retail shop, club, government office or any other public venue.
Janey says the mask mandate comes ahead of the arrival of more than 50,000 college students from across the nation, and a return to classes for more than 50,000 Boston Public School students.
On Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker said tens of thousands of state workers will need to prove they’re fully inoculated against COVID-19 by October or risk losing their jobs.
Massachusetts remains one of the most vaccinated states in the nation, with more than 64% of residents fully inoculated. But cases have been increasing in recent weeks.