The Latest: Mexico City pandemic ‘excess deaths’ at 20,535
MEXICO CITY — A Mexico City official says the capital had 20,535 “excess deaths” attributable to COVID-19 between April and August. That is almost double the official death toll of 11,318 reported for the pandemic in Mexico City.
The head of the city’s Digital Innovation Agency says there were 30,462 “excess deaths” in the city between April 1 and the end of August, about two-thirds of which were determined to be due to coronavirus. David Merino wrote in his Twitter account that 92% of those deaths were in hospitals and 7% at private residences.
Like all of Mexico, the city of almost 9 million inhabitants has had an extremely low testing rate and officials acknowledge that the number of test-confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths probably undercounts the real figures.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— CDC director: Scientific integrity unchanged despite White House pressure
— Eli Lilly says antibody study gives hint of help for COVID-19 patients
— UK to ration COVID-19 testing amid testing failures
— The U.S. government released a sweeping plan to make vaccines for the coronavirus available for free to all Americans, assuming a safe and effective shot is developed.
— South Africa’s minister of health says about 12 million people have “probably” been infected with the coronavirus. That’s more than 20% of South Africa’s population of 58 million.
— The Big Ten Conference will give fall football a shot after all. It reversed a decision to push the season to spring after push back from lawmakers, coaches and parents and President Trump.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is disagreeing with the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the potential availability of a coronavirus vaccine to the general public.
Trump promised Wednesday that a vaccine will be available much sooner than was projected in congressional testimony earlier in the day by Dr. Robert Redfield.
Trump says Redfield “made a mistake” when he told lawmakers that any vaccine available in November or December would be in “very limited supply,” and reserved for first responders and people most vulnerable to COVID-19. Redfield estimated the shot wouldn’t be broadly available until the spring or summer of 2021.
Trump is predicting a vaccine will be approved before voters go to the polls Nov. 3.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he disagrees with the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention telling lawmakers that wearing a mask is guaranteed to protect people more from the novel coronavirus than a vaccine.
Trump said at a White House news conference that a mask is “not more effective by any means than a vaccine, and I called him about that.”
Trump’s comments were the second time he questioned the testimony of the CDC’s Robert Redfield on Wednesday. Earlier, he said Redfield was wrong in his estimation of how fast a potential vaccine will be available to the general public.
Trump says that “I hope the vaccine is going to be a lot more beneficial than the mask.” He also says that “the mask perhaps helps.”
Trump says he still has confidence in Redfield.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s top lawyer is asking a federal judge to keep in place Gov. Tom Wolf’s limits on crowd size, arguing that allowing large groups to congregate “will result in people’s deaths” from the coronavirus.
The office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro urged U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV on Wednesday to delay enforcement of his ruling that many of the governor’s pandemic shutdown orders are unconstitutional.
Stickman has said the state’s size limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings violate citizens’ constitutional right to assemble. The state has been enforcing a gathering limit of 25 people for indoor events and 250 for those held outside.
Shapiro’s office says Stickman’s ruling “does not consider the manner in which COVID-19 is spread or the rationale for adopting the congregate limits.” Its points out that other federal judges and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have upheld Wolf’s pandemic shutdown orders.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio has enacted a law that bars local or state officials from closing churches or other houses of worship and that bans the changing of election dates.
The legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Mike DeWine was pushed through by Republican lawmakers in reaction to such orders as part of coronavirus containment measures. DeWine had refrained from shutting down religious institutions during the pandemic, but some other governors have restricted religious gatherings.
The new law also takes aim at DeWine’s eleventh hour decision in March to postpone the state’s in-person primary because of concerns about the coronavirus. The statute forbids moving elections other than from the “time, place and manner” spelled out in state law.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — It will likely be at least six to eight months longer before a coronavirus vaccine can be distributed in a best-case scenario, leading Maryland health officials and lawmakers said as they make plans for the state.
Senate President Bill Ferguson said he spoke on Tuesday with one of the principal investigators at Johns Hopkins University who is working on a vaccine now in its third phase. While there has been remarkable progress, Ferguson said Wednesday that the logistics that go into distributing a vaccine are “enormous and herculean.”
“I think it’s really important that we keep that in mind moving forward as we make decisions about the future of Maryland — that even with an amazing light-speed approval, it is still six to eight months from that point until we’ll start to see the impact on herd immunity overall, so there is time to go in this ballgame,” Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said during a meeting of a legislative panel on the coronavirus.
Robert Neall, Maryland’s health secretary, emphasized that people need to be prepared to use available tools like masks and handwashing well into next year.
BERLIN — Germany has declared three European capitals and several regions “risk areas” for coronavirus.
The Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the Austrian capital Vienna, Budapest in Hungary and the Dutch region that includes Amsterdam were added to the risk list due to high numbers of COVID-19 infections there.
Also listed were several regions in France, Romania, Croatia, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
Travelers arriving in Germany from those locations have to go into mandatory quarantine and take a coronavirus test.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health minister says Phase 3 trials for China’s Sinovac Biotech’s two-step vaccine have begun in Turkey with three Turkish health workers.
Fahrettin Koca said Wednesday the trial would expand to 1,200 volunteers and then to 10,000. He said trials for a Pfizer vaccine were also beginning and others were pending, adding that he hoped widespread vaccinations would start towards the end of 2020.
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says the COVID-19 pandemic remains “out of control,” with the world approaching “the grimmest of milestones: 1 million lives lost to the virus.”
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a news conference Wednesday that the coronavirus “is the number one global security threat in our world today,” posing a crisis that is “unlike any in our lifetimes.”
He said that’s why he called for a global cease-fire on March 23 to tackle the pandemic.
And in his speech to world leaders at next Tuesday’s mainly virtual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, Guterres said he will make “a strong appeal to the international community to mobilize all efforts for the global cease-fire to become a reality by the end of the year.”
The secretary-general urged the international community to come together to defeat the virus, stressing that a vaccine alone can’t solve the crisis.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s president says the country will reopen for international travel as of Oct. 1 after confirmed coronavirus cases have dropped dramatically in recent weeks.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says visitors may not be allowed from countries deemed at high risk and a list of countries will be published in the coming days.
Visitors will be required to show negative test results for the virus no older than 72 hours before departure. Those who didn’t test before departure will be required to stay in quarantine at their own cost.
International flights will be allowed only at the country’s three main airports in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday was asked whether the White House was now counting on herd immunity to deal with the virus.
President Donald Trump said during an ABC News town hall on Tuesday that eventually there will be herd immunity to the virus, but that with a vaccine, the virus will go away “very quickly.”
For the United States to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus, most experts say, the nation would likely need to vaccinate roughly 70% of Americans.
“Herd immunity has never been a strategy here at the White House,” McEnany said. “The president last night was noting … (that) over a period of time a country, a society, can reach herd immunity. It’s a fact. It was not a strategy ever presented here at the White House.”
LONDON — The U.K. has recorded nearly 4,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since May amid mounting concerns the country is on the verge of a second wave.
Government figures show new cases rising to 3,991, up markedly from Tuesday’s figure of 3,105. Though more testing is picking up more cases, it’s clear the virus is spreading. The latest daily increase is more than two times the level reported a few weeks back.
Officials recently banned social gatherings in England of more than six people both indoors and outdoors. Though many of the recent cases involve younger people, there are concerns more vulnerable people may become infected.
The government reported Wednesday another 20 people died within 28 days after testing positive for COVID-19, the new U.K. cutoff for official deaths instituted in the last few weeks.
That takes the death toll to 41,684, Europe’s highest and fifth highest in the world. On Aug. 20, the reported death toll in the U.K. was 41,483.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s prime minister set a maximum price for coronavirus tests, extended mandatory use of face masks and ordered temperature checks at school for all students and teachers starting Oct. 1.
Viktor Orban says in a video posted on Facebook that tests cannot cost more than 19,500 forints ($64.50). Wearing masks, already obligatory on public transportation and stores, will be extended to theaters, cinemas, health care and social institutions, among others, and nightclubs must close at 11 p.m.
Orban says the health care system was prepared to deal with the second wave of the pandemic, with a plan to increase the availability of hospital beds and deploy doctors and nurses where needed.
BERLIN — German public broadcaster ARD reports a far-right lawmaker in the national Parliament has tested positive for the coronavirus.
ARD quoted the Alternative for Germany party confirming Wednesday that Norbert Kleinwaechter was tested positive for COVID-19 and informed his caucus Tuesday. Six other lawmakers for the party and several parliamentary staff he’d been in contact with were sent home to isolate.
Some Alternative for Germany lawmakers took part in protests against pandemic restrictions in recent months.
Germany’s disease control center says the country recorded 1,901 new infections in the past day, taking the total to nearly 264,000. Germany has confirmed 9,368 COVID-related deaths since the start of the outbreak.
WASHINGTON — The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Senate lawmakers that his agency has not altered its scientific publications on the coronavirus.
That comes despite pressure from Trump officials who allege the agency has worked against the re-election of President Donald Trump.
Dr. Robert Redfield testified that the CDC’s “scientific integrity … has not been compromised and it will not be compromised under my watch.”
Last week news outlets reported that Michael Caputo, a Health and Human Services Department political appointee, tried to gain editorial control over CDC’s weekly scientific report. In a separate online video last week, Caputo reportedly said some CDC scientists constituted a “resistance unit” conspiring against the Trump administration.
Redfield rejected the allegation and says he was “deeply saddened” by the comments.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the committee’s top Democrat, says the apparent political pressure on CDC, among other health agencies, had damaged public trust in federal health information.
BOULDER, Colo. — All students at the University of Colorado’s main campus are being told to self-quarantine for the next two weeks to stem an alarming rise in coronavirus cases.
Jeffrey J. Zayach, executive director of Boulder County Public Health, urged the measure in a letter Zayach sent Tuesday to Boulder campus students, faculty and staff. Zayach warned mandatory restrictions could follow if students do not comply.
University officials reported 13 positive tests the first week of school, 90 the second week and 205 the third week. Most cases involved students who live off-campus.
Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, says there’s been six coronavirus outbreaks at Colorado colleges and universities.