The Latest: Mexico cracks down on mask rules as cases mount
MEXICO CITY — Mexico continues to register high levels of new coronavirus cases, as the Health Department reports 5,172 new confirmed infections, bring the country’s total to almost 350,000.
Confirmed daily death reports fell on Monday to 301, for a total of almost 39,500.
The continued high rate of transmission has caused some Mexican tourist areas to walk back previous re-openings and crack down on mask rules. The southern area of the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo re-imposed limits on hotel occupancy, and the Baja California resort of La Paz closed beaches again.
Over the weekend, the local government of the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende announced Sunday that police had arrested two tourists for refusing to wear face masks.
The city has decreed face masks obligatory in public spaces, and violators could receive a warning, up to 36 hours in jail and/or a fine of up to $385.
The city government said the two Mexican tourists were approached by police in the picturesque city square on Saturday night and reminded of the face mask rule. The man and a woman refused to put on masks. They were detained, held for 12 hours and fined the equivalent of about $67.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Desperate race to corral pandemic takes on even greater urgency as burgeoning economic crisis collides with political turmoil
— Top Congressional Republicans meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on the next COVID-19 aid package
— European Union leaders cautiously optimistic a deal is in sight on a massive budget and coronavirus recovery fund
— Head of the line: Big companies got coronavirus loans first, according to an AP analysis of the $659 billion Paycheck Protection Program
— School districts reopening classrooms in the fall wrestle with whether to require teachers and students to wear face masks
— Workers turn into amateur sleuths to track virus cases
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TOPEKA, Kansas — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has issued an order requiring masks and daily temperature checks in the state’s K-12 schools.
Kelly on Monday set some coronavirus-inspired rules that are stricter than guidelines adopted by the Republican-controlled State Board of Education.
Kelly also released the text of a proposed order to delay the reopening of public and private elementary, middle and high schools for three weeks from mid-August until Sept. 9. Kansas law requires the state school board’s approval for a delay and it is scheduled to meet Wednesday morning.
The Democratic governor’s plans for schools are inspiring criticism from Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature and conservatives outside state government already critical of her handling of the pandemic. The small-government, free-market Kansas Policy Institute, influential with GOP conservatives, called Kelly’s actions “simply unwarranted.”
Kansas has seen the number of reported novel coronavirus cases more than double since June 10, when its rolling seven-day average of new cases per day bottomed out after peaking in early May. The state now has reported more than 23,000 cases and more than 300 COVID-19-related deaths.
MINNEAPOLIS — Travelers will be required to wear face coverings at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission approved the resolution Monday. The new requirement takes effect next Monday and applies to all public spaces at the airport, including outdoor locations where people cannot reliably maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others.
The regulation also applies in terminals, parking ramps, shuttle buses, trams, rental car operations and other similar facilities.
Commission CEO Brian Ryks says as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, “it is clear that face coverings along with social distancing and frequent hand washing or sanitizing are key to keep ourselves and those around us safer.”
Ryks notes that a growing number of airports already require face coverings.
There are exceptions for people who cannot wear a mask for reasons of health, safety or disability, and for eating and drinking.
Children 2 years and younger or unaccompanied minors 12 or younger are also excluded.
Free face coverings are available at information booths at the airport’s terminals.
FARMINGTON, N.M. — Navajo Nation lawmakers are considering overturning a presidential veto of a bill that cancels the tribe’s primary election in early August over concerns about the coronavirus.
Tribal lawmakers approved a bill in April to cancel the tribe’s primary election and decide the winner by plurality vote in the November general election. Tribal President Jonathan Nez later vetoed the action and urged lawmakers and election officials to come up with alternatives to preserve tribal members’ rights to vote.
Nearly 30% of Navajo voters turned out for the tribe’s last primary election for local officials in 2016.
The veto override requires a two-thirds vote of the Navajo Nation Council, which is holding its summer session remotely this week.
The lawmakers heard reports Monday from tribal officials that overwhelmingly focused on the coronavirus.
DENVER, Colorado — Colorado health and education officials have released guidance as public school districts across the state prepare for the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That includes staggered schedules, face coverings, the option of remote learning and limited contact among students. But a busy school environment poses unique challenges, including isolating students in groups, or “cohorts,” to limit the spread of the disease.
An epidemiologist for the state health department says keeping students in such groups “is an essential component.”
Much of the guidance issued Monday will be left to local health and education officials to implement.
PHOENIX, Arizona — Officials say Arizona is seeing a slight downward trend in the number of people on ventilators and in intensive care because of the coronavirus.
The state reported 1,559 new COVID-19 cases Monday and 23 deaths. The deaths typically are lower at the start of the week because not all hospitals submit data over the weekend.
Arizona had been experiencing some of the highest rates of coronavirus cases in the country since the governor lifted a stay-at-home order in mid-May.
Hospitalizations reported Monday were at the lowest level in more than two weeks. The number of people on ventilators and in intensive care also has gone down.
ATLANTA, Georgia — New York’s Democratic governor flew to Georgia, pledging to help the city of Savannah fight COVID-19, in a barely concealed rebuke to Georgia’s Republican leadership as virus cases continued to rise in the southern state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declined to directly criticize Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, but warmly praised Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, a native New Yorker who has been a scorching critic of Kemp in recent days.
Cuomo said New York has to be interested in what’s happening in other parts of the country because infected people from other states are likely to spread virus cases in New York.
Johnson was the pacesetter in a revolt by local Georgia officials against Kemp’s refusal to allow local governments to order people to wear masks. Kemp eventually sued Atlanta’s mayor and city council, asking a judge to order local officials to stop taking actions at variance with his own executive orders on coronavirus.
Cuomo delivered masks, test kits, gowns, face shields and hand sanitizer. He said he would help Savannah set up two new public testing sites aimed at lower income people, and said he would share contact tracing expertise.
Kemp spokesperson Candace Broce declined to comment on Cuomo’s visit.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The upcoming plan to have the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville to renominate President Donald Trump continues to be on shaky ground.
Even after the GOP announced plans to scale back the convention and hold more events outside, the local sheriff said people’s safety cannot be guaranteed.
“Where we are today is we can’t support this plan,” Sheriff Mike Williams told local news outlets Monday. “Where do we go from here is a good question. But where we are today, we can’t support it.”
Williams added: “There’s got to be some major re-working of what’s happening.”
The United States’ top infectious disease expert says the best way to manage the surging coronavirus — and prevent future outbreaks — is by sticking to what he calls the “fundamentals.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci tells the nation’s governors that those include the universal wearing of face masks, shutting bars, limiting indoor dining, avoiding crowds and frequent hand-washing.
Fauci addressed governors Monday via videoconference with members of the White House coronavirus task focus. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the audio.
Task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx urged governors to watch for even the tiniest increase in the percentage of positive cases, saying it means an uptick is coming.
LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska lawmakers have returned to their session with lingering concerns about the coronavirus and safety precautions that will likely remain in place until they adjourn for the year.
The 60-day session resumed Monday with plexiglass separation barriers in the chamber, mandatory temperature checks to enter and tougher restrictions on who can access the room.
Lawmakers suspended their session March 25 after passing an emergency coronavirus funding bill. They took no other action for nearly four months but still have 17 scheduled work days remaining this year.
MOSCOW — A Russian court has ordered a coronavirus-denying monk to pay a fine for “inciting hatred” through his sermons.
The court in the Ural Mountains region ruled that Father Sergiy should pay a fine of 18,000 rubles (about $250).
When the contagion engulfed Russia, Sergiy declared the coronavirus non-existent and denounced government efforts to stem the outbreak as “Satan’s electronic camp.”
In fiery sermons laden with anti-Semitic statements and vitriol against a masonic “world-government,” the monk has called vaccines being developed against COVID-19 part of a global plot to control the masses via chips.
Russia has reported over 777,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 12,000 deaths.
WASHINGTON — The National Zoo will reopen to the public later this week with restrictions to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Smithsonian, which runs the zoo, announced Monday that it will reopen with limited hours starting Friday, July 24.
The National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, will also reopen, but the rest of the museums in the Smithsonian network will remain closed.
All visitors will be required to obtain free, timed-entry passes in advance, and those over age 6 will be required to wear a face mask at all times, including outdoors.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is issuing guidance on preventing discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidelines announced Monday instruct health departments to ensure that racial and ethnic minority populations “are not subjected to excessive wait times, rejected for hospital admissions, or denied access to intensive care units compared to similarly situated non-minority individuals.”
They also seek to ensure that the locations chosen for virus-testing sites are accessible to minority communities.
From the start, the novel Coronavirus has ravaged minority populations in the United States, with Black communities recording infection and death numbers that far outstrip their percentage of the population.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams says the pandemic “has magnified many of the racial and health disparities that quite frankly have been with us for generations.”
NEW YORK — The release of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has been postponed yet again.
It had been hoped that the highly anticipated, $200 million thriller would herald Hollywood’s return to big theatrical releases Aug. 12.
But the surge of the virus across much of the U.S. has upended the industry’s aims for even a late-August return.
Unlike with previous postponements, Warner Bros. on Monday didn’t announce a new target date for “Tenet,” already shifted from July 17 to July 31 and then Aug. 12.
UNALASKA, Alaska — Officials say a factory fishing vessel that docked in the Aleutian Islands fishing port of Dutch Harbor has 85 crew members infected with the coronavirus on board.
Alaska’s Energy Deck reports that The American Triumph was scheduled to sail from the Dutch Harbor community of Unalaska with a planned arrival in Seward on Wednesday.
The ship will carry crew members who tested positive and medical personnel before transport from Seward to an isolation location in Anchorage.
Unalaska city officials say all crew members were restricted to the vessel or isolation locations while the ship was docked.
BRASILIA, Brazil — Two more ministers in the Cabinet of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro say they have tested positive for the coronavirus, which has been raging through Latin America’s largest nation.
They are Minister of Citizenship Onyx Lorenzoni, 65, and Minister of Education Milton Ribeiro, 62.
Four Cabinet ministers have now tested positive, plus Bolsonaro.
Brazil has recorded more than 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 79,488 deaths.
WASHINGTON — The White House is reviving its public coronavirus task force briefings, and President Donald Trump will again take on a starring role.
Trump says he’ll lead a briefing at 5 p.m. Tuesday, his first since April 27.
The coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, briefed the public daily in March and April with Trump participating and dominating many of the televised sessions.
But the briefings disappeared in late April after ratings began to slide and Trump mused about the possibility of using disinfectants inside the body to kill the virus.
Some of Trump’s closest advisers had publicly advocated for the return of briefings led by the president, who has slid against Democratic rival Joe Biden in recent polls.
GENEVA — The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization is hailing “good news” in results shown by two COVID-19 vaccine candidates in early trials, but warns “there’s a long way to go.”
“We now need to move into larger-scale real-world trials,” Dr. Michael Ryan told reporters at a news conference in Geneva. “But it is good to see more data and more products moving into this very important phase of vaccine discovery.”
Ryan’s comments came as scientists at Oxford University, in a paper published in The Lancet, said their experimental vaccine had been shown to trigger a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot.
Also in the medical journal, Chinese researchers published a study on their experimental vaccine, using a similar technique as the Oxford team, that reported an immune response.
Ryan noted there are 23 COVID-19 candidate vaccines in clinical development, but until Monday only one had produced Phase 1 clinical data.
Also Monday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed concerns about the COVID-19’s impact on indigenous peoples, particularly in the Americas.
Tedros said more than 70,000 cases have been reported among indigenous peoples in the Americas, and over 2,000 deaths.
LONDON — Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot.
British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. Such early trials are designed to evaluate safety and see what kind of immune response was provoked, but can’t tell if the vaccine truly protects.
In research published Monday in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted at least two months after they were immunized.
“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” said Dr. Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” he said.
Hill said that neutralizing antibodies are produced — molecules which are key to blocking infection. In addition, the vaccine also causes a reaction in the body’s T-cells which help to fight off the coronavirus.