The Latest: Mexico fears country has entered virus plateau
MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials are expressing concern that the country may have entered a plateau of coronavirus infections after about three weeks of slight declines.
The Health Department said Tuesday there were 4,916 newly confirmed cases, bringing Mexico’s total to 568,621. There were 650 newly confirmed deaths, bring the country’s total to 61,450, the third highest in the world.
The Health Department’s epidemiology director, José Luis Alomía, said “the trend is moving toward what could be a plateau.”
The numbers are considered to be a vast undercount, given Mexico’s extremely low rate of testing. But what has been consistent is the relatively high number of health workers infected, possibly because they are exposed more and are tested at a higher rate.
Since the pandemic began, 97,632 nurses, doctors and other hospital employess have tested positive, equivalent to about 17% of all the country’s cases. A total of 1,320 health workers have died of COVID-19 in Mexico.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Brazil president’s son tests positive for virus, fourth in family
— FDA Commissioner Hahn: Sorry for overstating plasma benefits
— New virus cases decline in United States and experts credit masks
— Virtual learning sites are sprouting up to help working parents.
— With many schools still closed by the coronavirus pandemic, public and private alternatives are sprouting up across the nation to watch over children as they study.
— A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds 45% of Americans say they are setting aside more money than usual during the coronavirus pandemic.
— The World Health Organization is cautioning that using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat other patients is still considered an experimental therapy.
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BEIJING — China has suspended a flight from Abu Dhabi to Shanghai for a week after passengers on board tested positive for coronavirus.
Etihad flight EY862 was put on hold from Tuesday after five passengers aboard the Aug. 15 flight turned in a positive result in a nucleic acid test, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on its microblog.
For the 10th consecutive day, China has reported only imported cases of the virus, with another 15 added on Wednesday. China currently has 347 people in treatment for COVID-19, while another 365 people are being monitored in isolation for having tested positive for the virus without showing symptoms.
The country has reported 4,634 deaths among 84,996 cases of COVID-19 since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year before spreading worldwide.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — More California children with special needs will be allowed back in classrooms in small groups under new state guidance released Tuesday.
It applies to K-12 students including those with disabilities, students who are homeless and English language learners, among others. Those students would be allowed back in schools, at day camps and in other settings in groups of no more than 14 youth and two supervising adults.
The rules apply to schools in counties that still aren’t allowed to open for in-person learning because of the coronavirus.
HONOLULU — Hawaii’s most populous island is returning to a stay-at-home order while officials strive to conduct 70,000 COVID-19 tests in two weeks.
Oahu has seen a surge in daily positive cases. The federal government will help officials test 5,000 people daily for two weeks.
During that time, Oahu will be under a stay-at-home order where gyms and dine-in restaurants will be closed. Religious services may continue.
The spike also has included an outbreak at the state’s largest jail. State Sen. Clarence Nishihara is criticizing Gov. David Ige’s administration for failing to widely test inmates swiftly enough.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state on Wednesday recorded one of its deadliest days of the pandemic despite new COVID-19 infections continuing to trend down.
The 24 fatalities in the latest 24-hour period is the largest death toll apart from the all-time daily record of 25 set on Aug. 17.
Victoria’s Health Department reported 149 news cases on Wednesday following 148 infections on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s count brought the weekly average to 175 new cases a day, down from 279 in the previous week.
BOISE, Idaho – Authorities on Tuesday arrested anti-government activist Ammon Bundy at the Idaho Statehouse after he refused to leave a meeting room where a few hours earlier angry protesters forced out lawmakers.
Bundy didn’t respond to a reporter’s shouted questions as he was wheeled into an elevator in a chair he apparently refused to get out of. At least two others were also arrested after police cleared the room, and they also refused to follow police commands to leave. Another person was taken into custody earlier in the same room where protesters shouted down lawmakers.
The incident follows another on Monday when angry protesters forced their way into the Idaho House gallery that had limited seating because of the coronavirus pandemic, the window of a glass door getting shattered as protesters jostled with police.
Protesters were ultimately let in when Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke stepped in, seeking to avoid violence.
Bundy and other protesters are opposed to a proposed liability law intended to shield schools, businesses and government entities from lawsuits from people who get COVID-19. Some lawmakers also oppose the legislation they say will remove accountability. Bundy led the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday that marching bands will be allowed to perform at public school football games amid the coronavirus pandemic, reversing a governing body’s ruling from a day earlier.
The Republican governor said the Secondary School Activities Commission’s earlier decision was made without his input.
“As a coach and someone who is in our schools all the time, I appreciate how much our extracurricular activities, including our marching bands, mean to our students, parents, and communities,” Justice said in a statement.
Justice said he directed medical experts to work with the SSAC and the state Department of Education to “go back to the drawing board to find a safe way for our marching bands to do what they love to do: perform.”
The plan will require band members to maintain social distances while performing in stadiums on game days. Their families will be allowed to watch their performances.
MIAMI — Dorm-room parties are being blamed for a coronavirus outbreak at the University of Miami, where some students who tested positive have been relocated into isolation rooms and two entire floors of a residential tower are under quarantine.
Other students have been kicked out of residence halls and suspended for not following public health directives, said Dr. Julio Frenk, the university’s president.
A new online dashboard by the university says 156 people have tested positive in the university system. Most are students; 69 of them have been placed in isolation and another 94 under quarantine in the past seven days. The positivity rate is slightly above 5%.
“It would have been unrealistic to assume that there would be no cases of COVID-19 in our campus,” Frenk said in a video message.
Frenk said a pattern of infection emerged at one of the residence halls. In response, everyone who tested positive was moved into isolation, and those who were potentially exposed to the virus have been ordered to stay in their rooms.
Similar challenges are being addressed at other colleges in Florida, where the Department of Public Health reported 4,545 COVID-19 hospitalizations Tuesday, along with about 2,600 new virus cases.
___ OKLAHOMA CITY — Patients at the The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City will each be allowed two visitors starting Wednesday, while some adults at University of Oklahoma hospitals in Oklahoma City and Edmond will be allowed one visitor each.
The hospitals have been limiting visitor numbers in recent months in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Oklahoma State Health Department on Tuesday reported 54,172 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma County Jail Trust has approved $3 million to be paid as bonuses to county jail employees who continue working during the pandemic. This will amount to $1,000 per worker. Also Tuesday, The University of Oklahoma announced that tailgating will be banned on campus for the 2020 football season.
“In past years, a typical game day in Norman draws over 100,000 people to campus,” said OU Vice President for University Operations Eric Conrad. “While we realize these decisions will be disappointing to many, it is imperative that the university does its part to slow the spread of the virus on campus and in our community so we can protect each other.”
The university also requires everyone on campus to wear masks, including at all athletic events.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Don’t lick your fingers!
That’s what Kentucky Fried Chicken signaled to customers as the company suspended its “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” tagline after 64 years, deeming it “the most inappropriate slogan for 2020” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The suspension will affect the slogan’s use in global advertising “for a little while,” the company said in a statement.
“We find ourselves in a unique situation — having an iconic slogan that doesn’t quite fit in the current environment,” said Catherine Tan-Gillespie, the company’s global chief marketing officer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus safety measures calls for people to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands to reduce exposure to the virus.
For now, the company, which is a subsidiary of Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum! Brands, is telling fans not to worry.
“The slogan will be back,” the statement said. “Just when the time is right.”
CHICAGO — Illinois is expanding its rules requiring masks while dining indoors, saying customers have to wear face coverings during every single interaction with servers or other restaurant workers. That includes while servers are taking orders or bringing a bill.
The requirements go into effect Wednesday, the same day indoor dining will be barred in two counties because of a high COVID-19 rate.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced 1,680 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 29 additional deaths.
In Chicago, city officials looking ahead to winter launched a challenge to propose outdoor dining solutions for when temperatures drop.
PHOENIX — A fight over whether Phoenix-area gyms, bars, movie theaters and water parks can reopen could be a moot point by Thursday if Maricopa County’s downward trend in coronavirus cases holds, the state’s top health officer said.
Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Department of Health Services, said she expects the state’s most populous county will hit levels for “moderate” spread of the virus on that day. That means gyms that have been seeking waivers from the department can reopen even without one at reduced capacity under state guidelines.
Arizona was a national virus hotspot in late June and July but new cases, hospitalizations and transmissions have fallen dramatically since their peak.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf says he doesn’t have the legal authority to extend Pennsylvania’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures beyond Aug. 31.
That means renters will no longer be shielded from losing their homes for failing to pay rent during the pandemic. In a letter to both legislative chambers, released Tuesday, Wolf says the state’s Emergency Services Code prevents him from acting.
The Democrat called on state lawmakers in the Republican-controlled General Assembly to pass legislation to extend the statewide moratorium, which has been in place for more than five months.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon is joining the list of states applying for the federal government’s new assistance for unemployed workers.
State officials say, if approved, people would receive $300 per week, for an estimated three to five weeks. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 500,000 people in Oregon have filed for unemployment.
Last week, Oregon launched a $35 million relief check program created to issue a one-time payment of $500 to 70,000 Oregonians still waiting for unemployment benefits. Just three days later, the program ended after all the checks had been distributed.
DANBURY, Conn. — State and local officials are urging residents of Danbury to get tested for coronavirus and answer calls by contact tracers because of an increase in cases.
Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican, says state and local officials are relying on contract tracing and stepped-up testing at nursing homes and throughout the community to stop further spread.
The city has also taken other steps, such as asking churches to hold remote rather than in-person religious services and delaying plans for in-person learning at the public schools until at least Oct. 1.
The city, which borders New York, has been seeing a rolling average of 22 new daily cases per 100,000 people. That represents a roughly 6-7% infection rate, officials say. Statewide, the infection rate is about 1%.
Boughton says there is less than two weeks to slow the spread, otherwise it’s a “runaway freight train.”
BRASILIA, Brazil — The eldest son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he’s tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation with no symptoms.
Sen. Flávio Bolsonaro is the fourth member of President Jair Bolsonaro’s direct family infected by the coronavirus. The president, first lady Michelle Bolsonaro and Jair Renan Bolsonaro, another son, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Brazilian president has downplayed the severity of the virus, arguing against restrictions on economic activity he claims will prove far more damaging than the disease. His approach to the pandemic runs counter to most recommendations by health experts.
Flávio Bolsonaro says he’s being treated with azithromycin and chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug touted both by Brazil’s president and by U.S. President Donald Trump, despite clinical trials that found it ineffective or even dangerous.
Several members of Bolsonaro’s staff have tested positive, among them eight Cabinet members.
Brazil has 3.6 million confirmed cases and more than 115,000 deaths, second in the world only to the United States.
MADISON, WIS. — Wisconsin’s statewide mask mandate should end because Gov. Tony Evers doesn’t have the legal authority to order it, three western Wisconsin residents represented by a conservative law firm argue in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
It’s the first legal challenge to the mask order Evers issued to help slow the spread of the coronavirus after cases began to spike again in mid-June. Evers issued the order on July 30, it took effect Aug. 1, and is set to run until Sept. 28. The order requires everyone age 5 and older to wear a mask while indoors, except at home. Violators could be fined $200.
Evers’ spokeswoman Britt Cudaback accused Republicans and their allies of trying to prevent the governor from keeping people healthy and safe.
The state reported 168 new cases per 100,000 people during the past two weeks, ranking 26th in the country. Wisconsin has nearly 71,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,081 deaths.
FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Fairfield University is retesting students and staff for the coronavirus after school officials discovered some previous test results might have been erroneous or sent to the wrong patients.
Fairfield officials say they’ll stop using that lab and are advising anyone who has already taken a saliva test for the school to disregard their results.
The school says its brought in 35 rapid testing machines from Abbot Laboratory and will be retesting school community members on site with swab tests results in 15 minutes. The school says the machines can process up to 800 tests a day.
Students and staff are given the option of getting their own tests from another provider.
Classes are set to start on Sept. 1. The school says anyone who receives a positive test result will be asked to return home if possible. Anyone who lives further than 300 miles from the school or can’t go home will be quarantined on campus.