The Latest: Mexico passes 40,000 new coronavirus death mark
MEXICO CITY — Mexico passed the 40,000-death mark Tuesday and reported near-record levels of newly confirmed coronavirus cases.
The Health Department reported that COVID-19 deaths rose by 915 to reach 40,400, the fourth highest total behind the United Kingdom at 45,507.
Mexico’s number of confirmed cases rose by 6,859 to 356,386, and the country now rivals Peru for the sixth-highest number of cases, but Mexico does so little testing that its number is considered vastly undercounted.
By Tuesday, Mexico had conducted just over 820,000 tests, or about one test for every 160 inhabitants. In recent weeks, 47% of all tests have com back positive, suggesting Mexico is mainly testing only those with considerable symptoms.
Health authorities indicated the country only has about 170,000 tests left, but left open the possibility of acquiring more.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— CDC: Antibody tests show virus rates 10x higher
— Jordan to reopen airports to tourists in August
— Weary EU leaders finally clinch $2.1 trillion budget and coronavirus recovery fund
— New research suggests that antibodies the immune system makes to fight the coronavirus may only last a few months in people with mild illness, according to report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
— The Justice Department says hackers working with the Chinese government targeted firms developing coronavirus vaccines and stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies worldwide.
— With the pandemic worsening and aid expiring, Washington’s divisions thwart new relief package.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
AUSTIN, Texas — While some big cities in Texas are reporting signs that an alarming surge in cases of the coronavirus may be leveling off, officials in counties along the border with Mexico said the outlook there remains bleak.
Dallas County officials said the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients dropped below 1,000 on Tuesday for the first time in more than two weeks, and officials in Houston are seeing signs of optimism.
But along the border in Starr County, Judge Eloy Vera said “we’re very close to losing the situation” and plans to issue voluntary stay-at-home recommendations this week.
He said it would be similar to one issued Monday in Hidalgo County, which set a curfew and recommends that all nonessential businesses cease any activity that can’t be provided at curbside or by takeout.
The orders, however, are not enforceable under Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s past mandates that do not allow local officials to set their own stay-at-home restrictions. Texas on Tuesday reported more than 9,300 confirmed new cases and 131 deaths, the state’s second deadliest day of the pandemic.
FORT WORTH, Texas — More than 500 women at a federal medical prison in Texas have tested positive for the coronavirus, in one of the largest confirmed outbreaks at a federal prison.
The Bureau of Prisons said the number of confirmed cases at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell in Fort Worth jumped to 510 on Tuesday, just two days after the Bureau of Prisons reported that 200 women there had tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Only the federal prison in Seagoville, also located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, had more infected inmates, with 1,156 cases as of Tuesday.
SAO PAULO — Brazilian authorities say the country’s Sao Paulo state has topped 20,000 deaths from COVID-19, while the nation as a whole has recored more than 80,000 fatalities due to the coronavirus.
Sao Paulo is Brazil’s most populous state, with 46 million people, and is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the South American country.
It has been enforcing social distancing measures since mid-March, but has never applied a full lockdown.
Sao Paulo Gov. João Doria replaced his health secretary this week, though he says the official left the post for medical reasons unrelated to the coronavirus.
___ DENVER — Colorado teachers may refuse to report for work unless their criteria for reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic this fall are met.
That’s the word from Amie Baca-Oehlert, the head of the state’s largest teachers union, the Colorado Education Association.
Baca-Oehlert said Tuesday that teachers want more of a say in how school districts implement safety protocols such as mask-wearing, restricting movement among public school students and restricting class sizes.
She says individual school districts should establish their own protocols and provide all students with access to remote learning tools such as computers.
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is thanking President Donald Trump for telling Americans that they should wear masks when they’re unable to keep distance between themselves and other people.
The Democrat tweeted her appreciation Tuesday, saying: “Thanks for joining us, Mr. President.”
Masks are mandated in New Mexico as the state has been dealing with an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Health officials are now reporting an additional 307 cases. That brings the statewide total to 17,517 since the pandemic began. Officials also reported an additional 10 deaths, bringing that tally to nearly 590.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he’s “getting used to” wearing a mask as he showed off his from the White House briefing room podium.
He’s telling reporters that he has “no problem” wearing one, saying: “I carry it. I wear it… and I’ll continue.”
Trump’s recent comments are a major change in tone for the president, who spent months resisting wearing a mask in public and once suggested they were a political statement against him.
But he told reporters Tuesday that he’s “getting used to the mask” and uses one when appropriate.
Trump then pulled his out of a suit pocket and encouraged the public, saying: “if you’re close together, I would put on the mask.”
Trump’s comments came at the end of the return of his evening briefing, which lasted less than half an hour. Trump appeared alone, with no public health experts appearing.
DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has ordered bars and restaurants across the state to stop serving alcohol past 10 p.m. as the number of coronavirus cases among young adults continues to increase.
He says anybody who has been drunk knows that inhibitions are reduced and social distancing takes a back seat when large groups are involved.
The order is expected to take effect before the weekend and last for 30 days. Last call at Colorado bars is normally 2 a.m.
The governor previously ordered bars closed as the state saw an uptick in cases, but those serving food were allowed to remain open.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards is keeping Louisiana’s mask mandate and business restrictions in place for at least two more weeks as the number of coronavirus patients at hospitals is surging in all regions of the state.
The Democratic governor’s current regulations were set to expire Friday but instead will extend until at least Aug. 7.
The rules limit restaurants to 50% capacity for in-person dining, restrict bars to takeout and delivery only and place occupancy limits on gyms, salons and other businesses deemed nonessential. Face coverings are required for anyone ages 8 and older, with medical exceptions. Indoor gatherings above 50 people are banned.
Edwards’ announcement came Tuesday.
“We still have a lot of COVID-19 in Louisiana, more than we want, and it’s widespread all across our state,” the governor said. He added: “There is no doubt we have a long way to go and the situation is very serious, especially as it relates to hospitalizations.”
LAS VEGAS — Unions representing 65,000 Las Vegas-area casino workers have dropped two MGM Resorts International properties from a lawsuit accusing companies of skimping on coronavirus protective measures.
A Culinary Union executive called it a victory to drop legal proceedings against the owner of the Bellagio resort and the Signature Condominiums towers and begin “expedited arbitration” over safety requirements.
The union says 22 workers or dependent family members have died from COVID-19. MGM Resorts on Tuesday called the court filing “frivolous.”
Culinary and bartenders unions didn’t drop claims against Caesars Entertainment, operator of Harrah’s Las Vegas, over measures at a restaurant there.
BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he has had a third test to see if he is still infected with the coronavirus and that the result will be released Wednesday.
Speaking to supporters gathered in front of the presidential residence Tuesday, Bolsonaro said, “God willing, I will test negative.”
The president announced on July 7 that he had COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the virus. On July 15, he said he had tested positive one more time.
Bolsonaro says that if his latest test proves negative, he wants to travel Friday to the state of Piauí in northeastern Brazil. The head of Brazil’s Ministry of Regional Development is scheduled to visit the city of Floriano in that state to dedicate new housing and a sanitation system.
JACKSON, Wyo. — Wyoming has approved a countywide mask mandate with some exceptions in Teton County during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported that State Health Officer Alexia Harrist signed the order Monday, hours after the Teton County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a resolution for the mandate. Her signature was required to make the order law.
The mandate is in effect through July 31. People who have a physical or mental health reason to not wear masks are exempt under the order and do not need to provide documentation. The mandate is intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
ATLANTA — Georgia reported its second-highest daily count of deaths on Tuesday since the COVID-19 pandemic began, in what health officials said was a consequence of the elevated number of coronavirus infections the state has seen since June.
The day a death is reported in Georgia is often not the day it occurs, and it’s not unusual to see a burst of deaths reported just after a weekend. But Tuesday’s total of 78 was below only the 100 Georgia deaths reported on April 7.
“It is due in part to decreased reporting over the weekend, but just as we’ve seen increased cases and hospitalizations, we are seeing the number of deaths increase, also,” wrote Department of Public Health spokesperson Nancy Nydam in an email.
Nydam couldn’t immediately say when the deaths reported Tuesday had happened. The numbers pushed Georgia’s 7-day and 14-day trend on deaths to their highest point since late June.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has resumed a starring role in the White House’s coronavirus briefings on Tuesday, returning to the podium in the press briefing room in hopes that he can shore up support for his administration’s work amid flagging poll numbers.
Trump says the administration is doing well with vaccine and therapeutic development.
He says the country has learned so much about the disease, and “my administration will stop at nothing to save lives and shield the vulnerable, which is so important.”
Trump also warns the virus outbreak “will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better – something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is.”
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says the state is making progress in stemming coronavirus infections in the state’s long-term care facilities.
Walz and state health officials cite a dramatic drop in deaths and new cases of COVID-19 at nursing homes and other facilities over the last two months. Residents of long-term care facilities still make up the majority of coronvirus-related deaths in Minnesota, but officials say their interventions since mid-May have led to a significant drop in daily deaths and outbreaks in congregate care settings.
“We are certainly not taking a victory lap,” Walz told reporters Tuesday. “The key here was controlling infections.”
Officials scrambled to respond as deaths at long-term care facilities rose in late April and early May. Walz outlined a “battle plan” in early May that included expanded testing, more personal protective gear for health workers and ensuring “adequate” staffing levels when workers fall ill.
Officials said Tuesday those collective efforts have worked. In early May, there were 23 facilities reporting new cases each day. That number is now about six per day, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana hospital leaders are warning that efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak could be hampered by conservative House Republicans’ push to revoke Gov. John Bel Edwards’ public health emergency declaration.
The Louisiana Hospital Association is joining GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder in trying to discourage Republican lawmakers from signing a petition nullifying the Democratic governor’s virus response orders.
The petition requires support from a majority of the House or Senate.
Supporters say Edwards is crippling the economy with his restrictions. The hospital association argues removal of the emergency declaration would decrease health facilities’ ability to bring in nurses and doctors from other states, expand telemedicine services and increase bed capacity.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri on Tuesday reported more than 1,100 new coronavirus cases, once again breaking its own record for the largest single-day increase in cases.
Data from the state health department show 34,762 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus first struck Missouri, a 1,138 increase in reported cases compared to Monday.
Missouri last set its record for the largest increase in cases reported in a single day on Saturday, when the state announced another 958 people sickened by the virus.
NEW ORLEANS — Public schools in New Orleans won’t offer in-person classroom instruction when they open in August because of a resurgence of COVID-19 infections, said the city’s school superintendent, Henderson Lewis.
Online instruction will begin next month, but Lewis said Tuesday that classroom instruction for the city’s 45,000 public school students won’t resume until some time after Labor Day.
Meanwhile, Lewis said, school buildings will be open to teachers and administrators and to continue offering meal programs for students from low-income families.
Among those at the news conference were Mayor LaToya Cantrell and city health director Dr. Jennifer Avegno. Avegno said key factors in the decision include an increase in average daily cases and the percentage of tests that show infections.
She also said that there aren’t enough tests available to test students and school personnel as often as the city feels is necessary to open schools.
Local school systems in Louisiana are determining whether to resume classes on sight, with some planning in-person instruction, others preferring online distance learning and some districts announcing a hybrid approach.
SAO PAULO — Brazilian health authorities are starting a three-month test of a coronavirus vaccine produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.
Dimas Covas, president of the Butantan Institute coordinating the study, says if the vaccine proves safe and effective, Brazil would receive 120 million doses from China at the beginning of next year and 30 million Brazilians would be vaccinated. I
It’s one of nearly two dozen potential vaccines in various stages of human testing worldwide, and one of a handful entering late-stage testing to prove effectiveness. The federal Ministry of Health on Monday confirmed 632 more deaths from COVID-19 and 20,257 newly confirmed infections.
Brazil has recorded more than 80,000 confirmed deaths and 2 million cases of coronavirus — second in the world in both categories behind the United States.
Brazil is also helping test a vaccine produced in a partnership between Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Federal officials on Tuesday authorized tests of a third vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.
The Sinovac tests on 9,000 volunteers, all health professionals, will be in six Brazilian states. The tests are coordinated by Butantan, a Sao Paulo state scientific institute that’s produced vaccines for more than a century.
Half of the volunteers will receive two doses of vaccine starting this week, the other half will receive a placebo.
JUNEAU, Alaska — People in Alaska’s capital city must wear face coverings in certain indoor public places.
The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly passed the measure, which is similar to a measure enacted in Anchorage. It calls for use of face coverings in grocery stores, restaurants, bars, childcare and personal care facilities.
It’s also required in communal office areas and on public transportation.
Exceptions include people who cannot tolerate a mask due to medical conditions or disabilities, those exercising and children younger than 2.
The ordinance allows for fines up to $25. It also states a violation doesn’t create grounds for harassment.