The Latest: Minnesota reports highest virus toll since June
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota health officials reported 29 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, the state’s highest one-day death toll since early June, as the coronavirus spreads at high levels across the state.
The Minnesota Department of Health also reported 1,254 new coronavirus cases, a number boosted by the department’s decision to start reporting probable cases, as determined by newer technology antigen tests, in addition to confirmed cases identified by the more common and more accurate PCR tests, also known as molecular tests.
The grand case total reported Wednesday included 40 probable cases on top of 1,214 new confirmed cases, which raised Minnesota’s total case count since the pandemic began to 115,943, including 180 total probable cases to date. The state’s death toll rose to 2,180, including six deaths from probable cases.
The department said in its announcement that antigen tests are less accurate PCR tests, which are considered the gold standard. But antigen tests have the advantages of producing faster results and being usable by providers that don’t have full laboratories. Both technologies look at whether someone is actively infected with the virus.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— French President Macron sets curfew, restores state of emergency
— Spain 1st European Union nation to reach 900,000 virus cases
— World Bank OKs $12B for coronavirus vaccines, tests
— Russian President Vladimir Putin announces regulatory approval for a second coronavirus vaccine after early-stage studies.
— Scientists say among 21 developed countries at start of the coronavirus pandemic, those with early lockdowns, solid national health systems avoided more deaths.
— Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is back in Italy after testing positive for the coronavirus in Portugal.
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BISMARCK, N.D. — Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday raised the coronavirus risk level in several North Dakota counties but issued no mandated restrictions, even as the state’s number of active COVID-19 cases has risen to record levels every day for the past week.
Burgum moved 16 counties from moderate risk to high under the state’s five-level plan to set coronavirus management protocols for everything from businesses to family gatherings. The guidance for high-risk counties includes limiting businesses occupancy to 25% with a cap of 50 people and encouraging businesses to require masks. The guidelines are only recommendations and not enforced.
Burgum said the goal is “decreasing transmissible moments.”
The guidance for moderate-risk counties includes cutting capacity at businesses to 50%, with a cap of 100 people.
Burgum has avoided statewide mandates such as mask-wearing, instead stressing a personal responsibility message. He has said the five-level color-coded guidelines are to be used by local leaders “as a baseline for their own policies.”
Earlier Wednesday, North Dakota health officials confirmed 713 new positive COVID-19 cases and 159 new active cases, along with eight additional deaths. There were 900.3 new cases per 100,000 people in North Dakota over the past two weeks, which ranks first in the country for new cases per capita.
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states have agreed to tighten mask-wearing rules and make bars close early in areas where coronavirus infection rates are high.
Wednesday’s meeting came hours after the country reported more than 5,000 infections in one day for the first time since mid-April. While Germany is still in better shape than many other European countries, infections have accelerated rapidly in recent weeks.
Officials recommended that mask-wearing — already required since April on public transport and in shops — should also be made obligatory in public places where people are packed closely together in districts where there are more than 35 new infections per 100,000 residents per week. They also called for bars in those districts to be closed early.
In areas where infections top 50 infections per 100,000 people over seven days — until now the point at which local authorities have had to take action — gatherings in public and private parties should be limited to 10 people.
Many of Germany’s major cities have exceeded the 50 mark in recent days, among them Berlin, Cologne, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich. State governments are responsible for imposing and lifting virus-related restrictions.
PHOENIX — An Arizona State University public health expert has raised concerns after the average number of confirmed daily coronavirus cases in Arizona has risen over the last two weeks.
The state’s average number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased from 476 cases a day on Sept. 29 to 685 cases on Oct. 13. Arizona averaged more than 4,000 additional cases a day in late June and early July when it was experiencing its most serious spread of the virus.
ASU Biodesign Institute Executive Director Dr. Joshua LaBaer said Wednesday that the current situation reminds him of June. Arizona has recorded 227,635 confirmed virus cases and 5,772 deaths since the pandemic began in March.
ST. LOUIS — Fifty-six residents of Missouri veterans homes have died of COVID-19 since Sept. 1, including 25 at one facility in southeast Missouri.
Missouri Veterans Commission spokesperson Jamie Melchert told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Wednesday that the deadliest outbreak was in Cape Girardeau, where 20 residents died in September and five more have died in October, through Monday.
Melchert said 13 residents died at another veterans home in the southwestern Missouri town of Mt. Vernon, 12 others died in St. James and six more died in Warrensburg.
He said 38 of the deaths occurred in September. Before then, the only confirmed coronavirus death in a Missouri veterans home was in April in north St. Louis County.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson called for an external review of operations at the veterans homes on Oct. 2, but didn’t say how many veterans had died. Melchert said the St. Louis law firm Armstrong Teasdale will handle the review.
WASHINGTON — First lady Melania Trump says Barron Trump tested positive at one point for the coronavirus but has subsequently tested negative.
The first lady says in a post on the White House website that “my fear came true” when 14-year-old Barron tested positive for the virus. She says “luckily he is a strong teenager and exhibited no symptoms.”
President Donald Trump announced nearly two weeks ago that he and the first lady had tested positive for the virus. The president ended up going to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment and has since returned to the White House and to the campaign trial, while the first lady quarantined at the White House.
The first lady says that in one way she was glad “the three of us went through this at the same time so we could take care of one another and spend time together.”
The first lady said she’s happy to report she has tested negative and that she hopes to resume her duties as soon as she can, adding that “along with this good news, I want people to know that I understand just how fortunate my family is to have received the kind of care that we did.”
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas has reported its largest seven-day increases in both COVID-19-related deaths and new coronavirus cases.
The state Department of Health and Environment said Wednesday that Kansas had another 67 deaths since only Monday, an increase of 8.7%, to bring the total for the pandemic to 838. But it wasn’t clear how many of those fatalities were older and just being reported now as local and state health officials examine death certificates from previous months.
The state also said it had 1,293 new confirmed or probable cases over two days, a 1.9% increase that brought the total for the pandemic to 69,155.
The state averaged 743 new cases a day for the seven days ending Wednesday, surpassing the record of 736 set for the seven days ending Monday.
OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska officials say Halloween celebrations may need to be tweaked this year because of the coronavirus pandemic as the state continues to set records for the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday that he thinks children will still be able to go trick-or-treating for Halloween but people may decide to leave candy on their porches for kids to pick up instead of handing it out themselves this year.
Ricketts, who eliminated most of the state’s restrictions related to the virus last month, isn’t likely to impose new rules for Halloween, but he encouraged people to follow the recommendations of public health officials who have called traditional trick-or-treating a high risk activity.
In the state’s most populous county, Douglas County health officials said Wednesday that people can reduce the risks associated with trick-or-treating by setting out goodie bags for families to grab while maintaining a safe distance and staying in small groups. Foregoing trick-or-treating altogether in favor of planning scavenger hunts or other activities only with your own family would reduce the risk further.
Douglas County Health Department Director Adi Pour recommended that people avoid large indoor parties or big gatherings at haunted houses to limit risks.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga said he tested positive for the coronavirus before he was scheduled to appear Wednesday at a Michigan campaign rally with Vice President Mike Pence.
Huizenga said on Twitter that he took a rapid test and was isolating himself while awaiting results from a second test.
Pence spoke for about an hour outdoors at Lacks Enterprises in Cascade Township, near Grand Rapids. Peter Meijer, a Republican running for Congress, greeted and introduced Pence.
“The road to victory runs right through Michigan,” Pence said.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The White House Coronavirus Task Force says Oklahoma remains in the red zone for newly reported coronavirus cases, which recommends residents wear masks among the ways to slow the virus’ spread.
“Community spread continues in Oklahoma in both rural and urban areas,” according to the task force report released Wednesday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “Mitigation efforts should … include mask wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and avoiding crowds in public and social gatherings in private to stop the increasing spread among residents of Oklahoma.”
The health department said there were 749 people hospitalized Wednesday, down from a record high 760 reported Tuesday. There were an additional 1,121 confirmed cases, bringing the total to 102,614 since the pandemic began.
Health officials also reported 13 additional deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the disease, bringing the death toll to 1,132.
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday that the statewide mask order will remain in place but tougher restrictions on businesses and crowd sizes aren’t being reinstated despite recent sharp increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations and rates of new infections.
The Republican governor said some people were showing disregard for the safety of others, putting the ability of schools to remain open and health of those most at risk in jeopardy.
Holcomb decided three weeks ago to lift nearly all of Indiana’s restrictions while extending the mask mandate, which was scheduled to expire Saturday. His new order will extend it for a month.
State health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box also announced that she, an adult daughter and young grandson tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. Box said she wasn’t suffering any COVID-19 symptoms, while her daughter and grandson had mild symptoms.
Holcomb wore a face mask during the online briefing from his Statehouse office for the first time, saying he would be undergoing a coronavirus test later Wednesday and planned to quarantine himself at the governor’s office until he had the results.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s office says that the Republican is in quarantine after a member of his security detail tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to a statement, Lee had tested negative on Wednesday but he would be in quarantine with first lady Maria Lee.
No other information about the exposure was immediately available.
Along with announcing he’s in quarantine, Lee canceled Wednesday’s in-person COVID-19 briefing. Instead, Lee and Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey will hold a telephone conference call to provide further updates.
PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron announced that 18 million French citizens in nine regions, including in Paris, will have a curfew starting Saturday through Dec. 1.
He also reinstated the state of health emergency for the country, which ended three months ago. The 9 p.m. curfew is aimed at limiting the resurgent coronavirus amid second wave.
Macron says: “Our goal is to curb the virus. We must reduce the number of cases per day to 3,000 or 4,000. Our goal is to reduce private contacts. What is called the curfew is a measure that is appropriate.”
The curfew will apply to the Paris region and to eight others: Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Toulouse, Montpellier, Saint-Etienne.
“We won’t go to restaurants after 9 p.m., we won’t’ see friends, we won’t party, because that’s how to pass on the virus,” Macron says.
Patients with COVID-19 occupy a third of intensive care units nationwide. France has 798,000 confirmed cases and nearly 33,000 deaths.
DES MOINES — Iowa reported 1,217 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 11 deaths.
President Donald Trump was expected to visit Des Moines on Wednesday for an airport rally held in a cargo hangar. Iowa’s positivity rate of 18.82% ranks fifth in the nation.
The number of people treated in hospitals for COVID-19 reached a new high of 473. A region of southeast Iowa had only 18% inpatient beds available, according to state data.
Iowa’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate rose in the past two weeks from 16.78% on Sept. 29 to 18.82% on Oct. 13, according information from Johns Hopkins University.
In Iowa, there’s been a total of 101,812 confirmed cases and 1,492 deaths.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The city of Beverly Hills, California, has banned trick-or-treating this Halloween to try to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
The action was approved as an urgency ordinance by the City Council on Tuesday night.
The ordinance bars trick-or-treaters from going house to house or car to car, which is described as “trunk or treating.”
People may not provide candy or Halloween treats to anyone outside their own household. The city is also banning pedestrians and vehicles from certain streets on Oct. 31, excluding residents.
California has not enacted a statewide restriction on Halloween but is strongly discouraging those activities and urging families to plan alternatives, including virtual celebrations.