The Latest: National Guard helps at Idaho urgent-care clinic

BOISE, Idaho — National Guard troops are directing people outside a Boise urgent-care clinic revamped into a facility for coronavirus patients.

Health officials say Idaho’s attempt to hold the coronavirus in check is failing as infections and deaths surge. They’ve halted elective surgeries to save bed space.

Inside Primary Health Medical Group’s clinic, physician assistant Nicole Thomas works extra 12-hour shifts. She dons protective gear to examine 36 patients a day with symptoms. Some days, she says, half test positive for coronavirus.

In a state where many citizens are resisting pandemic restrictions, overworked staff are getting sick or quitting to avoid the stress. It takes at least two days to get an appointment for a test. Primary Health officials say they’ll turn three more facilities into COVID-19 clinics by Dec. 30.

More than 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Idaho. Confirmed infections have surpassed 100,000.



A coronavirus surge hitting much of the U.S. is threatening to overwhelm hospitals in California. Five San Francisco Bay Area counties have imposed a new stay-at-home order for their residents that will take effect Sunday. Much of the rest of the state could join this weekend. In Washington, optimism is finally building for a COVID-19 aid bill that would offer relief for businesses, the unemployed, schools and health care providers. In Moscow, thousands of doctors, teachers and others in high-risk groups have signed up for COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of a Russia-wide immunization effort, though the Russian-designed vaccine has yet to complete the advanced studies needed to ensure its effectiveness and safety.


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DETROIT — Michigan state health officials reported more than 8,600 daily confirmed cases on Friday and 81 deaths.

“When we look at the number of daily deaths, we have doubled in numbers of daily deaths, again nationally and regionally in the past couple of weeks,” Dr. Adnan Munkarah, executive vice president and chief clinical officer for Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

He’s concerned about the possibility of travel and family gatherings at the holidays.

Munkarah says the health system currently has 576 employees out because they have tested positive, have pending tests or are quarantined because of close contact.

That number is up nearly 200 workers from a week ago, he says.


LONDON — The leader of Britain’s main opposition party is in 14-day quarantine after a member of his office staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

A spokesman for Labour Party leader Keir Starmer says he hasn’t shown symptoms but would work from home until Dec. 16.

It is the second time Starmer has self-isolated. In September, one of his children developed possible symptoms of the virus, but a test came back negative two days later.

Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized with COVID-19 in April. Last month, he also self-isolated for 14 days last after contact with a lawmaker who tested positive.


LISBON, Portugal — Portugal’s prime minister says current restrictions against the coronavirus may be eased during the Christmas holidays if the coronavirus numbers continue a downward trend.

António Costa asked the country to take seriously the existing limitations, including partial curfews and a ban on driving from 1 p.m. during the next two weekends. He says the weeks up to Christmas will be key to make holiday gatherings possible.

The government will assess on Dec. 18 whether to give the final go-ahead to travel between different towns from Dec. 23-26, although there will be a 2 a.m. curfew for both Christmas Eve and Day, Costa says.

If cases grow again, he says the government will “apply the handbrake.”

Portugal has 318,000 coronavirus cases and more than 4,800 confirmed deaths.


WASHINGTON — Coronavirus infections continue to spread at record levels in the United States, reaching a new daily high of nearly 228,000 cases on Friday.

The 227,885 cases eclipses the previous high of more than 217,000 on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 attributable deaths in the U.S. has passed 2,000 for the first time since the spring. It reached 2,011 on Friday. Two weeks ago, the seven-day average was 1,448. There were 2,607 deaths reported in the U.S. on Friday.

Globally, Johns Hopkins reports more than 1.5 million people have died from the coronavirus pandemic, including more than 279,000 in the United States.


MOSCOW — Thousands of doctors, teachers and others in high-risk groups have signed up Saturday for a coronavirus vaccination in Moscow.

The vaccination effort comes three days after President Vladimir Putin ordered the launch of a “large-scale” immunization campaign even though a Russian-designed vaccine has yet to complete the advanced studies needed to ensure its effectiveness and safety in line with established scientific protocols.

The Russian leader said Wednesday that more than 2 million doses of the Sputnik V shot will be available in the next few days, allowing authorities to offer shots to medical workers and teachers across the country starting late next week.

On Saturday, Russia reported a record 28,782 daily cases, including 7,993 in Moscow. Russia’s 2.4 million confirmed cases is the fourth-largest caseload in the world behind the United States, India and Brazil.

There’s been 42,684 total confirmed deaths in Russia.


NEW DELHI — India has registered 36,652 confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

India’s health ministry on Saturday also recorded 512 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total deaths to nearly 140,000. The pace of new cases has seen a downward trend, with single-day cases remaining below the 50,000 mark for a month.

India has 9.6 million total cases, second behind the U.S. with 14.3 million. But globally it has one of the lowest deaths per million population, according to the Health Ministry.

India’s home ministry has allowed states to impose local restrictions, such as night curfews. It has asked state officials to consult before imposing lockdowns at state, district or city levels.


HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has signed an order allowing the state Department of Labor to expand eligibility for a federal pandemic unemployment program to an estimated 38,000 people who were previously disqualified.

Under Friday’s order, $7.5 million from the state’s unemployment trust fund will be used make sure residents who are unemployed due to the coronavirus outbreak and were previously disqualified from receiving the temporary, extra financial benefit receive at least $100 a week in unemployment benefits.

That would then make them eligible retroactively for an additional $300 under the federal Lost Wages Assistance Program.

More than 160,000 Connecticut residents already received the supplemental federal benefits, resulting in a total of $370 million being allocated over six weeks, from July 26 to Sept. 5.


CASPER, Wyo. — An official in Wyoming’s Department of Health involved in the state’s response to the coronavirus is questioning the legitimacy of the pandemic and describes a forthcoming vaccine as a biological weapon.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Igor Shepherd called COVID-19 a “so-called pandemic” at a Nov. 10 event in Loveland, Colorado. It says Shepherd described efforts to develop a vaccine as a plot by Russia and China to spread communism worldwide.

Shepherd was introduced as a Wyoming Department of Health employee before his presentation.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon and other top state officials have declined to comment.


VENTNOR, N.J. — The FBI is telling anyone who underwent a coronavirus test at a New Jersey laboratory to get retested and to contact the agency.

In a statement Friday on Twitter, the FBI’s Newark office urges people who were recently tested for the virus at Infinity Diagnostic Laboratory in Ventnor “to be retested as soon as possible.” It also asks that anyone who was administered a finger-prick blood test at the laboratory to contact a victim assistance unit at the FBI.

The announcement gave no further details, and a message left with the FBI seeking further information was not immediately returned.

Voicemail for the company’s operations director Friday evening said it was closed and didn’t offer the opportunity to leave a message.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has authorized medically trained National Guard soldiers to fill nursing roles, drive ambulances and perform coronavirus testing for hospitals that are overstretched on staffing while they care for a climbing number of coronavirus patients.

The order Friday allows the adjutant general to send hospitals reinforcements from the Tennessee National Guard. The state is focusing on troops who are actively assigned, including those serving in coronavirus testing roles statewide, but not those currently serving in civilian jobs in health care.

State health officials decline to identify which hospitals have expressed interest, but say there is need statewide.

The state reports 2,485 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with only 14% of floor beds and 8% of ICU beds available.


SAN FRANCISCO — The health officers in six San Francisco Bay Area regions issued a new stay-at-home order Friday as the number of virus cases surge and hospitals fill.

The changes will take effect for most of the area at 10 p.m. Sunday and last through Jan. 4. The counties have not yet reached Gov. Gavin Newsom’s threshold announced a day earlier requiring such an order when 85% of ICU beds at regional hospitals are full, but officials said the hospital system will be overwhelmed before the end of December when Newsom’s order would apply.

It comes the same day the state recorded another daily record number of cases, with 22,018, and hospitalizations topped 9,000 for first time.

It means restaurants will have to close to both indoor and outdoor dining, bars and wineries must close along with hair and nail salons and playgrounds. Retail stores and shopping centers can operate with just 20% customer capacity. Gatherings of any size with people outside of your household are banned.


RALEIGH, N.C. — A judge agreed to name a third-party expert to scrutinize the COVID-19 response within North Carolina’s prison system, which like the rest of the state is experiencing a surge in cases and hospitalizations.

Ruling again in ongoing litigation about health and safety within prisons, Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier said he’s worried about the pressure the coronavirus is now placing upon correctional institutions.

The prison system closed temporarily three units over the last two weeks to handle staffing challenges, brought on in part by the upward swing in positive cases and the medical care prisoners need.

The Department of Public Safety says 370 correctional staff testing positive for coronavirus were out of work Friday, up 50 workers from last week. There were 667 active cases among the roughly 30,000 prisoners statewide. Twenty-five prisoners have died from COVID-19-related illnesses since the pandemic.


ATLANTA — Georgia’s coronavirus infections are soaring above their worst peaks of the summer, resulting in more hospitalizations and more deaths.

Hitting a new single-day record of more than 6,000 suspected and confirmed infections on Friday pushed Georgia’s rolling seven-day average of infections to nearly 4,300. That average was above its previous July record for the second day in a row.

Hospitalizations have not reached their summer heights in Georgia, but beds are filling rapidly with cases. Nearly 2,400 COVID-19 patients were in the hospital Friday.

Georgia has now recorded 9,725 confirmed and suspected deaths.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama health officials have urged the state to extend its statewide mask mandate, set to expire next week.

Dr. Sarah Nafziger, who teaches emergency medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said it was “critically important” for Republican Gov. Kay Ivey to maintain the requirement, which is opposed by some who consider it an infringement on personal rights or discount the threat of the coronavirus.

The president of the Alabama Hospital Association, Dr. Donald Williamson, said the organization “absolutely” supports continuing the order as cases rise statewide.

The order, which expires Dec. 11, requires anyone older than 6 to wear a mask when in public spaces indoors and outside if they can’t stay 6 feet away from others. First imposed in July, health officials credit the rule with a sharp decline in cases until a recent spike began nationwide.


HARRISBURG, Pa. — States faced a deadline on Friday to place orders for the coronavirus vaccine as many reported record infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

The number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 hit an all-time high in the U.S. on Thursday at 100,667, according to the COVID Tracking Project. That figure has more than doubled over the past month.

New daily cases are averaging 210,000 and deaths are averaging 1,800 per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Arizona on Friday reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases for the second straight day as the number of available intensive care unit beds fell below 10% statewide. Pennsylvania’s top health official says intensive care beds could be full this month.


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