The Latest: No masks: Pope, Spanish PM meet at Vatican

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis met with the Spanish prime minister at the Vatican, but neither man wore a mask during the public part of their meeting.

That’s despite 13 Swiss Guards and someone staying at the same Vatican City guest house where Francis lives recently testing positive for the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wore a mask when he arrived in a Vatican courtyard, but everyone sat unmasked immediately before and after his closed-door talks with Francis.

Spain this week became the first country in Western Europe with more than 1 million confirmed virus cases.

The Vatican says Sanchez also spoke with the Holy See’s foreign minister, discussing matters including “the current health emergency, the process of European integration and migration.”

In his speech, Francis called politics “an act of charity, nobility” and the mission of a politician is to help a nation to progress. The pontiff also says its “very sad” when ideologies drive the destiny of a nation.



— US sets daily record of more than 83,000 virus cases

— Pope Francis, Spanish PM Sanchez meet at Vatican without masks

— Italy’s daily coronavirus cases reach nearly 20,000

— Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for the coronavirus; apologizes to those in quarantine because of contact, including Poland’s recent French Open winner.

— AstraZeneca resumes late-stage testing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the U.S.

— Police force in England says it will try to stop people from leaving Wales, which has started a 17-day lockdown to slow a surging rate of coronavirus infections.


Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at and



PHOENIX — Arizona is experiencing increases in coronavirus cases and the rate of positive test results.

The 14-day rolling average of daily confirmed infections rose from 617 on Oct. 9 to 914 on Friday. Meanwhile, the average daily deaths increased from 7.6 to 8.4 and the positive test average went from 6.5% to 8.9%.

Rolling averages even out daily spikes and drops.

The state Department of Health Services on Saturday reported 890 cases and four additional deaths, increasing the Arizona totals to 236,772 confirmed infections and 5,869 deaths.


OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma has registered more than 1,800 newly confirmed coronavirus cases.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health report on Saturday comes one day after Gov. Kevin Stitt extended a state of emergency another 30 days. The health department reported 1,829 new cases for a total of 115,685.

There have been 11 more deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,245.


ROME – Italy’s one-day coronavirus cases crept closer to 20,000 on Saturday.

That’s despite a few thousand fewer swab tests performed, according to the Health Ministry.

Lombardy, where the outbreak has been most devastating, registered more than double the number of daily cases than any other region.

The nation’s confirmed death toll, second highest in Europe after Britain’s, rose to 37,210, after 151 more deaths.


CHICAGO — Illinois health officials reported a one-day record of 6,161 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Saturday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported 63 more people died of the virus, bringing the statewide total to 9,481 since the start of the pandemic.

Illinois officials have warned in recent days the state is experiencing a second surge and pleaded with people to wear face coverings and take other precautions.


ATHENS, Greece — Greece officials introduced mandatory wearing of masks everywhere Saturday, with the country reaching records for new daily coronavirus cases.

Health authorities announced a record 935 new cases Saturday, along with five deaths.

The total confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,992 and 564 deaths.


WARSAW — Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for coronavirus, his spokesman says

Blazej Spychalski says Saturday on Twitter the 48-year-old conservative leader was tested the day before and his result was positive. He says the president feels well and is in isolation.

Duda’s diagnosis comes amid a huge surge in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths in Poland, a nation that had low numbers in the spring.

The spiking infection rates are pushing the country’s strained health system to the breaking point. The government is preparing to open field hospitals but it is not sure where it will find the doctors and nurses to staff them.

Duda on Friday visited the National Stadium in Warsaw, which is being transformed into one of the field hospitals. He also met Friday with Iga Swiatek, the 19-year-old Polish tennis player who won the French Open this month.


ALGIERS, Algeria — Algeria President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is in self-isolation for five days as a precautionary measure.

The Algeria presidency says coronavirus symptoms appeared amid several high-level officials at the presidency of the Republic and the prime minister’s office.

Tebboune’s self-isolation comes one day after Algerian health minister warned against a potential virus upsurge “because of the carelessness” of those not respecting social distancing measures.

Algerian has reported a total of 55,630 cases and 187 deaths.


BISMARCK, N.D. — National Guard soldiers have helped notify 800 people who tested positive for the coronavirus but initially weren’t told because of a backlog of cases.

The backlog was due to a recent sharp increase in coronavirus cases. North Dakota leads the nation with more than 1,272 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

This week, North Dakota National Guard soldiers began telling people they tested positive for the virus. They previously were informing people who had contact with someone positive and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms of the virus.

North Dakota reported 886 new infections on Friday, down from a record 1,038 cases on Thursday. Health officials reported nine deaths Friday, increasing the statewide death toll to 440.


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah hit the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases with 1,960 in a single day.

Gov. Gary Herbert warned in a statement that the state is “on the brink,” and again pleaded with people to adhere to mask mandates in place in 21 of the state’s 29 counties.

The Republican governor says people should wear masks anytime they are with people outside their immediate family, even if its extended family or friends.

Capacity at the state’s intensive care units reached 76%, with more people hospitalized for coronavirus this week than at any other time during the pandemic.

Four more deaths were recorded Friday, bringing the total to 567. Utah has the seventh-highest rate of confirmed infections per capita, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.


ZAGREB, Croatia — The number of confirmed daily cases in Croatia has soared to more than 2,000.

Authorities say 2,242 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours amid a steady surge in new cases. Sixteen people have died. Most of the cases have been confirmed in the capital city of Zagreb where authorities are setting up new testing facilities and adding hospital beds.

Top public health official Krunoslav Capak says “we will do all we can to put the spread of the epidemic under control.”

Croatia has made face masks mandatory, limited gatherings and the hours of bars and restaurants to help contain the outbreak. Much of central and eastern Europe has seen a steep rise in virus cases.


BALTIMORE, Maryland — The United States has hit a daily record of coronavirus cases with more than 83,000 reported infections, thousands more than the previous U.S. peak in July.

The U.S. death toll has grown to nearly 224,00, according to the tally published by Johns Hopkins University. The total U.S. caseload reported Friday was 83,757, topping the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.

The numbers are an ominous sign the disease still has a firm grip on the nation that has more confirmed virus-related deaths and infections than any other in the world. Many states are reporting a surge of cases and say hospitals are running out of space in areas where the pandemic seemed remote only months ago.


PRAGUE — Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have hit a record high, soaring to over 15,000 in one day for the first time.

The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase of confirmed cases in the hard-hit country reached 15,252 on Friday. The previous record of 14,968 was set on Wednesday.

The record surge has continued for last two months despite tight restrictions, including limits on movement, closing stores, schools and restaurants and banning sports competitions and gatherings of more than two people. Face masks are obligatory outdoors and in cars.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital has surpassed 5,000 for the first time, putting the health system under pressure.

The Czech Republic has had over 238, 300 confirmed coronavirus cases, including over 78,000 in the last seven days, and reported 1,971 virus-related deaths.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from 41.78 new cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 9 to 104.33 new cases per 100,000 people on Friday.


BERLIN — Germany on Saturday surpassed 10,000 total coronavirus deaths.

Germany recorded 49 new deaths and a daily high of coronavirus infections with 14,714. However, the new figures on Saturday includes cases from both Thursday and Friday since there was a three-hour data outage at the country’s disease control agency Thursday.

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel again urged citizens to reduce their social contacts. The chancellor says in her weekly podcast that she is convinced, “if we all obey (social distancing) we will all together survive this enormous challenge posed by the virus.”

In the meantime, the number of intensive care patients almost doubled within a week. On Friday, 1,121 COVID patients were in intensive care in Germany, compared to 690 a week earlier.

In Berlin, some 1,000 police officers were making sure people obey tighter rules on keeping their distance, not gathering in big groups and wearing masks where mandatory.


ANKARA, Turkey — The mayor of Istanbul has tested positive for COVID-19, a spokesman for the city municipality said Saturday.

Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has undergone treatment in hospital and his condition is good, spokesman Murat Ongun says in a tweet.

Istanbul, a city of 16 million people, has recorded 40% of Turkey’s total number of COVID-19 patients, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. The country recorded over 357,690 people with COVID-19 symptoms as of Friday evening, including 9,658 deaths. Turkey reported 2,165 new patients on Friday, the highest daily figure since May.

Imamoglu, who represents the opposition Republican People’s Party, became one of Turkey’s most recognizable politicians after winning office in June last year. His success was part of a series of opposition victories in major cities such as Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.

He has been among those criticizing the government’s approach to tackling the pandemic, including the decision to only publish data on patients displaying symptoms rather than including asymptomatic cases.


BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is adopting new strict limits on movement amid a record surge in coronavirus infections.

The number of new confirmed cases in one day reached 2,890 on Friday in the country of 5.4 million, the Health Ministry says, a record high. The EU nation has had over 40,800 confirmed cases and 159 virus-related deaths.

Starting on Saturday, people are allowed to travel only to work, buy food and medicine in the nearest stores, see a doctor, get tested for coronavirus or attend a funeral. They can walk a dog within 100 meters (yards) of their home and if they go to a park, it must be in their county.

On Friday, Slovak authorities started a plan to test almost the entire population for coronavirus. The trials will be carried out until Sunday in the four hardest-hit counties. The antigen tests will then continue in the rest of the country.

Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic joined the medical staff and military personnel at one of the testing stations in the town of Tvrdosin.


HONOLULU — Hawaii had about 60,000 travelers arrive in the islands in the first week of its pre-travel coronavirus testing program.

That’s a state effort to get the tourism-based economy moving again. Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Thursday that nearly 60,000 returning residents, military members, essential workers, tourists and others had been tested since Oct. 15.

The vast majority tested negative and were allowed to skip the previously required two weeks of quarantine.

Other travelers came to Hawaii without being tested. Nearly 7,300 people were ordered to quarantine upon arrival.


NEW YORK — The number of people hospitalized in New York because of the coronavirus has climbed back over 1,000.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there were 1,023 hospitalizations around the state as of Thursday. That’s more than double the number that were hospitalized month ago, and the first time since late June that the state has seen that many in hospitals with the virus.

At the pandemic’s peak in April, nearly 19,000 people were hospitalized. Statewide, 1,637 people tested positive for the virus on Thursday, on par with levels for the month.


Categories: National & International News