The Latest: Pa Republican state legislator tests positive

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Republican state lawmaker’s positive test for the coronavirus on Thursday prompted legislative leaders to cancel the Pennsylvania House’s voting session.

Human resources workers were deployed to trace Rep. Paul Schemel’s personal contacts to see if others should be quarantined.

He was most recently in the Capitol on Tuesday, and it’s unclear if he wore a mask while in the building’s public spaces. A significant number of House Republicans don’t wear masks inside the Capitol.



— Italy tallies 2,540 coronavirus cases, highest in 5 months

— New York City school district, largest in nation, to test monthly for virus

— NFL postpones Steelers-Titans game after more positive tests

— The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and possible COVID-19 relief bill with a price tag above $1.5 trillion.

— France’s health minister is threatening to close bars and ban family gatherings, if the rise in virus cases doesn’t improve.

— Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week to a still-high 837,000, suggesting the economy is struggling to sustain a tentative recovery from the summer.


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MADRID — Spain’s health ministry has reported 9,419 new cases of the coronavirus as the country struggles to control Europe’s most worrisome hot spot.

The ministry says 3,715 of the new cases were diagnosed in the previous 24 hours. The remainder of the new cases were diagnosed in previous days but not reported to central authorities until now.

Spain leads Europe with more than 778,600 cases. The ministry reported another 182 confirmed deaths, increasing the total to 31,973.


NEW YORK — Schools across New York have reported that at least 1,200 students and staff have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the academic year.

As of Tuesday, 693 public and private schools had reported at least one infection. Around 700 students and 400 school staff have tested positive. State officials noted the count doesn’t capture the full extent of infections among schoolchildren.

A separate data system operated by state health officials documented around 2,300 infections among school-aged children since Sept. 1.

The state is making both sets of numbers public.


DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa reported 16 deaths and 1,057 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday.

More than 50 patients a day have been admitted for treatment of coronavirus in each of the past nine days, a record for most consecutive days of that level of hospitalizations.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced this week new guidance for schools that doesn’t require students or staff exposed to a confirmed positive individual to quarantine for 14 days if all involved were wearing face masks. That’s contrary to guidance of the CDC.

State data shows 7,527 children under 17 tested positive for coronavirus as of Thursday, an 11% increase from a week ago. Also, 3,855 educators have tested positive for the virus so far this week, a 17% increase in the past week.

Iowa has 89,612 confirmed cases and 1,358 deaths.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. — New Mexico State University announced classes will be entirely online after the Thanksgiving break and the college’s fall commencement won’t be held.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports University President John Floros says the university surveyed students, faculty and staff at the Las Cruces campus about returning following the break. Classes currently online are not expected to change. There will be two weeks left in the fall semester following the holiday.

The campus will remain open after Thanksgiving to provide housing, dining and other services. The college plans to return to in-person classes after the December break.


BEIRUT — Syria has reopened the main airport in the capital Damascus for international flights amid tight coronavirus measures, state media reported.

The Damascus International Airport on the southern edge of the city had been closed since early March. Still, in recent months there have been some flights that brought Syrians who were stuck outside the country back home.

Syria has registered 4,200 confirmed coronavirus cases and 200 deaths in government-held areas. Scores of other cases are register in areas outside government control in the country’s north.


CHICAGO — Add ballet in Chicago to the list of things called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago announced it has canceled its entire 2020-21 season that runs through the end of spring at the Lyric Opera House.

The Joffrey says the decision will cost the no-profit institution more than $9 million at the box office. But a philanthropic fund called the Joffrey Crisis Stabilization has been set up in the hopes of raising $12 million. Some $9 million already has been raised.


MILAN — Italy has tallied 2,548 coronavirus cases, the highest daily total in five months.

Health authorities tested more than 118,000 people, a 10% increase from a day earlier.

Nearly 3,100 people are currently hospitalized, with 291 in intensive care. Italy has averaged 1,500 daily cases since the return to school three weeks ago after summer holidays.

The nation has reached 317,409 cases and nearly 36,000 confirmed deaths.


COLUMBIA, S.C. — Police say several parties and large gatherings coinciding with the University of South Carolina’s season-opening football game were broken up.

Columbia Police told The State newspaper Wednesday that three citations and four warnings were issued to residences that house some USC students.

Police say the largest gathering was at Reign Living at the Stadium apartment complex near the Gamecocks’ Williams-Brice stadium, where about 300 people got together Saturday after the game. Columbia police spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons says property owners were cited for the social distancing violation and university police were notified if a student was involved in the violations.

In South Carolina, there’s been 143,623 confirmed cases and 3,186 deaths, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.


HILO, Hawaii — A Hawaii Island food bank now serves up to 80,000 people monthly.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported The Food Basket helped about 14,000 people per month at this time last year. Executive Director Kristin Frost Albrecht says the group helps residents through a network of partner agencies and programs.

The organization serves between 2,000 and 3,700 people at each of its Big Island sites and 80% to 85% of the people getting food are unemployed. Albrecht says the organization has been assisted by numerous donations, including food contributed by farmers.


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland is reporting zero deaths from the coronavirus in a 24-hour period for the first time since March 28.

That doesn’t necessarily mean no COVID-19 deaths occurred in that timeframe because some deaths are not immediately reported due to a time lag in the submission of a death certificate.

Still, Gov. Larry Hogan says it’s an “encouraging milestone” and a tribute to the efforts of health care workers.

Maryland reported 785 cases in the last day, for a total of 125,510 confirmed cases. There’s been 3,805 confirmed deaths.


NEW YORK — The New York City school district is rolling out a monthly plan to test students and staff for the coronavirus.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city plans to do more than 100,000 virus tests on students a month, at a cost of between $78 and $90 per test.

The nation’s largest school district will test 10% to 20% of students and staff in every building monthly beginning Thursday, the same day the final wave of the district’s more than 1 million students began returning to brick-and-mortar classrooms.

De Blasio announced the plan as part of an agreement with the teachers’ union to avert a strike. At least 79 Department of Education employees have died from the coronavirus.

Los Angeles public schools launched a similar $150 million testing program.

The CDC says coronavirus in school-age children in the U.S. has been rising since early September when many returned to classrooms.


LONDON — The European Medicines Agency has begun its first review process for the experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

The EU regulator says it had started a “rolling review” process it hopes will expedite any eventual approval.

The EMA has begun analyzing the preliminary information from scientists on the Oxford vaccine, which suggest the vaccine “triggers the production of antibodies and T-Cells,” referring to immune system cells that target the virus. The agency says it was waiting for data from ongoing late-stage tests of the vaccine involving thousands of people, which it hopes will be shared in the coming months.

A similar process was used to approve remdesivir, one of the only licensed drugs to treat COVID-19. That approval was issued in just over one month; the standard process can take nearly seven months.

The Oxford vaccine is proceeding with a large trial in the U.K. even though a similar study has been halted in the U.S. while the FDA examines the report of a serious neurological side effect in a British trial participant.


ATHENS, Greece — Police in Greece used tear gas to disperse protesting high school students who have organized school strikes in response to classroom overcrowding during the pandemic.

Brief clashes broke out near the parliament in central Athens after students threw several gasoline bombs at police. No arrests or injuries were reported.

Greece’s largest teaching union endorsed the rally and pressed the government to hire more teachers to reduce classroom numbers.

Authorities are struggling with a recent spike in coronavirus cases in the Greek capital, where residents of a nursing home were evacuated and some were hospitalized.

Also Thursday, Greece’s Civil Protection Authority says it will hire 192 people on eight-month contracts to be deployed around the country to assist in efforts for coronavirus contact tracing and quarantine of positive cases.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s government is accused of hiding the true extent of the coronavirus outbreak after the health minister revealed the daily figures only reflect patients with symptoms and not all positive cases.

Minister Fahrettin Koca revealed late Wednesday that since July 29, Turkey has been reporting the number of coronavirus patients being cared for in hospitals or at homes. The count didn’t include asymptomatic positive cases, he said.

The revelation led to an outcry on social media, with people calling on the government to reveal the true spread of the coronavirus among the population of 83 million. The hashtag asking “what Is the number of cases?” in Turkish was trending Thursday on Twitter.

The government on Wednesday reported 1,391 new coronavirus “patients” and 65 deaths. Since the pandemic began, Turkey has reported 318,000 cases and 8,195 deaths.


MOSCOW — Russian health officials reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, one of the largest increases in months.

The 8,945 cases are almost twice as many as health officials were registering in late August. The new cases brought the country’s total to more 1.18 million, fourth highest in the world. There have been 20,796 confirmed deaths – 12th highest globally — according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the increases, authorities have repeatedly dismissed a second lockdown or other major restrictions. However, Moscow officials last week asked the elderly to stay at home, and employers to allow people to work from home. The mayor of Moscow also extended school holidays that start Oct. 5 to two weeks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday urged Russians to remain vigilant.


PARIS — A French government research institute is recruiting 25,000 people to test potential coronavirus vaccines from around the world and compare their results.

The recruitment process begun last week by the INSERM institute is parallel to trials led by pharmaceutical companies attempting to develop a vaccine. INSERM officials say it will focus on the “most promising vaccines” but didn’t list them, saying it will before the start of testing.

INSERM officials says it is looking for people — including the elderly and people in at-risk categories — to test vaccines and will follow their progress three to 12 months.

France is experiencing an increase in virus cases and people hospitalized with COVID-19.

France has reported more than 10,000 new cases a day in recent weeks. It has 604,000 total cases and nearly 32,000 confirmed deaths, eighth highest in the world.


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