The Latest: Slovenia virus deniers break into TV studio
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — A group of virus deniers and anti-vaccination protesters have broken into the building of Slovenia’s public broadcaster, triggering a police intervention.
The confrontation happened Friday night evening in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. Local media say about 20 people burst into the RTV Slovenia building and managed to push their way into a news studio before police arrived and drove them out.
The studio wasn’t on the air when the protesters broke in demanding to be allowed to broadcast their opinions. Vaccine opponents have gathered outside the building for months, often disrupting journalists coming to or from work, the STA news agency reported.
The head of RTVS, Andrej Grah Whatmough, described Friday’s incident as “a grave attack on our media house and public media outlet, which we condemn in the strongest terms.” Whatmough says RTVS management will beef up security.
Slovenia has seen an increase in daily reported COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Brazil starts booster shots while many still await a 2nd jab
— Virus pummels French Polynesia, straining ties with Paris
— US booster plan faces complications, some may miss Sept. 20 start
— U.S. hospitals hit with nurse staffing crisis; some travel for more pay
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronvirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PARIS — New Caledonia, a French archipelago in the South Pacific, voted to make vaccination mandatory on the islands.
According to the government of New Caledonia, the archipelago has had no new COVID-19 cases since August 18 and only a total of 136 since the beginning of the pandemic. Yet only 1 out of 4 people there is fully vaccinated.
New Caledonia’s measure was approved by the local legislature overnight Thursday to Friday. Sanctions for violations are set to be introduced starting in 2022.
The territory is drafting a list of first line workers, jobs related to seaports, airports, “sensitive sectors,” or people at-risk who will be required to get vaccinated.
New Caledonia fears experiencing the devastating outbreak that French Polynesia is seeing after more than a year with limited cases and deaths.
While France has mandated the use of COVID-19 health certificates on most of its territory since early August, the requirement did not apply to New Caledonia.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand reported its first coronavirus death in more than six months on Saturday, while the number of new cases continued to trend downward.
Health authorities said the woman who died was in her 90s and had underlying health problems.
Authorities reported 20 new community cases, all in the largest city of Auckland.
New Zealand remains in lockdown as it tries to eliminate an outbreak of the delta variant that began last month.
New cases in the outbreak have steadily fallen from a peak of more than 80 each day. New Zealand has so far escaped the worst of the pandemic and has reported just 27 coronavirus deaths since it began.
SAO PAULO — Some cities in Brazil are providing booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, even though most people have yet to receive their second jabs.
The move reflects the concern in the country over the highly contagious delta variant. Rio de Janeiro, currently Brazil’s epicenter for the variant and home to one of its largest elderly populations, began administering the boosters Wednesday.
The northeastern cities of Salvador and Sao Luis started on Monday, and the most populous city of Sao Paulo will begin Sept. 6. The rest of the nation will follow the next week.
France, Italy, China and Chile are among those countries offering boosters, but much greater shares of their populations are fully inoculated than the 30% in Brazil.
A U.S. plan to start delivery of booster shots by Sept. 20 for most Americans is facing complications that could delay third doses for those who received the Moderna vaccine, administration officials said Friday.
PAPEETE, Tahiti — France’s worst coronavirus outbreak is unfolding 12 times zones away from Paris, devastating Tahiti and other idyllic islands of French Polynesia.
The South Pacific archipelagos lack enough oxygen, ICU beds and morgue space – and their vaccination rate is barely half the national average. Simultaneous outbreaks on remote islands and atolls are straining the ability of local authorities to evacuate patients to the territory’s few hospitals.
“The problem is, there are a lot of deaths before we get there,” lamented Vincent Simon, the head of the regional emergency service.
French Polynesia is France’s latest challenge in juggling resources to battle the pandemic in former colonies that stretch around the world. With more than 2,800 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, it holds the national record for the highest infection rate.
And that’s only an estimate: Things are so bad that the multi-ethnic territory of about 300,000 residents stopped counting new infections as local health authorities redeployed medical staff to focus on patient care and vaccination instead of testing.
MADRID — Spain is tweaking its travel entry rules from next week to require vaccination certificates from U.S. tourists, adjusting to recent European Union advice on stricter rules due to growing anxiety over coronavirus contagion in the U.S.
The European Council’s decision earlier this week to remove the U.S. from a safe list of countries for nonessential travel also came amid unanswered calls from European officials for “reciprocity” in travel rules. Despite the EU’s move to open its borders to U.S. citizens in June, the U.S. didn’t allow EU tourists in.
Spain, a major tourism destination, is among a handful of EU countries that has announced steps to adjust its entry rules to the Council’s recommendation.
The country published Friday the new guidelines on its official gazette, also removing Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia from the safe list.
Under the rules, U.S. tourists will no longer be admitted from Monday, Sept. 6, unless they can show proof of being fully vaccinated at least 14 days before their trip.
ATLANTA — A nurse staffing crisis is forcing many U.S. hospitals to pay top dollar to get reinforcements to handle the crush of COVID-19 patients this summer.
The problem, health leaders say, is twofold: Nurses are quitting or retiring, exhausted or demoralized by the crisis. Many are leaving for lucrative temporary jobs with traveling-nurse agencies that can pay $5,000 or more a week.
In Texas, more than 6,000 travel nurses have flooded the state to help through a state-supported program. But the same time 19 travel nurses started work at a hospital in the northern part of the state, 20 other nurses there gave notice they’d be leaving for a traveling contract, said Carrie Kroll, a vice president at the Texas Hospital Association.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s plan to start delivery of booster shots by Sept. 20 for most Americans who received COVID-19 vaccines is facing complications that could delay the availability for those who received the Moderna vaccine, administration officials said Friday.
Biden announced last month that his administration was preparing to administer boosters to provide more enduring protection against the coronavirus, pending approvals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. He recommended boosters eight months after the second shot.
However, those agencies are awaiting critical data before signing off on the third doses, with Moderna’s vaccine increasingly seen as unlikely to make the Sept. 20 date.
According to one official, Moderna produced inadequate data for the FDA and CDC to approve the third dose of its vaccine. The FDA has requested additional data that is likely to delay those boosters into October. Pfizer is further along in the review process, with an FDA panel review on boosters on Sept. 17.
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s $100 reward program for those receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will be extended two weeks until Sept. 19.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers says extending the incentive will give an opportunity for more people to get vaccinated. The program began Aug. 20 and was originally scheduled to end Monday.
Between Aug. 20 and Sept. 1, more than 65,000 people received their first dose. Evers launched the program amid a spike in cases across the state caused by the more infectious delta variant. The level of new cases and hospitalizations are at a level not seen since January.
On Aug. 22, the day before Evers announced the program, the seven-day average of vaccinations in Wisconsin was 8,360. That grew to 9,712 as of Wednesday. More than 3 million people are fully vaccinated in Wisconsin, about 52% of the total population. Among adults age 18 and over, more than 62% are fully vaccinated.
NEW YORK — There will be celebrations and somber reflections as American Jews observe the upcoming High Holy Days. There also will be disappointment as rabbis once again cancel or limit in-person worship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The chief culprit is the quick-spreading delta variant of the coronavirus. Its surge has dashed widespread hopes that this year’s observances, unlike those of 2020, could once again fill synagogues with congregants worshipping side by side. One rabbi in Florida has decided to hold only virtual services for the holy days.
Other synagogues are offering a mix of in-person and virtual offerings. Temple Beth El, in Augusta, Maine, will require masks inside the synagogue. Workers also erected a big tent in the yard for an outdoor service Sept. 7.