The Latest: Studies: Immune system clue to virus reactions

NEW YORK — One of COVID-19′s scariest mysteries is why some people are mildly ill or have no symptoms and others rapidly die — and scientists are starting to unravel why.

An international team of researchers found in some people with severe COVID-19, the body goes rogue and attacks one of its own key immune defenses instead of fighting the coronavirus. Most were men, helping to explain why the virus is hitting men harder than women.

Separate research suggests children fare better than adults thanks to robust “first responder” immune cells that wane with age.

People’s wildly varying reactions also reflect other factors, such as their general health and how much exposure they had to the virus.

These are among the studies uncovering multiple features of the immune system’s intricate cascade that can tip the scales between a good or bad outcome. Next is figuring out if these new clues might offer much-needed ways to intervene.



— UK lawmakers grumble but renew sweeping govt virus powers

— Wisconsin hospitals filling with patients as virus surges

— Virus outbreak pushes NFL’s Steelers-Titans game to Monday or Tuesday

— Scientists are starting to unravel one of COVID-19′s scariest mysteries: Why are some people only mildly ill or have no symptoms and others rapidly die.

— The coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on student life across the globe. But in Brussels, the Belgian capital is using its famous Grand-Place square for graduation ceremonies of two universities.

— Scores of actors, technicians and theater staff marched through London’s West End to Parliament to the beat of showtunes, asking for plan to revive the arts.


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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota reported a decrease in the number of active cases to 3,658 on Wednesday as the state marked the end of its deadliest month of the pandemic.

Health officials have recorded 56 death during September. Over the past two weeks, the state reported the nation’s second-highest number of new cases per capita, with 567 infections per 100,000 people. The Department of Health reported 392 new cases on Wednesday.

The state’s test positivity rate has remained among the highest in the country. It reached 26% in the last seven days, according to data from the COVID tracking project.

Overall in South Dakota, there’s been 22,389 confirmed cases and 223 deaths.


HONOLULU — Movie and television productions in Hawaii have started despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Work on new seasons of the television shows “Magnum PI” and “Temptation Island” on Oahu are beginning and other productions are expected to shoot on Maui and Hawaii island.

Maui Film Commissioner Tracy Bennett says a miniseries is expected to begin work soon and a Christmas movie is scheduled to starting filming toward the end of the year.

Hawaii Film Commissioner Donne Dawson says industry professionals have produced a pandemic protocol to safely return people to work.


NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio says no one was fined for mask refusal on the first day of a promised crackdown in a handful of New York City neighborhoods that have seen a spike in coronavirus infections.

De Blasio says city employees distributed thousands of masks Tuesday in the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods with rising infection rates. That was the first day that fines for refusing to wear a mask had been threatened.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared to disparage the effort. He says it was not enforcing compliance and mere “public education.” The two Democratic politicians are often at odds.


ROME — Italy’s health ministry has given the go-ahead for public schools to use rapid coronavirus tests, with the aim of quickly isolating coronavirus clusters ahead of the flu season.

Italy added another 1,851 infections Wednesday to its confirmed toll. There were 19 more deaths, bringing its confirmed death toll to 35,894.

Italy’s laboratories have processed about 100,000 of the traditional virus tests per day. Getting the results have been delayed by a week or more in some regions. Local authorities and schools have turned to rapid tests to provide a first screening.

Italy has nearly 315,000 cases and 35,800 confirmed deaths, according to tally by Johns Hopkins University.


AMMAN, Jordan —The Jordanian government has authorized mosques, churches, cafes and restaurants to reopen on Thursday, despite record levels of new coronavirus cases.

The kingdom on Wednesday reported 1,767 new cases, the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic, raising the overall number of cases to more than 11,800. It also reported four deaths, raising the death toll to 61.

Health officials say more than one-third of the new cases stemmed from a single source — a garment factory where 600 foreign workers from Bangladesh tested positive for the virus.

The government also says it is reinstating mandatory two-week home quarantine for people returning from countries with high levels of outbreaks. Prime Minister Omar Razzaz also issued new orders to increase punishments for violators of health measures.


HONOLULU — Movie and television productions in Hawaii have started despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Work on new seasons of the television shows “Magnum PI” and “Temptation Island” on Oahu are beginning and other productions are expected to shoot on Maui and Hawaii island.

Maui Film Commissioner Tracy Bennett says a miniseries is expected to begin work soon and a Christmas movie is scheduled to starting filming toward the end of the year.

Hawaii Film Commissioner Donne Dawson says industry professionals have produced a pandemic protocol to safely return people to work.


LONDON — British lawmakers have renewed the government’s sweeping powers to impose emergency restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic, although many legislators criticized the way Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative administration has used them.

Legislators are increasingly unhappy about the government’s handling of the pandemic, which went from a national lockdown in March to a patchwork of local measures of varying stringency.

Johnson says it’s too soon to say whether restrictions introduced in recent weeks were working. The government has barred people from meeting in groups of more than six and banned millions of residents in northern England from mixing with people outside their household.

New hospitalizations for COVID-19 and virus deaths in Britain are rising again. There were 7,108 new infections reported Wednesday and 71 virus-related deaths, the same number of deaths confirmed the day before.

Britain’s official virus death toll has passed 42,000 — the highest in Europe.


MILWAUKEE — Coronavirus patients are filling Wisconsin hospitals, forcing doctors to transfer patients to other facilities as the disease surges across the state.

The number of people hospitalized in Wisconsin stood at 646 on Tuesday, a new record, with 205 patients in intensive care units, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Case spikes in northern and northeastern Wisconsin are driving much of the hospitalizations.

Officials at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay say their facility is at 94% capacity. Aspirus Healthcare President and CEO Matthew Heywood says the Wausau hospital has had a 30% increase in COVID-19 patients between Monday and Tuesday.

State health officials say if cases don’t subside, patients could be directed to a 530-bed field hospital the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built on the state fairgrounds in West Allis in April.


HILO, Hawaii — Hawaii officials say state contact tracers have received productive responses from about half the travelers in a program for screening and contact tracing.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported a House Select Committee on COVID-19 heard testimony that during phone calls to ensure traveler quarantine compliance, contact tracers have successfully engaged half of the time.

Hawaii Medical Service Association CEO Mark Mugiishi says travelers can be reluctant to respond because of several factors, including thinking contact tracing calls are scams and an unwillingness to provide personal information.

The state is expected to launch a pre-travel testing program Oct. 15.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is “urgently advising” people throughout the Netherlands to start wearing face masks in indoor public areas.

That includes wearing masks in shops, bars, museums, theaters and libraries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Rutte says the government doesn’t plan to legislate to make masks obligatory. Instead, he says, “let’s make it an urgent advice and see how it goes.”

Under the current virus containment measures, facemasks are mandatory on public transport and advised in public indoor areas of the three major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.

More than 19,000 people in the Netherlands tested positive in the last week, a sharp increase from the nearly 13,500 a week earlier.

The country has nearly 126,000 confirmed cases and 6,456 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


PRAGUE — The Czech government has declared a state of emergency because of a record surge of coronavirus infections.

Health Minister Roman Prymula says it will be effective for 30 days, starting Monday.

The new restrictive measures include a limit on public gatherings for a two-week period. All public outdoor gatherings with more than 20 people are banned, along with more than 10 for indoor events. Theater performances and movie theaters are excluded from the bans.

Also, no fans at sports competitions and high schools at the most hard-hit regions will be closed for at least two weeks.

The Czech Republic has reported a total of 67,843 cases, with more than 43,000 testing positive in September. There’s been 636 confirmed deaths.


ATHENS, Greece — Greece says it expects revenue from its tourism industry to drop by 80% on in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas says third-quarter data showed an estimated 3.9 million tourists visited Greece from July through September, a drop of 88% from 2019.

The pandemic followed a record year for the Greek tourism industry with 34 million visitors and some 18 billion euros ($21 billion) in travel receipts in 2019.

The tourism industry is a key source of income for Greece’s $200 billion economy. Greece began reopening to tourism in mid-June after strict lockdown measures kept infection rates lower than in most other EU countries.


TORONTO — The provinces of Quebec and Ontario have increased coronavirus cases and are adding restrictions to help limit the spread.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says Montreal and Quebec City are included in the “red zone” lockdown. Legault says there should be no guests in homes with a few exceptions for help. He also says restaurants and bars will close except for delivery, and outdoor gatherings require two meters of spacing. The measures will last from Oct. 1-28.

Legault says the objective is to protect schools from closing again. Quebec reported 896 new cases on Sunday, the province’s highest single-day tally in months.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford calls the 700 new daily cases in his province extremely troubling. Of Monday’s cases, 344 were reported in Toronto.


BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania has recorded the highest daily number of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic took hold in the country in late February.

The daily number of confirmed infections has hit 2,158 on Wednesday, taking the confirmed total to more than 127,500.

Romania, a country of 19 million, has confirmed more than 4,800 virus-related deaths.


BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia’s government is declaring a state of emergency in the country after facing a recent record surge of coronavirus infections.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic says the state of emergency that gives his government extraordinary powers to curb the spike will be effective for 45 days, starting on Thursday.

Slovakia’s day-to day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases reached 567 on Tuesday, a new record. The previous record of 552 was set on Friday.

Slovakia has a total of 10,141 confirmed cases and 49 deaths, significantly lower than most other European countries.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway is easing up some of its restrictions by removing a ban on serving alcohol after midnight and allowing crowds of up to 600 people at outdoor events.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg says “this is not a total release but a new phase in the strategy to maintain control of the corona infection.”

The Scandinavian country had a previous limit of 200 people at indoor events. Abid Raja, the minister in charge of sports, says the changes apply Oct. 12 and “this will please many soccer fans.”

Norway has 13,914 confirmed cases and 274 deaths.


KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistan’s top health official has urged authorities to place high-risk areas of Karachi under lockdown following an increase in coronavirus cases.

Faisal Sultan spoke at the military-backed National Command and Operations Center in Islamabad to review the coronavirus situation.

As many as 365 new cases were reported in Karachi among the country’s single-day 774 infections in the past 24 hours.

It prompted health official to suggest a “smart lockdown” after identifying high-risk areas in Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province. The latest increases have occurred after Pakistan reopened schools this month.

Pakistan has reported 312,264 confirmed cases and 6,479 confirmed deaths.


LONDON — Planned surgeries are being suspended at a hospital in Wales following a coronavirus outbreak there.

The Royal Glamorgan Hospital, which is near the Welsh capital city of Cardiff and subject to local virus-related restrictions, says it has identified 82 cases of the virus, some linked to transmission within the hospital.

As a result, it has announced some temporary restrictions. Except for a small number of urgent cancer cases, the hospital has decided to suspend planned surgeries beginning Wednesday.

Paul Mears, chief executive of the local health board, says the restrictions have “not been taken lightly, and we understand that they will impact our patients, their families, our staff and partner organizations.”

Large parts of Wales have had an array of local lockdown restrictions imposed in recent weeks following a spike in coronavirus cases.


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