The Latest: Trump bypasses Congress with virus-relief orders
BEDMINSTER, N.J. — President Donald Trump has signed executive orders bypassing Congress to defer payroll taxes for some Americans and extend unemployment benefits after negotiations on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed.
Trump accused Democrats of loading up their rescue bill with priorities unrelated to the coronavirus. “We’ve had it,” he said Saturday at a news conference at his country club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Trump said the payroll tax cut would apply to those earning less than $100,000 a year. He said that if he is reelected in November, he would look at the possibility of making the payroll tax permanent.
Extra aid for the unemployed will total $400 a week, a cut from the $600 that just expired.
Trump also signed executive orders holding off student loan payments and extending the freeze on evictions.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Brazil nears 100,000 deaths from Covid-19
— South Africa reaches 10,000 virus deaths; half of total in Africa
— Arizona reports 1,054 new virus cases, 56 deaths
— The coronavirus is causing financial pain even for people still working. Some have endured pay cuts or have had their hours slashed. Others have been furloughed temporarily — without pay.
— Spanish police hit the discos to enforce virus health rules. Nightclubs have been cited by regional health authorities as sites of contagion; northeast Catalonia has ordered them shut down.
— The Mid-American Conference has become the first league competing at college football’s highest level to cancel its fall season because of COVID-19 concerns.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s number of confirmed coronavirus deaths has surpassed 10,000.
The health ministry says the country with the world’s fifth-largest caseload now has 553,188 cases and 10,210 deaths.
South Africa makes up more than half the infections on the African continent, where the total number of cases this past week surpassed 1 million. Experts say the actual number of cases is several times that amount, given the shortage of testing materials and people can have the virus without symptoms.
PHOENIX — Arizona health officials on Saturday reported 1,054 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 56 more deaths.
The figures from the Department of Health Services increased the state’s total confirmed COVID-19 cases to nearly 186,000 and the reported death toll to 4,137. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.
The hospitalizations for coronavirus and use of intensive care beds and ventilators have been declining since mid-July.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil is approaching the grim milestone of 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.
That comes five months after the first reported case in a nation of 210 million, which has not shown signs of slowing the disease. Brazil has reported an average of more than 1,000 daily deaths from the pandemic since late May.
The Health Ministry on Friday reported a total of 2,962,442 confirmed cases and 99,572 deaths — tolls second only to the United States. As in many countries, experts believe both numbers are severe undercounts due to insufficient testing.
The non-governmental group Rio de Paz placed crosses and a thousand red balloons on the sand on the famed Copacabana beach on Saturday.
“It’s very sad. Those 100,000 represent various families, friends, parents, children,” said Marcio Silva, 55, who lost his children in the pandemic and joined the tribute.
TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona’s second most populous city plans to use $4.5 million of federal pandemic aid to expand free public Wi-Fi into areas of Tucson most impacted by the digital divide.
City Council members who approved the plan last month say it will support the needs of citizens and help them deal with issues that have risen as a direct result of the pandemic.
Officials used Census data to identify neighborhoods most impacted by the digital divide by looking at income levels, population and whether there was coverage available from other broadband services.
PHOENIX — Public health experts and officials in Arizona say a decline in coronavirus testing last month has made it challenging to understand the virus and implement measures to limit its spread.
The Arizona Republic reported diagnostic tests for coronavirus dropped from an average of more than 107,000 tests a week from late June to early July to about 51,400 tests the week of July 26. Arizona is now testing at the level it was two months ago, approximately 50,000.
The state has been improving with a decline in hospitalizations, fewer new cases and a lower percentage of positive results. But experts say continued testing is an important way to monitor the virus.
SAINT-TROPEZ, France — The glamorous French Riviera resort of Saint-Tropez is requiring face masks outdoors.
The area is renowned for high-end, free-wheeling summer beach parties. France already has made mask-wearing mandatory in all public indoor spaces.
More French cities and towns, especially in tourist areas, are imposing mask requirements as France’s virus infections creep back up. More than 2,000 new cases were reported on Friday, the biggest single-day increase since May. France ranks seventh in the world with more than 30,000 coronavirus deaths.
Wearing a mask outdoors is also mandatory in some crowded parts of Marseille, France’s second-largest city. Paris will enforce a similar measure on Monday.
ROME — Italy added another 347 coronavirus infections to its official tally, a day after it surpassed the 500-case barrier for the first time since late May.
Italy had 552 confirmed cases on Friday. With Saturday’s update from the health ministry, Italy’s daily caseload returns to the 200-300 range of new infections it has maintained for the past several weeks.
Government officials have urged Italians to keep their guard up, given Spain, France and Germany have seen daily infections top the 1,000-mark recently after the easing of virus lockdown measures.
Italian officials have blamed the new clusters largely on newly arrived migrants and Italians returning home from vacation outside their home regions. Another 13 people died in the last day, making Italy’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll 35,203 — sixth highest in the world.
BANGOR, Maine — Masks and social distancing will be required when Maine holds its first murder trial since the coronavirus pandemic crippled much of the U.S. legal system this spring.
The Bangor Daily News reports that jurors, lawyers and the judge will all wear masks. Jurors will sit in the gallery instead of the jury box so they can sit 6 feet (2 meters) apart. Members of the public, including reporters and family members of the victim, will sit in a separate room to watch a live video stream of the trial.
Court officials are sending jury summonses to 500 people to ensure that they can find enough fair and impartial jurors who are willing to serve under the coronavirus rules, says Peter Schleck, manager of operations at the Bangor courthouse.
BERLIN — Germany’s Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning for parts of Bulgaria and Romania because of regional spikes in coronavirus cases.
The ministry says on its website that tourists should avoid unnecessary travel to Blagoevgrad, Dobrich and Varna in Bulgaria. Varna on the Black Sea coast is a popular tourist destination.
It also urged travelers to avoid seven counties in Romania, most of them in the west of the country.
Travelers returning to Germany from those areas must undergo a compulsory coronavirus test.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hundreds of thousands of students in the isolated Gaza Strip are returning to schools that have reopened after five months of closure.
The Palestinian enclave came been spared a serious outbreak of the coronavirus for now. There have been no known cases of community transmission among the 2 million residents of Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since the militant Hamas group took power in 2007.
Seventy-eight people have tested positive for Covid-19 and a woman with underlying health issues died, all at the territory’s isolation centers.
With the virus at bay, 285,000 students at U.N.-run schools and some 277,000 pupils at public schools were headed back to school this week. They were not required to wear masks or keep distancing, but teachers at U.N. Relief and Works Agency schools poured sanitizers on students’ hands.
Authorities are studying a full-fledged back-to-school start in September.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has announced that it will allow the full resumption of all types of international flights to and from the country’s airports from Sunday amid a steady decline in COVID-19 deaths and infections.
The announcement comes weeks after Pakistan partially reopened its airports for domestic and international commercial flights.
Earlier this week authorities allowed to resumption of domestic flights from all of the country’s airports.
A complete ban on domestic and international commercial flights was imposed in March when Pakistan enforced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Later, the restrictions were gradually eased and Pakistan witnessed a peak in virus deaths and infections in June.
Pakistan on Saturday reported only 14 fatalities from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising its total COVID-19-related fatalities to 6,068.
BERLIN — Germany and France have challenged Washington’s role in leading talks over reforming the World Health Organization, citing the U.S. decision to quit the global body.
Germany’s Health Ministry said the issue was discussed during a call of health ministers from the Group of Seven leading economies Thursday.
In a statement Saturday, the ministry said that in view of the United States’ withdrawal from WHO, “Germany and France currently see no mandate for the U.S. to lead the WHO reform process for the G-7.”
“How can you be leading while you are leaving?” the ministry added.
The Trump administration, which holds the rotating presidency of the G-7 this year, has accused WHO of bowing to pressure from China in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
LONDON — People in Britain must wear masks in most indoor settings starting Saturday as the country tries to squash a rise in coronavirus infections that has followed the easing of lockdown measures.
England and Scotland now require face-coverings in most indoor spaces, including places of worship, museums, cinemas, banks and libraries. They were already mandatory in shops and on public transit.
A swath of northern England has been put under tougher restrictions that bar households from mixing, after a surge in infections that authorities blame partly on people meeting up in homes and pubs.
Britain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at more than 46,500, the highest in Europe.
The Office for National Statistics says the number of people testing positive for the virus has risen since the end of June — just after the country began to ease its lockdown — but may have leveled off. It estimated there were 3,700 new infections a day in the community in England in the week to Aug. 2, down from 4,200 a day the week before.
BERLIN — Travelers arriving in Germany from most non-European Union countries and some regions within the bloc that have high numbers of coronavirus cases will have to undergo compulsory testing from Saturday.
The tests for people entering from so-called high risk regions are free for the first three days after arrival. Travelers from those countries already have to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they can present a negative test.
German authorities are concerned about the rising number of cases in the country.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, the nation’s disease control center, recorded more than 1,000 new infections nationwide for the third day running Saturday.