The Latest: Trump resumes starring role in virus briefings
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has resumed a starring role in the White House’s coronavirus briefings on Tuesday, returning to the podium in the press briefing room in hopes that he can shore up support for his administration’s work amid flagging poll numbers.
Trump says the administration is doing well with vaccine and therapeutic development.
He says the country has learned so much about the disease, and “my administration will stop at nothing to save lives and shield the vulnerable, which is so important.”
Trump also warns the virus outbreak “will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better – something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— CDC: Antibody tests show virus rates 10x higher
— Jordan to reopen airports to tourists in August
— Weary EU leaders finally clinch $2.1 trillion budget and coronavirus recovery fund
— New research suggests that antibodies the immune system makes to fight the coronavirus may only last a few months in people with mild illness, according to report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
— The Justice Department says hackers working with the Chinese government targeted firms developing coronavirus vaccines and stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies worldwide.
— With the pandemic worsening and aid expiring, Washington’s divisions thwart new relief package.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says the state is making progress in stemming coronavirus infections in the state’s long-term care facilities.
Walz and state health officials cite a dramatic drop in deaths and new cases of COVID-19 at nursing homes and other facilities over the last two months. Residents of long-term care facilities still make up the majority of coronvirus-related deaths in Minnesota, but officials say their interventions since mid-May have led to a significant drop in daily deaths and outbreaks in congregate care settings.
“We are certainly not taking a victory lap,” Walz told reporters Tuesday. “The key here was controlling infections.”
Officials scrambled to respond as deaths at long-term care facilities rose in late April and early May. Walz outlined a “battle plan” in early May that included expanded testing, more personal protective gear for health workers and ensuring “adequate” staffing levels when workers fall ill.
Officials said Tuesday those collective efforts have worked. In early May, there were 23 facilities reporting new cases each day. That number is now about six per day, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana hospital leaders are warning that efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak could be hampered by conservative House Republicans’ push to revoke Gov. John Bel Edwards’ public health emergency declaration.
The Louisiana Hospital Association is joining GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder in trying to discourage Republican lawmakers from signing a petition nullifying the Democratic governor’s virus response orders.
The petition requires support from a majority of the House or Senate.
Supporters say Edwards is crippling the economy with his restrictions. The hospital association argues removal of the emergency declaration would decrease health facilities’ ability to bring in nurses and doctors from other states, expand telemedicine services and increase bed capacity.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri on Tuesday reported more than 1,100 new coronavirus cases, once again breaking its own record for the largest single-day increase in cases.
Data from the state health department show 34,762 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus first struck Missouri, a 1,138 increase in reported cases compared to Monday.
Missouri last set its record for the largest increase in cases reported in a single day on Saturday, when the state announced another 958 people sickened by the virus.
NEW ORLEANS — Public schools in New Orleans won’t offer in-person classroom instruction when they open in August because of a resurgence of COVID-19 infections, said the city’s school superintendent, Henderson Lewis.
Online instruction will begin next month, but Lewis said Tuesday that classroom instruction for the city’s 45,000 public school students won’t resume until some time after Labor Day.
Meanwhile, Lewis said, school buildings will be open to teachers and administrators and to continue offering meal programs for students from low-income families.
Among those at the news conference were Mayor LaToya Cantrell and city health director Dr. Jennifer Avegno. Avegno said key factors in the decision include an increase in average daily cases and the percentage of tests that show infections.
She also said that there aren’t enough tests available to test students and school personnel as often as the city feels is necessary to open schools.
Local school systems in Louisiana are determining whether to resume classes on sight, with some planning in-person instruction, others preferring online distance learning and some districts announcing a hybrid approach.
SAO PAULO — Brazilian health authorities are starting a three-month test of a coronavirus vaccine produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.
Dimas Covas, president of the Butantan Institute coordinating the study, says if the vaccine proves safe and effective, Brazil would receive 120 million doses from China at the beginning of next year and 30 million Brazilians would be vaccinated. I
It’s one of nearly two dozen potential vaccines in various stages of human testing worldwide, and one of a handful entering late-stage testing to prove effectiveness. The federal Ministry of Health on Monday confirmed 632 more deaths from COVID-19 and 20,257 newly confirmed infections.
Brazil has recorded more than 80,000 confirmed deaths and 2 million cases of coronavirus — second in the world in both categories behind the United States.
Brazil is also helping test a vaccine produced in a partnership between Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Federal officials on Tuesday authorized tests of a third vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.
The Sinovac tests on 9,000 volunteers, all health professionals, will be in six Brazilian states. The tests are coordinated by Butantan, a Sao Paulo state scientific institute that’s produced vaccines for more than a century.
Half of the volunteers will receive two doses of vaccine starting this week, the other half will receive a placebo.
JUNEAU, Alaska — People in Alaska’s capital city must wear face coverings in certain indoor public places.
The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly passed the measure, which is similar to a measure enacted in Anchorage. It calls for use of face coverings in grocery stores, restaurants, bars, childcare and personal care facilities.
It’s also required in communal office areas and on public transportation.
Exceptions include people who cannot tolerate a mask due to medical conditions or disabilities, those exercising and children younger than 2.
The ordinance allows for fines up to $25. It also states a violation doesn’t create grounds for harassment.
SAO PAULO — Brazil needs to take measures to protect Indigenous populations from coronavirus within 15 days, according to a human rights arm of the Organization of American States.
The commission says Brazil must introduce a plan to protect the Yanomami and Ye’kwana groups, who live in remote northern regions, “because they are in a situation of great danger.” Few ventilators and intensive-care beds are available close to their lands in the Amazon region.
The commission says Brazil’s government insists it’s doing its job with the Indigenous but won’t give details.
The Yanomamis presented a request in mid-June to pressure the Brazilian government to remove illegal miners and loggers from their lands. They blame them for bringing the virus. The Brazilian government didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Brazil’s Health Ministry estimates about 200 Indigenous people have died of COVID-19. But another count by independent groups says the actual number is twice as high.
AMMAN, Jordan — The Jordanian government says it will begin reopening airports to international travelers in August after sealing its borders in March to help halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Travelers from a list of approved, low-risk countries must pass a coronavirus test at least 72 hours before departure and will get a second test upon arrival in Jordan, Transportation Minister Khaled Saif says.
Jordan will require incoming tourists to download Aman, the government’s contact-tracing mobile application, for the duration of their stay in the country.
Jordan is heavily reliant on tourism and shutting its borders in response to the pandemic has impacted the economy. But the measures have resulted in 1,218 confirmed cases and 11 deaths from COVID-19.
GENEVA — The U.N. migration agency is warning the coronavirus pandemic has emerged as a new driver of internal displacement among Yemenis.
The International Organization for Migration says its teams have tallied more than 10,000 people citing fear of the virus or its impact on the economy and services as reasons for moving in the last 3 1/2 months.
IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix has found more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee in Yemen since January because of fighting and insecurity. Those in the country have already dealt with five years of war.
Yemen has 1,610 confirmed cases and 445 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
ROME — Health Ministry numbers show a third straight day of fewer new cases in Italy.
Since Monday, 129 new cases were registered, raising to 244,752 the number of confirmed infections since the outbreak surfaced in Italy in late February. The known death toll stood Tuesday at 35,073 and 15 more deaths since the previous day.
A recent clusters of coronavirus infections in Italy had increased daily caseloads. Nearly all the new cases occurred in northern Italy, which was Europe’s initial epicenter in the pandemic.
CHICAGO — Reported coronavirus cases vastly underestimate the true number of infections, U.S. government data published Tuesday suggest, echoing results from a smaller study last month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study says true COVID-19 rates were more than 10 times higher than reported cases in most U.S. regions from late March to early May. It is based on COVID-19 antibody tests performed on routine blood samples in 16,000 people in 10 U.S. regions.
The study likely detected infections in people who may have had no symptoms or only mild illness, and who never got coronavirus tests. Infection rates were from six times higher than reported cases in Connecticut to 24 times higher in Missouri.
Still, most people in the 10 regions had not been infected. The study was published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida is averaging more deaths per day than any other state.
Florida recorded another 134 deaths Tuesday, bringing its daily average for the past week to 115, topping the 112 deaths a day Texas has reported during that time, Associated Press statistics show. A month ago, Florida was averaging 33 coronavirus deaths a day.
Overall, 5,317 people have died in Florida from COVID-19 since March 1 and nearly 370,000 have tested positive for the virus. About 19% of tests have returned positive in Florida over the last week, compared to 10% a month ago and 2.3% in late May.
The state reported an additional 517 people have been admitted to hospitals with the virus.
ATLANTA — A judge has recused herself from hearing a lawsuit filed by Georgia’s governor to get Atlanta to stop enforcing a mask mandate and other measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Ellerbe had scheduled a hearing for Tuesday on Gov. Brian Kemp’s emergency motion. But a spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Carr says the hearing is now canceled.
The state plans to seek another emergency hearing once the case has been assigned to another judge, Carr spokeswoman Katie Byrd said in an email.
Atlanta is among at least 15 local jurisdictions statewide ordering people to wear masks in many public places to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In a lawsuit filed Thursday against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the members of the City Council, Kemp argued that local leaders don’t have the authority to impose measures that are more or less restrictive than those in his executive orders.
CHEROKEE, N.C. — Health officials in North Carolina are investigating a cluster of coronavirus cases after five casino employees tested positive for the virus within two weeks.
The Jackson County Department of Public Health say the cases were identified among Harrah’s Cherokee Casino employees who work in the table games section. They are now following isolation orders. Brooks Robinson, the casino’s regional manager, said no other employees or customers have been identified as having close contact with those who tested positive.
He says employees who show symptoms of the coronavirus have been directed not to come to work.
The business announced its reopening in late May with 30% capacity, social distancing protocols, a mask requirement for employees and daily “health checks” on casino staff.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch public health institute says coronavirus infections are on the rise again.
The Netherlands had 987 confirmed new infections over the last week, nearly twice as many as a week earlier.
Weekly figures published Tuesday show seven people died of COVID-19 over the last week, one fewer than a week earlier. The true numbers are believed to be higher because of a lack of testing, although there’s been a significant increase in the capacity of local health authorities to carry out testing.
The institute warns there are multiple small clusters around the country.
Most Dutch coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased July 1. But the institute urged people to stick to measures such as social distancing, hand washing, working from home and getting tested if they have any symptoms of the virus.
There have been more than 6,100 confirmed deaths in the nation.
VIENNA — Austria is reintroducing mandatory face masks in some stores and banks after an increase in new corona virus infections.
Austria Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says everyone will have to wear face masks again in supermarkets, smaller grocery stores, post offices and banks beginning Friday, Austrian news agency APA reported.
The chancellor also announced controls along the country’s border to the Balkans will be increased because many of the new infections in Austria can be traced to that region.
Health authorities will focus on religious communities that have registered several recent clusters of outbreaks.
JERUSALEM — An Israeli parliamentary committee has overturned a government decision and allowed restaurants to remain open despite new restrictive measures to try and quell the spread of the coronavirus.
The coronavirus oversight committee voted Tuesday to keep restaurants open as long as they maintain proper guidelines and appropriate social distancing between patrons. It marked the back-and-forth battle after the government ordered restaurants closed just a few days earlier and then postponed implementation after public pressure.
The government announced its restrictions after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “interim steps” were needed to avoid another general lockdown. Netanyahu has faced widespread criticism and protests in recent days over his government’s handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout from an earlier lockdown.
But many of the measures, such as the closing down of beaches and public pools, have been scaled back in recent days amid an outcry that they were excessive.
The frequent reversals, however, have only sown frustration, confusion and more public anger.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein condemned the parliamentary decision, saying it would endanger public health and likely lead to another lockdown.
By late May, Israel had largely contained its outbreak following a two-month lockdown. But cases have soared in the weeks since restrictions were lifted, with Israel reporting close to 2,000 new cases a day last week. At least 422 people have died since the outbreak began, with more than 52,000 reported cases.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Some 350 Serbian doctors are demanding the resignation of a government-appointed team fighting the coronavirus spread, describing the health situation in the Balkan state as “catastrophic.”
In an open letter entitled “United Against Covid,” first carried by the independent N1 television on Tuesday, the doctors said it is their moral and professional obligation to demand an independent investigation into the work of the state team.
The probe would include possible cover-up in the real number of coronavirus cases and deaths that have been declared by the team and possible political influence on its decisions ahead of an election.
The letter says that a complete lifting of anti-coronaviorus measures weeks ahead of the June 21 parliamentary election, when mass gatherings without social distancing were allowed, led to the “loss of control over epidemic situation” in the country, leading to a large second wave of infections.
State team members have denied previous such claims.