The Latest: U.S. detains children at hotels not shelters
HOUSTON — The U.S. government has detained children at several major hotel chains during the coronavirus pandemic instead of transferring them to government-funded shelters.
The data released Friday show that since March, the Trump administration has used hotels to hold at least 660 children, most unaccompanied by a parent, before expelling them to their countries of origin.
The administration says it cannot allow children to stay in the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic. But opponents of U.S. immigration policy contend the pandemic is being used to deny access to asylum or other protections in federal law.
Various hotel chains have been used to house children, and at least 25 hotels and motels have been used since March to detain children.
Marriott spokeswoman Connie Kim says the company last month issued a policy “making it clear that properties should decline any requests to use our hotels as detention facilities.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging hotel detention. ICE declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Health agencies’ credibility at risk after week of blunders
— Federal Reserve pressed to expand aid to some businesses
— College towns growing alarmed over outbreaks among students
— French President Emmanuel Macron is urging European neighbors to better coordinate cross-border virus restrictions as infections surge. Multiple countries have imposed tests or quarantines on visitors from France.
— With lockups across the U.S. closed to visitors because of the coronavirus, faith-based organizations have adapted to maintain their prison ministries.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MIAMI — Authorities say two South Florida men used fake and stolen identities to steal over $3 million in coronavirus relief funds.
Records show Jean Fleuridor and Hasan Brown made separate appearances this past week in Miami federal court on bank fraud conspiracy charges.
According to a criminal complaint, Fleuridor, Brown and their co-conspirators began a scheme in 2017 to defraud a Texas bank using about 700 fake identities to create bank accounts and shell companies.
Prosecutors say members of the group began using those fake identities and companies this spring to fraudulently apply for federal loans meant to help small businesses financially survive the coronavirus pandemic.
MULTAN, Pakistan — Pakistan’s foreign minister says his countrymen are lucky that coronavirus caused only 6,284 deaths in Pakistan since February, far less compared to projections under which they could face up to 50,000 COVID-19 deaths by the end of August.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi says coronavirus cases are in steady decline in Pakistan. He says the situation is bad in neighboring India, where thousands of new cases were being added daily. Pakistan reported only 319 new cases and one death in the past 24 hours.
Pakistan has reported 295,372 cases since February when the first infection was detected in the country.
BERLIN — Tens of thousands of people are taking part in a protest in Berlin against pandemic restrictions after a court overturned a ban issued by authorities in the German capital.
Some among the crowd Saturday waved American, Russian or German Reich flags, while others wore T-shirts promoting the “Q” conspiracy theory or denouncing Germany’s limited rules requiring the wearing of masks.
The Berlin regional government had sought to ban the protest, citing rallies earlier this month where rules intended to stop the virus being spread weren’t respected. Protest organizers successfully appealed the decision, though a court ordered them to ensure social distancing — a measure that wasn’t being enforced Saturday.
BEIJING — About one-third of students returned to school in the Chinese capital on Saturday in a staggered start to the new school year because of the coronavirus.
The first batch of 590,000 students in Beijing included all three years of high school, the first and third years of middle school and the first grade of primary school. Another 400,000 students are to start school on Tuesday, and the final 520,000 on Sept. 7.
Both students and teachers are required to wear masks.
China reported nine new coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, bringing its official total to 85,022. All the new cases were overseas arrivals. The country’s death toll remained at 4,634.
NEW DELHI — India has recorded 76,472 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising its tally to over 3.4 million. A country of 1.4 billion people, India now has the fastest-growing caseload in the world.
The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 1,021 deaths for a total of 62,550. India is reporting around 1,000 COVID-19 deaths every day.
There has been a spurt of new cases over the last few weeks. One of the reasons is testing: India now conducts more than 900,000 tests every day, compared with just 200,000 two months ago.
Even as western Maharashtra and the three southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka remain the worst-hit regions with nearly 64% of fatalities and 55% of active cases, the virus is spreading fast in the country’s vast hinterlands. Earlier this week, members of a small tribe in the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands tested positive with experts saying the virus has now entered the widespread transmission stage.
India has the third-highest caseload after the United States and Brazil, and its fatalities are the fourth-highest in the world.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia has extended its pandemic movement restrictions, including a ban on foreign tourists, until the end of the year.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address late Friday that global cases have been rising and the country has seen sporadic virus clusters even though the situation was under control.
Malaysia has recorded more than 9,000 cases with 125 deaths.
Muhyiddin said the extension of restrictions will not disrupt daily activities as most businesses and schools have resumed. Only nightclubs and entertainment centers remain shut and international sporting events prohibited. Borders will stay closed and those entering the country will be quarantined.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 323 new cases of the coronavirus, marking its 16th consecutive day of triple-digit jumps as health officials prepare to tighten social distancing restrictions in the greater capital area.
The numbers released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Saturday brought the national caseload to 19,400. Fatalities reached 321 after the country added five more deaths overnights.
The KCDC said 249 of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people live, where health workers have struggled to track infections linked to various places, including churches, restaurants, schools and apartment buildings.
The country has added 4,630 cases over the 16 days, raising fears about possible shortages in hospital capacities.
For eight days starting Sunday, the country will allow restaurants to provide only food deliveries and takeout meals after 9 p.m., franchised coffee shops like Starbucks to provide only takeout drinks and food and to shut down gyms and after-school academies to slow the viral spread.
ALABAMA — The University of Alabama reported Friday that an additional 481 students have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to more than 1,000 infections since students returned to campus for the fall.
The University of Alabama System released new numbers on its dashboard of cases for all three campuses. The additional 481 cases on the Tuscaloosa campus were reported between Aug. 25 and Aug. 27. The university system said no students are hospitalized.
“We are closely monitoring our data daily, and we will continue to adjust operations as the situation warrants,” said UA System Chancellor Finis St. John in a statement accompanying the release of the numbers. He said testing for the virus was a “key pillar” of the university’s health and safety plan.
St. John said every student on the three campuses has the option of moving to fully online instruction at any time, remaining either on campus or returning home to continue their course work.
The university has not announced official fall enrollment figures. Kellee Reinhart, a spokeswoman for the university system, said the enrollment will be upwards of 30,000, which would equate to infections being reported in about 3.3% of all students.
The quick rise in COVID-19 cases on campus prompted action from city and university officials to try to limit student gatherings and off-campus socializing.
ATLANTA — A 1-year-old boy is now Georgia’s youngest victim to die from COVID-19.
The state Department of Public Health included the suburban Atlanta boy in a table of deaths released Friday.
The department says the boy had a chronic underlying condition that may have contributed to his death, but released no further information. The Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Officer says it can’t release further information until the boy’s death certificate is completed.
He’s one of 5,471 people to die in Georgia so far from the respiratory illness. Deaths from Georgia’s summer spike remain elevated, having averaged 68 over the seven days ending Friday.
The boy displaces a 7-year-old Chatham County boy as the state’s youngest victim of the respiratory illness. A preliminary count by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found only 29 deaths involving coronavirus among children younger than five nationwide.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The University of Virginia announced Friday that it is moving ahead with plans to offer in-person instruction for the fall semester.
In a statement posted on the school’s website, UVA officials said they had initially delayed the start of in-person undergraduate classes by two weeks to allow for more assessment of the spread of COVID-19. They also said they delayed the decision in order to take a look at how other schools have fared since opening.
UVA said it is now proceeding with plans to welcome students to residence halls starting Sept. 3 and to begin in-person instruction for undergraduates on Sept. 8.
“We know some will be delighted to hear this news and others will be disappointed,” the statement said. “To be frank, it was a very difficult decision, made in the face of much uncertainty, and with full awareness that future events may force us to change course.”
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Friday that UVA has reported 67 total positive COVID cases since Aug. 17 among students, faculty and staff. Of those, 23 were students who reported a positive test on Thursday, the school’s highest single-day total. Twenty-five students, faculty or staff have been hospitalized.
FOSTER CITY, California — U.S. regulators are now allowing use of experimental antiviral drug remdesivir for all patients hospitalized with COVID-19, drugmaker Gilead Sciences said Friday.
It said the Food and Drug Administration has expanded its emergency use authorization, which lets doctors administer the IV drug during the pandemic. Until now, that was limited to patients with severe COVID-19.
Foster City, California-based Gilead applied to the FDA on Aug. 10 for formal approval of remdesivir, to be sold under the brand name Veklury.
Gilead said in a statement that the expanded emergency use was based on results of a recent federal study of hospitalized patients with different levels of severity, plus a Gilead study published a week ago. Gilead’s study found that among hospitalized patients with moderate COVID-19, those getting remdesivir were 65% more likely to improve after a five-day treatment course than those just getting standard care.
Remdesivir previously was shown to shorten treatment by about four days for hospitalized patients with severe disease, compared with those getting standard supportive care.
NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans’s youngest public school students will begin returning to classrooms as early as Sept. 14, the city’s school superintendent said Friday as he announced a phased re-opening plan tied to the control of COVID-19.
Henderson Lewis said the plan is for students from prekindergarten through 4th grade to begin returning to schools in phases beginning Sept. 14. Older students will begin returning in October.
“We know that our youngest students have the most to gain from in person learning,” Lewis said.
All of the plans are contingent on current trends indicating the spread of the virus has been successfully limited in the city, Lewis and Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the city’s health officer, said.
The benchmarks include a continued new-case rate of less than 50 per day in the city.
Statewide, the health department reported more than 600 new confirmed cases Friday, bringing the total to at least 146,243, with nearly 128,000 presumed recovered. Thirty newly reported deaths brought the virus-related death toll to at least 4,741.
TOPEKA, Kansas — Fueled in part by college students returning to classes, Kansas has set another pandemic record for the seven-day increase in coronavirus cases, with the surge prompting a school district to put the brakes on some fall sports and another to extend its mask ordinance.
Statewide, the number of new reported cases rose by 1,111 from Wednesday to Friday, bringing the total to 41,048. The state Department of Health and Environment also reported an additional six COVID-19-related deaths, to put the pandemic total at 443.
The average for the seven days ending Friday was 599, 3.6% more than the previous record of 578 for the seven days ending Wednesday. The state also reported 16 clusters in colleges and universities with 189 cases.
Gov. Laura Kelly called the most recent spike in coronavirus cases “horrendous” and said her administration is looking into why it has occurred. But she said outbreaks on college campuses and fraternities and sororities are a factor.