The Latest: US requires virus test data to include race, sex
The U.S. government is requiring the collection of additional demographic details from people tested for COVID-19, including their sex, age, race and ethnicity.
The extra data requirements apply to hospitals and laboratories and are intended to help track the virus’ impact on various racial, age and regional groups. Currently, only a small segment of public health labs report the age, sex and race of people who are tested.
The requirement comes amid growing concern about the pandemic’s impact on minorities, particularly African Americans. Federal health officials have previously reported that African Americans represent a disproportionate share of patients hospitalized for COVID-19.
The collection of zip code information is also expected to aid in tracking new infections and distributing tests and treatments.
The federal requirements take effect in August, though hospitals and labs are encouraged to comply as soon as possible. They must report the testing information within 24 hours, including the type of test used and whether results were positive or negative.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— National WWII Museum in New Orleans takes anniversary celebration online
— Spain study confirms few have developed antibodies to virus
— Las Vegas casinos are rolling again after reopening for first time since pandemic
— The pandemic has stranded merchant ship crews at sea for months
— There are no secrets in the tightly packed lanes of Dharavi, India’s largest slum even in times of no pandemic, so it’s especially so now when it comes to the coronavirus.
— Watch what you flush: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says home-bound residents are clogging sewers and storm water drains with face masks, gloves and wipes.
Go to https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates throughout the day.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
OLYMPIA, Washington — Washington state officials say they think they have recovered about half of the hundreds of millions in unemployment benefits paid to criminals who used stolen identities to file claims during the coronavirus pandemic.
Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said Thursday that state officials are still working to determine the final amount paid out fraudulently, but believe it was between $550 million and $650 million. She says the state has recovered $333 million to date..
The number of new claims for unemployment benefits in Washington dropped to just over 31,000 last week. LeVine said the drop is in part due to the ongoing anti-fraud efforts, but also to Washington’s four-stage reopening plan bringing people back to work.
According to California cybersecurity firm Agari, a West African fraud ring using identities stolen in prior data breaches such as the massive 2017 Equifax breach is believed to be behind the unemployment fraud in nearly a dozen states.
LeVine said the claims of more than 51,000 people in Washington that had been held up because of the fake claims were resolved by Wednesday night.
She says an additional 50,000 delayed claims will take more time to resolve.
LONDON — British Business Secretary Alok Sharma has tested negative for the coronavirus after he fell ill while making a speech in the House of Commons.
Sharma took a test Wednesday after feeling unwell during the speech, when he was seen sweating profusely and wiping his brow on a regular basis.
His illness came a day after lawmakers voted to end a system of remote voting that had allowed them to work from home during the U.K.’snationwide lockdown.
Sharma revealed his negative test result in a tweet on Thursday and said he wanted to thank those who sent “really kind messages over the last 24 hours.”
Several senior officials and British government ministers fell sick with COVID-19 in March and April. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a week in a London hospital, including three nights in intensive care.
PARIS — The French government announced a new set of measures to support the country’s economy, which is facing its worst recession since World War II due to the coronavirus pandemic.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said “jobs have become the national priority.”
One measure will extend a temporary unemployment policy to allow companies to move employees to part-time work while the state pays part of their salaries.
The plan is intended to prevent too many job cuts while the French economy is recovering.
Another measure allows for grants of up to 8,000 euros ($9,067) to companies that hire an apprentice.
Le Maire said this week that the French economy is expected to shrink by 11% this year.
French unemployment claims jumped 22% in April, as 843,000 more people sought work and the country’s virus lockdown kept companies from hiring.
NEW ORLEANS — Before the COVID-19 pandemict, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans was planning to celebrate its 20th anniversary with a crowd of thousands.
Now, the museum is instead selling a limited number of scheduled tickets and holding an annual D-Day morning ceremony and all anniversary commemorations online.
The museum opened June 6, 2000, as the National D-Day Museum and was designated the national World War II museum a few years later. Last year, on the 75th anniversary of the landings in Normandy, France, it logged 3,200 visitors.
President and CEO Stephen Watson said that with the date falling on a Saturday this year, “we could have had as many as 5,000 visitors,”
The museum closed because of the pandemic on March 14. Spokesman Keith Darcey said that when the museum reopened on Memorial Day, attendance was the lowest since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005.
MADRID — A second round of random testing in Spain for antibodies to the new coronavirus indicates that a third of those infected do not develop symptoms, Spanish health authorities said Thursday.
National Epidemiological Center Director Marina Pollán called the data released Thursday “a wake-up call for public health” that shows “it is not possible to control (an outbreak) by just considering those who are symptomatic.”
Results from the latest round of the nationwide testing confirmed the preliminary finding published three weeks ago showing that blood tests had detected the IGG antibody against the virus in only 5% of the 63,000 participants.
Researchers say that means Spain is far from having developed a “herd immunity” to COVID-19 and is still vulnerable to more outbreaks.
LAS VEGAS — The casino coronavirus closure has ended. Cards are being dealt, dice are rolling and slot machines flashed and jingled for the first customers who started gambling again early Thursday in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada.
Hotel-casinos in downtown and suburban Las Vegas were the first to open at 12:01 a.m., followed later in the morning by a restart of the iconic Bellagio fountain and several resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.
Downtown casino owner Derek Stevens says the past few months have been an “unprecedented challenge” but the industry is excited to get employees back to work and welcome guests again.
Several dozen people were waiting in line outside Stevens’ downtown casino-hotel The D just before midnight. When the doors opened, guests had their temperatures checked and inside dealers wore face masks or shields.
LONDON — Passengers on England’s buses, subways and trains will have to wear face coverings starting June 15 to help protect fellow passengers from the coronavirus.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Thursday that the requirement was timed to coincide with the anticipated reopening of nonessential stores.
Shapps said that with more shops, including department stores and electronics retailers opening for the first time in nearly three month, there will likely be an increase in public transportation use.
He said the face coverings are a “condition of travel” and failure to abide by the requirement could potentially lead to fines.
On Thursday, the government reported that another 176 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus had died in the U.K. in all settings. That takes the U.K.’s total to 39,904, the world’s second-highest death toll in the pandemic.
MILAN — Most regions in Italy have reported either zero or fewer than five new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, and the number of confirmed cases rose by 177 nationwide.
Five regions had new cases in the double digits. The northern Lombardy region recorded the most at 84, but that was many fewer than the region had a day earlier.
Figures from the Italian civil protection agency on Thursday showed virus-related deaths nationally rose by 88 to 33,689.
Experts say both the number of deaths and confirmed cases are higher than the numbers reported as many infected people were never tested.
The national statistics agency released figures on Thursday showing that while mortality rates eased in April, they were nonetheless more than double the previous 5-year average for that month in virus hot spots such as Bergamo and Pavia, and around double the in Milan.
Italy has completely emerged from a government-ordered lockdown.
THESSALONIKI, Greece — Authorities in northern Greece have placed a refugee camp with about 1,500 residents under a 14-day quarantine after a pregnant Syrian woman living there tested positive for the coronavirus.
Local and Health Ministry officials said several schools in the area that were used for refugee education programs are temporarily closed.
Several refugee camps and shelters in Greece have reported virus cases but none so far have surfaced at the overcrowded facilities housing asylum-seekers on Greek islands near the Turkish coast where potential outbreaks are a source of serious concern over a potential outbreak.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil has reported another 1,349 COVID-19 deaths, the largest 24-hour increase to the country’s coronavirus death toll since its outbreak began.
The Health Ministry delayed release of the data until 10:00 p.m. local time Wednesday, after the country’s widely watched evening news program had ended. The ministry cited “technical problems.” It also canceled its daily COVID-19 press conference.
The latest virus-related deaths broke a single-day record set Tuesday.
Brazil has reported about 32,500 deaths from the virus so far, the fourth most of any country in the world, trailing just behind Italy. Experts believe the actual death toll is significantly higher but hasn’t registered due to insufficient testing.
President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday also designated Gen. Eduardo Pazuello as interim health minister, after nearly three weeks without anyone officially leading the ministry.
Pazuello had no health experience prior to joining the ministry in April. One of his predecessors resigned and another was fired after disagreements with Bolsonaro over proper pandemic response measures.
French troops won’t march on the Champs-Elysees avenue on Bastille Day this year. The French presidency says the traditional military parade will be replaced with a Paris ceremony where health precautions will be observed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants Bastille Day to honor both the military and health care workers who have been on the front line of France’s COVID-19 outbreak.
The French presidency says the July 14 ceremony will take place on the Place de la Concorde square and thousands of participants and guests will be requested to keep physical distance from each other.
It will include the traditional fly-over by the French air force.
The presidency says authorities don’t plan to open the celebration to the general public at the moment but will reassess the situation later.
France has had a Bastille Day parade since 1880.
French health authorities have reported at least 29,000 virus-related deaths in hospitals and nursing homes since France’s first cases emerged.
MADRID — The Spanish government says a decision to reopen land borders with France and Portugal on June 22 is not final and that negotiations with authorities in those countries are ongoing.
A government spokesman who wasn’t authorized to be named in media reports said the border issue was still “under discussion” with the two neighboring European countries.
Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto announced earlier on Thursday that restrictions on border crossings in place since mid-March would be lifted before Spain fully reopens for international tourism on July 1. Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva expressed surprise at Maroto’s announcement.
Santos Silva told national news agency Lusa, in comments published by Diario de Noticias that Portugal has asked Madrid for clarification, saying “the decision on whether to open Portugal’s border falls, of course, to Portugal,”
(By AP Writer Artiz Parra.)
BANGKOK — More than 400 people and organizations involved with the craft beer business have been summoned by regulatory authorities in Thailand for posting photos of the brew on social media.
Six craft beer associations jointly lodged a complaint with the House of Representatives’ Public Health Commission on Thursday protesting that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which bars the display of alcohol for promotional purposes.
They argue the law is unclear and violates their right to communicate with customers.
A representative of the beer associations says violations of the act are punishable by a 50,000-500,000 baht fine ($1,580-15,800) and a one-year jail term.
The complainants say their businesses have suffered from measures to combat the spread of the coronarivrus, that included a ban on the sales of alcoholic beverages, the closing of bars and a curfew. A curfew beginning at 11 p.m. is still in effect.
The associations’ representative, Supapong Preunglampoo asserts the industry helps Thailand’s economic growth and said, “There are many people working in this sector struggling to survive here.”
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s transportation minister says the country is gradually opening up to international flights this month, starting with 40 countries.
Adil Karaismailoglu said Thursday that international flights will resume on June 10, with flights to and from Bahrain, Bulgaria, Qatar, Greece and the self-declared state in the north of Cyprus. Only Turkey recognizes Cyprus’ breakaway north.
Other air traffic routes from and to Turkey to be relaunched in June include several European countries, although not Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom, as well as Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Tajikistan, Singapore and Kazakhstan.
The Turkish government plans to screen citizens upon arrival and send them to hospitals if they display COVID-19 symptoms. They would be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
It was not clear what procedures foreign nationals will be subject to.
ISLAMABAD — Doctors at hospitals in Pakistan are bracing for a surge of COVID-19 patients as the country’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed the number in neighboring China.
Parkistan’s confirmed cases jumped to 85,264 on Thursday after officials reported 4,688 new infections during the previous 24 hours and 82 deaths, a single-day record for virus-related fatalities.
The developments prompted the government to order the closure of all shopping malls and markets where social distancing regulations are being ignored.
A medical team of Chinese doctors met with the country’s President Arif Ali in Islamabad to share their experience treating COVID-19 patients.
Pakistan has witnessed a steady increase in infections and deaths since last month, when the government lifted a lockdown that was enforced in March to slow the spread of the new virus.
A total of 1,770 people in Pakistan have died in the pandemic.
NEW DELHI — India’s COVID-19 fatalities have passed 6,000 after registering 260 deaths in the last 24 hours.
The country registered 9,304 new cases in yet another record single-day spike in infections, raising its totals to 216,919 cases with 6,075 deaths, the Health Ministry reported Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said it was ramping up the testing across the country and has performed 4 million. It said the daily capacity was almost 140,000 tests done through 480 government and 208 private laboratories.
India’s infections have spiked in recent weeks, mostly in its cities. The coastal state of Maharashtra continues to be the worst affected, with 74,860 cases and 2,587 deaths. The state capital is densely crowded Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital.
India is the seventh worst-hit nation by the pandemic.
JOHANNESBURG — Testing materials remain in short supply across Africa, but the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a new platform to pool the continent’s purchasing powers has obtained about 15 million coronavirus testing kits for the next six months.
John Nkengasong said Africa’s 54 countries are still far behind the goal of conducting at least 10,000 tests per 1 million people. He said just about 1,700 tests are being carried out per million compared to about 37,000 per million in Italy and 30,000 per million in the UK.
Nkengasong said 3.4 million tests have been conducted so far across Africa, which has a population of 1.3 billion people, and testing capacity is “increasing very, very rapidly.” Africa’s numbers are rising steadily as testing improves, with a 31% increase in new confirmed cases since last week. The continent’s confirmed cases are now above 162,000, representing less than 3% of the global cases.
MOSCOW — The United States has delivered another batch of ventilators to Russia as part of a $5.6 million humanitarian donation to help the country cope with the pandemic.
The U.S. Embassy said the second shipment of U.S.-manufactured breathing machines arrived in Moscow on Thursday, following a batch delivered last month.
Russia has reported more than 441,000 coronavirus infections, including 5,384 deaths. Officials have scrambled to secure ventilators and other essential supplies.
Russia sent a planeload of medical supplies, including ventilators, to the U.S. in April. Russia’s state investment fund said this week it fully funded the delivery.
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