The Latest: Va Gov. Northam, wife test positive for virus
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he and his wife have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Northam says he isn’t showing symptoms. He and wife Pam, who has mild symptoms, plan to isolate for the next 10 days while working remotely, according to a statement from his office.
The Democrat, the country’s only governor who is also a doctor, has previously been criticized by some Republican lawmakers who say his restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus are too stringent.
Northam said in a statement his test result shows the virus is “very real and very contagious.”
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt became the first governor to announce he’d tested positive in July.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican who steadfastly refused a mask requirement, also tested positive.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Lockdowns imposed in several British cities
— Partial lockdown expanded in Spain’s capital
— French Open limits fans to 1,000 per day as cases spike in Paris
— U.S.-based pharmaceutical company Novavax says it has begun a late-stage trial of its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom.
— Chinese company says coronavirus vaccine ready by early 2021. The pharmaceutical company expects distribution worldwide, including in the United States.
— Virus disrupting Rio’s Carnival for first time in a century. Annual Carnival parade of flamboyant samba schools won’t be held in February.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BISMARCK, N.D. — Republican Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota rescinded a quarantine order just a day after it was issued, despite the state having the highest per capita rate of new coronavirus cases in the nation.
Burgum took a quick step back from the order that would have enforced a 14-day quarantine for close contacts of coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, he described the expanded order as bringing the state in line with guidance from the CDC.
But in a statement Thursday announcing the order was rescinded, Burgum says the state needs a “light touch” from government in managing the virus.
North Dakota ranks first has 659 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University. Burgum says he plans to work with local communities to find mitigation strategies.
North Dakota has reported 19,885 total cases and confirmed 219 deaths.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says bars and pubs will close earlier in more regions of the Netherlands starting Sunday amid surging coronavirus infection rates.
Rutte says his administration is seeking advice from health experts about whether more restrictions are necessary to rein in the virus in the country’s main cities.
Asked if that meant a new lockdown for Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, Rutte said: “I don’t want to speculate about what that could be.” The Netherlands relaxed most lockdown measures on July 1.
The Netherlands has recorded a string of record daily increases in positive tests in recent weeks and hospital and intensive care unit admissions are on the rise.
PARIS — The French Open tennis event has reduced fans to 1,000 per day because of worsening coronavirus cases in Paris.
The new limit was first announced by Prime Minster Jean Castex.
Organizers have repeatedly scaled back their ambitions for the Grand Slam event as virus cases increased. They’d been planning for 11,500 fans per day three weeks ago, then 5,000 and now to only 1,000.
France reported more than 16,000 new cases on Thursday, a new daily high, in part because of ramped-up testing. New influxes of sick patients are adding pressure on hospital ICU units.
France, hard hit by the coronavirus early in the pandemic, has more than 536,000 total confirmed cases. It ranks eighth in the world with 31,500 confirmed deaths.
PRAGUE — Amid a surge of cases, health authorities in the Czech capital are hiring new staffers to trace contacts of people who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Health Minister Roman Prymula says staff at call centers will increase from the current 600 to at least 850.
The Czech Republic faced a record surge of new cases last week with more than 3,000 tested positive in one day. That rise slowed down slightly this week with a day-to-day increase mostly under 3,000.
Prague has been the hardest hit with more than 205 positives per 100,000 inhabitants in last seven days.
Primula says a record of 740 are hospitalized across the country, about three times more than two weeks ago. He says the hospitals have 6,000 beds assigned for COVID-19 patients and another 1,000 at intensive care.
The Czech Republic has a confirmed total of 58,374 cases and 567 deaths.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The Scandinavian country on Friday reported 678 new cases — the highest number ever recorded.
The high number could be explained that Danes are carrying more tests.
Denmark has seen 25,597 cases, according to Statens Serum Institut, a government agency that maps the spread of the coronavirus in Denmark. Some 647 people have died.
In neighboring Norway, 13,406 cases and 270 deaths were reported Friday.
LONDON — Local lockdowns are being imposed in several British cities where confirmed coronavirus infections have risen sharply.
The council leader in the northern England city of Leeds says people will be barred from meeting members of other households indoors or in backyards. The measure affects more than 750,000 people.
In Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli in Wales, households will be banned from mixing indoors.
Meanwhile London, home to almost 9 million people, is being labelled an “area of concern.” That means if infection rates rise, it could face new restrictions.
This week the U.K. government ordered a 10 p.m. curfew for pubs and restaurants and heavy fines for people who violate quarantine and social distancing rules in an attempt to curb a spike in cases.
The Office for National Statistics estimates there were about 9,600 new infections a day in England last week, a 60% increase from the week before. The biggest increase is in young people age 17-24.
Britain has recorded almost 42,000 deaths of people who tested positive for the virus, a figure that likely understates the true toll.
MADRID — Health authorities in Madrid are expanding restrictions on movement to eight more areas of the Spanish capital despite a recommendation from the national government that the partial lockdown should apply to all the city.
Over 850,000 residents have been confined to 37 neighborhoods this week unless they have a valid reason. The maximum number of customers allowed in shops and restaurants also was reduced to half of the capacity.
The regional government’s move to increase the number of covered areas to 45 would affect 160,000 more people.
The regional government said Friday that the designated areas are where more than 1,000 people per 100,000 residents have tested positive for the new virus in the past two weeks, the highest rates in Europe.
Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa says the central Spanish government is recommending tougher measures, including a partial lockdown for all of the city and its 3.3 million residents.
Residents of the areas involved have protested the restrictions, alleging they are being targeted because they are poor, need to commute on public transportation to work and live in dense neighborhoods.
BEIJING — Hong Kong Disneyland has reopened for the second time as the semi-autonomous Chinese city again appears to have brought new coronavirus cases down to near-zero.
The resort shut down during the initial stage of China’s outbreak when Hong Kong closed schools and offices. Disneyland reopened after cases dropped off but then was shut again once infections began to climb again over the summer.
The resort reopened Friday with social distancing measures for lines, restaurant seating, rides and other facilities, along with more frequent cleaning and disinfecting in the areas with the most visitors.
Hong Kong’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism and the government has been moving steadily to bring back business without sparking new outbreaks in the densely populated city of 7.5 million.
Hong Kong reported seven new cases on Friday for a total of 5,056 and 104 deaths in the pandemic, according to China’s National Health Commission. Mainland China reported eight new cases, all brought from outside the country.
No new cases of local transmission have been reported in 40 days, with the death toll remaining at 4,634 among 85,322 cases recorded since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland has reported 1,587 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, which is by far the country’s highest daily count since the beginning of the pandemic.
Poland had fared very well compared to other countries in Europe after the government imposed a strict lockdown in March. A recent jump in new confirmed cases comes a little over three weeks after children began returning to schools.
LONDON — U.S.-based vaccine development company Novavax says it has begun a late stage trial of its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom because the high level of novel coronavirus circulating in the country is likely to produce quick results.
Novavax said in a press release issued Thursday that it plans to test the effectiveness of its vaccine in a trial involving 10,000 people between the ages of 18 and 84. The company says at least 25% of the subjects will be over the age of 65. Some 400 participants will also receive a licensed flu vaccine.
The trial is being conducted in partnership with the U.K. government’s vaccine task force, which was created in April to help speed the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Novavax said: “With a high level of SARS-CoV-2 transmission observed and expected to continue in the U.K., we are optimistic that this pivotal phase 3 clinical trial will enroll quickly and provide a near-term view of (the vaccine’s efficacy.’’
MOSCOW — Moscow authorities have issued a recommendation for the elderly to stay at home and for employers to allow as many people as possible to work remotely, following a rapid growth of coronavirus cases in the Russian capital.
On Friday, health officials reported 7,212 new cases, the highest daily surge since June. In Moscow, the number of new daily infections started to grow last week and was up to over 1,500 on Friday from under 700 two weeks ago.
“None of us want to return to severe restrictions (that were in place) this spring. I hope we can avoid that,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote in his blog.
Sobyanin urged people over 65 years old and those suffering from chronic illnesses to stay at home starting from Monday, limit their contacts with others and leave their residence only when necessary. Employers are recommended to allow as many people as possible to work from home, disinfect the workplace regularly, observe social distancing guidelines and use personal protective equipment in offices.
NEW DELHI — India has reported another 86,052 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, a declining trend with recoveries exceeding daily infections this week.
The Health Ministry raised the nation’s confirmed total to more than 5.8 million on Friday. The ministry said 1,141 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 92,290.
India is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States, where more than 6.9 million people have been infected.
The ministry said India’s recovery rate has crossed 81.55%. This includes five worst-hit states — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, which account for more than 60% of the confirmed cases.
The new daily cases have remained below the 90,000 mark for five straight days after hitting a record number of 97,894 on Sept. 16.
Though there was a 12% dip in testing for five days, it picked up again to 1.1 million on Thursday, the ministry said.
The total number of tests has surpassed 67 million in the country with nearly 1.4 billion people.
SANTA FE, N.M. — Voters across New Mexico have submitted nearly 250,000 absentee ballot requests with especially strong demand among Democrats for alternatives to in-person voting amid the pandemic.
State election regulators on Thursday also said initial vote tallies could extend beyond Election Day if voters wait until late in the cycle to mail or hand deliver ballots.
Fewer than 8,000 absentee ballots were cast statewide in the 2016 presidential election.
In other pandemic developments, the governor cited a slight increase in the rate of spread for COVID-19 statewide and more substantially signs of spread in areas including Albuquerque and Sandoval County.
PHOENIX — Arizona will provide the state’s three public universities with $14 million in additional funding to boost their efforts to test, track and respond to the coronavirus.
Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday the money will help the universities build on their current efforts to track and contain the virus.
The funding comes as Arizona hospitals continue to get a break from the influx of coronavirus cases that nearly overwhelmed their ability to care for patients early in the summer. The state reported 566 new confirmed cases Thursday, bringing the total since the pandemic hit to 215,852. The state also announced 34 new deaths, bringing that total to 5,559.
NEWARK, Del. — Officials at the University of Delaware say they are moving to cut personnel costs because of the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
School President Dennis Assanis said Thursday that without cost cutting, the university would have a $250 million gap between revenues and expenses this academic year. He says the school already has eliminated most discretionary expenses for this year and plans to draw $100 million from its endowment, but personnel actions must now be taken.
The new effort includes a voluntary retirement incentive program and encouragement for employees to temporarily scale back their work hours. But Assanis says planning is also underway for non-voluntary layoffs as well.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he will seek a “bill of rights” for college students in the wake of crackdowns on parties and other social gatherings that some people blame for a surge in coronavirus cases at campuses across the country.
DeSantis said Thursday that he understands university officials are trying to curb transmission of the virus, but added that he considers it “dramatically draconian that a student could get potentially expelled for going to a party.”
The governor also says he will move to block local governments from again closing restaurants. He says there is little evidence such closures have slowed the spread of the coronavirus.
Florida reported 2,541 more confirmed cases Thursday, bringing the statewide total to more than 693,000. The state also reported 177 more deaths from COVID-19, raising the toll in Florida to at least 13,795.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was one of the few major sporting events not canceled in March as the coronavirus began to take hold in the U.S. And now race officials now planning for every contingency possible as they make plans to hold the race again next March.
Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach says getting mushers from one checkpoint to another along the 1,000-mile trail in Alaska is the easy part.
He says the main focus for planners is protecting residents in Alaska villages that serve as checkpoints and the roughly 1,800 volunteers needed to stage the race. He says the goal is zero community transmission.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon officials have reported the state’s highest one-day number of new coronavirus cases since mid-July.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 382 newly confirmed cases Thursday, raising the total for the pandemic to 31,865. The death toll is 539.
Nearly 25% of the cases reported Thursday were in Multnomah County, Oregon’s most populous county and home to Portland.