The Latest: White House expert urges using masks in public
WASHINGTON — A member of the White House coronavirus task force said Sunday that despite a surge in cases across the country, the situation “is not out of control.’’
Brett Giroir said it’s going to take “a lot of effort and everybody’s going to have to do their part’’ to combat the pandemic.
And the assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department said that “we have to have people wearing a mask in public. It’s absolutely essential.’’
Giroir told ABC’s “This Week” that officials would like to see something like 90 percent of people wearing a mask in public in areas that are hot spots.
He said that “if we don’t have that, we will not get control of the virus.’’ Giroir says there’s no downside to wearing a mask.
When Giroir was asked about whether states that are seeing a spike in cases should consider more stringent lockdowns, he said, “Everything should be on the table.”
And looking ahead, Giroir said it’s possible that the situation “could be worse in the fall” and he thinks that in the fall “we’re going to need tens of millions of more tests a month.” He also said there’s some data that people can get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time and “that’s not really good.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Coronavirus deaths take a long-expected turn for the worse
—’Moving target:’ Schools deal with new plans, Trump demands
— Dengue prevntion efforts stifled by coronavirus pandemic
— Virus cases up sharply in Africa, India as inequality stings
— The governor of Japan’s Okinawa island is demanding a top U.S. military commander take tougher prevention measures and more transparency hours after officials were told that more than 60 Marines at two bases have been infected with the coronavirus over the past few days.
— Black people are facing a combination of stressors experts worry could affect the suicide rate. Isolation, a shortage of mental health providers and racial trauma are some of the factors hitting simultaneously.
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON – British authorities are locking down 200 workers at a farm in central England after a fresh coronavirus outbreak.
Officials said Sunday that 73 of the workers tested positive for the virus at the AS Green and Co. vegetable farm in the village of Mathon, south of Birmingham.
The workers, who live on mobile homes at the farm, were hired to pick and pack produce. They’re being required to remain on the farm and self-isolate with their household groups, with the local council arranging deliveries of food and essential supplies.
The farm had put in place a number of infection control measures, including promoting social distancing in communal spaces and the indoor packaging area and providing personal protective equipment, officials said.
“Despite these measures, a small number of workers became symptomatic earlier this week and they and a few close contacts among the workforce were tested initially and found to be positive,” Katie Spence, health protection director at Public Health England Midlands, said in a statement.
The entire workforce was then tested and a “significant percentage” came back positive, despite the individuals not showing symptoms, she said.
The farm said its website that its management team and visitors have also been tested but those results came back negative.
PRISTINA, Kosovo — Muslim authorities in Kosovo on Sunday reimposed some limits on prayers at mosques due to rising numbers of infections from the new coronavirus.
A statement by the Islamic community of Kosovo, the highest local governing body of the faith, said mass gatherings would be suspended, with no more than 50 people at a time allowed to gather for prayers, and only for 10 minutes.
They will have to wear masks, remain at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart and use their own personal prayer rug.
People older than 65 and younger than 16 should pray at home.
Mosques had been closed earlier this year after the emergence of the pandemic, but were reopened two months ago.
Kosovo reported more than 200 new cases of COVID-19 a day over the past week. As of Sunday, there have been 4,715 confirmed cases in the country and 101 deaths.
JOHANNESBURG — With surging confirmed cases of COVID-19, South Africa is now ranked as the ninth most affected country by the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. South Africa has 264,184 cases, including 3,971 deaths, accounting for more than 40% of all the reported cases in Africa.
More than 30% of South Africa’s cases are in the economic hub of Gauteng province, which includes the largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria. Johannesburg’s densely populated Soweto township is one of the hot spots. Public hospitals are expressing concerns about shortages of available beds and medical oxygen.
Africa’s 54 countries have reported 577,904 cases, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday. The continent’s confirmed cases are concentrated in four countries — South Africa, Egypt with 81,158 cases, Nigeria with 31,987 cases and Algeria with 18,712 cases – which together make up more than 65% of the continent’s cases.
The number of actual cases in Africa is believed to be much higher, as the testing rate is very low in many countries.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Hungarian government said Sunday that it will reimpose restrictions, such as mandatory two-week quarantines or bans, on people arriving from countries where the rate of coronavirus infections is considered to be moderate or high.
“We see worrisome signs about an increase in the number of cases in the neighboring countries, Europe and the whole world,” said Gergely Gulyas, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff.
Gulyas said only Hungarian citizens will be allowed to enter from countries in the “red” category — those with a high rate of infections — including Albania, Ukraine, Belarus and practically all of Asia, Africa and South and Central America. They will have to stay in quarantine for two weeks, but will be allowed out earlier if they get two negative test results 48 hours apart.
Both Hungarians and foreigners arriving from countries in the “yellow” category — which includes, among others, Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania and Sweden, as well as Britain, Russia, Serbia, Japan, China and the United States — will have to quarantine for two weeks, but will be allowed out if they test negative for the virus: once in the case of Hungarians, or two negative tests 48 hours apart in the case of foreigners.
Gulyas said the new measures, which will take effect Wednesday, will be reviewed at least once a week
Hungary registered five new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, with no new deaths linked to the pandemic. In total, Hungary has registered 4,234 cases, including 595 deaths.
TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is repeating his promise to provide speedy financial help for self-employed workers after thousands protested against what they see as a failed government response to the economic crisis wrought by the coronavirus.
Netanyahu said at his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday that workers would receive an immediate stipend and could expect a safety net for the next 12 months. He said he would work to ease bureaucratic hurdles and would hold dialogues with workers’ representatives to solve outstanding issues.
Netanyahu’s remarks come after some 10,000 people demonstrated in central Tel Aviv on Saturday, demanding that the government fulfill the promises it made to assist Israelis imperiled financially because of virus restrictions.
The protest came as anger has swelled over Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis. Critics say the money promised in previous plans hasn’t been doled out or has been insufficient.
Israel recently reimposed restrictions because of a spike in coronavirus cases, closing bars, events spaces and other venues.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is highlighting the plight of maritime workers during the pandemic, saying bans on shore leave are severely stressing crews stuck aboard ship, some to the point of suicide.
Cardinal Peter A. Turkson, who heads a Vatican office dealing with issues of human development, said in a message Sunday that maritime workers “really deserve our esteem and gratitude” for ensuring movement of goods for a “healthy global economy” while much of the world is in lockdown to combat spread of COVID-19 infection.
He said that tens of thousands of seafarers who were due to fly home for leave between long stints at sea were prevented from doing so due to lockdown rules.
Similarly, thousands of seafarers due to head to sea on new tours of duty were stranded in hotels and dormitories.
Turkson lamented that those stranded on board vessels “suffer isolation, severe physical and mental stress that brings many crews on the verge of desperation and, unfortunately” suicide.
The cardinal said Catholics worldwide during August are being encouraged to pray for all those who work and live from the sea, including sailors and fishers and their families.
MADRID — Spaniards in two northern regions are voting in regional elections Sunday amid tight security measures to avoid more outbreaks of the coronavirus.
Regional authorities in both Basque Country and Galicia have prohibited over 400 people who have tested positive for the virus from leaving their homes to vote.
Spain’s Supreme Court backed the decision in a ruling Friday in response to a complaint by opposition parties in both regions.
Voters must wear face masks to vote and remain 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart in polling stations, which are equipped with hand sanitizers.
Both regional governments originally called elections to be held on April 5 but postponed them due to the rapid rise in infections that Spain could only rein in by locking down the country until June.
Health authorities are watching small outbreaks in both regions, as well as in other parts of Spain. Over 28,000 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed in Spain.
The conservative Popular Party in Galicia and the Basque regionalist party PNV are hoping to remain in power.
NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus caseload is nearing 850,000 with a record surge of 28,637 in the past 24 hours, prompting authorities to announce a weeklong lockdown in the key southern technology hub of Bangalore.
The new confirmed cases took the national total to 849,553. The Health Ministry on Sunday also reported another 551 deaths for a total of 22,674.
India has overtaken Russia in the number of cases and is currently behind the United States and Brazil, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Southern Karnataka state, whose IT hub Bangalore is home to Microsoft, Apple and Amazon offices, extended Sunday lockdowns to one week beginning Tuesday.
New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Pune are among the key Indian cities witnessing a surge in infections. Several states also have announced stringent lockdowns in high-risk areas.
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada lawmakers have pumped the brakes on their emergency special session because someone in the legislative building has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gov. Steve Sisolak has convened the session so lawmakers can balance the state budget amid a projected $1.2 billion shortfall stemming from the economic damage of the pandemic.
But on Friday staff members announced that someone in the building is infected with the virus, though the person shows no symptoms.
On Saturday, 13 Nevada lawmakers decided they would now participate remotely in the emergency session and both chambers agreed to recess until Monday morning. That will give time for legislators time to get tested and staff to answer a long list of questions that lawmakers have asked in hearings.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan has wrapped up an annual film festival with an awards ceremony as it stages more public events after keeping its coronavirus outbreak to a few hundred cases.
Actors and others lined up for photo shoots with no social distancing Saturday night, and participants didn’t wear face masks in historic Zhongshan Hall in the capital of the self-governing island off China’s east coast.
Government officials say there have been 451 confirmed coronavrius cases and seven deaths on the island, which has a population of about 23 million people.
Also on Saturday, a baseball game in the city of Taichung drew more than 10,000 fans for the first time this season. Health authorities have been gradually allowing larger crowds since the baseball season began in April with no fans.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas authorities have reported a state-record of 1,061 newly confirmed coronavirus cases for a single day but no new deaths related to the virus.
State health officials said Saturday that the total for COVID-19 cases now stood at 27,864. The state says the death toll remainw at 313 for the outbreak for which tracking began in early March.
The true number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
Arkansas’ virus cases have dramatically risen since May, when the state began allowing businesses to reopen.
SANTA FE, N.M. — Work safety regulators in New Mexico have ordered Walmart to close a store in the city of Las Cruces after four employees tested positive for the coronavirus in the past three weeks.
The New Mexico Environment Department said Saturday that the order also requires Walmart to test the store’s workers for the cordonavirus and thoroughly disinfect the building,
Walmart spokesman Pedro Mucciolo says in a statement is “taking all measures necessary to safeguard the well-being of those inside our stores, fulfillment centers and distribution centers.″
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma has reported 687 more cases confirmed cases of the new coronavirus — the second greatest daily increase since tracking of the outbreak began in March.
Saturday’s daily count was second only to the record 858 new cases reported Tuesday. The latest rises brings the total of confirmed cases to 19,779 since tracking began in March. Oklahoma authorities say 15,136 patients have recovered.
Health officials also reported five new deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll for the outbreak to 421.
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation officials have reported 10 additional deaths from COVID-19 as the tribe’s sprawling reservation remains under the latest weekend lockdown imposed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
The tribe’s death toll rose to 396 as of Friday.
Tribal officials also reported 56 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases, increasing the reservation’s total to nearly 8,100. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested. Studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
The lockdown began Friday night and ends at 5 a.m. Monday. All businesses on the Navajo Nation are also required to close during the lockdown.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is asking all its members in Utah to wear face coverings when in public.
The area leaders say the use of masks is a sign of good citizenship.
The Deseret News reports that the Utah Area Presidency sent out the request in an email Friday evening. The area presidency operates under the authority of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, nearly 900 confirmed virus cases were reported Friday in Utah. Overall, Utah has had more than 28,000 confirmed cases and 207 deaths due to the virus as of Saturday.
AUSTIN, Texas — The new coronavirus continues to cut a swath through Texas, with state officials reporting a record 10,351 new confirmed cases for the day.
The increase reported Saturday brought the state’s total cases of COVID-19 to just over a quarter-million since the start of tracking in early March.
A record 10,083 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, while 99 new fatalities were reported Saturday. The total is second only to the record 105 reported Thursday and brought the state’s overall death toll to 3,112.
Harris County, which includes the bulk of Houston and many of its suburbs, had the most active cases, with almost 27,000. Dallas County, which includes Dallas and many of its suburbs, came in a distant second at almost 13,000.