The Latest: 2 California school systems to begin year online
LOS ANGELES — California’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, will begin the new school year next month but students will not return to campuses due to the threat of the coronavirus.
The districts said in a joint statement Monday they will start the school year with online instruction only, but will plan for in-person learning as health conditions allow.
Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest district with about 730,00 students, begins instruction on Aug. 18.
San Diego Unified, which serves approximately 135,000 students, is set to start on Aug. 31.
The districts cited research and information about school safety experiences from around the world as well as state and local health guidance.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— The World Health Organization warns that the pandemic is worsening globally and things won’t return to “the old normal” for some time.
— A top Florida doctor says the state’s rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases is turning Miami into the “epicenter of the pandemic.”
— Hong Kong Disneyland Park is closing temporarily following the city’s decision to ban public gatherings of more than four people because of the pandemic.
— The November election is coming with a big price tag as America faces voting during a pandemic
— America’s two largest generations agree: the pandemic has smacked many at a pivotal time in their lives
— Families of Italy’s virus dead seek answers, solace, justice
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SILVER SPRING, Md. — A judge has agreed to suspend a federal rule that requires women during the COVID-19 pandemic to visit a hospital, clinic or medical office to obtain an abortion pill.
U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland ruled Monday that the “in-person requirements” for patients seeking medication abortion care impose a “substantial obstacle” to abortion patients. Chuang said the requirements are likely unconstitutional under the pandemic’s circumstances.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May to challenge the rule.
The judge didn’t set any geographic limitations on the injunction. He had previously rejected a move by 10 states to intervene in the lawsuit because they argued the case could impact how they enforce their own state laws that relate to or reference the FDA’s regulation of mifepristone. Chuang said the federal case would not eliminate any state’s ability to continue to regulate medication abortion “above and beyond” the FDA’s requirements.
HONG KONG — Hong Kong Disneyland Park is closing temporarily following the city’s decision to ban public gatherings of more than four people because of the pandemic.
Disney officials posted on the resort’s website that the Hong Kong park was closing on Wednesday until further notice. The resort’s hotels will remain open with adjusted levels of service.
Hong Kong announced new coronavirus-related restrictions on Monday.
The Hong Kong park and Shanghai Disneyland closed in January. Tokyo Disneyland closed the following month and Disney parks in the United States and Europe shut their doors in March.
Shanghai Disneyland reopened in May, as did Hong Kong Disneyland Park last month.
Two of Walt Disney World’s theme parks in Florida reopened last Saturday, despite a spike in coronavirus cases in Florida.
Disneyland Paris also is welcoming back visitors this week for the first time since March. The reopening of Disney’s California parks was postponed pending the issuance of state guidelines.
DETROIT — Summer classes for hundreds of Detroit students have opened, despite a protest by critics who blocked a bus yard and said the coronavirus makes in-person learning too risky.
Protesters held signs and placed tree branches on the ground to try to prevent buses from leaving to pick up children on Monday. WWJ-AM quoted two bus drivers as saying they quit on the spot.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many students, if any, couldn’t get to school because of the protest. Meanwhile, the superintendent for Detroit Public Schools Community District posted photos of classrooms on Twitter and said 500 kids were being served.
Students and staff are required to wear masks. The district said classrooms would be limited to 10 to 15 students per teacher.
“This can be done,” said Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, who believes summer school is important for students who fell behind when buildings were closed in March because of the virus.
A lawyer, Shanta Driver, said she planned to file a lawsuit to stop the in-person instruction.
“There is not a safe way to return to school while this virus is spreading uncontained,” said teacher Benjamin Royal.
NAIROBI, Kenya — The first doctor in Kenya to die of COVID-19 was buried Monday, amid calls by health professionals for better insurance coverage and compensation.
Colleagues say Dr. Doreen Lugaliki, an obstetrician and gynecologist, was infected while attending to patients who had the virus.
Her death has shocked many Kenyans. Although the East African country has recorded 10,294 confirmed cases, including 197 deaths, some people say they will only believe the coronavirus exists when the see more people suffering from it.
Dr. Chibanzi Mwachonda, acting secretary general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, eulogized his colleague saying it was a “black Monday for doctors.”
Medical professionals in a joint statement over the weekend said Lugaliki’s death has highlighted the need to improve the working conditions and welfare of all Kenya’s health care workers.
MONTREAL — Quebec is making masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces. Premier François Legault said shop owners will be responsible for enforcing it.
Quebec is the first Canadian province to make it required province wide. Masks are mandatory in Canada’s largest city of Toronto but not in some other parts of Ontario.
Canada has had about 108,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
PRAGUE — The Czech Foreign Ministry says the citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea and Thailand can travel to the Czech Republic without any restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The ministry says the measure becomes effective Monday.
Those six nations have been on a green list of safe non-European Union countries approved by the EU. But the Czechs said they restricted travels for them as a reciprocal measure because they limited travels by the Czechs.
At the same time, the Czech Republic has re-imposed restrictions for travels to Serbia and Montenegro after a spike of new coronavirus cases in the Balkan non-EU countries.
MIAMI — A top Florida doctor says the state’s rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases is turning Miami into the “epicenter of the pandemic.”
That assessment came as Florida recorded more than 12,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases Monday after a record-setting weekend. The spike partly reflects the larger number of tests being performed, but also a high percentage of those returning positive.
While the outbreak has been spreading through much of the state, it has hit South Florida particularly hard.
Florida International University epidemiologist Dr. Aileen Marty called the region’s situation “extremely grave.” She says the public is not taking the virus seriously enough, ignoring rules on large gatherings, social distancing and wearing masks in public places.
Dr. Lilian Abbo is the chief for infection prevention at Jackson Health System. She described nurses and doctors working around the clock and some of them getting sick.
She added: “Miami is now the epicenter of the pandemic. What we were seeing in Wuhan six months ago, now we are there.”
LONDON — The U.N. is warning that the COVID-19 pandemic could result in another 130 million people going hungry this year.
The warning was included in a new report published Monday.
Officials at five U.N. agencies estimate there were about 690 million people in 2019 who went hungry worldwide, with the majority in Asia and Africa.
The report says that another 83 to 132 million people may go hungry in 2020 due to economic problems triggered by the pandemic. Still, the report also stresses that it’s too early to gauge the full impact of virus-related lockdowns.
MADRID — The mayor of Barcelona says the Catalonia region of Spain has an inadequate number of contact tracers as it battles coronavirus outbreaks.
Mayor Ada Colau told a news conference Monday that the region of some 7.5 million people, whose capital is Barcelona, has just 120 contact tracers, working in three shifts of 40 people each.
Between July 6 and 12 the number of new cases recorded in the city roughly tripled from the previous week.
Spain’s head of the emergency response, Fernando Simón, said Monday that several provinces have complained about a lack of resources to carry out contact tracing.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization says decisions to reopen schools should be part of a broad strategy for the fight against COVID-19, adding: “we can’t turn schools into yet another political football in this game.”
Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, says any such decisions require a look beyond just how schools, workplaces or long-term care facilities respond individually to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have got to focus on a comprehensive long-term strategy that focuses on everything at one time. We’ve got to chew gum and walk at the same time,” he said, suggesting countries needed to make decisions based on their setting or current levels of transmission.
“We can’t turn schools into yet another political football in this game. It’s not fair on our children,” Ryan said. “We have to make decisions that are based on the best interests of our children, be it their educational or their health interests.”
The comments come as Trump administration officials have increasingly been calling for schools in the United States to reopen.
LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening globally and things won’t return to “the old normal” for some time.
At a press briefing Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “there will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future.”
Tedros said that while numerous countries, especially in Europe and Asia, have brought outbreaks under control, too many others are seeing virus trends move in the wrong direction.
Tedros also chastised political leaders for mixed messages about outbreaks that damage trust, without referring to any politicians by name.
Tedros called for countries to adopt a comprehensive strategy to curb the soaring caseloads in many countries, noting that about half of all the new cases are now coming from the Americas.
Still, Tedros said there was a roadmap out of the pandemic and that it’s never too late to control its spread even in places with explosive transmission.
PARIS — France’s government signed accords with unions promising to invest 8 billion euros in salaries and new staff for public hospitals, which struggled to treat waves of coronavirus patients after years of cuts.
The agreements signed Monday come after two months of negotiation launched by President Emmanuel Macron after criticism of his government’s handling of the pandemic.
The new investment includes raises for doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. Health Minister Olivier Veran said it would include 15,000 new jobs.
Public hospital workers have been protesting for years against staff and equipment shortages and hospital closures.
Unions stepped up demonstrations after France started relaxing its confinement measures in May. Unions representing at least 50% of public hospital staff signed the accords, though some health workers say they don’t go far enough to fix problems.
France has reported more than 30,000 virus-related deaths and treated more than 100,000 virus patients in hospitals.
HONG KONG — Hong Kong has banned public gatherings of more than four and required face coverings on public transport as the city battles an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Restaurants won’t be allowed to offer dine-in services from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m., while fitness centers and beauty salons will be closed for 7 days. The measures take effect July 15.
The city will also increase testing to identify asymptomatic patients who are infected.
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, who announced the measures on Monday, also urged the private sector to put in place work-from-home arrangements for employees.
On Monday, 41 out of 52 coronavirus infections reported in Hong Kong were locally-transmitted cases.
Since July 6, Hong Kong has reported 250 new cases, with Monday’s tally being the highest since March.