The Latest: New French PM says masks mandatory next week
PARIS — New French Prime Minister Jean Castex says masks will be mandatory in closed public places as of next week, sooner than Aug. 1 as announced earlier by President Emmanuel Macron.
The change in date comes as the Mayenne area of the Loire region has seen several COVID-19 outbreaks, and authorities have recorded a marginal increase in infections in the Paris region.
Calling the situation in Mayenne “problematic,” French Health Minister Olivier Veran said he asked the prefect of Mayenne personally to make masks compulsory in closed public places without waiting for the later date.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— China firm uses workers to ‘pre-test’ vaccine in global race
— Rising virus totals force rethink of bars, schools, tourism
— Coronavirus data is funneled away from CDC, sparking worries
— Infighting over the White House’s handling of the coronovirus pandemic is spilling further into public view, with trade adviser Peter Navarro panning Dr. Anthony Fauci as President Donald Trump stands watch.
— Early-stage testing showed the first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. revved up people’s immune systems the way scientists had hoped.
— Coronavirus cases have surged to record levels in the Los Angeles area. Health officials say the nation’s most populous county is in “an alarming and dangerous phase” that if not reversed could overwhelm intensive care units and usher in more sweeping closures.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ISLAMABAD-- Pakistan has reported its lowest number of daily COVID-19 deaths in about a month.
It recorded 40 deaths in the past 24 hours on Thursday, compared to the highest single-day toll of 153 on June 19.
Pakistan has recorded 257,914 confirmed cases, including 2,145 in the past 24 hours, and 5,426 fatalities.
Until weeks ago, Pakistan had witnessed a 20% infection rate as a result of daily testing. It is now less than 10%, but authorities fear another spike if people ignore social distancing during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which will be celebrated on July 31.
MADRID — Spain is paying homage to the nation’s victims of the new coronavirus and workers who put their lives at risk during the worst of the pandemic.
Relatives of around 100 people who died, representatives of medical personnel, police and other essential workers are joining King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, government authorities and officials from the European Union and the World Health Organization in a solemn ceremony at an esplanade in Madrid’s Royal Palace.
The guests, masked and seated in a socially distanced fashion surrounding a central cauldron, include representatives from a dozen religious organizations and ambassadors. The ceremony is being shown live on television and online.
All political parties are attending except the far-right Vox, whose leader has called the event “an exculpatory ceremony” for the left-wing ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Spain has officially recorded 28,413 fatalities among some 258,000 confirmed cases, although excess mortality figures suggest the actual number is thousands higher.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australian authorities say a COVID-19 patient apparently became infectious within a day of contracting the coronavirus.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd gave no details of how the patient was infected in New South Wales state or whether that patient infected anyone else before COVID-19 was diagnosed.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the country’s peak decision-making body for public health emergency, reported such a short incubation was “unusual,” but “not implausible,” Kidd said.
People usually develop symptoms within five to seven days but may become infectious a day or two before their symptoms develop, Kidd said.
A person becoming infectious within 24 hours was unlikely to be evidence of the virus changing, Kidd said. It more likely reflected differences in individual reactions to the virus, he said.
NEW DELHI — India’s virus cases have surged another 32,695, taking the nation closer to 1 million and forcing a new lockdown in the popular western beach state of Goa, two weeks after it reopened to tourists.
The new confirmed cases took the national total to 968,876. The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported a record number of 606 deaths for a total of 24,915.
The Indian Medical Association said 99 doctors have died and another 1,302 are infected with the coronavirus. It called for shortening of working hours for health workers following safety concerns.
It also said the fatality rate among doctors was 7.6%, much high than the national average of about 2.5%.
About a dozen states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, have put high-risk areas under lockdowns, allowing only essential food supplies and health services.
Goa state’s top elected official, Pramod Sawant, announced a three-day lockdown and a night curfew in the popular backpacking tourist destination, beginning Thursday night.
He said people were flouting social distancing norms. Nearly 40,000 were fined 100 rupees ($1.3) each in the past two weeks for not wearing masks.
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco and Sacramento have become the latest cities in California to announce that public school students will not return to classrooms when the new term begins because of surges in coronavirus cases and delays in getting test results back.
They join Los Angeles and San Diego, the state’s two largest districts. Also not reopening are schools in Oakland, Long Beach, Santa Ana, San Bernardino and others that have chosen to start the new term with digital learning amid strong concerns from teachers unions and public health officials about the safety of staff on school campuses.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond says he expects more districts to announce plans for distance learning.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s coronavirus hot spot — Victoria state — is reporting a record 317 newly confirmed cases in a day.
The tally for Thursday surpassed the state's previous high of 288 on July 10. The previous one-day Australian record was 212 cases set March 28 by New South Wales state at the first peak of the pandemic. New South Wales reported only 10 new cases Thursday.
Two men in their 80s died in Victoria in the last 24 hours, bringing the national death toll for the pandemic to 113.
Victoria's government is reducing the number of non-urgent surgeries allowed in hospitals to increase beds available for COVID-19 patients. State officials had planned to restore hospitals to normal medical services by the end of July before infections began to rise in recent weeks.
Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says of the latest case load: “It’s a big number. It needs to turn around.”
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported 61 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, most of them tied to international arrivals.
The tally reported Thursday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the country’s caseload to 13,612 during the pandemic, including 291 deaths. The center says 12,396 people have been released from hospitals while 925 remain in treatment.
Officials say 47 of the new cases involved people arriving from overseas. South Korea has been requiring two-week quarantines on all passengers arriving from abroad since April. This week, it began requiring foreign nationals arriving from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to provide health certificates proving they have tested negative for the coronavirus.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania is imposing broad new statewide restrictions on bars and restaurants and larger indoor gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday there has been an “alarming escalation” in new infections.
Nightclubs will be shut down, bars must close unless they also offer dine-in meals, and bars and restaurants will be limited to 25% capacity under Wolf’s order that takes effect Thursday. The order also requires businesses to have their employees work from home to the extent possible.
The new restrictions come more than two months after Pennsylvania began reopening its pandemic-battered economy and they risk major backlash in large swaths of the state where COVID-19 has largely been kept at bay.
But Wolf warns that a “new surge is in the offing” that could eclipse what happened in the spring, when the virus killed thousands and sickened tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians. CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Wyoming’s governor and top public health officer are speaking out firmly in support of wearing face masks in public amid an accelerating spread of the coronavirus and doubt among some that masks are necessary.
Gov. Mark Gordon said Wednesday that it is important to be “conscientious to one another” and that “there is no constitutional right to go infect somebody else.” Gordon had a face mask hanging around his neck during the news conference.
The governor blamed a “casual attitude” about mask wearing and social distancing for Wyoming’s growing number of cases and his recent decisions to extend health orders affecting public gatherings through July.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says he may set restrictions on bars in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus, but he isn't revealing any timetable and hasn't indicated if the rules will be statewide.
The governor commented Wednesday after meeting with Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House coronavirus task force. Reeves says Birx praised the Mississippi order that took effect this week requiring people to wear masks in public in 13 of the state’s 82 counties.
The Mississippi Health Department reported that a record 1,099 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus in the state as of Tuesday evening. That is up from 664 on June 22.
Mississippi has had more than 38,500 confirmed cases of the virus since the pandemic began.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California has reported its second-highest daily total of new coronavirus cases and equaled its second worst day for deaths.
More than 11,000 new cases were recorded by state officials Tuesday, a rise of 3.3%. California also recorded 140 deaths, tying a recent tally for its second-highest daily figure.
The number of tests and the rate of those testing positive also rose. The positivity rate over the past two weeks has now topped 7%, while in hard-hit Los Angeles County with a quarter of California’s population that rate has soared to nearly 10%.
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday that Los Angeles County is in “an alarming and dangerous phase” that could overwhelm intensive care units and prompt sweeping closure orders if not reversed.
LAS VEGAS -- Several Las Vegas casinos are limiting smoking to keep patrons from removing the protective face masks they are required to wear.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. in mid-June updated its policy to ask that table game players and spectators do not smoke or vape in its Venetian and Palazzo resorts. Wynn Resorts Ltd. has designated any table games without a plexiglass barrier as nonsmoking areas inside its Wynn and Encore casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
Nevada on Wednesday reported 849 new cases of COVID-19, a decline from a day earlier, when the state set a new daily high of 1,104 cases.
SPOKANE, Wash. — A federal judge has rejected a water park’s challenge to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency powers as the state responds to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Slidewaters water park in Chelan sued the governor and the Department of Labor Industries last month, arguing that Inslee abused his power in declaring the emergency and that the state’s restrictions were likely to prevent it from opening for the summer.
Slidewaters nevertheless opened on June 20 and has remained in operation despite the threat of $10,000 or more in fines from the state.
In ruling against the park Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice in Spokane returned the case to Chelan County Superior Court for consideration of the state’s counterclaims seeking an order to close Slidewaters.