The Latest: China toughens travel rules for Xinjiang capital
BEIJING — China is tightening travel restrictions in the capital of the Xinjiang region amid a COVID-19 outbreak in the northwestern city.
People arriving in Urumqi from regions considered to have high infection risk must undergo a two-week quarantine. Others arriving from less risky areas most show proof of good health. Locals “in principle” must stay in the city or show proof of health to be allowed to leave.
Hong Kong, meanwhile, continues to see a third wave of infections, with almost 150 new cases reported Friday to bring its total to 3,151 cases and 25 deaths.
Despite that, authorities issued an order Thursday allowing restaurants to operate under limited hours and with limited capacity. But businesses such as bars, karaoke bars and amusement parks still must remain closed.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Florida tallies another record high daily deaths
— India says herd immunity won’t work, need vaccine
— Health officials Birx, Fauci recommend face shields, masks
— Deaths are mounting rapidly in the U.S., and cases are rising in close to 30 states in all. The outbreak’s center of gravity seems to be shift from the Sun Belt toward the Midwest.
— More than 1.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, further evidence of the devastation the coronavirus outbreak has unleashed on the U.S. economy.
— An AP NBA reporter's town was hard hit by the coronavirus in the suburbs of New York. He shifted from covering sports to covering the virus and protests in the city. Now he's heading to the bubble in Orlando to cover the NBA, which begins its postponed season.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MELBOURNE, Australia — The leader of Australia's Victoria state warns that tougher pandemic restrictions may be coming after the coronavirus hot spot reported its second-highest daily COVID-19 count on record.
Officials reported 627 new confirmed virus infections and eight deaths Friday, a day after a record 723 new cases were reported.
The state capital of Melbourne and a neighboring semi-rural district are over half way through a six-week lockdown designed to curb the coronavirus spread.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Friday that state and federal officials are conducting an analysis over the next few days to consider what the next steps might be. Nothing has been decided, he says, but warns that "all of us acknowledge that these numbers are still far too high.”
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 36 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, most of them tied to international arrivals.
The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday brought the national caseload to 14,305, including 301 deaths.
The agency says 22 of the new cases are linked to people arriving from abroad. The country in recent weeks reported dozens of infections among South Korean construction workers flown home from virus-ravaged Iraq and crew members of Russia-flagged cargo ships docked in the ports of Busan and Incheon.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi is continuing to see a sharp increase in reported cases of the new coronavirus, and Gov. Tate Reeves says he will put eight more counties under restrictions that include mandatory masks in public.
The restrictions are already in place in 29 of the state’s 82 counties, covering more than half of the state’s population. Those are being extended until Aug. 17.
The eight counties that will be added Monday have seen a rapid rise in cases.
The state epidemiologist says Mississippi has “astoundingly high” numbers of people hospitalized with COVID-19.
FARGO, N.D. — Tribal leaders on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in northeastern North Dakota are requiring residents to wear masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
It is a rare move in a state where face coverings have not been mandated despite a steady increase in overall cases.
The reservation is primarily in Benson County, which according to the COVID Tracking Project has seen the state’s most new cases per capita in the last two weeks.
The administrator for the Lake Region District Health Unit says the increases in Benson are “basically coming from Spirit Lake,” although it’s not yet clear why. Officials hope a mass testing scheduled for Friday will provide more clues.
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota state officials have unveiled a plan to reopen schools this fall that gives districts some flexibility to toggle between in-person and online learning, but reserves the right for the state to step in if the coronavirus gets out of control.
Gov. Tim Walz acknowledged the value of in-person learning, but said Thursday that the state’s top priority is safety.
State education officials will use data on virus cases in a county to help districts determine which model they should use.
Districts with fewer than 10 cases per 10,000 people in a 14-day average will be able to teach in person. Those with 50 or more cases will have to use distance learning. Levels in between will rely on hybrid models.
TORONTO — Most students in Canada’s most populous province will return to traditional classrooms full time in September amid the coronarivus pandemic.
Ontario announced Thursday that elementary students and many high schoolers will be in school five days a week in standard class sizes. Secondary school students in two dozen districts that are higher risk will attend class only half the time, with classes limited to 15.
Parents will have the option of keeping their kids at home, and school districts must provide for students to learn remotely.
Students in grades 4 through 12 must wear masks in class, while younger kids will be encouraged to do so in indoor common areas.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt says he is allocating $10 million for providing personal protective equipment to schools as he encourages them to reopen for in-person classes.
Stitt said Thursday the state will distribute 1.7 million resuable masks — enough for two per teacher and two per student. He says there will also be 42,000 clear face shields, 1.2 million pairs of disposable gloves and 1.2 million disposable gowns.
The governor says he is ordering the state health and state education departments to develop a plan by Aug. 21 for teachers to be tested monthly for the virus.
Oklahoma schools are to open during the month of August and some, including the largest public school district in Oklahoma City, have announced plans that include a blend of in-person and virtual school. In-person teaching was halted in March, and Stitt says he wants schools students back to classrooms.
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds insists the state controls how public schools will resume classes next month, saying districts can resort to online learning only if coronavirus cases are surging in their communities.
The teachers union immediately pushed back against Reynolds’ statement Thursday, saying that the lives of children and teachers are at stake and that science not politics should guide decisions.
The governor has said the state will require at least half of classes to be held in person. On Thursday, she updated that guidance to say the state will decide when K-12 schools can send students home based on community virus spread and student illnesses.
Reynolds’ rules for school makes exceptions for parents who can choose to keep a child at home for remote learning, and districts must make accommodations for any student to learn remotely if they, a caregiver, or a person they live with has a health condition that would increase their risk of COVID-19.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is arguing against another “blanket shutdown” of the economy amid a surge of coronavirus cases.
He spoke Thursday after the government reported that the pandemic sent the U.S. economy plunging by a record-shattering 32.9% annual rate last quarter.
The president says the nation has gotten a handle on the virus but “it can come roaring back when you least suspect it.” Trump insists, though, that the economy should stay open.
He says a widespread shutdown like what happened in March and April “would no longer be the answer at all.” He adds that “small shutdowns can be very helpful” but not lengthy ones.
Trump has staked his reelection chances on restarting the nation’s economy but there are signs the recovery has stalled amid a resurgence of COVID-19.
LONDON — The British government has reimposed restrictions on social life in a swath of northern England because of rising coronavirus infections.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says that as of midnight Thursday people from different households should not meet indoors in Greater Manchester, England’s second largest metropolitan area. The same orders applies to the surrounding areas of Lancashire and West Yorkshire counties.
Hancock says that “households meeting up and a lack of social distancing is one of the causes of this rising rate of coronavirus” cases in the United Kingdom. The number of daily infections has recently begun to rise after weeks of decline.
The affected region has a large Muslim population, and the restrictions come ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday on Friday.
DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says private school teachers across the state will be given medical-grade masks during the fall semester.
Polis previously announced that public school teachers will receive the masks each week for at least eight to 10 weeks, regardless of whether their school uses in-person, hybrid or remote learning.
Private and charter schools will have to pick up their supply of masks in the district headquarters or at a designated depot.
The governor also announced on Thursday a partnership with the Colorado Archdioceses of Denver to provide 2,000 masks a week to its 48 schools.
LOUDON, N.H. — NASCAR drivers and their teams competing this weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be required to remain either at the track or at their hotels during their stay.
Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday that “they don’t go out to dinner, they don’t go out and get coffee, nothing like that. They’re really quarantined in that bubble between where they sleep and where they work.”
The speedway in Loudon is hosting the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday, the first large sports event with spectators in New England since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
While the state allowed the speedway to host up to 35% of capacity, the roughly 12,000 tickets sold amount to only about 20%. Fans will be required to wear masks when not in their assigned seats.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday visited the headquarters of the American Red Cross’s to encourage survivors of COVID-19 to donate plasma.
Thousands of coronavirus patients have donated their plasma in hopes it could help other patients recover from the coronavirus, and scientists are testing if the donations might also prevent infection in the first place. Medical experts say the jury is still out on effectiveness of convalescent plasma on both fronts.
Trump was joined by several members of his coronavirus task force for the visit to Red Cross, and even stopped to visit with a plasma donor. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said 50,000 donors have given plasma but the nation needs hundreds of thousands of more donors to come forward.
If it if works, survivor plasma could have important ramifications until a vaccine arrives — raising the prospect of possibly protecting high-risk people with temporary immune-boosting infusions every so often.
Convalescent plasma’s most famous use was during the 1918 flu pandemic.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jose Freire Interian was walking his dog near his Key West home Wednesday, when a neighbor began recording him on her cell phone. Hours later, police came knocking on his door with an arrest warrant and whisked Freire and his wife to the county jail.
The charge: violating quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
As a national debate swirls over masks and self-quarantines, communities are grappling over how aggressively they should enforce myriad rules meant to control the spread of a novel strain of coronavirus, which has now infected more than 460,000 in Florida and killed nearly 6,600 of its residents.
“If the law allows someone to be arrested for violating a quarantine order and they continue to thumb their nose at the law — yeah they should be arrested,” Manager Greg Veliz said Thursday.
The couple will go before a judge in August, after posting bail Thursday morning.
Freire Interian expressed exasperation and speculated that the arrests were the result of a soured relationship with another tenant.
“I didn’t do anything. I was just walking my dog,”said Freire Interian, 24. “It’s not as if I left the house to go shopping.”