The Latest: Amazon: Nearly 20,000 workers tested positive
NEW YORK — Amazon says nearly 20,000 of its workers have tested positive or been presumed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
Amazon says in a corporate blog it examined data from March 1 to Sept. 19 for its 1.37 million workers at Amazon and Whole Foods Market.
It said it compared COVID-19 case rates to the general population, as reported by Johns Hopkins University for the same period. Based on that analysis, if the rate among Amazon and Whole Foods employees were the same as it is for the general population, it estimated it would have seen 33,952 cases among its workforce.
The company says it is conducting thousands of tests a day, which will grow to 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November.
Companies have no legal obligation to publicly reveal how many of their workers have contracted the virus, and few are doing so.
However, employers must provide a safe working environment, which means they must alert staff if they might have been exposed to the virus, according to guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They are obligated to keep track of COVID-19 infections contracted on the job, and must report to OSHA if there is a hospitalization or death related to the disease.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Trump says he and first lady tested positive for coronavirus
— Russia reports more than 9,000 new cases in a day
— Pfizer CEO pushes back against Trump claim on vaccine timing
— Democrats controlling the House narrowly have passed a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, a move that came as top-level talks on a smaller, potentially bipartisan measure dragged on toward an uncertain finish.
— Mexican workers have confounded economists by sending home huge sums of money during the coronavirus pandemic. Experts had predicted that as the American economy took a dive, migrant workers would send their families less money, known as remittances.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MOSCOW — The coronavirus outbreak in Russia continues its rapid growth, with the government reporting over 9,000 new confirmed cases on Friday but the Kremlin saying a second lockdown is not being discussed.
The 9,412 new cases reported on Friday bring the country’s total to over 1.19 million and mark the highest surge since late May. Russia currently has the fourth largest caseload in the world and has so far reported over 21,000 deaths.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday another lockdown is currently not being discussed in the government.
At the same time in Moscow, which has been reporting over 2,000 new cases a day since Monday, officials have recommended the elderly self-isolate at home and have extended upcoming school holidays by a week.
On Thursday, Moscow’s mayor also ordered employers to have 30% of their staff work from home. “I hope that this measure will be enough to curb the rise of infections, and we won’t have to make more difficult decisions,” Sergei Sobyanin wrote in his blog.
ATHENS, Greece — Authorities have ordered the shutdown of a food canning company in northern Greece after tests on staff revealed 114 coronavirus infections.
The country’s civil protection authority said Friday the entirety of the company’s facilities in the village of Mavrovouni in the northern Greek province of Pella would be shut down for 10 days, until October 11.
Greece has been seeing a steady increase in the number of new coronavirus cases in recent weeks, leading to extra restrictions being imposed on some locations, including Athens, where the majority of new cases have appeared. The Greek capital, the country’s most populous city by far, has frequently accounted for more than half of confirmed new positive cases.
On Thursday, Greece reported 411 new confirmed cases and two new deaths, bringing the total confirmed cases to just under 18,900, with 393 deaths in this country of about 11 million.
JERUSALEM — Israeli media are reporting that a leading ultra-Orthodox rabbi has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, 92, had initially opposed the closure of religious seminaries last spring, saying “the Torah protects and saves,” but began advocating for social distancing, mask-wearing and other measures as the full scale of the outbreak became clear.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished the rabbi a quick recovery in a message posted on Twitter.
Israel’s insular ultra-Orthodox community has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, as many have flouted restrictions on public prayers and other religious gatherings.
The country, with a population of just 9 million, is currently dealing with one of the worst outbreaks in the world on a per capita basis. A new lockdown was imposed last month and tightened amid the Jewish High Holidays, which run until mid-October.
Israel has reported more than 250,000 cases and more than 1,600 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
LONDON — Irish airline Ryanair has lost its legal action against the country’s government over its coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
Ryanair had claimed the restrictions were “unlawful” and amounted to a disproportionate interference in the rights of the airline and its passengers.
As well as urging people to quarantine for 14 days after their arrival from countries not on the so-called “green list,” people have been advised not to travel outside the island of Ireland except for essential purposes.
Ryanair said the guidelines went “well beyond mere travel advice” and represented the “imposition of restrictions on international travel.”
However, Justice Garrett Simons rejected Ryanair’s claims, ruling that the government had acted lawfully and was “entitled, in the exercise of the executive power, to provide such advice to the public.”
“The advice to avoid non-essential travel and to restrict movements on entry to the State is just that: advice,” the ruling read.
KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistan authorities have closed more than 100 restaurants and six wedding halls in the financial capital of Karachi over violations of social distancing rules amid a sudden increase in COVID-19 deaths.
The government has also imposed a lockdown in some of the city’s high-risk areas to contain the spread of the coronavirus. A similar crackdown over social distancing rules has also been ordered in other parts of the country.
Pakistanis have been seen routinely violating social distancing since last month when wedding halls were allowed to open on the condition they adhere to such rules.
Authorities earlier reported 13 out of the country’s 15 single-day COVID-19 fatalities in southern Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital.
Pakistan has reported 313,431 confirmed cases with 6,499 deaths.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia and New Zealand have announced a partial opening of their borders to international travel between the neighboring countries.
Australian Transport Minister Michael McCormack says passengers will be able to fly to Sydney and Darwin without going into quarantine from Oct. 16 if they have spent at least two weeks in parts of New Zealand that are not considered COVID-19 hot spots.
But New Zealand will continue insist on travelers from Australia going into hotel quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
McCormack says, “We want to open up Australia to the world. This is the first part of it.”
The two countries separated by the Tasman Sea have long said that the return of international travel would begin with a so-called Trans-Tasman Bubble. McCormack says Australian authorities have concluded that New Zealand posed a low risk of COVID-19 transmission to Australia.
But travelers who have visited a New Zealand hot spot -- defined as a region that has reported three new infections a day over three days -- won’t be exempt from quarantine.
McCormack says the South Australia state capital Adelaide would likely become the next city to allow quarantine-free travel from New Zealand.
He says when New Zealand would allow quarantine-free travel from Australia is a question for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Australian states and territories have restricted movement across their borders to reduce the pandemic’s spread, particularly from Victoria state, which has accounted for 802 of the nation’s 888 coronavirus deaths.
NEW DELHI — India’s COVID-19 fatalities are closing on 100,000 with another 1,095 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.
The update by the Health Ministry on Friday raised India’s death toll to 99,773. Its reported deaths are low for a country with nearly 1.4 billion people and more than 6.3 million confirmed cases, but experts say it may not be counting many fatalities.
The ministry also reported 81,484 new cases.
Total cases jumped from 1 million in mid-July to more than 6 million in less than 2 1/2 months.
New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru are the main urban centers of the infections, accounting for one in every seven confirmed cases and one in every five deaths in the country.
MANILA, Philippines — Two of the most popular Philippine tourist destinations, including the Boracay beach, have partially reopened with only a fraction of their usual crowds showing up given continuing coronavirus restrictions.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Friday that 35 local tourists, including seven from Manila, came on the first day of the reopening of Boracay, a central island famous for its powdery white sands, azure waters and stunning sunsets. Only local tourists from regions with low-level quarantine designations could go, subject to safeguards, including tests showing a visitor is coronavirus-free.
The mountain city of Baguio, regarded as a summer hideaway for its pine trees, cool breeze and picturesque upland views, has been reopened to tourists only from its northern region, she told ABS-CBN News.
Despite the urgent need to revive the tourism industry, it’s being done “very slowly, cautiously,” she said, adding mayors and governors would have to approve the reopening of tourism spots. “We really have to be careful,” she said.
Like in most countries, the pandemic has devastated the tourism industry in the Philippines, which now has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia at more than 314,000, with 5,504 deaths.
LOS ANGELES — California’s plan to safely reopen its economy will begin to require counties to bring down coronavirus infection rates in disadvantaged communities that have been harder hit by the pandemic.
The complex new rules announced late Wednesday set in place an “equity metric.”
It will force larger counties to control the spread of COVID-19 in areas where Black, Latino and Pacific Islander groups have suffered a disproportionate share of the cases because of a variety of socioeconomic factors.
Some counties welcomed the news and said it will build on efforts underway. Supporters of a more rapid reopening criticized the measure.
NEW ORLEANS — Starting this weekend, New Orleans bars will be allowed to sell drinks to go and restaurants may operate at 75% indoor capacity instead of 50% since a number of coronavirus indicators have stayed low, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.
The limit for restaurants and other businesses matches the state limit set weeks ago. If all goes well, New Orleans could match all state reopening levels by Oct. 31, with two more possible groups of changes, Cantrell said Thursday at a livestreamed news conference.
Those will depend on public response “ensuring we are a healthy city not only to live in but to visit,” she said.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards let some bars reopen and restaurants and other businesses move to 75% of indoor capacity on Sept. 11. New Orleans, which had shut down bars in July, did not follow suit.
French Quarter and downtown stores cannot sell package liquor outside bars’ state-set hours of 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. because when bars were allowed to reopen earlier, “crowds continued drinking package liquor” after 11 p.m., the mayor said.
Cantrell said the city had closed six businesses as of Wednesday for flouting pandemic restrictions.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky reported 17 more coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, one of its highest one-day totals as the state combats an escalating outbreak.
The latest deaths included a 29-year-old woman from Clark County who had “significant underlying health conditions,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. Her death marked the first coronavirus-linked fatality of someone in their 20s to be reported in Kentucky, he said.
The 17 deaths were the fifth-highest daily total in Kentucky since the start of the pandemic, he said.
The state also reported 910 new cases of COVID-19, down from the prior two days when daily case counts topped 1,000, the governor said. The spike in cases is hitting rural and urban areas, and Beshear said the state remains on course to set another record for the number of cases in a week.
“When we have a lot of cases, sadly a lot of death follows,” Beshear said at a news conference.
The Democratic governor continued to stress the need to wear masks in public, maintain social distancing and follow other health guidelines to contain the virus.
“We can turn this escalation around,” he said.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota health officials have reported all-time highs for the toll of the coronavirus with 13 deaths and 747 more people who tested positive.
State epidemiologist Josh Clayton says communities statewide — from cities to rural areas — are seeing significant levels of the virus. He noted that 245 of the infections reported were backlogged from previous days after a reporting error.
One of the largest outbreaks came from a women’s prison in Pierre as mass testing revealed that 29 more women in one housing unit had the virus. A total of 197 prisoners and staff have tested positive and 110 have recovered.