The Latest: Minnesota cautions against traditional Halloween
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota health officials are warning against traditional Halloween festivities amid the recent rise in coronavirus cases statewide.
Officials say that instead of traditional trick-or-treating and indoor haunted houses, people should look to lower risk activities like carving pumpkins and decorating homes or holding virtual gatherings.
he state’s infectious diseases director said Wednesday that warmer weather this weekend may encourage outdoor gatherings, but cautioned against disregarding health guidelines with virus infections rising steadily.
Officials reported 1,916 new coronavirus cases and 19 new COVID-19 deaths. Daily case counts statewide have exceeded 2,000 three times in the past two weeks, and the state has reported more than 1,000 new daily cases for the last 21 days.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— US plans to buy initial antibody doses from Eli Lilly
— Task force member Giroir: Cases, hospitalizations, deaths up in US - not just testing
— President Emmanuel Macron announces second national lockdown in France starting Friday. German officials agreed four-week partial lockdown.
— Belgium and Czech Republic top Europe’s highest number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 citizens, ahead of hotbeds France and Spain.
— Love blossoms amid pandemic for two TikTok creators in Los Angeles, using goofy dance videos, heartfelt vlogs and affirmations.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
DES MOINES, Iowa — Medical professionals in Iowa are expressing concerns that a surge in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations could overwhelm medical facilities if no action is taken to slow the virus’ spread.
Hospitals had 596 coronavirus patients Wednesday, the highest number so far for the state. The 113 patients admitted in the past 24 hours also was the most since the virus surfaced in Iowa last March.
Doctors and hospital officials say they are talking about how to transfer COVID-19 patients between hospitals and enacting surge plans that could turn non-hospital facilities into spots to handle any overflow.
One hospital CEO said that “what we know is if the last four weeks are indicative of what happens over the next four weeks, we will have the system overwhelmed.”
WELLINGTON, New Zealand: The Marshall Islands has reported its first cases of the coronavirus after two people who flew from Hawaii to a U.S. military base tested positive.
The small Pacific nation had been among the last places in the world to have no reported cases of the virus.
The Office of the Chief Secretary says a 35-year-old woman and a 46-year-old man tested positive this week after flying directly from Honolulu to the base on Kwajalein Atoll. The office says that the two cases weren’t connected and that both people are in quarantine. The office says all businesses and government operations will continue as normal.
Home to about 78,000 people, the Marshall Islands maintains close military and civilian ties with the U.S. under a compact of free association.
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia's governor and top health officials say the state's southwest is seeing a sustained, troubling increase in coronavirus cases driven partly by family gatherings.
Gov. Ralph Northam addressed the spike in cases at a news conference Wednesday, saying further restrictions on the area are possible if the numbers keep climbing.
Also Wednesday, one area hospital system issued a warning that its resources are being stretched thin, with 88.5% of its ICU beds full.
Virginia has so far reported nearly 177,000 coronavirus infections and just over 3,600 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Hospitalizations from COVID-19 in South Dakota reached new heights for the fourth straight day on Wednesday.
The number of daily new cases also set a record, with 1,270 people testing positive for the virus. The virus has surged in the state and region, sending South Dakota to the nation’s second-worst ranking in new cases per capita over the last two weeks. Johns Hopkins researchers report that one out of roughly every 77 people in the state has tested positive in the last two weeks.
The wave of cases has resulted in 412 people being hospitalized with the virus.
Health officials also reported nine new deaths. October has become the state’s deadliest month of the pandemic, with 189 deaths so far.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas doesn’t appear to be containing the coronavirus, reporting nearly 3,400 new cases over just two days.
The state health department’s data showed that the rolling average for new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases was 1,084 a day for the seven days ending Wednesday. That’s 33% higher than the previous record for the seven-day rolling average of 815 for the seven days ending Monday.
The health department said it switched this weekend to a new, automated system that allows new cases to be added to its count more quickly. It said the change accounted for about 1,500 of the 3,369 cases reported since Monday, but even with those cases factored out, the state had a record rolling seven-day average.
The health department said Kansas has had 82,045 cases since the pandemic began.
Kansas had another 106 hospitalizations to bring the pandemic total to 3,752. The state averaged a record 35 new hospitalizations a day over the seven days ending Wednesday.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Areas of Tennessee where people aren’t required to wear masks in public have experienced increases of hospitalized coronavirus patients in recent weeks.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine announced the results of a study. It categorized each Tennessee hospital based on what percentage of its typical patient population lives in counties with a mask requirement.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee is allowing counties to decide whether to require masks rather than making masks a statewide mandate. He has argued it’s a matter of people taking personal responsibility.
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health says it will add nearly 1,000 rapid coronavirus testing sites around the country by the end of the year.
The drugstore chain says it plans to have about 100 sites running this week in 22 states. Customers can usually get results within 30 minutes.
CVS Health says it will provide rapid-result tests at no cost for people who meet the criteria established by the CDC – which include symptoms and contact with someone who has the coronavirus. Those customers must register in advance for the test through the company’s website.
Insurers will pick up the bill for people with coverage who meet the CDC criteria, while a federal government program will pay for the uninsured, the company says.
The test that delivers results in a few days would cost $139 for those who don’t meet the CDC criteria. The company didn’t provide the cost of a rapid test for those who don’t meet the criteria.
The chain plans to start offering the rapid tests in California, Florida, New Jersey and Texas, among other states.
ROME — Italy reached a new daily record of nearly 25,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and added 205 deaths on Wednesday.
Nearly 1,000 people were admitted to hospitals nationwide and 125 more in intensive care.
Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese briefed the Senate on protests following Italy’s latest anti-virus restrictions, which shuttered restaurants and bars at nightfall, closed movie theaters and in some regions imposed overnight curfews.
While daytime protests by restaurant owners and taxi drivers have been largely peaceful, Lamorgese accused a variety of fringe anti-government and virus-negating groups of using the crisis as an excuse for violence, vandalism and looting.
Italy has nearly 590,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 38,000 deaths, the second highest in Europe after Britain.
MADRID – Authorities in Spain announced more than 19,700 daily confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday.
The Health Ministry says nearly 2,300 coronavirus patients were admitted to hospital in the previous 24 hours. Just over 25% of Spain’s ICU beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients, slightly up from Tuesday.
The Murcia region of southeastern Spain announced it will close its borders with neighboring regions, just as four other regions have done this week. Three more regions, including Madrid, were expected to follow suit in coming days.
Spain has 1.1 million cases, the second highest in Europe after France. Another 761 deaths in the past week brought the confirmed death total to more than 35,400.
ANKARA, Turkey —Turkey reported 77 more coronavirus deaths, pushing the death toll past 10,000 deaths.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported 2,305 new coronavirus cases, raising the confirmed total to 368,513. Ankara has been reporting only the number of patients being treated for the coronavirus, leading to accusations that it is concealing the true extend of the outbreak.
Koca says 40% of coronavirus cases in Turkey were recording in Istanbul, a city of 16 million.
The minister urged residents to limit their movement and called on employers to offer workers flexible hours or the possibility of working from home. He says there’s no plan to reintroduce lockdowns or to restrict travel to and from the city.
BEIRUT — Lebanon has registered a daily record of 1,850 coronavirus cases.
The Health Ministry says 11.8% of every 100 tests are positive. Partial lockdowns have been implemented on selected localities, but it has failed to curb the spike.
Lebanon’s health sector is reeling under the pressure of the pandemic. The economic crisis was compounded by the massive deadly blast in the capital’s port nearly three months ago. It knocked out three hospitals.
Lebanon has a total of 75,845 confirmed cases and 602 deaths.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has agreed to buy initial doses of an experimental COVID-19 antibody drug from Eli Lilly that patients could receive if federal regulators allow it on an emergency basis.
Lilly has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow use of the drug in mild to moderately ill patients, based on partial results from a mid-stage study suggesting it may help them clear the virus sooner. There were hints the drug might help avoid hospitalization, but more study is needed.
Under the agreement, the government will spend $375 million to buy 300,000 vials of the drug. How many doses that would provide is unclear. Each vial contains 70 milligrams and that dose proved ineffective in the early results. It took four times that amount -- 2,800 milligrams -- to show any effect.
Earlier this week, the government stopped a study of Lilly’s drug in hospitalized patients after it seemed the drug was not helping those more seriously ill patients.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. is also seeking emergency use for its experimental two-antibody treatment. President Donald Trump received it when he was ill with the coronavirus earlier this month.
(This item has been corrected to 300,000 vials in third paragraph.)
BOSTON — Boston’s Logan International Airport has a coronavirus testing site.
The site opened in Terminal E and is operated by health and wellness company XpresSpa Group.
It’s available for airport and airline employees at first but will test travelers in mid-November. The facility will offer three types of tests -- quick test that returns results within 15 minutes; a nasal swab test; and a blood antibody test. The company says it will process about 400 tests a day.
It already operates coronavirus testing facilities at Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
GENEVA -- Switzerland is closing restaurants and bars earlier and expanding mask-wearing rules following a rise in coronavirus cases.
Government officials say bars and restaurants will close at 11 p.m. and discos will close altogether. Events involving more than 50 people and “sports and cultural leisure activities” with more than 15 people will be banned.
Universities will switch to remote learning on Monday and masks must be worn in busy outdoor locations and high school classes.
President Simonetta Sommaruga says the measures start Thursday because “we have no time to waste.”
There’s been 8,616 confirmed cases reported in the last 24 hours. Overall, Switzerland has more than 135,000 cases and 2,158 deaths in a nation of 8.6 million.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece had a record 1,547 coronavirus cases in the last day and 10 more deaths.
Authorities have gradually increased localized restrictions to curb the outbreak. Four Greek regions are currently at the highest alert of Level 4, which means lockdown-type restrictions. Athens and the second-largest city of Thessaloniki are at Level 3, which means a night-time curfew, compulsory facemasks outdoors and limits on gatherings.
The total confirmed cases in the country of 11 million is nearly 34,300 and 603 deaths