The Latest: Australia city extends lockdown as clusters grow
BRISBANE, Australia — A lockdown of Australia’s third-largest city Brisbane was extended until Sunday because of a growing COVID-19 outbreak.
Brisbane and several surrounding municipalities in Queensland state were due to end a three-day lockdown on Tuesday. But the Queensland government on Monday announced the extension after 13 locally acquired infections of the highly contagious delta variant were detected in the latest 24-hour period.
Australia’s largest city, Sydney, and surrounding cities in New South Wales state are in their sixth week of lockdown. The New South Wales government on Monday reported 207 new locally acquired infections.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Peter Dutton said he was quarantining at home in Brisbane and would attend Parliament remotely. He said in a statement he has tested negative but must quarantine because of a virus cluster at his sons' school.
Dutton was infected with the coronavirus in March 2020 during a trip to Washington, D.C. He has since been fully vaccinated.
Lawmakers who attend Parliament in person face daily saliva tests for COVID-19, must wear masks and must practice social distancing.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— World's refugees have been pushed to back of the line amid vaccine shortages
— End of US eviction moratorium will bring more cases to housing courts and lock more tenants out of homes
— Florida broke its record for current hospitalizations set more than a year ago before vaccines were available
— Thousands protest Germany’s anti-virus measures, leading to clashes and detention of some 600 protesters
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government plans to slightly ease its strict coronavirus border controls to allow migrant workers from the Pacific to harvest crops and wine grapes.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday it plans to allow some workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu to enter without them going through the usual requirement to spend two weeks in quarantine.
Ardern said details of the plan are still being worked through and she can’t yet say how many workers might be eligible.
She added that the number of such workers currently in New Zealand was about 3,000 short of the 10,000 typically needed for the harvest.
There are no current outbreaks in Samoa, Tonga or Vanuatu, which have reported a total of just seven COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
PHOENIX — Health officials in Arizona on Sunday reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for the second consecutive day.
They say the 2,306 new cases and five additional deaths pushed the state’s totals to 929,541 cases and 18,251 known deaths since the pandemic began more than a year ago.
Arizona had reported 2,066 new cases and 22 deaths on Saturday, the highest daily total since early March. The numbers have been quickly climbing with 1,759 cases and 15 deaths reported Thursday and 1,965 cases and 24 deaths reported Saturday. Public health officials in the state and elsewhere attribute the worsening spread to the very contagious delta variant and low vaccination rates.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina is requiring students to wear masks indoors this fall as the spread of COVID-19 has sped up across the state.
School officials said that masks are again required inside campus buildings given Richland County’s high coronavirus transmission rate.
The announcement follows recently updated federal guidance that calls for mask-wearing indoors regardless of vaccination status in areas where the delta variant is rapidly spreading.
Young adults have the lowest vaccination rate across age groups in South Carolina. But public colleges and universities in South Carolina can’t require students to get inoculated after lawmakers banned schools from making the vaccine a condition of enrollment.
ORLANDO, Fla. — A day after it recorded the most new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida on Sunday broke its previous record for current hospitalizations, set more than a year ago.
The Sunshine State had 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
The previous record was from July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started becoming widespread. Florida then had 10,170 hospitalizations, according to the Florida Hospital Association.
Florida is now leading the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19, as hospitals around the state report having to put emergency room visitors in beds in hallways and others document a noticeable drop in the age of patients.
In the past week, Florida has averaged 1,525 adult hospitalizations a day, and 35 daily pediatric hospitalizations. Both are the highest per capita rate in the nation, according to Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida.
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