The Latest: French government pushes for wider mask use
PARIS — After France recorded its highest one-day rise in virus infections since May, the government is pushing for wider mask use and tighter protections for migrant workers and in slaughterhouses.
But France still plans to reopen schools nationwide in two weeks, and the labor minister says the government is determined to avoid a new nationwide lockdown that would further hobble the economy and threaten jobs.
France’s infection count has resurged in recent weeks, blamed in part on people criss-crossing the country for weddings, family gatherings or annual summer vacations with friends. Britain re-imposed quarantine measures Saturday for vacationers returning from France as a result.
France reported 3,310 new infections in a single day Saturday, and the rate of positive tests has been growing and is now at 2.6%. The daily case count was down to several hundred a day for two months, but started rising again in July. Overall France has reported more than 30,400 virus-related deaths, among the world’s highest tolls.
Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne said in an interview published Sunday with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that the government wants to expand mask use in workplaces.
“We must avoid new confinement at any cost,” she said.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Texas testing drops as schools reopen, prepare for football
— Fear, language barriers hinder immigrant contact-tracing
— Venezuelans brave open sea on tubes, fishing for survival
— Millions of seniors live in a home with at least one child, and the new school year could bring new worries for one of the groups most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
— The annual light display honoring victims of 9/11 is back on. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans Saturday for state health officials to supervise the event to ensure workers’ safety.
— More than 400 grassroots music venues in Britain are at imminent risk of closure because of the coronavirus pandemic.
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Health authorities reported 13 new cases of the coronavirus in New Zealand on Sunday, including 12 linked to an outbreak in the city of Auckland and one returning traveler who was already in quarantine.
The outbreak in Auckland, discovered Tuesday, has prompted officials to put the nation’s largest city back into a two-week lockdown.
The outbreak has now grown to 49 infections, with authorities saying they believe all the cases are all connected, giving them hope the virus isn’t spreading beyond that cluster.
New Zealand had gone 102 days without community spread of the disease before the latest outbreak. Officials believe the virus was reintroduced to New Zealand from abroad but haven’t yet been able to figure out how it happened.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 279 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus, it’s highest daily jump since early March, as fears grow about a massive outbreak in the greater capital region.
The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sunday brought the national caseload to 15,318, including 305 deaths.
The number of new cases was the highest since 367 were reported on March 8, when the country was concentrating public health tools and personnel nationwide to combat an outbreak in the less populated southern region.
The KCDC said 253 of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to 26 million people, where health authorities have been struggling to stem transmissions linked to churches, nursing homes, schools, restaurants and door-to-door salespeople.
Infections were also reported in other major cities such as Busan and Daegu, the epicenter of the country’s previous virus crisis in late February and March when hundreds of new cases were reported each day.
KAHULUI, Hawaii — Kahului Airport on Maui has completed its second phase of its thermal screening project meant to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The screening uses thermal imaging and facial recognition technology to pinpoint people with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher.
Dual lens cameras have been installed at all arrival gates and TSA checkpoints in the airport.
The Maui News reports that when phase three is completed, the cameras will be able to track travelers with high body temperatures so contact tracers can stop and screen them before they leave the airport.
KANSAS CITY — Trump’s top coronavirus adviser used a visit to Kansas to urge people to wear masks regardless of where they live.
“What’s really important for every Kansan to understand is that this epidemic that we have been seeing this summer is both urban and rural,” Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force said Saturday. “So we are really asking all communities, whether you are urban or rural communities, to really wear a mask inside, outside, every day.”
She also stressed that people should socially distance and not have gatherings while in Kansas City, Kansas, for a meeting with Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, as well as community and state health officials at KU Medical Center, The Kansas City Star reports.
“You can’t tell who’s infected,” Birx said. “Much of the spread is asymptomatic. I know we all want to believe that our family members cannot be positive. They are.”
Birx said when communities start seeing a rise in positive cases, leaders need to close the bars, restrict indoor dining, decrease social gatherings and ensure there’s a mask mandate.
“We have been doing that across the South and we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in cases where the population has followed those guidelines,” she said.
AUSTIN, Texas — The death toll in Texas from the coronavirus inched nearer to 10,000 on Saturday, with 238 deaths bringing the total to 9,840.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said the number of reported cases increased by 8,245 to 528,838.
Health officials said Saturday that 6,481 people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, were hospitalized.
The number of hospitalizations has been decreasing since peaking in July at 10,893, and the number of newly reported cases is shrinking. But the virus is still spreading geographically.
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico on Saturday reported 146 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases with eight more deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 23,302 cases and 711 deaths.
Over half of the newly reported cases occurred in five counties — Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Eddy, Lea and McKinley.
The deaths reported Saturday involved people from six counties — Bernalillo, Cibola, Dona Ana, Eddy and Rio Arriba.
The 7-day rolling averages of daily new cases in New Mexico and daily deaths in the state both dropped over the past two weeks.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma on Saturday reported an additional 901 cases of the coronavirus and 13 more deaths.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health says the number of reported cases is now at 47,798.
There have been a total of 657 deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
The true number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The health department said that as of Saturday, there were 7,234 active cases and 39,907 people have recovered.