The Latest: Hawaii raises bail funds for 10 Native detainees
HONOLULU — A volunteer aid network in Hawaii has raised bail funds for pretrial detainees in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the state’s prison system.
CoronaCare Hawaii has partnered with the Hawaii Community Bail Fund to provide bail for 10 Native Hawaiian detainees from the Oahu Community Correctional Center, KITV-TV reported.
The group says the partnership was in honor of Hawaiian Independence Day that happened on Nov. 28.
CoronaCare plans to post bail for the detainees on Monday, with their release expected on Tuesday. Coronacare Hawaii organizers say they disagree with how the state Department of Public Safety has handled the pandemic.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Moderna asking US, European regulators to OK its virus shots
— Fauci: US may see ‘surge upon surge’ of virus in coming weeks after Thanksgiving travel
— U.K. stocks up on vaccines, hopes to start virus shots within days
— Virus forces businesses to adapt or close down on the streets of London
— New York City to reopen its schools to in-person learning, tests students more for COVID-19
Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ROME — Out of concern of triggering crowding during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis is canceling a cherished annual public appointment that kicks off the holiday shopping season for Romans.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni on Monday said Francis had decided against appearing near the Spanish Steps on Dec. 8, a church feast day in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Traditionally, the pontiff says prayers and makes brief remarks at the foot of a towering column which is topped by a statue representing Mary. The pope is then usually driven through the nearby narrow streets lined with chic fashion shops.
Instead, “Holy Father Francis will make an act of private devotion, entrusting to Mary the city of Rome, its inhabitants and the many ill people in every part of the world,” Bruni said.
“The choice not to go in the afternoon to the Spanish Steps square for the traditional act of veneration of the Immaculate (Virgin Mary) is due to the ongoing situation of health emergency and aims to avoid every risk of contagion triggered by crowding.”
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Students in the Rapid Area School district are returning to in-person instruction Monday as the coronavirus continues to spread in South Dakota.
After several weeks of distance learning, students will be back in the classroom Monday through Thursday with virtual instruction on Friday. Sports and activities will also resume.
District spokeswoman Katy Urban says school officials have continued to monitor coronavirus case numbers throughout the Thanksgiving break and since they’ve stabilized, the COIVD-19 team feels a return to in-person instruction is appropriate.
Meanwhile, the Rapid City Council will consider a mask mandate at a special session meeting on Monday.
One ordinance would require face coverings in certain situations, but would have no penalties for violators. It also includes exemptions, including young children, law enforcement and those attending religious services.
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem opposes mask mandates or other government interventions aimed at slowing the spread of infections. Cities across the state have moved to pass their own mask requirements.
State health officials on Sunday reported 700 new confirmed cases with 544 people hospitalized in South Dakota.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s largest medical association has criticized a decision by the country’s center-right government to impose price caps on coronavirus tests at private labs, warning that the measure could disrupt testing during a spike in infections.
The government last week set the price limits at 40 euros ($48) for regular swab tests and 10 euros ($12) for rapid tests, cutting current rates at most labs by more than half.
In response, the Panhellenic Medical Association said Monday that the measure would force many independent labs to stop providing COVID-19 tests, putting additional pressure on the state-run health service.
There was no immediate response from Greece’s Development Ministry to the complaint.
Greece suffered its highest daily death toll due to the pandemic at the weekend, with 121 deaths reported Saturday, while the cumulative death toll stands at 2,321 with more than two-thirds of all fatalities occurring in November.
Separately Monday, the government said it was looking for ways to help commercialize a state-supervised research project involving several Greek universities and research labs that has produced a new rapid test method for the coronavirus.
LONDON — Singer Rita Ora has apologized for breaking British lockdown rules by holding a birthday party, saying it was “a serious and inexcusable error of judgment.”
The Sun newspaper ran photos of Ora and others, including model Cara Delevingne, arriving at the Casa Cruz restaurant in London’s Notting Hill area on Saturday.
Under lockdown rules that end Wednesday, all pubs and restaurants in England must close except for takeout and delivery, and people are barred from meeting indoors with members of other households.
Ora said she held “a small gathering with some friends to celebrate my 30th birthday.”
She wrote on Instagram that “it was a spur of the moment decision made with the misguided view that we were coming out of lockdown and this would be OK.” Ora said she now realized “how irresponsible these actions were and I take full responsibility.”
Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.
Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.
Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.
Moderna created its shots with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94% effective.
BISMARCK, N.D. — Plans to light North Dakota’s state Christmas tree have been altered this year to accommodate the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Doug Burgum and his wife, Kathryn Burgum, plan to light the tree virtually on Tuesday evening with a livestream on Facebook.
The governor’s office says this year’s Christmas tree theme is “creating connections,” a reminder to stay socially connected this holiday season through a video chat, phone call or staying physically distanced.
The public is invited to see the lighted tree from their vehicles along the driveway of the Capitol Mall.
Hospitalizations due to complications from the coronavirus rose for a fourth straight day in North Dakota, according to data posted Sunday by state health officials.
A total of 725 positive tests were confirmed in the last day. Officials reported five new deaths, increasing the cumulative number of fatalities to 920.
LONDON — Pubs and restaurants in Wales will be barred from opening in the evenings or selling alcohol as part of new measures to suppress a resurgent coronavirus.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said that starting Friday hospitality businesses will have to close at 6 p.m. and entertainment venues including movie theaters, bingo halls and bowling alleys must shut completely. The measures are due to last until at least Dec. 17.
Wales had a 17-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown in October and November, which succeeded in reducing transmission of the virus. But cases have risen and Drakeford said the outbreak was “accelerating” once again.
Neighboring England went into a four-week lockdown on Nov. 5, and a major survey released Monday says that by Nov. 24 it had cut coronavirus cases by almost a third. Many businesses in England will be able to reopen from Wednesday, though pubs and restaurants will stay closed in the hardest-hit areas.
All of the U.K. plans to ease restrictions for several days over Christmas so that families can spend the holiday together.
BERLIN — The German government has launched plans to build up a “national health reserve” of equipment to prevent a repeat of the scramble for supplies seen at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said the “corona Cabinet” of senior ministers approved the plan on Monday. He said that protective equipment and masks, ventilators and medicines will be stockpiled at 19 sites across Germany.
Spahn said that the plan is to have a month’s worth of supplies physically on hand, with rolling contracts in place to ensure six months’ supplies. The aim is to set up the structure of the reserve next year, filling it initially with imported supplies and from 2022 with material made in Germany.
The minister said that 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) has been earmarked for the project next year. He said that “making provisions costs, but making provisions also protects people in a crisis.”
European and other countries competed for limited supplies of masks and other equipment earlier this year when the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe.
BERLIN — The European Union’s latest surge of coronavirus infections is flattening or going down in some but not all countries across the continent but it’s too early to relax current virus restrictions, the head of the continent’s disease control center said Monday.
It’s alarming that the death rate caused by COVID-19 is still rising across Europe — it was 95 per 1 million people last week compared to 84 the week before, said Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Ammon also noted that occupancy of intensive care units was at 91% last week, meaning that “some countries are probably already at the limit.”
She spoke at at a virtual gathering of lawmakers responsible for European affairs in all the EU member states and at the European Parliament.
Ammon also said there are still challenges when it comes to testing and contact tracing and that EU nations need to harmonize their medical data.
As of Monday, more than 13 million coronavirus cases have been reported in the 27-nation European Union and over 319,700 people in the bloc have died of COVID-19.
LISBON, Portugal — The European Union’s police agency says it has made 102 arrests in a continent-wide operation to check on the correct disposal of sanitary waste amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Europol says it identified sanitary waste treatment, which is meant to be closely regulated by authorities, as a potential concern during the worldwide health emergency.
Europol said Monday its investigation in 30 countries uncovered cases of illegal trafficking, storage, dumping and shipment of waste and document fraud.
In Portugal, police inspections of more than 2,000 companies, hospitals and health centers led to 30 arrests and the seizures of assets worth almost 800,000 euros ($960,000).
In one case in Spain, a company cut its treatment of sanitary waste, which is supposed to be sterilized at high pressure, to increase profits.
BERLIN — Pharmacists in Germany say the coronavirus epidemic has exposed stark problems with the supply of essential drugs to treat common ailments such as hypertension and ulcers but also epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.
ABDA, an umbrella group representing 60,000 pharmacists, said Monday that its members reported a shortage of 12.1 million packages of drugs for which insurers have signed supply contracts with manufacturers during the first half of 2020. This includes the most commonly sold drugs, such as Candesartan, Pantoprazole and Ibuprofen.
By comparison, there was a shortage of 7.2 million packages in the first half of 2019, and 14 million in the years 2017 and 2018 combined, ABDA said.
Many of the drugs are produced in Asia for cost reasons. From March onward, increased demand and delivery problems squeezed available supplies.
ABDA said that while pharmacists are sometimes able to provide customers with similar drugs, a “European solution” was necessary to ensure sufficient supplies even during a crisis.