The Latest: Judge upholds Louisiana’s emergency plan
BATON ROUGE, La. — A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s emergency plan for its July presidential primary and August municipal elections.
The plan was written in response to the coronavirus outbreak. It was crafted by Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and approved by state lawmakers in April.
The plan increased early voting by six days and expanded mail-in balloting for some people at higher risk to the virus.
Two separate lawsuits filed in Baton Rouge federal court argued the plan didn’t go far enough to protect people from the virus.
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick disagreed in a decision Monday that dismissed the consolidated lawsuits and upheld the emergency plan.
The 13-day early voting period for the July 11 presidential primary is ongoing, running through July 4. Applications for mail-in ballots are due by July 7.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Dr. Anthony Fauci cites institutional racism for virus’ impact on African Americans
— France’s official contact-tracing app has been downloaded 1.9 million times but sent only 14 notifications in three weeks
— Novak Djokovic and three other top tennis players test positive for virus after Balkans tournament.
— Hotels in Greece will have basic isolation and treatment areas, doctors on call this summer.
— One of the Arab world’s most prestigious universities has endured civil war, staff kidnappings and economic crises in its 154-year history. The American University of Beirut now confronts a triple threat simultaneously in a pandemic, a recession and the collapse of Lebanon’s currency. Meanwhile, a Saudi official says the hajj pilgrimage that usually draws up to 2.5 million Muslims is likely to see only a few thousand pilgrims.
— A coronavirus outbreak linked to a slaughterhouse in Germany has led a state government to impose week-long lockdown measures. More than 1,500 people tied to the slaughterhouse have tested positive. Thousands more are quarantined. The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia says area cinemas, fitness studios and bars will be closed again. In related news, China’s ban of imports from one Tyson Foods poultry plant with infected workers has raised concerns for the U.S. meat industry.
— People are flocking to beaches for vacation after being cooped up by COVID-19 for months. But the coronavirus is taking no vacation. The U.S. state of South Carolina now has the fourth-highest new infection rate in the nation when adjusted for population. One hot spot is around Myrtle Beach, which has seen COVID-19 cases jump from fewer 300 at the start of June to nearly 1,600. And that only counts residents, not visitors. Local entrepreneurs fear more infections could result in bad publicity.
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is recommending that communities wait a little bit longer before moving to the next phase of reopening as coronavirus cases increase.
The “Phase Out” stage of Kelly’s Ad Astra reopening plan was set to begin Monday, but Kelly and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are now advising communities to stay in Phase 3 for at least two more weeks.
The main difference is that Phase 3 limits mass gatherings to no more than 45 people. The “Phase Out” stage merely urges social distancing but doesn’t limit the size of crowds. The ultimate decision, though, rests with local officials.
“Though many Kansans and communities have been social distancing, wearing masks, and working hard over the past few weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus, we have unfortunately seen an increase in disease spread,” Kelly said in a news release.
New data released Monday shows Kansas has at least 12,465 cases, up 406 from Friday. The state health department also said the number of COVID-19 deaths rose by five to 259.
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is offering some advice for colleges attempting to reopen classes this fall: tailor plans to local conditions, make sure everyone is wearing masks, and don’t ignore the wellbeing of the maintenance and dining hall staff.
“Masks have to be done at all times,” Fauci told the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
He said colleges have to assume that some students will get infected, and they have to have plans for how to keep them and their classmates safe.
Fauci said online learning and teaching should be offered as options for all students and faculty.
WASHINGTON — Federal health officials tell Congress to brace for a second wave of coronavirus infections in the fall and winter of this year.
Drs. Anthony Fauci of the NIH, Robert Redfield of the CDC, and FDA head Stephen Hahn agreed under questioning before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“It’s simple,” said Redfield. “We are going to experience significant coronavirus infection in the fall and winter.”
Other respiratory viruses follow a usual pattern of resurgence during the cold weather months, when people are likelier to be indoors, making it easier to transmit infection.
HHS assistant secretary for health Brett Giroir concurred with the other officials, adding that he wants to have enough supplies stockpiled so the health care system can treat COVID-19 patients without having to shut down access for people needing care for other conditions.
AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas has surpassed 5,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time, recording another troubling milestone as America’s largest pediatric hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital, begins taking adult patients to free up bed space in Houston.
The announcement Tuesday comes days after Texas eclipsed 4,000 new cases for the first time just last weekend.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that “the next couple weeks are going to be critical” in Texas and other states that are trying to curtail an alarming spike in new cases.
The infection rate in Texas has doubled since late May to nearly 9%. And on Monday, Texas recorded an 11th consecutive day of record COVID-19 hospitalizations with more than 3,700.
WASHINGTON — The chairman of a House committee conducting an oversight hearing on the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response says the panel was snubbed by the head of Medicare and Medicaid.
Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would have joined Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials testifying Tuesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., says Verma turned down repeated invitations.
She “could have provided valuable insight (about) what is working, what still needs to be improved and what more we can do to help these vulnerable communities,” said Pallone. “Unfortunately, she decided not to come.”
There was no immediate comment from the Medicare agency. Pallone said he will keep pushing for Verma to appear before the committee.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Republican governor says he has no plans to shut down the economy even though he shares some of the concerns raised in a memo by the state’s epidemiologist who warned a “complete shutdown” might be imminent if the state can’t stop a prolonged spike of coronavirus cases.
Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted late Monday night that he appreciated the analysis by epidemiologist Angela Dunn in her memo that detailed the severity of a spread of COVID-19 that has doubled the infection rate and daily case count since Herbert allowed many businesses to reopen in mid-May.
But he reiterated his stance that economic growth can happen while keeping people safe.
“We will work to stem this tide, but I have no plans to shut down Utah’s economy,” tweeted Herbert.
Dunn recommended that the state reimpose some restrictions on businesses and group gatherings unless the state lowers its weekly average of case by more than half by July 1.
WASHINGTON — Top federal health officials say they continue to deal with the World Health Organization despite President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the U.N. health agency, which serves as a forum for the global coronavirus response.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that they continue to have regular interactions with scientific peers at the WHO.
Trump pulled the U.S. out of the World Health Organization after complaining about its response to the coronavirus and alleged favoritism toward China.
Fauci and Redfield both said they were not directly consulted about the president’s decision.
Fauci said his National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a memorandum of understanding that governs regular collaboration with the WHO. Redfield said his agency is working with the world body on Ebola, polio and influenza.
BATON ROUGE, La. — The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Louisiana jumped by more than 1,356 Tuesday, and the number of people hospitalized with the disease ticked up by 16.
The statewide increase to a total of 51,595 cases was the largest single-day rise in reported cases since early April — excluding days when delayed reporting of backlogged cases accounted for increases.
The daily record was reported by the state health department a day after Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the recent surge in cases would prevent Louisiana from further easing restrictions aimed at keeping the new coronavirus from spreading.
On Twitter, the state health department said 95% of the cases reported Tuesday were the result of “community spread,” as opposed to infections in nursing homes or other such settings.
The pandemic death toll in Louisiana as of Tuesday was 3,021.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has registered 27 more virus-related deaths over 24 hours, pushing thecountry’s overall COVID-19 death toll to 5,001.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Tuesday also reported 1,268 new confirmed virus cases since the day before. They bring Turkey’s total confirmed cases to 190,165. The death toll now stands at 5,001.
Turkey has seen an increase in new cases since the government authorized cafes, restaurants, gyms, parks, beaches and museums to reopen and eased stay-at-home orders for the elderly and young at the start of June.
The country has reported new daily cases numbering around 1,200 or above since June 13, up from around 800 to 900.
WASHINGTON — The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says his agency is maintaining an arm’s-length relationship with a White House-led effort to quickly produce a COVID-19 vaccine once it’s approved.
The White House effort is called “Operation Warp Speed,” and it’s geared at having ready the manufacturing capacity and distribution channels for a massive vaccination program.
But FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that his agency is careful not to work in tandem with Warp Speed.
“We absolutely must maintain regulatory independence and make the right decision for the American people based on the science and the data,” said Hahn.
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says he thinks the United States will be better prepared if the country has a second wave of coronavirus infections this fall and winter.
Fauci told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that the U.S. should have the ability to do 40 million to 50 million tests per month by that time, giving public health officials the ability to understand the dynamics of the spread of the virus.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says that supplies of masks, gowns and other equipment are also being replenished in the national stockpile, and U.S. production is being built up.
Fauci also told the committee he doesn’t regret the American public wasn’t urged sooner to wear face masks because health personnel needed equipment when there wasn’t enough to go around early on.
Republican Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia asked Fauci if he thought President Donald Trump was being judged unfairly about his response to the pandemic.
Fauci said the question is unfair and replied, “I work in the White House, and I believe everyone there is doing everything” they can.
LAS VEGAS — The U.S. state of Nevada has reported its biggest one-day increase in new coronavirus cases for the fourth time in the past eight days.
The record 462 new confirmed cases reported Tuesday came amid an uptick that started about two weeks after casinos in Las Vegas reopened.
Nevada’s governor said last week that he plans to leave current restrictions on businesses and gatherings in place at least through the end of June while the state’s climbing number of infections is evaluated.
Overall, Nevada has reported nearly 14,000 virus cases and 492 deaths from COVID-19.
WASHINGTON– The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tells House lawmakers he hasn’t felt any political pressure from the Trump administration to make decisions related to therapies for COVID-19.
The FDA last week pulled its emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug aggressively promoted by President Donald Trump for treating COVID-19.
The FDA in March initially green-lighted use of the drug but said new studies strongly suggest it doesn’t work against the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Hydroxychloroquine also can sometimes cause dangerous heart side effects. The FDA said that risk outweighed the drug’s unproven benefit for COVID-19 patients.
Democratic Congresswoman Anna Eshoo asked FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to immediately report any political pressure on the FDA to members of Congress. Hahn said he would.
PHOENIX — Arizona reported a new daily record of nearly 3,600 additional coronavirus cases on Tuesday as the state continued to set records for the number of people hospitalized, in intensive care and on ventilators for COVID-19.
The state Department of Health Service reported 3,591 new confirmed cases, breaking the previous record set Friday by 345 cases. A total of nearly 7,900 confirmed cases were reported Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Tuesday’s report took the state’s total caseload in the pandemic to 58,179, while 42 more deaths reported Tuesday raised the death toll to 1,384.
The health department said 2,136 patients were hospitalized for the new virus as of Monday, 614 were in intensive care beds and 386 were on ventilators.
Arizona has emerged as a COVID-19 hot spot in the U.S. since Republican Gov. Doug Ducey lifted his stay-home orders in mid-May.
WASHINGTON — The leading infectious disease specialist in the United States has told lawmakers that institutional racism plays a role in the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on African Americans.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday.
Rep. Bobby Rush, Illinois Democrat, asked Fauci about the virus’ toll on Black people.
Fauci cited two main reasons for the disproportionate impact. He says one is that many African Americans are in jobs that are considered essential and involve interactions with the public.
The second reason he gave is that Black people are more likely to suffer from health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes that worsen the symptoms of COVID.
Fauci said, “It’s a sort of double whammy…through no fault of their own.”
WASHINGTON — American infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says neither he nor any members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force have been asked to slow down testing.
The question arose after U.S. President Donald Trump said at a weekend political rally in Oklahoma that he’d asked his aides to slow down testing because it was turning up too many positive cases.
Other top health officials also told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that nobody has asked them to slow down testing.
The U.S. has tested more than 27 million people, with about 2.3 million – or 8.4% — testing positive.
WASHINGTON — The top infectious disease expert in the United States has told House lawmakers it’s a question of “when, not if” the United States will have a vaccine for COVID-19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that he thinks a coronavirus vaccine could be available by the end of this year or early 2021.
One vaccine candidate will enter advanced trials next month.
Fauci says “we feel cautiously optimistic based on the concerted effort.”
The White House has launched an effort called “Operation Warp Speed” to make sure a vaccine can be quickly mass produced and distributed when it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian federal judge on Tuesday ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to comply with local rules to wear a face mask whenever he is outdoors in the capital of Brasilia.
During recent weekends, a sometimes unmasked Bolsonaro has joined throngs of people protesting against Brazil’s Congress and Supreme Court. He has often visited bakeries and outdoor food stalls, drawing crowds around him.
Judge Renato Coelho Borelli said in his ruling that Bolsonaro “has exposed other people to the contagion of a disease that has caused national commotion.”
Brazil’s federal district requires people to wear face masks in public to help control the spread of the new coronavirus. Failure to comply carries a possible daily fine of $390.
Bolsonaro often appears at public events with a mask, unlike some other heads of state.
WASHINGTON— A top House Democrat is accusing President Donald Trump of putting Americans at risk in the face of the coronavirus pandemic by holding a political rally last weekend in Tulsa.
As the House Energy and Commerce Committee prepares to hear testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci, committee chairman Frank Pallone of New Jersey said Trump’s comment at the rally that he asked staff to slow down testing to keep case counts low “was an extremely reckless action.”
Pallone continued: “Unfortunately, it continues the president’s pattern of ignoring the advice of his own public health experts.”
Trump played down those comments, saying under his administration the United States is doing more testing than any other country.
The president is departing the White House for a visit to Arizona on Tuesday,
MOSCOW — The supreme lama of Tuva, one of Russia’s two majority-Buddhist republics, has died of COVID-19.
The region″s governor announced Tuesday that Jampel Lodoy, who carried the title of “kamby lama,” had died in a hospital where he had been treated for about two weeks.
Tuva, which borders Mongolia, has recorded 3,575 coronavirus cases among its population of about 310,000.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch public health institute is to begin monitoring wastewater at all 352 sewerage treatment facilities in the Netherlands for traces of the coronavirus as a way of quickly detecting new cases.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge on Tuesday asked the institute to begin daily testing as quickly as possible.
De Jonge says that by testing wastewater daily “we can quickly detect regional and local upticks of the virus, even before people show symptoms.”
The Health Ministry says the public health institute has done research on wastewater at 29 locations in recent months and discovered that the virus is visible in human waste before infected people develop symptoms.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has opened a 3,300-bed field hospital in a converted car manufacturing plant as the country braces for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases.
The field hospital was built in the city of East London in the Eastern Cape province, one of the country’s coronavirus hot spots. South Africa has reported a total of 101,590 virus cases and 1,991 COVID-19 deaths as of Tuesday.
The new field hospital brings the number of hospital beds nationwide to just above 27,000, including existing facilities and new field hospitals, according to the government. The new facility’s beds come with equipment to administer concentrated oxygen.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the facility also will help boost laboratory testing capacity in South Africa.
A closed Volkswagen vehicle manufacturing plant donated by the German car maker was transformed into the new field hospital. The German government provided financial support to convert the factory in collaboration with the Eastern Cape provincial government.
ATHENS — Hotels operating in Greece this summer will all have basic isolation facilities to allow for quarantine and assist in the treatment of COVID-19 cases, the country’s tourism minister said Tuesday.
Harry Theoharis told state television that preparations were also being finalized to set up a nationwide network of doctors available for hotel calls — so that cases requiring hospitalization would be better prioritized.
Greece will reopen regional airports to international flights on July 1, hoping to salvage some of the vacation season, as tourism remains a key source of income for the country’s economy.
The government has decided to relax testing rules for most incoming flights.
PARIS — The French government says the country’s official contact-tracing app sent 14 notifications in the past three weeks to warn people they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
France’s junior minister for the digital economy, Cedric O, attributed the unexpectedly low number of notifications to the rapid slowdown of the epidemic in France
He says the app was downloaded 1.9 million times since it became available on June 2 yet almost one-quarter of users had since removed it from their cellphones. France has a population of 66 million.
Cedric O said: “People probably consider they need it less.”
The StopCovid app developed by the French government, uses low-energy Bluetooth signals to anonymously log the presence of other users nearby.
It enables individuals with the app who test positive to notify those they were in close contact for at least 15 minutes.
France has reported 29,663 virus-related deaths at hospitals and nursing homes as of Tuesday.
JOHANNESBURG — Researchers in South Africa say the first COVID-19 vaccine trial on the African continent is set to get underway on Wednesday.
The University of the Witwatersrand says the vaccine developed by University of Oxford researchers is already being evaluated in a large trial in the UK and a similar trial is beginning in Brazil.
The announcement came hours after South Africa reported that total coronavirus cases in the country surpassed 100,000 as of Tuesday. South Africa accounts for almost one-third of the infections on the African continent.
The South Africa vaccine trial aims to enroll 2,000 participants. The first are to get vaccinated this week in Gauteng province, home of economic hub Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
Others will be vaccinated in the hot spot of Western Cape province. Shabir Madhi, who leads the trial, said it begins as South Africa enters winter and the flu season and as pressure increases on hospitals.
HOUSTON — The largest pediatric hospital in the United States has begun admitting adult patients to expand hospital capacity in the U.S. state of Texas as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to soar.
Texas Children’s Hospital said Tuesday that it was admitting adult patients across its campuses to free up more hospital beds in the Houston area.
The number of COVID-positive hospital patients in Harris County, which encompasses Houston, has nearly tripled since May 31.
The move comes as Texas registered an 11th consecutive day of record COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state.