The Latest: US deaths predicted at nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1
SEATTLE — A widely cited University of Washington model predicts U.S. deaths from COVID-19 will reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1.
The forecast of 295,011 deaths is 137,000 more than the roughly 158,000 U.S. deaths reported so far. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model assumes that many states will impose new stay-at-home orders as deaths climb.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors the model along with forecasts from about 30 other modeling groups. Combined, the models predict from 168,000 to 182,000 total COVID-19 deaths by Aug. 22.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Spain town will lock down after virus surge
— UK says 50M masks unusable over safety concerns
— Virus testing in the US is dropping, even as deaths mount
— Nearly 1.2 million laid-off Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week, evidence that the coronavirus keeps forcing companies to slash jobs.
— North Korea says it is quarantining thousands of people and shipping food and other aid to a city locked down over coronavirus concerns.
— California has stopped updating a list of counties facing more restrictions on businesses and schools after a technical problem in the state’s coronavirus testing database led to an undercount.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says If you can wear a face shield to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus, you might as well do it.
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says he’s been asked by teachers worried about infection risks from kids in the classroom whether they should wear plastic face shields. They are now commonly used in hospital emergency departments, as well as dental and medical offices. Occasionally, supermarket shoppers also sport them.
“It certainly can’t hurt,” says Fauci, who has also promoted the use of cloth masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Fauci took questions from the media at a session sponsored by the nonprofit Alliance for Health Policy.
There’s no formal recommendation yet to wear face shields because the science isn’t clear, Fauci said, but there is a certain logic to it: so the virus does enter the body through the mouth, nose and eyes.
MADRID — A town of 32,000 people in northwestern Spain will begin lockdown Friday amid a local surge in coronavirus cases.
The senior health official in the Basque country reported 338 news cases in the region on Thursday. Authorities in the northwestern Castile and León region are quarantining Aranda de Duero after 103 new COVID-19 cases emerged there. Contact tracers have reported five active clusters.
New cases have risen steadily in Spain since a more than three-month lockdown ended on June 21, reaching 1,772 new infections reported on Wednesday. A total of more than 28,000 people in Spain have died since the pandemic began, the eighth highest total in the world.
LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization hopes the United States leadership will reconsider its departure from the U.N. health agency.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the U.S. was well recognized both for its generosity and support of global health projects in the past.
“You cannot defeat this virus in a divided world,” Tedros said of a country that contributes more than $450 million to the agency every year.
“When I was a minister in Ethiopia, when HIV/AIDS was ravaging the whole continent of Africa…it’s the U.S. generosity and leadership that gave hope to individuals, gave hope to families and gave hope to nations,” Tedros said.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused WHO of botching its response to the coronavirus and said it colluded with China in the pandemic’s early stages to cover up the extent of the outbreak.
WHO had denied that and recently start a probe into the global response to the pandemic.
WINDER, Ga. — More than 90 staff members in one Georgia school district have been quarantined due to coronavirus exposure or infection, prompting the district to start the year entirely online.
Barrow County Schools officials say the district about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta will begin with distance learning on Aug. 17.
Superintendent Dr. Chris McMichael says the district took “every precaution” and staff members were required to wear masks during preplanning before students returned to buildings. But dozens of employees were still infected or in quarantine due to a suspected case or direct contact with a confirmed case.
Also this week, about 260 employees for Gwinnett County Public Schools, the state’s largest public school district, reported testing positive for the virus.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland is reintroducing restrictions to some central and southern counties with the highest rates of coronavirus cases after the daily rate recently reached 726 new cases.
Starting Saturday, cinemas and gyms will be reclosed and no more than 50 people allowed to attend wedding parties or funerals in some among the 19 counties. People must wear protective masks in all public spaces.
Poland, a nation of 38 million, has registered nearly 50,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,770 deaths.
Duluth, Minn. — St. Louis County in northeastern Minnesota this week has added new coronavirus cases faster than any other county in the state.
Of the 475 cases in St. Louis County as of Wednesday, more than half were confirmed in July. The virus has been detected throughout the state’s geographically largest county, but about three-fourths of the cases came from Duluth, according to health officials.
While nursing homes were hit hard by the coronavirus in the spring and early summer, now nearly one-third of those infected in the county are in their 20s.
About 40% of people who tested positive say they’d attended restaurants or bars during the period they were likely exposed to the virus, the county’s public health director Amy Westbrook says.
Westbrook says the next few weeks will be critical. The number of daily new cases in the county is hovering close to 20.
The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reported its first two confirmed cases on the reservation, part of which is in St. Louis County, and a third case involving a band member tested in Duluth, the Star Tribune reported.
PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem is using coronavirus restrictions in other states to lure businesses to relocate to South Dakota.
In an online ad, Noem tells business owners to “grow their company” in South Dakota where government will stay out of their way.
“When it comes to supporting growth and eliminating government heavy-handed interference, South Dakota means business,” Noem said in the ad from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
The Republican governor says Minnesota’s COVID-19-related restrictions, including a mandate to wear face masks in public buildings, has created an opportunity for businesses there to cross the border to South Dakota.
Noem says in South Dakota, businesses won’t be shut down.
Noem has taken a relaxed approach to the pandemic. Even as Republican governors in states such as Texas have moved to require people to wear masks, Noem didn’t require physical distancing or masks at the July 3 celebration at Mount Rushmore, which President Donald Trump attended.
NES ZIONA, Israel — Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz says the country will begin human trials on a coronavirus vaccine in the fall.
Gantz made the announcement Thursday after a visit to the Israel Institute for Biological Research, a research center under the Defense Ministry.
Gantz says the human trials would begin after the upcoming Jewish new year holidays, which take place in September and early October.
“All of the successful preliminary trials offer very significant news and a great deal of hope,” Gantz said. “The next phase, as we’ve determined, is to start trials in humans after the autumn holidays.”
More than two dozen experimental vaccines are in various stages of human testing worldwide.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A northern Norway university hospital says two more crewmembers who worked on a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, bring the total to 55.
Following the outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen, the ship’s owner halted all cruises on Monday and Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks.
The University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle, where the ship currently is docked, said the two were admitted Thursday. They were described as foreign nationals working on the MS Roald Amundsen.
Earlier, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said during the ship’s two journeys last month, a total of 37 crew members and 16 passengers tested positive. The passengers all registered as living in Norway.
The cruise liner often acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port along Norway’s west coast. Some passengers disembarked along the route and authorities fear they may have spread the virus to local communities.
LONDON — The British government says it won’t be using 50 million face masks it bought during a scramble to secure protective equipment for medics at the height of the coronavirus outbreak because of safety concerns.
The masks were part of a 252 million pound ($332 million) contract the government signed with investment firm Ayanda Capital in April. Papers filed in a court case reveal that the masks will not be distributed because they have ear loops rather than head loops and may not fit tightly enough.
The government says another 150 million masks supplied by Ayanda are unaffected but are still being tested.
The papers are part of a lawsuit against the Conservative government by campaigning groups the Good Law Project and EveryDoctor.
As the coronavirus outbreak accelerated across the U.K. in March, it became clear that the country lacked sufficient stockpiles of masks, gloves, gowns and other protective gear for health care workers and nursing home staff. That sparked a race to buy billions of pieces of equipment from suppliers in the U.K. and abroad.
Opposition parties are calling for an urgent investigation into the way personal protective equipment was acquired.
JOHANNESBURG — As Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases near 1 million, the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that “we cannot at all exercise fatigue” in the pandemic response.
John Nkengasong spoke to reporters as the continent’s cases are now at more than 992,000. More than half are in South Africa.
Africa has seen an 11% increase in cases in the past week, lower than in recent weeks, but Nkengasong says that while it’s tempting to see a decrease, the numbers must be observed over several weeks to determine the real trend of infections on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
Five countries account for 75% of cases: South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana and Algeria.
The low rate of testing remains a concern, but Nkengasong says that if countries do the right things “we have a good chance of beating back this pandemic.” He says the CDC is closely watching countries including Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan as cases climb.
BERLIN — Germany’s health minister says authorities will require people arriving from a large number of countries deemed high-risk to take coronavirus tests starting on Saturday.
German officials have voiced alarm over a steady upward creep in the number of new infections over recent weeks. The national disease control center on Wednesday recorded more than 1,000 cases in a day for the first time in three months.
As school holidays end, the government is keen to keep tabs on potentially infected vacationers entering the country. Last Saturday, it started offering free tests for people returning to the country.
People entering Germany from countries deemed high-risk — most of them outside Europe — are currently required to quarantine for 14 days unless they can present a negative test result no more than two days old.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said that starting on Saturday, arrivals from those countries will be obliged to take a test — unless they bring a new test result with them.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines reported 3,561 new coronavirus cases Thursday, overtaking Indonesia with the most infections in Southeast Asia, as Manila plunged into a recession.
The latest jump brings confirmed cases to 119,460, including 2,150 deaths. Indonesia reported a total of 118,753 confirmed infections as of Thursday, with 5,521 deaths.
The economy slumped by 16.5% in the second quarter in the worst contraction on record in decades that caused the Philippines to slip into a recession.
The stagnant economy has begun to rebound slightly after President Rodrigo Duterte eased a three-month lockdown in June. But he put the capital and outlying provinces of more than 25 million people back under a two-week moderate lockdown Tuesday, after medical groups warned the health care system was being overwhelmed and could collapse.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says, “I’ll be honest with you, the economy can no longer withstand a much longer lockdown.”
HANOI, Vietnam — A health official says Vietnam’s COVID-19 outbreak could peak in the coming 10 days as the country reported another death and scores of new infections.
Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son, who is in hot spot Da Nang to oversee the fight against the virus, says new infections have been found every day and “therefore, we have to continue keeping guard up.”
To cope with an increase in virus patients, Da Nang completed a 700-bed makeshift hospital on Wednesday. The hospital, converted from a sports auditorium, has a maximum capacity of 3,000 beds.
A 67-year-old woman became Vietnam’s ninth fatality. She had suffered from other health complications.
Since the outbreak returned to Vietnam two weeks ago after more than three months, 270 local infections have been confirmed, most of them traced to a cluster of hospitals in Da Nang. Among the new cases are six in a high-tech industrial park in the city.
The virus has since spread to 11 provinces and municipalities, including the largest cities of Ho Chi Minh with eight cases and Hanoi with three.
Among measures to curb the outbreak, the government is encouraging the use of a smart phone app that alerts clients if they had come into contact with a person who tested positive.
BERLIN — Germany’s national disease control center has registered the highest number of new coronavirus infections in a day for three months.
The Robert Koch Institute says 1,045 cases were recorded on Wednesday. It was the first time since May 7 that it has counted more than 1,000 cases in a day. It’s still far short of early April’s peak of more than 6,000.
The figure fits into a pattern of new cases edging higher over recent weeks as authorities deal with a number of small outbreaks in different parts of the country.
The disease control center’s daily report repeated its assessment that “this development is very disturbing.” Officials last week pleaded with Germans to respect mask-wearing and social distancing rules.
Germany’s COVID-19 response so far is widely regarded as relatively successful. The Robert Koch Institute has recorded 9,175 deaths and 213,000 confirmed cases, lower than in many comparable countries.
NEW DELHI — India has recorded the biggest single-day deaths of 904 in the past 24 hours as fresh coronavirus infections surged by another 56,282 cases to reach nearly 2 million.
The Health Ministry says the total fatalities touched 40,699. India has recorded 20,000 deaths in the past 30 days.
The ministry also says the recovery rate has improved to 67% from 63% over the last 14 days. Nearly 600,000 patients are still undergoing treatment.
The case death rate stands at 2.09%. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the worst-hit Indian states.
TOKYO — The governor of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture has announced a regional “state of emergency” seeking to curb the coronavirus.
Gov. Hideaki Ohmura on Thursday asked businesses to close altogether or close early and urged people to stay home at night.
The measures continue through Aug. 24, a period that coincides with the Obon holidays, when schools and many companies close. Aichi includes Nagoya, which is home to Toyota Motor Corp.’s headquarters.
The governor says confirmed coronavirus cases have been rising in Aichi since mid-July at 100 or more a day. Before that, daily cases had been zero for extended periods.
Japan’s national government in April called for social distancing and business closings, though those measures were gradually lifted. Japan has had nearly 42,700 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 1,000 deaths.
BEIJING — New COVID-19 cases in China’s northwestern city of Urumqi have shown a slight rise, with 27 reported Thursday, five more than the day before.
The uptick in the Xinjiang region shows authorities are still battling to end country’s latest major outbreak that appeared around three weeks ago. Officials have responded with stiff control measures, including locking down some residential neighborhoods, limiting public transport and restricting travel outside the city.
Urumqi is the capital and biggest city in Xinjiang, which has reported more than 600 coronavirus cases but no deaths.
With no new deaths, China’s total remains at 4,634, among 84,528 confirmed cases recorded since the coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico is nearing 50,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.
The federal Health Department reported 829 newly confirmed deaths Wednesday, giving the country a total of 49,698 such deaths. That is the third highest number of pandemic deaths in the world.
Officials said Mexico’s number of confirmed infections rose by 6,139 to 449,961.
Authorities acknowledge Mexico’s real number of deaths could be much higher, in part because it has done so little testing. Only about 1 million tests have been performed in the country of almost 130 million people since the pandemic began.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is defending school reopenings in the face of mounting reports of students and education staff testing positive for the coronavirus since returning to classes.
Box said Wednesday that she “continue(s) to believe that our schools can safely reopen.” She says improved testing and hospital capacity are added safeguards for returning students for in-person learning.
The governor adds that her biggest recommendation to students and families is to know when to stay at home.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas state government is requiring public schools to stay open five days a week when classes resume this month, complicating efforts by some districts to limit on-site instruction because of the coronavirus.
Education Secretary Johnny Key issued the guidance to schools Wednesday as the state reported 912 new confirmed virus cases and 18 more deaths.
The state’s guidance says schools must be open all five weekdays to comply with the state constitution. Some districts had planned to limit on-site instruction and use remote learning on the days that schools weren’t open.
Arkansas’ public schools are set to reopen the week of Aug. 24.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says schools in the much of the state should strongly consider online-only learning for students this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Inslee also urged Wednesday that they cancel or postpone sports and all other in-person extracurricular activities.
Health experts say the virus is still spreading too extensively in the state, which saw the nation’s first confirmed virus case in late January. Since then, Washington has recorded more than 59,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 1,600 deaths.
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont officials say nearly 150 Vermont inmates housed in a Mississippi prison have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Vermont houses 219 inmates at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Mississippi, because of a lack of capacity in its own prisons.
Late in July, six inmates who were returned to Vermont from the private Mississippi prison tested positive when they arrived at the Rutland correctional facility. That prompted Vermont’s Corrections Department to order that the remaining Vermont inmates in Mississippi be tested.
Interim Vermont Corrections Commissioner James Baker says there were 147 positive tests, 62 negative ones, two tests that are pending and eight inmates refused to be tested.