The Latest: US hits 10 million confirmed coronavirus cases


By The Associated Press



WASHINGTON — The U.S. has confirmed more than 10 million coronavirus cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as infections continue to rise in nearly every state.

The U.S. hit the milestone on Monday.

New daily confirmed cases are up more than 60% over the past two weeks, to an average of nearly 109,000 a day. Average daily cases are on the rise in 48 states.

The U.S. accounts for about one fifth of the world’s 50 million confirmed cases.

U.S. coronavirus deaths are up 18% over the past two weeks, averaging 939 every day. The virus has now killed more than 237,000 Americans.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PARIS — France counted 551 deaths linked to Covid-19 in hospitals in the last 24 hours, a record number since the start of the second wave of the virus sweeping across the country, France’s health chief said Monday.

“The spike is ahead of us. The second wave is still progressing,” Jerome Salomon said at a news conference.

The latest count brought the total number of people who have died in France since the start of the pandemic to 40,987.

France holds the grim distinction of being the 4th country in the world in number of cases — more than 1.8 million as of Monday — since the coronavirus began stalking the globe in early 2020. However, Soloman attributed the figure to increased testing, with 2.3 million tests carried out this week.

The health chief also noted a glimmer of hope: signs of a possible slowing of infections in areas where additional measures to curb the virus spread were put in force.

France has entered a second lockdown but with schools remaining open this time. But a curfew also was recently put in force in Paris and some other areas which means, for instance, that there can be no takeout deliveries of food after 10 p.m.

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NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans will this week allow bars to open at 25% capacity as it further eases restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Monday.

Other changes include an increase in the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings from 50 to 100. At outdoor gatherings, the limit goes from 100 to 150.

The new “Phase 3.3” restrictions take effect Wednesday.

The city eased restrictions and let bars open for a time earlier this year, only to shut them down again amid a second surge of the coronavirus. Since then, the city has incrementally eased restrictions — for example allowing outdoor seating at bars allowing take out alcoholic beverages and allowing bars that operate as restaurants to have limited indoor service.

Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the city health director, said the city is in a position to further ease restrictions this week because New Orleans has so far avoided the latest resurgence of case that has occurred in much of the nation. “We’re an outlier,” she said. “We are a good outlier and we want to remain it.”

Avegno said the city’s priority remains maintaining safety at schools. Public schools in the city have gradually increased in-school classes since mid-October and city officials have stressed that restrictions will be tightened if need be to protect that progress.

Officials also addressed the Monday announcement from Pfizer that early results from its coronavirus vaccine suggest it may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, putting the company on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Once a vaccine is available to the general public, she said— noting that health care workers and vulnerable populations such as nursing home residents will get high priorities — distribution in the city will be similar in many ways to public testing, with efforts to make vaccinations available for many at drive-through and walk-up locations.

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JERUSALEM — Thousands of ultra-orthodox Jews have defied coronavirus restrictions to attend a funeral in Jerusalem for a prominent American rabbi.

It was the latest in a series of mass gatherings held in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community, where many have flouted restrictions on religious events and clashed with police. The insular community has meanwhile seen high rates of infection throughout the pandemic.

Israeli media reported that the funeral held Monday for Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, who died in New York on Friday at the age of 91, drew thousands of people. His body was brought to Jerusalem for burial.

Videos circulating online showed scuffles between mourners and Israeli police.

Israel is gradually emerging from its second nationwide lockdown since the pandemic began. The country has reported nearly 320,000 cases, including 2,674 deaths.

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OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced new restrictions Monday requiring masks in certain circumstances to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but he continued to reject the idea of a statewide mask mandate.

Under the new restrictions that take effect on Wednesday, masks will be required at businesses where employees have close contact with customers for more than 15 minutes, such as salons and massage parlors. At bars, masks will be required when people aren’t drinking or eating.

“I think mask mandates just breed resistance from people,” Ricketts said. “I think what we have to do is continue to educate people about when you use a mask.”

The new rules also include restricting indoor gatherings to 25% of a building’s capacity, down from the current 50% rule, and attendance at youth sporting events will be limited to the immediate families of participants. But restaurants and bars can continue operating at full capacity as long as they maintain 6 feet of distance between tables and limit groups to no more than eight people.

“We’ve taken the approach the entire time along that we are going to work to be able to preserve our hospital capacity,” Ricketts said. “That said, we are going to try to keep it as light a touch as possible so that we can preserve people’s freedoms to the extent that we can and try to find that balancing act between the two.”

Ricketts announced the new rules as the state reported 794 people were hospitalized with the virus Sunday, up from the previous day’s record of 760 — more than double the number of hospitalizations three weeks ago. The rate of new virus cases in the state remained the seventh-highest in the nation on Sunday.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged Britons not to slacken their resolve in battling the coronavirus despite news of a vaccine on the horizon, warning that the country is now “heading towards the levels of the previous peak” in terms of COVID-19 patients in hospital.

Johnson told a televised news conference on Monday that the number of those patients has increased to 13,000 as of Nov.5. Commenting on the Pfizer vaccine, he stressed that it was very early days and “we cannot let our enthusiasm tonight run away with us.”

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam echoed Johnson’s cautious tone, warning people not to relax and not to “get overexcited about where we are.” He said he was hopeful that “we could begin to see some vaccine by Christmas,” and added that when it gets to the stage when vaccines are authorized for distribution in the U.K., age will be the main factor in deciding who gets priority.

A new round of tough national coronavirus restrictions in England came into effect last Thursday, forcing all restaurants, pubs and non-essential shops to shutter until Dec.2. Schools and universities remain open.

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O’FALLON, Mo. — Missouri’s largest county offered a dire warning to its 1 million residents on Monday: New restrictions will be necessary unless the coronavirus surge is brought under control.

St. Louis County already requires face coverings and has imposed other restrictions, but Democratic Executive Sam Page said at a news conference that with cases rising again and hospitals filling quickly, more drastic measures could be announced next week.

“No one wants to shut down our economy and no one wants more restrictions,” Page said. “We understand how harmful that will be. But we can’t stand by as this virus continues to rage in our community.”

Missouri is among dozens of states seeing a big increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. After reaching new records in cases several times last week, culminating with a high of 4,559 on Saturday, the state health department reported better numbers Monday — 3,244 new cases and no new deaths.

It’s too early to tell if that was a one-day blip or the start of a trend.

State data showed Missouri’s positivity rate at 19.5% — nearly four times the benchmark suggested by the World Health Organization. Missouri has now reported 212,441 confirmed cases and 3,153 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

On Sunday, Dr. Alex Garza of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force cited a “frightening” amount of virus in the St. Louis area, and he warned that hospitals are increasingly overwhelmed. Average daily hospitalizations and admissions have more than doubled over the past month at St. Louis-area hospitals.

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame has implemented mandatory coronavirus testing for students and strict penalties for those who don’t comply after students rushed the school’s football field to celebrate a double-overtime upset over Clemson and held numerous weekend parties.

Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins told students Sunday that they’re required to undergo coronavirus testing before they leave South Bend, Indiana, for the extended winter break.

The email announcement didn’t specifically reference the storming of the field on Saturday night, but rather “many gatherings.”

If a student is exposed or tests positive, they’ll be required to quarantine on campus for two weeks.

The school says if students don’t complete the test they will be prevented from registering for classes.

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MADRID — Spain’s health ministry is reporting more than 52,000 officially recorded new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, as ICU wards fill up with new coronavirus patients.

The average occupancy rate of ICU beds by COVID-19 patients has surpassed 31%, with that percentage exceeding 50% in the regions on La Rioja and Aragón. Half of the ICU beds in the Melilla region are also taken.

The health ministry said Monday that 512 people died over the weekend.

Spain has recorded more than 39,000 deaths and more that 1.38 million cases since the outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota is adding more than a dozen free COVID-19 testing sites around the state over the next two weeks in an effort to bring the virus under control as cases have surged.

Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday that testing at the sites will be free and open to anyone, whether symptomatic or not.

A saliva testing site opened Monday at the Minneapolis Convention Center, and another opens Thursday at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

An additional 11 sites will open next week at National Guard armories statewide. They will offer a mix of saliva and nasal swab tests and will stay open through at least the end of the year.

Walz said Minnesota’s COVID-19 positivity rate is higher than it’s ever been, and the state’s testing strategy is key to controlling the spread.

The state ranks 12th nationwide for new cases per capita in the last two weeks.

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ROME — Italy’s daily new caseload of confirmed COVID-19 infections dropped considerably on Monday, but some 43,000 fewer swab tests were performed in the last 24 hours.

According to Health Ministry figures, there were 25,271 new cases, some 7,000 fewer than the previous day.

Ministry figures on Mondays frequently reflect reduced testing over the weekend. Still, Italy’s overall number of confirmed cases in the pandemic climbed closer to the 1 million mark, with 960,373 as of Monday.

Since Sunday, 356 deaths were registered, raising to 41,750 the known total in the pandemic. Italian government officials were deciding on Monday about expanding the so-called “red zone” lockdown areas, beyond the four regions so designated last week in an urgent bid to slow the surging spread of COVID-19.

People in red-zone regions cannot leave their towns or even their homes, except for essential reasons including food shopping, doctor’s visits, work, or, in the case of younger children, schools.

Classrooms for upper grades are shuttered in red-zone regions, forcing older students to have lessons remotely.

By The Associated Press