The Latest: Another lawmaker positive after Capitol lockdown
CHICAGO — A Democratic congressman from Illinois who was forced to go into lockdown during last week’s deadly siege at the Capitol has tested positive for COVID-19.
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider issued a statement Tuesday saying he was “forced to spend several hours” confined with other lawmakers and is criticizing Republican members of Congress who refused to wear masks that were offered during the lockdown.
He says he’s in strict isolation and worried about the health of family members. At least two other Democrats, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, announced positive tests.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
The U.S. will allow more people to get coronavirus shots, including those 65 and older. China says the World Health Organization experts will begin their fact-finding visit this week in the central city of Wuhan where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019. More lawmakers forced into the Capitol lockdown have tested positive. One lawmaker criticized Republicans who declined masks during the lockdown, calling it “selfish idiocy.”
Tokyo residents are questioning holding the Olympics in July because of the coronavirus pandemic. India has started shipping COVID-19 vaccine to cities. The EU regulator is considering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be licensed to the 27-nation bloc.
— Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PHOENIX — Arizona set a one-day record for daily deaths at 335 and hospitalizations topped 5,000 for the first time.
With its health care system struggling to cope, the state had a record 5,082 COVID-19 patients occupying inpatient beds on Monday. That included a record 1,183 in intensive care beds.
The state on Tuesday reported 8,559 infections, increasing confirmed totals to 636,100 cases and 10,482 deaths.
ROME — Italy registered 616 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, a sharp rise compared to the previous three days.
Those death counts had dipped into the 300s and 400s.
The government this week must extend, lift or tighten restrictions that expire on citizens’ travel and on businesses such as restaurants and cafes.
Italy added 14,242 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, increasing the tally to 2.3 million cases. There have been nearly 80,000 confirmed deaths, sixth highest in the world.
MADRID — Spain received the first doses of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus on Tuesday despite the challenges of a record snowfall and cold temperatures have brought to land and air transportation.
The 35,700 doses, enough for 12,850 people, traveled from Belgium in a truck and arrived at a Health Ministry-run warehouse at an undisclosed location in central Spain, the government said Tuesday.
But authorities in Madrid, one of the worst-hit regions by Friday’s blizzard, were still awaiting a separate batch of 48,750 doses from Pfizer-BioNTech that had been due to arrive Monday by plane but had to be diverted to a northern Spanish airport.
The regional health department says the delay was not expected to affect the vaccine rollout, which was ongoing in nursing homes and among health personnel with the existing doses.
GENEVA — Swiss regulators have approved the Moderna coronavirus vaccine for use after clearing the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine last month.
Switzerland’s Swissmedic agency says the Moderna vaccine, which was OK’d by the European Union last week, was approved for all adults over 18.
Switzerland has ordered 7.5 million doses of the vaccine and expects an initial delivery of 200,000 doses “in the next few days.”
Together with the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, the country expects to have around half a million doses of vaccine available this month.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration says it will speed up delivery of the shots after a slow start to the mass coronavirus vaccination campaign
Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced two major changes. First, the government will no longer hold back required second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, practically doubling supply.
Second, states should immediately start vaccinating other groups lower down the priority scale, including people age 65 and older, and younger people with certain health problems.
That aligns with President-elect Joe Biden’s approach, who earlier called for the government to stop holding back doses. On Monday, the government had distributed about 25.5 million doses, but only about 9 million people had received their first shot.
The U.S. leads the world with 22.6 million coronavirus cases and more than 376,000 confirmed deaths.
TULUM, Mexico — Mexico had a span of two weeks over the Christmas holiday where it seemed like tourism had returned.
Quintana Roo state — home to Cancun, the Riviera Maya and Tulum — received 961,000 tourists during that stretch, down only 25% from the previous year.
But there’s concern the winter holiday success could be fleeting, because it came as coronavirus infections in both Mexico and the United States — the main source of the foreign tourists — were reaching new heights.
The positivity rate of coronavirus tests in the state is nearly 50%. The weekly number of deaths quadrupled from the week before Christmas to the week after, according to federal government data.
Mexico has recorded more than 134,000 confirmed deaths. That’s the world’s fourth-highest death toll, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
MINNEAPOLIS — A former Minneapolis police officer who held his knee to the neck of George Floyd for several minutes will be tried separately from three other former officers accused in his death, according to scheduling orders filed Tuesday.
Derek Chauvin will stand trial alone in March due to the coronavirus pandemic while the other three former officers will be tried together in the summer, according to the orders filed in Hennepin County District Court.
Judge Peter Cahill cited the limitations of physical space during the coronavirus pandemic for his order to split the defendants’ trials. It is “impossible to comply with COVID-19 physical restrictions” given how many lawyers and support personnel that four defendants say would be present, Cahill wrote.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Data from the Alaska Department of Corrections show that more than 40% of the people incarcerated in Alaska have been infected with the coronavirus.
Alaska Public Media reported that case counts have exceeded 100 inmates in at least six Alaska prisons. Corrections department facilities Director Jeremy Hough says the state’s inmate testing program has conducted an average of four tests per person since the pandemic began.
ACLU of Alaska Advocacy Director Michael Garvey says prison officials haven’t done enough to contain the disease spread, which is compounded by long-running overcrowding.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Thousands of Alabama football fans partied in streets and ignored coronavirus safety guidelines after their team defeated Ohio State 52-24 for the national championship.
Students and others poured out of jam-packed bars near campus late Monday, traffic cameras and images posted on social media show.
Many of the fans screaming and cheering as they pressed against each other in the street didn’t wear face masks. The scene was exactly what officials feared before the game as they urged people to watch at home and privately celebrate, the Tuscaloosa News reported.
About 404,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 5,300 have died in Alabama.
TOKYO — The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee has tried to reassure the public that the postponed games will open in six months.
Two polls in the last few days show just over 80% of Japanese people surveyed think the Olympics should be canceled or postponed or believe they won’t take place as coronavirus cases surge in Japan.
More than 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from 200 nations and territories normally attend an Olympics. It’s not clear if fans can attend in Tokyo.
In a “New Year’s” address, the 83-year-old Tokyo Olympics president Yorhiro Mori says: “Spring will always come, morning will surely come even after long nights.”
Optimism from organizers has been quelled by a state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding areas declared last week. Japan has controlled the virus relatively well, but cases are rising with about 4,000 deaths in Japan attributed to the coronavirus.
WASHINGTON — A second Democratic member of the House who was forced to go into lockdown during last week’s violent protest at the Capitoal has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington says she has tested positive and criticized Republican members of Congress who declined to wear a mask when it was offered to them during the lockdown. Some members of Congress huddled for hours in the large room, while others were there for a shorter period.
Jayapal says too many Republicans have refused to take the coronavirus seriously, calling it “selfish idiocy.” She’s asking for fines for lawmakers who don’t wear a mask at the Capitol.
BEIJING — China says World Health Organization experts will begin their fact-finding visit this week in the central city of Wuhan where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Tuesday that the experts would fly from Singapore to Wuhan on Thursday. Other details of their schedule haven’t been announced and the central government’s National Health Commission offered no further information.
The visit has been expected for months and WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week expressed frustration that arrangements were taking so long to finalize. After China announced the visit Monday, Tedros said the scientists, who hail from several nations, would be focusing on how COVID-19 first jumped to people.
An Associated Press investigation recently found that China has been strictly controlling all research into the origins of the coronavirus, and the WHO team will have its agenda and any visits within China approved by the Chinese government. China has dismissed calls for an independent investigation, while promoting fringe theories that the virus may have actually been brought to China from outside.
LISBON, Portugal — The office of the Portuguese president says that Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa tested positive for coronavirus although the veteran politician has no symptoms.
The 72-year-old Rebelo de Sousa, who took office in 2016, is seeking a second term in the country’s presidential election on Jan. 24.
A laboratory test with the so-called PCR technique late on Monday revealed that the president was positive for the virus, despite an antigen test having come out negative earlier in the day, his office said in a statement.
The president is self-isolating in a residential area in Belem, in the west of central Lisbon and has suspended all his agenda for coming days, it said.
As the head of state, the president is largely a figurehead in Portugal, where the prime minister and his cabinet are in charge of the day-to-day affairs. He wields large influence nevertheless, and he holds the authority to appoint the prime minister and dissolve parliament.
AMSTERDAM — The European Medicines Agency says it has received an application from AstraZeneca and Oxford University to authorize their coronavirus vaccine.
The Amsterdam-based regulator says it would assess the request at an accelerated pace because the vaccine is already part of a rolling review.
The EU agency has already authorized rival vaccines made by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna.
The AstraZeneca vaccine received emergency authorization in Britain last month.
WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials have created a website to help people find where they can get antibody drugs for COVID-19, medicines that may help prevent serious illness and hospitalization if used early enough after infection occurs.
Two of these drugs — from Eli Lilly and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals — have been authorized for emergency use in the U.S. but red tape, health care staff shortages and other problems have prevented many patients and doctors from getting them.
Department of Health and Human Services officials said Monday that only 25% of the more than 641,000 treatment courses distributed to states and local health sites have been used as of last week.
A big problem has been finding a place that has the drugs. The web site includes a tool where people can find locations administering the treatment within 50 miles. Doctors will determine if patients meet the criteria. Treatment must start within 10 days of first symptoms.
The drugs are free, although people may be charged a fee for the IV infusion, a one-time treatment that takes about an hour.