The Latest: Hundreds in Mississippi tested in new initiative

JACKSON, MISS – More than 500 people in one of the poorest counties in Mississippi were tested for the coronavirus by the state Department of Health over the past week as part of a new experimental initiative to slow the spread of the virus by community transmission.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said medical professionals went in with the goal of testing every resident in Lexington, the Holmes County seat, where 2,000 people live. By identifying those who are asymptomatic, Dobbs said, officials hoped to limit cases of the virus being passed unknowingly from person to person.

“We didn’t quite get every resident, but if we got 500, I was going to consider it a success, and we surpassed that,” he said Monday.

A total of 561 people were tested in Lexington, 14 of whom weren’t previously aware they had been infected with the coronavirus. The majority of those 14 people were asymptomatic.

Holmes County has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s one of the smallest counties in the state, and it’s seen 900 cases of coronavirus, according to the Department of Health. That’s around 5% of the population.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Extreme poverty rises; a generation sees a future slip away

— Schools mull outdoor classes amid virus, ventilation worries

— States on hook for billions under Trump’s unemployment plan

— Pandemic wrecks global Class of 2020′s hopes for first job

— Health officials are quitting or getting fired amid outbreak

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

ATLANTA — Georgia’s governor says the reopening of some of the state’s schools amid the coronavirus outbreak has gone well except for photos shared on social media showing students crowded together in hallways.

“I think quite honestly this week went real well other than a couple of virtual photos,” Gov. Brian Kemp said at a news conference with the U.S. surgeon general on Monday.

Photos shared widely on social media last week showed hallways packed shoulder to shoulder with students at North Paulding High School northwest of Atlanta. School officials later announced that six students and three staff members had tested positive for the coronavirus, and that the school would be closed Monday and Tuesday while the building is disinfected.

In nearby Cherokee County, 12 students and two staff members from a dozen schools tested positive for the virus during their first week back. The Cherokee County system reported that more than 250 students with potential exposure had been sent home to quarantine for two weeks.

Cherokee County also drew attention because of online photos. Dozens of students at two of its high schools squeezed together for first-day-of-school senior photos. None wore masks.

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NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s department of health has reported that a fourth child or young person has died from a rare condition linked to the coronavirus.

As of Monday, the department said that 44 Louisiana residents between the ages of 1 month and 19 years have been diagnosed with the condition that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.

The department says those who died ranged from 2 to 19 years old. The health department says that underlying medical conditions were reported in two of the four deaths.

CDC data shows that as of Thursday, health departments nationwide have reported 10 deaths and 570 confirmed cases of the condition in 40 states and Washington, D.C.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Students have begun returning to some Florida college campuses and some public school classrooms in rural districts have opened with new safety precautions in place as the state reports its lowest number of daily cases of COVID-19 in more than a month.

Robert Brown, a grandfather of five and foster father of another child, had mixed emotions about students returning to school. Brown lives in Hamilton County, located in North Florida on the Georgia border, and he was aware of news reports of students at Georgia schools contracting the virus after recent reopenings.

“It’s leaving me with some skepticism, because kids are kind of irresponsible,” Brown said.

One of his grandsons attended first grade in person on Monday. Another granddaughter was returning to a private school on Tuesday. His other grandchildren were doing online classes, including one with sickle cell anemia.

Brown and his wife also care for a 14-year-old foster daughter, who is doing online school.

“I’m worried,” said Brown, who is also a Hamilton County commissioner. “It’s a tough situation for everybody.”

Meanwhile, Florida reported 4,155 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the smallest daily caseload increase since the end of June.

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NEW YORK — Antonio Banderas says he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is celebrating his 60th birthday in quarantine.

The Spanish actor announced his positive test in an Instagram post on Monday. Banderas said he would spend his time in isolation reading, writing and “making plans to begin to give meaning to my 60th year to which I arrive full of enthusiasm.”

“I would like to add that I am relatively well, just a little more tired than usual and hoping to recover as soon as possible following medical instructions that I hope will allow me to overcome the infection that I and so many people in the world are suffering from,” wrote Banderas.

Earlier this year, Banderas was nominated for the Academy Award for best actor for his performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain & Glory.”

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi legislators have returned to the state Capitol for the first time since a coronavirus outbreak in early July hospitalized several legislators and killed one person.

Mississippi’s state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said Monday that 49 total legislators tested positive in the outbreak — more than one-fourth of the entire body.

Lawmakers left the building July 1 after working there throughout the month of June, many without wearing masks or following social distancing regulations. The first cases in the group were confirmed in the early days of July.

The health officer said at least four legislators were hospitalized and three required intensive care. Dobbs said that at least 12 others, including lobbyists and staff, were infected, including one non-legislator who died.

Among those who tested positive in the heavily Republican body are the GOP presiding officers, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann.

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LONDON — The British government is laying off 6,000 coronavirus contact tracers and deploying the rest to work in local teams, in an acknowledgment that the centralized track-and-trace system is not working well enough.

The U.K. has been criticized for failing to keep track of infected people’s contacts early in the pandemic, a factor that contributed to the country’s high death toll of more than 46,500, the most in Europe.

Since May the country has rapidly set up a test-and-trace system to try to contain the outbreak, recruiting thousands of staff in a matter of weeks. But the system, which relies on telephone call centers, has failed to reach more than a quarter of contacts of people who have tested positive for the virus.

Some frustrated local authorities have set up their own contact-tracing networks, which have proved more effective because they know communities better and can go door-to-door if needed.

The national test-and-trace program said Monday it was officially adopting that localized approach. Some 6,000 contact tracers will be laid off this month, and the remaining 12,000 will work with local public health authorities around the country.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s culture ministry is closing down the Museum of the Ancient Agora, a major archaeological site in central Athens, for two weeks after a cleaner there was diagnosed with COVID-19.

A ministry statement Monday said the museum would be comprehensively disinfected, while the actual site of the Ancient Agora, which was the administrative, political and social center of the ancient city, will remain open.

Greek sites and museums are open to visitors, with the wearing of masks obligatory in museums.

The closure also comes as Greece has announced 126 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the last day, bringing the country’s total to 5,749, and one more death for a total death toll of 213 amid a spike in daily infections.

Of the new cases, 17 were migrants who arrived on the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos who arrived from the nearby Turkish coast.

The government announced new measures Monday to curb the spread, including orderings bars, restaurants and cafes in several regions to shut between midnight and 7 a.m. Other measures include requiring those arriving in the country from land borders, as well as those flying in from several European countries, to have proof of a negative coronavirus test.

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BANGKOK — Thailand is making plans to allow at least 3,000 foreign teachers to enter the country, even as it continues to keep out tourists and tightly restricts other arrivals to guard against new coronavirus infections.

Attapon Truektrong, secretary-general of the Private Education Commission, said Monday that those who have registered include teachers returning to their jobs after leaving during the pandemic, as well as newly employed teachers.

The teachers, who come from countries including the Philippines, New Zealand, the United States and Britain, will have to be quarantined for 14 days after arrival. Thailand barred scheduled passenger flights from abroad in early April

Thailand hosts many international schools and there is a general shortage of qualified teachers of English and other non-Thai languages.

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ISLAMABAD — The incoming president of the United Nations General Assembly has praised Pakistan for quickly containing the coronavirus, saying the South Asian nation’s handling of the pandemic is a good example for the world.

The Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir made his comment Monday at a news conference in the capital, Islamabad.

Bozkir was recently elected as the president of the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

Upon his arrival in Islamabad, he met with the country’s prime minister, Imran Khan, who wants international financial institutions and rich nations to give a debt relief to poor countries whose economies have badly been affected by the new virus.

Bozkir’s visit comes amid a steady decline in COVID-19 deaths and infections in Pakistan.

Pakistan reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus in February and in March it imposed a nationwide lockdown, which has gradually been lifted in recent weeks. Pakistan on Monday reported 15 fatalities from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising its total COVID-19-related fatalities to 6,097.

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WATERLOO, Iowa — The family of a fourth worker who died from the coronavirus during an outbreak at Tyson Foods’ largest pork processing plant is suing the company over his death.

The lawsuit says that Isidro Fernandez, of Waterloo, Iowa, died April 26 from complications of COVID-19, leaving behind a wife and children.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed in June by the same lawyers on behalf of the estates of three other deceased Waterloo employees.

The lawsuits allege Tyson put employees at risk by downplaying concerns and covering up the outbreak to keep them on the job. They allege the company failed to implement safety measures, allowed some sick and exposed employees to keep working, and falsely assured the public that the plant was safe.

The company says the workers’ deaths are tragic but that it vigorously disputes the allegations. Tyson says that it worked during the pandemic to follow safety guidelines and has invested millions of dollars to keep workers safe.

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LONDON — The emergencies chief for the World Health Organization said that COVID-19 doesn’t seem to follow the seasonal patterns that some viruses exhibit, making it harder to control.

Unlike other respiratory viruses like influenza that spread mainly in the winter, the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in the summer. That’s despite earlier predictions from some scientists and politicians it would fade in the heat.

“This virus has demonstrated no seasonal pattern as such,” said Dr. Michael Ryan at a press briefing on Monday. “What it has clearly demonstrated is that if you take the pressure off the virus, the virus bounces back,” he said. Ryan said the U.N. health agency continues to advise countries even where COVID-19 appears to be under control, such as those in Europe, to maintain measures to slow virus spread.

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NEW DELHI — India has registered a record 1,007 fatalities in the past 24 hours as new coronavirus infections surged by 62,064 cases.

The Health Ministry says the total fatalities reached 44,386 on Monday.

The number of positive cases reported so far are 2,215,074. At least 634,935 patients were still undergoing treatment.

India has recorded more than 60,000 cases of the virus daily in the last four days and more infections than any other country in the world for six consecutive days. It has averaged around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June.

Infections in India remain concentrated in 10 states that contribute nearly 80% of the new cases.

India has the third-highest caseload in the world after the United States and Brazil. It has the fifth-most deaths but its fatality rate of about 2% is far lower than the top two hardest-hit countries.

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LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization predicted that the number of people infected by the coronavirus will hit 20 million this week, including about 750,000 deaths.

In a briefing on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that “behind these statistics there is a great deal of pain and suffering” but said there were still “green shoots of hope” no matter what stage in an outbreak a country or region might be.

He offered no new strategies to combat the virus but said again that “leaders must step up to take action and citizens need to embrace new measures,” pointing to New Zealand as an example for the world. The country recently marked 100 days with no local spread of the virus.

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BEIJING — New locally transmitted cases of coronavirus in China fell to just 14 over the past 24 hours, the National Health Commission reported Monday. The low figure was offset, however, by 35 cases brought into the country by Chinese travelers from overseas.

All the cases of local transmission were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose main city Urumqi is the center of China’s latest outbreak. Tightened restrictions on travel, widespread testing and a lockdown on some residential communities appear to have been effective in bringing down numbers of new infections in Urumqi, while a separate outbreak in the northeastern city of Dalian seems to have run its course.

Chinese hospitals are currently treating 802 people for COVID-19, 41 of them in serious condition, while another 290 people are under observation while being isolated for showing signs of having the virus or for testing positive without displaying symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,634 fatalities from the disease among 84,668 cases.

Hong Kong reported another 72 cases and five deaths as it continues to battle a new wave of infections with tightened rules on indoor dining and obligatory mask wearing in public settings. The semi-autonomous southern Chinese city has reported 52 deaths among 4,079 total cases.

Categories: National News

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