The Latest: Pence arrives in Arizona, a U.S. virus hotspot
PHOENIX — A masked Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Arizona on Wednesday where the state leads the nation in new coronavirus cases per capita. The visit by Pence comes as Arizona broke its own records in newly reported COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, emergency room visits and deaths. There have been roughly 558 new cases per 100,000 people in Arizona over the past two weeks, ranking the state first in the country for new cases per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University.
State health officials reported 4,878 new confirmed cases — a number comparable to recent daily case totals in larger states such as Florida and California, which have three to six times as many people as Arizona.
Pence was met on a tarmac by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, where the men exchanged an elbow bump.
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday said she was closing indoor seating in bars in parts of the state, including a city with a bar that has been linked to about 140 infections.
Whitmer also signed a bill allowing bars and restaurants to sell cocktails-to-go in an effort to help those businesses.
Bars won’t have to close down completely, according to a new executive order, and the Upper Peninsula and much of northern Michigan are not subject to the order due to low numbers of reported COVID-19 virus cases. All bars may still keep open their outdoor patios.
The order takes effect at 11 p.m. Wednesday.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— UN Security Council asks end of conflicts in virus areas.
— Cases are spiking in the Sunbelt, leading states to back off reopening
— Egypt reopens airports, museums, Giza Pyramids.
— Hollowed out public health system faces more cuts amid virus.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana is seeing its largest daily coronavirus case spike since April, during the height of the state’s outbreak.
Nearly 2,100 new cases of the COVID-19 disease were confirmed over the last day in Louisiana. Hospitalizations continued to tick upward.
The trend is concerning public health experts, noting Louisiana’s once successful efforts to slow infections are being undermined by the public ignoring recommended precautions.
Baton Rouge mayor Sharon Weston Broome says she’s signing an executive order that requires people to wear face coverings when they are inside businesses.
“My message is simple. Save a life, save our economy and wear a face covering,” Broome wrote on Twitter.
New Orleans already has a mask requirement for nearly all activities in the city
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb will keep capacity limits in place for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues because of concerns about a possible increase in coronavirus cases across the state.
The state’s reopening plan called for those restrictions to be lifted this weekend, but Holcomb says he’ll keep them in place until at least July 18. The state will keep its current 250-person limit on social gatherings.
Holcomb, a Republican, says he was concerned about recent increases in hospitalizations across Indiana involving COVID-19 cases and other states that have seen fresh outbreaks after lifting restrictions on bars and other businesses.
Since June 12, restaurants have been allowed 75% capacity in their dining rooms. Bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys, museums and amusement parks have been open at half capacity.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Experts say Florida residents should brace themselves for further coronavirus restrictions, warning the Sunshine State and other southern U.S. states didn’t adopt strong enough measures to control outbreaks early on and are now paying the price.
Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious disease physician at Cleveland Clinic, said Wednesday that once the virus is widespread in states with “huge numbers” of confirmed cases, “it’s going to be almost impossible to control.”
Referring to Florida’s one-day high reported last week, Englund said: “The public health system can’t track 9,000 cases a day and do any kind of reasonable contact tracing…It’s uncontrollable from a public health standpoint.”
She added: “Everyone in our country is going to have to be prepared for stronger measures in the future, for shelter in place, for if not pausing, then taking back some of the measures we had been doing to open our economy.”
ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says he has not yet weighed whether the state will take legal action against local governments that try to impose mask requirements.
The Republican governor held a news conference Wednesday morning before departing on a statewide tour to promote mask-wearing but said he won’t mandate it.
At the same time the governor spoke, Savannah became one of the first cities in Georgia to require people to wear a mask inside businesses. That could set up a battle between the city and state, as Georgia sees a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
Executive orders signed by Kemp have prohibited local governments from imposing more severe coronavirus restrictions.
MIAMI — The largest hospital in Florida’s hardest-hit county in the coronavirus pandemic announced it is scaling back elective surgeries and other procedures because of a new surge in cases.
Jackson Health System in Miami says it will limit non-emergency admissions on Monday because of “a steady increase” in the number of coronavirus patients over the past few weeks.
The county and others in South Florida are closing beaches for the Fourth of July holiday in hopes of preventing further virus spread due to large crowds.
Miami-Dade has 37,961 confirmed cases and 1,000 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
Florida on Wednesday reported more than 6,500 confirmed cases for a total of 158,997 and 3,550 deaths.
TRI-CITIES, Wash. — About 220 officers and inmates at a Washington state prison have tested positive for COVID-19, nearly double since restricting movement in its medium-security unit last month.
The state Department of Corrections brought in the Washington National Guard last week to administer coronavirus testing at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. The Tri-City Herald reported the results showed 171 inmates and 47 staff members tested positive Tuesday. Two inmates died.
Coyote Ridge, located in Connell, has minimum- and medium-security units. Officials say all employees in both units, and all inmates in the medium-security unit, will be regularly tested.
ROME — Italy’s hard-hit northern region of Lombardy accounted for considerably more than half of the nation’s latest confirmed coronavirus cases.
The Health Ministry says 187 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the 24-hour-period ending Wednesday night and 109 in Lombardy. There were 21 deaths, raising to 34,788 the total of known deaths.
Authorities say many elderly with COVID-19 symptoms who died in nursing facilities or their own homes didn’t get tested, so the overall death toll is likely higher.
Italy counts 240,760 cases nationwide in its outbreak. The number of people with the coronavirus needing intensive care beds was 87 on Wednesday. In early April, that daily figure topped 4,000.
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council is demanding an “immediate cessation of hostilities” for at least 90 days in key conflicts including Syria, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and Congo to tackle COVID-19.
The U.N.’s most powerful body voted unanimously Wednesday to adopt the resolution after the United States and China resolved a lengthy dispute over mentioning the World Health Organization.
Germany’s U.N. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, the council president for July, announced the result calling it “a sign for hope for all people currently living in conflict zones around the world.”
“It is now the obligation of the council – and all parties to armed conflicts – to implement this resolution in our work this month and beyond,” he said.
The resolution backs Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ March 23 call for global cease-fires to tackle the pandemic. It calls on all warring parties to pause and allow safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid and medical evacuations.
President Donald Trump suspended funding to WHO in early April, accusing the U.N. health agency of failing to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China. Beijing strongly supports WHO and insisted that its role in calling for global action on COVID-19 be included in any resolution.
JERUSALEM — The Palestinian Authority has announced a five-day total lockdown in the West Bank in response to a major increase in coronavirus cases and deaths in recent days.
The Palestinian government says the lockdown will take effect Friday, and people will be required to shelter at home. A two-month total lockdown of the Palestinian territory was lifted in late May.
In the past two weeks, Palestinian health authorities have reported more than 1,700 confirmed coronavirus cases in the West Bank city of Hebron and hundreds more in Bethlehem and Nablus.
The occupied West Bank has a total of 3,045 confirmed cases and 11 deaths from the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says the state’s restaurants will not be allowed to fully reopen their bars as previously planned.
He announced the decision Tuesday, a day before the state was set to allow people to congregate if practicing social distancing. Instead, restaurants can still operate under Phase 2 restrictions, which allows limited table service in bar areas but generally prohibits sitting at bar counters.
Northam’s office says the decision to keep stricter rules on bars was made because of a spike in virus cases in other states that reopened earlier than Virginia. Over the past few days, Florida, Arizona, Texas and California have closed or otherwise clamped down on bars, shut beaches, rolled back restaurant capacity and put limits on crowds at pools.
WILMINGTON, Del. — Bars in certain Delaware beach towns will close ahead of the Fourth of July holiday to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The new order from Delaware Gov. John Carney announced Tuesday says bars in eastern Sussex County will close Friday morning and only serve customers who are seated at tables.
“Clearly we’ve had an outbreak among bars, restaurants, social activity in Delaware beaches,” Carney said during a news conference. “We’ve also witnessed throughout our state but in particularly in beach communities complacency with respect to mask wearing and social distancing.”
The latest order comes on the same day commissioners in the city of Rehoboth Beach voted unanimously to require people over age 12 to wear face coverings in public spaces. The governor’s decision to close bars was a factor in the commissioners’ decision, the city said in a statement.
There have been nearly 11,500 confirmed coronavirus cases in Delaware and about 500 people, according to the state’s health department.
“COVID-19 has not gone away,” Carney said. “We need to protect our progress and stay vigilant.”
GENEVA — Switzerland’s executive body says users of public transport will be required to wear masks starting next week and travelers from some foreign locations will need to quarantine for 10 days.
The Federal Council ruled people aged 12 and older will be required to wear masks in trains, trams, buses and ski lifts starting Monday.
It noted the Swiss government’s previous advice for people to voluntary wear masks during rush hour has been “barely followed.”
That comes as use of public transport has spiked and coronavirus case counts have fallen over the last two months and COVID-19 lockdown measures eased.
The council noted since mid-June, COVID-19 case counts have ticked upward following the arrival of infected people from some specific foreign regions that were not immediately identified. It says Switzerland planned on July 20 to join the European Union in lifting travel restrictions imposed on travelers from 15 states, with the exception of Serbia.
Switzerland has confirmed 31,851 coronavirus cases, an increase of 137 from a day earlier. About 1,680 people have died.
London — Some British experts have slammed the U.S. decision to snap up nearly the entire global supply of remdesivir, the only drug licensed so far to treat COVID-19.
Ohid Yaqub, a senior lecturer at the University of Sussex called it “disappointing news” in a statement.
“It so clearly signals an unwillingness to cooperate with other countries and the chilling effect this has on international agreements about intellectual property rights,” Yaqub said.
The U.S. government announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump had struck “an amazing deal” to buy the remdesivir drug for Americans, made by Gilead. The Department of Health and Human Services said Trump has secured 500,000 treatments of the drug through September, representing 100% of Gilead’s July production capacity and 90% of its capacity in August and September.
In earlier stages of the pandemic, the U.S. refused to export pre-ordered masks to other countries, including Canada.
BANGKOK — The spokesman for the government body coordinating Thailand’s response to COVID-19 outbreaks has expressed pride that the European Union selected Thailand as one of just 14 countries whose travelers it will once again welcome.
Taweesin Witsanuyothin of the Center for COVID-19 Situation said Wednesday that he was proud that Thailand’s efforts to contain the coroanvirus were recognized.
Thailand has confirmed 3,173 coronavirus cases and 58 virus-related deaths, and during the past five weeks new cases only have been been found among repatriated Thais.
The E.U.’s decision has little immediate practical effect since Thailand has kept in effect a ban on regularly scheduled international flights with no set end date.
A limited number of foreign visitors in categories covering families, residency and business were being allowed into Thailand beginning Wednesday on flights carrying Thai citizens back home.
The E.U. announced Tuesday that its member nations could readmit visitors from Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The government of Indonesia’s capital region is extending the first transition phase from large-scale social restrictions in Jakarta as the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on Wednesday that the social restrictions will be extended for the next 14 days and reevaluated “when we see new development.”
“We do not want the number of the new cases jumped when we ease the restrictions” Baswedan said.
Jakarta has become the first COVID-19 epicenter since Indonesia’s outbreak started in March. As of Wednesday a total of 11,637 confirmed cases with 632 deaths had been recorded in Jakarta.
The local government imposed broad restrictions on public life in Indonesia’s capital city on April 10. It moved to lift some restrictions starting on June 10.
“In the last one month, 19 markets have been closed because of the transmission. The military and police officers will be deployed to watch the markets in Jakarta as well as the Jakarta’s civil servants,” Baswedan said.
The Indonesian government reported 1,385 new confirmed virus cases, bringing the country’s total to 57,770 as of Wednesday. The National Task Force for COVID-19 Mitigation reported 58 people died because of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, taking the national total death toll to 2,934.
ZAGREB, Croatia — A train carrying some 550 tourists from the Czech Republic and Slovakia has arrived to Croatia as the country seeks to attract visitors after easing coronavirus lockdown.
The train on Wednesday morning rolled into the northern port of Rijeka, from where the tourists were bused to their destinations along the Adriatic Sea coast.
The Croatian coastline is a leading European tourism destination, particularly for visitors from Central and Eastern Europe who can easily travel by car or train.
Croatia is hoping to salvage as much as possible of the summer season. Its economy is among the weakest in the European Union and largely dependent on tourism.
Local media say thousands of tickets have been sold for the train connecting the Czech capital of Prague and Rijeka. Reports say the link will operate during the summer months despite a renewed spike in virus cases.
Croatia has confirmed 2,777 cases while 107 people have die
JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 400,000 and deaths have crossed 10,000 as health officials warn the pandemic is picking up speed on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say confirmed cases are now above 404,000 on the 54-nation continent, while testing capabilities remain low because of shortages of materials.
The new milestones come as some countries loosen their lockdowns and even reopen airports for international flights.
South Africa leads the continent with more than 151,000 confirmed cases. An emerging hot spot is in Gauteng province, containing Johannesburg, with 28% of the country’s cases.
CAIRO — Egypt has reopened its airports, the Egyptian museum and the famed Giza Pyramids in Cairo, for the first time in more than three months since the coronavirus closure.
The national carrier, EgyptAir, said around 2,000 passengers left Cairo’s international airport on 14 international flights on Wednesday.
Two flights carrying over 350 Ukrainian tourists landed in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada and the major resort and beach destination of Sharm el Sheikh in the southern part of Sinai Peninsula.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said around two dozen museums and tourist sites also received visitors with preventive measures in place against the coronavirus.
They include the Egyptian museum, the Giza Pyramids and the Citadel of Saladin in Cairo, along with the ancient temple of Karnak and the famous Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in the southern city of Luxor.
The government wants to revive the tourism sector, which had showed sings of recovery before the pandemic after years of instability.
Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak