The Latest: Surgeon general urges face coverings

WASHINGTON — Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Sunday the Trump administration is “trying to correct” its guidance from earlier in the coronavirus epidemic that wearing face coverings was not necessary.

With virus cases surging and many states and cities now issuing orders to wear masks in public, Adams said he and other administration officials were wrong back in March. But he insists they were going with the scientific knowledge at the time, which suggested that people with COVID-19 who showed no symptoms were not likely to spread the virus.

Adams said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “once upon a time, we prescribed cigarettes for asthmatics and leeches and cocaine and heroin for people as medical treatments. When we learned better, we do better.”

Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, told “Fox News Sunday” that he would have liked to have seen administration officials wear masks sooner. He says it should not be viewed as a “personal choice” but a public health imperative.

Trump was seen wearing a mask in public for the first time Saturday during a visit to a military hospital.

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

— Coronavirus deaths take a long-expected turn for the worse

—’Moving target:’ Schools deal with new plans, Trump demands

— Dengue prevntion efforts stifled by coronavirus pandemic

— Coronavirus surge in eastern Europe prompts new restrictions

— Doctors say virus spread, not politics, should guide school reopenings.

— Churches amid the pandemic: Some outbreaks, many challenges

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MEXICO CITY —The ashes of 245 Mexican migrants who died of COVID-19 in New York have arrived back into their home nation.

A Mexican Air Force plane carrying the remains arrived at near midnight Saturday in what the Foreign Releations Department called an “unprecedented” effort.

The urns were taken from the plane and placed on a table adorned with white llowers for a brief ceremony.

“It’s the way Mexico expresses its gratitude for so much that our migrants have contributed from abroad, and of course in addition to giving consolation to their families, who can give them a final goodbye in their land,” said Roberto Velasco, the Foreign Relations Department’s director-general for North America.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, celebrated a Mass for the coronavirus victims on Saturday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, blessing the ashes.

The Mexican government says more than 1,500 Mexican migrants have died of COVID-19 in the United States, about half of them in New York.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities reported 31 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, with no fatalities over the past 24 hours. Despite the decline in cases, authorities are still on the lookout for local outbreaks, especially in holiday spots. But only 4 arriving foreign tourists have tested positive since Saturday afternoon.

The total number of cases stands at 3,803, with 193 dead. There are 10 patients on ventilators, while 122 have exited intensive care units.

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LE HAVRE, France — For the first time since the coronavirus shut down sports and chased away spectators, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were starring in Sunday’s return of fans to elite European soccer.

“Now it’s for real … we’re back,” Mbappe tweeted before the kick-off of Paris Saint-Germain against Le Havre, an exhibition match that was the first encounter in front of fans to feature one of Europe’s elite clubs since the outbreak erupted.

Only 5,000 people were allowed inside Le Havre’s 25,000-seat Stade Oceane to see the French League 2 club take on PSG’s star-studded squad. Upper tiers of seating were empty.

Spectators had to wear face masks to get into the arena, although many then took them off once settled in their seats. Families and friends sat together in groups but groups stayed separated. Ball carriers wore masks and gloves. Loudspeakers broadcast appeals for social distancing. Pitch-side photographers were made to step with their shoes into trays of disinfectant.

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WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is downplaying the risk of sending kids back to school despite surging coronavirus cases in many parts of the U.S.

Speaking in Sunday TV interviews, DeVos stressed that kids attending school in the fall should be the rule, not the exception.

She asserted that “there’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous.”

But she was contradicted by public health experts who said the virus can still be dangerous to kids, even if the risk is lower. Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, said on “Fox News Sunday” that science is also unclear on how much kids can spread the disease to more vulnerable adults.

DeVos said the Trump administration is looking at “all the options” for pulling funding from schools if they don’t provide full-time in person learning, calling American investment in education “a promise to students and their families.”

She described Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for keeping schools safe, such as face coverings and social distancing, as “guidelines” meant to be flexible.

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LONDON — A British pilot who was Vietnam’s most critical COVID-19 patient has arrived back home in Scotland.

Glasgow Airport said the man landed in Scotland on Sunday and was met by a waiting ambulance. He’s now in a hospital recuperating.

The 42-year-old, identified by the official Vietnam News Agency as Stephen Cameron, had flown out of Ho Chi Minh City the day before.

Vietnam had gone all out to save Cameron, who was working for national carrier Vietnam Airlines when he tested positive for the coronavirus in March. He had been critically ill and spent 65 days on life support.

Cameron is known in Vietnam as “Patient 91,” as he was the 91st person in the country confirmed to have the coronavirus. He was the Southeast Asian nation’s last patient in an ICU, and his recovery means the country still has not had any COVID-19 deaths.

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ROME — Local outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers at a courier service in northern Italy and among migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea have helped swell an increase in the nation’s daily new cases.

Calabria, which in recent days had been registering a couple or even no new daily coronavirus infections, had 28 new cases on Sunday, stemming from as many infections among nearly 800 migrants rescued from human traffickers’ boats and brought to that region.

Calabria Gov. Jole Santelli called on the national government to safeguard the local population by requisitioning navy boats going forward and keeping rescued migrants offshore until they can be tested for coronavirus infection.

In the Emilia-Romagna region, 71 cases were registered on Sunday, according to the Health Ministry, a sizable jump from recent days, reflecting a hot spot of infections at a major courier service in Bologna.

In contrast, Lombardy, which during the pandemic saw daily new cases loads far over 1,000, registered 77 cases on Sunday. With the latest 234 cases nationwide, Italy now has 243,061 known cases. With nine deaths tallied on Sunday, the overall confirmed death toll is 34,954. Authorities say the actual number of cases and deaths is certainly higher.

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanon has reported its highest daily count of coronavirus cases, including dozens of foreign workers who work at a cleaning company, the health ministry said Sunday.

The 166 cases came after three days in which the number was a record every day in Lebanon. The increase comes after Lebanon’s only international airport was reopened on July 1, after more than three months closure.

The country has eased a monthslong lockdown and people are going out more to restaurants, nightclubs, markets and beaches. A nighttime curfew to limit the spread of the pandemic was abolished last month.

The small country of about 5 million and over 1 million refugees has so far recorded only 36 deaths and 2,344 total infections detected.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan told the local LBC TV station that the figures will continue to be high during the coming days.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida on Sunday reported the largest single-day increase in positive coronavirus cases in any one state since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to state Department of Health statistics, 15,299 people tested positive, for a total of 269,811 cases.

California had the previous record of daily positive cases — 11,694, four days ago. New York had 11,571 on April 15.

The numbers come at the end of a grim, record-breaking week in Florida, with 514 fatalities. On Sunday, 45 more deaths were reported.

Throughout May and into June, the state reopened much of its economy with some restrictions.

Testing has increased, but the percentage of people testing positive has risen even more dramatically. A month ago, fewer than 5% of tests came up positive on a daily average. Over the past week, the daily average exceeded 19%.

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PARIS — After images of thousands of people dancing provoked renewed debate in France over social distancing, the mayor of the Mediterranean resort of Nice announced Sunday that face masks will be obligatory at all of the city’s events from now on.

Video of dense crowds dancing at a DJ’s outdoor set on Saturday night drew hundreds of thousands of views and criticism that many partygoers didn’t wear masks or stay apart. The crowd’s behavior fueled concerns of growing indifference among the French for social distancing, even as the country’s COVID-related death toll has surpassed 30,000.

Health workers have expressed fears of a second wave of infections as the French revel in post-lockdown freedoms and embark on summer vacations.

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi on Sunday defended the decision to allow the concert, saying efforts were made to limit the crowd-size to 5,000 people and messages were broadcast to urge them to distance.

But Estrosi also added that “we regret that these instructions were not sufficiently respected.”

He asked the government to make the wearing of masks obligatory at crowded events, including those outdoors. He said masks would now be required “for all our events” in Nice.

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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that President Donald Trump has “crossed a bridge” by wearing a face mask during a visit to a military hospital.

Pelosi told CNN’s “State of the Union” that she hopes it means the president “will change his attitude, which will be helpful in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.”

Trump wore a mask during a visit Saturday to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Maryland, where he met wounded servicemembers and health care providers.

It was the first time the president was seen in public with the type of facial covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading or becoming infected by the virus.

Pelosi said she’s “so glad that he obeyed the rules of the Walter Reed. You can’t go see our veterans who are there without wearing a mask.”

The only time Trump has been known to wear a mask was during a private part of a tour of a Ford plant in Michigan.

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WASHINGTON — A member of the White House coronavirus task force said Sunday that despite a surge in cases across the country, the situation “is not out of control.’’

Brett Giroir said it’s going to take “a lot of effort and everybody’s going to have to do their part’’ to combat the pandemic.

And the assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department said that “we have to have people wearing a mask in public. It’s absolutely essential.’’

Giroir told ABC’s “This Week” that officials would like to see something like 90 percent of people wearing a mask in public in areas that are hot spots.

He said that “if we don’t have that, we will not get control of the virus.’’ Giroir says there’s no downside to wearing a mask.

When Giroir was asked about whether states that are seeing a spike in cases should consider more stringent lockdowns, he said, “Everything should be on the table.”

And looking ahead, Giroir said it’s possible that the situation “could be worse in the fall” and he thinks that in the fall “we’re going to need tens of millions of more tests a month.” He also said there’s some data that people can get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time and “that’s not really good.”

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LONDON – British authorities are locking down 200 workers at a farm in central England after a fresh coronavirus outbreak.

Officials said Sunday that 73 of the workers tested positive for the virus at the AS Green and Co. vegetable farm in the village of Mathon, south of Birmingham.

The workers, who live on mobile homes at the farm, were hired to pick and pack produce. They’re being required to remain on the farm and self-isolate with their household groups, with the local council arranging deliveries of food and essential supplies.

The farm had put in place a number of infection control measures, including promoting social distancing in communal spaces and the indoor packaging area and providing personal protective equipment, officials said.

“Despite these measures, a small number of workers became symptomatic earlier this week and they and a few close contacts among the workforce were tested initially and found to be positive,” Katie Spence, health protection director at Public Health England Midlands, said in a statement.

The entire workforce was then tested and a “significant percentage” came back positive, despite the individuals not showing symptoms, she said.

The farm said its website that its management team and visitors have also been tested but those results came back negative.

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — Muslim authorities in Kosovo on Sunday reimposed some limits on prayers at mosques due to rising numbers of infections from the new coronavirus.

A statement by the Islamic community of Kosovo, the highest local governing body of the faith, said mass gatherings would be suspended, with no more than 50 people at a time allowed to gather for prayers, and only for 10 minutes.

They will have to wear masks, remain at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart and use their own personal prayer rug.

People older than 65 and younger than 16 should pray at home.

Mosques had been closed earlier this year after the emergence of the pandemic, but were reopened two months ago.

Kosovo reported more than 200 new cases of COVID-19 a day over the past week. As of Sunday, there have been 4,715 confirmed cases in the country and 101 deaths.

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JOHANNESBURG — With surging confirmed cases of COVID-19, South Africa is now ranked as the ninth most affected country by the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. South Africa has 264,184 cases, including 3,971 deaths, accounting for more than 40% of all the reported cases in Africa.

More than 30% of South Africa’s cases are in the economic hub of Gauteng province, which includes the largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria. Johannesburg’s densely populated Soweto township is one of the hot spots. Public hospitals are expressing concerns about shortages of available beds and medical oxygen.

Africa’s 54 countries have reported 577,904 cases, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday. The continent’s confirmed cases are concentrated in four countries — South Africa, Egypt with 81,158 cases, Nigeria with 31,987 cases and Algeria with 18,712 cases – which together make up more than 65% of the continent’s cases.

The number of actual cases in Africa is believed to be much higher, as the testing rate is very low in many countries.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Hungarian government said Sunday that it will reimpose restrictions, such as mandatory two-week quarantines or bans, on people arriving from countries where the rate of coronavirus infections is considered to be moderate or high.

“We see worrisome signs about an increase in the number of cases in the neighboring countries, Europe and the whole world,” said Gergely Gulyas, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff.

Gulyas said only Hungarian citizens will be allowed to enter from countries in the “red” category — those with a high rate of infections — including Albania, Ukraine, Belarus and practically all of Asia, Africa and South and Central America. They will have to stay in quarantine for two weeks, but will be allowed out earlier if they get two negative test results 48 hours apart.

Both Hungarians and foreigners arriving from countries in the “yellow” category — which includes, among others, Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania and Sweden, as well as Britain, Russia, Serbia, Japan, China and the United States — will have to quarantine for two weeks, but will be allowed out if they test negative for the virus: once in the case of Hungarians, or two negative tests 48 hours apart in the case of foreigners.

Gulyas said the new measures, which will take effect Wednesday, will be reviewed at least once a week

Hungary registered five new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, with no new deaths linked to the pandemic. In total, Hungary has registered 4,234 cases, including 595 deaths.

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TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is repeating his promise to provide speedy financial help for self-employed workers after thousands protested against what they see as a failed government response to the economic crisis wrought by the coronavirus.

Netanyahu said at his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday that workers would receive an immediate stipend and could expect a safety net for the next 12 months. He said he would work to ease bureaucratic hurdles and would hold dialogues with workers’ representatives to solve outstanding issues.

Netanyahu’s remarks come after some 10,000 people demonstrated in central Tel Aviv on Saturday, demanding that the government fulfill the promises it made to assist Israelis imperiled financially because of virus restrictions.

The protest came as anger has swelled over Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis. Critics say the money promised in previous plans hasn’t been doled out or has been insufficient.

Israel recently reimposed restrictions because of a spike in coronavirus cases, closing bars, events spaces and other venues.

Categories: National News

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