NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana athletic and education officials are cautiously planning for high school football games to begin in October, while Gov. John Bel Edwards is expressing hope he will be able to ease some restrictions on businesses next week.
State officials, leaders of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and lawmakers discussed plans for resuming football at a meeting Friday amid positive trends in the state’s coronavirus statistics.
Later in the day, Edwards made no commitment to ease restrictions that have limited public gatherings and restaurant seating while shutting down bars since July. But, noting that current restrictions expire next Friday, he said he hopes he will be able to move to less restrictive regulations. He didn’t give any details on what looser rules might allow.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Model projects 1.9M more coronavirus deaths by end of 2020
— Biden confirms virus test, says he’ll be tested regularly
— Will long Labor Day weekend mean another U.S. coronavirus spike?
— WHO chief says the U.N. health agency won’t recommend any COVID-19 vaccine before it is proved safe and effective, even as Russia and China have started using their experimental vaccines before large studies have finished.
— U.S. unemployment dropped sharply in August to a still-high 8.4% from 10.2%, with about half the 22 million jobs lost to the coronavirus outbreak recovered so far
— Italy’s ex-leader Silvio Berlusconi admitted to Milan hospital as precaution to monitor his coronavirus infection.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico officials say enrollment in Medicaid has increased by nearly 7% in the state since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, with employers shedding jobs and more families entering into poverty.
In a briefing Friday for state legislators, Human Services Secretary David Scrase praised federal legislation that increases the federal matching rate for Medicaid health care and allows the state to quickly extend no-cost coronavirus testing to the poor and undocumented immigrants.
At the same time, he says the current 6.2% boost in federal matching funds is inadequate to keep up with rebounding demand for medical services under Medicaid and could end abruptly at the discretion of federal health regulators.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is urging Americans to “remain vigilant” about the coronavirus over the Labor Day weekend.
Trump said at a White House briefing Friday that “we need everybody to be careful” and to “apply common sense” in their interactions with one another.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said this week that several Midwestern states that have seen jumps in coronavirus caseloads should be especially vigilant during the holiday weekend. They are North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
Past increases in cases of COVID-19 have followed the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.
Trump is eager to put the pandemic in the past, but he tells Americans to “let’s just try to get through this one weekend.”
UNITED NATIONS — The president of the United Nations General Assembly is warning that a vaccine for COVID-19 must be made available to everyone who needs it because if just one country is left out the world will still face a crisis from the coronavirus.
As the world looks to a vaccine and a post-COVID-19 world, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande also warned that “inclusion is key, because without inclusion the suffering of those who are already left behind, will continue — and we cannot guarantee peace in that kind of a context.”
He said statements from those developing vaccines have said they intend to make them widely available which is important. “I believe that there will be protocols and agreements to guarantee affordability and accessibility to the product when it is available,” he said.
Muhammad-Bande said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press that the pandemic, perhaps ironically, has defied initial predictions that developing countries would be hardest hit because many of their health systems are poorer.
But what has happened, he said, is that death rates and infections are far lower in percentage terms in developing countries, including in Africa, than in the major developed countries of the world.
PARIS — Coronavirus cases in France increased to nearly 9,000 in the last 24 hours, health officials said Friday.
The 8,975 new cases were the highest number of infections since France successfully grappled with the spread of the coronavirus during a strict two-month lockdown. There were some 1,800 cases less a day earlier.
The rise likely reflects an increase in tests, along with the return to work and end of vacation when many French may not have observed social distancing. Hospitalizations, including in ICUs, remained relatively stable.
But active clusters increased to 444, with 53 new clusters reported in the last day. Total deaths in France have reached nearly 30,700.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma is making a number of changes to how it reports coronavirus data and expects an increase in the number of confirmed positive cases as a result, health officials said Friday.
Among the changes, positive results from rapid antigen tests will now be counted as positive cases. Previously, positive results from antigen tests were considered “probable” and were treated the same by the Department of Health in terms of contact tracing and investigation, but were not included in the daily case count, said Oklahoma Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye.
“In the past, there were very few antigen tests and the ones that were out there were not that good, frankly,” Frye said. “The new machines are better.”
Frye said more than 200 antigen machines and testing kits are being deployed to Oklahoma nursing homes, and that more will be deployed to schools by the end of the year.
The changes will be reflected in the state’s data reporting beginning on Tuesday, Frye said.
SEATTLE — A widely cited model predicts worsening outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere will lead to 1.9 million more coronavirus deaths in 2020 unless governments act.
Mask mandates and social distancing could save hundreds of thousands of lives, but there is “a tremendous amount of COVID fatigue” among the world’s government leaders because of economic downturns, said Dr. Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
Most of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere. Respiratory illnesses tend to peak in winter months, a seasonal effect expected to hold true for COVID-19, Murray said Friday. Disease models are based on assumptions about human behavior, so there is a large amount of uncertainty.
Even if a vaccine proves safe and effective, there won’t be time to distribute enough vaccine to change the bleak forecast, Murray said.
The IHME model projects the wave will peak globally in mid-December at 30,000 deaths per day and in the United States in early December at about 2,900 deaths per day. India, the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Japan will lead the world in total deaths by Jan. 1, according to the forecast.
ANKARA, Turkey — The number of daily confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Turkey topped 50 — the highest single-day fatality in the country since mid-May.
Health Ministry figures released Friday showed that 53 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall death toll in the country to 6,564.
There were 1,610 new confirmed cases of the virus within the last 24 hours, as the number of infected people also continued to hover around levels previously seen in May.
Authorities have imposed nationwide restrictions on weddings, engagement parties and other large social gatherings.
Turkey has recorded more than 276,000 infections since March.
BERLIN — Authorities in Germany have acknowledged two mishaps involving coronavirus tests as the country reports 1,453 cases in the past 24 hours.
Health officials in Hamburg say 250 samples were lost; they were taken from people who were tested at the airport last week upon return from high-risk areas. Authorities say all of those affected should still be in quarantine and would be tested again.
Health officials in Bavaria say test results for about 10,000 people who were swabbed at airports in the southern German state were delayed due to technical problems.
Meanwhile, Berlin’s public health office say they registered dozens of potential “super spreading events,” where people infected with coronavirus came into contact with several others including at four schools, five doctor’s practices and a sex party.
ALFRED, Maine — An outbreak of the coronavirus at a jail that is linked to another outbreak at a wedding poses enough of a risk that schools in Maine’s southernmost county should take more precautions, education officials said Friday.
York County is home to an outbreak of more than 80 cases at a jail in the community of Alfred, as well as other outbreaks. The jail cases overlap with a larger outbreak centered on a wedding reception in Millinocket, in the northern part of the state, that has sickened more than 140 people and killed three. State officials have said a jail employee attended the August reception.
Every Maine county but York is designated at lowest risk for the virus, which has elevated risk. The county’s test-positivity rate of 1.8% is three times the state average.
LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization says the U.N. health agency won’t recommend any coronavirus vaccine before it is proved safe and effective.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the comment Friday, even as Russia and China have started using their experimental vaccines before long-term studies have been completed. Other countries have proposed streamlining authorization procedures.
He says vaccines have been used successfully for decades and credited them with eradicating smallpox and bringing polio to near elimination. He pointed to newly developed Ebola vaccines that helped end the recent Ebola outbreak in Congo.
Tedros appealed to people opposed to vaccination to do their own research.
“The anti-vaccine movement, they can build narratives to fight against vaccines. But the track record of vaccines tells its own story and people should not be confused,” he says. “They can have a look for themselves on how the world actually used vaccines to reduce under 5 mortality to save children.”
He says he’s hopeful there’d soon be an effective coronavirus vaccine “so the world can get back to normal.”
MADRID — Spain is nearing a half a million coronavirus infections since the beginning of the pandemic after adding more than 10,000 new cases on Friday.
The new Health Ministry data showed a significant increase in the latest wave of contagion sweeping Spain, although authorities say the situation has no comparison with when the outbreak peaked.
Health authorities say Spain is testing more, most of the cases discovered don’t require hospitalization and the treatment of patients has improved.
There were 184 deaths added on Friday for a total toll of 29,418.
PHOENIX — Arizona reported 728 confirmed coronavirus cases and 41 deaths on Friday. That increased the state’s totals to 204,681 cases and 5,171 confirmed deaths.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Arizona went from 784 on Aug. 20 to 545 on Thursday, while the rolling average for daily deaths went from 43 to 34.
Arizona was a national hot spot in June and July, but cases and deaths have been trending downward since then.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities say coronavirus checks will be carried out on all care homes for the elderly throughout the country within the next 10 days.
Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias made the announcement on Friday.
Care homes had remained untouched in the first wave of the pandemic in Greece, when a lockdown imposed early in the outbreak is credited with keeping the number of cases and deaths low.
But a recent increase in the spread of the virus after restrictions were relaxed and foreign tourists were welcomed into the country has resulted in outbreaks in at least two care homes, with several deaths reported.
Health authorities announced 202 new cases and one death, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 11,200 and 279 deaths in Greece.
ROME — Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who tested positive this week for the coronavirus, has been hospitalized in Milan.
Alberto Zangrillo, his personal doctor who is also on staff at San Raffaele hospital, says the 83-year-old has an early stage lung infection but is breathing on his own.
Zangrillo says test results “makes us optimistic” for his recovery over the next “hours and days.” He says after examining Berlusconi at home a day earlier, he decided on hospitalization after detecting “bland pulmonary involvement.”
Berlusconi, who has a pacemaker, is expected to be hospitalized for a ’’few days,” according to Zangrillo.
BERLIN — German pharmaceutical company CureVac says it is receiving another 252 million euros ($298 million) to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
The company says its request for additional funding has been approved by Germany’s Ministry for Education and Research, provided certain milestones are reached.
Germany’s state-owned KfW bank has already taken a 23% stake in CureVac for 300 million euros. The company launched an initial public offering of shares, but its main shareholder remains Dietmar Hopp, the co-founder of German software giant SAP.
CureVac is among a small number of companies that aim to develop a COVID-19 vaccine using mRNA technology that experts say could allow rapid inoculation on a larger scale than traditional forms of vaccination.
JOHANNESBURG — The World Health Organization director-general says “so far our worst fears have not been realized” after warnings that malaria deaths could double this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told malaria experts many countries have gone to great lengths to maintain services, even as 46% of more than 100 countries surveyed have reported disruptions to related services.
However, he says an increase in malaria cases and deaths is still expected this year. Malaria killed more than 400,000 people last year, with more than 90% of deaths in Africa.
The WHO chief called for more protection of health workers and strengthened health systems.