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Thursday October 29th, 2020 10:05AM

The Latest: US report shows patterns of virus deaths shifted

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON — A new U.S. government report shows that patterns of coronavirus deaths shifted over the summer, with rising percentages of the deaths in Hispanic people, and those living in the South and West.

The report, released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looks at coronavirus-associated deaths reported between May 1 and August 31. It is an update of an earlier report that focused on deaths during an initial wave of illnesses in the early spring that mainly hit the Northeast.

It found that by August more than three-fifths of the deaths were occurring in Southern states, and more than one-fifth in Western states. It reported a summer surge in deaths among Hispanics, to about 24% of all deaths in August.

It also showed a decline in deaths in nursing homes, to 17% of all deaths in August from 30% in May.

Whites accounted for 51% of the deaths in the late spring and summer, up from around 40% in the early spring. There was a decline in the proportion of deaths of people who were Black, to 19% from as many as 25% in the early spring.

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

— France records 30,000 virus cases, highest single-day rise

— WHO study finds remdesivir didn’t help COVID-19 patients

— U.S. testing 3 drugs to try to tamp down coronavirus

— Coronavirus cases are rising in key U.S. presidential battleground states ahead of Election Day.

— White House puts political operatives at CDC to try to control virus information

— Thousands arrive in Hawaii on first day pre-travel testing allowing no quarantine

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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:

SALEM, Mass. — The mayor of the Massachusetts city famous for its 1692 witch trials says anyone planning a trip to Salem this month to celebrate Halloween needs to cancel their plans.

Even though the city has canceled a monthlong series of publicly sponsored events held each October that typically draw tens of thousands of visitors, many people are still flooding the city streets, increasing the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Mayor Kim Driscoll advised Friday that “if you’re not in Salem yet and are thinking about coming, my advice to you is skip it.”

Businesses and tourist attractions have been limiting capacity and people are gathering in the streets.

The city is putting several crowd control measures into place this weekend, including restricting access to a major pedestrian mall, and setting up additional barricades to limit entry lines.

Salem is currently considered in the moderate risk category for coronavirus spread, and Driscoll doesn’t want to see the city move to the high risk category.

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UNITED NATIONS — The head of the World Food Program, this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, says the number of people “marching toward starvation” has jumped from 135 million to 270 million since the COVID-19 pandemic and is again urging billionaires to donate just a few billion to save millions of lives.

Executive Director David Beasley told a virtual U.N. press conference Friday that the global wealth of some 2,200 billionaires rose by about $2 trillion between April and July as the pandemic raged. He was referring to a study by Swiss bank UBS and accounting firm PwC published last week which said the global wealth of billionaires climbed from $8 trillion at the start of April to $10.2 trillion in July.

Beasley said WFP is “greatly concerned about 2021” because budgets weren’t calculated to take into account the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beasley said wealthy countries put $17 trillion into economic stimulus packages in their countries to tackle the coronavirus and its fallout, and “that’s $17 trillion that isn’t going to be available for 2021.”

This year, he said, many governments reached deeper into their pockets while they could and gave the U.N. and its agencies more money, but “the governments -- they tapped out.”

Beasley said that’s why a one-time infusion of cash from the billionaires is so essential for 2021.

He said the humanitarian crises in the world are worsening with Yemen “the worst of the worst of the worst,” Africa’s Sahel region “undoubtedly one of the worst,” Congo “just horrific,” and Syria “deteriorating.” He said many other countries are also deteriorating including Nigeria, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

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NEW ORLEANS — Thousands took advantage of an expanded early voting period that opened Friday in Louisiana ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election — forming lines so long that some in New Orleans abandoned polling places closer to home to vote at a basketball arena downtown.

Attorney Roderick James was one of them. Arriving early at a designated early voting spot near his home in eastern New Orleans, he saw a line about three blocks long. So, he opted to head downtown for the Smoothie King Center. It’s usually the home of the New Orleans Pelicans NBA franchise but, through Oct. 27, it is one of five early voting locations in the city.

He joined a line of about 50 other voters — masked if not consistently 6 feet (2 meters) apart — and was soon ushered into the arena, where he stood in another longer line. He estimated his wait to vote was no more than 40 minutes. “It was actually very efficient,” he said.

Louisiana generally allows a seven-day early voting period. It was expanded to 10 under federal court order amid disagreements among state officials over how best to make voting safer during the coronavirus pandemic.

Long lines also were reported in other parts of the state, evidence of high interest in the presidential race pitting incumbent Republican Donald Trump against Democrat Joe Biden.

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BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota leads the nation with 978 new cases of coronavirus per capita in the last two weeks.

That’s according to the COVID Tracking project, which reports cases per 100,000 people. Health officials confirmed 877 new cases and 18 more deaths on Friday.

The surge in cases and deaths statewide resulted in Republican Gov. Doug Burgum raising the coronavirus risk level in several North Dakota counties this week. However, he issued no mandated restrictions and mask use is voluntary.

The deaths reported Friday include 10 women and eight men, all in their 60s or older. All had underlying health conditions.

North Dakota, with a population of fewer than 800,000, has 30,000 confirmed cases and 388 deaths.

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MADRID — Spain’s health ministry has reported 15,186 new infections for the coronavirus.

The ministry says 6,591 cases were diagnosed in the last 24 hours. The remainder of the new cases were diagnosed in recent days but not reported until Friday.

Spain leads Europe with 936560 confirmed cases. With 222 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, Spain’s total has reached 33,775.

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DENVER — Denver’s mayor says the city will enforce stricter mask mandates and limits on group gatherings.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock says the mask mandate will include outdoor settings with exceptions for individuals who are outside alone or those with people in their households. Denver is also limiting the number of non-related people gathering from 10 to five through Nov. 16.

Colorado’s Department of Public Health Executive Director Bob McDonald says enforcement will include issuing summons to appear in court. Hancock emphasized the importance of personal responsibility to keep others safe and help protect the economy.

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GENEVA — A large study led by the World Health Organization suggests that the antiviral drug remdesivir didn’t help hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

That’s in contrast to an earlier study that made the medicine a standard of care in the United States and many other countries. The results announced Friday don’t negate the previous ones, and the WHO study wasn’t as rigorous as the earlier one led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

But they add to concerns about how much value the pricey drug gives since none of the studies have found it can improve survival. Remdesivir is among the treatments U.S. President Donald Trump received when he was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Oct. 1.

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LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened to force Greater Manchester into the most severe level of coronavirus restrictions.

Local officials have refused to accept the government’s financial package to implement measures targeted at areas with the highest infection rates.

Johnson says action is needed as hospitalization are rapidly rising. He appealed to leaders to reconsider and engage constructively with the government, adding pressure on Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

“I cannot stress enough: Time is of the essence. Each day that passes before action is taken means more people will go to hospital, more people will end up in intensive care and tragically more people will die,″ Johnson said during a news conference in London. “Of course, if agreement cannot be reached, I will need to intervene in order to protect Manchester’s hospitals and save the lives of Manchester’s residents. But our efforts would be so much more effective if we work together.”

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BERLIN — Germany’s domestic intelligence agency says its top leaders have tested positive for the coronavirus, but their cases are mild and working in quarantine.

The BfV said this week Thomas Haldenwang, who has headed the agency for about two years, had tested positive.

On Friday, it confirmed German media reports that Haldenwang’s two deputies also tested positive. But the agency says they have mild infections.

BfV says a few other employees are infected, but none have severe symptoms.

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STOCKHOLM — A Swedish hospital says a woman has been infected with the coronavirus twice, saying the second time around the illness was very mild.

The Dagens Nyheter newspaper quoted the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Goteborg, southwestern Sweden saying the 53-year-old woman had different strains of the virus in May and August.

It was the first such case reported case in Sweden, which has opted to keep parts of the society open. The Scandinavian country has 103,200 confirmed cases and 5,918 deaths.

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GENEVA — The World Health Organization says the number of coronavirus cases in Europe last week was triple the number reported during the first week in March.

The agency warns that increasing numbers of people needing hospitalization would strain the continent’s hospitals. Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO leader, says “we know of a number of cities across Europe where ICU capacity will be reached in the in the coming weeks.”

She notes advancements in treatment and some countries have significantly increased their testing.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece has reported its highest daily coronavirus cases, exceeding 500 for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The Health Ministry’s disease control agency says there’s been 508 confirmed cases and eight more deaths in the last day. That increased the total to 24,450 cases and 490 confirmed deaths.

Lockdown measures started for two weeks in a northern region of Greece near the city of Kozani. Officials say a region in northwest Greece was considered in a “critical” state, with infection rates nearing a level that would automatically trigger a regional lockdown.

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HONOLULU — About 8,000 people landed in Hawaii on the first day of a pre-travel testing program.

It allows travelers to come to the islands without quarantining for two weeks if they produce a negative coronavirus test. The state-run testing program is an effort to stem the devastating downturn caused by the pandemic on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy.

However, gaps in the program coupled with increasing cases across the U.S. and the world have raised questions about whether Hawaii is ready to safely welcome back vacationers.

Meanwhile, restaurant cards for unemployed workers are expected to begin arriving in Hawaii mailboxes on Friday. The $500 prepaid debit cards cover meals and purchases at bakeries and catering services. About 116,000 state residents have filed for unemployment insurance.

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LONDON — Lancashire agreed to move into England’s most severe level of COVID-19 restrictions after striking a deal with the U.K. government on funds to implement the measures.

The deal means that the region of 1.5 million people will join the neighboring Liverpool region in the government’s highest risk tier, forcing pubs and bars to close. Restrictions on socializing also come into effect and residents are advised to minimize travel.

No deal is in sightfor Greater Manchester, which is holding out for more money to implement the measures targeted at areas with the highest infection rates. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has criticized Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham for “effectively trying to hold the government over a barrel over money and politics.’’

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