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Friday November 27th, 2020 3:33AM

The Latest: More than 1 million U.S. kids have had COVID-19

By The Associated Press
  Contact Editor

The number of U.S. infants, children and teens diagnosed with COVID-19 has surpassed 1 million, according to data released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

The total hit nearly 1.04 million kids on Nov. 12, including nearly 112,000 new cases in that week. That was the highest weekly total of any previous week in the pandemic, the academy said.

AAP President Sally Goza called the data “staggering and tragic.” Children generally are much more likely than adults to have mild cases but hospitalizations and deaths do occur.

The data, based on reports from state health departments, show at least 6,330 pediatric hospitalizations and 133 deaths since May. Those numbers are incomplete as they do not include data from every state.

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

— More good news about a second COVID-19 candidate vaccine as Moderna says its shots appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data

— President-elect Joe Biden seeks information on US vaccine plans as Trump stalls handoff

— The European Commission says it has agreed to buy up to 405 million doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by the German bio-tech company CureVac

— Amnesty International says Belgium violated the human rights of nursing home patients by not taking infected elderly patients to the hospital for treatment

— Many African students are missing out on the new term in school as the pandemic impoverishes families

— British PM Boris Johnson is self-quarantining at the start of a crucial week for his government that includes discussions over a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WASHINGTON - White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx on Monday said 27 U.S. states are in the “red zone” for COVID-19 outbreaks and that the current spread has not yet hit its peak.

On a call with governors, she called the outbreak more persistent and broader than previous spikes.

Birx said European countries were about two weeks ahead of the U.S. and were beginning to see cases plateau after implementing stricter enforcement measures.

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A central New York county has paused counting absentee ballots until Nov. 30 as a third of election workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

Onondaga County elections commissioner Dustin Czarny said Monday that eight of 26 staffers have tested positive. All staffers are in quarantine for two weeks, and the elections office is closed for a week.

Czarny said it’s unclear how election workers contracted the virus. He said the plan is to allow some essential personnel who test negative to return to the office next week to start preparing to count the remaining 30,000 ballots.

He hopes to provide the state with a partial certification for presidential ballot results by Nov. 28 and finish counting the remaining ballots by early December, when New York is set to certify its election results.

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MADRID — The spread of the coronavirus in Spain continues to slow down, although pressure on the health system remains high and authorities are warning against complacency.

On Monday, Spain’s pandemic czar Fernando Simón said that a long holiday weekend in early December could derail the progress.

The 14-day cumulative incidence, a variable monitored by epidemiologists, has dropped to 470 per 100,000 people on Monday from a Nov. 4 peak of 528.

The Health Ministry recorded 38,273 new infections since Friday and nearly 1.5 million since the beginning of the year.

Restrictions against the spread of the virus vary on a regional basis.

Hospital bed occupancy rates from COVID-19 remained stable at 16% nationally but in at least 7 of Spain’s 19 regions and autonomous cities, 40% of intensive care unit beds are filled with coronavirus patients.

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the number of new coronavirus cases is flattening following two weeks of new restrictions, but it’s too early to tell whether more will be necessary.

Merkel said Germany is a long way from tamping down the number of new cases to 50 per 100,000 residents over seven days -- a level above which experts say it’s impossible to trace outbreaks.

Germany’s disease control center on Monday reported the case rate as 143.3 per 100,000 people. Germany’s states reported 10,824 daily confirmed cases on Monday but the seven-day daily average has stayed above 17,000.

The country initiated the four-week partial shutdown on Nov. 2. Restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities have closed, but schools and nonessential shops remain open.

Merkel said she and the governors will reevaluate the situation again on Nov. 25.

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PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia is banning indoor dining at restaurants and indoor gatherings of any size, public or private, as the city battles a resurgence of the coronavirus, officials announced Monday,

The city also plans to shutter gyms, museums and libraries, prohibit in-person instruction at colleges and high schools, and reduce occupancy at stores and religious institutions, the health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, said at a news conference Monday.

The new restrictions take effect Friday and extend at least through the end of the year.

City officials said dramatic action is needed to respond to an exponential growth in cases and hospitalizations.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas surpassed 20,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths Monday amid a surge in virus cases in the United States.

That is the second-highest death count overall in the U.S., trailing only New York, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The death rate is the 22nd highest per capita at 69.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

State leaders have given no indication of forthcoming restrictions to keep people from gathering and spreading the virus.

Last week, Texas became America’s first state to record more than 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. It also recently surpassed California, the most populous state, in recording the highest number of positive tests.

Texas now ranks 31st in the country for new cases per capita. One in every 417 people in Texas tested positive in the past week.

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GENEVA — The World Health Organization director-general says the U.N. agency is “extremely concerned” by a surge of coronavirus cases particularly in Europe and North America, saying health workers and systems are “being pushed to the breaking point.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed hope about the news of the COVID-19 vaccines while stating he remained “cautiously optimistic” that new tools to fight the pandemic could emerge in the coming months.

Tedros spoke to reporters at a regular briefing at WHO headquarters, after returning to the premises following a two-week self-quarantine as a precaution after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for the virus. He said he never had any symptoms.

Tedros said he did not undergo a COVID-19 test, saying it was not required under WHO protocols because he was not showing any symptoms.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota’s Democratic senators are calling on Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka to resign from his leadership post after Senate Republicans failed to notify their Democratic colleagues and others of a potential COVID-19 outbreak among GOP ranks.

Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent called on Gazelka to step down Sunday, hours after he disclosed that he tested positive for COVID-19. Kent said that under Gazelka’s leadership, Republicans “engaged in high-risk behaviors” and have made excuses instead of being accountable.

Gazelka did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday. In a statement Sunday, he said he has been in quarantine since he began experiencing symptoms Nov. 9. He said the “blaming and shaming” of a positive COVID-19 test has to stop.

Kent’s call for Gazelka to resign comes after reports that two other GOP senators tested positive for COVID-19. There have been reports of in-person meetings, and Fox 9 reported that Republicans also held a dinner party Nov. 5 that drew more than 100 attendees. Republican senators and staffers were told of the diagnoses last Tuesday, but the memo wasn’t shared with Senate Democrats.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina health officials are pushing people to get tested for COVID-19 before gathering for the holidays, urging masks to be worn when not eating and celebrating outside if possible.

But so far, health officials aren’t forcefully suggesting people skip holiday celebrations.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control encouraged residents in a statement Monday to avoid indoor gatherings and maintain their commitment to activities that reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, South Carolina leaders have placed more emphasis on personal responsibility, like encouraging people to wear masks, than government edicts like mask requirements.

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in the state is over 1,400 for the first time since that long summer surge finally started to abate in early August.

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MILAN — The number of new coronavirus cases in Italy narrowed on Monday to 27,354, in keeping with weekend dips reflecting lower testing numbers, but the infection rate remained a stubborn 18%.

Italy is still struggling to contain a second surge, with more than half of the country on partial lockdown.

Another 504 people died in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry figures, bringing the pandemic total of known deaths to 45,733, second in Europe behind Britain. Hospital admissions rose by nearly 500 while another 70 people were in intensive care.

Nationwide, more than half of the hospital beds were dedicated to COVID care, a level deemed critical by the government. The rates were highest in the north, where the health care system is generally more advanced.

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GENEVA — The World Health Organization said preliminary results announced by the pharmaceutical Moderna on Monday that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine may be more than 90% effective is “quite encouraging” but that more data are still needed.

At a press briefing in Geneva, WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said “we need to wait and see what the final efficacy and the safety profile of this vaccine will be,” after participants in the vaccine trial have been followed for at least two months.

Swaminathan said WHO and its partners in the COVAX initiative, which aims to buy COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries, is currently in negotiations with several drugmakers, which she did not name.

Swaminathan said recent vaccine results were promising and added the U.N. agency and regulators still needed more details to determine if such vaccines should be rolled out broadly. She noted that further results from other companies are expected in the coming weeks.

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TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says he will be reducing indoor and outdoor gathering limits because of the COVID-19 resurgence.

The Democrat told MSNBC on Monday that he will order indoor gatherings to fall from 25 to 10 and outdoor get-togethers from 500 to 150 people. The new indoor limit goes into effect Nov 17, while the outdoor level kicks in Nov. 23.

The lower levels come just before Thanksgiving and ahead of the winter holidays.

New Jersey’s coronavirus levels have been spiking, which Murphy has said amounts to a “second wave.”

The average increase over the first seven days of this month reached roughly 2,135, up from about 590 cases a day in early October. According to the state Health Department, the average caseload increase for the first week of September was nearly 340 cases.

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