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Thursday October 21st, 2021 1:44PM

The Latest: Italy has 731 daily deaths, highest since April

By The Associated Press
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ROME — Italy reported 731 coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, the highest one-day increase in deaths since early April.

There were 32,191 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, increasing the total infections to 1.2 million. About 15% of people tested in the last 24 hours were positive for the virus, down from about 17% in recent days. That might indicate the recent partial lockdown imposed by the government in much of the country is reining in surging infections.

The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds increased by 120 on Tuesday, for a total of 3,612 nationwide.

Italy’s death toll stands at more than 46,000, the second highest in Europe after Britain.

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

— Dr. Fauci recommends ‘uniform wearing of masks’ to help curb US outbreak

— British PM Johnson tests negative for virus; still in self-isolation

— Italy records more than 730 daily deaths, highest since April

— Some vaccines may be nearing the finish line, but scientists say it’s critical that enough people volunteer to help finish studying other candidates.

— Russian President Vladimir Putin touts coronavirus vaccines developed in Russia.

— States in the U.S. are renewing their push for more federal money to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

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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:

MADRID — Spain reported 435 coronavirus deaths, its highest number of daily deaths since a surge after the summer.

The Catalonia region recorded the most coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours, with 1,407, followed by the Madrid region with 1,255.

However, the surge in cases shows signs of abating. Spain’s 14-day average coronavirus cases per 100,000 people stands at 466. A week ago, it was 524.

The Health Ministry added 13,159 new cases, increasing Spain’s total reported cases above 1.5 million. There’s been nearly 41,700 confirmed deaths.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is re-introducing a series of restrictions, including partial weekend lockdowns, in a bid to slow the surge of coronavirus cases.

Speaking following a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says people can venture out of their homes between 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. on the weekend, after which a curfew would come into effect.

Restaurants and cafes can serve take-away meals only, while shops, markets and hairdressers can operate until 8 p.m. Cinemas will close, and schools will continue online education until the end of the year.

Erdogan urged the public to wear masks, practice proper hygiene and adhere to social distancing rules, warning that more serious measures will be considered if the restrictions fail to curb the contagion.

Meanwhile, Zehra Zumrut Selcuk, the minister for family, labor and social services became the second member from Erdogan’s Cabinet to test positive for the virus.

Turkey reported 3,819 new patients and 103 deaths on Tuesday, taking the confirmed death toll since the start of the outbreak to 11,704.

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CINCINNATI — A U.S. senator from Ohio is participating in a coronavirus vaccine test. Republican Rob Portman says he hopes to encourage more people to volunteer for the vaccine studies. He says vaccines are the best hope for reducing the pandemic’s toll.

He received an injection this month at a Cincinnati lab that is testing an experimental vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. He does daily monitoring of his vital signs, keeping a log and working with the lab. Portman, like other volunteers, doesn’t know if he got the vaccine or a dummy shot.

Johnson & Johnson’s candidate is one of four vaccines in late-stage testing in the U.S. Two companies, Pfizer Inc., and Moderna, have reported their preliminary results show their experimental vaccines are strongly protective.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — Doctors in Hungary are warning that a lack of medical staff qualified to treat intensive coronavirus patients could soon lead to soaring deaths and a breakdown in the country’s fragile health care system.

The warning comes despite the government’s recent purchase of costly medical equipment from China. Last week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the strictest pandemic restrictions to date to combat rapidly rising coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths. But a leading doctor says the restrictions came too late. He said Hungary’s mortality rate from coronavirus is already higher than in the spring and he expects it to rise.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Public health programs have experienced a surge in enrollment as the coronavirus has swept through the U.S.

As state and local public health departments struggle with slashed budgets, surging demand and threats to workers’ safety, a new generation is entering the field to help fight the coronavirus and other public health challenges.

The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health says applications to master’s in public health programs increased 20% this year to nearly 40,000. Sarah Keeley is among them, studying at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to become an epidemiologist.

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WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is recommending “uniform wearing of masks” to help curb the surge of coronavirus cases in the United States.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert told CNN on Tuesday that “we need to intensify public health strategies,” which include wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding places where people gather.

The U.S hit a record daily high of more than 184,000 coronavirus cases on Friday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

On Monday, Moderna announced early data suggests its vaccine candidate provides strong protection against the coronavirus. That news comes a week after Pfizer revealed its vaccine was similarly effective.

Vaccines candidates must go through independent data and safety monitoring before approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Fauci says in the meantime, it’s important for people “to be motivated to hang in there a bit longer and double down on the public health measures. I just can’t understand why there’s pushback against that. They’re not that difficult to do. And they save lives.”

The U.S. leads the world with 11.2 million coronavirus cases and more than 247,000 deaths.

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa surpassed 2,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus Tuesday.

Iowa marked 1,000 deaths from the virus on Aug. 19, five months into the pandemic. But it took less than three months for the state to reach 2,000 deaths.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows the state has been averaging more than 20 deaths per day in the last week. That’s triple the rate from just two months ago.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds had avoided a mask mandate. But on Monday with hospitals filling up, Reynolds enacted a partial statewide mask mandate. It applies to indoor public spaces when people are within 6 feet for 15 minutes and they aren’t members of their households.

She ordered bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. and limited gatherings to 15 people indoors and 30 outdoors. The governor also suspended sports and recreational activities, except for high school, college and professional sports.

Reynolds says the health care system has been “pushed to the brink.”

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OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska topped 100,000 coronavirus cases as the state reported a record 3,440 cases on Monday.

The number of people hospitalized in the state with the coronavirus reached a high of 938. Hospitalizations have more than quadrupled since early October when 227 people were treated for coronavirus.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has said if the number approaches 1,200 -- when 25% of hospitalized patients have coronavirus – he’ll impose additional restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.

Nebraska has the sixth-highest rate of new cases in the nation. In the past week, one out of every 120 people was diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has nearly doubled over the past two weeks from 1,124 cases on Nov. 2 to 2,027 cases on Monday.

Nebraska has a total of 101,601 cases and 797 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo’s acting president says she has the coronavirus following contacts with some of her relatives.

President Vjosa Osmani wrote in her Facebook page she was self-quarantining at home for two weeks at home and will keep working.

Osmani has been elected as Parliament speaker but earlier this month she also took the post of the president after her predecessor resigned to face a war crimes court.

Kosovo reported 690 new confirmed cases and 16 deaths on Tuesday. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reports 508 cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.

The country is in a partial lockdown with an overnight curfew, mandatory use of masks and limited number of employees working daily in the office.

Health authorities in the country of 1.8 million report a total of 30,495 confirmed cases and 849 deaths.

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia has reported record numbers of daily infections and deaths from the coronavirus.

Authorities says 4,994 people have tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours and 24 people died -- both daily highs since the start of the outbreak.

The government has shortened working hours of all shops, bars and restaurants and introduced fines for violations of restrictive rules in order to curb the spread. Starting Tuesday only gas stations, pharmacies and food delivery will be allowed to work beyond 9 p.m.

The nation of 7 million has reported more than 92,000 confirmed coronavirus and 1,054 deaths.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested negative for the coronavirus, but will complete 14 days of self-isolation because of contact with an infected person.

Johnson’s office says the prime minister was tested using a lateral flow test — a quick test that doesn’t need to be processed in a lab. The tests are not widely available in the U.K., but the government says staff in the prime minister’s office could get them as part of a pilot project.

Johnson was told to self-isolate on Sunday after a lawmaker with whom he had met three days earlier tested positive for the coronavirus. The prime minister says he has no symptoms and will continue to lead the government, holding meetings using videoconferencing.

Government rules say people in close contact with an infected person must quarantine for two weeks.

Johnson was seriously ill with the coronavirus in April, spending three nights in intensive care. People who recover from the virus are thought to have some immunity, but it’s unclear how long it lasts. There have been a small number of confirmed cases worldwide of people becoming re-infected with the virus.

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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin prisons have experienced the highest single-day spike in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

The state Department of Corrections reported 808 new cases among inmates Monday, bringing the number of active cases to 2,063.

Six prisons have outbreaks of more than 100 active coronavirus cases among prisoners. They include New Lisbon Correctional Institution with 362 cases, Fox Lake Correctional Institution with 360, Oshkosh Correctional Institution with 258, Racine Correctional Institution/Sturtevant Transitional Facility with 250, Taycheedah Correctional Institution with 140 and Dodge Correctional Institution with 135.

Among staff, a total of 1,470 corrections employees have self-reported testing positive for the virus, with 338 of those active Monday, the State Journal reported.

Despite cases continuing to rise, the department says the death count at 10 hasn’t changed since Nov. 3.

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RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Rapid City area school district is closing all schools and moving to remote instruction because of the surge in coronavirus cases in South Dakota.

The school district sent an email to families Monday night saying distance learning for its 25 schools will begin Wednesday. Superintendent Lori Simon urged students to wear masks in public, avoid crowds and stay 6 feet apart.

The school district will provide take-home meals, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The district says 94 students and 47 staff have an active case of coronavirus, while 105 staff and 676 students are in quarantine following exposure.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, has not ordered a state-wide mask mandate despite having one of the highest death rates in the nation.

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has reported 33 more deaths and 2,050 new cases of coronavirus during the last 24 hours.

There are 1,447 patients in critical condition across the country, according to the National Command and Operation Center, an army-backed body assigned to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Federal authorities are considering closing schools and putting restrictions on indoor family functions.

Pakistan has a total of 36,1082 cases and 7,193 deaths from the coronavirus.

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VIENNA — Austria has started a new tough lockdown meant to slow the surging spread of the coronavirus in the Alpine nation.

As of Tuesday, people are only allowed to leave their homes to purchase groceries, to go to jobs deemed essential, to exercise or to help people who need assistance.

All restaurants, shops, hair salons and other services have been ordered closed, and the nation’s schools have been moved to remote learning programs.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Monday ahead of the lockdown, which is to run through Dec. 6, that “all of social and public life will be brought down to a minimum.”

Austria currently is registering more than 527 new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days — more than 10 times the rate that authorities say is sustainable. Over the last seven days, it has reported 46,946 new coronavirus infections.

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Johnson & Johnson has begun a new late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, this time on a two-dose regimen.

J&J plans to give up to 30,000 people two doses of the vaccine. It’s been testing a one-dose regimen in a 60,000-person trial that began in late September and has enrolled nearly 10,000 volunteers so far.

In the new trial, volunteers will get either the vaccine or a dummy shot, then a second dose 57 days later, a company spokesman said Monday. That study is being conducted in the U.S., plus Belgium, Colombia, France, Germany, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain and the UK — locations chosen because they have a high incidence of COVID-19 and can start testing quickly.

The company said it’s being “extremely thorough”’ by testing multiple doses and dosing regimens to evaluate long-term effectiveness.

A small, early-stage study of the vaccine found it triggered a strong immune response and was well tolerated.

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