WASHINGTON — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says President Donald Trump’s “unique” circumstances is why he doesn’t wear a mask even as the government is urging people to do so.
Addressing spikes in reported coronavirus cases in some states, Azar said people “have to take ownership” of their own behaviors by social distancing and wearing masks if possible.
He says Trump doesn’t have to follow his own administration’s guidance because as a leader of the free world he’s tested regularly and is in “very different circumstances than the rest of us.”
Azar declined to say whether he’s ever asked Trump to wear a mask. He told CNN and NBC that his own message to the people is to take precautions for “public health.”
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee says Trump should spend more time tweeting about wearing masks instead of monuments. Inslee tells CBS: “We need a president who will care more about living Americans and less about dead Confederates.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Virus cases worldwide hit 10 million
— Businesses weigh reopening - or close again - as reported virus cases rise
— Experts look to set expectations on any virus vaccine
— Experts see no proof of child-abuse surge amid pandemic
— A divided Poland holds presidential vote delayed by pandemic, while France holds municipal elections.
— Nurses, doctors feel strain as virus races through Arizona
— The pandemic means that millions of women in Africa and other developing regions could lose years of success in contributing to household incomes, asserting their independence and expanding financial inclusion.
Follow all of AP's pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ROME — Italy has added 174 more confirmed infections and 22 deaths to the official coronavirus toll in the onetime epicenter of Europe’s outbreak.
Sunday’s Health Ministry update confirmed a weekslong general trend of hard-hit northern regions still tallying the most new confirmed infections while southern regions register single digit increases or none at all.
Lombardy topped the list again with 97 new infections, followed by 21 in Emilia-Romagna. There, officials are trying to control and trace a cluster that originated in a courier company that has reported dozens of infections this week.
Eight southern regions reported no new infections over the last 24 hours. Five others reported just one new case. All told Italy has reported 240,310 confirmed infections and 34,738 dead.
JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have climbed to a new high of more than 371,000, including includes 9,484 deaths.
The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released those figures Sunday.
South Africa has more than 1/3 of the continent’s cases. It reported 7,210 new cases, its highest single daily increase to date. A statement from Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize says South Africa now has 131,800 confirmed cases, including 2,413 deaths for a mortality rate of 1.8%.
The Western Cape province, including Cape Town, has 45% of the cases. But Gauteng province, including the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria, is experiencing a surge of the virus, taking it to 26% of the country’s cases.
The more rural Eastern Cape province currently has 18% of South Africa’s cases.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have reported 10 new coronavirus cases since Saturday afternoon, but no new deaths.
Total confirmed cases now stand at 3,376, with 191 deaths. Ten patients are on ventilators and 119 have exited intensive care units.
Despite being widely commended for having successfully contained the spread of the pandemic, Greek authorities are still wary. There are several reports of people flouting social distancing rules, and local alerts, such as the one Sunday on an island close to the capital Athens, where a test on an arrival from abroad came up positive, but not before the person had already been at a well-attended local funeral.
WASHINGTON — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is stressing that “the window is closing” for the U.S. to take action to effectively curb the coronavirus.
Azar pointed to a recent spike in infections, particularly in the South. He says people have “to act responsibly” by social distancing and wearing face masks especially “in these hot zones.”
Azar argued that the U.S. is in a better position than two months ago in fighting the virus because it is conducting more testing and has therapeutics available to treat COVID-19.
But he acknowledges that hospitalizations and deaths could increase in the next few weeks, because it is a lagging indicator.
Texas and Florida reversed course on parts of their reopening and clamped down on bars on Friday as the daily number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S. surged to an all-time high of 40,000.
Azar spoke on NBC and CNN.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A Maryland man who has helped organize “reopen” protests against measures intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus says he has the virus.
Tim Walters is a co-founder of the ReOpen Maryland movement. The Capital Gazette and Washington Post report that he announced on social media that he has tested positive.
In a Facebook video, he said he was diagnosed at a hospital emergency room. The newspapers report that he said, “Here I am months after not wearing a mask at rallies, churches and so on and so it’s funny how capricious this thing is.”
Walters declined interview requests from the papers. He said he would not provide any information to public health officials trying to trace the spread of the disease. Walters emphasized he had contacted people he’d recently interacted with.
BERLIN — The southern German state of Bavaria says it’s starting a program to offer coronavirus testing for all residents.
State Health Minister Melanie Huml said Sunday that the “corona test offensive” will help provide Bavarians “clarity if they have been infected.”
Bavaria is Germany’s largest state by area and is home to some 13 million people. It has been the worst hit by the coronavirus both in terms of infections per capita and in total numbers.
As of Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control center, reported the state had 48,294 of Germany’s overall 193,499 cases, with 2,592 of its 8,957 deaths.
Bavaria is the first of Germany’s 16 states to undertake universal testing. Until now, testing has been focused on people with symptoms or possible exposure, as well as in certain professions where they are more likely to have come into contact with the virus.
MOSCOW — Russia has recorded 6,791 new cases in the past day.
The national coronavirus task force said Sunday that the total number of cases rose to 634,437.
It said 104 people died of the virus over the past day, bringing the total dead to 9.073.
Russia has the third-highest coronavirus infection case count in the world. But it has reported far fewer deaths than many countries with smaller infection case counts, leading to speculation that figures are manipulated which Russian officials vehemently deny.
LONDON — Britain’s government is pledging to support local officials the central English city of Leicester, amid reports that a spike in COVID-19 cases would prompt authorities to lock the community down.
The Sunday Times reports that a lockdown would come within days after 658 new cases were recorded in the Leicester area in the two weeks to June 16. It would be the first time Britain had locked down a single area during the pandemic.
The Department of Health and Social Care on Sunday acknowledged the city was an area of concern. It says it is “supporting the council and local partners in Leicester to help prevent further transmission of the virus.”
Confirmed coronavirus infections have surpassed the 10 million mark worldwide.
A tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University registered the grim milestone Sunday, after India and Russia added thousands of new cases. The United States has confirmed more than 2.5 million infections, the most in the world.
Globally, the Hopkins tally has reported nearly 500,000 deaths.
While Hopkins reports only confirmed coronavirus cases, experts believe the true number of people who have been infected could be as much as 10 times that figure, given that so many people can’t get tested or may have the virus without showing any symptoms.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has been registering a steep increase of the number of people infected with the coronavirus.
The day-to-day increase reached 260 new confirmed cases on Saturday, up from 168 the previous day and 93 the day before.
It is the highest number of newly infected people since April 8. It comes amid the government’s easing of its restrictive measures and despite a typical lower number of tests over the weekend.
The Czech Republic has had 11,306 confirmed cases while 347 people have died, according to Health Ministry figures released on Sunday.
ROME — Italy is honoring its coronavirus dead with a Requiem concert performed in front of the cemetery in Bergamo, one of the hardest-hit provinces in the onetime epicenter of the European outbreak.
President Sergio Mattarella, the 243 mayors of cities in Bergamo province and a representative of families who lost loved ones have been invited to attend the evening concert, which is being transmitted live on RAI state television. It will feature the Requiem Mass composed by Bergamo native Gaetano Donizetti, one of Italy’s most important 19th century composers.
Bergamo recorded its first positive case Feb. 23. By the end of March had registered a 571% increase in excess deaths compared with the five-year monthly average.
Donizetti composed the unfinished Requiem to honor friend fellow composer Vincenzo Bellini, who died in 1835.
NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India must focus on bolstering the economy as it exits the lockdown phase, even as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb.
On Sunday, India reported additional 19,906 confirmed cases, taking the total to 528,859 with 16,095 deaths. It says 309,713 people have recovered.
Modi told a radio address that during the post-lockdown period, Indians have to stay more vigilant compared to the lockdown and only alertness can save them from the coronavirus.
He again urged people to wear a mask and observe social distancing norms and other precautions, or else would be putting others at risk, especially the elderly and children at home.
BERLIN — Swiss authorities say they’ve ordered 300 people into quarantine after a “superspreader” outbreak of the new coronavirus at a Zurich nightclub.
Zurich officials said in a statement that a man who had been at the Flamingo Club a week ago tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, and that five people who were with him there were then tested and also were positive and reported to authorities on Friday.
Working from a list of guests provided by the club, officials were then able to get in touch with the others who were there and ordered them into quarantine on Saturday for 10 days to try and stop any further spread of the virus as they are tested.
Swiss officials say the incident shows how important it is to stick to hygiene and distance regulations as lockdown measures are gradually lifted.