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Friday July 10th, 2020 5:46PM

The Latest: Pence, Abbott acknowledge more Texas virus cases

By The Associated Press
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DALLAS — Both Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledged Sunday that there has been a rapid rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the state in recent weeks after Abbott begin allowing businesses to start reopening in early May.

“Covid 19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Abbott, who on Friday again shut down bars and limited restaurant dining, a day after Texas reported a record high confirmed positive tests of 5,996.

Abbott has also banned elective surgeries in the state’s largest counties.

Pence praised Abbott for his decisions both to reopen the state, then to roll back the reopening plans.

“You flattened the curve here in Texas ... but about two weeks ago something changed” and the number of positive confirmed cases have risen from about 2,000 cases a day to more than 5,000 a day. “With the development of these new cases, we’re grateful, Governor, you’ve taken the steps you’ve taken,” Pence said.

Pence also encouraged the wearing of face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

“Wear a mask, where ever it’s indicated or where ever you’re not able to practice the kind of social distancing that would prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said Pence, who along with Abbott wore face masks as they entered and left the room, taking them off while speaking to reporters.

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GENEVA - The World Health Organization has announced another daily record in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the world - topping over 189,000 in a single 24-hour period.

The tally Sunday from the U.N. health agency eclipses the previous record a week earlier at over 183,000 cases, showing case counts continue to progress worldwide.

Brazil recorded the most new cases over the one-day span at more than 46,800, followed by the U.S. at over 44,400. India had nearly 20,000.

Overall the U.S. still has far and away the most total cases. At more than 2,450,000 - roughly twice that of Brazil. The number of actual cases worldwide is much higher.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered bars that have opened in seven counties to immediately close.

Newsom is urging bars in eight other counties to do the same, saying the coronavirus is rapidly spreading in some parts of the state.

The counties under the mandatory bar closure order include Los Angeles, Fresno, San Joaquin, Kings, Kern, Imperial and Tulare counties.

State officials asked eight other counties to issue local health orders closing bars include Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus.

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — The prime minister of Kosovo is warning that officials may have to reinstate lockdown measures if things don't improve after a recent surge in reported coronavirus cases.

Avdullah Hoti said Sunday that he's worried the hospital system will be overwhelmed.

Kosovo has seen a steep daily increase of the virus cases following containment measures from March to May. This past week, there were 517 new confirmed cases and 12 deaths.

Hoti urged residents to wear masks, follow social distancing protocols and wash their hands. He says those are simple measures “to protect ourselves, our children, parents and co-workers or co-travelers in the bus or taxi, or the next person at the restaurant."

Kosovo has eased all restrictions except for those on mass gatherings, or fans at sport or cultural events.

As of Sunday, Kosovo has reported at least 2,590 confirmed cases and 48 deaths.

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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.

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Follow all of AP's pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’ll encourage people to wear face masks in public but indicated that he doesn’t plan to enact a statewide requirement.

Hutchinson told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he’s “not going to pass a mandate that is unenforceable.”

He added that residents will be educated about the importance of face coverings to protect others.

His comments came as Arkansas has seen an uptick in the number of reported coronavirus cases. The state health department on Saturday reported at least 570 more cases of the virus and 10 more deaths, bringing the number of reported cases to 19,310 and the death toll to 259.

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PHOENIX — Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far.

It was also the seventh time in the last 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark.

The Arizona Department of Health Services also reported nine additional deaths. That pushes Arizona’s documented COVID-19 totals to nearly 74,000 cases and 1,588 known deaths.

Some Arizona hospitals have begun activating surge plans to increase their capacity to treat COVID-19 patients as confirmed cases rise and more people seek treatment.

Arizona became a coronavirus hot spot following Gov. Doug Ducey’s lifting of stay-home orders last month.

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NEW YORK — Five people died Saturday from the coronavirus in New York state, a death toll Gov. Andrew Cuomo called “the lowest number we have had since this started.”

Saturday’s total compared with 13 fatalities the day before as the number of fatalities caused by the virus continues to plummet in the state. During the peak of the pandemic in April, nearly 800 people were dying a day from coronavirus.

The governor cautioned, however, that the numbers could spike again if New Yorkers let down their guard down and fail to follow social distancing and mask-wearing requirements.

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JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus have risen to more than 138,000, including 2,456 deaths.

Those figures were released Sunday evening by the government. South Africa’s cumulative total of reported cases represents more than 30% of the more than 371,500 cases reported by Africa’s 54 countries.

Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize warned that the country is entering a period of surging cases and hospitalizations that he said will soon be “exponential” and will push the country’s hospitals to their limit. Mkhize warned that spikes are expected in mines, factories and schools that are reopening.

South Africa is relaxing its lockdown restrictions to encourage a resumption of economic activity

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WASHINGTON — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says President Donald Trump’s “unique” circumstances are 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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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