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Thursday April 15th, 2021 7:21AM

The Latest: Okla Gov. Stitt back at work after positive test

By The Associated Press
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Oklahoma City — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt returned to his office two weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Stitt’s Twitter page indicated he’s “glad to be back in the saddle” and encouraged people to regularly wash hands, keep socially distant and wear masks if distancing isn’t possible.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Tuesday reported 1,089 newly confirmed cases and 13 more deaths. That brings total deaths to 509.

The actual number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because of the low number of people tested and those unaware they may have the virus because they experience of no symptoms.

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

— Teachers’ union in U.S. supports striking if unsafe to return to school

— Florida reports more than 9,000 new virus cases

— Greece says it will allow cruise ship travel on Aug. 1.

— President Donald Trump is back to pushing unproven claims that an anti-malaria drug is an effective treatment for the coronavirus. He’s also lobbing new attacks on the credibility of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.

— Britain’s effective ban on travel to Spain following an upswing in coronavirus cases in the country’s northeast has hammered home the l ack of a comprehensive, Europe-wide approach to suppressing the virus.

— Dr. Anthony Fauci says the Miami Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak could endanger the Major League Baseball season but he doesn’t believe games needs to stop now.

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:

COLUMBIA, South Carolina — South Carolina’s largest school district says nearly one-third of the students don’t plan to attend school in person this fall.

More than 23,000 of the 77,000 students in the Greenville County School District picked its virtual program, which requires a yearlong commitment to staying outside a school building.

Many districts in the state have experimented with virtual schools before, but the coronavirus pandemic has them blossoming as an education alternative.

Only Arizona, Texas, California and Florida have a higher rolling daily average of COVID-19 deaths in South Carolina. The average has consistently hovered around 30 deaths since July 13, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Outside the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, special tents will serve as an “alternative care site.” The tents will house 12 beds for recovering patients and the hospital says they should be ready in two or three weeks.

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MONTPELIER, Vermont — Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont’s top health and education officials says the level of coronavirus in the state is low enough for schools to resume in-person instruction.

Scott says he’ll issue an order allowing schools to open Sept. 8, a week later than usual, to give local school districts more time to prepare.

Many Vermont school districts were planning to reopen with hybrid in-person and remote instruction. A few are planning to resume full-time instruction, according to the governor.

Don Tinney, the president of the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association and its 13,000-member teachers’ union, says the delay on the school opening was a good first step.

The Vermont Health Department reported three new cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to more than 1,400. The state hasn’t had a confirmed death in more than a month, with the total at 56.

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ATHENS — Greece announced it will allow cruise ship travel on Aug. 1.

The tourism ministry says cruises originating from six ports — Piraeus, Volos, and Katakolo on the mainland and the islands of Rhodes, Iraklio on Crete, and Corfu — will start on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Civil Protection Authority says face masks will be mandatory Wednesday for staff and customers at all closed retail outlets, including hair and beauty salons.

The Health Ministry reported 52 new infections Tuesday, bringing the confirmed total to 4,279. With one new death, the toll stands at 203.

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanon’s government has ordered a partial shutdown in the country amid an increase of coronavirus cases.

Lebanon registered 141 new cases of coronavirus and three more deaths because of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The new numbers raise the total cases in Lebanon to 4,023 and 54 deaths.

In recent days, triple-digit cases were reported after the country reopened the only international airport and many people returned to normal life.

The government says a five-day partial lockdown will begin Thursday followed by two days of rest before another five-day partial lockdown. During the lockdown, indoor swimming pools, pubs, malls, banks, night clubs and markets will be closed.

Lebanon had contained the virus after the first case was reported in late February. The lockdown was lifted in an attempt to ease the severe economic crisis.

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ST PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida reported more than 9,000 coronavirus cases Tuesday and a new daily high of 191 deaths.

That brings the total infections to nearly 442,000 and more than 6,100 confirmed deaths, according to the state Health Department. The previous record of daily coronavirus deaths in Florida was 173 last week.

The number of patients treated in hospitals statewide for the coronavirus was steady during the past 24 hours at just over 9,000 — down from about 9,500 a week ago.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’s thinking about opening up nursing homes and assisted living facilities to visitation. The Republican says rapid coronavirus tests can ensure visitors are not infected.

In Florida, there’s been 2,760 confirmed deaths of residents and employees at long-term care facilities.

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RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas — Some of the areas hit by Hurricane Hanna in South Texas over the weekend remain among the nation’s worst hot spots for the coronavirus.

Starr County in the Rio Grande Valley had more than 1,800 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The county’s only hospital, which has fewer than 50 beds and no intensive care unit, has been at capacity for weeks.

Hanna’s lashing winds and rain grounded medical transport helicopters for days, leaving doctors unable airlift the most critical patients to treatment elsewhere.

Gov. Greg Abbott has said he’s worried that the storm forced people to gather in groups indoors to ride it out, which could lead to more virus spread.

Local officials have pleaded with Abbott for weeks to allow face masks and business closures.

Texas health officials on Monday revised their data collection on coronavirus deaths, adding nearly 700 more than were previously reported. The death now toll stands at 5,713.

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CHICAGO — People traveling from Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska and North Dakota to Chicago will have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival or face possible fines starting Friday.

The latest expansion announced Tuesday brings the total number of affected states to 22.

Chicago officials issued the quarantine order in early July. Initially, it applied to travelers from 15 states but has been updated weekly based on increasing numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Three of the five states bordering Illinois are included in the order; Iowa was listed in a previous update. Chicago officials acknowledged Wisconsin’s inclusion could be more complicated.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Public Health, says city residents who work in Wisconsin or vice versa can continue commuting if needed but should limit their activities.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana is cracking down on violators of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ coronavirus restrictions.

The state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control yanked the permits of four bars found in violation of the Democratic governor’s order limiting bars to takeout and delivery.

The agency announced Monday it had suspended permits for bars in Grand Isle, Lake Charles, Gonzales and Harvey after state inspectors found the businesses repeatedly selling drinks to customers who stayed onsite.

The businesses are unable to serve alcohol until hearings to plead their cases on Aug. 5 and Aug. 6. They could face permit suspensions of up to 30 days.

Stronger enforcement comes as coronavirus cases continue to soar in Louisiana. The state, which previously reduced the spread, has one of the nation’s highest per capita infection rates.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s governor is “appalled” by videos showing crowds standing close together at a Hamptons concert featuring electronic music duo The Chainsmokers over the weekend.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote in a Monday night tweet the state Department of Health will conduct an investigation into “egregious social distancing violations.”

Cuomo shared a social media video, which has over 6 million views, that showed crowds of people standing and swaying near the stage. The video shows attendees who appeared to be wearing masks, but many individuals were standing closer than 6 feet (2 meters).

The governor, whose state was once the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., has told citizens to be vigilant and help keep coronavirus infection rates relatively flat in New York.

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HARTFORD, Conn. -- Federal inmates in Connecticut have agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing prison officials of unsafe conditions during the coronavirus.

Notice of the agreement involving inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury was filed Monday in federal court in Hartford and must be approved by a judge. The inmates’ lawyers say the settlement requires the Bureau of Prisons to promptly identify medically vulnerable inmates and release them to home confinement.

Since the pandemic began, 89 inmates and 61 staff at Danbury have recovered from the virus, and one inmate died. The prison houses about 1,000 people.

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One of the nation’s largest teachers’ union is authorizing its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures in the middle of the global pandemic.

The American Federation of Teachers, which represents 1.7 million school employees, issued a resolution on Tuesday saying it will support any local chapter that decides to strike over reopening plans. The group says school buildings should open only in areas where coronavirus infections are low enough and if schools enact certain safety measures.

The union’s president blasted President Donald Trump for ordering schools to reopen even as the virus continues to surge. Randi Weingarten called Trump’s response “chaotic and catastrophic,” saying it has left teachers angry and afraid.

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MOSCOW — The president of Belarus says he tested positive for the coronavirus and is asymptomatic.

President Alexander Lukashenko made the announcement Tuesday at a meeting with security officials, the state news agency Belta reported. He had previously dismissed concerns about the coronavirus as “psychosis.”

“Today you are meeting with a person who managed to survive the coronavirus on his feet. Doctors made such a conclusion yesterday: asymptomatic,” he said.

Belarus took no comprehensive measures against the coronavirus, such as lockdowns or ordering social distancing.

The country has about 67,000 confirmed cases of infection and 543 reported deaths.

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ATLANTA — Georgia’s governor said he’s withdrawing a request for an emergency hearing in a lawsuit that aims to block the state’s largest city from ordering people to wear masks in public.

Gov. Brian Kemp this month sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City Council, who want to enforce a mask order for the city. The Republican governor argues local leaders cannot impose measures that are more or less restrictive than those in his executive orders.

The two sides met for court-ordered mediation Monday. Kemp spokesman Cody Hall announced Monday night the governor wanted “to continue productive, good faith negotiations” and had decided to withdraw the request for a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

However, that doesn’t withdraw the underlying lawsuit.

___

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it is the government’s “duty” to protect the U.K. from a second coronavirus spike as he defended the decision to recommend against all but essential travel to Spain.

He says the government must “take swift and decisive action” where it thinks risks are “starting to bubble up again.”

He adds: “Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s happening in Europe, amongst some of our European friends, I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.”

The decision to toughen the travel advice for Spain has prompted widespread dismay among some British. Spain is traditionally the most popular summer holiday destination.

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