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Sunday August 9th, 2020 4:59PM

The Latest: Number of new virus cases drops in Minnesota

By The Associated Press
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota health officials say the number of newly confirmed coronavirus case slipped after several days of large case counts.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 480 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the state to 52,281 since the pandemic began.

Minnesota reported its largest one-day case count on Sunday with more than 860 cases. That continued a four-day stretch where cases exceeded 700.

The drop in newly confirmed cases could be the result of a decrease in tests processed, the Star Tribune reported. About 9,000 diagnostic tests were reported Tuesday, down from nearly 13,600 reported on Monday. New case reports on Mondays and Tuesday are usually lower, reflecting lower testing volume over the weekends.

Health officials reported four additional deaths Tuesday, raising Minnesota’s total to 1,580. Three of the deaths were long-term care residents.

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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:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday that reopening schools in-person is the “medically sound, preferred option,” but he said it’s dependent on quickly isolating those who are sick and quarantining their close contacts.

The Republican rolled out his K-12 school reopening plan the same week as the state has been warned by the White House that Tennessee is at a precipice of reaching new levels of infection.

“Our state is doing everything we can to work with local school districts and ensure that in-person learning is made available in a way that protects the health and safety of our students and educators, and this plan helps us accomplish that goal,” Lee said in a statement.

According to Lee’s new school guidelines, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days from the onset of their symptoms or isolate 10 days from the date they were tested for the virus.

Those who were within 6 feet of anyone who has COVID-19 for 10 minutes or longer must also quarantine for at least 14 days.

The day before, teachers within Nashville’s Metro Education Association led a caravan past the governor’s mansion with messages that included, “Dead Students Can’t Learn. Dead Teachers Can’t Teach.”

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas has reported a new one-day high deaths from the illness caused by the coronavirus, and the state’s virus cases have exceeded 40,000.

The Department of Health on Tuesday reported 20 more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the state’s total fatalities to 428. The state’s health secretary said six of those deaths were late reports and did not occur in the last 24 hours.

The state’s total confirmed virus cases rose by 734 since Monday to 40,181. The number of people hospitalized has increased by 12 to 501.

Before Tuesday, the largest number of deaths reported in a day in Arkansas was 12 on July 17.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear expressed hope that a fairly stable number of coronavirus cases reported in the state Tuesday signals his mask-wearing mandate might be “starting to kick in and help.”

Beshear reported 532 more confirmed virus cases in the state, up by 10 cases from the previous day but below the 10-day average. The state’s positivity rate — reflecting the average number of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 — dropped for the first time in four days, the governor said.

He also reported 10 more virus-related deaths, raising the state’s death count to 719.

The Democratic governor has taken several steps — which he says are backed by federal health officials — to try to slow a recent surge of virus cases. Those actions include a mandate he announced nearly three weeks ago that most people wear masks in public.

On Monday, Beshear ordered Kentucky bars to close and restaurants to scale back indoor service in what he hopes will be short-term steps to stop the spike in cases. The governor also reduced the number of people allowed at social gatherings from 50 to 10.

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WILMINGTON, Delaware — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said he personally had not been tested for the coronavirus, but did not elaborate on why he hasn’t sought such a screening protectively.

Speaking to reporters after giving a speech in his hometown of Wilmington on Tuesday, Biden also said President Donald Trump needs to appoint a federal official in charge of equitably distributing a vaccine when one is available, adding “the president should have put someone in charge” of that “three months ago.”

Biden used the speech to lay out how he will rebuild the economy in a way that promotes racial equality. He also accused the Trump administration of using coronavirus relief funds to allow large banks to enrich themselves through loans while “closing the door” on small businesses, especially those owned by African Americans.

“A change of ‘tone’ over a few days does not change the facts of the last four years,” Biden said, referring to the past few days, when Trump spoke about the coronavirus in somber terms. “Donald Trump fails the basic threshold test of being president — the duty to care about the entire country, not just himself. He has shown that he can’t beat the pandemic to keep you safe.”

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NEW JERSEY — Three more states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have been added to the list of places whose residents traveling to New Jersey must quarantine for two weeks because of COVID-19.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday that Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota, along with the capital and the Caribbean island bring the total list of affected states and territories to 36.

The travel advisory calls for travelers from those places to quarantine for 14 days and applies to states with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or those with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.

New Jersey’s positivity rate has been hovering around 2% or lower and has seen new hospitalizations fall 40% from two weeks ago, according to the governor’s office. New hospitalizations since the virus’s peak in April are down 97%. The state has 4.5 new cases per day per 100,000 residents, ranking 44th in the country, according to Murphy’s office.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday he’s curbing alcohol sales hours at restaurants later this week as a way to discourage the spread of COVID-19 during late-night gatherings.

Starting Friday, the eateries and other establishments offering drinks by the glass like distilleries and breweries will have to cut off sales at 11 p.m. State law usually allows sales until 2 a.m. It doesn’t apply to grocery stores that sell beer and wine.

Standalone bars have been shuttered since March. He said he’s been worried increasing numbers of positive cases of the coronavirus among young people, and points out reports of restaurants acting more like bars, with patrons hanging out without social distancing. Some local governments had already issued sales restrictions.

“We know that the ‘bar scene’ has been a place where we have seen increased transmission,” Cooper said at a media briefing. “We want to drive those numbers down.”

Cooper’s announcement came on the same day North Carolina reported another record number of current hospitalizations involving coronavirus patients at almost 1,250. But state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said Tuesday that some case trends appear to be stabilizing.

More than 116,000 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began, with more than 1,800 deaths, Cohen’s department said.

NORFOLK, Va. --- The state of Virginia will enact new rules in the Hampton Roads region that will ban alcohol sales after 10 p.m. as well as gatherings of more than 50 people.

Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday that the emergency order is aimed at stopping the surge of coronavirus cases in cities near the coast.

The Democratic governor cited a rise in infections among young people in the Hampton Roads region as well as alcohol use. The restrictions take effect at 12 a.m. Friday.

They are Virginia’s latest effort to reign in a virus that has largely slowed its spread in much of the rest of the state.

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CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire health and fire safety officials will spend the next two weeks investigating whether ventilation systems contributed to coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes, Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday.

More than 30 long-term care facilities have experienced outbreaks, and their residents account for 82 percent of the state’s deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. As of Tuesday, only four outbreaks remained active, said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette.

She said the review by her department and the state Fire Marshal began Monday and is initially focused on facilities that have had outbreaks. The goal is to investigate possible patterns in terms of how outbreaks moved through buildings and whether ventilation systems can be improved at other facilities.

Sununu, a Republican, earlier this month vetoed a Democrat-backed bill that would have created an independent review of long-term care facilities.

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — The Kosovar government on Tuesday imposed most of the previous lockdown measures, such as banning religious ceremonies and other activities, in an effort to prevent an alarming escalation of coronavirus cases.

The government ordered that public gatherings, including family traditional ceremonies and mass gathering of more than five people, are banned in squares or parks. Restaurants, cafes, night clubs cannot operate during 10.30 p.m. until 5 a.m. (2030-0300 GMT).

Citizens from neighboring Western Balkan countries where new virus cases have risen too need to present a negative virus test to enter the country.

Citizens are advised to wear the mask in all closed buildings or spaces and institutions and companies should create the proper social distancing environment for the employees.

Kosovo has reported 7,652 confirmed virus cases and 192 deaths as of Tuesday.

___

DENVER — Democratic Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado on Tuesday laid out key demands for the next U.S. coronavirus relief package, urging Congress to deliver uninterrupted benefits for the growing ranks of people without jobs, cash instead of supplies for state testing and contact tracing, and billions of dollars to backfill long-term losses in state and local government budgets.

Polis warned of dire consequences to the economic welfare of millions of Coloradans and to the state’s ability to contain the pandemic in a letter sent to the state’s congressional delegation as the U.S. Senate begins deliberating the next phase of coronavirus relief while infections surge across the nation.

“The continued uncertainty regarding the extension and funding of key federal programs for Coloradans is making many of our neighbors contemplate extremely difficult choices regarding their financial futures,” Polis said.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Travelers from 34 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, must now quarantine for 14 days when they travel to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Governors of New York and New Jersey announced Tuesday that Illinois, Minnesota, Puerto Rico and D.C. are now now on the list of states that face quarantine restrictions under a joint travel advisory issued last month.

The advisory includes states if their seven day rolling average of positive tests exceeds 10%, or if the number of positive cases exceeds 10 per 100,000 residents. The list has included Texas, California and Florida for weeks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed worry for weeks that infection rates in hard-hit New York could once again rise because of travel from high-risk states.

In New York, airport travelers from states on the joint advisory face a $2,000 fine if they leave the airport without filling out the form.

___

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s largest teachers union called Tuesday for schools to delay reopening buildings for in-person learning and instead start only with online classes, citing safety concerns for students and teachers.

The Utah Education Association called for state leaders to temporarily resume distance learning until COVID-19 cases further decline. The union said school districts should seek input from educators and local health authorities before moving forward with any reopening plans.

Some of the nation’s largest public school districts are starting the school year online in cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston.

___

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she will push for schools to stay open this fall but is disparaging any requirements for children to wear masks in classrooms.

Parents and school boards are cautiously weighing the risks and benefits of schools reopening. The Republican governor is emphasizing the educational and social upside of children going to school. She points to research that COVID-19 poses less of a threat to children.

But as Noem emphasizes research that shows the health risks from the virus are less than feared, she is also willing to downplay studies that show masks could prevent the spread of the disease.

___

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile’s government has eased lockdown orders on more than 1 million people in the greater Santiago region, despite criticism from some health experts.

Tuesday’s order means residents in seven of the metropolitan region’s 32 districts can leave home without seeking permission from Monday through Friday, open small businesses and go to work — so long as their workplace is in an area where the restrictions have been eased.

Large businesses, restaurants, theaters and cafes remain closed and a curfew is in force from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Metropolitan Santiago as a whole holds 8 million of the country’s 19 million people. The downtown district itself remains under lockdown.

Chile ranks eighth in the world in confirmed COVID-19 cases per capita, with 350,000 cases and more than 13,000 deaths.

Private think tank Espacio Público complained that the government was easing the restrictions contrary to advice from experts.

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