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Sunday September 20th, 2020 8:07AM

The Latest: Most Ontario schools to resume normal classes

By The Associated Press
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TORONTO — Most students in Canada’s most populous province will return to traditional classrooms full time in September amid the coronarivus pandemic.

Ontario announced Thursday that elementary students and many high schoolers will be in school five days a week in standard class sizes. Secondary school students in two dozen districts that are higher risk will attend class only half the time, with classes limited to 15.

Parents will have the option of keeping their kids at home, and school districts must provide for students to learn remotely.

Students in grades 4 through 12 must wear masks in class, while younger kids will be encouraged to do so in indoor common areas.

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

— Florida tallies another record high daily deaths

— India says herd immunity won’t work, need vaccine

— Health officials Birx, Fauci recommend face shields, masks

— Deaths are mounting rapidly in the U.S., and cases are rising in close to 30 states in all. The outbreak’s center of gravity seems to be shift from the Sun Belt toward the Midwest.

— More than 1.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, further evidence of the devastation the coronavirus outbreak has unleashed on the U.S. economy.

— An AP NBA reporter's town was hard hit by the coronavirus in the suburbs of New York. He shifted from covering sports to covering the virus and protests in the city. Now he's heading to the bubble in Orlando to cover the NBA, which begins its postponed season.

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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:

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt says he is allocating $10 million for providing personal protective equipment to schools as he encourages them to reopen for in-person classes.

Stitt said Thursday the state will distribute 1.7 million resuable masks — enough for two per teacher and two per student. He says there will also be 42,000 clear face shields, 1.2 million pairs of disposable gloves and 1.2 million disposable gowns.

The governor says he is ordering the state health and state education departments to develop a plan by Aug. 21 for teachers to be tested monthly for the virus.

Oklahoma schools are to open during the month of August and some, including the largest public school district in Oklahoma City, have announced plans that include a blend of in-person and virtual school. In-person teaching was halted in March, and Stitt says he wants schools students back to classrooms.

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds insists the state controls how public schools will resume classes next month, saying districts can resort to online learning only if coronavirus cases are surging in their communities.

The teachers union immediately pushed back against Reynolds’ statement Thursday, saying that the lives of children and teachers are at stake and that science not politics should guide decisions.

The governor has said the state will require at least half of classes to be held in person. On Thursday, she updated that guidance to say the state will decide when K-12 schools can send students home based on community virus spread and student illnesses.

Reynolds’ rules for school makes exceptions for parents who can choose to keep a child at home for remote learning, and districts must make accommodations for any student to learn remotely if they, a caregiver, or a person they live with has a health condition that would increase their risk of COVID-19.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is arguing against another “blanket shutdown” of the economy amid a surge of coronavirus cases.

He spoke Thursday after the government reported that the pandemic sent the U.S. economy plunging by a record-shattering 32.9% annual rate last quarter.

The president says the nation has gotten a handle on the virus but “it can come roaring back when you least suspect it.” Trump insists, though, that the economy should stay open.

He says a widespread shutdown like what happened in March and April “would no longer be the answer at all.” He adds that “small shutdowns can be very helpful” but not lengthy ones.

Trump has staked his reelection chances on restarting the nation’s economy but there are signs the recovery has stalled amid a resurgence of COVID-19.

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LONDON — The British government has reimposed restrictions on social life in a swath of northern England because of rising coronavirus infections.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says that as of midnight Thursday people from different households should not meet indoors in Greater Manchester, England’s second largest metropolitan area. The same orders applies to the surrounding areas of Lancashire and West Yorkshire counties.

Hancock says that “households meeting up and a lack of social distancing is one of the causes of this rising rate of coronavirus” cases in the United Kingdom. The number of daily infections has recently begun to rise after weeks of decline.

The affected region has a large Muslim population, and the restrictions come ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday on Friday.

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DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says private school teachers across the state will be given medical-grade masks during the fall semester.

Polis previously announced that public school teachers will receive the masks each week for at least eight to 10 weeks, regardless of whether their school uses in-person, hybrid or remote learning.

Private and charter schools will have to pick up their supply of masks in the district headquarters or at a designated depot.

The governor also announced on Thursday a partnership with the Colorado Archdioceses of Denver to provide 2,000 masks a week to its 48 schools.

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LOUDON, N.H. — NASCAR drivers and their teams competing this weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be required to remain either at the track or at their hotels during their stay.

Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday that “they don’t go out to dinner, they don’t go out and get coffee, nothing like that. They’re really quarantined in that bubble between where they sleep and where they work.”

The speedway in Loudon is hosting the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday, the first large sports event with spectators in New England since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

While the state allowed the speedway to host up to 35% of capacity, the roughly 12,000 tickets sold amount to only about 20%. Fans will be required to wear masks when not in their assigned seats.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday visited the headquarters of the American Red Cross’s to encourage survivors of COVID-19 to donate plasma.

Thousands of coronavirus patients have donated their plasma in hopes it could help other patients recover from the coronavirus, and scientists are testing if the donations might also prevent infection in the first place. Medical experts say the jury is still out on effectiveness of convalescent plasma on both fronts.

Trump was joined by several members of his coronavirus task force for the visit to Red Cross, and even stopped to visit with a plasma donor. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said 50,000 donors have given plasma but the nation needs hundreds of thousands of more donors to come forward.

If it if works, survivor plasma could have important ramifications until a vaccine arrives — raising the prospect of possibly protecting high-risk people with temporary immune-boosting infusions every so often.

Convalescent plasma’s most famous use was during the 1918 flu pandemic.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jose Freire Interian was walking his dog near his Key West home Wednesday, when a neighbor began recording him on her cell phone. Hours later, police came knocking on his door with an arrest warrant and whisked Freire and his wife to the county jail.

The charge: violating quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.

As a national debate swirls over masks and self-quarantines, communities are grappling over how aggressively they should enforce myriad rules meant to control the spread of a novel strain of coronavirus, which has now infected more than 460,000 in Florida and killed nearly 6,600 of its residents.

“If the law allows someone to be arrested for violating a quarantine order and they continue to thumb their nose at the law — yeah they should be arrested,” Manager Greg Veliz said Thursday.

The couple will go before a judge in August, after posting bail Thursday morning.

Freire Interian expressed exasperation and speculated that the arrests were the result of a soured relationship with another tenant.

“I didn’t do anything. I was just walking my dog,”said Freire Interian, 24. “It’s not as if I left the house to go shopping.”

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota health officials report that one person has died of methanol poisoning after using hand sanitizer containing methanol.

The Food and Drug Administration has recalled and tried to stop the sale of hand sanitizers with methanol. Methanol poisoning is most likely to occur when it is ingested in larger quantities.

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ASUNCION, Paraguay -- Paraguay eased plans for tighter quarantine in a city on the Brazilian border on Thursday after roughly 60 people were arrested in a violent protest that included the looting of food, jewelry and electronics.

Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni said some businesses would be allowed to operate during the day, although bars, gyms and other sites of mass gathering would be closed as planned.

The protests Wednesday night followed the declaration of a strict stay-at-home quarantine in Ciudad de Este, which sits across the border from the Brazilian city of Foz de Yguazú. Much of Ciudad del Este depends on cross-border trade.

Brazil has some of the world’s highest rates of infection from the novel coronavirus while Paraguay has managed to keep rates relatively low. But infections in Ciudad del Este have made the surrounding state of Alto Paraná one of the hardest-hit in the country.

Roughly a third of Paraguay’s infections and deaths have occurred in Alto Paraná, which has about a tenth of the country’s population. The city has 22 of its 24 intensive-care beds occupied, said Federico Schroedel, director of the main public hospital.

Worried about the rising number of cases on the border, authorities decreed a near-total shutdown of the state on Wednesday and about 500 people gathered in the streets of Ciudad del Este to protest, officials said.

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NEW ORLEANS — Dozens of demonstrators gathered Thursday in front of the city’s First City Court where evictions are held to protest that people are being evicted at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is still raging.

Earlier in the pandemic, a statewide moratorium protected renters from eviction, but that ended June 15. Shouting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, eviction court has got to go,” they blocked people from entering the court. A smaller group also prevented people from going into the main entrance of City Hall next door, while occasionally shouting “The door is closed!”

Frank Southall, an organizer with the New Orleans Renters Rights Assembly, said if people are evicted they are often moving in with elderly family members or other people. The ease with which the coronavirus spreads among close living situations means that could potentially help spread the disease. Since many of the city’s tourism-focused jobs haven’t returned yet, he’s worried that allowing evictions to continue could contribute to thousands of people becoming homeless.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville health officials said Thursday that they are concerned that rising coronavirus cases in surrounding rural counties could overwhelm the city’s hospitals.

White House coronavirus task force leader Dr. Deborah Birx traveled to Nashville this week to implore leaders to close bars and residents to wear masks. Referring to her visit, Dr. Alex Jahangir, head of Nashville’s coronavirus task force, said during a Thursday news conference that Birx had made clear to them the virus is increasingly a rural problem.

As rural hospitals begin to fill, they will start sending patients to Nashville, Jahangir said. The city on Thursday had only 12% of intensive care beds open, he said.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper said the city is continuing to press for a coordinated response to the virus. Nashville currently requires masks to be worn in indoor public settings as do most of the surrounding counties, but Gov. Bill Lee has rebuffed calls for a statewide mask mandate even as virus case numbers and hospitalizations have continued to rise statewide. Tennessee surpassed 1,000 deaths from the virus on Wednesday.

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NEW ORLEANS — More than two dozen unemployed workers chanted and held signs outside the New Orleans-area offices of two U.S. senators on Thursday to demand continued $600 federal coronavirus unemployment benefits.

Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy are among Republicans supporting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposal to cut the benefit to $200 a week, which would be in addition to state unemployment pay.

“That would sever a critical lifeline at a time when coronavirus cases are spiking, businesses continue to face mass closures, and whole industries have been decimated,” protest organizers from numerous labor unions and activist groups said in a news release.

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OMAHA, Neb. — The Douglas County board has approved a plan to spend $1.85 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to buy a mobile command center for the county sheriff’s office, despite objections from three board members who said the money should be used for rent assistance and other human needs.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the board voted 4-2 Tuesday to approve the expenditure, with Sheriff Tim Dunning and supporters saying the vehicle could be used for mass vaccinations in rural parts of the county.

The county’s vote came as coronavirus numbers continue to climb in Nebraska. On Thursday, the state’s online virus tracking tool showed an additional 265 confirmed cases and three additional COVID-19 deaths from the previous day.

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BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont reported its first new death from the coronavirus in 43 days on Thursday, bringing the state’s total number of deaths since the pandemic began to 57.

“We have been uniquely fortunate to have been spared such a loss for many weeks,” said Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine in a written statement.

The state also reported one new case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

The state is maintaining a relatively low rate of new positive cases because of “the cooperation and sacrifices Vermonters,” he said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Health, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
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