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Thursday October 22nd, 2020 10:38AM

The Latest: Kansas sets another pandemic record

By The Associated Press
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TOPEKA, Kansas — Fueled in part by college students returning to classes, Kansas has set another pandemic record for the seven-day increase in coronavirus cases, with the surge prompting a school district to put the brakes on some fall sports and another to extend its mask ordinance.

Statewide, the number of new reported cases rose by 1,111 from Wednesday to Friday, bringing the total to 41,048. The state Department of Health and Environment also reported an additional six COVID-19-related deaths, to put the pandemic total at 443.

The average for the seven days ending Friday was 599, 3.6% more than the previous record of 578 for the seven days ending Wednesday. The state also reported 16 clusters in colleges and universities with 189 cases.

Gov. Laura Kelly called the most recent spike in coronavirus cases “horrendous” and said her administration is looking into why it has occurred. But she said outbreaks on college campuses and fraternities and sororities are a factor.

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

— Thousands of U.S. Health departments tell CDC: Reverse testing guidance

— Four people at RNC event in Charlotte test positive for coronavirus

— TikTok celebrities charged with misdemeanors for large parties in LA

— Credibility of FDA and CDC damaged after controversial decisions that outside experts say imply political pressure from the Trump administration.

— Some college towns are dealing with too much partying and too many COVID-19 infections among students.

— Joe Biden and Kamala Harris prepare to travel more as campaign heats up. They've worn masks in public and Biden has called on governors to order mask-wearing in their states.

— 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:

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Political party delegates from New Mexico who traveled to the Republican National Convention or President Donald Trump’s speech at the White House are obligated to self-quarantine for 14 days as they return home under a state public health order.

A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday that the delegates fall under a self-quarantine provision for most travelers as they enter or return to New Mexico.

Delegate and GOP national committee member Tina Dziuk says she will abide by the state health order and self-quarantine after attending the White House speech, where many people ignored federal guidelines about keeping distance, avoiding crowds and wearing masks to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Dziuk says she wore a mask to the White House and that New Mexico delegates took responsible steps at the convention to manage potential virus exposure by wearing masks, undergoing COVID-19 test and carrying contract-tracing devices.

The self-quarantine mandate did not apply to New Mexico Democrats, including the governor, because they attended their party’s national convention remotely by video feed without leaving the state.

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OTTAWA — Canada is extending restrictions on travelers arriving in the country for another month to help combat the spread of COVID-19, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said on Twitter Friday.

New arrivals in Canada are required to quarantine for 14 days if they don’t show COVID-19 symptoms or isolate for 14 days if they do.

“Our government is extending the existing restrictions on international travel to Canada by one month — until September 30, 2020 — to limit the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” Blair in a Tweet.

“Canadian citizens and permanent residents returning to Canada will continue to be subject to strict quarantine measures.”

Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are returning home to Canada will continue to be subjected to strict quarantine measures.

Canada has taken steps to stem the flow of foreign nationals into the country by restricting discretionary travel, including for tourism, recreation and entertainment.

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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan has crossed the threshold of 100,000 cases of the coronavirus confirmed since March.

Deaths related to COVID-19 reached 6,446 after six more were recorded, the state health department said Friday.

Most people recover from the virus. It can cause mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause pneumonia and lead to death.

Dr. Dennis Cunningham at McLaren Health Care said the number of people who were infected is likely higher than the confirmed cases of 100,699. He noted that enough tests weren’t available in the early weeks of the outbreak.

“We just haven’t had enough testing supplies to test every asymptomatic person, either,” Cunningham told MLive.com.

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RENO, Nev. — Nevada officials are reporting what may be the first documented case of coronavirus reinfection in the United States, following similar reports earlier this week from Hong Kong and Europe.

A 25-year-old Reno man with mild COVID-19 symptoms initially was found to have the virus in April, recovered and tested negative twice, and then tested positive again in June. He was much sicker the second time, with pneumonia that required hospitalization and oxygen treatment.

Genetic tests from each episode showed that viruses were similar in major ways but differed in at least 12 spots that would be highly unlikely from natural evolution of the bug if the man had it continuously rather than being infected a second time, said Mark Pandori, director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory.

A parent the man lives with also tested positive in June, so it’s possible he acquired a new infection that way.

The findings have not yet been published or reviewed by other scientists, but were posted on a research site.

The case “should cement in our minds that there’s no such thing ... as invulnerability” to the virus, even if you’ve already had it, Pandori said. “One can get sick again and that illness can be quite severe.”

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.— Arkansas’ top health official on Friday said the state is beginning to see coronavirus outbreaks at its college campuses as the number of confirmed cases statewide rose by 838. The Department of Health said at least 59,583 people have tested positive for the virus. The department said 5,496 of those are active cases that don’t include people who have died or recovered. The number of people who have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, rose by 17 to 756. The number of people hospitalized dropped by 26 to 407.

Dr. Jose Romero, the state’s health secretary, said testing events are planned at universities where officials are seeing outbreaks. In one instance, Romero said, one-third of 75 people tested recently at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville tested positive. “That is an alarming amount,” he said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said 181 of the new cases reported Friday came from correctional facilities, most from the state’s Varner Unit.

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ITASCA, Ill. — The American Academy of Pediatrics has joined critics calling for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reverse its updated position on COVID-19 testing.

“In the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, we must be led by the science, in a fully transparent process that engages the public’s trust and confidence," the academy said in a statement. "The inexplicable decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advise against testing individuals who have been exposed to the virus but who are asymptomatic is a dangerous step backward in our efforts to control this deadly virus.”

The academy noted that children often show few or no symptoms, but they are not immune to the virus. “Testing exposed individuals who may not yet show symptoms of COVID-19 is crucial to contact tracing, which helps identify and support other people who are at risk of infection,” the academy said.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom is announcing a new process for reopening businesses that is slower and more gradual than what the state tried earlier this summer.

The new rules announced Friday create a four-tier, color-coded system that counties will move through based on their number of cases and percentage of positive tests. It will rely on two metrics to determine which tier a county is in: case rates and the percentage of positive tests.

California has the most confirmed virus cases in the nation, with nearly 700,000 and third-most deaths at 12,550.

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SANTA FE, N.M. -- Political party delegates from New Mexico who traveled to the Republican National Convention and President Donald Trump’s speech at the White House are obligated to self-quarantine as they return home to a state that requires face masks and limits public gatherings. A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday said the delegates are subject to the state’s current 14-day self-quarantine provision that applies to most travelers as they enter or return to New Mexico. The precaution is based on the incubation period of the coronavirus. New Mexico is relaxing its stay-at-home order gradually as the spread of COVID-19 slows across much of the state.

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LOS ANGELES -- TikTok celebrities Bryce Hall and Blake Gray were charged after hosting two parties in the Hollywood Hills despite a ban on large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Los Angeles city attorney’s office says prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges against Hall and Gray. They are accused of violating the city’s pandemic health order and a party house ordinance. Penalties include a year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.

The internet celebrities share the home and have millions of followers on TikTok. Los Angeles police responded to both parties, which featured several hundred guests, and issued citations.

Mayor Eric Garcetti says with bars closed in town, large house parties can become “super spreaders.” City Attorney Mike Feuer says he isn’t aware of any coronavirus cases linked to their parties. However, he says with a public health crisis and so many followers, they shouldn’t be “violating the law and posting videos about it.”

Los Angeles County has recorded nearly 237,000 coronavirus cases and more than 5,700 confirmed deaths, making it the hardest-hit county in the state.

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DETROIT — The Detroit school district reached a deal to start the academic year, a week after members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers authorized a strike over coronavirus safety.

The deal includes capping classroom size at 20 students, offering extra pay to teachers and checking daily temperatures of students and staff, officials say. Classes start Sept. 8.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says the “agreement signals we will work together to provide equitable education opportunities for our children and families.”

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is the largest in Michigan with nearly 50,000 students. Despite the agreement with the union, some teachers don’t want to return to in-class instruction, citing the virus risk. The district say teachers will have the option of teaching online, though nearly all schools with have some in-person instruction.

The district say teachers could earn an extra $3,000 for the year for working in classrooms.

Michigan has nearly 100,000 coronavirus cases and 6,440 confirmed deaths.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government is extending financial support into next year for businesses and workers hit by the deep recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the latest support package, his government’s third virus bailout, amounts to more than 10 billion euros ($12 billion) to protect companies and safeguard jobs threatened by the economic downturn.

He says the new aid package also aims to help those whose business or job didn’t survive.

He says, “in that case, it’s very important that people are helped from one job to another.”

The coalition government’s current coronavirus aid package is due to end in October.

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ROME — Italy had the highest one-day increase in coronavirus cases since May, with 1,462 confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours.

The Health Ministry says Lombardy, the region hardest hit in Italy in the pandemic, had the most cases at 316 on Friday.

Early in the outbreak, the average age of infected people in Italy was close to 70. Last week, the average age was 29, with most of the cases in travelers returning from vacations.

Italy has 265,409 total confirmed cases in the pandemic. With nine more deaths, the known toll in Italy rose to nearly 35,500.

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MANAGUA, Nicaragua — More than 60,000 of the Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers in Costa Rica are going hungry during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.N. Refugee Agency said Friday.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, 93% of the Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica reported steady work-related income. By the end of July, that figure had dropped to 59% as the pandemic froze much of the country’s economic activity, the U.N. agency said.

“This leaves many also at risk of eviction and homelessness,” the statement said. One fifth of the refugees surveyed say they didn’t know where they would live in the next month.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Hungarian government says it will close its borders to foreigners from Sept. 1.

Hungarians returning from abroad will need to quarantine for two weeks unless they twice test negative for the coronavirus. Gergely Gulyas, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, says some exceptions would be made for foreigners, but he didn’t provide details.

Hungary has reported 5,511 coronavirus cases and 614 confirmed deaths. It registered 132 new cases on Friday, the second-highest figure since the start of the pandemic.

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NEW YORK — Local health departments in the U.S. are pushing for reversal of a recent change to coronavirus testing guidance, saying it is undermining their work to stop outbreaks.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials and the Big Cities Health Coalition, which together represent about 3,000 local health departments, released the letter Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly posted the change Monday. The CDC previously had advised local health departments to test people who have been within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes. But the new guidance said those people did “not necessarily need a test” unless they were more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Public health experts have blasted the new guidance, saying testing contacts of infected people is key to keep outbreaks in check, and many infected people don’t show symptoms.

Under the guidance, doctors or public health officials could still recommend a test. “Testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients,” CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said in statement.

Local health officials said federal authorities didn’t offer any scientific evidence for the change, which effectively shifted more responsibility to municipalities.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Four people at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte have tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials in North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County say.

The two attendees and two people supporting the convention tested positive among the nearly 800 people tested, according to health officials.

County leaders say those four individuals were isolated and “any known close contacts were notified and issued quarantine instructions by Mecklenburg County Public Health.”

The Charlotte Observer reports the disclosures come after county health officials raised concerns about a lack of social distancing and mask wearing. Strict coronavirus protocols were required.

Mecklenburg Public Health Director Gibbie Harris has said the convention posed no infection risk to the greater Charlotte area.

___

RICHMOND, Va. — More than 550 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at colleges and universities in Virginia.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported it surveyed 41 four-year colleges across the state. It found at least 558 positive cases. Twenty-one colleges reported at least one positive case.

Some schools say positive cases were inevitable and that they are prepared to handle them. Other universities across the country have backtracked on plans to allow students on campus.

The New York Times says there are more than 26,000 cases and 64 deaths at colleges around the nation. No school in Virginia has reported a death from the virus.

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