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Wednesday June 23rd, 2021 5:38PM

The Latest: Model projects 1.9M more deaths by end of 2020

By The Associated Press
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SEATTLE — A widely cited model predicts worsening outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere will lead to 1.9 million more coronavirus deaths in 2020 unless governments act.

Mask mandates and social distancing could save hundreds of thousands of lives, but there is “a tremendous amount of COVID fatigue” among the world’s government leaders because of economic downturns, said Dr. Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Most of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere. Respiratory illnesses tend to peak in winter months, a seasonal effect expected to hold true for COVID-19, Murray said Friday. Disease models are based on assumptions about human behavior, so there is a large amount of uncertainty.

Even if a vaccine proves safe and effective, there won’t be time to distribute enough vaccine to change the bleak forecast, Murray said.

The IHME model projects the wave will peak globally in mid-December at 30,000 deaths per day and in the United States in early December at about 2,900 deaths per day. India, the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Japan will lead the world in total deaths by Jan. 1, according to the forecast.

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

— Model projects 1.9M more coronavirus deaths by end of 2020

— Biden confirms virus test, says he’ll be tested regularly

— Will long Labor Day weekend mean another U.S. coronavirus spike?

— WHO chief says the U.N. health agency won't recommend any COVID-19 vaccine before it is proved safe and effective, even as Russia and China have started using their experimental vaccines before large studies have finished.

— U.S. unemployment dropped sharply in August to a still-high 8.4% from 10.2%, with about half the 22 million jobs lost to the coronavirus outbreak recovered so far

— Italy's ex-leader Silvio Berlusconi admitted to Milan hospital as precaution to monitor his coronavirus infection.

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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:

ANKARA, Turkey — The number of daily confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Turkey topped 50 — the highest single-day fatality in the country since mid-May.

Health Ministry figures released Friday showed that 53 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall death toll in the country to 6,564.

There were 1,610 new confirmed cases of the virus within the last 24 hours, as the number of infected people also continued to hover around levels previously seen in May.

Authorities have imposed nationwide restrictions on weddings, engagement parties and other large social gatherings.

Turkey has recorded more than 276,000 infections since March.

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BERLIN — Authorities in Germany have acknowledged two mishaps involving coronavirus tests as the country reports 1,453 cases in the past 24 hours.

Health officials in Hamburg say 250 samples were lost; they were taken from people who were tested at the airport last week upon return from high-risk areas. Authorities say all of those affected should still be in quarantine and would be tested again.

Health officials in Bavaria say test results for about 10,000 people who were swabbed at airports in the southern German state were delayed due to technical problems.

Meanwhile, Berlin’s public health office say they registered dozens of potential “super spreading events,” where people infected with coronavirus came into contact with several others including at four schools, five doctor’s practices and a sex party.

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ALFRED, Maine -- An outbreak of the coronavirus at a jail that is linked to another outbreak at a wedding poses enough of a risk that schools in Maine’s southernmost county should take more precautions, education officials said Friday.

York County is home to an outbreak of more than 80 cases at a jail in the community of Alfred, as well as other outbreaks. The jail cases overlap with a larger outbreak centered on a wedding reception in Millinocket, in the northern part of the state, that has sickened more than 140 people and killed three. State officials have said a jail employee attended the August reception.

Every Maine county but York is designated at lowest risk for the virus, which has elevated risk. The county’s test-positivity rate of 1.8% is three times the state average.

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LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization says the U.N. health agency won’t recommend any coronavirus vaccine before it is proved safe and effective.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the comment Friday, even as Russia and China have started using their experimental vaccines before long-term studies have been completed. Other countries have proposed streamlining authorization procedures.

He says vaccines have been used successfully for decades and credited them with eradicating smallpox and bringing polio to near elimination. He pointed to newly developed Ebola vaccines that helped end the recent Ebola outbreak in Congo.

Tedros appealed to people opposed to vaccination to do their own research.

“The anti-vaccine movement, they can build narratives to fight against vaccines. But the track record of vaccines tells its own story and people should not be confused,” he says. “They can have a look for themselves on how the world actually used vaccines to reduce under 5 mortality to save children.”

He says he’s hopeful there’d soon be an effective coronavirus vaccine “so the world can get back to normal.”

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MADRID — Spain is nearing a half a million coronavirus infections since the beginning of the pandemic after adding more than 10,000 new cases on Friday.

The new Health Ministry data showed a significant increase in the latest wave of contagion sweeping Spain, although authorities say the situation has no comparison with when the outbreak peaked.

Health authorities say Spain is testing more, most of the cases discovered don’t require hospitalization and the treatment of patients has improved.

There were 184 deaths added on Friday for a total toll of 29,418.

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PHOENIX — Arizona reported 728 confirmed coronavirus cases and 41 deaths on Friday. That increased the state’s totals to 204,681 cases and 5,171 confirmed deaths.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Arizona went from 784 on Aug. 20 to 545 on Thursday, while the rolling average for daily deaths went from 43 to 34.

Arizona was a national hot spot in June and July, but cases and deaths have been trending downward since then.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities say coronavirus checks will be carried out on all care homes for the elderly throughout the country within the next 10 days.

Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias made the announcement on Friday.

Care homes had remained untouched in the first wave of the pandemic in Greece, when a lockdown imposed early in the outbreak is credited with keeping the number of cases and deaths low.

But a recent increase in the spread of the virus after restrictions were relaxed and foreign tourists were welcomed into the country has resulted in outbreaks in at least two care homes, with several deaths reported.

Health authorities announced 202 new cases and one death, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 11,200 and 279 deaths in Greece.

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ROME — Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who tested positive this week for the coronavirus, has been hospitalized in Milan.

Alberto Zangrillo, his personal doctor who is also on staff at San Raffaele hospital, says the 83-year-old has an early stage lung infection but is breathing on his own.

Zangrillo says test results “makes us optimistic” for his recovery over the next “hours and days.” He says after examining Berlusconi at home a day earlier, he decided on hospitalization after detecting “bland pulmonary involvement.”

Berlusconi, who has a pacemaker, is expected to be hospitalized for a ’’few days,” according to Zangrillo.

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BERLIN — German pharmaceutical company CureVac says it is receiving another 252 million euros ($298 million) to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

The company says its request for additional funding has been approved by Germany’s Ministry for Education and Research, provided certain milestones are reached.

Germany’s state-owned KfW bank has already taken a 23% stake in CureVac for 300 million euros. The company launched an initial public offering of shares, but its main shareholder remains Dietmar Hopp, the co-founder of German software giant SAP.

CureVac is among a small number of companies that aim to develop a COVID-19 vaccine using mRNA technology that experts say could allow rapid inoculation on a larger scale than traditional forms of vaccination.

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JOHANNESBURG — The World Health Organization director-general says “so far our worst fears have not been realized” after warnings that malaria deaths could double this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told malaria experts many countries have gone to great lengths to maintain services, even as 46% of more than 100 countries surveyed have reported disruptions to related services.

However, he says an increase in malaria cases and deaths is still expected this year. Malaria killed more than 400,000 people last year, with more than 90% of deaths in Africa.

The WHO chief called for more protection of health workers and strengthened health systems.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke says testing will be stepped up in Copenhagen after more than 170 cases have been reported nationwide for the second day in a row.

Existing test facilities will be upgraded and extra facilities set up in two neighborhoods in the Danish capital, Heunicke says.

Kaare Moelbak of Statens Serum Institut, a government agency that maps the spread of the coronavirus in Denmark, that the cases were spread throughout Copenhagen and occurred mainly at private gatherings.

Some 173 cases were reported on Friday. Denmark recorded 179 on Thursday -- the highest number of new cases in a single day since April 22.

Overall, Denmark has 17,547 confirmed cases and 627 deaths.

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PRAGUE — Health authorities are tightening restrictions in the Czech capital after a recent spike of coronavirus cases in Prague and other parts of the country.

Starting Wednesday, it’s mandatory to wear face masks in stores and shopping malls. Bars, restaurants and night clubs must be closed from midnight until 6 a.m.

Students in Prague must wear face coverings in all shared spaces of elementary and high schools, starting Sept. 14.

The Czech Republic on Thursday had a record daily increase of 680 cases, with 168 in the capital.

The country has 26,452 confirmed cases and 426 deaths.

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — A South Carolina beach town has renewed its mask mandate. That’s despite coronavirus cases trending downward after a spike linked to the popular tourist destination this summer.

Myrtle Beach has extended through Sept. 30 the July executive order mandating face coverings worn in public places, according to the city’s website.

“This is not the time to stop our efforts,” City Manager John Pedersen said during a City Council meeting Thursday.

In June and July, some coronavirus clusters in other states, including West Virginia and New Jersey, were linked to vacationers and wedding attendees returning from trips to Myrtle Beach. Horry County, which contains Myrtle Beach, also had a spike in cases. Since then, data shows the county has seen a downward trend in case numbers.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Department of Corrections has suspended a work program that places inmates in the state Capitol building after two inmates tested positive for the coronavirus.

An agency spokesman says the Dixon Correctional Institute inmates began showing symptoms of coronavirus on Monday and tested positive for the virus Tuesday. They’re in medical isolation.

State data shows that nearly 400 inmates at Dixon currently have the coronavirus.

The inmates are part of a crew of workers bused 30 miles from Jackson to Baton Rouge to clean, cook and perform landscaping in the Capitol and other state buildings.

The inmates in the programs make between 4 and 70 cents an hour or credit toward early release for their work. Some lawmakers have criticized the use of cheap inmate labor at state-owned buildings, The Advocate reported.

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