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Sunday May 16th, 2021 11:27AM

The Latest: Arkansas school superintendent dies from virus

By The Associated Press
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ATKINS, Ark. — An Arkansas school district says its top leader has died from the coronavirus.

The Atkins School District says Superintendent Jody Jenkins died Tuesday due to complications from COVID-19. The district is about 50 miles northwest of Little Rock.

Jenkins announced on Sept. 13 that he had tested positive for the virus and had been hospitalized for the past several days.

Arkansas is requiring schools to be open five days a week for in-person instruction, although they can offer virtual or hybrid options along with the five-day option.

The Arkansas per capita coronavirus rate of 194 per 100,000 residents was the seventh highest in the nation, according to latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report.

Arkansas has more than 82,000 cases and 1,329 confirmed deaths.

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

— How can I volunteer for a COVID-19 vaccine study?

— A viral march across the planet, tracked by a map in motion

— New York City elementary schools reopen in big back-to-school test

— The European Union’s external auditor says child poverty has reached worrying levels across the world’s largest trading bloc amid the pandemic.

— Montreal and Quebec City return to highest COVID-19 alert level, Ontario reports a record 700 new daily infections.

— Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states are conferring on how to prevent the country’s coronavirus infection figures from accelerating.

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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:

St. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa International Airport says it will test passengers for coronavirus in the terminal.

The Florida airport and BayCare Health System will offer voluntary testing for any passenger departing from or arriving at the airport. The tests are open to anyone who has flown, or is flying within three days, and can show proof of travel.

Tampa international CEO Joe Lopano says the trial program will run the month of October with two types of tests for passengers: a $57 rapid antigen swab test and a $125 polymerase swab.

The antigen test looks for coronavirus protein and offer quicker but less accurate results. The polymerase test looks for virus genetic material and take longer for more accurate results.

Airport officials say passengers will be encouraged to take the more expensive swab three days before departure. Results should arrive within 48 hours. The antigen test “offers an added layer of same-day reassurance” for travelers, they say.

Travelers with a positive result are highly encouraged to cancel all travel plans, quarantine and contact a doctor, BayCare officials say. Under law, BayCare is required to report all positive results to the Florida Department of Health.

On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis moved Florida into Phase 3, giving bars and restaurants the green light to operate at full capacity.

However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday the move is “very concerning” and could lead to another outbreak. He says in a group setting, “particularly without masks, you’re really asking for trouble.”

Florida has more than 700,000 confirmed cases and 14,200 deaths from the virus.

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CANNON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A community near Grand Rapids, Michigan, has turned down thousands of dollars in state and federal aid related to the coronavirus epidemic.

The reason: Cannon Township says it doesn’t need it.

“The way we budget, and we have budgeted, we were ready for COVID ... and so we had to respectfully decline to take the money,” said Steve Grimm, the township supervisor.

The township board declined more than $140,000 from the federal government and will accept less than $1,000 from roughly $12,000 offered by the state, WOOD-TV reported.

Cannon Township is in Kent County, which has reported 9,181 confirmed cases and 166 deaths. Overall, Michigan has more than 122,700 cases and 6,731 confirmed deaths.

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JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska residents are enrolling in unprecedented numbers for the federal Medicaid health payment program.

Juneau Public Media reported that more than 12,000 people in Alaska have joined Medicaid over the last six months. The program known in Alaska as DenaliCare and Denali KidCare covered 232,735 participants on Aug. 31. That’s nearly one in every three residents and most are women, children and young adults.

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MOSCOW — Moscow authorities are extending school holidays by a week amid a surge of new coronavirus cases.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Tuesday ordered all schools to go on holiday between Oct. 5-18 and urged parents to keep their children at home during this period.

“Children (account for) a significant share of infections, often asymptomatic,” Sobyanin said in an online statement. “When they come home, they easily transmit the virus to adults and elderly members of the family, who get sick more severely.”

Health officials on Tuesday reported 8,232 new virus cases, with 2,300 in Moscow -- the highest daily number in the Russian capital since late May. Russia currently has the fourth largest caseload in the world with over 1.16 million confirmed infections. It ranks 11th in the world with a reported 20,450 deaths.

Last week, officials asked the elderly to stay at home starting on Monday and requested employers to allow as many people as possible to work from home.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday urged Russians to remain vigilant. “The fight against the epidemic is not over, it goes on. The risks remain,” Putin said.

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MADRID — Spain’s government is providing four more months of furlough to support workers and companies affected by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The existing plan expires Wednesday and was designed when the country’s strict lockdown brought the economy to a standstill. But a second wave is already causing partial lockdowns in towns and neighborhoods across the country, most significantly in the economic hub of Madrid.

The new plan approved Tuesday by Spain’s Cabinet was agreed to by unions and business lobbies. It extends benefits until the end of January. Companies that can’t afford to keep either all or part of the workforce due to virus outbreaks can apply for tax cuts under the pledge to bring employees back for at least half a year. The government will keep paying most of the salary of the workers sent home.

Some 600,000 people remain under the plan that began in March, according to the government. Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz says, “If we can save the fall and winter, we will fully enter recovery times.”

With infections nearing 750,000 and the confirmed death toll more than 31,400, the second wave has hit Madrid, which has a rate of infection 2.5 times higher than the national average.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch public health institute says 19,326 people tested positive for coronavirus in the last week, nearly 6,000 more than the previous week.

The announcement Tuesday came hours before new restrictions were expected to help rein in the rapid spread of the virus.

The official death toll in the Netherlands rose by 51 in the last week to 6,393. The public health institute says it has seen sharp increases in infections throughout most of the country and a rise in the percentage of people testing positive.

A month ago, 2.5% of tests were positive, while 7.4% of recent tests came back positive.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced Monday night all bars and restaurants will have to close their doors at 10 p.m. and limited how many people can gather indoors and outdoors. The restrictions included a ban of fans at professional sports events.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised new adult education and training programs to help workers recover amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson says the pandemic “has massively accelerated changes that were already happening in the U.K. economy,” such as the switch to online shopping.

He says neglect of skills training has left Britain short of construction workers, mechanics, engineers, IT experts and lab technicians.

He adds while some jobs would inevitably be lost because of the coronavirus, the government would “give people the skills to find and create new and better jobs.” The measures including more apprenticeships in skilled trades, free courses and “digital boot camps” for older workers.

Critics say the measures provide little immediate help to people who are losing their jobs because of the pandemic. U.K. officials are bracing for a surge in unemployment at the end of October when the government ends a program that’s paid the salaries of millions of furloughed workers.

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NEW DELHI, India — India’s Serum Institute, the world’s biggest vaccine producer, says it would produce 200 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for developing countries.

In August, the vaccines alliance GAVI said it had agreed to a deal with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Serum Institute, to speed the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to developing countries in 2021. Serum now says that it has agreed to produce an additional 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines.

This collaboration gives upfront capital to the Serum Institute so that once any effective COVID-19 vaccine is licensed, the company can mass produce the shots at scale, as early as the first half of 2021.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India said in a statement, “At this stage, it is important for governments, global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring that no one is left behind in the road to recovery.”

Countries including Britain, France and the U.S. have signed deals with pharmaceuticals for access to COVID-19 vaccines even before they have been licensed. Activists have warned that rich countries hoarding limited vaccines could leave very few for the developing world.

The Serum Institute has entered manufacturing agreements for vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca and Novovax. GAVI heads an international plan to buy vaccines for lower income countries.

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STOCKHOLM -- The Swedish government on Tuesday decided to increase the number of spectators attending sports event from 50 to 500 on Oct. 15.

Bjorn Eriksson, chairman of the Swedish Sports Confederation, welcomed the move and called “a step in the right direction.”

The exemption applies if there’s no increased spread of infection in society. The Scandinavian country has opted for an approach of keeping large parts of the society open.

Most of Europe locked down their populations early in the pandemic by closing schools, restaurants, fitness centers and borders, while Sweden did not.

Sweden has 90,923 confirmed cases and 5,880 confirmed deaths.

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ATHENS — Health inspectors in Greece are carrying out additional COVID-19 tests on crew members of a cruise ship with more than 1,500 people on board, ordering the ship to stop at a testing area at the country’s largest port near Athens.

The Maltese-flagged Mein Schiff 6, which is on a Greek island cruise, was docked Tuesday at the port of Piraeus after sample testing of the crew found 12 crew members were positive but asymptomatic, the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry said.

Passengers had undergone coronavirus tests before boarding.

But since only 150 of the ship’s 666 crew members had been tested, the public health team will re-test the 12 positive cases as well as anyone else deemed necessary by the ship’s crew and doctor.

The vessel, operated by TUI Cruises, has 922 passengers. It began its trip late Sunday from the port of Iraklio, on the island of Crete.

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BRUSSELS — Brussels authorities have decided to ban prostitution until further notice in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus in Belgium’s capital city.

In addition, authorities have shut down three hotels hosting sex workers because social distancing measures were not respected, Wafaa Hammich, a spokeswoman at Brussels city hall told The Associated Press on Tuesday. She said police controls will be stepped up to make sure the ban is enforced.

The decision came after Brussels decided to impose a curfew on bars. Since the start of this week, all bars and cafes have to close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. while any other businesses selling drinks or food will shut down at 10 p.m.

Brussels is facing a surge of new coronavirus infections.

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