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Thursday September 23rd, 2021 8:55PM

The Latest: NY officials offer competing vaccine strategies

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are offering competing strategies for ramping up New York’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

De Blasio says vaccine eligibility should be widened. Cuomo says hospitals need to do a better job of vaccinating the health care workers who are eligible now.

Only health care workers and nursing home residents and staff members are currently being vaccinated in New York.

De Blasio said Tuesday that it’s time to broaden eligibility to include people older than 75 and essential workers.

But Cuomo says vaccinations are lagging because some hospitals are just better managed than others.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

Seniors citizens in Florida camped overnight in vehicles to get in line for vaccinations in Daytona Beach. Distribution hiccups and logistical challenges have slowed the initial coronavirus vaccine rollout in California. The vaccination drive enters new phase in U.S. as some start receiving final dose.

England is facing its third lockdown, while other countries are taking steps against the coronavirus and vaccinating citizens. Germany extended its national lockdown as coronavirus deaths mount. Meanwhile, Wall Street wobbles after its sharp slide to start 2021.

— Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s top public health official said Tuesday that most nursing home workers are refusing to take coronavirus vaccines being offered in a state that has now become one of the slowest in the nation to get doses into peoples’ arms.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, attributed some of the sluggishness behind rollout to staffing shortages, lack of familiarity with the state’s technological systems and logistical hurdles of working with dozens of hospitals and 100 different counties throughout the state.

Her comments came shortly after the governor announced Tuesday the deployment of National Guard members to accelerate the administration of doses.

“We have a decentralized system in North Carolina,” Cohen said. “We have 83 local public health departments, we have 100 counties. We have great pride in that, but when you decentralize things, it does create slowness. We’re trying to find that right balance of recognizing the strengths in our local areas but also recognizing where are the challenges.”

Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s newly reelected Democratic governor, wrote on Twitter that ensuring vaccines are given to individuals “is our top priority right now.”

“We will use all resources and personnel needed,” Cooper wrote. “I’ve mobilized the NC National Guard to provide support to local health providers as we continue to increase the pace of vaccinations.”

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WARSAW, Poland — The number of visitors to the Auschwitz Memorial fell to some 500,000 last year due to the pandemic, compared to some 2.5 million visitors the year before, the museum’s press office said Tuesday.

The memorial site of the former Nazi German death camp was closed for more than five months in 2020 due to the anti-COVID-19 restrictions. In the opening months the number of visitors was also reduced due to the need for social distancing and sanitary precautions.

At the same time, the number of virtual online visits to the museum rose to some 330,000 or double the number from 2019.

Director, Piotr M. A. Cywinski was quoted as saying that 2020 was an “exceptionally difficult year” and an “unprecedented and exceptional situation” for the memorial site, causing a “severe slump in the Museum’s budget” that led to the discontinuation of many projects.

Cywinski extended his “sincere gratitude” to all who have supported the museum financially during that period.

The museum continues to seek support.

From 1940 to 1945 some 1.1 million people, mostly Europe’s Jews, were killed at Auschwitz that Nazi Germans operated in occupied Poland during World War II.

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The health department in Oklahoma’s most populous county on Tuesday announced that it will begin providing coronavirus vaccinations to residents aged 65 and older on Thursday.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department said those residents can now sign up for vaccine appointments online, and by late Tuesday morning the site said all slots for appointments were taken.

Those eligible for vaccinations do not yet include people younger than 65 with diseases that make them susceptible to COVID-19.

The state health department on Tuesday reported 1,497 additional virus cases and 19 more deaths due to COVID-19, for totals of 308,268 cases and 2,571 deaths since the pandemic began. There were 1,909 people hospitalized with the illness, the department reported.

Oklahoma currently ranks fifth in the U.S. in new cases per capita during the past 14 days, with 1,099 cases per 100,000 residents, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana’s health department is encouraging hospitals to use their extra coronavirus vaccine doses to immunize people aged 70 and older.

Hospitals across Louisiana have received thousands of Pfizer vaccine doses for their own workers and continue to receive new doses weekly.

The health department said Tuesday that any excess should be steered to those newly eligible. That’s an effort to boost the limited supply available to the estimated 640,000 elderly and outpatient health care workers on that newly eligible list.

It wasn’t clear Tuesday how many doses were available at hospitals to administer to them, but it was certain to be a small number.

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PHOENIX, Ariz. — Arizona reported a record 253 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, along with hospitalization highs and the fastest rate of new infections.

The previous one-day record of 172 occurred July 30, according to the Department of Health Services.

A record 4,789 COVID-19 patients occupied hospital beds on Monday, an increase of more than 200 from Sunday, according to the state’s coronavirus data. On Monday, there was a record 1,096 COVID-19 patients in intensive care beds.

The state has the worst coronavirus diagnosis rate in the nation, with one person in every 126 diagnosed with the virus in the past week.

Arizona reported 5,932 daily coronavirus cases on Tuesday, raising the state’s totals to 567,474 cases and 9,317 confirmed deaths.

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RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper announced he’s calling in the North Carolina National Guard to help accelerate coronavirus vaccinations.

Cooper says ensuring vaccines are given to individuals “is our top priority right now.”

“We will use all resources and personnel needed. I’ve mobilized the NC National Guard to provide support to local health providers as we continue to increase the pace of vaccinations,” Cooper said in a signed tweet.

Nearly 108,000 people in North Carolina had received their first dose as of Tuesday morning, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 500 people had received a second dose.

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she has agreed with state governors to extend the country’s current lockdown by three weeks until Jan. 31.

Merkel says they are tightening curbs on social contacts, in line with measures imposed in March, and calling for new restrictions on movement for people living in areas with particularly high infection rates. Germany launched a nationwide partial shutdown on Nov. 2, closing restaurants, bars, leisure and sports facilities.

The decision Tuesday came amid an increase of coronavirus cases and deaths, with Germany reporting 944 more deaths.

Vaccinations in Germany and the rest of the 27-nation European Union started over a week ago. In Germany, a nation of 83 million, nearly 265,000 vaccinations had been reported by Monday, the Robert Koch Institute said.

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LONDON — Britain’s statistics office says about one in every 50 people in England had the coronavirus in the last week.

The Office for National Statistics says in London the figure is even higher. It estimates that one in 30 people in private households in the British capital had the coronavirus in the week between Dec. 27 - Jan 2. The figure doesn’t include people in hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson put England into a national lockdown to try to slow the spread of the virus and the country is accelerating its vaccination program.

Johnson says 1.3 million people have received at least one shot of the two-dose inoculation regime since injections began in early December. That includes almost a quarter of people over 80 in England.

The government aims to vaccinate more than 13 million people, including those over 70, by Feb. 15.

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GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization says he is “disappointed” that Chinese officials have not finalized permissions for the arrival of team of experts into China to examine origins of the coronavirus.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a rare critique of Beijing, says members of the international scientific team have begun over the last 24 hours to leave from their home countries to China as part of an arrangement between WHO and the Chinese government.

“Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China,” he said at a news conference Tuesday in Geneva.

He says he’s “very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute, but had been in contact with senior Chinese officials.”

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MADRID — Spain is reporting 23,700 new coronavirus infections and 352 confirmed deaths Tuesday.

Spain has nearly 2 million infections and almost 51,500 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

The 14-day cumulative index watched by epidemiologists rose to 296 per 100,000 inhabitants, up from 272 a day earlier. It’s less than the second-wave high of 529 on Nov. 9.

Intensive care unit occupation by coronavirus patients remains at 23%.

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TORONTO — Canada’s most populous province plans to vaccinate all long-term care residents, workers and essential caregivers in coronavirus hot spots by Jan. 21.

The Ontario government says those living and working in nursing homes in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Windsor-Essex will be immunized by that date. Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Conservative government has faced criticism for its slow vaccine rollout and for halting vaccination operations over Christmas.

Ontario says approximately 50,000 residents have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and nearly 3,000 have gotten the Moderna vaccine. Each province administers health care in Canada.

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BRASILIA — The Brazilian government, under pressure to begin an immunization campaign, expects to receive 2 million of the AstraZeneca vaccines this month.

However, Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa has yet to approve any vaccine, and the health ministry hasn’t provided a definitive rollout date for the nation’s first shots.

As of Monday, 5,126 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care in Sao Paulo’s hospitals, the highest since Aug. 22. Meanwhile, stores, bars, offices and other non-essential activities resumed in the state following suspension during year-end celebrations.

Despite several pleas from Gov. João Doria, no mayors in Sao Paulo’s beachside cities limited circulation of tourists during the holiday season, with many hotels and restaurants full. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who previously had the coronavirus, swam just offshore on Jan. 1, to the delight of a large group standing close together.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — The coronavirus death toll in Hungary surpassed 10,000 on Tuesday, one of the worst death rates in the world for the nation of nearly 10 million people.

A tally by Johns Hopkins University showed Hungary’s death rate of 102.13 per 100,000 people, the sixth-highest overall.

More than 15,000 health care workers have been vaccinated in Hungary so far, according to chief medical officer Cecilia Muller.

Hungary will reopen airports to passenger flights from Britain and Northern Ireland on Wednesday, the government’s emergency task force announced.

Hungary banned flights from Britain on Dec. 22 to limit the spread of a possibly more contagious mutation of the coronavirus. The ban was originally until Feb. 8.

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BOSTON — The vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party once was a coronavirus skeptic but has issued a mea culpa after falling sick with virus.

Tom Mountain wrote in the Boston Herald on Tuesday that he was probably infected at a White House Hannukah party last month. He says he’s recovering at home and expects to survive despite what he calls his own negligence and arrogance.

He says he got sick three days after attending the White House party, where mask-wearing and social distancing were lax. Mountain says he spread the virus to other members of his family and required two trips to the emergency room.

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ROME — Italy registered 649 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, nearly double from the previous day.

There were 348 recorded a day earlier, according to the Health Ministry. The country added 15,378 confirmed cases on Tuesday, a few thousand more than Monday’s new caseload. But it also conducted nearly 60,000 more swab tests in the last 24 hours.

Italy has confirmed 2.1 million cases and 76,329 known dead in the pandemic.

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Hundreds of senior citizens determined to get vaccinated against the coronavirus camped out overnight in frigid temperatures to secure spots in Tuesday morning’s line in Daytona Beach.

City officials tried to avoid a repeat of Monday’s traffic jams by opening a stadium’s parking lot to overnight camping for people 65 and older. By 7:30 p.m. Monday, senior citizens in some 200 vehicles were on the property.

The Daytona Beach News Journal reported officials planned to close the gates once 1,000 people entered, matching the number of vaccines available for Tuesday. The shots will be administered by Volusia County’s office of the Florida Department of Health.

The state has received more than 960,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. By Monday, about 260,000 Floridians had been vaccinated, mostly health care workers and first responders, followed recently by the elderly.

About 83% of coronavirus deaths in Florida have been older than 65. Florida has one of the nation’s oldest populations, with 4.4 million of the state’s 21 million people 65 years or older.

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MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont officials are working out how the state will spend its share of the latest coronavirus relief funds recently approved by Congress.

The Times Argus reports officials estimate the state will receive about $500 million. Douglas Farnham, of the Agency of Administration, estimates that among the expenditures will be $200 million for emergency rental assistance and homeless prevention; $179.4 million for public health and social service emergency funding; and $127 million for elementary and secondary education relief.

The funds cannot be used to help the state and local governments make up for budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic.

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse University will postpone the start of its spring semester by two weeks to reduce the impact of an expected post-holiday surge in coronavirus cases.

The semester will start Feb. 8 and end May 21, Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud says.

He says the decision was made in consultation with the Onondaga County Health Department and should allow some of the university’s front-line workers to be vaccinated for the coronavirus before students return.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says Denmark is lowering the number of people who can gather in public from 10 to five.

The plan was to “delay the mutation,” Frederiksen said of the British mutation, adding that Danes were advised against traveling to Britain. Frederiksen also urged people to stay home and “feel free to cancel all the appointments you can where possible.”

Earlier, Denmark has banned sale of alcohol after 10 p.m., made face masks mandatory in public places such as supermarkets, libraries, theaters and public transportation. Pharmacies are open but non-food shops, amusement parks, zoos and gyms are closed until at least Jan. 17. Restaurants and cafes can only offer take out. Students in the 5th grade and above have switched to remote learning.

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JOHANNESBURG — South Africa and Zimbabwe have re-imposed restrictions to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Starting January with record new confirmed cases and deaths, South Africa last week banned all sales of liquor, closed restaurants, banned public gatherings, closed most public beaches and imposed a nighttime curfew. The country of 60 million surpassed a total of more than 30,000 confirmed deaths, according to official figures Tuesday. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to call an emergency meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council this week.

South Africa does not yet have any vaccines. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has said the government plans to inoculate 67% of the population, with hospital workers and vulnerable vaccinated first. That’s expected to start in April, when the country receives vaccines from the COVAX facility.

Compared to the United States, the number of daily cases is low in South Africa. However, the cases have doubled in the last two weeks. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose from 14 per 100,000 people on Dec. 20 to 23 on Sunday.

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