The Latest: Florida bans alcohol at bars as virus cases soar
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida banned alcohol consumption at its bars after its daily confirmed coronavirus cases neared 9,000, almost double the previous record set just two days ago.
The Florida agency that governs bars announced the ban on Twitter, minutes after the Department of Health reported 8,942 new confirmed cases, topping the previous record of 5,500 set Wednesday.
More than 24,000 cases have been reported since Saturday, more than a fifth of the 111,724 cases confirmed since March 1. The department had not updated its death total, which still stood at 3,327.
The seven-day average for positive tests dropped slightly to 13.4%, down 1 percentage point from Thursday but still triple the rate of 3.8% of June 1.
State officials have attributed much of the new outbreak to young adults flocking to bars after they reopened about a month ago.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott shut down bars in Texas again Friday and scaled back restaurant dining, the most dramatic reversals yet as confirmed coronavirus cases surge.
Abbott also says rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers must close and outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”
Texas has reported more than 17,000 confirmed cases in the last three days with a record high positive tests of 5,996 on Thursday. The day’s tally of 4,739 hospitalizations was also a record. The state’s rolling infection rate hit nearly 12%, a level not seen since the state was in a broad lockdown in mid-April.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee students will have to get their flu shot this fall and be immunized for COVID-19 if a vaccine becomes available under an emergency rule unanimously approved by the board of trustees.
The university went to online classes because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 16, which was extended April 1 through the summer. The University of Tennessee system plans to have students on campuses for the fall semester.
University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd said he expects some push-back but university officials will insist on it because they think this is in the best interest of Tennessee students.
MOUNT AIRY, Md. — A nursing home in Maryland is facing a $70,000 fine for not properly isolating newly admitted residents during two weeks in May to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
State health regulators fined Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, where the virus infected 126 residents and staff members and caused 29 deaths, the Baltimore Sun reported Friday. The nursing home in Carroll County in April was the site of the state’s first major outbreak at nursing homes.
State inspectors found that newly admitted residents between May 7-20 created an “immediate jeopardy” to the facility’s population because they were not properly isolated. This failure led to a $5,000-per-day fine.
Inspectors also found that one resident known to behave aggressively and experience hallucinations was placed in an area intended for people who were not infected with COVID-19. At that time, the test for that resident was pending and the person walked around the halls. The test eventually came back positive.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has donated 35 respirators to countries in Central and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. The Vatican said on Friday that the pontiff wanted to “concretely” express his personal closeness to countries stricken by the
COVID-19 pandemic, “especially those with health systems most in difficulty.” The recipient nations are Haiti, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Venezuela, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Ukraine. Tiny Vatican City State registered 12 coronavirus infections among its citizens or employees, none of them fatal. Francis has urged solidarity throughout the pandemic to those who are suffering.
ROME — Italy registered 30 more deaths of people with coronavirus infections on Friday, with 16 of them in Lombardy, the northern region that continues to still have by far the highest daily tally of new confirmed cases.
According to Health Ministry data, the nation confirmed 259 new cases since Thursday, raising to 239,961 the number of known coronavirus infections since Italy’s outbreak began in late February.
Deaths now total 34,708. Authorities say the number of overall cases and deaths is certainly higher, since many without serious symptoms didn’t get tested, and many died in nursing homes without being tested.
Meanwhile, Premier Guiseppe Conte said Italy’s classrooms will be receiving students starting on Sept. 14, more than six months after the government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 shuttered schools, forcing millions of students to have lessons remotely.
GENEVA — Experts behind a global push to develop and roll out a vaccine and other treatment for the coronavirus say their ambitions require a big budget.
The World Health Organization and its allies made a pitch for their ACT-Accelerator that aims to get a COVID-19 vaccine and treatment tools to the neediest people around the world, no matter the cost.
They were speaking a day before a European Union conference to drum up support and funds for the initiative that the United States has shunned so far.
Ultimately, WHO and partners say the project needs more than $31 billion through the end of 2021, for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to fight a disease that has caused more than 9.6 million confirmed cases and killed more than 490,000 people worldwide.
“If we don’t rally now, the human costs and the economic pain will deepen,” said Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, one of the WHO chief’s special envoys for the initiative. “So though these numbers sound big, they’re not when we think of the alternatives.”
“Just think of the trillions of dollars that have had to be spent in order to stimulate economies back,” she said. “If we spend billions now, we’ll be able to avoid spending trillions later.
“COVID-19 is a crisis that affects all of us. No one will be safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe.”
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Hungary’s foreign minister says his country is “very concerned” that the coronavirus pandemic will trigger more migrants trying to reach Europe from poorer nations.
Peter Szijjarto says European leaders must help citizens who lost their jobs due to the pandemic by stemming “labor-oriented migration” that is “definitely against the interests” of Europe.
Szijjarto says after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides that EU migration policies must be scrapped because they “can be understood as an invitation for those who consider coming to Europe illegally.”
BERLIN — Germany’s federal and state governments have agreed that people from coronavirus hotspots will need to provide medical proof they’ve tested negative if they want to stay in a hotel elsewhere in the country.
German news agency dpa reported Friday that the medical certificate will need to be no older than 48 hours.
Several, but not all, German states imposed restrictions on people from two counties that have recently seen a spike in COVID-19 cases linked to a slaughterhouse.
Those unilateral decisions prompted fears of travel chaos — and a return to territorial fragmentation last seen in the early 19th century — as Germans scramble for some vacation respite after months of pandemic restrictions.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman called on Germans to show “respect and sympathy” to people in areas with new coronavirus outbreaks.
Authorities in western Germany have imposed a partial one-week lockdown on Guetersloh and Warendorf counties, home to over 600,000 people, because of an outbreak at a slaughterhouse that led to some 1,400 confirmed positive tests.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert is condemning reported incidents in which people from those regions have been insulted or had their cars damaged.
BANGKOK — Authorities in Thailand will decide next week whether to extend a state of emergency imposed to control the spread of COVID-19.
Taweesin Witsanuyothin of the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration says the agency will consider the issue Monday and the Cabinet would decide Tuesday on its recommendation.
The National Security Council declared Thursday it will recommend the emergency decree be extended at least until July 31. It was first implemented in March and two extensions have kept it in place until the end of June.
The emergency decree allows the government to implement curfews, censor the media and disperse gatherings.
The government used it to arrest many people for breaking the now-lifted curfew, but recently has employed it to arrest political activists for the vaguely defined offense of “instigating unrest.”
The COVID-19 center will recommend whether to allow the return of foreign visitors and the reopening of nearly all businesses and schools not already open.
There were four confirmed COVID-19 cases announced Friday, bringing Thailand’s total to 3,162 and 58 confirmed deaths.