AUSTIN, Texas - A Texas district judge on Friday upheld an order from El Paso County’s top elected official shutting down businesses while the region fights an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.
The decision from Judge Bill Moody of El Paso’s 34th District Court came as federal military medical teams deployed to the border region at the request of the state.
The county’s top elected official, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, ordered a two-week shutdown of nonessential activities late last week.
In making his decision, Moody pointed out that during the Spanish flu pandemic in the early part of the 20th century, city and county elected officials had authority to respond as they “thought was necessary to protect the health and financial interests of their individual communities.”
Chris Hilton, an attorney with the Texas attorney general’s office, said the state would appeal. Attorney General Ken Paxton has argued that Samaniego’s order is illegal because it goes against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide order to reopen businesses.
Meanwhile, three Air Force medical teams were expected to arrive in El Paso by the weekend, according to Seth Christensen, chief of media and communications for the Texas Department of Emergency Management.
El Paso joins a list of 10 other cities, including Houston, San Antonio and multiple communities in the Rio Grande Valley region, to receive aid from the Department of Defense at the request of Texas officials, Christensen said.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
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- Pandemic heaps new fears and trauma on war-scarred Bosnians
- Math teacher to stand trial in harassment of health officer.
- Italy hits daily record cases at nearly 38,000; Europe tries lighter lockdowns
- Democrat Joe Biden has overtaken President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania and Georgia, putting him on the cusp of winning the presidency in the U.S.
- Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/virus-outbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
CHICAGO - Faced with 20,000 new cases of coronavirus illness in the last two days, a stay-at-home order is possible if the spread is not slowed, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday just before his office announced that he was self-isolating after he had been exposed to the virus.
With a record 10,374 new infections reported Friday, and the 10,000-death mark passed this week, Pritzker was asked if he would order people to stay in their homes as was required by Illinois and many other states during the spring onslaught of COVID-19.
“We’re in a bad situation (but) I’m not looking at the broader mitigation of stay-at-home … as in something I would do in the coming days or a week. But I can’t guarantee you what it looks like two weeks from now or three weeks,” he said. “I just don’t know.”
About an hour after his daily COVID-19 briefing, Pritzker’s office announced that the governor was self-isolating after learning that an infected person attended a meeting with Pritzker last Monday. He is awaiting test results.
It is the third time during the pandemic that Pritzker has been exposed to the virus - twice previously it was the result of a staff member getting sick.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said he and his staff tested negative for the coronavirus after a staffer in the Capitol building tested positive Friday morning. The attorney general’s office later said the employee believed to have the virus tested negative on Friday evening.
Justice said he was tested for the virus minutes before a noon news conference Friday, where he announced a record high of new cases. The state reported 540 confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours.
The employee who initially tested positive Friday morning works for the attorney general, said Curtis Johnson, a spokesman for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
But after testing staff and the individual again Friday evening, “all of our tests came back negative,” Johnson later told the AP.
“The office is taking appropriate precautions that include testing to ensure the safety of not only its employees, but all of those in the Capitol building and the surrounding community,” Johnson had said Friday afternoon after the positive test.
The governor’s office declined to say exactly how many people were tested and whether anyone will consider quarantining.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky reported 2,302 new COVID-19 cases and 10 more virus-related deaths Friday, as the coronavirus continued to surge throughout the state. Over 1,000 people remain hospitalized with the virus.
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear also urged Kentucky’s 80 counties classified as “red zone” counties to follow the state’s emergency recommendations. In last week’s report, 68 Kentucky counties were on the red-zone list, due to the high prevalence of cases.
“I know we’ve been in this fight for so long that it’s easy to get numb to the scary headlines and high case numbers,” Beshear said. ”That’s normal. It’s human nature. But you have to understand this is the most dangerous COVID-19 has ever been in the commonwealth and it is leading to more of our fellow Kentuckians becoming sick, being hospitalized and dying.”
Kentucky set a high Thursday with 2,318 new cases.
The state’s test positivity rate Friday reached 6.77%, the highest it has been since June.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Officials in Anchorage plan to boost enforcement of an expanded mask mandate and restrict indoor gathering sizes in a bid to curb coronavirus cases.
The updated mask mandate, which takes effect Monday, requires masks to be worn, with some exceptions, in indoor public settings or communal areas and outdoors when distancing from non-household members is not possible.
Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson says the revision, in part, will get rid of loopholes in the order that has been in effect. She says the municipality plans to bolster its enforcement efforts in response to concerns from the business community.
TOPEKA, Kan. - Kansas added a record-setting 5,418 new coronavirus cases over two days as hospitals warned that staffing was being seriously strained.
The increases in confirmed and probable cases reported Friday brought the state’s total to 97,633, a 5.9% increase from Wednesday.
Data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment shows that state averaged 1,779 new cases a day for the seven days ending Friday. The state also added 79 COVID-19 fatalities to bring the total to 1,166. Deaths have more than doubled since mid-September.
State health department head and Dr. Lee Norman said cases “are just skyrocketing” because people are spending more time indoors and attending public events and family gatherings without being diligent about wearing masks or social distancing.
He said he’s worried that cases will spike again from family Thanksgiving get-togethers. And Norman said many local officials “haven’t done anything” to check the surge.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s largest teachers union has called for the governor to move all public secondary schools in high coronavirus transmission areas to remote learning.
On Friday, the Utah Education Association also called for Republican Gov. Gary Herbert to suspend all extracurricular activities that can’t comply with social distancing guidelines as the state reported a single-day record of 17 COVID-19 deaths.
The state recorded 2,987 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus. This brought the seven-day average of new daily cases to a record-breaking 2,033.
The governor says he plans to announce additional policies to address the surge in the coming days.
DENVER — Denver officials are urging residents to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in an effort to stem the tide of coronavirus cases, which could overwhelm area hospitals by the end of the year.
Mayor Michael Hancock says the “Home by 10 Order,” which will last for at least 30 days, is necessary to avoid another citywide stay-at-home order. He also urged residents not to gather or mix with other households.
Hancock shied away from calling the order a curfew because he said enforcement would only target the most egregious violations, not, for instance, someone walking their dog past 10 p.m.
On Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis pleaded with residents to wear masks and reduce social interactions as state health officials reported that hospitalizations from the coronavirus had reached the highest level since the pandemic began.
Polis said 894 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, surpassing the state’s peak of 888 patients in April.
DES MOINES, Iowa - Coronavirus infections continued a rapid spread across Iowa, pushing hospitalizations and patients in intensive care to new highs as Iowa medical centers prepared for an onslaught of patients.
Iowa public health officials reported 3,533 new confirmed cases Friday and 14 more deaths. The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Iowa has risen over the past two weeks from 27% on Oct. 22 to nearly 42% on Nov. 5, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers, keeping Iowa’s rate second in the nation behind South Dakota.
The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals reached a new high of 912 and those in intensive care units remained at the highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic at 188.
Officials at the state’s largest hospital systems are warning Iowans that if the current infection rate continues, they will be overwhelmed with patients. Their preparations for the surge are forcing them to curtail other medical procedures, shift personnel from surgical duties to intensive care and expand ICU beds.
“We cannot outrun this. There truly is no other option at this point. It very simply comes down to avoiding others,” said Dr. Nicole Gilg, chief of the primary care clinic section at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines.
HELENA, Mont. - A nursing facility in Butte has reported 10 COVID-19 related deaths in less than two weeks and Gallatin County is enacting stricter measures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Montana state officials have reported a record 437 hospitalizations and confirmed infection case numbers are nearing 38,000. The nursing facility deaths were reported by Continental Care & Rehabilitation. The Gallatin County health board is requiring bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m. and reducing capacities for restaurants, bars, gyms and other gathering places. In Flathead County, the health department says it does not have enough staff to alert all close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19. Health staffers will notify anyone who is in a high-risk group or work in restaurants, schools or healthcare settings. But those who test positive are being asked to notify any other close contacts of their potential exposure and a requirement to self-quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure.
SALEM, Ore. - Following a record-breaking day of COVID-19 cases in Oregon, officials on Friday announced new restrictions that will be implemented in at least five of the state’s counties as part of a two-week pause on social activities.
The updated safety measures, which begin Nov. 11, include halting visitations to long-term care facilities, reducing the capacity of indoor dining at restaurants to 50 people, encouraging all business to mandate work from home and urging Oregonians not to gather with people who do not live in their household, but if they do to limit it to six people.
The counties containing Portland and state capital Salem are among the counties concerned by the new restrictions.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 805 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Thursday, breaking the state’s previous daily record of 600. On Friday the health authority reported 769 new cases, increasing the number of cases in the state since the start of the pandemic to 48,608. The death toll is 716.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his staff are being tested for the coronavirus after a staffer in the capitol building tested positive on Friday.
Justice says he was tested minutes before a noon press conference where he announced a record high of new cases. The state reported 540 confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.
The employee who tested positive on Friday morning works for the attorney general, according to Curtis Johnson, a spokesman for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
West Virginia reported seven additional virus-related deaths, bringing the confirmed death toll to at least 487.
MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Department of Health reported a record 5,454 new coronavirus cases and 36 deaths on Friday.
The case total shattered the previous day’s total by more than 1,000. State health officials are bracing for more hospitalizations.
The seven-day rolling average of daily cases in Minnesota has risen from 1,578 on Oct. 22 to 3,222 on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Minnesota has totaled 170,307 confirmed cases and 2,591 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
MOSCOW - Azerbaijan has registered a daily record of 1,465 coronavirus cases.
The country reported 17 more deaths on Friday.
Azerbaijan Airlines says a flight carrying 120 Cuban doctors had arrived in the country to assist in efforts against the virus.
Azerbaijan has recorded more than 62,000 cases and 811 deaths.
ROME - Italy registered a one-day record of nearly 38,000 coronavirus cases.
The Health Ministry reported 37,809 cases on Friday, about 9% higher than the previous day. There were more than 234,200 swab tests conducted in the last 24 hours.
On Friday, some 16 million people in a swath of northern Italy and in one southern region were under “red zone” measures, unable to leave their towns and all but essential shops closed.
Lombardy, one of the regions, reported nearly 10,000 new cases on Friday. As opposition lawmakers and local politicians railed against the new rules, Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza pleaded in Parliament for the nation to pull together in the fight against the coronavirus crisis.
Italy has reported a total of 862,681 coronavirus cases. With 446 more deaths, the confirmed death toll stands at 40,638, sixth highest in the world.
ATHENS, Greece - Cars streamed out of Athens and long lines formed at retail stores on Friday, the last day before Greece goes into a second nationwide lockdown for three weeks.
Greece announced 2,448 coronavirus cases and 14 deaths on Friday. All retail stores except those selling essential items such as food, medication and fuel will be shut.
In Thessaloniki, which went into lockdown earlier this week, about 200 people gathered to protest the measures, shouting slogans and throwing eggs at police and journalists. Clashes broke out with riot police, who responded with tear gas and percussion grenades.
Greece’s confirmed total stands at 52,254 cases and 715 deaths.
PHOENIX - Arizona reported nearly 2,000 daily coronavirus cases and 22 deaths on Friday.
The Department of Health Services registered 1,996 confirmed cases, increasing the state’s totals to 254,764. There have been 6,109 confirmed deaths.
Arizona, a national hot spot in June and July, has seen a gradual increase in cases and hospitalizations.
The COVID-19-related hospitalizations stood at 1,082 on Thursday. The hospitalizations topped 1,000 on Tuesday for the first time since late August.
The rolling average for daily new cases went from 880 on Oct. 22 to 1,470 on Thursday. The average for daily deaths rose from 10 to 24 and the average for test positivity grew from 9.1% to 12.7%.
ISLAMABAD - Pakistani authorities will impose a mini-lockdown in selected areas of major cities, sealing off hot spots to contain the rising coronavirus.
The government says the restrictions will start Saturday. Indoor weddings will be banned but outdoor gatherings will be allowed if guests adhere to social distancing rules.
Authorities will fine those not wearing masks and violating social distancing rules.
The development comes hours after Pakistan reported 1,376 new cases and 30 deaths from the coronavirus on Friday.
The country has registered 340,251 confirmed cases and 6,923 deaths since February.
PRISTINA, Kosovo - Kosovo authorities ordered a weekend lockdown following a spike in daily coronavirus cases.
There were a record 728 new coronavirus cases on Friday, 12 times more than a month ago, and 12 deaths. The Health Ministry ordered the stoppage of most activities and businesses from Friday 6 p.m. to Monday 5 a.m.
Only bakeries, pharmacies, small retail shops, fuel stations, health clinics and other supply lines can operate. People and private cars will be prohibited from traveling in seven communes, including the capital, Pristina.
Kosovo reached up to 266 cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks compared to 50 cases a month ago, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
The National Institute of Public Health reports Kosovo has a total of 22,934 confirmed cases and 732 deaths.
WARSAW, Poland - Poland registered 27,100 new coronavirus cases and a record 445 deaths on Friday. It’s using a soccer stadium as a field hospital.
The first patient was brought to a temporary COVID-19 hospital at Warsaw’s National Stadium, offering 300 beds with a capacity of some 1,200.
The giant stadium was built for the EURO 2012 soccer championships. It’s served as a conference center and concert hall, but never as a hospital.
Most positive cases were in southern Poland and in the Warsaw province, among the nearly 83,000 daily tests.
According to the Health Ministry, Poland has nearly 494,000 cases and 7,287 confirmed deaths in a nation of 38 million.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Oslo has shut down restaurants, cafes, bars, gyms, cinemas and theatres to help curb the coronavirus.
Officials in the Norwegian capital introduced Friday what they called a “social closure of Oslo.”
Mayor Raymond Johansen says to bring down the infection rates, “we must shut down where people gather.” However, schools will remain open.
Oslo has 1,456 confirmed cases, up 129 from the previous day. Norway has a total of 23,225 cases and 285 confirmed deaths.
MOSCOW - Russia’s daily number of new coronavirus infections topped 20,000 on Friday, setting a new record since the beginning of the pandemic.
Russia’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases - currently the fourth largest in the world -has exceeded 1.7 million following a quick spread of contagion since September. The government’s coronavirus task force has reported 29,887 deaths since March.
Of 20,582 new cases reported Friday, Moscow accounted for 6,253 infections, the capital’s highest number since May.
Despite new daily records, authorities insist there is no need to impose a second lockdown or shut down businesses nationwide. They argue that the health care system is capable of handling a surge in infections.
Russian media, however, have reported on overwhelmed hospitals, drug shortages and inundated medical workers in some regions, indicating the health care system is under significant strain.
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