- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

HONOLULU — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the city plans to allow some activities that were shut down last month to control the spread of the coronavirus to resume under new guidelines.

The mayor said Tuesday the city will allow social gatherings of up to five people, including at beaches and hiking trails.

Retail businesses will be allowed to open at 50% of capacity. Restaurants would be allowed to seat up to five diners at a table as long as the patrons provide their names and contact information so tracers can reach them later if necessary. Diners will have to wear masks when they are not eating.

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



- US death toll from coronavirus hits 200,000

- India confirms 75,000 coronavirus cases, 1,000 deaths in one day

- Madrid may extend virus measures despite outcry

- Mobile apps for tracing coronavirus cases get mixed reviews

- England will order pubs and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. People who can work from home will be encouraged to do so.

- Virus infections and deaths in French nursing homes are on the rise again. Nearly half of the 31,000 people confirmed to have died in France with the virus were nursing home residents.

- The only thing more difficult than staging next year’s Tokyo Olympics in a pandemic might be convincing sponsors to keep their billions of dollars on board. Tokyo needs to convince sponsors the Olympics will really happen.

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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:

WASHINGTON - Speaking to reporters at the White House, President Donald Trump said it was “a shame” that the U.S. had reached the grave milestone of 200,000 COVID-19-related deaths.

Trump also responded with his often repeated broadside that China was at fault for the pandemic and argument that the death toll could have been much worse.

“I think if we didn’t do it properly and do it right, you’d have 2.5 million deaths,” said Trump. He added that the United States is now “doing well” and “the stock market is up.”

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky won swift federal approval for another infusion of extra unemployment payments for many people who lost work during the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday.

The go-ahead came one day after Beshear announced his administration requested the supplemental $400 in weekly jobless benefits for an additional three weeks. It means qualified Kentuckians will receive higher benefits for the weeks of Aug. 22, Aug. 29 and Sept. 5, he said.

“It’s a win for those that have been struggling to get those extra dollars in,” the governor told reporters. “It’s also a win for our state because it continues consumer confidence.”

Beshear also reported 824 more COVID-19 cases statewide and seven more virus-related deaths.

With many schools preparing to resume in-person classes next week, the Democratic governor urged Kentuckians to redouble their efforts to contain the virus by wearing masks in public, adhering to social distancing guidelines and limiting contacts.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert will increase pandemic restrictions in two Utah cities as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the state.

Herbert is imposing new restrictions in the cities of Provo and Orem that will limit social gatherings to 20 people starting Wednesday.

The cities are in Utah County, where cases have grown by 81% in the last week. The county accounted for 42% of the state’s cases despite having only 20% of state’s population.

Local leaders are considering a countywide mask mandate, but the state has not set a deadline for how quickly they must make that decision.

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HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania - Legislation to loosen Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic restrictions on Pennsylvania’s bars and restaurants easily passed the state Senate on Tuesday.

The Republican-controlled chamber voted for a bill that would end the requirement that customers buy food in order to purchase alcohol and permit patrons to be served drinks at the bar.

It also would permit taverns and restaurants to operate at 50% capacity, or more if they can meet state and federal social distancing standards or erect appropriate barriers, and make it easier for restaurants to adapt adjacent outside areas to serve customers.

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Department of Corrections on Tuesday reported that two inmates have died due to COVID-19 and seven other deaths are possibly the result of the disease, which is caused by the coronavirus.

The cause of the other seven deaths are pending autopsies by the state medical examiner, according to DOC.

Of the department’s nearly 25,000 inmates, 3,168 have tested positive for the virus and 1,398 cases are currently active, according to DOC Director Scott Crow, increases of 554 positive cases and 414 active cases from Monday.

Crow said difficulty in achieving social distancing within prisons has contributed to the increase in positive cases in recent weeks, in addition to resistance to wearing masks.

“Sometimes, just as we see in the public, especially with our inmate populations, they’re averse to actually wearing masks” Crow said.

Crow and interim state health commissioner Dr. Lance Frye announced plans to implement mandatory testing of all the corrections department’s 3,300 employees.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed concern during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic will continue to hurt small businesses and may disrupt commercial real estate even after it’s over.

“It seems to me that as you look to see what’s happened, particularly in areas that have done real draconian restrictions on people being able to do businesses, that the pandemic has been a boon for like Amazon and some of these big companies,” said DeSantis, a Republican. “It’s been really difficult on a lot of mom and pops. And you look at these places around the country, some of those will never come back. Period.”

DeSantis contrasted Florida with California, noting that Disney World reopened in Florida, but Disneyland hasn’t reopened in California.

“So they opened at the peak of our infection in Florida - at the peak - and what’s happened since they’ve been opened? It’s gone down, steadily,” DeSantis said. “Closing, I think, is like self-immolation.”

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DENVER - Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced mandatory furloughs of state workers due to pandemic-related budget cuts and warned Tuesday about a third wave of coronavirus outbreaks if the state’s upward trend continues.

The number of days are based on an employee’s annual salary with exemptions for those necessary for the COVID-19 response, assisting Coloradans in finding jobs, and protecting public safety and roads, as well as workers earning $50,000 a year or less.

“The public sector, too, needs to tighten its belts to get through this,” Polis said at a press conference.

Workers earning $50,000 to $70,000 will be furloughed for one day, $70,000 to $90,000 for two days, $90,000 to $140,000 for three days and above $140,000 for four days.

In April, Polis announced nearly $289 million in cuts to the budget for the fiscal year ending June 30 to offset declining revenue. The cuts affected numerous agencies and projects but didn’t include layoffs or furloughs of state employees.

Polis also said that Colorado had 654 new positive cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday with the largest number of cases in the state is among 18-to-25 year-olds, most from the University of Colorado Boulder.

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INDIANAPOLIS - Discontent among some conservatives about Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s statewide mask mandate and other coronavirus restrictions poses a possible disruption to his reelection campaign.

Some longtime reliable Republican voters complain Holcomb’s coronavirus orders have been “overbearing” and say they intend to support Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater.

Holcomb defends the mask order as helping keep the coronavirus spread in check.

“It is still uber infectious, it is still ravaging different parts of the country,” Holcomb said. “The more that we do the things that work, the better off we’ll be and we’ll continue to see folks go back to work.”

Libertarians say they’ve been inundated with support recently, while Holcomb’s campaign says the governor will keep following the advice of medical experts. Democratic candidate Dr. Woody Myers, who has struggled to gain attention and raise money, has called for tougher enforcement of the mask order.

Conservative activist Monica Boyer said she’s been a Republican her whole life but decided to back Rainwater like many around her northern Indiana hometown of Warsaw over issues such Holcomb ordering churches closed during the first several weeks of the pandemic.

“He’s doing more than ignoring us,” Boyer said. “He’s rolling over us with the bus and re-rolling over us.”

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RALEIGH, N.C. - College and professional sports teams in North Carolina may soon be allowed to host a few thousand fans in outdoor stadiums, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday.

If the state’s coronavirus numbers continue to improve or remain flat, Cooper said he plans to ease the occupancy restrictions for large outdoor entertainment venues starting Oct. 2.

Places that can seat more than 10,000 people outside would be able to operate at significantly reduced capacity, while adhering to the recommended 6 feet (1.8 meters) of physical distancing.

“We plan to take another step toward Phase 3 in the coming days if our progress holds,” Cooper said. “That step will mean larger outdoor event venues will be able to open at 7% capacity starting next Friday, Oct. 2.”

Under the updated executive order Cooper plans to announce next week, the Carolina Panthers, whose stadium can seat more than 75,000 people, would be able to host over 5,000 fans.

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PITTSBURGH - A federal judge on Tuesday declined to stay his own ruling that Gov. Tom Wolf’s size limits on gatherings are unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV said the administration had failed to show “imminent and irreparable harm will occur” if the state can’t limit event crowds to 25 people inside and 250 people outside.

State officials had asked Stickman, an appointee of President Donald Trump, to delay enforcement of his ruling while they appeal.

Stickman’s ruling invalidated key parts of the Wolf administration’s early pandemic response, including his orders requiring people to stay at home and shuttering thousands of businesses deemed “non-life-sustaining.”

Wolf, a Democrat, has since eased many of the restrictions, but Stickman also ruled against the state’s current size limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings, saying they violate citizens’ constitutional right to assemble.

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O’FALLON, Mo. - The mostly rural Bootheel region of Missouri is seeing high numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but unlike many other hard-hit areas, the surge isn’t tied to any particular place or demographic.

Information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows that several southeast Missouri counties have some of the state’s worst rates of confirmed cases per capita. Perry County’s rate of 3,055 cases per 100,000 residents is second only to McDonald County’s 4,545 cases per 100,000. McDonald County, in southwestern Missouri, saw a big outbreak this summer tied to meat plants.

Perry County Health Department Director Sylvia Forester said Tuesday that part of the reason for the high number of cases in her county has been aggressive testing from the outset of the pandemic. Still, there is concern about how the virus has moved through the rural county of 19,100 residents because the outbreak isn’t tied to nursing homes, meat plants or colleges - places that have driven outbreaks in many non-urban areas.

“We do have indicators of community spread,” Forester said.

Like most Missouri counties, Perry County has no mask mandate. Some large events have been called off this year to limit the virus’ spread, Forester said, but others have not, including a motorcycle rally last weekend in Perryville.

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WICHITA, Kan. - More Kansas schools have ended in-person classes and canceled sports because of coronavirus exposure and team quarantines.

Both Haysville and Derby have quarantined their high school football teams, but Derby still plans to hold Friday night’s game, the Wichita Eagle reported. Chanute has canceled football games, but is continuing in-person classes against the recommendation of the state’s reopening guide.

The school board in Atwood overruled the superintendent’s decision to move classes to remote learning before reversing course.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is expected to identify active coronavirus clusters on Wednesday, including outbreaks at schools and on sports teams.

Gov. Laura Kelly has said she feared large outbreaks of COVID-19 as children return to school, sports practices resume and college students return to campuses.

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HELENA, Mont. - Montana is seeing a “remarkable increase” in COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, the state’s medical officer said Tuesday, as officials urged residents to step up measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and seasonal influenza.

The increase in cases is due to schools and universities reopening, Labor Day weekend gatherings and continuing spread in congregate living settings, such as nursing homes and jails, said Stacey Anderson, state epidemiologist.

Montana’s COVID-19 cases were stable at about 800 per week from when Gov. Steve Bullock issued a mask mandate for most counties in mid-July through early September, said Jim Murphy, head of the Communicable Disease Bureau within the state health department. However, over the past seven days, the state has reported nearly 1,500 cases. The state’s confirmed case total was 10,700 on Tuesday with 163 deaths.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force suggested Montana consider fines for violations of face mask mandates in areas with increasing cases, but Bullock said he will continue to stress personal responsibility with the goal of keeping schools and businesses open. Counties are allowed to implement additional restrictions.

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LONDON - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed to a “spirit of togetherness” as he unveiled a series of new restrictions on everyday life to get on top of a dramatic spike in new coronavirus cases.

Warning that the new restrictions could last for six months through the winter and into the spring, Johnson said pubs, restaurants and other entertainment venues in England will have to close at 10 p.m.

In a speech with deliberate echoes of wartime communal spirit, Johnson said that “never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behavior.”

The prime minister told lawmakers that if the new curbs did not slow the outbreak, “we reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions.”

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WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump hasn’t offered an immediate public response to the United States crossing the grim milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths, but the White House says he is taking the toll seriously.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tells reporters at a briefing Tuesday that the president has said before that it keeps him up at night thinking of even one life lost.

McEnany says Trump has worked hard to fight the impact of COVID-19. She says that decreasing mortality rates and what she described as the largest mobilization of the private sector since World War II are a result of his efforts.

Retired Gen. Keith Kellogg, who serves as a national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, tells reporters of the nation’s COVID-19 deaths, “do not think for a minute that that has not bothered us” and “it bothers the president.”

The bleak milestone, by far the highest confirmed death toll from the virus in the world, was reported by Johns Hopkins, based on figures supplied by state health authorities. But the real toll is thought to be much higher, in part because many COVID-19 deaths were probably ascribed to other causes, especially early on, before widespread testing.

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