The Latest: Global health agency urges vaccine safety trials

National & World News

Women wearing face masks to help protect against the coronavirus walks by an advertising board displaying an American flag and Statue of Liberty on a street in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. China’s biggest recent outbreak of coronavirus has grown slightly. Hundreds people have developed COVID-19 in the far northwestern region of Xinjiang, with more than dozens of new cases reported Thursday in its capital and largest city, Urumqi. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

MIAMI — The Pan American Health Organization has expressed reservations over reports that institutions in the region were negotiating to manufacture and distribute a new COVID-19 vaccine announced by Russia that has yet to go through standard, extensive safety and efficacy trials.

The organization’s deputy director, Jarbas Barbosa, said in an online news conference Tuesday from Washington that any vaccine should be carefully evaluated to ensure the product is safe and effective.

In Brazil, Parana state’s government said it is negotiating with the Russian Embassy to participate in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, and will be holding a technical meeting Wednesday with Russia’s ambassador.

Nicaragua earlier announced plans to produce a Russian vaccine and on Monday, Vice President Rosario Murillo, wife of President Daniel Ortega, again said the country was in contact with Russian institutions to produce and even export a COVID-19 vaccine.

Barbosa said the vaccine has not yet gone through all the steps needed so that it could be recommended by the World Health Organization or the Pan American Health Organization. He said global health officials were talking with Russian officials to review their data and clinical trials.

“Only after that review, having access in a transparent way to those data and all the information, are we going to take a position,” he said.

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

— Georgia schools quarantine 800 students

— Florida reports 5,800 virus cases, daily high 276 deaths

— Russia clears virus vaccine despite scientific skepticism

— Transit systems around the world are requiring riders to wear masks and encouraging people to socially distance. Experts say the coronavirus spreads through droplets when people talk or cough, so the best prevention is a mask and staying 6 feet apart.

— Kids give their opinionon whether they should go back to school in-person or online. They join parents, teachers, public health experts and President Donald Trump, who have weighed in on the topic.

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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:

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has issued an executive order requiring masks to be worn at scheduled gatherings of more than 100 people.

Sununu, a Republican, had resisted calls to mandate the use of face coverings to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. With Tuesday’s order, all six New England states have some kind of mask mandate.

In general, they are far more restrictive than New Hampshire and require masks to be worn in public when social distancing isn’t possible.

The order will be tested later this month at the annual Laconia Motorcycle Week, which typically attracts thousands of people to the state. Sununu recently formed a task force on ensuring safety at the event, which is set for Aug. 22-30.

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, the first governor in the nation to test positive for the coronavirus, says he has donated plasma to help other virus patients recover.

Stitt says he made the donation recently at an Oklahoma Blood Institute center in Enid. Convalescent plasma is being researched as a potential treatment for the virus. Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith was infected with the virus and she says she’s donated plasma.

Oklahoma has reported 44,728 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 618 deaths.

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ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Big Ten Conference won’t be playing football this fall because of concerns about COVID-19.

Conference officials made the announcement Tuesday. The conference includes historic programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State.

Six days ago, it released a revised conference-only schedule that it hoped would help navigate a fall season with potential COVID-19 disruptions.

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JUNEAU, Alaska — A crew member on an Alaska state ferry has tested positive for the coronavirus, which caused a cancellation of the service in Southeast Alaska.

The Alaska Marine Highway System says the planned run of the ferry M/V LeConte in Lynn Canal near Juneau was canceled Sunday after the diagnosis was obtained. The ferry system says the crew member recently returned home after a two-week rotation on the LeConte.

The remainder of the LeConte’s crew was not cleared to travel until the early Sunday, leading to the decision to postpone the sailing to Haines and Skagway until Wednesday.

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Three of the eight drive-through coronavirus testing sites in Iowa were damaged from Monday’s windstorm and are temporarily closed.

Gov. Kim Reynolds says the closure of the sites in Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown and Davenport has temporarily reduced access to testing in those areas, just as students and educators prepare to return to public schools.

Reynolds says six elderly coronavirus patients from a central Iowa nursing home were evacuated during the storm.

She says the state hoped to reopen the Test Iowa sites quickly, and those needing tests could also seek out other options. The governor says she doesn’t believe test samples were destroyed during the storm.

Iowa has more than 49,200 confirmed coronavirus cases and 939 deaths.

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ATLANTA — A Georgia school district has quarantined more than 800 students because of possible exposure to the coronavirus since it resumed in-person teaching last week.

Data updated Tuesday by the Cherokee County School District outside Atlanta also show it has quarantined 42 staff members since the start of the year on Aug. 3. The district serves more than 42,000 students.

A district spokeswoman says the district anticipated the possibility of positive tests among students and staff and put a system in place to quickly contact trace and mandate quarantines. Other Atlanta-area school districts scrapped in-person learning amid a spike in cases of COVID-19 in Georgia.

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DOVER, Del. — Delaware officials are using $40 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to help people struggling to make their rent or mortgage payments because of the pandemic.

Officials announced Monday that they are reopening the Delaware Housing Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance for renters affected by COVID-19. The program was initially launched in March but halted in April following an overwhelming number of applications.

Under the revised program, up to $5,000 will be available for those with a maximum household income post-pandemic at or below 60 percent of the area median. Applications must now be submitted by landlords or property owners on behalf of tenants, and payments will be made directly to the property owners.

The Delaware State Housing Authority also is providing emergency assistance of up to $5,000 to homeowners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through the Delaware Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, which was established several years ago. Funding for the housing assistance is being split equally between the state and New Castle County using Coronavirus Relief Funds received from the federal government.

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says the state cannot afford $100 per week the state is being asked to pay to bolster unemployment payments during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Republican governor is praising President Donald Trump for proposing that states provide the money.

The federal government’s $600-a-week jobless benefit supplement recently expired. That prompted Trump on Saturday to bypass the nation’s lawmakers and claim the authority to replace the expired benefit with a lower amount, with the federal government paying $300 a week and the states paying $100 a week. Critics question the validity of the order.

Reeves says Mississippi had $706 million in its unemployment trust fund in early March. Last week, the fund had $489 million. That included $181 million that came from the federal government through a coronavirus relief act.

Mississippi is currently spending about $22 million a week from its unemployment trust fund, and the Trump proposal would double the state’s weekly expense, Reeves says. He adds that would drain Mississippi’s unemployment trust fund in about 10 weeks.

The state has reported 68,293 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,944 deaths.

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BEIRUT — Lebanon has registered a new record of coronavirus cases and deaths as the number of patients increase in the country that had a deadly explosion last week.

Cases in Lebanon have been increasing since early July when Beirut’s international airport was re-opened and a lockdown was eased.

The health ministry on Tuesday say 307 people tested positive, raising the total registered cases to 7,121 since the first case was reported in late February. The ministry reported seven new deaths, raising the confirmed total to 87.

Dr. Firas Abiad, director general of Rafik Hariri University Hospital, told The Associated Press last week that the number of cases is expected to rise in the coming days following the Aug. 4, explosion that killed and wounded thousands of people. He says crowding in hospitals, where thousands of wounded were rushed would raise the numbers.

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MADRID — The regional government in Spain’s Canary Islands says more than 85% of new coronavirus infections detected during the past week were among people under 30 years old.

Regional health chief Blas Trujillo says the new COVID-19 cases resulted from leisure time and family get-togethers without social distancing.

He says the constant appearance of new cases — 85 in the previous 24 hours — could bring a return to an economically damaging lockdown.

Even though most young people were asymptomatic, contact tracing requirements overload the health system and the colleagues of those testing positive have to stay at home.

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MILAN — Italy’s new cases of coronavirus increased 412 on Tuesday.

Sicily had the highest number with 89 after 64 migrants tested positive at a screening center. That brings to 73 the number of migrants in the Pozzallo center who are currently positive for the virus.

After weeks of new cases averaging in in the 200-300 range, confirmed new infections have spiked up as more people travel for summer, with people returning from beach vacations abroad testing positive as well as seasonal workers.

Italy’s total cases have reached more than 251,000. Six more deaths were reported Tuesday, with total confirmed deaths at more than 35,000.

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MIAMI — Florida is reporting a daily record of 276 new deaths from the coronavirus, raising total confirmed deaths in the state to 8,685.

The state’s health department reported about 5,800 cases on Tuesday.

The new deaths bring Florida’s seven-day average in daily reported deaths to 165 — down from a high of 185 a week ago. Texas averaged 210 deaths in the past week.

The number of patients treated in Florida hospitals for the coronavirus stands at 6,729, down nearly 30 percent from highs of 9,500 last month.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky congressman says he has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies and plans to donate his plasma.

The Courier-Journal reports Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie made the comments last week on the radio show of political commentator Glenn Beck. Massie said he took a coronavirus test and an antibodies test at the end of July and received a positive result for the latter.

At least 11 members of Congress are known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Massie told Beck he is “convinced” he had the virus in January and described being sick with a fever, sore throat and low energy.

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s foreign affairs minister says the government has agreements with three companies to carry out advanced clinical trials for potential coronavirus vaccines in Mexico this fall.

Secretary Marcelo Ebrard saysMexico had memoranda of understanding with Janssen Pharmaceuticals of the United States and the Chinese companies Cansino Biologics and Walvax Biotechnology. He says the agreements would guarantee Mexico’s access to a vaccine if they prove successful.

Ebrard says the trials would be carried out between September and January. In total, Mexico is talking to 15 companies about potential trials. Mexico has more than 53,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus, the third highest in the world behind the United States and Brazil.

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PARIS — The French government is urging local officials to impose more mask requirements and extending a ban on large gatherings through October as virus infections rise again.

Prime Minister Jean Castex says the situation has been “evolving in the wrong direction” for two weeks and warned that tougher action is essential to avoid losing control over the virus and a return to “major new confinement.”

Interrupting his holiday, President Emmanuel Macron convened a special security meeting Tuesday to discuss virus measures.

France has reported more than 10,000 new confirmed cases in the past week. France has 30,300 virus-related deaths, seventh highest in the world.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that authorities have found four cases of the coronavirus in one Auckland household from an unknown source, the first cases of local transmission in the country in 102 days.

Ardern said Auckland, the nation’s largest city, will be moved to Alert Level 3 from midday Wednesday, meaning that people will be asked to stay at home and bars and many other businesses will be closed.

She said the rest of the country will be raised to Alert Level 2.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the infections were confirmed after a person in their 50s went to their doctor on Monday with symptoms and was swabbed twice, testing positive both times. Six other people in the person’s household were then tested, with three more positive results.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The confirmed number of coronavirus cases in the world has reached 20 million. That’s according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Health officials believe the actual number is much higher, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40% of all those who are infected have no symptoms.

The U.S., India and Brazil have together accounted for nearly two-thirds of all cases since the world hit 15 million on July 22.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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