The Latest: LA County urges indoor masks even if vaccinated
LOS ANGELES — Health officials in Los Angeles County are recommending, but not making mandatory that people wear masks indoors in public places regardless of their vaccination status.
The recommendation in the nation’s most populous county is aimed at preventing the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus.
The county public health department suggests that people wear masks when inside grocery or retail stores as well as at theaters and family entertainment centers and in workplaces when people’s vaccination statuses are not known.
The county experienced a surge in cases and deaths over the winter. To date, the county has recorded a total of 1.2 million coronavirus cases and more than 24,000 deaths from COVID-19.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
— Australia battles variant clusters; Sydney and Darwin are in lockdown
— Portugal, Spain and Hong Kong announce new restrictions on travelers from Britain
— Post-COVID offices to feature wider hallways, fewer desks
— As variant rises, U.S. vaccine plan targets ‘movable middle’
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has removed age restrictions for adults who want the AstraZeneca vaccine as the delta variant of the coronavirus spreads.
Australian health authorities had initially advised against using AstraZeneca for adults under age 50 and then younger than 60 because of the greater risk of rare blood clots in younger people.
The general leading the Australian military’s pandemic response told Nine Network on Tuesday that increasing the availability of AstraZeneca is a risk-based judgment. Lt. Gen. John Frewen says supplies of Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca are adequate.
Only 5% of the Australian population is fully vaccinated. The only other vaccine available in Australia is Pfizer, but manufacturers cannot meet demand.
The cities of Sydney, Perth and Darwin are in lockdown.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma National Guard troops who have been assisting the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic will begin ending their assignment this week.
The State Health Department said that the soldiers will begin transitioning out of the agency beginning Thursday.
Over a 15-month deployment, Guard troops helped sanitize long-term-care facilities, distribute personal protective gear and transport testing specimens and supplies around the state.
Data from Johns Hopkins University shows Oklahoma’s seven-day rolling average of newly confirmed coronavirus infections increased over the last two weeks, from 120.29 new cases per day on June 12 to 196.43 per day on June 26. The average for COVID-19 deaths increased from 1.29 per day to 4.29.
MOSCOW — Restaurants and cafes in Moscow on Monday began requesting that patrons provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test as the Russian capital faces a surge of new infections.
According to a decision by city authorities last week, all Moscow restaurants, cafes and bars must only admit customers who have been vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months or can provide a negative coronavirus test from the previous 72 hours.
As proof of vaccination for entering a restaurant, customers must visit a government website and get a QR code, a digital pattern designed to be read by a scanner.
In one concession to desperate restaurant owners, the city officials agreed that the QR codes aren’t needed for the next two weeks at establishments with outdoor terraces. Underage customers won’t have to provide documentation if accompanied by their parents.
The new restrictions come as Moscow has registered infection levels on par with last winter and recorded all-time high daily numbers of coronavirus deaths.
MADRID — Almost 5,000 people are in quarantine after vacationing high school students triggered a major COVID-19 outbreak on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, a senior official said Monday.
Authorities have confirmed almost 1,200 positive cases from the outbreak, Spain’s emergency health response coordinator, Fernando Simón said.
The partying teens celebrating the end of their university entrance exams last week created a “perfect breeding ground” for the virus as they mixed with others from around Spain and abroad, Simón told a news conference.
Mallorca health authorities carried out mass testing on hundreds of students after the outbreak became clear. It is believed to have spread as hundreds of partying students gathered at a concert and street parties.
Officials have so far traced 5,126 travelers to Mallorca. More than 900 COVID-19 cases in eight regions across mainland Spain have been traced back to the outbreak.
CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. — Disney Cruise Line is postponing its first test cruise since the pandemic brought the cruise industry to a standstill after a handful of participants had inconsistent test results for COVID-19, the company said Monday.
The Disney Dream had been scheduled to set sail Tuesday from Port Canaveral, Florida, with 300 employees who had volunteered for the “simulation” cruise. But the trip was postponed until next month, pending approvals, because a small number of employees had inconsistent results for COVID-19, “which is considered positive by the CDC,” Disney said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, had approved the cruise line’s request to conduct a two-night test cruise.
The federal government is starting to allow cruises to sail again, but only if nearly all passengers and crew are vaccinated against the virus. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning business from requiring proof of vaccination, so cruise lines must prove the effectiveness of their COVID-19 safety protocols on test cruises.
Last weekend, Celebrity Edge departed Fort Lauderdale, Florida, becoming the first cruise ship to leave a U.S. port in 15 months. Saturday’s sailing kicked off the cruise lines’ return to business with Carnival vessels already scheduled to depart from other ports next month.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates, has announced that a wide range of public places will soon be accessible only to those vaccinated against the coronavirus in a bid to encourage more people to get shots.
The Emirati government on Monday said that starting August 20, authorities will begin restricting access to shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, sporting activities, museums, gyms, schools and universities. The unvaccinated will effectively be barred from entering any business in the city except for supermarkets and pharmacies.
Abu Dhabi has already rolled out a “green pass” system that limits public access to those who have either received the shot or can show a negative virus test.
It comes as the country increasingly bets its economic reopening on its speedy vaccination campaign. The government says at least 93% of Abu Dhabi’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The neighboring travel hub of Dubai, home to long-haul carrier Emirates, also has introduced some vaccination restrictions on mass entertainment and sporting events. However, malls and other businesses remain open to the unvaccinated.
The UAE boasts one of the world’s fastest inoculation campaigns, with 15.1 million doses administered to its population of some 9 million. The country has relied heavily on the Chinese state-backed Sinopharm shot.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo announced Monday that his government will administer COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 12 after the country’s Food and Drug Monitoring Agency green-lighted emergency use of the Sinovac vaccine for children.
Widodo said in a video statement that he was grateful that the agency has issued an emergency use of authorization for the Sinovac vaccine so that “vaccination for children that age can start immediately.”
He has asked authorities to boost the country’s vaccination rollout to two million shots a day by August from the current level of about 1 million a day, as a second wave of infections engulfs Southeast Asia country.
Monday’s announcement came a day after health authorities announced the country’s largest one-day jump in new coronavirus infections, the second day in a row, as the Health Ministry reported 21,342 new cases and 409 deaths over the past 24 hours.
The latest tally on Monday showed the country’s total confirmed cases since the pandemic began at more than 2.1 million, the most in Southeast Asia, including confirmed fatalities to more than 57,100.
Authorities have so far only fully vaccinated 13.1 million of Indonesia’s 270 million people and partially vaccinated another 14.2 million.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Active coronavirus cases in West Virginia have dipped to their lowest levels in 13 months, health officials said Monday.
There were 1,467 active COVID-19 cases statewide as of Sunday, dipping below 1,500 for the first time since May 18, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Resources said in a daily update.
According to the state COVID-19 dashboard, the number of confirmed daily cases has surpassed 100 once since May 29 and only once above 50 since June 16.
About 63% of residents ages 12 and up have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and about 53% are fully vaccinated.
The virus has caused 2,878 deaths in West Virginia, including two reported on Monday.
PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s emergency order about the coronavirus pandemic is entering its final days.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills says she will end the “state of civil emergency” order she instituted in the pandemic’s early days.
The ordered has allowed Mills to use state resources to try to control the spread of the virus in Maine. Republicans and Democrats have sparred for months about whether the emergency order has gone on for too long.
Republicans have also charged that the order gave Mills too much authority and future orders should be more limited. Mills and other Democrats have said it played a key role in reducing the state’s burden from coronavirus.
Mills said earlier in June that ending the emergency order is a key milestone and it reflects that “Maine people have persevered, and, although challenges remain, we will get through them together just as we did this past year.”
The state’s number of daily new cases of coronavirus has fallen below two dozen.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Sweden will soon allow bars and restaurants to seat more people and stay open longer.
“As of Thursday, life can start to go on a little more as it was before the pandemic,” Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren said.
Starting July 1, eateries and cafes can seat up to 300 indoors and 3,000 outside and remain open after 10:30 p.m. The country has been gradually easing virus restrictions since June 1.
Johan Carlson, head of Sweden’s Public Health Agency said that “together, we have succeeded in pushing back the spread of COVID-19 in our country.”
The Scandinavian country has stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response to the pandemic. It has not gone into lockdowns or closed businesses, relying instead on citizens’ sense of civic duty to control infections.
The country has seen more than a million cases and 14,619 deaths.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan on Monday says it will ease several COVID-19 related restrictions from next month for those people who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
According to a government announcement, indoor dining will be allowed at restaurants starting Thursday for only vaccinated people.
It said shrines, cinemas and marriage halls, which were shut in November amid a surge in cases, will also be allowed to reopen for those who have been vaccinated against coronavirus.
The government has also allowed 100 percent attendance at government and private offices starting Thursday.
The latest development comes hours after Pakistan reported one of the lowest single-day deaths from coronavirus since earlier this year.
So far, Pakistan has partially or fully has vaccinated about 14 million of its 220 million residents. The country has reported 955,657 cases among 222,31 deaths from COVID-19 so far.
HONG KONG — Hong Kong says it will ban all passenger flights from the U.K. starting Thursday as it seeks to curb the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.
It said in a statement Monday that the U.K. has been classified as “extremely high risk“ because of the “recent rebound of the epidemic situation in the U.K. and the widespread delta variant virus strain there.”
Under the classification, people who have stayed in the U.K. for more than two hours will be restricted from boarding passenger flights to Hong Kong.
It is the second time that the Hong Kong government has banned flights from the U.K., following a restriction imposed last December.
The ban comes amid heightened tensions between the U.K. and China over semi-autonomous Hong Kong, which was a British colony until it was handed over to China in 1997.
Spain and Portugal also announced Monday that they are imposing a two week quarantine on U.K. travelers unless they can show they are fully vaccinated. Arrivals from Brazil, India and South Africa come under the same rule.