The Latest: 2 more big Calif cities keeping schools shut
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco and Sacramento have become the latest cities in California to announce that public school students will not return to classrooms when the new term begins because of surges in coronavirus cases and delays in getting test results back.
They join Los Angeles and San Diego, the state’s two largest districts. Also not reopening are schools in Oakland, Long Beach, Santa Ana, San Bernardino and others that have chosen to start the new term with digital learning amid strong concerns from teachers unions and public health officials about the safety of staff on school campuses.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond says he expects more districts to announce plans for distance learning.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Texas sets daily record for virus cases with nearly 10,800
— Oklahoma Gov. Stitt tests positive for coronavirus
— Organizers have canceled the 2021 New Year’s Day Rose Parade
— Walt Disney World is welcoming back visitors to two more theme parks that had been shuttered since March because of the new coronavirus. The Florida theme park resort reopened Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
— Walmart will require customers to wear face coverings at all of its namesake and Sam’s Club stores, making it the largest retailer to introduce such a policy.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s coronavirus hot spot — Victoria state — is reporting a record 317 newly confirmed cases in a day.
The tally for Thursday surpassed the state’s previous high of 288 on July 10. The previous one-day Australian record was 212 cases set March 28 by New South Wales state at the first peak of the pandemic. New South Wales reported only 10 new cases Thursday.
Two men in their 80s died in Victoria in the last 24 hours, bringing the national death toll for the pandemic to 113.
Victoria’s government is reducing the number of non-urgent surgeries allowed in hospitals to increase beds available for COVID-19 patients. State officials had planned to restore hospitals to normal medical services by the end of July before infections began to rise in recent weeks.
Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says of the latest case load: “It’s a big number. It needs to turn around.”
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported 61 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, most of them tied to international arrivals.
The tally reported Thursday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the country’s caseload to 13,612 during the pandemic, including 291 deaths. The center says 12,396 people have been released from hospitals while 925 remain in treatment.
Officials say 47 of the new cases involved people arriving from overseas. South Korea has been requiring two-week quarantines on all passengers arriving from abroad since April. This week, it began requiring foreign nationals arriving from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to provide health certificates proving they have tested negative for the coronavirus.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania is imposing broad new statewide restrictions on bars and restaurants and larger indoor gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday there has been an “alarming escalation” in new infections.
Nightclubs will be shut down, bars must close unless they also offer dine-in meals, and bars and restaurants will be limited to 25% capacity under Wolf’s order that takes effect Thursday. The order also requires businesses to have their employees work from home to the extent possible.
The new restrictions come more than two months after Pennsylvania began reopening its pandemic-battered economy and they risk major backlash in large swaths of the state where COVID-19 has largely been kept at bay.
But Wolf warns that a “new surge is in the offing” that could eclipse what happened in the spring, when the virus killed thousands and sickened tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians. CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Wyoming’s governor and top public health officer are speaking out firmly in support of wearing face masks in public amid an accelerating spread of the coronavirus and doubt among some that masks are necessary.
Gov. Mark Gordon said Wednesday that it is important to be “conscientious to one another” and that “there is no constitutional right to go infect somebody else.” Gordon had a face mask hanging around his neck during the news conference.
The governor blamed a “casual attitude” about mask wearing and social distancing for Wyoming’s growing number of cases and his recent decisions to extend health orders affecting public gatherings through July.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says he may set restrictions on bars in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus, but he isn’t revealing any timetable and hasn’t indicated if the rules will be statewide.
The governor commented Wednesday after meeting with Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House coronavirus task force. Reeves says Birx praised the Mississippi order that took effect this week requiring people to wear masks in public in 13 of the state’s 82 counties.
The Mississippi Health Department reported that a record 1,099 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus in the state as of Tuesday evening. That is up from 664 on June 22.
Mississippi has had more than 38,500 confirmed cases of the virus since the pandemic began.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California has reported its second-highest daily total of new coronavirus cases and equaled its second worst day for deaths.
More than 11,000 new cases were recorded by state officials Tuesday, a rise of 3.3%. California also recorded 140 deaths, tying a recent tally for its second-highest daily figure.
The number of tests and the rate of those testing positive also rose. The positivity rate over the past two weeks has now topped 7%, while in hard-hit Los Angeles County with a quarter of California’s population that rate has soared to nearly 10%.
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday that Los Angeles County is in “an alarming and dangerous phase” that could overwhelm intensive care units and prompt sweeping closure orders if not reversed.
LAS VEGAS -- Several Las Vegas casinos are limiting smoking to keep patrons from removing the protective face masks they are required to wear.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. in mid-June updated its policy to ask that table game players and spectators do not smoke or vape in its Venetian and Palazzo resorts. Wynn Resorts Ltd. has designated any table games without a plexiglass barrier as nonsmoking areas inside its Wynn and Encore casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
Nevada on Wednesday reported 849 new cases of COVID-19, a decline from a day earlier, when the state set a new daily high of 1,104 cases.
SPOKANE, Wash. — A federal judge has rejected a water park’s challenge to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency powers as the state responds to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Slidewaters water park in Chelan sued the governor and the Department of Labor Industries last month, arguing that Inslee abused his power in declaring the emergency and that the state’s restrictions were likely to prevent it from opening for the summer.
Slidewaters nevertheless opened on June 20 and has remained in operation despite the threat of $10,000 or more in fines from the state.
In ruling against the park Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice in Spokane returned the case to Chelan County Superior Court for consideration of the state’s counterclaims seeking an order to close Slidewaters.
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia officials have passed temporary new workplace safety rules designed to protect employees from the coronavirus, becoming the first state to adopt such measures.
The Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board voted Wednesday to approve rules for businesses that include social distancing requirements, notifications for employees when a co-worker has tested positive for the virus and timelines for when employees who recover from the virus can return to work.
Business groups said the new rules were an overreach that will add unfair burdens on businesses already struggling with the virus’ economic fallout. Labor groups hailed the new rules as crucial to worker safety.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas’ governor says she will delay the reopening of the state’s K-12 schools for nearly a month until after Labor Day because of a resurgence in reported coronavirus cases that has given the state its worst weeklong spike since the pandemic began.
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced her plans Wednesday, only hours after the State Board of Education approved roughly 1,100 pages of reopening guidelines for local boards of education.
Kelly said she will issue an executive order Monday to delay reopening of schools until Sept. 9 to give the state’s districts time to prepare for the extra health and safety standards. She said she will issue a second order making parts of the state board’s guidelines mandatory.
SAN FRANCISCO — California’s education chief has applauded the state’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, for this week’s decision not to reopen classrooms this fall amid rising coronavirus cases. But Tony Thurmond says the same rules need not apply in counties with low rates of infection.
In a media briefing, Thurmond says that in counties where the number of cases is low, schools could reopen for in-person classes as long as they follow the state’s guidance on physical distancing and wearing face coverings.
HELENA, Mont. — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has issued a directive requiring face coverings at indoor public spaces and at larger outdoor gatherings in counties where four or more people are known to be currently infected with COVID-19.
Bullock says too many people continue to meet in large gatherings and too few are wearing masks.
Montana reported a record 145 additional coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the state’s number of known cases to 2,096. Bullock’s directive came after several local governments passed or are considering similar measures.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has issued a legal opinion saying the governor’s statewide mask mandate and bar restrictions to combat the coronavirus outbreak appear to violate Louisiana’s constitution.
The Republican attorney general issued the assessment Wednesday while quarantining after a positive coronavirus test. His legal assessment doesn’t carry the force of law.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ order requires most people to wear face coverings, limits bars to takeout and delivery and bans gatherings of more than 50 people indoors.
Landry wrote that’s “likely unconstitutional and unenforceable.”
“Although the mask mandate and the 50-person limit may be good recommendations for personal safety, they may not be enforced with financial or criminal penalties,” Landry wrote.
The opinion comes a day after Vice President Mike Pence complimented Edwards’ virus response and suggested residents should comply with the regulations.
Edwards defended his coronavirus order as well within the scope of his legal authority.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and fellow Republican leaders of the House and Senate have joined forces to demand that schools open five days a week for in-person instruction.
Wednesday’s announcement at a news conference came as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the state.
McMaster says parents need to go back to work and children need to stop falling behind. Independently elected state Education Superintendent Molly Spearman says she doesn’t support the demand because of the virus spread.
The Palmetto State Teachers Association says the state has to get COVID-19 under control before students and teachers can return safely to classrooms.
DETROIT — The city of Detroit announced a memorial day to honor more than 1,400 residents who died from COVID-19 and invited families to share photos that will be enlarged and displayed at a state park.
The city’s director of arts and culture says the photos will be staked along the route of a memorial drive scheduled for Aug. 31.
“This is a very special thing for those of us who have lost people,” Riley said Wednesday. “We want to make sure we take a chance to take one last look at them.”
She says every person, church and community group in southeastern Michigan will be invited to ring bells for 15 minutes at 8:45 a.m.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has surpassed 300,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as the first wave of the pandemic crashes into the African continent.
South Africa’s 311,049 cases make up close to half of those across the 54-nation continent.
Already shortages of medical oxygen and hospital beds are being reported.
While more than 4,400 deaths in South Africa have been attributed to the virus, a report by the South African Medical Research Council says the country had nearly 11,000 excess deaths between May 6 and July 7.
The government this week tightened some restrictions, making face masks mandatory in public places and re-imposing a ban on alcohol sales.
LAKE ZURICH, Ill. — At least three dozen high school students in northern Illinois have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after some attending summer sports camps showed symptoms of the disease.
Lake County health officials say investigations and contact tracing of the infections are tied to the camps held last week at Lake Zurich High School and multiple prior social gatherings.
Health officials said health screenings were conducted at the start of the camps on July 6 and some students who showed symptoms were turned away. But other students experienced symptoms during the camps and were sent home. Health and school district officials met the next day and decided to close the camps.
PASADENA, Calif. — Organizers have canceled the 2021 Rose Parade because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on long-range planning for the New Year’s tradition and the risk of spreading infections among its huge audience and participants.
The Pasadena, California, Tournament of Roses Association said the Wednesday decision was put off until organizers were certain that safety restrictions would prevent staging of the 132nd parade.
Planning for the Rose Bowl college football game that traditionally follows the parade is continuing, the association said.
The parade is held every Jan. 1 except when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday and the event is pushed to Jan. 2.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Walt Disney World welcomed back visitors to two more theme parks that were shuttered since March because of the coronavirus.
The Florida theme park resort reopened Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, completing a rolling opening of Disney World’s theme parks that started last weekend with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom welcoming back visitors.
The parks were the last of Orlando’s major theme parks to reopen. Both Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando opened their doors last month.
All parks require reservations and social distancing. Visitors and employees need temperature checks upon entering and must wear masks.
There are no live shows at Disney World because the reopening created a labor dispute between Disney and its actors and singers.