The Latest: Michigan issues mask requirement, other measures
LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan’s health department issued a mask requirement and other coronavirus restrictions Monday, just days after the state Supreme Court invalidated a 75-year-old emergency powers law that underpinned Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders to control the pandemic.
The Democratic governor separately asked the court to declare its Friday ruling not binding until Oct. 30, to give her administration, the Republican-led Legislature and local health departments time to transition.
GOP leaders questioned delaying the court’s decision and prepared to return to session this month to codify an undetermined number of her 30-plus orders into law, such as one extending base unemployment benefits to 26 weeks from 20 weeks.
The ruling nullified all virus-related orders issued after April 30. It means Whitmer must negotiate with lawmakers to extend a state of emergency and any new COVID-19 orders she writes.
However, the administration can control an epidemic under a 1978 public health law that was not at issue in the case, though its authority is narrower. Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon required the wearing of masks at non-residential indoor and outdoor gatherings, limited gathering sizes, and ordered bars to close indoor common areas where people can dance or mingle and to sell alcohol only at tables kept at least 6 feet apart.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Trump says he’s leaving hospital for White House, feels good
— Some Orthodox Jews bristle at NYC’s response to virus surge
— Paris on maximum virus alert, closing bars, not restaurants
— New Jersey governor: Trump fundraiser ‘put lives at risk’
— Kayleigh McEnany tests positive for COVID-19
— Americans fault US govt over foreign powers for virus crisis
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported 75 new cases of the coronavirus as infections steadily rise in the greater capital area.
The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Tuesday brought the national caseload to 24,239, including 422 deaths.
Fifty-four cases were reported in the Seoul metropolitan area, home to half of the country’s 51 million population, where infections have been tied to various places and groups, including churches, restaurants and workers. At least 36 troops have tested positive at an army unit in Pocheon, north of Seoul, while 14 other infections were tied to a hospital in nearby Euijeongbu.
There’s concern that infections will grow in the coming weeks due to increased travel during the five-day Chuseok harvest holiday that ended Sunday.
UNITED NATIONS -- China and 25 other nations have called for the immediate lifting of sanctions by the United States and Western countries to ensure an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on behalf of the 26 countries at a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee on Monday, China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun said “unilateral coercive measures” violate the U.N. Charter, multilateralism, and impede human rights by hindering “the well-being of the population in the affected countries” and undermining the right to health.
“Global solidarity and international cooperation are the most powerful weapons in fighting and overcoming COVID-19,” the joint statement said. “We seize this opportunity to call for the complete and immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures, in order to ensure the full, effective and efficient response of all members of the international community to COVID-19.”
Among the countries that backed the statement were half a dozen that face sanctions by the United States, European Union or other Western nations including Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Syria and Venezuela.
HELENA, Mont. — The number of new coronavirus cases among residents of Montana’s most populous county is straining the health care system, the Yellowstone County health officer said Monday. He warned residents that he will put more restrictions in place on Nov. 2 if the infection rate continues to rise.
The proposed new restrictions could limit gatherings to no more than 25 people, regardless of the ability to socially distance; and set 25% capacity restrictions on bars, restaurants and churches, health officer John Felton said. Any business that sells alcohol would have to close by 10 p.m. Schools would not be affected by the order.
“This health order need not take effect if enough people take action,” he said during a news conference in Billings. “If we consistently wear masks, watch our distance, stay 6 feet away, avoid group gatherings, wash our hands, and stay home when we are ill, we can reduce the number of new infections significantly over the next three weeks and stave off the health officer order.”
He strongly encouraged people to limit the duration of close interaction, within 6 feet (2 meters) or less, to less than 10 minutes and with fewer than six people per week.
Felton’s announcement came just days after Gov. Steve Bullock urged counties with larger outbreaks to consider stricter measures, such as shutting down bars and other gathering places.
The new restrictions wouldn’t be imposed until the end of the month to allow time to see if people’s efforts help reduce case growth.
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Now that he’s become infected with the coronavirus, President Donald Trump needs to set a “better example” during the pandemic, and he should start by always wearing a mask in public, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.
Faced with surging numbers of COVID-19 cases in his state, Beshear urged Kentuckians to accept any inconvenience from donning facial coverings to do their part to contain the virus.
The Democratic governor said he’s looking to the Republican president to belatedly lead by example after Trump’s positive test for the virus last week led to his hospitalization.
“There’re some areas where we need a better example from the president,” Beshear said at a news conference. “First, I’ve been begging for months to have this president wear a mask in public.”
Trump remains popular across much of Kentucky, and Beshear typically has been reluctant to criticize the president. But the governor didn’t hold back in admonishing Trump for his decision to briefly venture out in a motorcade Sunday to salute cheering supporters.
“He violated quarantine and isolation,” Beshear said. “You can’t do that.”
Trump said Monday he’s leaving the military hospital where he has been receiving treatment. Beshear said he’s concerned the president was leaving “too early for his own health.”
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday that alcohol sales can resume at Louisiana sporting events this weekend in parishes that have reached low rates of new coronavirus cases and are allowed to reopen bars.
The Democratic governor said these changes to his coronavirus restrictions will be included in the latest emergency order he intends to release later this week. His current set of rules expires Friday, and Edwards hasn’t said if he’ll loosen up any other limits.
Edwards said in a statement that alcohol sales at stadiums, arenas and other sports complexes “will be limited to fans buying alcohol and returning to their seats to drink it and will require event managers to continue with their strong COVID mitigation measures.”
Shortly after Edwards made his announcement, LSU said alcohol sales will return to Tiger Stadium for Saturday’s football game.
To qualify, sports events must be in parishes that have seen 5% of their coronavirus tests or less return positive in the last two weeks, an indication that the virus isn’t spreading widely in the parish. The parish must also have agreed to reopen bars to onsite drinking. Twenty of Louisiana’s 64 parishes currently meet those criteria, according to the governor’s office.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Laura Kelly says Kansas expects to receive 870,000 rapid COVID-19 tests from the federal government over the next three months to boost testing in potential hotspots.
Kelly’s comments Monday came as the state saw a record increase in coronavirus-related hospitalizations.
Kelly said the new tests are crucial for a new statewide policy of more testing of people without virus symptoms in areas with high infection rates and increasing routine testing in schools, nursing homes and prisons. She said the state already has received its first 57,000 tests.
Kansas saw an average of more than 523 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases a day in August and September, and the total now approaches 63,000 for the pandemic.
The state Department of Health and Environment also reported Monday that Kansas has had 3,036 people hospitalized because of the virus, including 53 since Friday.
MINNEAPOLIS —Thirteen staff members from an iconic Minneapolis steakhouse were self-quarantining after the restaurant catered a fundraiser attended by President Donald Trump during his visit to Minnesota last week, the restaurant said Monday.
The 13 worked for Murray’s Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, which catered the fundraiser on Wednesday at the Lake Minnetonka home of Marty Davis, CEO of the quartz countertop manufacturer Cambria Co. LLC. About 40 contributors paid $200,000 a couple or $100,000 per person for the chance to meet the president and hear him speak.
“Our staff was there to work the party only and at no point did any staff come in close proximity to the president,” the restaurant said in a statement. “Upon learning of the president’s positive COVID-19 test, we immediately enacted a 14-day quarantine for all staff who worked the party. Additionally, each staff member who worked the party will be tested for COVID-19.”
Murray’s, a family owned restaurant since 1946, is famous as “Home of the Silver Butter Knife Steak.” It’s popular among the city’s movers and shakers and sports figures. A spokesman for the restaurant, Chuck Sanger, said the restaurant is still able to operate normally despite the quarantine.
MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Vermont officials say 26 migrant workers at a large apple orchard have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The news announced Monday has led to the biggest one-day increase in cases since June in a state that has consistently had one of the lowest infection rates in the U.S.
The apple pickers at Champlain Orchards in Shoreham arrived legally Sept. 14 and were still in a 14-day quarantine when the Health Department learned one of them had tested positive.
Officials say they arrived at New York’s Kennedy Airport and took a bus together to Vermont. Officials say the infected workers were living together and have been isolated.
It wasn’t clear where they were originally from, but Deputy Agriculture Secretary Alyson Eastman notes that many workers who come to Vermont on the type of agriculture visa the infected apple pickers had are from Jamaica. Officials say people who picked apples or visited the farm stand are not at risk.
LONDON — The British government has launched an investigation into how nearly 16,000 new coronavirus infections went unreported as a result of a technical glitch.
The failing could have given fresh impetus to the country’s coronavirus outbreak and ultimately to an uptick in deaths.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers Monday that 51% of those cases have now been contacted by contact tracers.
Hancock’s statement came after the weekend disclosure that a total of 15,841 virus cases weren’t tabulated from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s spokesman on health issues, slammed the government for its latest failing on testing “at one of the most crucial points in the pandemic.”
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Pastor Greg Laurie of the prominent California-based church Harvest Christian Fellowship confirmed he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Laurie said in an Instagram posting Monday that he tested positive on Friday and has been in quarantine since then with his wife, but so far all members of his family have tested negative.
“My symptoms have been mild so far, and I expect to make a full recovery,” he wrote. “I have always taken the Coronavirus seriously, and it has tragically taken many lives. At a time like this, we need to pray for those that have it and avoid politicizing it. If our President and First Lady can get COVID-19, clearly anyone can.”
JOHANNESBURG — African governments have worked together to launch a digital platform to inform travelers about COVID-19 travel restrictions across the continent, as many countries ease restrictions on international travel.
Still reeling from nearly six months of a ban on international travel to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, major airports on the continent have now resumed international flights, but with specific restrictions.
The #Trusted Travel, My COVID Pass, will provide travelers in Africa with information about what requirements they will face going to different countries in the continent, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr.John Nkengasong, said Monday.
The digital platform will also offer links to laboratories where travelers will be able to get the COVID-19 test results that are required for entry into many African countries, said Nkengason on an Africa CDC internet press conference.
Some of the continent’s largest laboratory firms have backed the initiative. Chairman of South Africa’s Ampath Laboratories, Dr. Robbie Buck, said private labs across the continent can deliver test results in 24 hours. He discouraged travelers from trying to get tests at airports, saying the new platform for Africa could enable them to go to laboratories for screening and test results before they go to the airport.
To enter South Africa, for example, a traveler must produce a negative test result delivered within 72 hours of the departure of the flight. Other African countries have different requirements.
The new website is designed to inform travelers about the different requirements across the continent, said Nkengasong.
It will initially provide information for 12 countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal, considered travel hubs as they have high air traffic volumes.
Director at Kenya Airways, Julius Thairu, said even though airlines are now allowed to operate, they have far fewer passengers than before the COVID-19 outbreak. Kenya Airways is currently operating with only 20% of the passengers it had before the travel bans were imposed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, he said.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Saginaw man is home after more than six months in health-care facilities, all related to COVID-19.
John Curtis, 44, had abdominal surgery, seizures, sepsis, paralysis and more. He was released last week from his last stop: Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids.
“He’s been through a lot,” said Dr. Ralph Wang, a rehab specialist.
“I think COVID probably caused half of his problems,” Wang told WOOD-TV. “So it was very significant. I think it probably prolonged how much time he was on the ventilator and probably contributed to his seizures and brain damage.”
Curtis’ health was good until March when he woke up with a 104-degree fever and other problems.
He said his wife, Debi, was a “good supporter” throughout the ordeal.
“I wouldn’t have been anywhere else,” Debi Curtis said. “He needed his family and the love and that’s what we did.”
Wang predicted John Curtis can make a nearly full recovery with more work. He couldn’t walk when he arrived at Mary Free Bee but now moves with a walker. He previously worked as a sander at a glass company.
“I am not going to take life for granted anymore,” Debi Curtis said. “And I’m not going to take John for granted anymore.”
NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s ordering schools in certain New York City neighborhoods closed within a day in an attempt to halt a flare-up of the coronavirus.
The governor took the action a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio asked the state for permission to reinstate restrictions on businesses and schools in nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens where the virus was spreading more quickly.
Cuomo said the closures would take place by Tuesday, a day ahead of when the mayor wanted. The restrictions are aimed mostly at neighborhoods home to the city’s large Orthodox Jewish community.