The Latest: Japan governor touts gargling product for virus
TOKYO — A governor in Japan is drawing skeptical criticism after he touted a gargling product as effective against the coronavirus, an assertion that, despite its dubiousness, emptied some store shelves of the medicine.
Shares of Shionogi & Co. and Meiji Holdings Co., which make Isojin, soared in Tokyo Tuesday trading after Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura made the comments.
Yoshimura referred to a study carried out by the Osaka regional government on a sample of just 41 people. Experts said such a study is inconclusive.
Shionogi and Meiji shares were already coming down Wednesday, as subsequent Japanese media reports debunked Yoshimura’s claim.
Daily confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been shooting up in Japan, to more than 1,000 people. The nation had previously scored success in containing the cases, compared to harder hit nations like the U.S., Mexico and Brazil. Japan has recorded 1,023 cumulative deaths linked to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins.
The high expectations on cures and vaccines underline the widespread worries in Japan, where there has been no lockdown but a series of warnings, asking people to wear masks, wash hands, social distance and gargle, even as businesses and restaurants stay open.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Florida daily deaths at 245, nearly 5,500 new cases
— Arizona reports 66 more deaths, 1,000 new cases
— Wisconsin mask requirement aims to stem surging virus
— Education officials in Alabama say more than 4,000 new laptop computers bound for a school district are being held by customs due to human rights concerns.
— Possible wave of evictions expected in U.S. as moratoriums end in many states. Some 23 million people nationwide are at risk of being evicted, according to The Aspen Institute.
— South Dakota, which has seen an uptick in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, is bracing to host hundreds of thousands of bikers for the 80th edition of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s hot spot Victoria state announced a new record 725 COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths on Wednesday, while businesses in Melbourne city prepared to draw down their shutters as new pandemic restrictions were enforced.
The new 24-hour record was marginally higher than 723 cases and 13 deaths reported on Thursday last week.
From late Wednesday, many non-essential businesses including most detail retailers, hair-dressers and gyms in Australia’s second-largest city will be closed for six weeks. People employed in essential jobs will have to carry passes under Australia’s toughest-ever lockdown restrictions.
Like Melbourne hospitals, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced that non-emergency surgeries will be restricted in hospitals in regional Victoria, where infections rates are lower.
“It will be very challenging, but it is necessary to drive these numbers down,” Andrews said of the new restrictions.
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico posted a near-record one-day total of 857 newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, bringing the country’s confirmed death toll to 48,869, the third-highest number in the world.
The Health Department reported that just over 1 million coronavirus tests have been performed, with almost 450,000 people testing positive to date.
Mexico’s has had a positive rate of about 45% to 50% since the early weeks of the pandemic, largely because most people were tested only after exhibiting considerable symptoms.
HONG KONG — Hong Hong has reported 80 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths, while new cases in mainland China fell to just 27.
Hong Kong saw cases spike in a new wave of infections, but new daily cases have now fallen back into the double digits.
Authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city have ordered masks be worn in all public places, slapped restrictions on indoor dining, banned many activities and increased testing for coronavirus. Hong Kong has recorded a total of 3,669 cases and 42 deaths from COVID-19.
Of mainland China’s cases, 22 were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose capital and largest city Urumqi has been the center of China’s latest outbreak. China has reported 4,634 deaths among 84,491 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
China said Tuesday it was working with the World Health Organization on an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus, but gave no word on when that would get underway.
LAS VEGAS -- Nevada health officials say 95% of the 980 new coronavirus cases reported statewide during the last day were in the Las Vegas area.
State coronavirus response officials said Tuesday that Clark County residents accounted for 931 of the positive COVID-19 tests reported. Confirmed cases statewide topped 52,000, and 15 more deaths brought Nevada’s total to at least 862.
Separately, the governor’s office issued a report tallying $16.7 billion in federal coronavirus funding to Nevada since Congress approved a $2.2 trillion emergency aid bill in March.
The report says nearly $2.2 billion went toward $600-per-week payments to idled workers statewide.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says more Americans will be lost to COVID-19.
Trump was asked in a Fox Business Network interview Tuesday about prospects for relations with China going forward.
Trump said the relationship has been “very badly hurt” by the spread of the coronavirus and he repeated his belief that China should have contained it.
The president noted the American death toll, saying somewhat prematurely that 160,000 had died from the disease caused by the virus. He told host Lou Dobbs: “We’re going to lose more.”
Trump added that millions would have been lost had he not intervened and “just let it ride.’
The U.S. death told from COVID-19 stood at more than 156,000 on Tuesday evening.
LOS ANGELES -- A technical problem has caused a lag in California’s tally of coronavirus test results, casting doubt on the accuracy of recent data showing improvements in the infection rate and hindering efforts to track the spread.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday that in recent days California has not been receiving a full count through electronic lab reports because of the unresolved issue.
The state’s data page now carries a disclaimer saying the numbers represent an underreporting of actual positive cases per day.
The latest daily tally posted Tuesday showed 4,526 new confirmed positives, the lowest in more than six weeks.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. —- Health insurance premiums for the 1.5 million Californians who purchase coverage through the state marketplace will go up an average of 0.6% next year, officials announced Tuesday. It’s the smallest increase yet and is attributed to a surge of new signups coupled with a decline in health care use during the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 230,000 people have signed up for coverage since March 20, the day after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order. Meanwhile, fewer people are using their health insurance as hospitals delayed elective procedures and some people chose to stay away from doctor’s offices.
Charles Bacchi, president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans, said insurers can offer smaller increases because of new laws aimed at getting more healthier people to buy insurance.
From 2015 through 2019, monthly premiums in California’s marketplace increased an average of 8.5 percentage points per year. But since then, the Democratic-controlled Legislature and governor have passed laws aimed at getting more healthier people to buy coverage.
The result was an average premium increase of 0.8% in 2020. Next year’s increase is even lower, in part because of an increase in new people buying insurance during the coronavirus pandemic.
Des Moines, IOWA — At least two school districts in Iowa are refusing to follow the governor’s demand that they return students to classrooms, rebuffing the idea that the state can override what local officials believe is the safest way to educate their children as coronavirus spreads in their counties.
Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday reiterated that the state will require at least half of a school’s instruction to be held in person and the state will decide when K-12 schools can send students home based on community virus spread and student illnesses.
She said at a news conference that districts will not be credited for days of home learning not approved by the state and that school administrators may be subject to “licensure discipline.”
“I want to be very clear schools that choose not to return to school for at least 50 percent in person instruction are not defying me, they’re defying the law,” she said.
On Monday school officials in Waukee said they would not seek permission from the state to keep students at home and board members in Urbandale, another suburban Des Moines district, voted Monday night to defy the state orders after the state denied a request for Rolling Green Elementary students to continue online learning.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana’s agriculture department said a dog in the state has tested positive for the coronavirus.
It’s the state’s first confirmed infection in an animal and was determined through a nasal swab test.
Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says no evidence suggests that pets play a significant role in helping to spread the virus. He urged people not to abandon their pets because of worry.
The agriculture department refused to provide details about the dog or where its owner lives, citing federal health privacy laws.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a small number of pets have been reported with coronavirus infections.
MINNEAPOLIS — A group of voters sued Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and other officials on Tuesday to try to block a requirement that voters wear face masks at polling places to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Members of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, backed by Republican lawmakers, argue that Walz’s mask mandate conflicts with a 1963 state law making it a misdemeanor for someone to conceal their identity with a mask.
The Star Tribune reports the group is seeking a federal court order to block the rule for people who vote in-person in next Tuesday’s primary.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement standing behind “the legality and constitutionality” of Walz’s executive order.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards says he’ll continue Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate and the business restrictions he enacted to combat the coronavirus outbreak for at least three more weeks.
The rules were set to expire Friday, but the Democratic governor said Tuesday he’ll extend them through Aug. 28.
Edwards says the state has “made early fragile gains” in slowing the virus spread but couldn’t risk lifting the restrictions yet.
Dr. Alex Billioux, the governor’s chief public health adviser, estimated Louisiana still has at least 50,000 active coronavirus cases where people can shed the virus to others. He said: “We are not in a position where we think we can start to peel away restrictions.”
Several lawsuits are trying to get some of the rules thrown out as overstepping Edwards’ authority.
The governor’s decision comes as Edwards joined the leaders of Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia in announcing an interstate compact to buy 3 million rapid-use coronavirus tests.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Tuesday that he’s setting a statewide order for people to wear masks in public amid a recent surge in confirmed coronavirus cases. The Republican also delayed the start of the school year for upper grades in eight counties that are hard-hit by COVID-19.
Reeves also said he will sign an order mandating that all adults and students wear masks in schools, unless there’s a medical reason that prevents them from doing so.
He is delaying the start of school for grades 7-12 in eight counties with more than 200 cases and 500 cases per 100,000 residents. The counties are Bolivar, Coahoma, Forrest, George, Hinds, Panola, Sunflower and Washington.
He had previously set a mask order in 38 of the 82 counties, saying he thinks a targeted order has been effective.
Reeves said most local school districts will keep control over when and how to open schools for the academic year.
Schools are dealing with the reopening in different ways. Some have already gone back to classroom teaching in recent days. Some are planning a mix of in-person and online classes. A few districts have said they will only have online classes for a while. And some are delaying the start of the school year by a few weeks, until early September.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The mayor of an Oklahoma City suburb alleges she was threatened by a state lawmaker because of a mandate she issued requiring bar and restaurant workers to wear masks in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Republican State Rep. Jay Steagall on Tuesday denied threatening Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby and says he was talking to her about his constituents’ concerns.
“I’ve never threatened anyone,” Steagall told The Associated Press. “I’ve tried to take constituent concerns to her.” No court records show that charges have been filed.
Selby, whose voter registration records indicate she is a Republican, issued the proclamation last month.
Selby said in an email to The Associated Press that she could not discuss the matter on Tuesday because she was working, but could talk on Wednesday. The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Tuesday reported 861 additional confirmed coronavirus cases and 15 more deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the illness.
The department said there are 39,463 confirmed cases and 566 deaths, an increase from 38,602 confirmed cases and 551 deaths reported Monday.
MADISON, Wis. — Epic Systems, one of the two largest providers of software for the health industry, is requiring its 9,000-plus employees to return to work in person at its sprawling campus outside of Madison, Wisconsin, by Sept. 21. It is one of the first large employers in Wisconsin to no longer give employees the choice of working from home.
Epic workers decried the order, saying company CEO Judy Faulkner was ignoring public health advice, according to a statement made in conjunction with the Industrial Workers of the World labor union.
Faulkner defended the decision in an email to employees on Monday, saying better work is done on campus than from home.
Epic had revenue of $3.2 billion in 2019 and has 28 buildings on its 1,048-acre campus.
SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico State Supreme Court has upheld the governor’s authority to fine businesses as much as $5,000 per day for violations of emergency health orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The court heard arguments from businesses claiming the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham overstepped its authority in response to the pandemic. The ruling was unanimous in the governor’s favor.
Chief Justice Michael Vigil says the Legislature clearly gave the governor authority to apply administrative fines higher than the $100 citations the businesses claimed was the maximum allowed. The state has fined 16 businesses up to $5,000 a day.
PHOENIX — Arizona health officials have reported 1,008 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 66 more deaths.
The state Department of Health Services says Tuesday that increased the confirmed case total to 180,505 and 3,845 deaths.
Data on coronavirus hospitalizations and virus-related use of intensive care beds and ventilators rose slightly Monday after trending downward since mid-July. The number of virus-related emergency room visits dropped slightly.