Steve July 28, 2020
the-latest:-north-carolina-limits-late-night-alcohol-sales

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday he’s curbing alcohol sales hours at restaurants later this week as a way to discourage the spread of COVID-19 during late-night gatherings.

Starting Friday, the eateries and other establishments offering drinks by the glass like distilleries and breweries will have to cut off sales at 11 p.m. State law usually allows sales until 2 a.m. It doesn’t apply to grocery stores that sell beer and wine.

Standalone bars have been shuttered since March. He said he’s been worried increasing numbers of positive cases of the coronavirus among young people, and points out reports of restaurants acting more like bars, with patrons hanging out without social distancing. Some local governments had already issued sales restrictions.

“We know that the ‘bar scene’ has been a place where we have seen increased transmission,” Cooper said at a media briefing. “We want to drive those numbers down.”

Cooper’s announcement came on the same day North Carolina reported another record number of current hospitalizations involving coronavirus patients at almost 1,250. But state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said Tuesday that some case trends appear to be stabilizing.

More than 116,000 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began, with more than 1,800 deaths, Cohen’s department said.

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

— Teachers’ union in U.S. supports striking if unsafe to return to school

— Florida reports more than 9,000 new virus cases

— Greece says it will allow cruise ship travel on Aug. 1.

— President Tweety McTreason is back to pushing unproven claims that an anti-malaria drug is an effective treatment for the coronavirus. He’s also lobbing new attacks on the credibility of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.

— Britain’s effective ban on travel to Spain following an upswing in coronavirus cases in the country’s northeast has hammered home the l ack of a comprehensive, Europe-wide approach to suppressing the virus.

— Dr. Anthony Fauci says the Miami Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak could endanger the Major League Baseball season but he doesn’t believe games needs to stop now.

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:

NORFOLK, Va. — The state of Virginia will enact new rules in the Hampton Roads region that will ban alcohol sales after 10 p.m. as well as gatherings of more than 50 people.

Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday that the emergency order is aimed at stopping the surge of coronavirus cases in cities near the coast.

The Democratic governor cited a rise in infections among young people in the Hampton Roads region as well as alcohol use. The restrictions take effect at 12 a.m. Friday.

They are Virginia’s latest effort to reign in a virus that has largely slowed its spread in much of the rest of the state.

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CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire health and fire safety officials will spend the next two weeks investigating whether ventilation systems contributed to coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes, Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday.

More than 30 long-term care facilities have experienced outbreaks, and their residents account for 82 percent of the state’s deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. As of Tuesday, only four outbreaks remained active, said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette.

She said the review by her department and the state Fire Marshal began Monday and is initially focused on facilities that have had outbreaks. The goal is to investigate possible patterns in terms of how outbreaks moved through buildings and whether ventilation systems can be improved at other facilities.

Sununu, a Republican, earlier this month vetoed a Democrat-backed bill that would have created an independent review of long-term care facilities.

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — The Kosovar government on Tuesday imposed most of the previous lockdown measures, such as banning religious ceremonies and other activities, in an effort to prevent an alarming escalation of coronavirus cases.

The government ordered that public gatherings, including family traditional ceremonies and mass gathering of more than five people, are banned in squares or parks. Restaurants, cafes, night clubs cannot operate during 10.30 p.m. until 5 a.m. (2030-0300 GMT).

Citizens from neighboring Western Balkan countries where new virus cases have risen too need to present a negative virus test to enter the country.

Citizens are advised to wear the mask in all closed buildings or spaces and institutions and companies should create the proper social distancing environment for the employees.

Kosovo has reported 7,652 confirmed virus cases and 192 deaths as of Tuesday.

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DENVER — Democratic Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado on Tuesday laid out key demands for the next U.S. coronavirus relief package, urging Congress to deliver uninterrupted benefits for the growing ranks of people without jobs, cash instead of supplies for state testing and contact tracing, and billions of dollars to backfill long-term losses in state and local government budgets.

Polis warned of dire consequences to the economic welfare of millions of Coloradans and to the state’s ability to contain the pandemic in a letter sent to the state’s congressional delegation as the U.S. Senate begins deliberating the next phase of coronavirus relief while infections surge across the nation.

“The continued uncertainty regarding the extension and funding of key federal programs for Coloradans is making many of our neighbors contemplate extremely difficult choices regarding their financial futures,” Polis said.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Travelers from 34 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, must now quarantine for 14 days when they travel to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Governors of New York and New Jersey announced Tuesday that Illinois, Minnesota, Puerto Rico and D.C. are now now on the list of states that face quarantine restrictions under a joint travel advisory issued last month.

The advisory includes states if their seven day rolling average of positive tests exceeds 10%, or if the number of positive cases exceeds 10 per 100,000 residents. The list has included Texas, California and Florida for weeks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed worry for weeks that infection rates in hard-hit New York could once again rise because of travel from high-risk states.

In New York, airport travelers from states on the joint advisory face a $2,000 fine if they leave the airport without filling out the form.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s largest teachers union called Tuesday for schools to delay reopening buildings for in-person learning and instead start only with online classes, citing safety concerns for students and teachers.

The Utah Education Association called for state leaders to temporarily resume distance learning until COVID-19 cases further decline. The union said school districts should seek input from educators and local health authorities before moving forward with any reopening plans.

Some of the nation’s largest public school districts are starting the school year online in cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston.

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she will push for schools to stay open this fall but is disparaging any requirements for children to wear masks in classrooms.

Parents and school boards are cautiously weighing the risks and benefits of schools reopening. The Republican governor is emphasizing the educational and social upside of children going to school. She points to research that COVID-19 poses less of a threat to children.

But as Noem emphasizes research that shows the health risks from the virus are less than feared, she is also willing to downplay studies that show masks could prevent the spread of the disease.

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SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile’s government has eased lockdown orders on more than 1 million people in the greater Santiago region, despite criticism from some health experts.

Tuesday’s order means residents in seven of the metropolitan region’s 32 districts can leave home without seeking permission from Monday through Friday, open small businesses and go to work — so long as their workplace is in an area where the restrictions have been eased.

Large businesses, restaurants, theaters and cafes remain closed and a curfew is in force from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Metropolitan Santiago as a whole holds 8 million of the country’s 19 million people. The downtown district itself remains under lockdown.

Chile ranks eighth in the world in confirmed COVID-19 cases per capita, with 350,000 cases and more than 13,000 deaths.

Private think tank Espacio Público complained that the government was easing the restrictions contrary to advice from experts.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a tweet that he participated in a call Monday with Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and several Midwestern mayors who are seeing reported cases rise, fueled in part by an increase in cases among young adults.

Lucas said recommendations that were suggested include reducing indoor dining seating capacity and reducing bar hours. Those are among the restrictions that St. Louis County announced it is enacting starting at 5 p.m. Friday.

“Mayor Lucas and local health officials take seriously the advice of Dr. Birx and will continue discussions over the next several days about the next steps in Kansas City’s COVID response efforts,” Lucas’ spokeswoman Morgan Said said Tuesday.

Statewide, the number of confirmed cases jumped Tuesday by 1,773 to 44,823, with 1,213 deaths. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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BOISE, Idaho — Organizations that advocate for schools, counties, county sheriffs and businesses say they want lawmakers called back into session to create a liability shield for protection against COVID-19-related lawsuits.

The Judiciary and Rules Working Group on Tuesday took no action but plans to meet again later this week to consider wording for possible legislation to be sent to Republican Gov. Brad Little. Little is the only one with authority to call a special session.

Speakers told the working group that compelling children to go to school during the pandemic could leave districts open to lawsuits should children become ill. Sheriffs say deputies performing regular duties could also be sued.

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Oklahoma City — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has returned to his office two weeks after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Stitt’s Twitter page indicated he’s “glad to be back in the saddle” and encouraged people to regularly wash hands, keep socially distant and wear masks if distancing isn’t possible.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Tuesday reported 1,089 newly confirmed cases and 13 more deaths. That brings total deaths to 509.

The actual number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because of the low number of people tested and those unaware they may have the virus because they experience of no symptoms.

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COLUMBIA, South Carolina — South Carolina’s largest school district says nearly one-third of the students don’t plan to attend school in person this fall.

More than 23,000 of the 77,000 students in the Greenville County School District picked its virtual program, which requires a yearlong commitment to staying outside a school building.

Many districts in the state have experimented with virtual schools before, but the coronavirus pandemic has them blossoming as an education alternative.

Only Arizona, Texas, California and Florida have a higher rolling daily average of COVID-19 deaths in South Carolina. The average has consistently hovered around 30 deaths since July 13, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Outside the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, special tents will serve as an “alternative care site.” The tents will house 12 beds for recovering patients and the hospital says they should be ready in two or three weeks.

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MONTPELIER, Vermont — Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont’s top health and education officials says the level of coronavirus in the state is low enough for schools to resume in-person instruction.

Scott says he’ll issue an order allowing schools to open Sept. 8, a week later than usual, to give local school districts more time to prepare.

Many Vermont school districts were planning to reopen with hybrid in-person and remote instruction. A few are planning to resume full-time instruction, according to the governor.

Don Tinney, the president of the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association and its 13,000-member teachers’ union, says the delay on the school opening was a good first step.

The Vermont Health Department reported three new cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to more than 1,400. The state hasn’t had a confirmed death in more than a month, with the total at 56.

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ATHENS — Greece announced it will allow cruise ship travel on Aug. 1.

The tourism ministry says cruises originating from six ports — Piraeus, Volos, and Katakolo on the mainland and the islands of Rhodes, Iraklio on Crete, and Corfu — will start on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Civil Protection Authority says face masks will be mandatory Wednesday for staff and customers at all closed retail outlets, including hair and beauty salons.

The Health Ministry reported 52 new infections Tuesday, bringing the confirmed total to 4,279. With one new death, the toll stands at 203.

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanon’s government has ordered a partial shutdown in the country amid an increase of coronavirus cases.

Lebanon registered 141 new cases of coronavirus and three more deaths because of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The new numbers raise the total cases in Lebanon to 4,023 and 54 deaths.

In recent days, triple-digit cases were reported after the country reopened the only international airport and many people returned to normal life.

The government says a five-day partial lockdown will begin Thursday followed by two days of rest before another five-day partial lockdown. During the lockdown, indoor swimming pools, pubs, malls, banks, night clubs and markets will be closed.

Lebanon had contained the virus after the first case was reported in late February. The lockdown was lifted in an attempt to ease the severe economic crisis.

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ST PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida reported more than 9,000 coronavirus cases Tuesday and a new daily high of 191 deaths.

That brings the total infections to nearly 442,000 and more than 6,100 confirmed deaths, according to the state Health Department. The previous record of daily coronavirus deaths in Florida was 173 last week.

The number of patients treated in hospitals statewide for the coronavirus was steady during the past 24 hours at just over 9,000 — down from about 9,500 a week ago.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’s thinking about opening up nursing homes and assisted living facilities to visitation. The Republican says rapid coronavirus tests can ensure visitors are not infected.

In Florida, there’s been 2,760 confirmed deaths of residents and employees at long-term care facilities.

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