New York — The confirmed death toll from the coronavirus in the U.S. has hit 150,000, by the far the highest toll in the world. That’s according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The bleak milestone comes amid signs that the nation’s outbreak is beginning to stabilize in the Sun Belt but heating up in the Midwest, fueled largely by young adults who are hitting bars, restaurants and gyms again.
The surge has been accompanied by a burgeoning outbreak of misinformation and conspiracy theories about supposed cures and the effectiveness of masks.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— US Tweety McTreason defends doctor who touts coronavirus cure
— Russian President Putin says coronavirus ‘may worsen’
— Muslim pilgrims wearing face masks and moving in small groups have begun a reshaped hajj
— As the world races to find a vaccine and a treatment for COVID-19, there is seemingly no antidote in sight to the burgeoning outbreak of coronavirus conspiracy theories, hoaxes, anti-mask myths and sham cures.
— Ecuador’s capital of Quito has experienced an alarming surge in coronavirus cases since the government reopened the economy last month. There have been 82,300 confirmed infections of the coronavirus in Ecuador and about 5,600 deaths
— Mary Daniel took a part-time job washing dishes at the nursing home a few weeks ago just so she could visit her husband. Gov. Ron DeSantis is considering allowing visits if people can take a rapid-response virus test.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ALTURAS, Calif. — A remote California county bordering Oregon and Nevada that was the first to defy state shutdown orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has recorded its first COVID-19 cases.
Sparsely populated Modoc County in northeastern California has two confirmed cases of COVID-19 from the same household.
The county’s Public Health Department said Tuesday it is identifying people who may have had close contact with the people. The department has also asked anyone who patronized a local bar to call officials.
The county of about 9,000 residents on May 1 defied Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shutdown orders by reopening nonessential businesses and restaurants for dine-in service.
APEX, N.C. — Vice President Mike Pence vowed Wednesday that schools around the country will have the resources they need to reopen for in-person learning as he visited a classroom of masked fourth graders at a North Carolina private school.
The visit comes as President Tweety McTreason and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have threatened to withhold federal funding from K-12 schools that don’t allow all of their students to return to physical classrooms. Critics including Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden have slammed Trump over the threats and argue that his administration hasn’t provided enough resources or guidance to schools.
Accompanied by DeVos, Pence visited a Raleigh-area campus of Thales Academy as part of a push to encourage more schools to reopen with in-person instruction.
“We’re all gonna make sure schools across America have the support to open up and stay open,” Pence said.
TOPSFIELD, Mass. — The coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancellation of a more than 200-year-old Massachusetts agricultural fair for just the third time in its history, organizers said Wednesday.
The Essex Agricultural Society, the organization that runs the Topsfield Fair that was scheduled for Oct. 2-12 this year, said the decision was made for the safety of fairgoers, staff, volunteers, vendors, exhibitors and sponsors.
“We understand the impact of this decision for small businesses, family farms, competitors, and exhibitors and the disappointment of hundreds of thousands of people who look forward to the Topsfield Fair each year,” General Manager James O’Brien said in a statement on the fair’s website.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday that she’s cutting the maximum number of people allowed at backyard barbecues, house parties and other social gatherings in the state from 25 to 15 people.
The Democrat also said the state won’t move into the next phase of its reopening plan. Instead, she said phase 3, which was slated to end Wednesday, will be extended for at least another 30 days.
Raimondo said she made the decision because the state’s infection rate is rising as a result of large social gatherings, particularly among young adults in their 20s and 30s.
“We’re partying too much,” Raimondo said. “You need to knock it off. People are sick and people are dying. Your right to have a party should not infringe on their right to live.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida reported more than 9,400 coronavirus cases and 216 deaths on Wednesday, eclipsing the daily death record set a day ago.
The state Health Department reports more than 6,300 total confirmed deaths.
The new numbers raised the average number of deaths reported daily to 142. That’s second only to Texas overall, and to Arizona in per capita deaths.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended a state order requiring masks in public for another month to help slow the spread of the coronavirus as schools reopen.
The mask order will run through Aug. 31. Hospital officials had pushed for an extension, saying the state’s intensive care units are nearly full because of the new coronavirus.
“Y’all, we just must remain vigilant if we are going to get our kids back in school and keep our economy open. Wearing a mask can’t hurt, but it sure can help,” Ivey said.
The Republican governor, in a nod to the opposition some conservatives have to the mask orders, say her job is “to do the right thing, not necessarily the most popular thing.”
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana reported 69 more deaths Wednesday for a statewide total of 3,769.
The state health department reports an average of 1,900 new confirmed infections daily over the past week.
Gov. John Bel Edwards says COVID-19 hospitalizations have been largely flat in recent days. Louisiana’s health department reported 1,544 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Wednesday.
GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemalan hospital officials say they’ve had to bury dozens of COVID-19 victims who have never been identified.
One hospital is creating an archive in hopes that once the pandemic passes, relatives will come looking for them.
Workers at one of the country’s largest public hospitals have begun photographing patients who arrive alone and too ill to give their personal details. Those who die unidentified are placed in body bags with transparent windows over the faces in case relatives arrive.
Officials says protocols to rapidly burying the dead during a pandemic only make the situation more difficult.
The government has reported more than 47,000 confirmed infections and more 1,800 deaths nationwide.
PARIS — France is reporting another increase in coronavirus cases, adding 1,392 on Wednesday. Health authorities said the closely watched “R” indicator of infections has nudged past 1.3, meaning infected people are, on average, contaminating more than 1.3 others.
That gauge has been ticking upward since July 1, when the first wave of vacationers headed for beaches and holiday homes.
There was also an increase in new clusters, an additional 21 uncovered in the last day.
TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s parliament has passed a plan to give economic aid to every Israeli citizen to help the flagging economy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the plan this month amid a wave of protests of his rule and handling of the coronavirus crisis. He says the cash is meant to stimulate the economy.
Critics say the proposal passed Wednesday is a populist attempt to quiet the protests. The proposal has been panned by many of Israel’s leading economists for not being the best solution.
The economic stimulus proposal will give single individuals one-time payments of about $200. Families will receive at least $600, depending on the number of children.
Israel has seen a surge in daily infections after appearing to contain the virus this spring.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina — The nearly two-month spike in coronavirus cases in South Carolina has leveled off, but the death toll is catching up.
South Carolina reported 1,573 new coronavirus cases Tuesday and confirmed 52 more deaths. Nearly 84,000 people have tested positive for the virus during the pandemic and the death toll has topped 1,500, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
It says 60 more likely coronavirus deaths are under investigation.
Since early June, South Carolina had been in the top four in the nation in the 14-day average of new cases adjusted for population. The 14-day average as of Tuesday was 467 new cases per 100,000 people.
Many local school districts are working on reopening plans that must be approved by the state. Schools must reopen by the day after Labor Day. Gov. Henry McMaster has asked for districts to offer class five days a week. State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman can approve or reject local plans.
MADRID — Spain has reported the highest daily number of new coronavirus infections in almost three months with 1,153.
The Health Ministry says its the highest since early May and up from 905 new cases reported Tuesday. The northeastern regions of Aragón (424 new cases) and Catalonia (211), recorded the highest increases followed by the Madrid region (199).
Those regions have in recent days tightened restrictions on socializing, including limiting how many people can gather and nightlife venues hours. Masks are mandatory in public areas.
The recent increase has prompted countries such as Britain, France and Germany to discourage tourists from traveling to Spain.
Spain has officially recorded 282,641 coronavirus cases and 28,441 deaths.
MILAN — Italian lawmakers approved extending Italy’s state of emergency for the coronavirus through Oct. 15.
The move came as Italy counted 289 confirmed new positives, bringing the pandemic total to 246,776. Another six people died, bringing the death total to 35,129.
Premier Giuseppe Conte told lawmakers that if ideology was put aside, the extension “is an inevitable choice’’ to manage the virus and future spikes.
The head of Italy’s National Health Institute, Silvio Brusafero says Italy has been reporting 200-300 new infections each day in recent weeks. The peak of 6,500 new daily cases was hit on March 31.
NEW DELHI, India — India will lift on Aug. 1 a night-time curfew that has been in force since late March to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The 48,513 new positive cases reported Wednesday brings India’s nationwide tally beyond 1.5 million, trailing the United States and Brazil. There have been 34,193 reported deaths.
The Indian government says the country’s death rate is 2.23% — the lowest since April 1.
BANJUL, Gambia — Gambia’s vice president has tested positive for the coronavirus and the president is going into quarantine for two weeks as a precaution.
A statement from Gambia’s State House says Dr. Isatou Touray had become infected with coronavirus.
The small West African country has reported only 326 confirmed cases and eight deaths.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health minister has announced voluntary measures against the coronavirus for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Fahrettin Koca urged citizens to spend as little time as possible in sacrificial animal sale and butchering points and asked people above 65 and those with chronic illnesses to avoid them.
Koca also says citizens to bring their own prayer mats. Turkey reopened mosques for communal prayer in late May.
The minister says traditions like Eid visits, hand kissing and hugging should be postponed until the pandemic is over. He says there would be no nationwide lockdown unlike during Eid al-Fitr in May.
Daily infections hover near 900. The country reports nearly 228,000 confirmed cases and 5,645 deaths from COVID-19
WASHINGTON — President Tweety McTreason defended his decision to promote Dr. Stella Immanuel, who pushed hydroxychloroquine as a cure for the coronavirus.
“I was very impressed with her and other doctors that stood with her,” Trump said Wednesday before leaving the White House for Texas.
Trump lashed out at social media companies for labelling her comments misinformation and removing the video that featured her: “I was very impressed by her. I know nothing about her, I had never seen her before, but certainly you could put her up and let her have a voice. So what they did is they took down their voice. Now, they seem to never take down the other side. They only take down conservative voices.”
“And with hydroxy, all I want to do is save lives,” Trump added.
TORONTO — Restaurants in Toronto can serve customers indoors and gyms will reopen as the city enters phase three amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ontario government announced indoor service can begin July 31, after other parts of the province were allowed to open this month.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says delaying was the prudent thing to do. Toronto reported just one new coronavirus case on Tuesday. Ontario Premier Doug Ford is urging everyone to follow public health advice, saying the province has made tremendous progress but noted the danger of COVID-19 remains.
ROME — The Lazio region is carrying out coronavirus screen at a Rome bus station, focusing on people arriving from Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine.
Health officials Alessio D’Amato says 70% of passengers on a bus arriving from Romania at midday Wednesday consented to the voluntary anti-body test and all were negative. All passengers are subject to a 14-day quarantine period under Italian rules aimed at containing a resurgence of the virus.
According to D’Amato, the three nationalities were singled out because half of new cases in the region are from people arriving from outside Italy. He reported 34 new cases on Wednesday, most of those among Bangladeshis.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the government to prepare for a possible uptick in coronavirus cases, saying that the situation “remains difficult” and “may worsen.”
Speaking at a government meeting on Wednesday, Putin urged officials to be cautious with easing virus-related restrictions, ensure stable functioning of the health care system and take preventive measures to avoid another lockdown.
“It is necessary to do everything to try to avoid re-imposing restrictions, especially large-scale ones, through preventive and proactive measures,” the president said.
Russia has reported more than 828,000 coronavirus cases and 13,673 confirmed deaths. The number of daily new infections has been decreasing since mid-May. But they remain relatively high, with health officials reporting more than 5,000 new cases every day.