PARIS – France announced a plan on Thursday to resume domestic paracetamol production for the first time in more than a decade, to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers after the common painkiller was briefly rationed at the height of the coronavirus crisis.
France currently has zero domestic producers of paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen and sold under brand names such as Tylenol. Instead, the core ingredients are produced in countries such as China.
The French government unveiled a plan with drug makers Sanofi, Upsa and Seqens to ensure the entire paracetamol production chain in France within three years.
Itâ€™s part of 200 million euros in investment in French vaccines and other drugs that President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this week.
Despite having one of the worldâ€™s best public health care systems, France was hit particularly hard by the virus, and suffered mask shortages and had to ration some medicines.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — New Mexico State University is rolling out plans for students, faculty and staff as they prepare to return to campus in the fall.
The document released this week outlines the steps the university will take to ensure what officials said would be a welcoming and functioning campus environment when classes begin on Aug. 19.
University officials say the plan is a living document and can be updated as more is learned about the novel coronavirus and as best practices evolve. The university planned a town hall for Thursday afternoon. The number of positive tests in New Mexico surpassed 10,000 on Wednesday.
HEREâ€™S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
– Europe sees a rash of new local outbreaks including hundreds of infections at a German meatpacking plant
– China says infections are waning, including at Beijing market
– Is it safe to stay in hotels as reopenings get underway?
– Study ties blood type to COVID-19 risk; O may help, A hurt
– Spain to inject $4.7 billion aid package into its beleagured tourism industry.
– Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic is â€œa cause for celebration,â€ but a new poll finds more than half of Americans calling it fair or poor. The Gallup and West Health survey out Thursday shows that 57% of U.S. adults rate the national response to COVID-19 as fair or poor, particularly because America has the worldâ€™s most expensive health care.
– As work on potential coronavirus vaccines intensifies, rich countries are placing advance orders for the inevitably limited supply to guarantee their citizens are immunized first. That is leaving significant questions about how long it will take developing countries to get any vaccines.
Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HEREâ€™S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
NEW YORK — Restaurants, a key part of New York Cityâ€™s identity, will be allowed to open with outdoor seating Monday as the city enters the second phase of easing coronavirus restrictions, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.
The outdoor seating plan will provide a lifeline for New Yorkâ€™s crucial restaurant industry as the city emerges cautiously from lockdown.
â€œWe have to save this industry,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s part of our identity.â€
Restaurateurs will be able to go online starting Friday to apply to open with seating on the sidewalk, in a backyard patio or using parking spaces. He estimated that 5,000 restaurants employing 45,000 workers would be able to open starting next week.
Offices, hair salons, retail stores and playgrounds in public parks will also be allowed to open during Phase 2 of the reopening, de Blasio said. He said 150,000 to 300,000 more people should be back at work.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had indicated that the city would be ready for Phase 2 on Monday, but de Blasio had said previously that he thought it might take longer. De Blasio said Thursday that he has spoken with the governorâ€™s office about the reopening plan and that â€œthereâ€™s been a high degree of unity.â€
PHOENIX – Arizonaâ€™s count of known COVID-19 cases has jumped again, a day after Gov. Doug Ducey reversed himself by saying local governments could make wearing face masks mandatory.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 2,519 additional cases as of Wednesday and 32 new deaths. That raised the stateâ€™s total to 43,443 with 1,271 deaths.
The increases in cases reported on Thursday broke a record daily high increase of 2,392 reported Tuesday.
Ducey faced pressure as the state became a national virus hotspot, and he said Wednesday that Arizona cities and counties can make wearing face masks mandatory to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Allowing local governments to decide would work better than a statewide mandate, he said.
Ducey previously resisted allowing cities to do more than the state allows to slow the virus spread, saying statewide directives avoid a patchwork of regulations.
Mayors in Phoenix, Tucson and other cities said they would move quickly to require masks.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraskaâ€™s governor has told local governments they will get no federal money meant to help fight the effects of the coronavirus pandemic if they require people to wear masks in public buildings.
The mandate from Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts seems at odds with his usual message encouraging people to wear masks to slow the spread of the virus, the Omaha World-Herald reported. But his spokesman, Taylor Gage, said the governor â€œdoes not believe that failure to wear a mask should be the basis for denying taxpayersâ€™ services.â€
Some $100 million has been allotted to Nebraska counties as part of the federal economic rescue law.
MILAN – Italy has recorded 333 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, two-thirds of them in the hardest-hit Lombardy region, bringing the total in the epidemic to 238,159.
Another 66 people died, for a total of 34,514, the civil protection agency reported on Thursday.
The regions of Piedmont and Emilia Romagna had the next highest numbers of new infections, at 31 and 32, respectively, while all the other regions were single digits or zero new cases. Authorities have said the actual number of infections is likely to be higher as only those with severe symptoms, people hospitalized, health workers and nursing home residents have been regularly tested.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida has shattered its previous record for the number of coronavirus cases recorded in a day, according to data released Thursday.
The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported 85,926 coronavirus cases statewide, a daily jump of 3,207 cases, the largest daily increase since the start of the pandemic in March. The previous record – 2,783 cases – occurred Tuesday. The state has had at least 3,061 related deaths.
At least some of the increase reflects expanded testing especially among people who are younger and without symptoms. But the rate of positive tests also has been ticking upward in recent days, raising alarm.
The announcement came shortly after federal officials revealed that more than 86,000 Floridians applied for new jobless benefits last week, a drop of almost 30% from the previous week as pandemic-related restrictions continued easing up across the state.
The easing of restrictions meant to stop the spread of the new coronavirus has accompanied new outbreaks around Florida, forcing some local leaders to pull back.
OXFORD, Mass. – A central Massachusetts town has cut off power and water to a gym that defied government orders and reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mark Reich, a lawyer for the town of Oxford, told WBZ-TV on Thursday that â€œdomestic water and electricity service have been discontinuedâ€ at Prime Fitness & Nutrition. A judge this week ordered the town to shut down the facility, which opened last month even though gyms are supposed to remain shuttered at least through June 29.
The gymâ€™s owner, Dave Blondin, told WBZ on Wednesday that he â€œwill continue to fight, if this goes on two years, then so be it.â€
â€œMr. Blondin is flouting the law and making no effort to respect public health and safety guidelines,â€ Reich told The Boston Globe on Wednesday. An email seeking comment was sent to the gym Thursday.
LONDON – A chicken-processing plant in Wales says it has halted production and sent all staff home to self-isolate after dozens of staff tested positive for the coronavirus.
The 2 Sisters Food Group said that from Thursday, production at its factory in Llangefni, Anglesey, is suspended for 14 days after 51 employees tested positive for the virus. It said all 560 staff are self-isolating.
The company said the factory was a â€œsmall siteâ€ that does not supply its retail clients like supermarkets or KFC. The poultry goes mainly to the hospitality sector and local government contracts, it said.
The first reported case of COVID-19 at the factory was on May 28, it said.
Earlier this week, unions said they were aware of 13 cases among staff at the 2 Sisters factory, with 110 people self-isolating as a precaution.
WASHINGTON – U.S. officials say they are phasing out an emergency program of using cargo planes to quickly import huge quantities of critical medical supplies from around the world in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said the effort dubbed â€œProject Airbridgeâ€ will be wound down by the end of June after more than 200 flights of medical supplies since late March.
FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor and Adm. John Polowczyk of the federal supply chain task force told reporters Thursday that the government can now rely on traditional shipping methods for any needed supplies. The cargo flights were intended from the start to be a temporary solution to nationwide shortages of protective masks and other supplies as well as treatments and tests for COVID-19.
Members of Congress have criticized Project Airbridge, accusing FEMA and the task force of not providing enough information about how they decided to allocate medical supplies and accusing the administration of giving priority to politically connected people. Gaynor denied those allegations and said supplies were distributed to where they were needed most amid global shortages.
OWOSSO, Mich. – The state of Michigan has lifted the suspension of a barberâ€™s license, but he still faces a hearing for cutting hair while shops and salons were closed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
An administrative law judge on Tuesday granted the stateâ€™s request to lift Karl Mankeâ€™s suspension. Regulators said an â€œimminent threatâ€ to public health no longer exists at the Owosso barbershop.
Manke, 77, reopened his shop on May 4 in defiance of Whitmerâ€™s order to keep barbershops and salons closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Mankeâ€™s barber and business licenses were subsequently suspended, but he still kept cutting hair.
He still faces a July 15 hearing on the formal May 12 complaint filed by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
TORONTO – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is announcing a new national app that will notify users of exposure to the new coronavirus.
Trudeau says the app will be voluntary. He says if you test positive, other users who have the app and have been in proximity will then be alerted theyâ€™ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive.
The prime minister says the notification will encourage them to reach out to their local public health authorities. He says privacy will be respected.
Ontario will soon begin testing the app which is being developed with the help of Canadian technology companies Shopify and BlackBerry.
RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolinaâ€™s capital city is require that people wear face coverings to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwinâ€™s emergency proclamation takes effect Friday at 4 p.m., requiring that face coverings be worn over the mouth and nose when people come in contact with those who are not members of their household in both public and private spaces where it is not possible to stay at least six feet (2 meters) apart.
All restaurant, personal care, grooming, tattoo and retail employees also must wear face coverings while on duty. Children 12 and under and those with medical or religious exemptions arenâ€™t required to comply.
Anyone in the city who chooses not to wear a mask would not be fined or arrested, but law enforcement officers are â€œstrongly encouraged to educate and encourage voluntary compliance,â€ the mayor said.
QUETTA, Pakistan – Pakistan on Thursday announced that it is reopening its key southwestern Taftan border crossing with neighboring Iran to allow trade between the two countries.
Thursdayâ€™s move comes three months after the border in Baluchistan province was closed by Islamabad to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country. However, the ban on movement of people will remain in place until further order.
Authorities say the border was being opened immediately to specially facilitate export of mangoes and other perishable food items to Iran.
The development comes despite a surge in COVID-19 deaths, as Pakistan reported 118 more deaths from the coronavirus Thursday.
It brought coronavirus-related fatalities to 3,093 and overall infections to 160,118.
KEY WEST, Fla. – Commissioners in Monroe County, in the Florida Keys, have voted to make facial coverings mandatory, effective immediately, to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
An ordinance now requires facial covering over the nose and mouth for all employees and customers in business and other public places where there is a roof overhead. Patrons in restaurants and bars are permitted to remove their masks to eat and drink.
Commissioners recommend that anyone 6 and older should carry a mask when they leave home, and to wear it â€œwhenever they come within six feet of another person.â€
The order applies to throughout the county and the city of Key West. Other municipalities may adopt ordinances with different requirements.
Violation of the mask order is punishable by fines, but not jail time, the commission said in a news release.
DAVIE, Fla. – A Jewish community center in South Florida closed its preschool camp after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
The child of one of the staff members also tested positive, Scott Ehrlich, CEO of the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie told news outlets.
The preschool was closed from mid-March until June 1, when it reopened with daily cleanings. After the school year ended on June 12, the preschool camp opened Monday with 80 campers, ages three months to 5.
â€œWe didnâ€™t have to close the entire preschool, but we said letâ€™s do it and get it done and then reopen in a reasonable amount of time,â€ Ehrlich told the Miami Herald.
A reopening plan will be developed and the entire school building will be cleaned and disinfected, he said.
BANGKOK- Dozens of people have gathered outside the prime ministerâ€™s office complex in Thailand to demand that the government scrap an emergency decree it enacted in March to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The protesters believe Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ochaâ€™s government no longer needs emergency powers to control the coronavirus, and instead is using them to harass its political opponents. Authoritarian leaders using the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to increase their power and quash dissent have become a concern in several countries, most notably in Hungary in Europe and the Philippines in Southeast Asia.
LONDON – Britainâ€™s government is scrapping its existing coronavirus tracing smartphone app and switching to a model based on technology supplied by Apple and Google, the BBC reports.
The governmentâ€™s app is being trialled on the Isle of Wight, and was expected to be rolled out in the rest of the country later. But the program, previously hailed as a fundamental pillar of the U.K. response to the pandemic, has been delayed.
On Wednesday, the official responsible for the app said it may not be ready until the winter and that it is not the â€œpriorityâ€ at the moment.
The data gathered by the Apple-Google design is expected to be less centralized but it is said to have less privacy concerns than the government version.
The government was to brief reporters later Thursday about the next stage of development in the contact tracing app.