The Latest: Atlanta mayor wants to keep mask requirement


ATLANTA – Mayors in Atlanta and other Georgia cities want their requirements for wearing masks in public to remain in place, despite Gov. Brian Kemp forbidding cities and counties from mandating masks.

Statements by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and others Thursday deepened their defiance of the Republican governor. Officials in at least 15 Georgia cities and counties had ordered masks in public, with many angry with Kemp for sending a different message.

Kemp is encouraging people to wear masks, but declines to make it mandatory, unlike governors in 25 other states.

The governor has maintained for weeks that cities and counties don’t have the power to require masks in public, saying no local order can be more or less restrictive than his statewide mandates.

He made that prohibition explicit Wednesday, saying local governments couldn’t order masks in their own areas, including Atlanta’s airport. President Donald Trump was in Atlanta on Wednesday, talking about infrastructure repairs at airports.



– Atlanta mayor wants to keep mask requirement

– Florida reports nearly 14,000 new virus cases

– Online classes only this fall in Richmond, Va.

– House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump is like “the man who refuses to ask for directions.” She’s asking for a course correction as coronavirus cases and deaths increase across the country.

– New York City won’t open malls and museums Monday even if the city moves into Phase 4. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo promises more crackdowns on bars and restaurants.

– California’s order to close the doors of hair salons to help slow the rise of coronavirus cases threatens their survival after months of mounting bills, owners say.


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CHICAGO – The union representing thousands of Chicago teachers wants the nation’s third-largest school district to begin the fall semester with online classes.

Chicago Public Schools officials plan to release a framework this week and get feedback before making a final decision closer to the start of the school year. Leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union say there is no way to ensure the safety of students and teachers in school buildings this fall.

They also want charter schools to start the year online.


JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has surpassed Mexico and Chile with its number of confirmed coronavirus cases and now has the world’s sixth-highest caseload.

That’s according to the health ministry and data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. South Africa’s 324,221 confirmed cases are more than half of those across the African continent.

The country’s health ministry says 4,669 people have died. South Africa’s Gauteng province, home of Johannesburg and the capital of Pretoria, has become the epicenter of the pandemic in Africa with more than 117,000 confirmed cases.

One-quarter of the country’s population lives in Gauteng, with many people living in densely populated areas. Bandile Masuku, the province’s top health official, says the crisis could “expose the gaps” in the health care system.


GLEN JEAN, W.Va. – The Boy Scouts of America have postponed next year’s National Jamboree in West Virginia, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The increasing number of cases and the pandemic’s persistence and unpredictability made it impossible for the Boy Scouts to comply with its “Be Prepared” motto, according to an announcement on the organization’s website.

The quadrennial Jamboree had been scheduled for July 21-30, 2021 at the Scout’s Summit Bechtel site.

Nearly 40,000 scouts attended the 2017 event, and President Donald Trump gave a controversial speech there.

“Planning, preparations and decisions regarding National Jamborees take place months, and even years, in advance,” the Scouts said. “Given the current situation and the uncertain nature of future conditions, we determined we could not prepare in a manner that would provide the safest possible environment for all those involved.”


MADRID – Spain has recorded 580 coronavirus infections, the highest daily increase in nearly two months.

Some counties and cities are under new restrictions and officials are urging the mandatory use of masks.

The daily infection figure Thursday is up from 390 infections reported the previous day. Spain has currently 158 active outbreaks, according to Spain’s health emergency coordination center director Fernando Simón.

The northeastern powerhouse of Barcelona is where most of Catalonia’s new 1,300 infections have been identified according to the region’s health department.

By Thursday, 12 of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions had approved mandatory use of masks outdoors and regardless of whether social distancing of 1.5 meters (5 feet) can be maintained.

Since the start of the pandemic, at least 258,000 people have tested positive and 28,416 have died.


LONDON – British authorities say the city of Leicester will remain under local lockdown for at least two more weeks because coronavirus infection rates remain much higher than in the rest of the country.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says schools and some non-essential shops can open. But restrictions remain on social gatherings, the closure of pubs, cafes and restaurants and a ban on leisure travel.

The city of 330,000 in central England was placed into lockdown two weeks ago when infection rate hit 135 cases per 100,000 people, three times the next-highest part of the country.

Hancock says the rate had fallen to 119 cases per 100,000, but “there is still a lot to do” and thanked people for their “perseverance” in staying locked down.

Leicester Mayor Peter Soulsby has urged the government to lift the lockdown for much of Leicester, saying postcode data shows infections are concentrated in inner-city areas or 10% of the city.


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Florida announced a single-day record of 156 deaths from the coronavirus.

The state Department of Health reported 13,965 new coronavirus cases in Florida, bringing the total throughout the pandemic to nearly 316,000.

The 156 deaths statewide eclipsed the previous record set Tuesday of 132 deaths.

The U.S. Department of Labor also reported a surge in first-time filings for unemployment benefits in Florida. In the week ending July 11, there were 129,408 new filings, an increase of more than 62,000 from the previous week.


JAKARTA, Indonesia – Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan says the government will extend the large-scale social restrictions for the coronavirus because of an increase in hospitalizations.

“It will be very risky if we loosen the first phase of large-scale social restrictions to the second phase,” Baswedan said.

Baswedan says the local government is postponing the opening of some public spaces in Jakarta, including movie theaters and other indoor entertainment centers expected to open later this month. He’ll wait until “the data shows a better trend.”

The local government imposed large-scale social restrictions in Indonesia’s capital city on April 10, lifting some restrictions on June 10.

In Jakarta, there were 713 confirmed deaths and a total of 15,636 cases reported on Thursday. The Indonesian government announced 1,574 new cases in Indonesia, bringing the total to 81,668.

The National Task Force for COVID-19 Mitigation reported 76 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the confirmed total death toll to 3,873.


BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbia’s prime minister says the coronavirus spike was caused by large protests about the government’s handling of the crisis.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic says the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country “is a direct consequence of the protest gatherings.” However, she provided no numbers for the capital of Belgrade or other Serbian cities where sometimes violent protests erupted more than a week ago.

The protests initially started July 7 when Serbia’s president announced Belgrade would be placed under a three-day lockdown following a second wave of confirmed coronavirus infections.

The demonstrations continued despite President Aleksandar Vucic suspending his plan to enforce the lockdown. Instead, the government banned gatherings of more than 10 people and required masks indoors.

Brnabic says Serbia has reported 383 new cases and 13 confirmed deaths in the past 24 hours. The national total is more than 19,700 cases and 442 deaths since the start of the pandemic.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Dutch government aims to introduce a coronavirus tracking app nationwide on Sept. 1 to help rein in the spread of the virus.

Health Minister Hugo de Jonge says the app will roll out across the country once final security tests are completed and only if the country’s privacy watchdog gives its approval.

De Jonge says the app will help officials “get a grip on the virus and prevent infections” and “the more people who download the app, the better.”

Use of the app is voluntary and the government says it doesn’t store information about users or their locations. It’s intended to bolster efforts by local health authorities to track and isolate people who were in contact with people known to be infected.


BERLIN – German officials say local travel bans could be used to curb coronavirus outbreaks, though on a smaller and more targeted scale.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff Helge Braun said earlier this week the government was considering limiting travel in and out of areas that have a sudden, unexplained surge in COVID-19 cases. Officials in various states objected to the idea of quarantining entire counties. Talks over the past two days led to a more precise solution.

Braun and his counterparts in Germany’s 16 states agreed Thursday that travel restrictions could be used if infections rise locally. A statement notes “these measures should be imposed in a targeted way and do not have to concern the whole county or the whole city.”


JOHANNESBURG – Central African Republic’s health minister is blasting the “big inequality crisis” in coronavirus testing.

Pierre Somse told a World Health Organization briefing “we are in a scarcity, a misery of tests.” He says his country of more than 4 million people is still waiting for testing supplies ordered via the WHO.

He called for more than just talk about global solidarity in the pandemic, especially for “small and fragile” states.

He notes rich countries like Britain conduct thousands of tests daily while his country struggles to obtain supplies for a few hundred.

Central African Republic has more than 4,300 confirmed virus cases but the true number is unknown. Somse says, “it’s hiding a major health problem because we cannot have the real situation.”

He says without donations of testing materials from the Chinese, “we could not have done nothing, nothing at all.”


STOCKHOLM — Swedish prime minister defended the country not shutting down and less stringent methods for handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven stressed in an interview with the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet the key issue for the government during the crisis has been securing the functions vital to the Swedish society while “we try to limit the infection as much as possible.”

“It is a matter of protecting life, protecting health,” says Lofven, adding his government has worked hard to minimize the impact of the virus while noting there have been problems caring for the elderly.

On Thursday, there were 21 reported virus deaths in the past day. The total confirmed deaths in Sweden stands at 5,593 with 76,877 confirmed cases.


MADRID – Authorities in northern Spain are ordering the culling of more than 90,000 mink from a farm after about 90 animals were positive for the coronavirus in four waves of testing.

The Aragon regional government says it must take the “drastic” measure of ordering 92,700 mink culled in accordance with national animal health laws.

The farm in Teruel province’s La Puebla de Valverde has been under isolation since May 22 after seven workers tested positive.

The region’s chief of agriculture and environment, Joaquín Olona, says there is no evidence of whether the virus was transmitted from the workers to the animals or the other way around.

“We are absolutely certain that the virus is present in these animals and community transmission between animals is taking place,” Olona said, according to Spanish private news agency Europa Press. He adds the goal of the culling was to avoid “risks to public health.”


RICHMOND, Va. – Public schools in Richmond will hold only online classes this fall for all grade levels because of the coronavirus.

The Richmond School Board voted 8-1 Tuesday to go virtual after Superintendent Jason Kamras offered five plans, including hybrid lessons and allowing certain students and grades to return to classrooms.

Kamras says the online instruction will be broken down into live-teaching and playlist-teaching, where students could watch and respond to video lessons.

Teachers and staff will get additional training on how to work in a virtual environment. The district also plans to buy more laptops.


FILE – In this July 17, 2019, file photo, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks during a Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis on Capitol Hill in Washington. Bottoms announced Monday, July 6, 2020, that she had tested positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)