WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is casting wide blame for a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases, pointing to racial justice protests, travelers from Mexico and young bar-goers.
Holding his second briefing on the virus in as many days after a three-month hiatus, Trump sought on Wednesday to explain the rise in confirmed cases across the nationâ€™s South, Southwest and West.
Trump says cases among young Americans first started to rise â€œshortly after demonstrations.â€ He says the protests following the death of George Floyd â€œpresumably triggered a broader relaxation of mitigation efforts nationwide.â€
He also says a â€œsubstantial increase in travelâ€ around Memorial Day and summer vacations was also a driver of new cases.
Further, he says, â€œYoung people closely congregating at bars and probably other places, maybe beaches,â€ likely also led to new cases.
Trump also blames travelers crossing the U.S.-Mexico border for spikes, saying cases in Mexico are surging.
HEREâ€™S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
– Florida adds nearly 10,000 new coronavirus cases
– Brazil president still tests positive for virus
– Study: Nearly half of Spaniards gained weight during lockdown
– Californiaâ€™s confirmed coronavirus cases have topped 409,000, surpassing New York for most in the nation. However, California has nearly 8,000 deaths compared to New Yorkâ€™s 32,000.
– The mayor of Washington, D.C., will issue an executive order making face masks mandatory outside the home. Mayor Muriel Bowser says the order will include possible fines for violations.
– A new poll finds very few Americans think schools should return to normal operations this fall, even as President Donald Trump pushes for a full reopening. The poll is from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs.
Follow APâ€™s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HEREâ€™S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump says his administration is providing an additional $5 billion to nursing homes, which have borne a disproportionate share of the death toll in the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump made the announcement Wednesday at the White House. He said the money is in addition to other actions, such as a push to facilitate testing of nursing home staff and a commitment to share inspection data on low performing nursing homes with state authorities.
The White House move follows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Bidenâ€™s recent unveiling of a family caregiver plan that aims to greatly expand and subsidize alternatives to institutional care for frail older adults.
Both men are retooling their messages to seniors against a backdrop of eroding political support for Trump among older Americans.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio, Indiana and Minnesota are the latest states to require residents statewide to wear masks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order Wednesday requiring Minnesotans to wear a face covering in indoor businesses and indoor public settings. The order takes effect Saturday.
Indiana will have a statewide face mask mandate starting Monday, Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday. The order will apply to anyone ages 8 and older in any indoor public or business areas and at outdoor public spaces when sufficient distancing canâ€™t be maintained.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the stateâ€™s mask requirement will be expanded statewide. It goes into effect Thursday evening for people 10 and older. He had resisted making the order statewide but said more counties are seeing increasing numbers.
In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown announced she is expanding the stateâ€™s mask order to also apply to children 5 years and older. She also decreased the capacity for bars, restaurants, churches and other indoor places from 250 people to 100. The new mandates go into effect Friday. Currently anyone who is 12 years or older must wear masks
â€œWhen we see the numbers rise, we must respond,â€ Brown said.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday she will issue an executive order making face masks mandatory outside homes – an unprecedented step in the nationâ€™s capital.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomaâ€™s largest public school district will delay the start of its school year by three weeks and have online learning until at least November.
The Board of Education for Oklahoma City Public Schools voted to delay the start of the school year from Aug. 10 to Aug. 31.
Superintendent Sean McDaniel says, â€œThe best education is when we have teachers and students face to face and we want to get there as quickly as we can. But we want to be safe and thoughtful about it.â€
McDaniel says a recent study revealed nearly 30% of the districtâ€™s 45,000 students were without either internet or computer access. But the district has used federal coronavirus relief funds to purchase 1,500 internet hot spots and will distribute computers to all students.
TOPEKA, Kan. – Local school boards in Kansas will be able to reopen schools in mid-August if they want to, despite a surge in coronavirus cases in the state.
The Republican-controlled State Board of Education rejected Democratic Gov. Laura Kellyâ€™s plan to postpone the start of classes for three weeks until after Labor Day.
The 10-member elected boardâ€™s action leaves decisions about when to reopen to the stateâ€™s 286 local school boards. The GOP has an 8-2 majority on the board, and five Republicans voted against Kellyâ€™s proposal, saying conditions with the virus differ across the state.
LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas area schools wonâ€™t resume classroom instruction when the semester starts next month.
Clark County school trustees cited concerns of spreading the coronavirus and unanimously decided to begin the school year using online education.
The vote came despite concerns about a shortage of laptops, lack of internet access for some students and the possibility of losing federal funds if schools donâ€™t open.
District administrators considered two days of classroom attendance and three days of online instruction each week. But the superintendent says keeping the more than 350 schools closed a matter of health and safety.
The schools chief in Seattle also has rejected returning students to the classroom.
Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau announced Wednesday that sheâ€™s recommending a fully remote learning model when school resumes in the fall. The school board is expected to vote on how to proceed at its next scheduled board meeting next month.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University will reserve one dorm for students who test positive for the coronavirus.
Students who test positive can move to Akers Hall or return home. The dorm can hold roughly 500 people, according to Kat Cooper, spokeswoman for Residential and Hospitality Services.
Students, staff and visitors are required to wear masks on campus and maintain social distance.
The fall term starts Sept. 2.
SANTIAGO, Chile – Chileâ€™s government is letting its elderly out of the house after a four-month ban on people 75 and older in public.
The government says the elderly will be allowed to leave their homes just for an hour three times a week.
The age-based restriction was one of the strictest, though itâ€™s not clear how much it helped. The South American nationâ€™s hospital critical care units remain 82 percent occupied.
The country of 19 million has recorded 336,000 confirmed infections of the coronavirus and 8,700 deaths.
GENEVA – The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization says many people who develop moderate illness from COVID-19 face long-term health issues.
Dr. Michael Ryan says an inflammatory process in air sacs and small blood vessels during coronavirus infection can cause the lungs to take a long time to regain normal function, along with the cardiovascular system.
Fatigue, lower exercise tolerance and lower lung function, including in otherwise healthy young people, can result and take months to fully recover.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida added 9,785 new confirmed cases Wednesday, bringing the total since March 1 to nearly 380,000.
Florida recorded another 136 deaths, bringing Floridaâ€™s daily average for the past week to 115. A month ago, Florida was averaging 33 deaths a day.
The percentage of positive tests has remained at about 18% the last two weeks, quadruple about 4% in June.
HARRISBURG, Pa. – A Pennsylvania county sued Wednesday to compel Gov. Tom Wolf to release nearly $13 million in federal coronavirus relief funding withheld after county leaders defied his shutdown orders.
Wolf withheld $12.8 million in funding from Lebanon County, where local Republican leaders voted in mid-May to lift pandemic restrictions in defiance of the Democratic governor. Wolfâ€™s decision left Lebanon as the only Pennsylvania county to have been cut off from the $625 million in federal funds distributed by the state.
The lawsuit, filed in Commonwealth Court, cast the county Board of Commissionersâ€™ vote as merely symbolic. The suit said Wolf had no legal right to withhold the money, accusing him of a â€œgross abuse of powerâ€ and acting like a â€œde facto King.â€
Wolf addressed his decision to withhold the money at a news conference last week, saying Lebanon County had to pay a price for its recalcitrance.
MADRID – Authorities in northern Spain are tightening restrictions in a neighborhood in the city of Pamplona because of a coronavirus outbreak among young people.
Spain reported 731 confirmed new cases over the last 24 hours on Wednesday, up from 529 the day before.
The regional government of Navarra announced it will reintroduce limitations on occupancy for restaurants, shops and places of worship to 50% for the neighborhood of Mendillorri in Pamplona.
The neighborhood has 122 virus cases, says regional health chief Santos IndurÃ¡in. This month, Pamplona cancelled its famous running-of-the bulls festivities to try to limit infections.
IndurÃ¡in says authorities are ordering tests for more than 2,000 youths, saying people age 17 to 28 make up for 93% of the infections.
KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian authorities are extending coronavirus restrictions until Aug. 31, after reports of more than 800 new infections a day.
Ukraineâ€™s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says keeping restrictions in place will allow the government to control the spread. Ukraine imposed a tight lockdown in March, when it only had a few cases. Now total cases exceed 60,000.
Several restrictions have been significantly eased in mid-May, and regional governments could decide which restrictions to keep. Wearing a mask in public places and keeping 1.5 meters of social distance remains a requirement for all regions.
Travelers from other countries must quarantine for two weeks or take a virus test.
BRASILIA, Brazil – Brazilâ€™s government says President Jair Bolsonaro is still testing positive for the coronavirus following his July 7 announcement.
The positive test Tuesday came after a follow-up check on July 15. The government says he remains in good health.
The World Health Organization says the median time from onset to recovery for mild cases is approximately two weeks.
The government say Bolsonaro will keep holding videoconferences instead of face-to-face meetings. He had to cancel a trip to northeastern Brazil. At least four members of Bolsonaroâ€™s Cabinet have been diagnosed with coronavirus.
MADRID – Frequent snacking and a lack of exercise during over two months of mandatory home confinement has taken a toll on Spaniardsâ€™ waistline.
A survey by Spainâ€™s Obesity Society says 44% of Spaniards gained weight during the spring mandatory order to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Of those, 73% added between 1 to 3 kilograms (2.2 to 6.6 pounds).
The study suggests anxiety and boredom led to more alcohol consumption and frequent trips to the pantry for sugar-heavy snacks. The difficulty of exercising while at home contributed to the weight gain.
More than half of the respondents say they exercised less than before mid-March, when Spain enacted a strict lockdown to fight the pandemic. One third of the 1,000 surveyed by telephone say they spent an average of 5 hours per day watching television.
Spain has reported more than 28,400 deaths from the virus.
BUCHAREST, Romania – Romania has confirmed more than 1,000 new daily cases of the coronavirus for the first time.
The 1,030 new confirmed cases and 27 deaths raises the totals to 40,163 confirmed cases and 2,101 deaths.
The village of Cartojani, outside of the capital of Bucharest, will be quarantined for two weeks starting Wednesday after 32 people were infected with the coronavirus. They reportedly took part in a private event on the coast of the Black Sea.
According to new regulations, quarantines can be imposed on locations were the number of confirmed cases is above 3 per 1,000 residents and no other measures are deemed capable of containing the spread of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced Tuesday that 954 locations had at least one COVID-19 case in the past two weeks, up from around 350 places in early June.