The Latest: Detroit students test positive at summer school

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DETROIT – At least two Detroit students attending summer school have tested positive for the coronavirus after a judge ordered tests as a condition for attendance in the voluntary classes.

The students were told to self-quarantine with their families, The Detroit News reported Friday.

More than 250 students have been tested since U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow’s order Tuesday. The Detroit district has said more than 600 students have been attending in-person classes since July 13. There’s also an online option.

The testing order followed a lawsuit by activists who are opposed to in-person instruction. The district requires students and staff to wear masks and the number of students in classrooms is limited.

In-person instruction across Michigan was halted in March. Detroit is one of the few districts to reopen classrooms for the summer if families choose to send their kids.

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

– Dr. Birx says slow virus surge in south so it doesn’t head to northern states

– Britain PM Boris Johnson dismisses anti-vaxxers as ‘nuts’

– The global march of face masks: A mirror on humanity

– Nearly half of Americans whose families experienced a layoff during the coronavirus pandemic now believe those jobs are lost. That’s according to a new poll from The Associated Press- NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

– China’s ruling Communist Party says a former chairman of a state-owned real estate company who publicly criticized President Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been expelled from the party and will be prosecuted on corruption charges.

– Even before the coronavirus hit, Argentina’s health care workers were struggling, most of them working more than 12 hours a day at multiple jobs to make ends meet amid economic inflation.

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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:

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota has used a part of federal coronavirus relief funds for law enforcement.

So far, the state has used $4.5 million to pay salaries and benefits in the Department of Public Safety, which mostly went to highway patrol officers.

The money sent by Congress was part of a $2.2 trillion relief package to various states. But the funds came with the stipulation they be used to address the pandemic and unused funds would be returned at the end of the year.

The decision of Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration to use the money to pay salaries for law enforcement officers drew questions this week from legislators on a committee auditing the budget. They wondered what portion of police officers’ salaries should be justified as addressing the pandemic.

Treasury guidance on using the funding says, “payroll costs for public health and public safety employees are payments for services substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

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KENAI, Alaska – Nearly 100 workers at a seafood processing plant in Seward, Alaska, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Peninsula Clarion reports they’ve been taken to Anchorage to quarantine. It says the outbreak was identified after an employee at OBI Seafoods tested positive last Sunday. All 262 employees at the plant were tested after and the tests revealed that 96 of them were infected with the coronavirus.

The news came three days after officials say 85 crew members aboard a factory fishing vessel docked in the Aleutian Islands tested positive. OBI Seafoods ordered employees living in company housing not to leave company property.

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LISBON, Portugal – Portuguese authorities are expressing dismay at the British government’s decision to keep Portugal off its list of countries from where people are not required to quarantine after arriving.

The Portuguese Foreign Ministry says in a tweet that Friday’s decision “is not consistent with reality and facts.” It had previously described the British policy on Portugal as “absurd.”

The British move is economically painful for Portugal. Especially its southern Algarve region, which usually draws more than 2 million British tourists to its beaches each year. The Algarve has officially recorded only 817 cases and 15 confirmed deaths since the coronavirus outbreak.

In recent weeks, Portugal has recorded spikes of around 300 new cases a day, most of them around the capital Lisbon.

A country of around 10.4 million people, Portugal has reported nearly 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 1,700 confirmed deaths.

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ROME – Italy’s daily number of new cases ebbed on Friday, a day after that figure had surpassed 300 infections for the first time since mid-June.

According to Health Ministry figures, 252 confirmed coronavirus infections have been registered since Thursday evening. That raises the confirmed cases in Italy to 245,590.

Most of the new cases reflected in recent daily upticks have been traced to international workers arriving in Italy for seasonal work or to migrants rescued at sea and brought to the Italian mainland.

Recently, there’s been some clusters of coroavirus cases among Italian vacationers, prompting authorities to remind them to wear masks outdoors if they can’t safely distance.

There were five deaths confirmed Friday, bringing the known death toll in Italy to 35,097.

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WASHINGTON – White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx says recent surges in cases in the southern U.S. could make their way north.

Birx told NBC’s “Today” show: “We have to change our behavior now before this virus completely moves back up through the north.”

The densely packed New York metropolitan area had been the hardest-hit section of the country, but the daily number of cases and deaths declined after a strict lockdown. The number of cases has been growing in southern states, including South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, where hospital officials say they desperately need medication to treat the patients filling up beds.

Birx says it’s difficult for people to understand “how deeply you have to clamp down” with social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing and avoiding crowds to stem the spread of the deadly virus. Birx says that’s why health professionals have “called out the next set of cities” where they see early warning signs. If those cities make changes now, they “won’t become a Phoenix.”

In a stretch of 10 days last month, Arizona health officials reported on seven occasions more than 3,000 daily cases.

Arizona’s Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, has more than 100,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,600 deaths.

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BERLIN – German authorities plan to set up testing stations at airports to prod people arriving from high-risk countries to get tested for the coronavirus.

They also will allow people arriving to get tested elsewhere for free within three days.

The decision by the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states came amid mounting concern that people could bring back the virus from their summer vacations. There also is concern that not everyone returning from a long list of countries designated as high-risk will self-quarantine for 14 days unless they test negative.

Berlin’s state health minister Dilek Kalayci says “in the end we want to call on all people returning to Germany to get tested.”

Kalayci says authorities intend to reintroduce “disemarbarkation cards” for people arriving by air and also for people arriving by ship or cross-border train or bus. The aim is to conduct spot checks on new arrivals to ensure rules are upheld on arrivals from high-risk areas.

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Green Bay, Wis. – Green Bay police are investigating threats made against city officials over a new mandate requiring face coverings in public buildings because of the coronavirus.

Alderman Randy Scannell, who first proposed the mask ordinance, says one email calls him a traitor and the sender would make sure Scannell would die. He says it appears multiple people are sending threatening emails to council members and city officials, including the mayor.

Police Chief Andrew Smith says all 12 council members, regardless of how they voted on the ordinance, received at least one of the threats. Smith emailed all city officials, telling them to be vigilant, WLUK-TV reported.

The council spent close to six hours taking public comments and deliberating the ordinance before it passed 7-5 on Tuesday night.

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MOSCOW – Russia will resume international flights with three countries starting Aug. 1, the government announced Friday.

Air traffic will resume with Britain, Turkey and Tanzania, and Russia is working to expand the list, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova. Flights will resume in airports in Moscow, the surrounding Moscow region, St. Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russian.

Russia halted all international flights and shut down its borders in late March to help stem the coronavirus outbreak. Russian authorities started easing restrictions in May.

Health officials have reported more than 800,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 13,046 deaths in the country.

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LONDON – U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dismissed campaigners seeking to oppose vaccinations, describing so-called anti-vaxxers as “nuts.’’

Johnson asked staff at a London medical center what they thought of anti-vaxxers while adding, “There’s all these anti-vaxxers now. They are nuts, they are nuts.”

Johnson was touring the east London center to promote a campaign for flu vaccinations ahead of winter.

The anti-vaccination movement was fueled by a now-discredited article in the medical journal Lancet by Andrew Wakefield, which alleged the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was linked to autism. The article was later retracted and Wakefield lost his medical license.

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MADRID – Spain’s farm minister says authorities are pressing agricultural employers to provide decent accommodation and transport for seasonal migrant workers, amid fears that poor living conditions are creating coronavirus hot spots.

Farm Minister Luis Planas says “infections in rural areas don’t happen on farms or in fields, they happen in transport and accommodation.”

He said that, as in Germany and France, officials are concerned the movement of tens of thousands seasonal workers spreads COVID-19. He adds in an interview with Cadena Ser radio that employers must provide “dignified living conditions.”

Spain’s Health Ministry reported Thursday 971 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours – the country’s biggest daily increase since a lockdown ended.

Planas’ comments came on the same day that a United Nations report demanded that Spain improve the “deplorable” living conditions some of its seasonal workers endure.

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BRUSSELS – Belgian health authorities say a 3-year old girl has died after testing positive for the coronavirus amid a surge of infections in the country.

The announcement Friday came a day after Belgium decided to reinforce restriction measures to slow the spread of the virus, including mandatory masks in crowded outdoor public spaces.

The girl suffered from several severe associated diseases, according to a statement released by health authorities. She is believed to be the youngest person to die from COVID-19 complications in Belgium after a 12-year-old passed away in March.

Belgium has reported 64,847 confirmed cases and 9,812 deaths.

The average infection rate has largely increased over the past two weeks and the number of new infections went up 89% from the previous week from July 14-20.

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BERLIN – The company that runs a German slaughterhouse at the center of a major outbreak last month says 30 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus in new tests – but most of them were old cases.

Authorities have linked more than 2,000 cases to the outbreak at the Toennies slaughterhouse in the western town of Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, which led last month to a partial lockdown of the surrounding area. Those restrictions have since been lifted and the facility has reopened after a four-week closure.

Toennies spokesman Andre Vierstaedte says the 30 employees, along with all other workers, were tested on their return to work and sent into quarantine once the results arrived.

The company says in most cases the employees had previously tested positive for the coronavirus and it was still detectable, news agency dpa reported. In the case of eight employees, it had yet to be determined whether or not they had previously been infected.

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LONDON – The chief scientist at the World Health Organization estimates that about 50% to 60% of the population will need to be immune to the coronavirus for there to be any protective “herd immunity” effect.

Herd immunity is usually achieved through vaccination and occurs when most of a population is immune to a disease, blocking its continued spread.

During a social media event on Friday, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said that studies done from some countries hit hard by COVID-19 show about 5% to 10% of people now have antibodies, though in some countries, it has been as high as 20%.

She says: “As there are waves of this infection going through countries, people are going to develop antibodies and those people will hopefully be immune for sometime so they will also act as barriers and brakes to the spread.”

Other experts have estimated that as much as 70% to 80% of the population need to have antibodies before there is any herd immunity effect.

In the pandemic’s earlier stages, countries including Britain proposed achieving herd immunity as an outbreak response strategy. But Swaminathan pointed out that achieving this effect with a vaccine is much safer than letting the virus rip through the population.

She says that to achieve herd immunity through natural infection, you need to have several waves and you will see the morbidity and mortality that we see now.

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LONDON – New rules on wearing masks in England have come into force, with people going to shops, banks and supermarkets now required to wear face coverings.

Police can hand out fines of 100 pounds ($127) if people refuse, but authorities are hoping that peer pressure will prompt compliance.

The move had been controversial, with the government offering mixed signals on the matter for weeks before coming up with a policy.

Guidance was issued Thursday, which says people should “assume” it is standard to wear a face covering when visiting a hospital, care home or community health care setting.

The are some exceptions to the new rules, with venues like restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers exempt. Other exemptions to face coverings include children under 11, people with breathing problems and people who can’t wear a mask because of a disability.

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BERLIN – The German government says a new update to the country’s coronavirus tracing app has addressed a problem on many smartphones that reportedly resulted in some users receiving infection warnings late or not at all.

Germany’s Corona-Warn-App has been downloaded more than 15.5 million times since its launch last month. If someone using it tests positive for COVID-19, they can inform others who were in close proximity for at least 15 minutes that they, too, might be infected.

On Thursday evening, the Bild newspaper reported that automatic warning notifications didn’t work properly on some Android phones in the first five weeks because the app’s background update function switched off automatically to save power when the app wasn’t open.

The Health Ministry says the latest version of the app allows users to more easily activate the background update function.

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Michael Curtis gets help putting on his mask from his father Richard Curtis before entering Alcoa Elementary School Wednesday morning, July 22,2020 in Alcoa Tenn. (Scott Keller/The Daily Times via AP)
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