The latest on the coronavirus pandemic from around the U.S. and the world.

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is considering national restrictions to cope with a resurgence of coronavirus infections that has seen nine straight days of triple-digit increases in newly confirmed cases.

The 332 new cases reported Saturday was the second consecutive day surpassing 300.

At a briefing, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the government is considering expanding to the whole country shutdown measures that have been implemented in the greater Seoul region, which is where the resurgence began.

Churches were shut in the capital this week, and social distancing restrictions have been toughened. Nightclubs, karaoke bars, buffet restaurants and computer gaming cafes in the Seoul area have also closed, and spectators are again banned from baseball and soccer games.

Biden says he’d close country if experts said to

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he would do whatever was needed to keep the country safe amid the coronavirus pandemic even if that meant shutting down the country.

Biden made the comment in an interview with ABC. The interview airs Sunday night, but clips were provided Friday.

Biden says, “I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus.” He adds that if scientists recommended shutting down the country, “I would shut it down.”

President Trump is encouraging schools to reopen and people to get back to work. The U.S. has had more than 5.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 175,000 deaths.

Connecticut doubling federal rental assistance money

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut is doubling the amount of federal coronavirus money dedicated to rental assistance.

But housing advocates contend it falls far short of what is needed to help as many as 130,000 households estimated to face possible eviction between now and Dec. 31 because of the pandemic. In comparison, there were about 20,000 eviction filings in all of 2019.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Friday that $10 million will be added to the original $10 million for the rent program. His office says the amount that can go to the rent program is limited by Congress.

Lamont said he also will soon sign an executive order extending the moratorium on residential evictions until Oct. 1.

Washington governor asks Canada to help with U.S. residents on peninsula

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is asking Canada for help with U.S. residents of a small peninsula who have been marooned by the pandemic-related closure of the U.S.-Canada border.

Point Roberts is part of Washington state, but it juts out from the Canadian mainland south of Vancouver and is not connected to the rest of Washington. About 1,300 people live there.

In a letter Friday to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Inslee suggests that residents of Point Roberts be given special travel permits allowing them to drive directly to and from the Washington state mainland.

FBI investigates COVID-19 data breach in South Dakota

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The FBI is investigating a data breach that may have compromised the identity of people with the COVID-19 virus in South Dakota.

Paul Niedringhaus, who directs the South Dakota Fusion Center that handles emergency calls, sent a letter to people who may have been affected by the June 19 breach, the Rapid City Journal reported Friday.

The letter, dated Monday, says the state’s fusion center used Netsential.com’s services to build a secure online portal this spring to help first responders identify people who had tested positive for the coronavirus so they could take precautions while responding to emergency calls.

The South Dakota letter said police in the state weren’t given names but could call a dispatcher to verify positive cases. Houston-based Netsential added labels to the files that might allow a third-party to identify patients, the letter said, and the breach could have compromised people’s names, addresses and virus status.

“This information may continue to be available on various internet sites that link to files from the Netsential breach,” the letter said.

Netsential hosted the websites of more than 200 U.S., law enforcement agencies, most of them fusion centers like the South Dakota one affected. The company confirmed in June that its server had been breached.

The server was the source for a trove of files, dubbed BlueLeaks, that were shared online by a transparency collective called DDoSecrets. The collective said it had obtained them from a hacker who said they were sympathetic to anti-racism protesters.

South Dakota Department of Public Safety spokesman Tony Mangan confirmed to the Associated Press in a short telephone interview that the FBI was investigating but had no further comment. A message left Friday at the FBI’s Minneapolis office wasn’t immediately returned.

The letter from the state agency said the files didn’t include any financial information, Social Security numbers or passwords.

Public officials in at least two-thirds of states share addresses of people who have tested positive with first responders, including police, firefighters and EMTs. An Associated Press review in May found at least 10 states also share patients’ names.

Some states erase the information after a certain period. Still, civil liberties groups have warned that sharing such information could lead to racial profiling of Blacks and Hispanics or help immigration officials track people down.

WHO chief hopes world can end pandemic in less than 2 years

LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization says he hopes the world can end the coronavirus pandemic in less than two years — less time than it took for the 1918 flu pandemic to be stopped.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described COVID-19 as a “once-in-a-century health crisis” and says while globalization had allowed the virus to spread quicker than the flu did in 1918, there was also now the technology to stop it that hadn’t been available a century ago.

“We hope to finish this pandemic (in) less than two years, especially if we can pool our efforts,” he said Friday.

WHO’s emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan noted the 1918 pandemic hit the globe in three distinct waves and that the second wave, which started during the fall of 1918, was the most devastating.

“This virus is not displaying a similar wave-like pattern,” he said. “When the virus is not under control, it jumps straight back up.” Ryan adds while pandemic viruses often settle into a seasonal pattern, that didn’t appear to be the case for the coronavirus.

Currently, there are more than 22 million confirmed global cases and more than 795,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The United States leads the world with 5.6 million confirmed cases and more than 174,000 deaths.

Arizona reports 20 percent increase in deaths this year

PHOENIX — Arizona has reported a 20% increase in deaths in the first seven months of this year.

Public health experts say not all have been directly linked to the coronavirus. They say possible explanations include overdoses and suicides by those struggling with isolation or unemployment during the pandemic.

Other possibilities are patients succumbing to chronic diseases after postponing hospital visits because of fears about contracting the virus there. Or deaths from Arizona’s regular flu season in October to April.

A more complete understanding is expected after health officials review death certificates.

Syracuse students suspended in latest crackdown by colleges

Syracuse University has suspended 23 students following a large on-campus gathering, the latest example of college crackdowns on the kind of socializing that can spread the coronavirus and sink plans for in-person learning this semester.

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Students gather on the Syracuse University campus on Wednesday, in Syracuse, NY. Syracuse University has issued suspensions to 23 students in the wake of the large on-campus gathering that administrators say could force them to shut down campus. Walter Freeman via Associated Press

Syracuse officials announced the disciplinary action late Thursday and said they were reviewing security camera footage to identify additional students seen on video crowding into the campus Quad Wednesday night in violation of rules limiting crowds and requiring masks.

The gathering drew a sharp rebuke earlier from Vice Chancellor J. Michael Haynie, who said participants had undercut efforts to make residential learning possible.

“We have one shot to make this happen,” Haynie wrote in a letter to students. “The world is watching, and they expect you to fail. Prove them wrong.”

Social media has been filled with such gatherings in recent weeks as college students make their way back to campuses nationwide.

Purdue University suspended 36 students for going to a party. Other suspensions have been reported at Virginia Tech, St. Olaf College in Minnesota and Radford University in Virginia.

Some universities have brought students back only to reverse course and move classes online amid outbreaks linked in some cases to student housing and parties. Notre Dame and Michigan State universities are among the latest to announce the switch this week. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said it would revert to remote learning after clusters of the virus were discovered in dorms, a fraternity house and other student housing.

As at other campuses, Syracuse students returning to campus were asked to sign a pledge to follow guidelines, which also include avoiding travel during the semester and submitting to virus testing. Campus security broke up Wednesday’s gathering, and the students identified so far received interim suspensions, which can be appealed.

Penn State on Thursday suspended a fraternity for hosting a party that violated the school’s COVID-19 ban on Greek gatherings. Videos and photos showed the Pennsylvania Lambda chapter of Phi Kappa Psi hosting an indoor gathering of more than 15 people, university officials said.

Tennessee confirms 2,100 cases of virus in children

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee had 2,100 confirmed coronavirus cases in children ages 5 to 18 during the past two weeks, according to state data.

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Junior business major Lachland Sears walks toward the University Center on campus at UTC on Monday in Chattanooga, Tenn. Troy Stolt /Chattanooga Times Free Press via Associate Press

So far, 131 of Tennessee’s roughly 140 public schools have restarted, with 129 districts operating or planning to run on a hybrid model. Most of those are opening in person with a virtual option, according to Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.

Eighteen districts are operating fully remotely, and nine individual schools were closed due to at least one COVID-19 case, Schwinn says.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee says his administration is asking federal officials how specific Tennessee can get in disclosing cases of COVID-19 in schools. School districts currently have the choice of releasing information on cases on their own.

Tennessee has nearly 1,500 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus.

WWII veterans, ranging from 90 to 101, plan to gather in Hawaii amid pandemic

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii  — Several dozen aging U.S. veterans, including some who were in Tokyo Bay as swarms of warplanes buzzed overhead and nations converged to end World War II, will gather on a battleship in Pearl Harbor next month to mark the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender, even if it means the vulnerable group may be risking their lives again amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 75th anniversary was meant to be a blockbuster event, and the veterans have been looking forward to it for years. There were to be thousands of people watching in Hawaii as parades marched through Waikiki, vintage warbirds flying overhead, and gala dinners to honor the veterans.

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Gen. Douglas MacArthur signs the Japanese surrender documents on Sept. 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Standing behind him are Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, left foreground, who surrendered Bataan to the Japanese, and British Lt. Gen. A. E. Percival, next to Wainwright, who surrendered Singapore, as they witness with other American and British officers the ceremony marking the end of World War II. U.S. Navy,

Now, most in-person celebrations have been canceled over fears the virus could infect the veterans, who range from 90 to 101. But about 200 people, mostly veterans, their families and government officials, will still commemorate the milestone on the USS Missouri, which hosted the surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay.

It comes as Oahu — Hawaii’s most populated island and the home of Pearl Harbor — has seen an alarming spike in coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, forcing many restrictions to be reinstated, including a ban on gatherings of more than five people and the closure of all beaches.

“I’ve been told what I need to do in order to be responsible for myself but also toward others,” said WWII veteran Jerry Pedersen, who was aboard the USS Missouri and watched the Japanese surrender. “I can’t hug the people that I’d like to hug.”

Read the full story.

 

At least 41 Berlin schools report infected students and teachers 2 weeks after opening

BERLIN — At least 41 schools in Berlin have reported that students or teachers are infected with the coronavirus — not even two weeks after they reopened in the German capital.

The daily Berliner Zeitung published the numbers on Friday and the city’s senate for education confirmed them to The Associated Press.

Hundreds of students and teachers are in quarantine, the newspaper reported. Elementary schools, high schools and trade schools are all affected. There are 825 schools in Berlin.

The reopening of schools and the risk of virus clusters building up there and spreading to families and further into communities has been a matter of great concern.

Berlin was one of the first places in Germany to reopen schools after summer holidays. Children are obliged to wear masks in hallways, during breaks, and when entering the classroom, but they can take them off once they sit down.

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Students arrive for the first day at school in Berlin, on Aug. 10. Many around the world are closely observing the real-life experiment offered in Germany to see what works and what doesn’t. Associated Press/Michael Sohn

Some critics say the measures in Berlin are too relaxed and both students and teachers should wear masks. Such is the case in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous, where some 2.5 million students went back to school a couple of days after Berlin.

Coronavirus cases in Germany have been going up again since late July, driven by returning vacationers and social events.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday there are too many different regulations in place across the country and “people simply don’t understand” why they’re allowed to do one thing in Berlin that may be banned in Bavaria.

On Friday, Germany’s disease control center registered 1,426 new cases.

UK adds Portugal to list of safe destinations

LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has welcomed as “great news” the U.K.’s decision to lift from Saturday the mandatory quarantine for travelers arriving from Portugal.

British authorities made the announcement on Thursday, adding Portugal to a safe list of destinations. The southern European country is reporting between 200 to 300 new daily cases this week, although the spread of contagion seems to have receded since early July.

Rebelo de Sousa, who is on a work holiday tour visiting all Portuguese regions to show his support for the tourism sector, told reporters on Friday that the move will benefit the industry, especially in the southern Algarve region where he expects that U.K. citizens will make bookings for the late summer season in September and October.

The president said that the measure would also benefit some 300,000 Portuguese citizens who live and work in the U.K.

Portugal acted swiftly in the pandemic’s early days but experienced significant clusters when it ended its lockdown. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the country has recorded nearly 55,000 infections and 1,788 fatalities attributed to the virus.

Japanese governor calls the country’s tourism promotion a failure

TOKYO — The governor of Iwate in northern Japan has criticized the national government’s “GoTo” campaign to encourage travel with discounts, noting the growing number of coronavirus cases.

Gov. Takuya Tasso told reporters that to start it in July was “a bit too soon” as preparations weren’t complete. He says the tourism campaign “was carried out too soon, and so I think it can be called a failure.”

Iwate has had the fewest cases of COVID-19 among Japan’s prefectures at 11 confirmed cases. The first case was reported just a month ago.

Since then, worries have been growing about the infection being brought in from outside Iwate, as well as about discrimination toward infected people.

Tasso credited low population congestion, lack of travel from abroad and the rest of Japan, and the cautious nature of residents for Iwate’s success.

Tasso says the experience of the 2011 tsunami made the Iwate people more in tune with crisis management.

Japan, which has never imposed a lockdown, has had about 1,100 deaths and 60,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. It is trying to keep the outbreak under control while keeping the economy going. Tokyo has reported several hundred confirmed cases by the day.

Australian prime minister says the country has avoided a second wave

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister says his government has avoided a major second wave of coronavirus infections on the scale of France, Germany or Britain by limiting international travel.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described infection rates in those three countries as “rather alarming.”

He says they occurred because “people left, went to areas on leave, on holiday, where the virus was moving again and now they’re bringing it back.”

He says the Australian government has created “some real hardship” by restricting numbers of Australians allowed to come and go.

The government is blocking three out of four applications for Australians to leave the country for fear they could spread COVID-19 when they return.

Australians who want to return home are limited to 4,000 a week.

Morrison says, “As we’ve just seen in Europe, I think the wisdom of that approach has been borne out. That is not one problem that we have at the moment.”

Australia’s main coronavirus hot spot, Victoria state, on Friday recorded its lowest daily tally of new infections in more than six weeks.

New infections climb in South Korean cities

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 324 new cases of the coronavirus, its highest single day total since early March as the recent surge of COVID-19 in the greater capital area now appears to be spreading nationwide.

Friday was the eighth consecutive day that South Korea has reported a triple-digit daily increase, for an eight-day total of 1,900 infections.

Most of the recent new cases have been in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan region. But officials said Friday the latest new infections were recorded in practically all major cities nationwide.

The daily jump was the highest since 367 cases were reported March 8. The country’s caseload is now at 16,670, including 309 deaths.

U.S. senator from Louisiana, tests positive, is sick with virus

BATON ROUGE, La. — U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana says he has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing some symptoms of COVID-19. The Republican senator made the announcement Thursday and said he is quarantining in Louisiana.

His spokesperson says the 62-year-old senator is experiencing “mild symptoms that began this morning.” Cassidy, a physician, said in a statement that he was tested after being notified Wednesday night that he’d been exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus.

The senator says he is adhering to medical guidance and notifying people with whom he may have come into contact. Cassidy is running for reelection on Nov. 3.

Cassidy’s announcement came a day after he was in north Louisiana, visiting a veterans hospital in Shreveport.


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