The Latest: SKorea continues upward trend in new infections

International

Commuters wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus travel in a ferry during rain in Kochi, Kerala state, India, Monday, June 22 2020. India is the fourth hardest-hit country by the COVID-19 pandemic in the world after the U.S., Russia and Brazil. (AP Photo/R S Iyer)

SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea has reported 51 additional cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, a continuation of an upward trend in new infections.

The figures released Wednesday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the country’s total to 12,535 with 281 deaths.

It says 10,930 of them have recovered while 1,324 people remain in treatment for the COVID-19 illness.

South Korea has been reporting roughly 40-50 cases every day over the past two weeks amid increased public activity and eased attitudes on social distancing. There has also been an uptick in imported cases.

The KCDC says 20 of the 51 newly reported cases came from overseas while 31 patients were infected locally.

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

— Dr. Anthony Fauci cites institutional racism for virus’ impact on African Americans

— France’s official contact-tracing app has been downloaded 1.9 million times but sent only 14 notifications in three weeks

— Novak Djokovic and three other top tennis players test positive for virus after Balkans tournament.

— Hotels in Greece will have basic isolation and treatment areas, doctors on call this summer.

— One of the Arab world’s most prestigious universities has endured civil war, staff kidnappings and economic crises in its 154-year history. The American University of Beirutnow confronts a triple threat simultaneously in a pandemic, a recession and the collapse of Lebanon’s currency. Meanwhile, a Saudi official says the hajj pilgrimage that usuallydraws up to 2.5 million Muslimsis likely to see only a few thousand pilgrims.

— A coronavirus outbreak linked to a slaughterhouse in Germany has led a state government to impose week-long lockdown measures. More than 1,500 people tied to the slaughterhouse have tested positive. Thousands more are quarantined. The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia says area cinemas, fitness studios and bars will be closed again. In related news, China’s ban of imports from one Tyson Foodspoultry plant with infected workers has raised concerns for the U.S. meat industry.

— People are flocking to beaches for vacation after being cooped up by COVID-19 for months. But the coronavirus is taking no vacation. The U.S. state of South Carolina now has the fourth-highest new infection rate in the nation when adjusted for population. One hot spot is around Myrtle Beach, which has seen COVID-19 cases jump from fewer 300 at the start of June to nearly 1,600. And that only counts residents, not visitors. Local entrepreneurs fear more infections could result in bad publicity.

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Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia has recorded its first death from COVID-19 in a month, increasing the national toll from the new coronavirus to 103.

Authorities in Victoria state say a man in his 80s died overnight, lifting the state’s total to 20.

It comes as the state recorded double-digit increase in cases for an eighth consecutive day, with 20 new cases confirmed on Wednesday. There have been more than 7,500 infections in Australia.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews on the weekend said large family gatherings had been the catalyst for the virus taking off again in some areas after lockdown rules were eased.

Nine of the state’s new cases on Wednesday were identified through routine testing, seven were linked to known outbreaks, one was a returned traveler in hotel quarantine and three cases remained under investigation.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says 241 cases in the state have been identified as community transmission, an increase of eight since Tuesday.

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PHOENIX — Hundreds of young supporters of President Donald Trump packed a megachurch for a Students for Trump event.

Ahead of Tuesday’s event, the Democratic mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego, made clear that she did not believe the speech could be safely held in her city — and urged the president to wear a face mask.

But only a smattering of attendees — young conservatives from around the country — wore masks and there was little room for the participants to practice social distancing.

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico has posted another record one-day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, with 6,288, while 793 more deaths have been reported.

The Health Department on Tuesday said Mexico now has seen 191,410 cases and 23,377 deaths from COVID-19. Officials acknowledge both are undercounts due to extremely low testing rates. Mexico has performed only about half a million tests, or about one for every 250 inhabitants.

Officials claim the pandemic has stabilized and may have even started a downward trend this week, but they have made that claim several times before.

Mexico has also had an extremely high rate of infections among health care professionals. About 39,000 of the country’s confirmed cases are health care workers, about 20% of the total. There have been 584 deaths among doctors, nurses, technicians and hospital workers.

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BEIJING — China has announced a further decline in newly confirmed coronavirus cases both nationwide and in the capital Beijing where a roughly two-week old spike in cases appears to now be firmly on the wane.

A total of 12 cases were reported Wednesday for the country, down from 22 the day before. Beijing reported seven cases, down from 13, while the two other cases were reported in neighboring Hebei province and three were listed as having been brought from abroad by Chinese travelers.

No new deaths were reported and 359 remained in treatment for COVID-19, with another 118 in monitoring and isolation for testing positive for the virus while showing no symptoms or being suspected cases. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from among 83,430 cases of COVID-19 since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Beijing’s June outbreak saw more than 200 cases, most linked to the city’s biggest wholesale market, and led to some new lockdowns and the cancellation of classes. Since then, 3 million test samples have been taken from 2.43 million people in the city, a senior municipal health official said on Tuesday. A total of 249 people have been infected in Beijing since June 11.

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CAIRO — War-ravaged Libya has reported its biggest daily increase yet in coronavirus infections and deaths, raising fears that a major outbreak could overwhelm its health system, left in shambles by nine years of conflict.

Libya’s National Center for Disease Control announced 639 total virus cases, including 17 fatalities, after recording

44 new virus cases and four deaths on Tuesday. With such little testing, experts believe the number could be higher.

The North African country has become split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by an array of fractious militias and foreign powers. The National Center for Disease Control is one the few state institutions to bridge the country’s divide.

Libya’s case count has more than quadrupled in the last few weeks, largely due to its repatriation of stranded citizens from abroad. An alarming hot spot is the city of Sabha in the remote southern desert, where health facilities are drastically under-equipped and many citizens remain uninformed.

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi’s health officer says he is not “remotely surprised” and is concerned for the future after the state saw its highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases.

The announcement came as the Mississippi Senate is working to limit lawsuits by customers who say they were exposed to COVID-19 at businesses or medical offices.

“We’ve been seeing this trend evolving over weeks,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs said in an interview with The Associated Press Tuesday. ” As people have tried to embrace normal, but unsafe normal, it is permitting the virus to spread. We’re really going to end up paying the price for it.”

The Mississippi Department of Health reported 611 new cases and 11 deaths Tuesday. Dobbs said the uptick is driven by community transmission of the virus from younger, asymptomatic people to their older relatives.

“If you drive around and look at how younger people are having social gatherings, they’re crowding into bars, it’s just not safe,” Dobbs said. “People are not complying, people are not wearing masks. It’s not a joke. Really bad things are going to happen.”

Dobbs said a big concern of his is the stress the new cases are putting on Mississippi’s heath care system. He said it’s already testing the state’s hospital bed capacity.

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OLYMPIA, Washington – Washington state will require people to wear facial coverings in public settings, under a statewide public health order announced by Gov. Jay Inslee in response to ongoing COVID-related health concerns.

The order, issued by Secretary of Health John Wiesman, takes effect Friday. The order requires face coverings when people are indoor in a public area, and outdoors in a public area when six feet of physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Washington joins several other states that already have statewide mask orders in place, including California, which issued its order last week.

A spokesman for Inslee said that violation of the statewide mask order is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Violation of the Yakima County proclamation is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

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WASHINGTON — The chairman of a House committee conducting an oversight hearing on the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response says the panel was snubbed by the head of Medicare and Medicaid.

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, would have joined Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials testifying Tuesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., says Verma turned down repeated invitations.

She “could have provided valuable insight (about) what is working, what still needs to be improved and what more we can do to help these vulnerable communities,” said Pallone. “Unfortunately, she decided not to come.”

CMS said in response that Verma has been “fully transparent with Congress” and the other officials who appeared were able to represent the administration “appropriately and sufficiently.”

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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief is criticizing the total lack of international coordination in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and warning that the go-it-alone policy of many countries will not defeat the coronavirus.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that what needs to be done is to make countries understand that by acting in isolation “they are creating the situation that is getting out of control” — and that coordinated global coordination is key.

He said COVID-19 started in China, moved to Europe, then to North America and now to South America, Africa and India, and some people are now talking about second waves coming at any moment — “and there is total lack of coordination among countries in the response to the COVID.”

Guterres said it’s important to use that fact “to make countries understand that bringing them together, putting together their capacities, not only in fighting the pandemic in a coordinated way but in working together to have the treatments, testing mechanisms, the vaccines … accessible to everybody, that this is the way we defeat the pandemic.”

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NEW YORK — The Macy’s July 4th fireworks will go forward in New York City, but with a twist meant to keep spectators from congregating in large numbers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that there will be a series of “unannounced displays” around the city leading up to the Fourth.

“With heights reaching up to 1,000 feet from some firing locations, staying close to home and following social distancing guidelines is the best way to enjoy the show,” de Blasio said.

The mayor described the fireworks as “5-minute surprise displays” that will culminate in a national television broadcast featuring a final fireworks celebration and music performances.

The initial displays will start Monday and continue “on select evenings at one or two land or water based locations across New York City,” Macy’s said in a new release.

“The final display sites were chosen because they could safely accommodate the launch and firing of large-scale pyrotechnics.”

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Dr. Anthony Fauci is offering some advice for colleges attempting to reopen classes this fall: tailor plans to local conditions, make sure everyone is wearing masks, and don’t ignore the wellbeing of the maintenance and dining hall staff.

“Masks have to be done at all times,” Fauci told the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

He said colleges have to assume that some students will get infected, and they have to have plans for how to keep them and their classmates safe.

Fauci said online learning and teaching should be offered as options for all students and faculty.

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WASHINGTON — Federal health officials tell Congress to brace for a second wave of coronavirus infections in the fall and winter of this year.

Drs. Anthony Fauci of the NIH, Robert Redfield of the CDC, and FDA head Stephen Hahn agreed under questioning before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“It’s simple,” said Redfield. “We are going to experience significant coronavirus infection in the fall and winter.”

Other respiratory viruses follow a usual pattern of resurgence during the cold weather months, when people are likelier to be indoors, making it easier to transmit infection.

HHS assistant secretary for health Brett Giroir concurred with the other officials, adding that he wants to have enough supplies stockpiled so the health care system can treat COVID-19 patients without having to shut down access for people needing care for other conditions.

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TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is recommending that communities wait a little bit longer before moving to the next phase of reopening as coronavirus cases increase.

The “Phase Out” stage of Kelly’s Ad Astra reopening plan was set to begin Monday, but Kelly and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are now advising communities to stay in Phase 3 for at least two more weeks.

The main difference is that Phase 3 limits mass gatherings to no more than 45 people. The “Phase Out” stage merely urges social distancing but doesn’t limit the size of crowds. The ultimate decision, though, rests with local officials.

“Though many Kansans and communities have been social distancing, wearing masks, and working hard over the past few weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus, we have unfortunately seen an increase in disease spread,” Kelly said in a news release.

New data released Monday shows Kansas has at least 12,465 cases, up 406 from Friday. The state health department also said the number of COVID-19 deaths rose by five to 259.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas has surpassed 5,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time, recording another troubling milestone as America’s largest pediatric hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital, begins taking adult patients to free up bed space in Houston.

The announcement Tuesday comes days after Texas eclipsed 4,000 new cases for the first time just last weekend.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that “the next couple weeks are going to be critical” in Texas and other states that are trying to curtail an alarming spike in new cases.

The infection rate in Texas has doubled since late May to nearly 9%. And on Monday, Texas recorded an 11th consecutive day of record COVID-19 hospitalizations with more than 3,700.

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WASHINGTON — The chairman of a House committee conducting an oversight hearing on the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response says the panel was snubbed by the head of Medicare and Medicaid.

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would have joined Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials testifying Tuesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., says Verma turned down repeated invitations.

She “could have provided valuable insight (about) what is working, what still needs to be improved and what more we can do to help these vulnerable communities,” said Pallone. “Unfortunately, she decided not to come.”

There was no immediate comment from the Medicare agency. Pallone said he will keep pushing for Verma to appear before the committee.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Republican governor says he has no plans to shut down the economy even though he shares some of the concerns raised in a memo by the state’s epidemiologist who warned a “complete shutdown” might be imminent if the state can’t stop a prolonged spike of coronavirus cases.

Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted late Monday night that he appreciated the analysis by epidemiologist Angela Dunn in her memo that detailed the severity of a spread of COVID-19 that has doubled the infection rate and daily case count since Herbert allowed many businesses to reopen in mid-May.

But he reiterated his stance that economic growth can happen while keeping people safe.

“We will work to stem this tide, but I have no plans to shut down Utah’s economy,” tweeted Herbert.

Dunn recommended that the state reimpose some restrictions on businesses and group gatherings unless the state lowers its weekly average of case by more than half by July 1.

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WASHINGTON — Top federal health officials say they continue to deal with the World Health Organization despite President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the U.N. health agency, which serves as a forum for the global coronavirus response.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that they continue to have regular interactions with scientific peers at the WHO.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the World Health Organization after complaining about its response to the coronavirus and alleged favoritism toward China.

Fauci and Redfield both said they were not directly consulted about the president’s decision.

Fauci said his National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a memorandum of understanding that governs regular collaboration with the WHO. Redfield said his agency is working with the world body on Ebola, polio and influenza.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Louisiana jumped by more than 1,356 Tuesday, and the number of people hospitalized with the disease ticked up by 16.

The statewide increase to a total of 51,595 cases was the largest single-day rise in reported cases since early April — excluding days when delayed reporting of backlogged cases accounted for increases.

The daily record was reported by the state health department a day after Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the recent surge in cases would prevent Louisiana from further easing restrictions aimed at keeping the new coronavirus from spreading.

On Twitter, the state health department said 95% of the cases reported Tuesday were the result of “community spread,” as opposed to infections in nursing homes or other such settings.

The pandemic death toll in Louisiana as of Tuesday was 3,021.

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