VIRUS TODAY: California struggles to tame COVID-19
— Health officials say they’ve found evidence in a Florida man of the latest U.S. case of the new and apparently more contagious coronavirus variant first seen in England. The cases have triggered questions about how the COVID-19 variant circulating in England arrived in the U.S., where experts say it probably already is spreading. The Grafton Police Department said the former Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist was arrested on suspicion of reckless endangerment, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property. GOP senators are ignoring the outgoing president’s demand to increase the $600 COVID-19 aid checks to $2,000. ___Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
'Like a bathtub filling up': Alabama is slammed by the virus
Ten beds normally used for less severe cases were transformed into intensive care rooms, with extra IV machines brought in. “We’re kind of like a bathtub that’s filling up with water and the drain is blocked,” the hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. William Smith, said last week. The variant was found in a man in his 20s who is in isolation southeast of Denver and has no travel history, state health officials said Tuesday. As of last week, 15 Alabama hospitals had intensive care units that were at or above capacity, and the ICUs at six more hospitals were at least 96% full. On Tuesday, 2,804 people were in Alabama hospitals with COVID-19, the highest total since the pandemic began.
The Latest: Hong Kong re-imposes restaurant dining bans
Hong Kong on Wednesday reported an additional 100 cases, bringing its two-week total to 1,274. Hong Kong has reported a total of 7,075 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, with 112 deaths. The Texas Department of State Health Services also said 9,028 people were hospitalized across the state. Since late November, the new daily cases have soared past 10,000 on several days, with 15,103 new cases reported Tuesday, according to state health officials. ___BOISE, Idaho — Idaho public health officials abruptly ended a meeting Tuesday evening after the Boise mayor and chief of police said intense anti-mask protests outside the health department building — as well as outside some health officials’ homes — were threatening public safety.
The Latest: UN makes Dec. 27 'Epidemic Preparedness' day
She said Health Department managers urged her to manipulate information to paint a rosier picture and that she pushed back. Asa Hutchinson announced plans Monday for a series of community meetings across Arkansas to address the growing surge of coronavirus cases. The state Department of Education is expected to give public school systems the green light to follow the relaxed quarantine rules. But the health department is sticking to a 14-day recommendation for prisons and nursing homes where people live together in tight quarters. When averaged out over seven days, South Carolina is seeing about 2,300 new COVID-19 cases a day.
The Latest: Washington gov. may announces new restrictions
Washington state and county health officials have warned of a spike in coronavirus cases across the state, and pleaded with the public to take the pandemic more seriously heading into the winter holidays. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care beds reached 362 on Friday, the most since late August. ___KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine has introduced tight weekend restrictions as the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases hit a national record. Health Minister Maxim Stepanov said Saturday that Ukraine registered 12,524 new confirmed cases, about 800 more than the previous day. Overall, Russia has reported 1,903.000 confirmed virus cases and 32,834 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
US holiday weekend adds to virus worries as case counts grow
The Fourth of July holiday weekend began Saturday with some sobering numbers in the Sunshine State: Florida logged a record number of people testing positive for the coronavirus. Officials and health authorities warned people to take precautions or simply stay home on Independence Day, as confirmed cases are climbing in 40 states. Florida reported 11,445 confirmed infections on Saturday, bringing the statewide total to more than 190,000. Im really, really worried about the Fourth of July," said Dr. Don Williamson, a former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association. Officials in South Florida including in Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys closed beaches through the weekend.
July Fourth weekend will test Americans' discipline
In hard-hit South Florida, beaches from Palm Beach to Key West will be shut down for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans' self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak. The fear is that a weekend of crowded pool parties, picnics and parades will fuel the surge. The warnings were sounded after a Memorial Day weekend that saw many people emerge from stay-at-home orders to go to the beach, restaurants and family gatherings. Dr. Don Williamson, head of the Alabama Hospital Association, said he is really, really worried about the Fourth of July."
Rise in coronavirus cases brings new concerns in Alabama
Alabama and much of the Deep South are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases as some have stopped heeding warnings of the virus, alarming public health officials and people who have lost loved ones because of COVID-19. Over the past two weeks, Alabama had the second highest number of new cases per capita in the nation. We know if they continue, we will see more hospitalizations and more deaths, Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris said. As of Saturday, Alabama had more than 29,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than a quarter of the cases reported in the last two weeks. Kyra Porter, who lost three members of her east Alabama family to COVID-19, has the same fears.