ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico health officials on Friday confirmed the state set another single-day record with 819 COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 35,770 since the pandemic began.
New rules to limit gatherings to five people or less, reduce hotel capacities and impose a 10 p.m. closing time for bars and some restaurants also took effect Friday after successive days of record-breaking daily infection rates.
The previous record of 672 on Thursday already had eclipsed records set in recent days.
The state on Friday also reported six additional deaths related to the pandemic, bringing that total to 928.
At the University of New Mexico, eight football players and one assistant coach have tested positive for the coronavirus and high positivity rates in the county where the school is located have forced the postponement of practice.
University athletic director Eddie Nuñez said if the team is unable to practice for the next week, they will not be able to safely play their first scheduled game on Oct. 24 against Colorado State.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— France records 30,000 virus cases, highest single-day rise
— WHO study finds remdesivir didn’t help COVID-19 patients
— U.S. testing 3 drugs to try to tamp down coronavirus
— Coronavirus cases are rising in key U.S. presidential battleground states ahead of Election Day.
— White House puts political operatives at CDC to try to control virus information
— Thousands arrive in Hawaii on first day pre-travel testing allowing no quarantine
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SALT LAKE CITY — One of Utah’s largest hospitals had no beds left Friday in its regular intensive-care unit as the governor declared the state’s weekslong spike in coronavirus cases “unsustainable.”
The University of Utah Health had to set up extra ICU beds staffed by doctors and nurses working overtime to care for its critical patients this week as the unit hit 104% capacity, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Russell Vinik.
“We’ve cut back where we can but it’s precarious,” he said. “We are very concerned about flu season, particularly if people don’t get vaccinated. We can’t take another hit.”
MIAMI – Florida has reported a slight uptick in daily confirmed COVID-19 cases, adding 3,449 to its total caseload on Friday.
The new state report raises the seven-day average of new infections close to 2,800, a figure that had dropped under 2,300 in late September and early October, when the state lifted restrictions on restaurants and the largest school districts began welcoming students.
The COVID-19 hospitalization and deaths figures have been relatively stable in recent weeks.
The number of people being treated in Florida hospitals peaked in late July at more than 9,500, then declined for about two months. But the figure has leveled off for the past three weeks at around 2,000 to 2,200 without further decline.
The state tallied 98 new virus-related deaths on Friday, raising the death toll to 16,030.
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a plan Friday in which it described the residents it will prioritize when a coronavirus vaccine gets approved and becomes available.
“We anticipate that populations of focus for initial COVID-19 vaccination will likely be the critical workforce that provides healthcare and maintains essential functions of society, staff and residents in long-term care facilities, and people with two or more co-morbidities that put them at high risk for complications from COVID-19,” the department wrote.
The state will also consider prioritizing specific locations with vulnerable populations or high rates of spread.
The detailed 148-page plan notes that the groups of people getting a vaccine first will be reevaluated over time. “Jurisdictions should anticipate that allocations may shift during the response based on supply, demand, and risk.”
The federal government will be responsible for giving money to North Carolina’s state, tribal and local health departments.
JACKSON, MISS. – Mississippi’s state health officer said he overestimated the number of people who would continue to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of coronavirus after the statewide mask mandate was lifted.
“Why we would broadly abandon something that is so simple — even easy, and effective — just because there is not an executive order, it has perplexed me and I’m frankly quite disappointed,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs said on a video call with reporters on Friday.
After months of declining cases, Mississippi has seen two straight days of new cases topping 1,000, something the state hasn’t seen since around the time Mississippi’s statewide mask mandate was put into place in August.
Gov. Tate Reeves repealed Mississippi’s statewide mask mandate on Sept. 30, citing declining cases. The Republican governor encouraged citizens to continue to wear masks anyway, but added officials “should not use the heavy hand of government more than it is justified.”
Dobbs said Friday the decision was not made lightly. But two months into the mandate, people were lashing out against it.
“There were people who were getting tired of the mandate, and they just sort of were violating it when it was still mandated,” he said. “I think that was some of the concern, that it’s lost its sort of, firepower.”
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin broke the record for new positive coronavirus cases on Friday for the third time in a week as a surge that began in early September shows no signs of abating.
The state also hit record highs for daily deaths and hospitalizations this week as a third lawsuit was filed arguing that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers had overstepped his authority by issuing public health emergencies and implementing a statewide mask mandate and capacity limits for bars and restaurants.
Evers on Friday launched a television ad criticizing Republicans for inaction, and the state’s second-largest school district said students wouldn’t be returning for in-person classes until late January at the earliest.
There were 3,861 new coronavirus cases reported in Wisconsin on Friday, breaking the previous record set just a day earlier of 3,747. Wisconsin continued its record-setting pace for hospitalizations, hitting a new high of 1,101 patients on Friday. A field hospital to handle overflow patients opened near Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Evers has repeatedly blamed Republicans who control the Legislature for blocking his efforts to get the virus under control. Republicans are part of a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s mask mandate and the Tavern League of Wisconsin is suing to overturn Evers’ order limiting capacity in bars and restaurants.
A third lawsuit filed Friday asks the Wisconsin Supreme Court to rule that Evers overstepped his authority in issuing subsequent public health emergency orders after the first one expired in May.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Lee is calling for the temporary suspension of negative consequences for Tennessee schools and teachers related to student tests for the current school year due to adjustments and disruptions to learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Republican governor said Friday that while student testing will continue, he wants to “alleviate any burdens” associated with teacher evaluations and school accountability for the 2020-2021 school year.
Lee said school districts missed critical learning time when in-person classes were suspended during the spring as the virus pandemic struck. While some districts started holding in-person classes when the current school year started several weeks ago, others have maintained online learning only.
Some teachers and school district administrators have called for cancellation of tests or suspension of accountability measures. Teacher pay can be influenced by teacher evaluation scores, and poorly performing schools can be moved under state control.
Lee said he will work with the Tennessee General Assembly on his call to “temporarily pause the accountability that we have in our state that ties student testing to teacher evaluations.”
WASHINGTON — A new U.S. government report shows that patterns of coronavirus deaths shifted over the summer, with rising percentages of the deaths in Hispanic people, and those living in the South and West.
The report, released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looks at coronavirus-associated deaths reported between May 1 and August 31. It is an update of an earlier report that focused on deaths during an initial wave of illnesses in the early spring that mainly hit the Northeast.
It found that by August more than three-fifths of the deaths were occurring in Southern states, and more than one-fifth in Western states. It reported a summer surge in deaths among Hispanics, to about 24% of all deaths in August.
It also showed a decline in deaths in nursing homes, to 17% of all deaths in August from 30% in May.
Whites accounted for 51% of the deaths in the late spring and summer, up from around 40% in the early spring. There was a decline in the proportion of deaths of people who were Black, to 19% from as many as 25% in the early spring.
SALEM, Mass. — The mayor of the Massachusetts city famous for its 1692 witch trials says anyone planning a trip to Salem this month to celebrate Halloween needs to cancel their plans.
Even though the city has canceled a monthlong series of publicly sponsored events held each October that typically draw tens of thousands of visitors, many people are still flooding the city streets, increasing the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Mayor Kim Driscoll advised Friday that “if you’re not in Salem yet and are thinking about coming, my advice to you is skip it.”
Businesses and tourist attractions have been limiting capacity and people are gathering in the streets.
The city is putting several crowd control measures into place this weekend, including restricting access to a major pedestrian mall, and setting up additional barricades to limit entry lines.
Salem is currently considered in the moderate risk category for coronavirus spread, and Driscoll doesn’t want to see the city move to the high risk category.
UNITED NATIONS — The head of the World Food Program, this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, says the number of people “marching toward starvation” has jumped from 135 million to 270 million since the COVID-19 pandemic and is again urging billionaires to donate just a few billion to save millions of lives.
Executive Director David Beasley told a virtual U.N. press conference Friday that the global wealth of some 2,200 billionaires rose by about $2 trillion between April and July as the pandemic raged. He was referring to a study by Swiss bank UBS and accounting firm PwC published last week which said the global wealth of billionaires climbed from $8 trillion at the start of April to $10.2 trillion in July.
Beasley said WFP is “greatly concerned about 2021” because budgets weren’t calculated to take into account the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beasley said wealthy countries put $17 trillion into economic stimulus packages in their countries to tackle the coronavirus and its fallout, and “that’s $17 trillion that isn’t going to be available for 2021.”
This year, he said, many governments reached deeper into their pockets while they could and gave the U.N. and its agencies more money, but “the governments — they tapped out.”
Beasley said that’s why a one-time infusion of cash from the billionaires is so essential for 2021.
He said the humanitarian crises in the world are worsening with Yemen “the worst of the worst of the worst,” Africa’s Sahel region “undoubtedly one of the worst,” Congo “just horrific,” and Syria “deteriorating.” He said many other countries are also deteriorating including Nigeria, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
NEW ORLEANS — Thousands took advantage of an expanded early voting period that opened Friday in Louisiana ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election — forming lines so long that some in New Orleans abandoned polling places closer to home to vote at a basketball arena downtown.
Attorney Roderick James was one of them. Arriving early at a designated early voting spot near his home in eastern New Orleans, he saw a line about three blocks long. So, he opted to head downtown for the Smoothie King Center. It’s usually the home of the New Orleans Pelicans NBA franchise but, through Oct. 27, it is one of five early voting locations in the city.
He joined a line of about 50 other voters — masked if not consistently 6 feet (2 meters) apart — and was soon ushered into the arena, where he stood in another longer line. He estimated his wait to vote was no more than 40 minutes. “It was actually very efficient,” he said.
Louisiana generally allows a seven-day early voting period. It was expanded to 10 under federal court order amid disagreements among state officials over how best to make voting safer during the coronavirus pandemic.
Long lines also were reported in other parts of the state, evidence of high interest in the presidential race pitting incumbent Republican Donald Trump against Democrat Joe Biden.
BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota leads the nation in cases per capita, with 978 per 100,000 people in the last two weeks.
Health officials confirmed 877 new cases and 18 more deaths on Friday.
The surge in cases and deaths statewide resulted in Republican Gov. Doug Burgum raising the coronavirus risk level in several North Dakota counties this week. However, he issued no mandated restrictions and mask use is voluntary.
The deaths reported Friday include 10 women and eight men, all in their 60s or older. All had underlying health conditions.
North Dakota, with a population of fewer than 800,000, has 30,000 confirmed cases and 388 deaths.
MADRID — Spain’s health ministry has reported 15,186 new infections for the coronavirus.
The ministry says 6,591 cases were diagnosed in the last 24 hours. The remainder of the new cases were diagnosed in recent days but not reported until Friday.
Spain leads Europe with 936560 confirmed cases. With 222 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, Spain’s total has reached 33,775.
DENVER — Denver’s mayor says the city will enforce stricter mask mandates and limits on group gatherings.
Mayor Michael B. Hancock says the mask mandate will include outdoor settings with exceptions for individuals who are outside alone or those with people in their households. Denver is also limiting the number of non-related people gathering from 10 to five through Nov. 16.
Colorado’s Department of Public Health Executive Director Bob McDonald says enforcement will include issuing summons to appear in court. Hancock emphasized the importance of personal responsibility to keep others safe and help protect the economy.
GENEVA — A large study led by the World Health Organization suggests that the antiviral drug remdesivir didn’t help hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
That’s in contrast to an earlier study that made the medicine a standard of care in the United States and many other countries. The results announced Friday don’t negate the previous ones, and the WHO study wasn’t as rigorous as the earlier one led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
But they add to concerns about how much value the pricey drug gives since none of the studies have found it can improve survival. Remdesivir is among the treatments U.S. President Donald Trump received when he was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Oct. 1.