DC health dept asks WH attendees to get tested


WASHINGTON — The Washington D.C. Department of Health has released an open letter appealing to all White House staff and those attending a Sept. 26 event in the Rose Garden to seek medical advice and take a coronavirus test.

The letter indicates a lack of confidence in the White House medical team’s contact tracing efforts for the virus outbreak that infected President Donald Trump, multiple senior staff members and two U.S. senators, among others.

Co-signed by nine other local health departments from neighboring jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, the letter says contact tracing on the outbreak has been insufficient and “there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals.”


The move highlights the public health dilemma faced by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration regarding the current outbreak. The Trump White House has operated for months in open violation of several D.C. virus regulations, hosting multiple gatherings that exceeded the local 50-person limit and where many participants didn’t wear masks.

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

— Washington DC health department asks Rose Garden attendees to get tested

— Paris hospitals on emergency footing as ICUs fill with coronavirus patients

— Am I immune to the coronavirus if I’ve already had it?

— President Trump says he’s ready to hold campaign rallies, credits an experimental drug treatment with helping recovery from COVID-19.

— Coronavirus infections in Ukraine began surging in late summer, hospitals are ‘catastrophically short of doctors.’

— The NFL’s Tennessee Titans had another positive test, bringing the team’s outbreak of COVID-19 to 23.

— 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:

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey added 1,300 new coronavirus cases overnight, the highest level since late May.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says most of the positive cases in Ocean County stem from Lakewood, predominantly among white men ages 19-49 and could be related to religious services or celebrations that occurred in late September.

Hospitalizations also increased to 652, the highest level since early August.

Eleven more people died in the last day, bringing the statewide confirmed total to 14,373. The positivity rate for testing stood at 3.69%, while the rate of transmission fell to 1.22, down from 1.27.

The state has stockpiled personal protective equipment, ventilators and the therapeutic drug Remdesivir, Persichilli says.

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MADRID — Spain’s health ministry is reporting 12,423 new coronavirus cases and 126 confirmed deaths Thursday, the day a court struck down a partial lockdown in hard-hit Madrid.

With 848,324 infections since the start of the pandemic, Spain has the highest caseload in Europe. The official death toll rose to 32,688, although limits on testing early in the year means the actual number of victims is likely much higher.

The country’s 14-day rate of 256 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants varies greatly from region to region, with Madrid’s 563 topping the charts. That’s five times the European average rate as of Sept. 27, according to data of the European CDC.

Fernando Simón is the top official in charge of Spain’s response to the pandemic. He says regardless of the court ruling, citizens should be responsible and “take into account the risk they inflict on others if they move around.”

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The White House Coronavirus Task force told Iowa officials in its most recent report released Thursday that many virus-related deaths in the state were preventable. The report dated Oct. 4 was released to the media a day after Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowans shouldn’t let the virus dominate their lives.

Average daily deaths have increased over the past two weeks to 10 per day. More than 250 people in Iowa have died in the past month alone.

“Community transmission has remained high across the state for the past month, with many preventable deaths,” the report dated Oct. 4 said.

Reynolds bristled Wednesday when asked why she hadn’t taken more steps to reduce virus spread, such as mandatory masks. Reynolds said she had taken action but she “has to balance a lot.”

Hospitalizations rose to 449 Thursday, a day after Reynolds acknowledged a new record of 444 and said the health care system could handle the increase.

State health data on Thursday showed 1,515 confirmed cases in the last 24 hours and five additional deaths, bringing the confirmed state death toll to 1,419.

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ROME — Italy has added Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to its list of countries at risk for the coronavirus.

Visitors from the four countries, as well as previous list members Spain and France, must be tested on arrival in Italy or show proof of a negative test in the past 72 hours.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed the ordinance on Thursday, the same day Italy’s new confirmed caseload passed 4,400, the highest levels since April.

Italy still has one of the lowest infection rates in Europe, at 52 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks. By contrast, the Czech Republic counts 374 per 100,000, while Spain has 303, the Netherlands 285, France 257, Belgium 246, and the United Kingdom 201 per 100,000.

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YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar reported 1,012 new cases of the coronavirus a day after setting a record daily total of 1,400.

Authorities implemented a tight lockdown measures in Yangon, the country’s largest city with the highest number of infections.

Myanmar’s leader, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, says the government had acquired antigen test kits to quickly detect positive cases. She acknowledged a shortage of beds in hospitals in some areas to treat patients but said the health ministry was arranging more facilities.

The country has reported 22,445 cases and 535 confirmed deaths, including 25 new deaths.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri reported an increase of more than 1,500 confirmed coronavirus cases.

The state health department says Thursday that Missouri had 1,505 new cases and 23 more deaths. That brings the statewide totals to 137,156 cases and 2,259 deaths.

State health data shows 1,344 Missourians were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 on Wednesday. The seven-day average for hospitalizations was 1,204, also a new high since the start of the pandemic.

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OMAHA, Neb. — In Nebraska, the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus set a record Thursday when it hit 288.

State statistics show that hospital capacity is tightening up with only 22 percent of the state’s intensive care beds available.

The rate of new cases remains high in Nebraska with the total number of cases is approaching 50,000. The state had the eighth-highest rate of new cases, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. The seven-day average of the positivity rate in Nebraska declined slightly over the past two weeks, going from 12.71% on Sept. 23 to 12.23% on Wednesday.

Nebraska eliminated nearly all of its restrictions related to the coronavirus last month in favor of voluntary guidelines. Gov. Pete Ricketts opposes requiring people to wear masks although local rules in the state’s two largest cities require them.

But for now, it appears that the health care system has capacity to handle the recent surge in coronavirus cases in the state.

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ROME — Italy’s second wave of coronavirus infections have hit a new high, with 4,458 confirmed cases, the highest number of new infections since April.

Italy’s southern Campania region added 757 cases, with the virus bearing down in southern regions far less equipped to handle it.

Campania, the region that surrounds Naples, in recent days has ordered bars and restaurants closed by 11 p.m. and was nearly a week ahead of the national government in mandating masks outdoors.

Campania’s governor, Vincenzo De Luca has warned: “Let’s understand one another: We have to return to the rigorous behavior of February, March and April, otherwise we’ll be hurt.”

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistani authorities are acknowledging a slight increase in COVID-19 deaths and infections weeks after government ended almost all restrictions.

The announcement comes following Thursday’s meeting of military-based National Command and Operations Centre, which oversees the country’s response to the new virus.

However, the government says overall coronavirus situation was stable in the country despite widespread violation of social distancing rules by people. The announcement comes days after Pakistan shut more than 200 restaurants and some wedding halls over violation of social distancing rules.

On Thursday, Pakistan reported 583 cases and nine single-day deaths in the country.

The totals rose to 316,934 cases and 6,544 confirmed deaths.

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PARIS — Paris hospitals are activating emergency measures to cope with COVID-19 patients, who are filling 40% of the region’s intensive care units.

The French health minister is expected to announce new restrictions Thursday for areas where hospitals are facing strain and infections are mounting. Authorities already shut down bars in Paris and several cities and limited private gatherings.

The emergency hospital measures can involve adding hospital beds and postponing non-urgent surgery. Such measures were taken in March and April when the pandemic first appeared in Europe.

France reported a record daily count of 18,700 new cases Wednesday, and COVID-19 patients now occupy a quarter of ICU beds nationwide.

France has recorded more than 693,000 cases and 32,463 confirmed deaths.

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HONG KONG — Hong Kong reported 18 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, raising concerns among health officials.

Of the 18 infections reported, 14 were local, with at least one case with an unknown source of infection, according to health officials.

About 11 of the local infections were linked to a home for the disabled, just a day after a resident was confirmed to have the coronavirus.

In the last week, Hong Kong has seen clusters of infections linked to a bar, a school and at pharmacies.

Hong Kong has reported a total of 5,162 confirmed coronavirus infections and 105 confirmed deaths.

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LISBON, Portugal — Portugal has surpassed 1,000 new daily coronavirus cases for the first time in six months.

The General Directorate for Health officially recorded 1,278 infections over the previous 24 hours. That’s the biggest daily jump since April 10.

Government health secretary António Lacerda Sales says officials are concerned about a possible difficult winter for the public health service.

On Wednesday, the official number of cases reached 944. The number of new daily cases in Portugal has exceeded 1,000 only twice, on March 31 and April 10.

The nation of 10 million has officially recorded 82,534 cases and 2,050 confirmed deaths.

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s government has declared the entire country a yellow zone, requiring the wearing of masks in all public places effective Saturday.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki made the announcement Thursday, after the number of cases of reached a record of nearly 4,300. There were 76 deaths.

The yellow zone rules allow no more than 75 persons at events, strict social distancing in restaurants that must close at 10 p.m., masks worn on public transportation and in cars, if the passengers not from one household.

Morawiecki says “strict adherence to the rules is a condition for an effective fight against the rise in the cases of infection.”

In the summer, Poland registered about 500-600 new cases daily.

The nation of 38 million has nearly 112,000 confirmed cases and almost 2,900 deaths.

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LONDON — A British study has found 86% of people infected with the coronavirus didn’t show the main symptoms on the day they were tested.

Researchers at University College London looked at data from a survey that has been testing thousands of U.K. households every week, regardless of whether the subjects had symptoms.

The study, released Thursday, looked at data for 36,061 people between April and June. Researchers found among those who tested positive, 86% didn’t have a cough, fever or loss of taste or smell.

Lead researcher Irene Petersen says while people may have had symptoms in the days before their test or developed them later, the study suggests many may be spreading the virus while asymptomatic. She says frequent and widespread testing of all individuals is needed to curb “silent transmission.”

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BRUSSELS — The European Commission has secured another deal allowing its 27 member states to buy 200 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

The contract with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, is the third vaccine deal sealed by the EU’s executive arm following agreements reached with Sanofi-GSK and AstraZeneca for up to 700 million doses.

“The vaccine candidate is already in phase III of clinical trials,” the commission said. It added there were “successful exploratory talks” with three other companies: CureVac, BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna.

“More agreements will follow, and we remain determined in our search for a successful and safe vaccine to combat this deadly pandemic,” said Stella Kyriakides, the Commissioner for Health.

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