The Canadian Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Laura Kelly says Kansas considers meatpacking plant workers and grocery store employees essential workers, putting them in the second phase for possible vaccinations.
Kelly says the Kansas vaccine plan calls for the first shots to go to front-line health care workers with a high risk of coronavirus exposure.
She says the second phase will focus on vaccinating essential workers, including first responders but also grocery store and meatpacking plant workers.
The Democratic governor says members of the Legislature will get vaccinated at different times, based on their risk of being exposed or developing serious complications.
Next week, the Food and Drug Administration will consider whether to grant emergency authorization for vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.
Kansas has reported 168,295 confirmed cases, an increase of 6,234 since Wednesday, and 1,786 total confirmed deaths.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Vice-President Pence: Confidence in vaccine important for US
- Fauci apologizes for suggesting UK rushed vaccine decision
— As hospitals cope with a COVID-19 surge, cyber threats loom
- A World War II veteran from Alabama has recovered from COVID-19 in time to mark his 104th birthday
Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
KYIV, Ukraine — About 1,000 representatives of small business rallied outside the Ukrainian parliament against possible new coronavirus restrictions.
Demonstrators in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv attempted to block access to the parliament building but were pushed back by police.
Ukraine, which is facing a rapid rise in coronavirus cases, tightened weekend restrictions last month but lifted them this week. The government is considering a lockdown in early January. Protesters are concerned the new restrictions could deal a harsh blow to small and medium business.
Ukrainian reported 15,131 new cases on Friday, bringing the total to 787,891 confirmed cases. There’s been 13,195 confirmed deaths.
ATLANTA — Vice-President Mike Pence is trying to boost Americans’ confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines that are awaiting regulatory approval and distribution.
At the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention main campus in Atlanta, Pence said Friday the Food and Drug Administration could approve the first vaccines “the week of Dec. 14” with the first wave of Americans being vaccinated “in all 50 states” within 48 hours of that approval.
Pence said “the confidence piece is so important” so that enough Americans will take the vaccine and ensure its maximum effectiveness. Pence called on “all of us in public life” to vouch for the process that got vaccines to the cusp of mass distribution.
“We’ve gone at record pace, but we’ve cut no corners in this,” Pence said, sitting beside CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “What we want to do is assure the American people that there’s been no compromise of safety or effectiveness in the development of this vaccine.”
Pence’s comments come the day after former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said they’d be willing to take a vaccine on television to boost confidence.
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. health chief says positive results from coronavirus vaccine trials are encouraging but warns against poorer nations being left behind in “the stampede for vaccines.”
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Friday. He says vaccines must be shared “as global public goods.”
Referring to the upsurge in cases and deaths: “Where science is drowned out by conspiracy theories, where solidarity is undermined by division, where sacrifice is substituted with self-interest, the virus thrives, the virus spreads.”
Tedros urged all nations to unite and build the post-pandemic world by investing in vaccines, preparedness against the next pandemic and basic public health.
Tedros says Covax, an ambitious but troubled global project to buy and deliver virus vaccines for the world’s poorest people, faces a $4.3 billion gap and needs $23.9 billion for 2021.
He says the total is less than one-half of one per cent of the $11 trillion in stimulus packages announced by the Group of 20, the world’s richest countries.
MILAN — Italy recorded another 814 coronavirus deaths on Friday. There were 24,099 new coronavirus cases reported among more than 212,000 tests.
While the rate of transmission in Italy has dropped below 1, signalling that the virus curve is under control, the government has imposed tight restrictions for the Christmas holiday.
They include a ban on travelling between regions from Dec. 21-Jan. 6, and a strong recommendation against hosting guests for holiday lunches and dinners.
New cases remain highest in Lombardy, the epicenter of both the spring peak and the fall surge, with 4,533 new cases. Neighboring Veneto followed with more than 3,700. There were 201 fewer new admissions to Italy’s intensive care units than a day earlier, dropping the total to 3,657 in ICU. Hospitalizations dropped by 600 to 31,200.
Italy has 1.6 million cases and 58,842 confirmed deaths, the second-highest death toll in Europe, behind Britain.
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s chief infectious disease expert, says there was never a question that he would accept President-elect Joe Biden’s offer to serve as his chief medical officer and adviser on the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday, “I said yes right on the spot” after Biden asked him to serve during a conversation on Thursday.
As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci has served several presidents, Republican and Democratic. During President Donald Trump’s administration, he has been largely sidelined as Trump gave rosy assessments of the virus and insisted it would fade away.
Fauci has urged rigorous mask-wearing and social distancing, practices that have not often been followed at the White House.
On Thursday, Biden said he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska has returned to work after recovering from the coronavirus.
The Anchorage Daily News reported the 87-year-old Republican lawmaker was back at work in his congressional office in Washington on Wednesday.
Young announced Nov. 12 he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized.
Young previously dismissed it as the “beer virus,” but later said he didn’t grasp the severity of the illness. Last month, voters re-elected him.
Young has held his seat since 1973 and is the longest-serving Republican in congressional history.
SEATTLE — Teams of registered nurses will help long-term care facilities across the state of Washington with staffing shortages caused by the pandemic.
The state Department of Social and Health Services announced it will send six “rapid response” teams to work at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes and other long-term care providers where employees tested positive for the virus or were quarantined.
On Thursday, health officials have reported 431 long-term facilities with at least one coronavirus infection.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma State Department of Health is providing $5.8 million to continue free coronavirus testing statewide through the end of the year.
State health commissioner Dr. Lance Frye says there’s been an “unprecedented number of COVID-19 tests for Oklahomans” ahead of the holiday season. He urged citizens to keep getting tested, “especially if you plan to travel or gather with anyone outside of your household during the holiday season.”
Federal funding has been used to provide more than 2 million tests statewide at no charge since the start of the pandemic. There’s been about 515,000 tests since Nov. 1, the health department says.
Oklahoma has reported a total of 204,048 confirmed cases and 1,836 deaths.
HONOLULU — The acting Hawaii state epidemiologist said the number of state contact tracers will shrink after the end of the year.
Sarah Kemble says the program is overstaffed and will downsize to match demand.
The state Department of Health currently has roughly 400 contact tracers. The state agency didn’t say how many tracers would be let go.
The health department had been criticized earlier during the pandemic for an inadequate contact-tracing program. Kemble says since then, the state has hired hundreds of contact tracers, but many are now inactive.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A World War II veteran from Alabama has recovered from COVID-19 in time for his 104th birthday.
A relative says Major Wooten is physically drained and a little fuzzy mentally after battling the coronavirus. But granddaughter Holly Wooten McDonald says he appears to be on the mend as he marks his birthday.
McDonald said her grandfather tested positive for coronavirus on Nov. 23 after her mother — his daughter — got the illness. He was hospitalized but the Alabama football fan and former worker at U.S. Steel got better.
Madison Hospital shared video of Wooten wearing a face mask and waving while workers sang “Happy birthday dear Pop Pop” as he was discharged in a wheelchair decorated with balloons on Tuesday, two days before his birthday.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president says he would get vaccinated to set an example for Turkish citizens to combat the coronavirus.
“There is no problem for me to get vaccinated,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday. “It is necessary to take this step as an example for our citizens.”
He says Turkey would purchase multiple vaccines and is in talks with Russia for their vaccine.
Turkey has ordered 50 million doses of Chinese Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac and its first shipment is due to arrive on Dec. 11.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told official Anadolu news agency vaccination would not be mandatory. But he would work to convince people by getting the shot as soon as Turkish authorities OK the vaccine.
Turkey is averaging about 30,000 coronavirus cases per day over seven days. The first weekend lockdown since end of May will begin Friday. The confirmed death toll has reached 14,316 since the start of the pandemic.
MADRID — Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa says the government hopes to vaccinate between 15 and 20 million people by next May or June.
The government had said it planned to vaccinate 2.5 million between residents and health workers in elderly care homes, first line health workers and disabled or dependent groups in the first three months.
It hopes to begin vaccinating next month and receive more than 140 million vaccine doses in all.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that in a third phase, the rest of Spain’s 47 million population would get vaccines. The vaccines will be free and voluntary.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Sociological Research Center issued a poll saying 55% of Spaniards would wait and see the effects of the vaccines before getting them. It said 8% would not take the vaccine.
LONDON — America’s top infectious disease has apologized for suggesting U.K. authorities rushed their authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, saying he has “great faith” in the country’s regulators.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had sparked controversy with an earlier interview in which he said U.K. regulators hadn’t acted “as carefully” as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Fauci said late Thursday that he meant to say U.S. authorities do things differently than their British counterparts, not better, but his comments weren’t phrased properly.
Fauci told the BBC: “I do have great faith in both the scientific community and the regulatory community at the U.K., and anyone who knows me and my relationship with that over literally decades, you know that’s the case.”
UNITED NATIONS — The White House coronavirus response co-ordinator says Americans must not gather indoors with outsiders or take off their masks at any time when they are outdoors -- even when they are eating and drinking.
Dr. Deborah Birx says people also have to observe social distancing and wash their hands to contain the coronavirus pandemic. She says some states are taking these measures, but in others it’s “not happening at the level that they need to happen.”
Birx says that even once vaccines are approved, it will take weeks to months before “the most vulnerable individuals in America” can be immunized.
She made the comments after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir at U.N. headquarters in New York on Thursday.
The Associated Press