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The Latest: $14M more in virus funds for 3 Ariz universities

·11 mins read

PHOENIX — Arizona will provide the state’s three public universities with $14 million in additional funding to boost their efforts to test, track and respond to the coronavirus.

Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday the money will help the universities build on their current efforts to track and contain the virus.

The funding comes as Arizona hospitals continue to get a break from the influx of coronavirus cases that nearly overwhelmed their ability to care for patients early in the summer. The state reported 566 new confirmed cases Thursday, bringing the total since the pandemic hit to 215,852. The state also announced 34 new deaths, bringing that total to 5,559.

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

— Russia reports highest daily cases since July

— India reports another 86,508 new coronavirus cases

— UK to subsidize wages of pandemic-idled workers

— The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid rose slightly last week to 870,000, a figure that shows the pandemic is still squeezing restaurants, airlines, hotels.

— Is it the flu? With cold weather coming to the Northern Hemisphere, people want to know how to distinguish symptoms

— Many at U.N. summit plead for a COVID-19 vaccine to be available and affordable to all, but their appeals are likely in vain

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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:

NEWARK, Del. — Officials at the University of Delaware say they are moving to cut personnel costs because of the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

School President Dennis Assanis said Thursday that without cost cutting, the university would have a $250 million gap between revenues and expenses this academic year. He says the school already has eliminated most discretionary expenses for this year and plans to draw $100 million from its endowment, but personnel actions must now be taken.

The new effort includes a voluntary retirement incentive program and encouragement for employees to temporarily scale back their work hours. But Assanis says planning is also underway for non-voluntary layoffs as well.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he will seek a “bill of rights” for college students in the wake of crackdowns on parties and other social gatherings that some people blame for a surge in coronavirus cases at campuses across the country.

DeSantis said Thursday that he understands university officials are trying to curb transmission of the virus, but added that he considers it "dramatically draconian that a student could get potentially expelled for going to a party.”

The governor also says he will move to block local governments from again closing restaurants. He says there is little evidence such closures have slowed the spread of the coronavirus.

Florida reported 2,541 more confirmed cases Thursday, bringing the statewide total to more than 693,000. The state also reported 177 more deaths from COVID-19, raising the toll in Florida to at least 13,795.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was one of the few major sporting events not cancelled in March as the coronavirus began to take hold in the U.S. And now race officials now planning for every contingency possible as they make plans to hold the race again next March.

Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach says getting mushers from one checkpoint to another along the 1,000-mile trail in Alaska is the easy part.

He says the main focus for planners is protecting residents in Alaska villages that serve as checkpoints and the roughly 1,800 volunteers needed to stage the race. He says the goal is zero community transmission.

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SALEM, Ore. -- Oregon officials have reported the state's highest one-day number of new coronavirus cases since mid-July.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 382 newly confirmed cases Thursday, raising the total for the pandemic to 31,865. The death toll is 539.

Nearly 25% of the cases reported Thursday were in Multnomah County, Oregon’s most populous county and home to Portland.

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LANSING, Mich. — Leaders of Michigan’s three biggest research universities say online teaching will likely last for the entire academic year, keeping many students out of classrooms until next fall.

The presidents of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University voiced that prediction Thursday.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel says development of coronavirus vaccines will be important for any return to normal in-class instruction. Only about 20% of the university’s classes now are in-person.

M. Roy Wilson of Wayne State says the winter semester will look like the current term because the pandemic “is going to be with us for a while.”

Most classes at Michigan State have been online since March.

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa school districts have sent hundreds of students home for quarantine or isolation after coronavirus outbreaks, while a high school has switched to online classes after a fourth of students were absent amid a surge in cases.

State officials on Thursday reported 1,341 newly confirmed cases across the state in the previous 24 hours, along with six additional deaths.

One Iowa district has quarantined the entire kindergarten through sixth grade elementary building of about 130 students after a staff member tested positive. Another district has 201 students and staff in isolation or quarantine, with 18 students and eight staff members testing positive.

North Scott High School has gone to all online instruction because its absentee rate surged to 23% since school started Sept. 1.

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Hospitals in Missouri’s third-largest city are approaching capacity due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

Officials at Springfield’s two major hospital systems, CoxHealth and Mercy, told the city council they are running out of staff and capacity, according to a report in the Springfield News-Leader.

Missouri is dealing with a surge in new coronavirus cases, with 1,580 more confirmed cases reported Wednesday. That puts the state’s total for the pandemic at 116,946. More than 100,000 of those cases have been reported since the state reopened for business in mid-June.

Among the new cases are Gov. Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa. Their positive tests were announced Wednesday.

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PARIS — France’s health agency announced Thursday evening that the country has had 52 new reported deaths and has over 16,000 new reported cases of coronavirus in 24 hours.

The number of new infections -- 16,096, up from 13,072 the day before -- is among highest recorded figures in France of coronavirus transmissions since widespread and large-scale COVID-19 tests in France began this summer, according to Public Health France.

Around 10 millions tests have so far been carried out.

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for the second consecutive day as the state continued to see some of the nation’s fastest spread of COVID-19.

The Department of Health reported 463 new cases and 194 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Health officials also reported eight deaths, one of the largest single-day death tallies during the pandemic.

The new records in coronavirus numbers come two days after Gov. Kristi Noem on Twitter described the spread of COVID-19 as having “peaked” in the state. Her administration plans to continue to rely on people making personal decisions to stop the spread.

Over the last two weeks, the state has reported the nation’s second-highest number of new cases per capita. The rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by about 49% in that time.

But the surge in cases has not stopped Noem from pitching the state as a tourism destination. In a video posted on Twitter this week, she shoots at what appears to be a pheasant and says, “Less COVID, more hunting. That’s the plan for the future.”

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BILLINGS, Mont. — Newly confirmed coronavirus cases in Montana have spiked to another record and health officials report that the number of infections tied to schools more than doubled in just a week.

State officials reported 333 new confirmed cases of the respiratory virus on Thursday, topping the previous single-day record set less than a week ago.

The number of schools with associated cases rose from 58 last week to 121. The overwhelming majority of those campuses reported new cases in the past two weeks.

Almost 500 infections in total have been tied to schools since classes widely resumed in late August. That includes about 200 cases at universities and about 200 in K-12 schools.

COVID-19 has killed 165 people and infected more than 11,000 people so far in Montana. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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LONDON — Britain has reported the highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day with 6,632 infections.

Public Health England Medical Director Yvonne Doyle says the figure is a “stark warning’’ as infections rise across all age groups.

She says citizens must follow the new restrictions announced by the government this week to control the spread of the virus. Doyle suggested downloading the National Health Service’s new coronarvirus contact tracing app.

Britain has the highest death toll in Europe, with nearly 42,000 confirmed dead. The rise in cases announced Thursday reflects both the spread of the virus and increased testing, which has more than doubled since the peak of the first wave in April and May.

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PHOENIX — Arizona hospitals are getting a break from the influx of coronavirus cases that nearly overwhelmed their ability to care for patients early in the summer.

However, new case counts are edging up. The state Department of Health Services reported 566 new confirmed cases across the state, bringing the confirmed total to 215,852.

The state announced 34 new deaths, bringing the confirmed death toll to 5,559.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Arizona has risen over the past two weeks, likely because the state is now counting some “probable” cases.

The state reported 565 people hospitalized on Wednesday, down from the mid-July high of more than 3,500.

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MADRID — Health authorities are asking residents in Madrid to brace for tough weeks as the Spain’s cumulative caseload surpassed 700,000.

More than 10,600 new infections on Thursday pushed the confirmed tally to 704,209 cases. The 84 new deaths bring the confirmed toll to 31,118.

The extended region around Madrid, comprising a population of 6.6 million, is struggling to control outbreaks that have hit harder working-class areas with high-density.

More than 850,000 residents have been confined this week to their neighbourhoods unless they have vital business.

Hundreds of protests gathered Thursday evening at the gates of several health centres in those areas to demand more resources for primary care medical personnel, who are grappling to test and follow up those suspected of having the virus.

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ROME — Residents of Naples and the surrounding Campania region must wear masks outdoors amid an increase in coronavirus.

Campania’s governor, Vincenzo De Luca, signed an ordinance Thursday requiring the masks outside through Oct. 4. The mayor of Genoa also issued an outdoor mask mandate.

The ordinances come as Italy is trying to tamp down the same wave of new infections that are spiking elsewhere in western Europe.

On Thursday Italy added 1,786 cases based on a record 108,019 tests. Another 23 people died, bringing Italy’s confirmed death toll to 35,781.

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ATHENS, Greece — State hospital workers in Greece staged a protest Thursday outside the country’s Health Ministry to demand increased hiring and staff support amid a surge in coronavirus infections.

A union representing the workers is calling on the government to hire hundreds of additional medical staff to the state-run health system and provide more administrative staff and translators to communicate with migrants.

Greece kept infection rates low before the summer but cases have risen in recent weeks. The total confirmed infections reached more than 16,000 since the start of the pandemic and the death toll to 357.

Public hospital managers say COVID-19 wards in greater Athens are near capacity and have staffing shortages.

The government says it is increasing intensive care spaces and vowed to step up policing health restrictions to ensure compliance by businesses and the public.

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ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- Bars and nightclubs are limiting capacity and closing early in the St. Louis area due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in larger crowds in St. Charles.

So the city is taking a cue from the 1984 movie “Footloose” and will ban dancing after 11 p.m. on Friday. St. Charles leaders met Wednesday with restaurant, bar and club operators and announced a temporary ban on “music activities.”

Mayor Dan Borgmeyer told KTVI-TV it feels “a little bit like the movie ‘Footloose.’” The movie starred Kevin Bacon as a big-city teenager who moved to a small town that banned dancing, at least until he turned things around.

The Associated Press