World hits 800,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths

Coronavirus

German chancellor Angela Merkel, left, wears a face mask due to the coronavirus pandemic as she meets Governor Armin Laschet, right, during her visit at Germany’s most populated province North Rhine-Westphalia in Duesseldorf, Germany, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

NEW YORK — The world hit a grim coronavirus milestone Saturday with 800,000 confirmed deaths and close to 23 million confirmed cases.

That’s according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Governments have been attempting to balance public health with economic health.

Officials believe the true numbers are far higher because of a lack of testing and reporting. In the U.S., the nation with the most infections, health officials believe there may be 10 times more cases than the confirmed 5.6 million. The U.S. also leads the world in deaths, with more than 175,000.

The news comes as South Korea, once considered a coronavirus success story, banned large gatherings, shut nightspots and churches, and banned fans from professional sports to slow a viral resurgence. Germany, which also initially slowed the virus, reported a four-month high of more than 2,000 cases on Saturday. Schools there reopened two weeks ago, and at least 41 schools this week reported students or teachers were infected.

In the U.S., schools have begun to reopen, with coronavirus outbreaks triggering sudden closings, quarantines, and anxiety among parents.

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

— Germany reports 2,000 new daily cases of coronavirus

— Quarantines, closures: Confusion reigns as schools reopen

— Their final breaths are tormented. Miami ICU nurse Rublas Ruiz has seen too many of them, the last gasps of 17 men and women who died of the coronavirus.

— South Korea is banning large gatherings, sports fans, shutting nightspots and churches as it battles the spread of the coronavirus.

— Fifteen Minnesota residents have contracted the coronavirus after being exposed during the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. Minnesota health officials expect the number to grow.

— 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:

BERLIN — Germany’s disease control reported 2,034 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, the first time the daily national increase has topped 2,000 since the end of April.

The Robert Koch Institute calls the coronavirus outbreaks “very concerning.” They are reported in various settings, including nursing homes and hospitals, schools, and “especially among travelers and in the context of religious or family events.”

Germany’s 16 states are resuming in-class schooling. There are concerns about the risks of virus clusters at schools spreading to families and others. In Berlin, at least 41 schools this week reported students or teachers had become infected.

The country was widely applauded for its quick and efficient effort to initially slow the spread of the pandemic, which peaked at more than 6,000 daily cases near the end of March and early April. But the figures have been increasing in recent weeks.

Overall, Germany has more than 232,000 confirmed cases and 9,200 deaths.

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BREMERTON, Wash. — Washington state health officials say more than 30 coronavirus cases have been reported in an outbreak at a Bremerton hospital.

The Washington State Department of Health says the outbreak has affected multiple units at St. Michael Medical Center, which is part of the CHI Franciscan system. Officials say the outbreak involves hospital staff and employees.

The Kitsap Public Health District and state health officials say they are working with the hospital to contain the outbreak after the first case was reported late last week. Officials say patients discharged from the impacted units have been notified and new admissions and visitation at the hospital is currently limited.

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NEW YORK — New York state will apply for a federal program for unemployment money now that the state won’t have to add funds.

President Donald Trump had signed an executive order this month making money available from a FEMA fund after a new pandemic relief bill wasn’t reached. The $400-per-week benefit put the onus on the states to pay $100 a week of that amount.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the idea “laughable” because state budgets are cash-strapped from the coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance last week saying states would not have to contribute.

New York budget director Robert Mujica says, “the federal government has blinked and will no longer make states provide funding they do not have.”

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PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has recorded its biggest single-day increase in coronavirus cases.

The Health Ministry says there were 506 new cases in the latest 24-hour period. The previous high was 377 cases registered on March 27.

The announcement Saturday comes a day after neighboring Slovakia also reported a record daily increase of infected people.

The Czech Republic has 21,551 confirmed cases and 411 deaths.

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NEW DELHI — India recorded nearly 70,000 new coronavirus infections as the disease spreads across the country’s southern states after plateauing in the capital and the financial center of Mumbai.

India’s Health Ministry reported 69,878 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 2,975,701. Globally India has been reporting the biggest daily rise in cases for 18 consecutive days.

Some 2.2 million people have recovered from the disease in India since the first case was diagnosed in late January.

India has the third-highest caseload behind the United States and Brazil. Its 55,794 deaths are the fourth-highest death toll in the world.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is banning large gatherings, shutting nightspots and churches, and removing fans from professional sports nationwide in an attempt to slow a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo announced the measures Saturday after officials reported 332 newly confirmed cases, marking the ninth straight day of triple-digit increases.

Most of the new cases were in the Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the center of the viral surge of recent weeks. But infections were also reported in nearly every major city and in towns across the country.

The government had already imposed the tighter restrictions in the capital region this week, a move they resisted for months out of economic concerns. Park says it has become inevitable to expand the same measures nationwide with the virus spreading more broadly.

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BEIJING — Health officials in China say in their report on the coronavirus that the country had no locally transmitted infections in the latest 24-hour period, though 22 cases were confirmed in Chinese arriving from abroad.

While the local spread of the virus appears to have been contained in mainland China, the semi-autonomous southern city of Hong Kong is struggling with its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says free coronavirus tests will be offered to residents during the first two weeks of September, in hopes of restarting the heavily services-dependent local economy.

A new surge in infections that started in July has more than tripled the number of cases in Hong Kong to 4,632 and 75 deaths.

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WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he would do whatever was needed to keep the country safe amid the coronavirus pandemic even if that meant shutting down the country.

Biden made the comment in an interview with ABC. The interview airs Sunday night, but clips were provided Friday.

Biden says, “I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus.” He adds that if scientists recommended shutting down the country, “I would shut it down.”

President Donald Trump is encouraging schools to reopen and people to get back to work. The U.S. has had more than 5.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 175,000 deaths.

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SALEM, Ore. — Oregon public health experts say the number of new coronavirus cases in the state has dropped over the past month, but the decline hasn’t been enough for schools to safely open.

The state is averaging about 250 new cases a day, and health officials say that needs to drop to about 60 for schools to reopen.

Gov. Kate Brown says residents will have to continue to follow and enforce current statewide pandemic mandates or else bars and restaurants may have to close and travel restrictions will be implemented.

Brown says at the current rate, schools won’t be able to reopen until April.

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut is doubling the amount of federal coronavirus money dedicated to rental assistance.

But housing advocates contend it falls far short of what is needed to help as many as 130,000 households estimated to face possible eviction between now and Dec. 31 because of the pandemic. In comparison, there were about 20,000 eviction filings in all of 2019.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Friday that $10 million will be added to the original $10 million for the rent program. His office says the amount that can go to the rent program is limited by Congress.

Lamont says he’ll soon sign an executive order extending the moratorium on residential evictions until Oct. 1.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is asking Canada for help with U.S. residents of a small peninsula who have been marooned by the pandemic-related closure of the U.S.-Canada border.

Point Roberts is part of Washington state, but it juts out from the Canadian mainland south of Vancouver and is not connected to the rest of Washington. About 1,300 people live there.

In a letter Friday to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Inslee suggests residents of Point Roberts be given special travel permits allowing them to drive directly to and from the Washington state mainland.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — The governing body for Pennsylvania interscholastic sports decided Friday to move forward with the fall season, rejecting the governor’s recommendation that all youth sports be postponed until 2021 to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The board of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association had delayed the start of fall sports by two weeks after Gov. Tom Wolf on Aug. 6 urged that scholastic and recreational youth sports be put off until January, citing the pandemic.

The PIAA had said it was blindsided and “tremendously disappointed” by Wolf’s recommendation — which was not binding — and insisted that fall sports could be held safely. For his part, Wolf has pointed out that major collegiate leagues have independently canceled fall sports.

The board voted 25-5 on Friday to allow high school football, soccer, tennis, field hockey and other fall sports to go on as planned, starting Monday. Among those voting no: board members representing professional associations of school boards, superintendents and principals.

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