The Latest: Virus spreading in S Korea as restrictions ease

International

A man wearing a face mask, walks by a Charlie Chaplin street art, in the Montmartre district of Paris, Sunday Oct.25, 2020. A curfew intended to curb the spiraling spread of the coronavirus, has been imposed in many regions of France including Paris and its suburbs. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 103 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, continuing a steady spread as people increasingly venture out in the public amid eased social distancing measures.

The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday brought the national caseload to 26,146, including 461 deaths.

Sixty-six of the new cases were reported in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan region. At least 31 patients have been linked to a golf gathering in Yongin, which emerged as the country’s latest cluster of infections.

Officials have also been testing thousands of workers at hospitals and nursing homes in the capital area following outbreaks that sickened hundreds at a number of these facilities.

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

— United Nations cancels in-person meetings after virus cases at New York headquarters

— Russian issues nationwide mask mandate; foreign minister Lavrov in quarantine

— Italy registers nearly 22,000 confirmed daily coronavirus cases

— Mask-less Pope Francis noticed by Vatican virus commission

— Iowa elections officials concerned over surge in coronavirus cases, with possible illnesses or absences among key workersand volunteers a hindrance through Election Day.

— World Series played at a neutral site in front of smallest crowds in a century, but Dodgers and Rays are just happy that some fans are there

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— Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Surging coronavirus infections in Chicago have prompted Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker to ban indoor dining and bar services in the city and limit the number of people gathering in one place.

The rules taking effect Friday will force diners and bar patrons outdoors and shut down service at 11 p.m. No more than 25 people may gather at one time. Occupancy may not exceed 25% capacity.

The governor said that “without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring.”

Chicago joins six other regions in Illinois that are subject to what the Pritzker administration calls “resurgence mitigations.” A day earlier, Pritzker imposed the restrictions on Cook County areas outside Chicago and Lake County to the north.

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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations canceled all in-person meetings after a U.N. member nation reported five coronavirus cases among its staff.

General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir sent a letter to the 193 U.N. member nations announcing Tuesday’s cancellation on the advice of the U.N. Medical Unit.

He didn’t identify the country. Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because there hasn’t been a public announcement, say it was the African nation of Niger. Niger’s U.N. Ambassador Abdou Abarry has a staff of 17, according to the latest U.N. directory.

Assembly spokesman Brenden Varma says contact tracing is expected “to be done quickly and efficiently.”

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric says in recent weeks, between 1,300 and 1,400 people swiped their passes every day to enter the U.N. building in New York.

–Edith Lederer

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ROME — Italy on Tuesday registered nearly 22,000 confirmed coronavirus cases since the previous day, its highest one-day total in the pandemic. The Health Ministry reported 221 more deaths.

The last several nights have seen protests in some Italian cities, reflecting anger about overnight curfews in some of Italy’s regions. Nationwide restrictions began this week, closing down gyms, pools, cinemas and theaters. Restaurants are required to close before dinner hour.

Northern Lombardy and southern Campania regions have been experiencing the highest daily caseloads in recent days.

Italy’s total confirmed cases rose to 564,778 and the death toll reached 37,700.

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MADRID — Spain is reporting more than 8,300 coronavirus cases in the past day and 746 more deaths in the last week.

Amid the resurgence, Spain’s Socialist-led government will try to win approval in parliament on Thursday for its plan to declare a six-month state of emergency.

A state of emergency would make it legally easier for authorities to take swift action, including temporary curfews, to crack down on hot spots.

Spain last week became the first European country to surpass 1 million officially recorded coronavirus cases, although authorities say the actual figure could be much higher.

Almost 16,700 coronavirus patients are in the hospital, representing 14% of hospital beds. About 25% of beds in ICUs are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Spain’s Health Ministry has recorded a total of 1.1 million coronavirus cases, with nearly 35,300 dead.

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PARIS — France has had a big spike in the number of daily deaths from COVID-19, recording an additional 523 deaths in 24 hours on Tuesday evening, the highest daily death total since April.

The French government also reported an additional 33,417 new infections.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told French citizens to “expect difficult decisions” ahead of a Wednesday evening announcement by President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron is hosting two emergency Defense Council meetings to discuss further restrictions against a second wave of the virus. The number of people currently hospitalized has increased by 1,194 from Monday to Tuesday, bringing the total to 18,978.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said “nobody disagrees with our objective, which is to absolutely prevent our hospitals being in a situation where they can’t admit new patients.”

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NEW YORK — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is embarking on a first-in-the-nation testing program to test thousands of workers weekly to guard against a second wave of the coronavirus.

MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said Tuesday that the goal will be to test 15% of frontline workers weekly.

Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano said in an email that would amount to roughly 6,000 bus and subway workers. Overall, the nation’s largest public transit system has more than 70,000 employees. More than 120 MTA employees have died from COVID-19 this year.

The testing will be done at field sites, including bus depots and subway and train yards, and at several medical assessment and operational health centers. Results will be available within 24 to 48 hours.

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MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers pleaded with Wisconsin residents Tuesday to voluntarily shelter in place as the number of coronavirus infections in the state and related deaths hit new daily records.

The virus has been running rampant in Wisconsin since September. The state was fourth in the country in per capita cases over the last two weeks as of Monday, with 840 cases per 100,000 people.

State health officials reported 5,262 newly confirmed cases on Tuesday, easily shattering the daily record of 4,591 set on Oct. 20. They also reported the virus was a factor in another 64 deaths, breaking the old daily record of 48 deaths seat on Oct. 21.

The state has now seen 206,311 and 1,852 deaths since the pandemic began in March.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida reported nearly 4,300 coronavirus cases on Tuesday as the number of patients hospitalized also ticked upward.

There were 2,333 people being treated for the disease in Florida hospitals. That figure reached nearly 10,000 in late July, then declined steadily until late September when it began hovering between 2,000 and 2,200 for several weeks.

The numbers of deaths per day have continued to decline, averaging about 57 a day over the past week, down from a high of 185 in early August.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed 786,311 total cases and 56 deaths more deaths Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 16,708.

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PHOENIX — Arizona reported 1,157 new coronavirus cases and 16 deaths on Tuesday.

As of Monday, 861 people were hospitalized for COVID19, the state reported.

Hospitalizations recently increased to levels last seen in late August when Arizona was a national virus hotspot.

The daily average of cases went from 711 on Oct. 12 to 1,010 on Monday. The positivity rate, which measures community spread, rose from 7% to 9.4%.

The Department of Health Services reports 240,122 total cases and 5,891 deaths.

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ST. LOUIS — Missouri reported 1,695 coronavirus cases and 28 deaths on Tuesday.

Hospitalizations statewide remain high, with 1,407 in Missouri hospitals having confirmed or suspected COVID-19 illnesses.

St. Louis-area hospital officials are urging people to take precautions to slow the spread of the virus, warning that the region’s hospitals are at nearly 90% capacity.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force on Monday reported a seven-day average of 360 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, the worst since May.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City area recorded its highest number of deaths in a one-week period, with more than 80.

Overall, Missouri has reported 172,717 cases and 2,838 deaths.

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MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday decreed three days of national mourning for victims of the coronavirus, coinciding with the traditional Day of the Dead ceremonies starting this weekend.

The president says the flag in the capital’s central plaza will fly at half mast Saturday through Monday. A special Day of the Dead altar will be placed at the National Palace.

Mexico has reported at least 89,100 confirmed deaths, although authorities estimate another 50,000 likely died from the virus, based on a rise in the death rate.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington is among a handful of Western states that have joined California in a pact to independently review the safety and efficacy of any coronavirus vaccine that is ultimately approved by the FDA before any distribution occurs in those states, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday.

Last week, California was the first to announce such a plan, and Gov. Gavin Newsom said the independent review would happen regardless of who wins next week’s presidential election. Oregon and Nevada are also part of the pact, according to Newsom’s office. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month appointed a similar independent task force.

Inslee said the panel will not be reviewing whether the vaccine should be mandatory in any instances, and that no one has proposed that. But he said he was “cautiously optimistic” that most people would choose to get the vaccine.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — More people are hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 in Alabama than anytime since August as the coronavirus pandemic worsens across the state, health officials reported Tuesday.

Statistics from the Alabama Department of Public Health showed that 1,001 people were hospitalized with the illness, marking the first time since Aug. 31 that hospitalizations statewide passed the triple digits.

While worsening, the total is much lower than in July, when around 1,600 people were treated daily in hospitals after a surge of cases that health officials believe was linked to the July 4 holiday.

But cases have been on a steady rise since late September, and health officials say it’s unclear whether Alabama is headed to a new spike in cases that could stretch the capacity of hospital intensive care units or more gradual increase.

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ROME — The decision by Pope Francis to forgo wearing a mask has been noticed by a member of the Vatican’s coronavirus commission.

The Rev. Augusto Zampini acknowledged Tuesday the 83-year-old pope, who is missing part of a lung because of an illness in his youth, is at high risk for complications of the virus.

“He has started to use the mask now,” Zampini said. “And I hope he will use it in the general audiences, when he’s close to the people. When you’re in an open space, we know that it’s different. But we are working on that.”

Francis has courted some criticism for declining to wear a mask when indoors. Vatican regulations call for masks indoors and out when social distancing cannot be guaranteed.

On Saturday, the pope met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and neither they nor anyone in the Spanish delegation wore masks.

The photos caused a mild stir in Spain over the weekend. The prime minister’s office says the delegation was following Vatican protocol rules. The Vatican has declined to respond to questions about Francis and masks.

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