The Latest: Montana outbreak tied to Schwab country club

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A health worker checks a computer screen at the COVID-19 test department of the Broussais Hospital in Paris, Monday May 11, 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly pledged the country would be able to test up to 700,000 people per week as key to the re-opening process, but so far the number of people tested is much lower and the effective capacities in the country remain vague. (Alain Jocard, Pool via AP)

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— Montana outbreak tied to golf and country club developed by Charles Schwab

— Pasta factory in Spokane reports virus outbreak as Washington state prepare to reopen

— Sunday’s New York Times devotes entire front page to list of COVID-19 victims.

— Protesters gather outside California’s state Capitol to rally against stay-at-home orders.

— New York state records 24-hour death total under 100.

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HAMILTON, Mont. — An outbreak of COVID-19 in western Montana is tied to an exclusive golf and country club developed by financial executive Charles Schwab.

Stock Farm Club General Manager Steve Buck says the eight people who tested positive for COVID-19 in Ravalli County are employees of the club near Hamilton. One person had been hospitalized and seven others remained in isolation on Saturday.

The health department has said it was believed the first person who tested positive had contracted the respiratory virus outside the county.

Montana reported no new positive COVID-19 tests from samples run on Friday. The state has had 479 confirmed cases.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska Baseball League has canceled its summer season, as the future of sports worldwide remains uncertain during the coronavirus pandemic.

The summer league season was scheduled to begin on June 29. The league website says this season will be canceled to keep everyone safe from exposure to COVID-19.

KTVA-TV reported that if competition resumed on time there would have been travel and housing challenges during the seven weeks of play. The five-team league is made up of college players from mostly the Lower 48 but also from places as far away as Taiwan.

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SPOKANE, Wash. — A pasta company has announced there was a coronavirus outbreak at its Spokane factory as Washington state prepares to reopen parts of its economy.

The Spokesman-Review reported that Philadelphia Macaroni Company Inc. said in a statement Friday that 72 workers were tested for COVID-19 and 24 were positive. Health officials say there was an increase in Spokane County with 31 new positive cases between Thursday and Friday.

Company officials say all of the factory employees have since been tested and the facility was disinfected. The company is working with the Spokane Regional Health District to conduct contact tracing and determine further prevention measures.

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BEIJING — China on Sunday reported three new confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Two of the cases were brought from outside the country and one locally transmitted in the northeastern province of Jilin that has experienced a minor outbreak now apparently largely contained.

No new deaths were reported and 79 people remain in treatment, with another 380 under isolation and monitoring for being suspected cases or having tested positive for COVID-19 without showing any symptoms.

China has reported a total of 4,634 COVID-19 deaths out of 82,974 cases.

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CANBERRA, Australia — Government officials says six million Australians have downloaded a mobile telephone app that helps health authorities trace coronavirus infections

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the COVIDSafe app is playing a strong role in Australia’s response to the pandemic and several countries have expressed interest in learning from its positive impacts. If a user is diagnosed, the app works to identify other users who have been in close proximity for 15 minutes or more in the previous three weeks.

The government has said at least 40% of Australia’s 26 million people need to use the app for it to be effective. There are approximately 17 million mobile phones in Australia.

The government and states have been easing restrictions on travel and increased use of restaurants and bars in the past few weeks. Australia has recorded more than 7,100 cases of COVID-19, with 102 deaths.

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NEW YORK — The New York Times has devoted Sunday’s entire front page to a long list of names of people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

The names and brief descriptions culled from obituaries from around the country fill six columns under the headline “U.S. Deaths Near 100,000, an Incalculable Loss,” with a subheadline reading: “They Were Not Simply Names on a List. They Were Us.”

The all-text list takes the place of the usual articles, photographs and graphics in an effort to convey the vastness and variety of lives lost, according to Simone Landon, assistant editor of the graphics desk.

A tally kept by Johns Hopkins University says more than 96,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States.

Tom Bodkin, chief creative officer of The Times, said he did not remember any front pages without images, though there have been pages with only graphics, during his 40 years at the newspaper.

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SANTA FE, N.M. — A New Mexico state official says gatherings of more than 100 people may not be possible for more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said it could be a year or 18 monthsbefore there’s either a vaccine or herd immunity. That creates the prospect that sports stadiums, concert halls and conference centers in the state could remain empty for months.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Schroer spoke during a webinar Thursday on reopening the state’s hospitality industry.

The state had nearly 6,800 cases of COVID-19 with 308 deaths as of Saturday.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hundreds of protesters rallied outside California’s state Capitol on Saturday to protest stay-at-home orders even as residents entered the Memorial Day weekend with newly expanded options for leisure.

California Highway Patrol officers closed the Capitol lawn to demonstrators, so speakers addressed the crowd from the back of a flatbed truck as an airplane flew above towing a banner with a picture of Gov. Gavin Newsom and the words “End his tyranny!”

Protesters waved dozens of flags and signs, many in support of President Donald Trump. Few people wore masks and there was little room for social distancing.

The protest came as restrictions eased across much of the state. Some 45 of 58 counties have received permission to reopen most stores and many public spaces by meeting state standards for controlling the novel coronavirus.

Authorities continue to warn people to practice social distancing and other anti-virus measures, noting that the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to rise.

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HAGATNA, Guam — The Department of Agriculture in Guam has invited hunters to participate in a pig-hunting derby to provide food for families in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pacific Daily News reported that the department announced that the two-day derby is scheduled to begin next Saturday. The department released a statement saying the derby is intended to feed families, foster familial hunter development and reduce the feral pig population.

Event organizers are working with mayors to distribute pigs whole and unprocessed to residents within their villages and provide safe handling guidelines.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Coronavirus outbreaks at meat processing plants are forcing North Carolina farmers to euthanize 1.5 million chickens, according to a state official.

Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Joe Reardon toldThe News & Observer that this is the first time during the pandemic that farmers in the state have had to euthanize their animals. Roughly a third of the 1.5 million chickens already had been killed, Reardon said.

Chicken and hog farmers in other states also have been euthanizing millions of animals during the COVID-19 pandemic. North Carolina hog farmers have not taken steps to euthanize their animals, Reardon said.

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FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Eighteen soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division have returned to Fort Campbell after spending more than a month in New Jersey helping with COVID-19 response operations.

Fort Campbell officials say the soldiers deployed April 14 to help provide logistical support for the response to the new coronavirus outbreak throughout the Northeast. The troops helped receive, process and move supplies, equipment and personnel in critical areas affected by the virus outbreak.

The soldiers will undergo a precautionary quarantine under medical supervision. An official welcome-home event is being planned, officials said.

The Fort Campbell Army post is located along the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is scrapping his 10-person limit on group gatherings and allowing churches to open at 25% occupancy if certain safety guidelines are met.

Walz’s decision comes after the state reported a record number of COVID-19 cases. He says the issue has been “a challenging one” because large gatherings raise the risk of spreading the virus.

Walz says he understands the toll the pandemic has taken on the spiritual health of residents. His new executive order applies only to religious gatherings and not receptions.

While the leader of the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis welcomed the change, the governor said parishes should not open if they don’t feel they can meet safety measures.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in a letter to parishioners that limiting gatherings to 10 people had “burdened the Church’s ability to fully meet the sacramental needs of our faithful.”

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A woman who raised questions about Florida’s COVID-19 data after being ousted as the data’s curator had been reprimanded several times for violating Health Department policy, including for posting political commentary about the information, state records show.

Rebekah Jones’ comments over the past week and a halfin emails to researchers, interviews with a handful of media outlets, and blog posts have sought to sow doubt about the credibility of the data now that she is no longer in that role.

State health officials strenuously deny any issue with the information’s accuracy as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis seeks to make a data-driven case for a step-by-step reopening of the state’s battered economy following safer-at-home orders.

Jones has not alleged any tampering with data on deaths, hospital symptom surveillance, hospitalizations for COVID-19, numbers of new confirmed cases, or overall testing rates. She has, however, suggested Health Department managers wanted her to manipulate information to paint a rosier picture and that she pushed back.

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A hairstylist served 84 clients over eight days recently while experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, Missouri health officials say.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department said in a news briefing that the stylist worked between May 12-20 and announced in a Facebook post Saturday that 56 other clients were potentially exposed by a second stylist who worked five shifts from May 16-20 while experiencing very mild symptoms of the coronavirus.

All clients of the two stylists wore masks and will be tested. The owner of the business said in a statement that the salon will be closed until it goes through sanitizing and deep cleaning

The state health department reported 218 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, bringing the total to 11,558 since the pandemic began. That was the largest one-day total since 319 cases were reported May 1. Ten new deaths brought that total to 671.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina has failed to change its election laws to ensure that voters can safely cast ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic, voting rights advocates claim in a federal lawsuit.

The nonprofit Democracy North Carolina and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina sued Friday on behalf of several elderly or disabled residents whose medical conditions make them more vulnerable to coronavirus.

The lawsuit alleges that several aspects of North Carolina’s absentee vote-by-mail requirements are unconstitutional because voters will have to risk exposure to COVID-19 to successfully vote.

For example, mail-in absentee voters are required to complete the ballot in the presence of two witnesses or a notary. State law also requires voters to submit their registration applications at least 25 days before the election or else register in-person at an early voting site, the suit notes.

The lawsuit says that will result in millions of state residents either losing their right to vote or being forced to compromise their health in order to cast a ballot. The state Board of Elections and other state officials are named as defendants.

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STURGIS, S.D. — The mayor of Sturgis says city officials can’t stop people from coming to the annual motorcycle gathering in the Black Hills of South Dakota, regardless of the new coronavirus.

The 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is scheduled for Aug. 7-16. The City Council has said it would make an official decision in mid-June on whether to go forward with hosting the event, theRapid City Journal reported.

Mayor Mark Carstensen said in a Facebook video that “tourism is coming” to the Black Hills and Sturgis. A manager with The Hotel Sturgis said all 22 rooms have been booked for the week of the rally and there is a waiting list.

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DOVER, Del. — The University of Delaware says it is laying off more than 1,100 part-time employees, mostly students, in a move to cut costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The News Journal reportsthat students account for 805 of the 1,146 part-time employees who were notified of their layoffs on Thursday.

An email to employees said the layoffs, which take effect on June 1, do not affect adjunct faculty, graduate students, work-study students or employees whose wages are paid through external funding.

But many adjunct professors will not have a teaching position in the fall due to a hiring freeze.

In April, the university announced that it faced a $65 million budget shortfall due to pandemic’s financial toll, including revenue lost from prorated housing and canceled athletic events.

The university hopes to reopen campus in phases starting June 1 with certain research facilities.

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BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Health Ministry is reporting the steepest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the government began recording cases in late February.

The ministry reported 308 new cases Saturday, one day ahead of celebrations to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Curfew hours had been relaxed during the month of fasting, which contributed to higher daily rates of infection.

According to ministry figures, more than 4,200 people have tested positive for the virus in Iraq. At least 152 people have died.

Roads have been clogged with traffic and supermarkets and shops have been packed with people preparing for the celebrations, likely contributing to the increase in infections.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state reported its lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths in weeks in what Gov. Andrew Cuomo described Saturday as a critical benchmark.

The daily death tally was 84 after a peak of 799 on April 8.

Reducing the state’s daily death count to fewer than 100 seemed almost impossible several weeks ago, the Democratic governor said. That figure has remained stubbornly high even amid other signs of encouragement.

“In my head, I was always looking to get under 100,” Cuomo said. “For me, it’s a sign that we’re making real progress.”

The number of hospitalized patients in the state that has been the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. continued to fall, dropping to over 4,600.

Cuomo also announced that the region along the Hudson River north of New York City and south of Albany is set to begin reopening Tuesday, and that Long Island could follow suit Wednesday.

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ATHENS — Two fatalities from COVID-19 were reported in Greece during the most recent 24-hour period, bringing the death toll to 171, health authorities announced Saturday.

Another three new infections have been recorded since Friday afternoon, raising the nation’s total to 2,876. The number of patients on ventilators stands at 20, while 99 have left intensive care.

Greek authorities say they have performed 152,998 tests for the disease.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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