INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana schools are slowly making a dent in more than $200 million of federal aid meant to help local districts manage financial hardships spurred by the coronavirus.
Since May, nearly $22 million of Indiana’s share of federal CARES Act aid has been issued to school districts around the state, according to the Indiana Department of Education. State officials say millions more are expected to be given out in the coming months.
The financial help is intended to buy remote learning technology, equipment for sanitizing school buildings, protective equipment, staff training and emotional support for students.
State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick cautions the federal aid isn’t as much as it seems, adding that no one is going to “get rich” with the extra money.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Trump at military hospital; new cases among allies emerge
— Cavalier White House approach to COVID catches up to Trump
— India’s COVID-19 fatalities top 100,000, only trail US, Brazil
— Madrid starts first day under a partial lockdown with police controlling travel in and out of the Spanish capital, which has become a coronavirus hotspot.
— The Nobel Prizes show how slow, basic science pays off, even though everyone wants quick fixes to global problems. The Nobels, with new winners announced next week, often concentrate on unheralded and methodical basic science.
— Another Tennessee Titans player and two staff members tested positive for coronavirus, raising the team’s total to 17 since Sept. 24, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ASSISI, Italy — Pope Francis has traveled to the homeland of his nature-loving namesake to sign an encyclical laying out his vision of a post-coronavirus world built on solidarity and care for the environment.
In his first outing from Rome since the coronavirus lockdown in February, Francis celebrated Mass on Saturday in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Francis in the Umbrian hilltop town of Assisi. He was to pray at the tomb of the saint and sign his encyclical, which is to be released to the public on Sunday.
The document, entitled “Fratelli tutti,” or “Brothers all,” is in many ways expected to be a synthesis of the main priorities of Francis’ pontificate, which have focused on the need for greater solidarity with the poor, dialogue with others and care for God’s creation.
For Francis, the coronavirus pandemic has only confirmed his belief of the interconnectedness of the health of the planet and its people.
Like the rest of Italy, the Vatican under Francis locked down during the worst of the pandemic, forcing Francis to cancel audiences and travel. His trip to Assisi was his first outing from Rome since he travelled to Bari on Feb. 23 just before the lockdown.
CHICAGO — Chicago officials are encouraging music venues, theaters and other performing arts venues to apply for financial help while they’re closed because of the coronavirus.
Applications for the new relief program overseen by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events open on Monday. Up to 120 recipients can receive $10,000 grants backed by the Walder Foundation, the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund and Accion.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot says, “to keep this rich, diverse part of our city’s culture alive, it is critical that we continue to provide space and support for our artists, cultural workers and performing arts companies.”
Venues must be in Chicago and produce performing arts programs, including theatre, dance, performance art or live music.
NEW DELHI — India has reached 100,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths, trailing only the United States and Brazil.
The Health Ministry says the 79,476 new infections raised the overall confirmed caseload to more than 6.4 million. The country’s toll is nearly 10% of the global deaths.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist government have been criticized for the handling of the virus and the contracting economy that’s left millions jobless.
Overall numbers show India’s urban districts have accounted for nearly 80% of the death toll, but health experts warn of a “slow burn” surge in the country’s vast hinterlands.
“India has an inadequate health system, which is lopsided and unjustly distributed,” said Dr. T. Jacob John, a retired virologist.
Public health experts say a disorderly lockdown, which led millions of migrant workers to flee from cities to villages, further complicated the fight against the virus.
Still, India is preparing to reopen cinemas and entertainment parks with limited capacity beginning Oct. 15. Health experts warn the move has the potential for the virus to spread during the upcoming religious festival and winter season.
SANTA FE, N.M. — A federal judge has rejected an initial request to ease pandemic-related occupancy limits for in-person instruction at private schools in New Mexico, in a setback for a complaint supported by the U.S. Justice Department.
In a Friday order, U.S. District Court Judge William Johnson rebuffed the complaint from the father of a seventh-grade prep school student in Albuquerque who claimed restrictions aimed at social distancing are more severe at private schools than public ones.
Johnson noted some private schools have managed to reboot in-person teaching despite a 25% room occupancy limit, and 7-12 grade public school students are still cut off from in-person learning.
Private schools in New Mexico enroll about 22,000 students or nearly 7% of school-aged children.
KATHMANDU, Nepal — Three close aides of Nepal’s Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli have tested positive for coronavirus.
Oli’s political adviser Bishnu Rimal, press adviser Surya Thapa and foreign affairs adviser Rajan Bhattarai announced on social media their test results on Saturday. These three were close officials who worked with Oli while he works mostly out of his official residence in Kathmandu. They are also the highest-level officials to be tested positive to the virus in Nepal. It was not clear if the prime minister had taken any recent tests.
Nepal has 84,570 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 528 deaths.
ISTANBUL — The World Health Organization’s office in Turkey has reiterated its call for reporting coronavirus data in line with WHO guidance to “harmonize data collection and response measures.”
The statement comes days after Turkey’s health minister revealed the daily coronavirus figures published by the ministry reflected only patients with symptoms, excluding asymptomatic positive cases.
The WHO defines confirmed cases as: “A person with laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 infection, irrespective of clinical signs and symptoms.”
The WHO statement commended Turkey on its increased testing capacity and contact tracing. It said, “Turkey has been isolating all COVID-19 positive cases, regardless of their symptoms.” It added the agency has been consulting with members, including Turkey, to improve reporting and data collection.
Critics question the veracity of case and death toll numbers Turkey has reported during the pandemic.
PRAGUE — Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have been on a steep rise, setting a new record high for the second straight day.
The country’s Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase in new confirmed COVID-19 cases was 3,793 on Friday, 300 more than the previous day.
The country had a total of 78,051 reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic and 699 deaths. Currently, 42,320 are ill with the virus, with 1,134 hospitalized and 221 in serious condition.
The recent surge has prompted several hospitals to postpone non-urgent operations to be able to treat COVID-19 patients.
The government has declared a state of emergency starting Monday with new restrictive measures. Health Minister Roman Prymula predicted the number of people infected in one day could be higher than 8,000 later in October.
MELBOURNE, Australia — The COVID-19 figures in Australia’s Victoria state continue to show improvement but officials are concerned about an outbreak at the country’s largest shopping center.
Victoria reported three more COVID-19 deaths and eight more cases on Saturday. The figures take the state toll to 805 and the national death count to 893.
Melbourne’s latest 14-day average stood at 12 cases, and there have been 11 cases with an unknown source in the past two weeks up to Wednesday.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews says a recent outbreak linked to southeast Melbourne’s Chadstone Shopping Centre showed why it was unsafe to ease restrictions.
Melbourne’s strict lockdown rules continue to be eased, and an overnight curfew ended last week.
WASHINGTON — Two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have tested positive for the coronavirus, raising questions about upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett and whether additional senators may have been exposed.
North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Utah Sen. Mike Lee both said Friday they had tested positive for the virus. Both attended a ceremony for Barrett at the White House on Sept. 25 with President Donald Trump, who has tested positive and is hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Lee, who didn’t wear a mask at the White House event, said he had “symptoms consistent with longtime allergies.” Tillis, who did wear a mask, said he has no symptoms. Both said they will quarantine for 10 days — ending just before Barrett’s confirmation hearings begin on Oct. 12.
The positive tests come as Senate Republicans are pushing to quickly confirm Barrett in the few weeks they have before the Nov. 3 election.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s new coronavirus daily tally has remained in two digits for a third straight day as authorities called for public vigilance during one of the country’s biggest holidays.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Saturday the 75 virus cases added in the past 24 hours took the country’s total to 24,027 and 420 deaths.
South Korea’s caseload has recently displayed a downward trajectory following a spike in new infections between early August and mid-September. Stringent social distancing rules were credited with slowing the outbreak.
But worries about a rebound in new cases have grown again as South Korea is on the traditional autumn “Chuseok” holidays this week that would certainly increase public mobility.
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