Pittsburgh — A federal judge on Tuesday declined to stay his own ruling that Gov. Tom Wolf’s size limits on gatherings are unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV said the administration had failed to show “imminent and irreparable harm will occur” if the state can’t limit event crowds to 25 people inside and 250 people outside.
State officials had asked Stickman, an appointee of President Donald Trump, to delay enforcement of his ruling while they appeal.
Stickman’s ruling invalidated key parts of the Wolf administration’s early pandemic response, including his orders requiring people to stay at home and shuttering thousands of businesses deemed “non-life-sustaining.”
Wolf, a Democrat, has since eased many of the restrictions, but Stickman also ruled against the state’s current size limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings, saying they violate citizens’ constitutional right to assemble.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— US death toll from coronavirus hits 200,000
— India confirms 75,000 coronavirus cases, 1,000 deaths in one day
— Madrid may extend virus measures despite outcry
— Mobile apps for tracing coronavirus cases get mixed reviews
— England will order pubs and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. People who can work from home will be encouraged to do so.
— Virus infections and deaths in French nursing homes are on the rise again. Nearly half of the 31,000 people confirmed to have died in France with the virus were nursing home residents.
— The only thing more difficult than staging next year’s Tokyo Olympics in a pandemic might be convincing sponsors to keep their billions of dollars on board. Tokyo needs to convince sponsors the Olympics will really happen.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
O’FALLON, Mo. — The mostly rural Bootheel region of Missouri is seeing high numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but unlike many other hard-hit areas, the surge isn’t tied to any particular place or demographic.
Information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows that several southeast Missouri counties have some of the state’s worst rates of confirmed cases per capita. Perry County’s rate of 3,055 cases per 100,000 residents is second only to McDonald County’s 4,545 cases per 100,000. McDonald County, in southwestern Missouri, saw a big outbreak this summer tied to meat plants.
Perry County Health Department Director Sylvia Forester said Tuesday that part of the reason for the high number of cases in her county has been aggressive testing from the outset of the pandemic. Still, there is concern about how the virus has moved through the rural county of 19,100 residents because the outbreak isn’t tied to nursing homes, meat plants or colleges — places that have driven outbreaks in many non-urban areas.
“We do have indicators of community spread,” Forester said.
Like most Missouri counties, Perry County has no mask mandate. Some large events have been called off this year to limit the virus’ spread, Forester said, but others have not, including a motorcycle rally last weekend in Perryville.
WICHITA, Kan. — More Kansas schools have ended in-person classes and canceled sports because of coronavirus exposure and team quarantines.
Both Haysville and Derby have quarantined their high school football teams, but Derby still plans to hold Friday night’s game, the Wichita Eagle reported. Chanute has canceled football games, but is continuing in-person classes against the recommendation of the state’s reopening guide.
The school board in Atwood overruled the superintendent’s decision to move classes to remote learning before reversing course.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is expected to identify active coronavirus clusters on Wednesday, including outbreaks at schools and on sports teams.
Gov. Laura Kelly has said she feared large outbreaks of COVID-19 as children return to school, sports practices resume and college students return to campuses.
HELENA, Mont. — Montana is seeing a “remarkable increase” in COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, the state’s medical officer said Tuesday, as officials urged residents to step up measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and seasonal influenza.
The increase in cases is due to schools and universities reopening, Labor Day weekend gatherings and continuing spread in congregate living settings, such as nursing homes and jails, said Stacey Anderson, state epidemiologist.
Montana’s COVID-19 cases were stable at about 800 per week from when Gov. Steve Bullock issued a mask mandate for most counties in mid-July through early September, said Jim Murphy, head of the Communicable Disease Bureau within the state health department. However, over the past seven days, the state has reported nearly 1,500 cases. The state’s confirmed case total was 10,700 on Tuesday with 163 deaths.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force suggested Montana consider fines for violations of face mask mandates in areas with increasing cases, but Bullock said he will continue to stress personal responsibility with the goal of keeping schools and businesses open. Counties are allowed to implement additional restrictions.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed to a “spirit of togetherness” as he unveiled a series of new restrictions on everyday life to get on top of a dramatic spike in new coronavirus cases.
Warning that the new restrictions could last for six months through the winter and into the spring, Johnson said pubs, restaurants and other entertainment venues in England will have to close at 10 p.m.
In a speech with deliberate echoes of wartime communal spirit, Johnson said that “never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behavior.”
The prime minister told lawmakers that if the new curbs did not slow the outbreak, “we reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions.”
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump hasn’t offered an immediate public response to the United States crossing the grim milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths, but the White House says he is taking the toll seriously.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tells reporters at a briefing Tuesday that the president has said before that it keeps him up at night thinking of even one life lost.
McEnany says Trump has worked hard to fight the impact of COVID-19. She says that decreasing mortality rates and what she described as the largest mobilization of the private sector since World War II are a result of his efforts.
Retired Gen. Keith Kellogg, who serves as a national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, tells reporters of the nation’s COVID-19 deaths, “do not think for a minute that that has not bothered us” and “it bothers the president.”
The bleak milestone, by far the highest confirmed death toll from the virus in the world, was reported by Johns Hopkins, based on figures supplied by state health authorities. But the real toll is thought to be much higher, in part because many COVID-19 deaths were probably ascribed to other causes, especially early on, before widespread testing.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island was added Tuesday back to the list of states whose residents are required to quarantine for 14 days when traveling to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Those three states add states to their travel advisory lists if new daily cases hit 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day average, or if a state has a 10% test positivity rate.
Rhode Island had been added to the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut travel advisory list in August, but was taken off a week later.
Rhode Island was added because the total number of new cases is on the rise, which is a result of the state’s aggressive virus testing, according to a statement from a spokesperson for the state Department of Health.
“Rhode Island is doing more testing than any other state in country,” Joseph Wendelken said. “We are the only state with a dedicated, centralized K-12 testing system, and we have a very high proportion of college students in Rhode Island, almost all of whom are being tested.”
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette has returned to public life after being diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month.
Evette came to the South Carolina House chambers on Tuesday, meeting with members, giving hugs and telling the story of how she recovered from the virus over and over again. She was wearing a mask.
Evette, 53, had a sore throat and a headache on Sept. 10 and sought out a COVID-19 test that came back positive a day later.
House Speaker Jay Lucas welcomed Evette back to the House chamber. The Hartsville Republican joked from his location presiding over the House on the other side of the room “if it’s OK with you, I’ll just wave.”
LONDON — Pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi have agreed to provide Canada with up to 72 million doses of their potential COVID-19 vaccine as governments buy up supplies of unproven treatments in hopes of ensuring supplies of whatever works.
On Tuesday, the companies reiterated their commitment to make the vaccine affordable and available globally.
“Both companies have significant R&D and manufacturing capability worldwide and are already working hard to scale up production,” Roger Conner, president of GSK’s vaccine unit, said in a statement. “This announcement from the Government of Canada supports our ongoing efforts.”
The agreement with Canada follows earlier deals with the U.S., European Union and U.K. governments.
PRAGUE — The new Czech health minister says all bars and restaurants will have to close sooner as part of new restrictions to contain a new wave of coronavirus pandemic in his country.
A day after he was appointed, Roman Prymula said Tuesday that bars and restaurants will have a new closing hour at 10 p.m. (2000 GMT).
The new measure will become effective on Thursday. So far, the closing hour was set at midnight.
Prymula told the Czech public television further measures to limit the number of spectators at sport events will be announced on Wednesday. He says he expects up to 2,000 fans still be allowed at the stadiums to watch soccer games.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he has “done an amazing” and “incredible job” handling the coronavirus, even as the country surpasses 200,000 virus deaths.
Trump boasted of his administration’s efforts in an interview with WJBK FOX 2 Detroit at the White House Tuesday just before Johns Hopkins University announced the confirmed U.S. death toll now tops 200,000 people — the highest in the world.
He claims, “We’ve done an incredible job between the ventilators and now the vaccines and everything else and the therapeutics” and insisted, “The only thing we’ve done a bad job in is public relations because we haven’t been able to convince people – which is basically the fake news – what a great job we’ve done.”
Trump claimed the country could have had two to three million deaths had his administration taken no action, while brushing off suggestions – backed by models – that if he had shut down the country sooner, thousands of lives could have been saved.
And he appeared to be trying to rewrite history as he insisted that when he recommended certain lockdown measures, “everybody said there’s no reason to shut down,” including the nation’s top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. That is not the case.
ROME — Italy added another 1,392 coronavirus cases to its confirmed toll, holding steady in its daily increases as other European countries impose new restrictions amid a surge in infections.
Another 14 people died, bringing Italy’s official death toll to 35,738, the highest in Europe after Britain.
Every Italian region reported new cases Tuesday, bringing Italy’s official count over 300,000. The Lazio region around Rome leading the country with the most at 238. Hard-hit Lombardy, which was the onetime epicenter of the outbreak in Europe, reported 182.
While hospitalizations and intensive care admissions are ticking up nationwide, Italy has so far managed to keep its infections per 100,000 people far lower than France, Spain or Britain, which on Tuesday imposed new restrictions including closing pubs early and urging people to work from home.
Italy, which imposed a strict, three-month lockdown in spring that largely tamed the virus, can only process around 100,000 tests per day. Individual regions are authorizing rapid tests in a bid to broaden the number of people who can be screened at least with a preliminary test.