The Latest: Arkansas will encourage, not require, masks

By The Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’ll encourage people to wear face masks in public but indicated that he doesn’t plan to enact a statewide requirement.

Hutchinson told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he’s “not going to pass a mandate that is unenforceable.”

He added that residents will be educated about the importance of face coverings to protect others.

His comments came as Arkansas has seen an uptick in the number of reported coronavirus cases. The state health department on Saturday reported at least 570 more cases of the virus and 10 more deaths, bringing the number of reported cases to 19,310 and the death toll to 259.

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PHOENIX — Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far.

It was also the seventh time in the last 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark.

The Arizona Department of Health Services also reported nine additional deaths. That pushes Arizona’s documented COVID-19 totals to nearly 74,000 cases and 1,588 known deaths.

Some Arizona hospitals have begun activating surge plans to increase their capacity to treat COVID-19 patients as confirmed cases rise and more people seek treatment.

Arizona became a coronavirus hot spot following Gov. Doug Ducey’s lifting of stay-home orders last month.

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NEW YORK — Five people died Saturday from the coronavirus in New York state, a death toll Gov. Andrew Cuomo called “the lowest number we have had since this started.”

Saturday’s total compared with 13 fatalities the day before as the number of fatalities caused by the virus continues to plummet in the state. During the peak of the pandemic in April, nearly 800 people were dying a day from coronavirus.

The governor cautioned, however, that the numbers could spike again if New Yorkers let down their guard down and fail to follow social distancing and mask-wearing requirements.

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JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus have risen to more than 138,000, including 2,456 deaths.

Those figures were released Sunday evening by the government. South Africa’s cumulative total of reported cases represents more than 30% of the more than 371,500 cases reported by Africa’s 54 countries.

Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize warned that the country is entering a period of surging cases and hospitalizations that he said will soon be “exponential” and will push the country’s hospitals to their limit. Mkhize warned that spikes are expected in mines, factories and schools that are reopening.

South Africa is relaxing its lockdown restrictions to encourage a resumption of economic activity.

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

— Virus cases worldwide hit 10 million

— Businesses weigh reopening – or close again – as reported virus cases rise

— Experts look to set expectations on any virus vaccine

— Experts see no proof of child-abuse surge amid pandemic

— A divided Poland holds presidential vote delayed by pandemic, while France holds municipal elections.

— Nurses, doctors feel strain as virus races through Arizona

— The pandemic means that millions of women in Africa and other developing regions could lose years of success in contributing to household incomes, asserting their independence and expanding financial inclusion.

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WASHINGTON — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says President Donald Trump’s “unique” circumstances are why he doesn’t wear a mask even as the government is urging people to do so.

Addressing spikes in reported coronavirus cases in some states, Azar said people “have to take ownership” of their own behaviors by social distancing and wearing masks if possible.

He says Trump doesn’t have to follow his own administration’s guidance because as a leader of the free world he’s tested regularly and is in “very different circumstances than the rest of us.”

Azar declined to say whether he’s ever asked Trump to wear a mask. He told CNN and NBC that his own message to the people is to take precautions for “public health.”

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee says Trump should spend more time tweeting about wearing masks instead of monuments. Inslee tells CBS: “We need a president who will care more about living Americans and less about dead Confederates.”

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ROME — Italy has added 174 more confirmed infections and 22 deaths to the official coronavirus toll in the onetime epicenter of Europe’s outbreak.

Sunday’s Health Ministry update confirmed a weekslong general trend of hard-hit northern regions still tallying the most new confirmed infections while southern regions register single digit increases or none at all.

Lombardy topped the list again with 97 new infections, followed by 21 in Emilia-Romagna. There, officials are trying to control and trace a cluster that originated in a courier company that has reported dozens of infections this week.

Eight southern regions reported no new infections over the last 24 hours. Five others reported just one new case. All told Italy has reported 240,310 confirmed infections and 34,738 dead.

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JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have climbed to a new high of more than 371,000, including includes 9,484 deaths.

The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released those figures Sunday.

South Africa has more than 1/3 of the continent’s cases. It reported 7,210 new cases, its highest single daily increase to date. A statement from Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize says South Africa now has 131,800 confirmed cases, including 2,413 deaths for a mortality rate of 1.8%.

The Western Cape province, including Cape Town, has 45% of the cases. But Gauteng province, including the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria, is experiencing a surge of the virus, taking it to 26% of the country’s cases.

The more rural Eastern Cape province currently has 18% of South Africa’s cases.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have reported 10 new coronavirus cases since Saturday afternoon, but no new deaths.

Total confirmed cases now stand at 3,376, with 191 deaths. Ten patients are on ventilators and 119 have exited intensive care units.

Despite being widely commended for having successfully contained the spread of the pandemic, Greek authorities are still wary. There are several reports of people flouting social distancing rules, and local alerts, such as the one Sunday on an island close to the capital Athens, where a test on an arrival from abroad came up positive, but not before the person had already been at a well-attended local funeral.

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WASHINGTON — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is stressing that “the window is closing” for the U.S. to take action to effectively curb the coronavirus.

Azar pointed to a recent spike in infections, particularly in the South. He says people have “to act responsibly” by social distancing and wearing face masks especially “in these hot zones.”

Azar argued that the U.S. is in a better position than two months ago in fighting the virus because it is conducting more testing and has therapeutics available to treat COVID-19.

But he acknowledges that hospitalizations and deaths could increase in the next few weeks, because it is a lagging indicator.

Texas and Florida reversed course on parts of their reopening and clamped down on bars on Friday as the daily number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S. surged to an all-time high of 40,000.

Azar spoke on NBC and CNN.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A Maryland man who has helped organize “reopen” protests against measures intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus says he has the virus.

Tim Walters is a co-founder of the ReOpen Maryland movement. The Capital Gazette and Washington Post report that he announced on social media that he has tested positive.

In a Facebook video, he said he was diagnosed at a hospital emergency room. The newspapers report that he said, “Here I am months after not wearing a mask at rallies, churches and so on and so it’s funny how capricious this thing is.”

Walters declined interview requests from the papers. He said he would not provide any information to public health officials trying to trace the spread of the disease. Walters emphasized he had contacted people he’d recently interacted with.

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BERLIN — The southern German state of Bavaria says it’s starting a program to offer coronavirus testing for all residents.

State Health Minister Melanie Huml said Sunday that the “corona test offensive” will help provide Bavarians “clarity if they have been infected.”

Bavaria is Germany’s largest state by area and is home to some 13 million people. It has been the worst hit by the coronavirus both in terms of infections per capita and in total numbers.

As of Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control center, reported the state had 48,294 of Germany’s overall 193,499 cases, with 2,592 of its 8,957 deaths.

Bavaria is the first of Germany’s 16 states to undertake universal testing. Until now, testing has been focused on people with symptoms or possible exposure, as well as in certain professions where they are more likely to have come into contact with the virus.

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MOSCOW — Russia has recorded 6,791 new cases in the past day.

The national coronavirus task force said Sunday that the total number of cases rose to 634,437.

It said 104 people died of the virus over the past day, bringing the total dead to 9.073.

Russia has the third-highest coronavirus infection case count in the world. But it has reported far fewer deaths than many countries with smaller infection case counts, leading to speculation that figures are manipulated which Russian officials vehemently deny.

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LONDON — Britain’s government is pledging to support local officials the central English city of Leicester, amid reports that a spike in COVID-19 cases would prompt authorities to lock the community down.

The Sunday Times reports that a lockdown would come within days after 658 new cases were recorded in the Leicester area in the two weeks to June 16. It would be the first time Britain had locked down a single area during the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Social Care on Sunday acknowledged the city was an area of concern. It says it is “supporting the council and local partners in Leicester to help prevent further transmission of the virus.”

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Confirmed coronavirus infections have surpassed the 10 million mark worldwide.

A tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University registered the grim milestone Sunday, after India and Russia added thousands of new cases. The United States has confirmed more than 2.5 million infections, the most in the world.

Globally, the Hopkins tally has reported nearly 500,000 deaths.

While Hopkins reports only confirmed coronavirus cases, experts believe the true number of people who have been infected could be as much as 10 times that figure, given that so many people can’t get tested or may have the virus without showing any symptoms.

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PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has been registering a steep increase of the number of people infected with the coronavirus.

The day-to-day increase reached 260 new confirmed cases on Saturday, up from 168 the previous day and 93 the day before.

It is the highest number of newly infected people since April 8. It comes amid the government’s easing of its restrictive measures and despite a typical lower number of tests over the weekend.

The Czech Republic has had 11,306 confirmed cases while 347 people have died, according to Health Ministry figures released on Sunday.

Source: mercurynews
The Latest: Arkansas will encourage, not require, masks