Tag: restrictions

 

Norway to tighten coronavirus restrictions next week, says PM

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway will announce stricter measures next week to limit the spread of the coronavirus following a recent increase in the number of cases, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Friday.

“We see that the infection is spreading in many places,” Solberg said.

“This is worrying. Therefore we already now announce that there will be a tightening of national restrictions next week. The measures will be directed towards the areas where the infection is now spreading,” she said.

Though cases are rising and authorities are concerned, the situation in Norway is less dramatic than elsewhere in Europe. The Nordic country has currently the second-lowest level of new infections in Europe, after Estonia.

Its 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants was 36.6 as of Friday, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

There are wide disparities within the country though and authorities are most concerned with the situation in Oslo, where restrictions, such as compulsory wearing of face masks in public transport when social distancing cannot be maintained, are tougher than elsewhere in the country.

The government hopes to be able to start vaccinations in the first half of 2021, Solberg told a news conference.

“Vaccination against COVID-19 will be voluntary but the support for vaccines tends to be high in Norway,” she said.

(Reporting by Victoria Klesty and Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche)

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Montgomery County weighs added coronavirus restrictions as infections increase

If numbers continue to increase, the county could reinstate restrictions that were lifted in recent months. The seven-day average in new cases recently has exceeded 10 new infections per 100,000 residents.

“It’s not a good place to be,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) said during a news conference Wednesday.

Contact tracers have found that the virus is spreading at social gatherings, including those among family members, and at religious institutions, officials said.

County Health Officer Travis Gayles urged residents not to “let their guard down” with physical distancing or mask-wearing when gathering with relatives or close friends.

Recent data also shows that an increase in young residents testing positive has plateaued, giving way to a slight uptick in older adults contracting the virus. The trend “gives us pause,” Gayles said, as older adults are susceptible to more serious effects of the virus.

Nursing homes, however, have not seen a resurgence of the virus, he said.

“We don’t want to walk anything back,” Gayles said. “[But] if the numbers don’t improve . . . we’ll likely need to have closures.”

While the county has seen a slight rise in infections, the number of new cases across Maryland, Virginia and D.C. has ticked downward for about a week.

The greater Washington region on Wednesday recorded 1,563 new coronavirus cases and 38 additional deaths. Virginia added 1,018 new cases and 30 deaths, Maryland added 492 cases and eight deaths, and D.C. added 53 cases and no deaths.

The rolling seven-day average of new infections across the region stood at 1,692 cases on Wednesday. That’s down from a recent peak of 1,801 average daily cases on Oct. 14.

The number of new reported fatalities across the region tied Tuesday’s death toll — the most in a single day since Sept. 22 — led by statewide increases in Virginia. Virginia Health Department officials this week said the increase isn’t evidence of a surge in new deaths, but rather the result of waiting for death certificates to be prepared and for the data to be entered into a state database.

Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.

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The Latest: Ireland sets new virus restrictions for 6 weeks

MILAN — LONDON — Ireland’s government is putting the country at its highest level of coronavirus restrictions for six weeks in a bid to combat a rise in infections.

Premier Micheal Martin said Monday the measures take effect at midnight Wednesday and run until Dec. 1.

People are being asked to stay at home, with exercise allowed only within a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius of their home. Only essential stores can open. Restaurants and bars can provide only takeaway service. No social or family gatherings will be allowed in homes or private gardens, but schools will remain open to prioritize education.

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

— Confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide top 40 million but experts say that’s only the tip of the iceberg

— Coronavirus vaccines will require non-stop refrigeration to stay potent and safe, which may leave 3 billion people without access to them

— India reports lowest daily virus death toll in three months; Belgium and Slovakia slap night-time curfews on residents to control virus spread.

— To avoid the economic hit of full lockdowns, some places are trying more targeted restrictions

— Congress is past the point of being able to deliver more coronavirus relief before the Nov. 3 election

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state won’t allow distribution of coronavirus vaccines until it is reviewed by the state’s own panel of experts.

Newsom said Monday that California wants its own independent review no matter who wins the presidential election next month.

The governor named 11 doctors and scientists to review any rollout of vaccines by the federal government or vaccine developers. The board members hail from top California top universities and medical providers, along with state and local public health officials.

Newsom’s position pledge raises the possibility that California’s 40 million residents might not receive a vaccine as distribution begins in other states.

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SALEM, Ore. — As Oregon’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic nears 40,000, state health officials say face-covering requirements are being expanded.

Currently, Oregonians are required to wear masks at indoor public spaces and outside where they cannot maintain six feet of space between others. Health officials said Monday that they are expanding the guidance to include all private and public workplaces, including classrooms, offices, meeting rooms, colleges, universities, outdoor markets and private career schools.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Health officials in Texas have reported 4,319 COVID-19 hospital patients, the most since Aug. 28.

The state estimated Monday that 82,930 coronavirus cases are active in Texas. That is about a third more than the 64,431 reported a month ago, on Sept. 20.

In Houston, schools in the state’s largest school district resumed in-person classes Monday for the first time since campuses doors were closed in March when the coronavirus came to Texas.

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says

Northwest Houston bars hope to weather COVID-19 restrictions that keep them closed

Bars across Texas reopened their doors following Gov. Greg Abbott’s Oct. 7 order allowing individual counties to determine if it’s safe.

However, Harris County is still not allowing bars that don’t serve food to reopen, including some in northwest Harris County. The county still has a high degree of community spread of the virus, county officials said.

“Indoor, maskless gatherings should not be taking place right now, and this applies to bars as well,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted in response to Abbott’s order.


While some bars have been able to reopen because they sell food, those without a kitchen or food truck are still left not knowing when they’ll be able to open again.

Franklin’s Tower, at 4307 Treaschwig Road in Spring, first closed in March for the initial shutdown, and was only open for a few weeks after being allowed to reopen in May.

“It’s absolutely terrible,” Franklin’s Tower owner Brandi Neal said. “We’re in the neighborhood where my venue has provided not only a lot of jobs, but also a community atmosphere around here.”

Neal said her bar was a community staple in Spring, offering local artists space to paint murals, live performances from area musicians every weekend and homemade goods from small business owners close by.

“Basically, I’m just trying to hold on,” Neal said. “I really thought we’d be able to stay open.”

Neal said she is working on acquiring a food truck for her bar so they can reopen. She said she wanted to be back open months ago but at this point isn’t sure when that will be possible.

She has applied for business loans to try to keep the bar afloat but said everything she applied for has either been denied or pending. Many of her employees are still waiting for the bar to reopen to start working again.

“Luckily, our customers have been really good for them, and they’ve been cleaning houses or mowing lawns or running errands for them,” Neal said. “Some have gotten a little part-time work with bars in other counties, but they’re all waiting for us to be open.”

Meanwhile, Ultra Bar, 744 Cypress Creek Parkway, was planning to debut in March before the pandemic hit, setting back their opening indefinitely.

“We were devastated,” Ultra Bar Co-Owner Jamie Woo-Hughley said. “We don’t know what the future is for the bar industry.”

Woo-Hughley said they had done a total reconstruction for their building, but didn’t add a kitchen — so now they’re unable to open their bar. Now, she said, they plan to add a food truck outside in hopes they will be able to open.

“That’s really the only thing we have to try and recover other than just acting as a venue,” she said. “Even with that, you don’t know how many people can come in.”

With indoor bars, Harris County epidemiologist Maria Rivera said it’s harder to stop the spread of viruses

Mayor Lori Lightfoot Warns Some Phase 3 Restrictions May Return As COVID-19 Cases Rise Sharply

CHICAGO (CBS) — Facing a “very concerning increase” in COVID-19 cases not only in Chicago but across the country, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned that the city might be forced to move back to some Phase 3 restrictions soon if the city can’t get get the outbreak under better control.

“Make no mistake. We are in the second surge,” Lightfoot said Monday morning.

Lightfoot said, over past two weeks, the number of confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 in Chicago has risen more than 50%, to more than 500 per day. She said that’s the highest number of daily cases Chicago has seen since the tail end of the first spike of cases in May.

According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, the city’s 7-day average positivity rate is up 29% in the past week, rising from 4.2% to 5.4%. Lightfoot said the city also has seen a “worrying increase” in hospitalizations.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the COVID-19 hospitalizations in Chicago have risen 25% since late September.

“These numbers are extremely troubling, and are consistent with what we’ve been seeing across Illinois, and really across the country and world,” Lightfoot said.

Also From CBS Chicago:

Arwady said new COVID-19 cases have increased dramatically across all age groups, races, and ethnicities. She said the overall rate of new cases is increasing at a rate similar to the start of the first wave of cases in March, April, and May.

“We are sounding this alarm because the increase is real,” she said.

Lightfoot said, if the city doesn’t see those rates begin to drop soon, she will be forced to reinstate some COVID-19 restrictions that were lifted earlier this year.

“If we don’t see a dramatic turnaround in our numbers, and soon, we will not hesitate to take the steps that are necessary to save our city, to save our residents, and even if that means going back to some of our Phase Three restrictions,” she said.

The mayor did not specify what Phase 3 restrictions she might put back into place, but under Phase 3 of the city’s reopening plan, bars and restaurants were not allowed to serve customers indoors. Many stores and businesses were allowed to be open at 50% capacity, but non-essential businesses were limited to 25% capacity. Theaters, cinemas, and other performing arts venues were closed under Phase 3. Gyms and healthclubs were limited to outdoor classes or one-on-one training. Public gatherings were limited to 10 people or fewer.

The mayor said she realizes resuming some Phase 3 restrictions would be potentially devastating for businesses that already have been struggling during the pandemic, but she said if COVID cases continue to surge, she will have no choice.

“I don’t want to go there, particularly for those who are in business; the small businesses who have already suffered through a very difficult year. This would be a tragedy for many of them, but I’ve got to do what is right to protect us from this

Restrictions Near As Positivity Rate Tops 8% In Kane-DuPage

KANE COUNTY, IL — Coronavirus statistics in Region 8 are trending toward new restrictions after a surge of new cases over the past few weeks, according to public health data.

The positivity rate in Region 8 — made up of Kane and DuPage counties — hit 8.4 percent Sunday and climbed to 8.5 percent Monday, according to IDPH statistics. That means the county could trigger new restrictions if its positivity rate remains above 8 percent Tuesday.

The positivity rate in Region 8 was just 4.8 percent two weeks ago.

Teens Shot, Robbed Man During Drug Deal In Aurora: Police

Officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health are ready to impose coronavirus restrictions if a region’s positivity rate tops 8 percent for three days in a row. New restrictions could also be imposed if the positivity rate grows alongside increases in hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

Illinois Coronavirus Update Oct. 19 — Don’t miss updates in Kane County as they are announced — Sign up for Patch news alerts and newsletters.

Region 8 has reported positivity-rate increases each of the past 10 days, and five daily increases in hospital admissions over the same period. The region remains well above the state’s thresholds for medical/surgical beds and ICU beds, public health data shows.

Kane County Back On Watch List As Positivity Rate Tops 9%

The IDPH placed Kane County back on its watch list for new restrictions Friday after the county’s positivity rate hit 9.1 percent. Kane County’s positivity rate rose to 10.9 percent by Monday, the highest it’s ever been, according to public health data.

DuPage County’s positivity rate is 7.2 percent, as of Monday, according to the state’s data.

Teens Shot, Robbed Man During Drug Deal In Aurora: Police

Kane County’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases hit 158.8 cases Sunday after more than 400 new cases over the weekend. That’s nearly twice as high as that measure had been at any point in the previous four months.

Kane County recorded 189 new cases Saturday, the most in a single day since May 21, public health data shows.

REGIONAL NEWS:

This article originally appeared on the Aurora Patch

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Coronavirus restrictions reinstated in Wisconsin as New Mexico sounds the alarm

(Reuters) – As Wisconsin battled one of the worst coronavirus surges in the United States, a judge on Monday reinstated an order from Governor Tony Evers’ administration limiting indoor public gatherings.

Registered nurse (RN) Tammy Fellenz, wearing an NFL Green Bay Packers headband, takes a patient’s nasal swab at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drive-thru testing site at Froedtert North Hills Health Center in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, U.S., October 18, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan

The order, issued earlier this month to stem rising new COVID-19 infections in the state, put a 25% capacity limit on the number of people who may gather indoors, including at bars and restaurants, until Nov. 6.

“This critically important ruling will help us prevent the spread of this virus by restoring limits on public gatherings,” Evers said in a statement.

Wisconsin, one of several battleground states in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, is scrambling to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus that officials fear could overwhelm the state’s hospitals.

Evers’ emergency directive was challenged in court shortly after it was issued on Oct 6., and a judge initially blocked it on Oct. 14.

Wisconsin is one of five states where more than 20% of COVID-19 tests are coming back positive. Local health officials last week warned about “very intense community spread in all age groups” as they announced a string of grim records.

However, a field hospital erected at fairgrounds outside Milwaukee for COVID-19 patients was empty as of Sunday, according to Wisconsin health authorities.

FALL SURGE

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States last week rose 13% to more than 393,000, approaching levels last seen during a summer peak, according to a Reuters analysis.

(Graphic: Where U.S. coronavirus cases are rising and falling – here)

Thirty-four of 50 states have seen cases increase for at least two weeks in a row, up from 29 the prior week. They include Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina — all battleground states for the Nov. 3 election.

Deaths fell 2% to about 4,900 people for the week ended Oct. 18, according to the analysis of state and county reports. Since the outbreak started, nearly 220,000 people in the country have died and over 8.1 million have become infected with the novel coronavirus.

In New Mexico, the governor warned on Monday that the state’s healthcare resources might not be sufficient if coronavirus cases continue to rise at the current pace.

“If COVID-19 continues to exponentially spread like last week, New Mexico will not have the health care and hospital capacity for every New Mexican who needs care,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, wrote in a tweet.

(Graphic: Global COVID-19 tracker – here)

Reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago and Rich McKay in Atlanta; additional reporting and writing by Maria Caspani in New York, Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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Restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended into November, outbreak hits three Ontario hospitals

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

Canada-U.S.border restrictions extended

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, announced Monday the non-essential travel restrictions between the Canada-U.S. border will remain until Nov. 21.

“Our decisions will continue to be based on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe,” Blair’s tweet reads.

Traditional trick-or-treating not recommended in Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York Region

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, issued a statement on Monday indicating that “traditional door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended” in cities in modified Stage 2 restrictions – Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York Region.

In the statement, Dr. Williams states this is due to the “high transmission” of COVID-19 in these areas.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health recommends “alternative” was to celebrate Halloween in these regions, which include:

  • Encouraging kids to dress up and participate in virtual activities and parties

  • Organizing a Halloween candy hunt with people living in their own household

  • Carving pumpkins

  • Having a movie night or sharing scary stories

  • Decorating front lawns

“It is recommended that you also check with your local municipality or public health unit for any additional advice or restrictions that may be in place,” the statement reads. “It is also critical that families not travel outside of their neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween.”

In order to have a “safe and happy Halloween” in Ontario, Dr. Williams stressed that Ontarios need to avoid gathering with people outside of their household, stay home if feeling at all ill.

For people living outside of the modified Stage 2 regions, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health outlined a number of rules to follow for trick-or-treating.

  • Only go out with members of your household

  • Only trick or treat outside

  • Both trick or treaters and people handing out candy should wear a face covering and a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering but also should not be worn over a face covering as it may make it difficult to breathe

  • Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if waiting

  • Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects

  • Whether collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer

  • Do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab and consider using tongs or similar tools to hand out treats

CASES AND OUTBREAKS

Three Toronto hospitals report COVID-19 outbreak

Three Toronto hospitals are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks as confirmed cases in the city continue to rise.

UHN has confirmed that as of Oct. 16,

Italy Prime Minister Conte announces more restrictions as cases surge

A delivery person passes near St. Peter’s Basilica, as Italy tightens measures to try and contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy.

Remo Casilli | Reuters

Italy announced a raft of new restrictive measures aimed at curbing a second wave of coronavirus cases.

From Monday, local mayors will have the power to close public areas, such as squares and streets, after 9 p.m. in order to limit public gatherings which have been seen as one of the main reasons for a new spike in coronavirus infections.

Announcing the new restrictions on Sunday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open until midnight (but can be closed earlier if local leaders deem that necessary) if there is table service, but must close at 6 p.m. if not.  Social gatherings in bars and restaurants are restricted to six people per table.

“We mustn’t waste time,” Conte said as he announced the new measures in a televised address. “The country can’t allow another lockdown that would severely compromise the entire economy.”

Other measures introduced include encouraging distance learning for older students and staggered entry times to schools for other pupils. Contact sports at an amateur level remain banned, and gyms and leisure facilities have to adapt to the new measures. Local festivals are banned too.

On Sunday, 11,705 new infections were reported, up from 10,925 on Saturday and 10,010 the day before that, government data shows. Italy has recorded 414,241 cases in total, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Conte said Sunday the strategy being followed now to curb the spread of infections “isn’t, and can’t be, the same as the one implemented in spring.|

Then, at the start of the pandemic, Conte said, Italy hadn’t been prepared with enough intensive care equipment and masks, or able to do enough tests. Since then it had procured equipment, produced and distributed millions of masks among students and carried out up to 160,000 tests per day.

Italy was the epicenter of Europe’s initial coronavirus outbreak in February, with the first clusters of cases seen in Lombardy, before spreading to other regions in northern Italy and further afield into the rest of Europe.

Italy was the first part of Europe to introduce a local, then regional and finally a national lockdown in early March to stop the spread of the virus, meaning that all but food retailers and pharmacies closed and people could only leave their homes for essential reasons.

Italy’s economy has been hit hard by the lockdown earlier this year. The International Monetary Fund’s latest economic forecasts predict that Italy’s economy will contract 10.6%  in 2020.  Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco said in an interview with Bloomberg Friday that it will take at least two years for the country’s economy to get back to pre-Covid levels.

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Coronavirus spike: United States and Europe react to record numbers and new restrictions

In Europe, new restrictions and shutdowns are coming into place. Last week, the continent overtook the United States in cases per capita. Public health officials warned of an accelerating and possibly “exponential” rise in infections, with confirmed cases in the 53 European nations, as categorized by the World Health Organization, climbing from 6 million to 7 million in just ten days.

Without effective countermeasures, the WHO warned, daily coronavirus-related deaths in Europe could rise to five times their April peak. The dramatic resurgence of the virus across the continent punctured whatever illusions Europeans had that they had weathered the worst of the pandemic. Countries like Spain and Italy, which welcomed back holiday goers over the summer, are again among the front-runners in overall cases.

“Europe clamped down hard on the pandemic this spring, and the payoff was a summer that was more normal than many people had expected,” wrote my colleague Michael Birnbaum. “But by the end of August, infections were again on the rise, with more cases concentrated among younger people — who perhaps considered the virus a more remote threat. Now it is spreading to their parents and grandparents, and medical systems are beginning to feel the strain.”

Increased overall testing partially explains the spike, but experts also fear a steady uptick in deaths and hospitalizations. “The most worrying thing is that the number of cases is rising very quickly among the elderly, which will quickly result in many new patients arriving in hospitals,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday. France imposed curfews on Paris and eight other major cities over the weekend.

East Asia is not experiencing a similarly brutal wave of infections, a sign that the efficiency and enduring vigilance of the response in countries like Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan continue to set the standard for how to control the virus. The situation in Europe, though, further complicates the picture: Mask-wearing is perhaps more widespread in Spain than any other European country, but it still suffers one of the worst outbreaks on the continent.

Nor does it seem that any society has achieved anything close to herd immunity. “One of the hopes in some quarters had been that herd immunity could provide some protection, with places hard-hit in the spring sheltered from the worst of any resurgence in the virus due to increased antibody levels,” noted the Financial Times. “Unfortunately, that has proved not to be the case so far, with many of the centers of the outbreak in the spring also suffering the worst in the autumn, both at the country and subnational region level.”

The virus is spreading within countries to areas largely unscathed earlier this year, be it in the upper Midwest and northern plains of the United States or the southern Italian region of Campania, where daily detected cases are now five times higher than a peak in March, according to my colleagues. Authorities there shuttered schools in a bid to rein in the spike and stave off the disastrous