Governor urges New Mexicans to avoid Halloween gatherings

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Saturday said the spread of coronavirus is out of control in New Mexico as she urged residents to stay home and avoid gathering with others to celebrate Halloween.

“Please — do your part to protect yourself and your fellow New Mexicans by celebrating a COVID-SAFE Halloween,” the Democratic governor’s office said in a Facebook post. “Stay home. Do not gather with others.”

State officials on Saturday reported 592 additional known virus cases and 11 additional deaths but said the case data for the day was incomplete due to a technical problem.


“Due to a technical disruption of the electronic laboratory reporting system, the following data reflects only a partial total for today’s case update,” state officials said in a statement. “The delayed results will be included in the state’s reporting as soon as they are received and confirmed.”

The additional cases and deaths reported Saturday increased the state’s totals to 46,490 cases and 1,018 deaths.

The state reported over 1,000 additional cases on Friday when it also reported a single-day record of 13 deaths and when the state’s death toll exceeded 1,000.

Lujan Grisham on Friday ordered flags to fly at half-staff starting Monday for a week of mourning. She called the toll “an unfathomable tragedy,” saying the drumbeat of a few more deaths every day should not diminish the acute feeling of loss.

State health officials also renewed their pleas that people adhere to the public health order, which calls for residents to stay home whenever possible, limit contact with others and wear face coverings, among other things.

Coronavirus related hospitalizations reached 354 on Saturday, the ninth consecutive day the state has set a record for that metric.

State officials and administrators from some of the largest hospital systems in New Mexico have warned that the health care system could be overloaded if the trends continue.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The additional 11 deaths reported Saturday included six in Dona Ana County, four in Bernalillo County and one in Otero County.

The additional cases included 187 in Bernalillo County, 127 in Dona Ana County, 41 in Chaves County, 33 in Santa Fe County, 31 in Sandoval County, 22 in McKinley County and 17 in San Juan County.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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Utah governor ‘disgusted’ after health office vandalism

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Friday he is “disgusted” after someone shot at a state health department office in what he called an attempt to intimidate public health employees.

The agency said someone shot at its office overnight in the Salt Lake City suburb of Millcreek with what appeared to be a pellet gun. The vandalism occurred the night before the state reported its highest daily COVID-19 case count on Friday.

“I am disgusted by the attempts to intimidate public health workers,” Herbert said in a statement to Fox 13. “Targeting the selfless civil servants who work to keep our communities healthy is cruel and ridiculous. Our public safety teams will continue to work to protect the safety of those who work in public health.”

Photos shared with Fox 13 show a glass door and windows were damaged. No one was injured in the shooting.


The state health department reported a new daily record for confirmed coronavirus cases Friday with another 2,292 Utah residents infected. Utah also surpassed the grim milestone of 600 deaths from the coronavirus, just three weeks after passing 500 deaths.

The state also issued an emergency alert on mobile phones warning about the record number of cases and urging Utah residents in high transmission areas to follow mandatory mask orders and rules that curtail social gatherings to 10 or fewer people.

In the past week, Utah’s positivity average has increased from 15.8% to 18.2%, according to state data. The weekly average for new cases per day has increased from 1,355 to 1,622. State health officials have said that such a high positivity rate indicates the numbers of infection are far higher.

Herbert said people shouldn’t “become numb” to these numbers and the dire impact they will have on those infected and their families. He said Thursday’s new cases alone will likely result in 115 hospitalizations and 11 deaths based on Utah’s hospitalization and fatality rates.

“This will cause increasing strain on our already overworked medical professionals, and leave even more families with an empty chair at their dinner table,” Herbert wrote in a statement. “And that is to say nothing of the long-term effects many more of these Utahns will face, even as they recover.”

These record-breaking case numbers come a day after Herbert and other state officials warned that Utah hospitals may soon need to implement crisis care protocols because they “can’t keep up” with the recent coronavirus surge.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The shooting follows statewide anti-mask demonstrations, including two protests that occurred outside the home of State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn on Thursday. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said on social media that another state health employee’s home was also targeted but did not identify them.

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Arizona governor defends school rule as virus ‘storm’ looms

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday warned that a “storm is ahead” as coronavirus cases climb in the state, but defended new guidelines for in-person school instruction that will let students remain in class far beyond what earlier guidance would have recommended.

The Republican governor insisted that his administration consulted with public education and health officials before making the decision to ease guidance for when schools should consider ending in-person instruction and returning to online classes.

But Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat, said in a tweet that her department did not request or recommend any changes to the state health department’s guidance.


And two major school administrator groups objected to the decision, saying it goes against months of planning done following the previous guidance. The Arizona School Administrators and the Arizona School Boards Association released a statement s aying the change was made without communicating its reason or an understanding of its impact on schools.

Ritchie Taylor, Hoffman’s spokesman, said the Health Services Department presented the change as a done deal at a regular weekly meeting earlier this month of a group of county health officials and Education Department officials. The group has been meeting since the summer to collaborate on school virus issues.

“It was not put up for a collaborative debate or input,” Taylor said. “It was put up as a policy decision.”

The Health Services Department in August issued guidance outlining how and when schools can consider reopening and when they should close again if virus cases surge. Those rules suggested a return to remote learning if at least one of a county’s three benchmarks based on COVID-19 cases, testing positivity and prevalence of COVID-19-like illness moved from moderate to substantial spread.

The new recommendations were quietly posted on the health services department website last Thursday, and went unnoticed until KNXV-TV reported on them earlier this week. They call for districts to move to remote learning when all three benchmarks move to substantial spread for two weeks.

Ducey on Wednesday dodged questions about why there was no announcement of the change and did not specifically say who requested them. The guidance covers 1.1 million public school students in district and charter schools statewide. It doesn’t cover private or parochial schools.

“These guidelines were adjusted at the request of public education leaders in coordination with public health officials,” Ducey said. “And that’s how we’ll continue to do that and we will be completely transparent.”

The governor spoke at a media briefing where he discussed current virus conditions, which he said were rising. Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said she expects a further spike in cases after Thanksgiving, when college students return home and families gather for the holidays.

“I hope that I am wrong, but what I would anticipate is to see a spike about 10 to 14 days after Thanksgiving and then potentially continue to increase over the next four to six weeks,” Christ said.

That would strain hospitals, who

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Governor bans indoor dining in Chicago as virus cases surge

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Surging COVID-19 cases in Chicago prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday to ban indoor dining and bar services and limit the number of people gathering in one place.

The rules taking effect Friday will force diners and bar patrons outdoors and shut down service at 11 p.m. No more than 25 people may gather at one time, or fewer if that number would exceed 25% of room capacity.

“We can’t ignore what is happening around us, because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring,” Pritzker said, referring to the start of the pandemic, when health care resources were pushed to the limit because of the overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases.


Chicago, which comprises Region 11 of the state’s 11 COVID-19 monitoring regions, joins six other regions subject to what the Pritzker administration calls “resurgence mitigations.” A day earlier, Pritzker imposed the restrictions on Region 10, Cook County outside of Chicago and Lake County to the north.

After a summer of declining case numbers — Illinois fared better than many other states, particularly in the South and West — they began climbing again in August and jumped precipitously this month. There were 4,000 new infections and 46 additional deaths Tuesday, bringing total cases to 382,985 with 9,568 deaths.

There were 2,758 hospitalized, an 86% increase from a month ago, and both intensive care patients at 595 and the 241 on ventilators represented increases in the 70% range.

Other regions which hit the mitigation bar did so when positive rates of COVD-19 test results topped 8% for three consecutive days. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state public health director, said the latest additions, Cook County on Monday and Chicago on Tuesday, have seen the troubling rise in numbers of sick people requiring inpatient treatment as well as a jump in positive test results.

“Based on current trends, we soon could face reduced hospital bed availability and overwhelming our health care systems,” Ezike said.

Earlier Tuesday, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, predicted the action taken by the governor, pointing out that while COVID-19 is not as prevalent in Chicago as during the pandemic’s early days in March, the number of confirmed cases is doubling every nine days.

“COVID is widespread here in Chicago, and we need you to double down on the things that you know work,” Arwady said. “Please as much as you can, if there are interactions you’re having that are not essential, back off on those.”

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Associated Press writer Kathleen Foody contributed from Chicago.

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Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

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Federal judge rules against gym owner who sued CA governor

The front entrance at Fitness System’s health club in Sacramento, with a copy of the Bill of Rights taped to the door. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, that the owner had filed against California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other officials because of COVID-19 shutdowns. 

The front entrance at Fitness System’s health club in Sacramento, with a copy of the Bill of Rights taped to the door. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, that the owner had filed against California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other officials because of COVID-19 shutdowns. 

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A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Joaquin County and Lodi officials that had been filed by the owner of three Sacramento-area gyms after officials ordered the shutdown of fitness centers last spring because of COVID-19.

After a Zoom hearing in Sacramento federal court, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez agreed to requests by the defendants that the lawsuit be dismissed and found that the coronavirus pandemic was so dangerous that officials were within their authority when they first ordered the closures.

The orders were “a constitutional response to an unprecedented pandemic,” Mendez said.

Attorney John Killeen argued for the state that since Newsom’s original stay-at-home orders the state has loosened restrictions on fitness centers, including allowing some outdoor exercising and indoor workouts in San Joaquin County at 10% of capacity.

“A number of restrictions have been lifted,” Mendez said.

“I just don’t see any basis for allowing this lawsuit to go forward in the district court,” he added.

The suit was brought by Sean Covell, owner of Fitness System gyms in Land Park, West Sacramento and Lodi, and argued that the shutdown orders violated the Constitution and were costing his operations huge amounts of revenues and lost memberships.

The lawsuit was one of numerous complaints filed by fitness centers, churches and businesses against orders Newsom and health officials issued to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The lawsuits have largely been unsuccessful, although some are pending and yet another involving gyms in Dixon and Sacramento was filed in federal court in Sacramento on Monday.

Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.

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Idaho governor orders return to some COVID-19 restrictions

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Monday ordered a return to some restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus as intertwined health care systems across the state showed early signs of buckling.

The Republican governor returned the state to stage 3 of his four-stage reopening plan and said indoor gatherings will be limited to 50 people or fewer, and outdoor gatherings will be limited to 25% of capacity.

“Idaho is at a critical juncture,” Little declared during the Statehouse news conference with a heavy police presence as protestors could be heard shouting in the hallway. “This is unacceptable and we must do more.”


Little, who wears a mask in public and encourages others to do so also, didn’t order a statewide mask mandate, something many health care professionals have sought. But many residents in red-state Idaho oppose such a mandate.

State officials continue reporting surging infections daily, with 650 more on Sunday for a total approaching 60,000 along with 573 deaths.

The state’s positivity test rate is fourth-worst in the nation, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The restrictions announced Monday also include a mask mandate for all long-term care facilities and physical distancing for gatherings of all types. Employers should continue allowing teleworking for at-risk workers or make special accommodations in the workplace.

St. Luke’s, with hospitals in southwestern and central Idaho, is reporting that 20% of hospitalized patients are suffering from COVID-19. Its hospital in Twin Falls is postponing elective surgeries and sending children in need of medical care to Boise. On Monday, St. Luke’s told people to stop coming to its emergency rooms for COVID-19 testing.

Dr. Joshua Kern, vice president of medical affairs for St. Luke’s Magic Valley and Jerome, said the surge of patients in that area is approaching a level the hospital might not be able to handle, meaning deciding who gets treatment.

“That’s not good for our staff, having to decide who lives and dies, and it’s not good for the patients,” he said. “The natural outcome of not controlling the virus will be unnecessary deaths.”

State epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said some hospitals are in what’s called a contingency stage, one step below moving into a crisis stage that could lead to the scenario described by Kern.

Primary Health Medical Group, the largest independent medical group in Idaho, has had to close two of its 19 urgent care clinics in southwestern Idaho because of sick or quarantined staff. The clinics are a buffer keeping hospital emergency rooms in the region from getting clogged with patients not needing emergency-level care.

“This surge, this disease today, right now is out of control,” said Dr. David Peterman, a pediatrician and the CEO of Primary Health Medical Group.

The group reports that the positivity rate is up to nearly 7% among 5- to 12- year-olds, and nearly 11% for teenagers. Peterman said it’s not clear if a return to school for teenagers is causing a surge of infections in local communities or

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Colorado governor to quarantine after Aurora mayor’s positive coronavirus test

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) says he will self-quarantine after appearing more than a week ago at a press conference with Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman (R), who announced Sunday that he had contracted coronavirus.



Jared Polis wearing a suit and tie: Colorado governor to quarantine after Aurora mayor's positive coronavirus test


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Colorado governor to quarantine after Aurora mayor’s positive coronavirus test

A spokesman for the governor’s office confirmed to the Associated Press that Polis would self-quarantine while waiting to hear from contact tracers. Coffman announced his diagnosis on Twitter, writing that he experienced mild symptoms.

“My symptoms had cleared by Saturday so I went to an urgent care clinic today to get a rapid test so I could be able to go back to the office on Monday and resume my schedule. Unfortunately, the results of the test were positive. I will have to quarantine at home,” Coffman wrote.

Colorado has experienced a surge of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks as many states have seen rates of new infections rise with the beginning of fall. Officials reported 1,922 new cases on Saturday, according to The New York Times, and 550 are hospitalized for the virus across the state.

Polis has been an outspoken critic of the U.S. national coronavirus testing efforts, which he has said are “a complete disgrace” and “almost useless from an epidemiological or even diagnostic perspective.” The U.S. currently has the highest number of coronavirus cases, more than 8.6 million, of any country.

Gallery: Dr. Fauci Just Revealed His Assessment on Trump’s COVID Test Results (Best Life)

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Colorado governor quarantines after mayor tests positive

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is quarantining himself after learning that Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman tested positive for the coronavirus over a week after they appeared with other officials at a press conference, a spokesperson for the governor said Sunday.

In a statement, spokesperson Maria De Cambra said Polis would quarantine while waiting to hear from health officials investigating who else may have been exposed to the coronavirus about whether he should continue to isolate himself.

“He will be under quarantine until the health investigation is completed and he is informed. This is just another reminder of the need to cooperate with contact tracers, quarantine when needed, wear masks, social distance, and if you have any symptoms get tested,” she said.

Coffman, a Republican who previously represented a suburban Denver district in Congress for five terms, announced his diagnosis Sunday on Twitter. He said he came home from work Thursday morning not feeling well, thinking he had a very mild cold, but worked at home to be on the safe side. He said his symptoms cleared by Saturday and he got a rapid coronavirus test done on Sunday, assuming it would clear him to go to back to the office and resume his schedule.

“Unfortunately, the results of the test were positive. I will have to quarantine at home,” Coffman said.


Coffman and Polis attended an outdoor press conference on Oct. 15 to promote Colorado’s mail ballot system, which Coffman helped administer as secretary of state during the 2008 presidential election. Polis’ partner, Marlon Reis, current Secretary of State Jena Griswold, Denver Clerk Paul Lopez and state Sen. Julie Gonzales also spoke at the event. They stood staggered on a sidewalk near a ballot drop off box and each wore a mask until taking their turn to speak at the microphone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises anyone who has been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient to quarantine for two weeks. The risk of spread is considered lower outdoors.

Coffman’s diagnosis came on the same day as Colorado launched a statewide COVID-19 exposure notification system, in partnership with Google and Apple, that allows people to get smartphone notifications if someone they were near has tested positive for the virus. Users have to sign up to get notifications and users’ locations and identities will not be tracked, an announcement from Polis’ office said.

Citing a steady increase in Colorado’s coronavirus hospitalizations, state health officials announced new limits Friday on personal gatherings of people from different households in more than two dozen counties. The state is at risk of exceeding the peak in hospitalizations seen in April by mid-November, according to a modeling report released the same day by the state health department and the Colorado School of Public Health.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems

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Lt. Governor Tests Positive; Fatal House Fire: The Week In News

BIRMINGHAM, AL — As coronavirus cases have spiked in Alabama after a long period of decrease, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth announced he has tested positive for the virus.

This news comes after state officials announced hospitalizations for COVID-19 are up in the state by more than 150 beds since the beginning of the month.

Also in the news, a fatal house fire in the Huffman area is under investigation, as authorities think foul play may be involved.

Here are those stories and more from the previous week:

Fatal Hit And Run On I-59 Under Investigation

A multi-vehicle wreck on I-59 that caused one motorist’s death is under investigation by the Birmingham Police Department. The incident occurred Oct. 6.

Concern Over Increased Coronavirus Hospitalizations In Alabama

Since the last week of September, when the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 703 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state, the number of patients hospitalized has increased.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth announced Wednesday he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Foul Play Suspected In Fatal House Fire In Huffman Area

A house fire Friday morning in the Huffman area of Birmingham resulted in the death of one victim and the hospitalization of another victim.

Birmingham City Schools To Shift To Hybrid Learning Platform

After spending the first nine weeks of the school year learning from home, students at Birmingham City Schools will soon return to campuses, at least part time.

This article originally appeared on the Birmingham Patch

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Texas governor requests use of El Paso-area military hospital for non-COVID-19 patients as cases surge

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Saturday requested to use a medical center at Fort Bliss for non-COVID-19 patients as coronavirus cases surge in the El Paso area. The request comes as COVID-19 cases have been increasing throughout Texas and the country.

Abbott said Saturday that he had spoken to Dr. Robert Kadiec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to request use of William Beaumont Army Medical Center to free up beds at the region’s hospitals, according to CBS El Paso affiliate KDBC.

El Paso officials said 1,216 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Saturday, for a total of 10,911 active cases and 38,554 cumulative cases.

El Paso officials said Saturday one person died, a woman in her 40s with underlying health conditions. There have been 572 deaths in El Paso due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. 

As of Saturday, there were 715 people hospitalized in El Paso County due to COVID-19, including 199 in intensive care and 85 on ventilators.

US-TEXAS-HEALTH-VIRUS-ECONOMY
Cars line up for Covid-19 tests at the University of Texas El Paso on October 23, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. 

Photo by Paul Ratje / AFP) (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images


Abbott announced earlier this week that he would be sending more than 450 medical personnel to the El Paso area. He also said he will be sending extra equipment including ambulances, patient monitors, patient beds and oxygen concentrators.

“The medical personnel and supplies we are deploying to El Paso build upon the resources the state previously sent to the community and will provide much needed support to area hospitals and first responders,” Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to work with local officials to protect public health and help the El Paso community mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”  

A report by UT-Austin released Thursday said “the El Paso region has the most threatening projections, with an estimated 85% probability that COVID-19 cases will exceed local hospital capacity by November 8th, 2020.”

According to the same report, five other regions have a more than 25% chance of hospitals being overwhelmed with in 3 weeks: Amarillo (28%), Lubbock (29%), Wichita Falls (30%), San Angelo (29%) and Galveston (33%).

The Texas Department of Public Health reported Saturday more than 89,000 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, including more than 6,000 new cases. 

Coronavirus cases nationwide have been rising, with more cases reported on Friday than any other single day since the pandemic began. 

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