The Latest: SKorea sees COVID-19 cases spread beyond capital

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 43 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 from across the country as infections begin to spread beyond the greater capital area, which has been at the center of a virus resurgence since late May.

The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday brought national totals to 12,800 cases, including 282 deaths. Seventeen of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live, while infections were also reported in other major cities such as Daejeon, Gwangju, Busan and Sejong.

Twenty of the new cases were linked to international arrivals as the coronavirus continues to strengthen its hold in Southern Asia, the United States and beyond.

Authorities in recent weeks have been struggling to track transmissions that have been popping up from various places as people increasingly venture out in public amid an erosion in citizen vigilance.

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

— Experts say the pandemic is wreaking havoc in poor and war-torn nations.

— Virus cases worldwide hit 10 million and deaths have surpassed 500,000.

— UK PM Boris Johnson says the pandemic “has been a disaster” for Britain.

— Hunger stalks Yemen’s children as pandemic hits Arab world’s poorest nation.

— Nurses, doctors feel strain as virus races through Arizona.

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

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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:

SALEM, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday that people throughout Oregon will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces starting Wednesday to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The guidance applies to businesses and members of the public visiting indoor public spaces, she said in a news release.

Face covering requirements were mandated in eight counties last week. Over the past month, Brown said the disease has spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties.

Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth play a critical role in reducing the spread of the disease because droplets from people’s breath can carry the virus to others without people realizing it, she said.

She said she did not want to close businesses again as has happened in other states that are seeing a spike in cases. She said Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) will take the lead in enforcing face covering requirements for all covered Oregon businesses.

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly says she will issue an executive order mandating the use of masks in public starting Friday to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“The evidence could not be clearer — wearing a mask is not only safe, but it is necessary to avoid another shutdown,” the Democratic governor told reporters Monday.

Kelly’s executive order would require every Kansan to wear a mask if they are around other people. She said her administration will issue specific guidance later this week and will work with the attorney general’s office to implement the policy.

Local officials would enforce the policy.

“”This is all we have to fight this virus and it is up to each of us to do our part,” Kelly said.

Kansas health officials reported on Monday at least 14,443 confirmed coronavirus cases, an increase of 905 since Friday. The state also had six more deaths from COVID-19, bring the total number of deaths in the state to 270. Kansas reported that 1,152 people had been hospitalized.

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MIAMI — In South Beach, not wearing a mask could lead to a $50 fine starting Tuesday. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the broader regulations, which include requiring masks when not able to socially distance, including outside, in condominium common areas and at hotels, will be punishable with a verbal warning or fine. A curfew is also being discussed.

“We don’t have too many tools left in our kit, and we don’t want to be forced to return to a shelter in place order that proved so economically devastating,” Gelber said, urging residents to comply.

The city will also dispatch ambassadors to congested areas to pass out free masks.

“To those of you who seem to believe that wearing a mask is a political statement — it is not. This virus couldn’t care who you support or what party you belong to,” said Gelber. “I don’t know the politics of the 13 seniors living here in South Beach and who recently perished.”

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LONDON — The British government has reimposed lockdown restrictions in the English city of Leicester after a spike in coronavirus infections, including the closure of shops that don’t sell essential goods and schools.

In a statement in Parliament, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government won’t be recommending that the city joins in the easing of the lockdown in England that is due to take place on Saturday, which includes the reopening of pubs and restaurants.

He also said non-essential retailers, such as department stores and electronic retailers, will have to close again, two weeks after they reopened.

In addition, he said that schools will have to close from Thursday, though they will stay open for vulnerable children. And he also travel to, from and within the city will have to be curtailed.

Hancock said “precise and targeted actions like these will give the virus nowhere to hide and help us defeat this invisible killer.”

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AUSTIN, Texas — A group of Texas bar owners filed lawsuits Monday seeking to overturn Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that closed their businesses to help contain the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

Abbott has pinpointed the re-opening of bars last month as one of the sources behind a dramatic spike in new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations that has made Texas a national hotspot in a virus resurgence.

The lawsuits filed in Austin, Houston and Galveston allege Abbott doesn’t have the authority under the state constitution to make such an order, and that it targets bars while allowing other establishments, such as hair and nail salons and tattoo studios to remain open.

Abbott’s order shuttered establishments that make at least 51 percent of their revenue from alcohol sales. It also trimmed restaurant dining capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent.”

The bar owners say Abbott should bring the Legislature into a special session to address the issue.

A spokesman for Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The city of Jacksonville, where President Trump is expected to accept the Republican nomination, enacted a mandatory mask requirement for public and indoor locations, and “in other situations where individuals cannot socially distance.”

The requirement begins at 5 p.m. Monday.

This is a reversal from city leaders. On June 23, Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry said he didn’t plan to issue a mask mandate.

“I do not think that’s a prudent action to take,” Curry said at the time. “We do not need to have law enforcement out in public enforcing this. It’s not an efficient use of resources and we’re not going to prosecute people, start prosecuting people, ticketing people and arresting people because they choose not to wear a mask.”

He had urged people to wear masks and to socially distance themselves.

The Republican event is scheduled to be held in Jacksonville in late August.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is done talking about why he pushed out a top health official during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Republican governor deflected multiple questions Monday about the forced resignation of former public health commissioner Cathy Slemp as he continued to doubt the accuracy of the state’s virus caseload numbers.

Justice has said he thinks the state’s active caseload may have been overstated, floating the idea that the tally could be exaggerated by around 300 cases, while providing little detail. He has blamed Slemp, who has worked for decades in public health, and suggested she was responsible for the discrepancy before having her removed from her post last week.

“There’s no point in continuing to debate my decision or my lack of confidence in Dr. Slemp,” he told reporters Monday, adding that a “culmination of a lot of different things” prompted his decision. He did not elaborate.

Slemp’s resignation has drawn a sharp rebuke from high-ranking officials at the respected Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who said they were “stunned and troubled” by her removal.

“We need more than ever the work of dedicated public health officials speaking honestly about what is happening — and what all of us can do together to save lives,” they wrote in a statement.

Slemp, in a resignation letter provided by the state health department, urged officials to listen to science.

“I encourage all to stay true to the science, to further work to engage and empower communities to address such an unprecedented situation collectively, to meet people where they are and to move forward together,” she wrote.

The governor has said the health department is trying to fill Slemp’s former position as soon as possible.

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DAKAR, Senegal — Senegal is reopening its air borders as of July 15, President Macky Sall announced Monday night even as he himself remained in isolation after being exposed to COVID-19.

In his address to the nation, Sall also lifted a state of emergency and curfew that has been in effect in the West African nation. He urged people to wear masks in public saying not only was it required but it was a “civic duty.”

Senegal has had nearly 6,700 confirmed cases, including the president’s brother. Health officials say 108 people have died.

There will be unspecified rules in connection with the resumption of commercial flights, Sall said, possibly hinting that incoming passengers may be subject to certain restrictions.

It was not immediately clear if the measure would apply to all countries, including those with mounting cases such as the United States. Land borders are to remain closed, he added.

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Gov. Mark Gordon says Wyoming will keep current public health orders to contain the coronavirus in place for two more weeks amid a surge in reported cases.

State officials had been gradually easing up on restrictions since early May.

Gordon says the increase in known cases makes clear the threat of COVID-19 isn’t going away.

The Wyoming Department of Health reports 1,450 laboratory confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases in the state, including 1,070 people who have recovered from the illness.

Seven people are reported hospitalized. No more than 50 people may gather in confined spaces without restrictions under the ongoing state health orders.

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BOISE, Idaho — Officials say Idaho residents may vote in person during elections in August and November despite the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

The Idaho Statesman reports Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said Idaho plans to operate standard elections rather than exclusively using absentee ballots.

Idaho’s May 19 primary was the first statewide election held by mail only. Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a proclamation in April allowing the change that resulted in record voter turnout across the state.

Little says he may request a special session of the state Legislature to address the November election.

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MADRID — More than 1,000 Spanish health workers are demonstrating in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square against what they say is a lack of job security.

The protesters gathered Monday evening also demanded more resources to do their work.

The demonstration, with protesters complying with social distancing rules, was organized by the grass-roots movement Sanitarios Necesarios (Needed Health Workers).

By the end of last week, more than 52,000 Spanish health workers had been infected by the new coronavirus.

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The head of the World Health Organization says the coronavirus pandemic is “not even close to being over” and that the outbreak is accelerating globally.

At a news briefing on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Tuesday marks six months since the U.N. health agency was first informed of a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases in China — the first indications of the coronavirus’ emergence.

“Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world and our lives would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus,” he said, noting WHO has since recorded more than 10 million cases and 500,00 deaths globally.

Tedros said WHO will be convening a meeting this week to assess the progress made in coronavirus research so far and reevaluate priorities moving forward as the pandemic continues.

Dozens of vaccine candidates are currently in early stages of testing and some may move into late-stage testing this summer.

Tedros warned that because “most people remain susceptible” to the virus, the world is still only in the early stages of the outbreak. “The worst is yet to come,” he said. “With this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.”

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TUPELO, Miss. — The mayor of the northeast Mississippi city where Elvis Presley was born announced that masks would be required in all public buildings and businesses starting Monday and decided to debunk a wide variety of rumors at once.

After asking residents to listen to health care professionals, Mayor Jason Shelton wrote on Facebook:

“Also, ANTIFA is not coming to Tupelo, Elvis statues are not being removed, you are not the target of some type of global conspiracy, it is impossible to erase history and no one has attempted to do so, COVID is not a hoax, you shouldn’t believe and share posts that are obviously false or used as political propaganda, and there is nothing “liberal” about any of the actions that have been taken by our administration regarding these matters,”

“Those were all specific allegations I have received either by phone, email or social media,” he said in a brief phone interview Monday.

Responses to his message on Friday and a follow-up Twitter message on Monday ranged from praise to “Your days are numbered.”

Shelton, a Democrat, has pushed for years to remove the Confederate battle flag from Mississippi’s state flag — something the state Legislature voted on Sunday to do. The City Council overturned his 2018 executive order to stop flying the flag at city buildings, but was poised — coincidentally, just after the Legislature’s vote — to revoke that ordinance on Monday, he said.

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CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada health officials say more than half of the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases have been people aged 20 to 49 and 42% have been Latino.

The state’s COVID-19 response director said in a telephone call with reporters Monday that they intend to release a response plan geared toward containing the coronavirus among those demographic groups.

The state reported a total of nearly 17,900 confirmed coronavirus cases and 504 deaths as of Sunday.

In response to an uptick in confirmed cases, Gov. Steve Sisolak has implemented a face-covering mandate for public places throughout Nevada.

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BERLIN — Swiss authorities say 20 people who were patrons of a bar outside Zurich have tested positive for the coronavirus, and it is suspected that the virus spread there from an outbreak at club in the city.

Aargau canton (state) authorities said in a statement on their website Monday that patrons of the bar in Spreitenbach who were infected had been linked to the “superspreader event” at the Flamingo Club in Zurich.

They said that they were in contact with the infected people and other others and “where necessary, quarantine has been ordered.”

No further details were given, but the local media reported about 100 people had visited the bar during the evening in question.

Zurich authorities on the weekend said some 300 people had been ordered into quarantine after the so-called “superspreader” outbreak at the Flamingo Club.

In that case, a man who had been at the club the weekend before tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, and that five people who were with him there were then tested and also were positive and reported to authorities on Friday. The others were tracked down and ordered into quarantine on Saturday.

Swiss officials are working on new guidance for clubs and say they may be forced to closing such facilities again if the outbreaks continue.

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