The Latest: Sydney has new high for coronavirus infections

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FILE – In this March 4, 2021 file photo, a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine rests on a table at a drive-up mass vaccination site in Puyallup, Wash., south of Seattle. Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine brought in more than $4 billion in second-quarter sales, Thursday, Aug. 5, pushing the vaccine developer into a profit. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

SYDNEY — Australia’s most populous state is reporting a new daily high of 356 coronavirus infections.

The New South Wales government also reported four more COVID-19 deaths Tuesday. The death toll since the latest outbreak was detected in Sydney in mid-June is now 32. One of the latest deaths is a man in his 80s who was infected overseas, while the rest caught the virus locally.

More than 80% of the state’s 8.2 million people are in lockdown, including the greater Sydney region. The Sydney lockdown began June 26, and hopes are fading that restrictions will be eased as planned on Aug. 28.

Only 22% of Australian adults had been fully vaccinated by Monday. Officials hope that by getting the number above 70% will enable restrictions to be eased even if the virus is continuing to spread.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Canadabegins allowing vaccinated US citizens to visit again

— France widely introducesa virus pass that is needed to enter restaurants, trains

— The pandemic’s impact on Tokyo Games is making Olympians dream of Paris

— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

DALLAS — Texas is looking for out-of-state health workers to help fight its third wave of coronavirus infections.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s move Monday came as a county-owned hospital in Houston raised tents to accommodate its COVID-19 overflow.

Abbott directed the Department of State Health Services to use staffing agencies to find additional medical staff from outside Texas. He also is urging the Texas Hospital Association to request that hospitals postpone all elective medical procedures.

The governor also ordered an expansion of coronavirus vaccine availability in underserved communities.

Abbott is not lifting his emergency order banning local governments from requiring mask use and social distancing. He says people are able to make their own decisions on protecting their health.

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MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota has shifted gears on coronavirus vaccinations, saying it will require the shots if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approves a vaccine.

The FDA has issued emergency-use approval for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and full approval for the Pfizer vaccine is expected in the coming weeks.

University President Joan Gabel announced the mandate in a letter to students and employees on Monday, joining hundreds of colleges across the country in requiring vaccinations. The board of regents will need to approve the measure, which would join a mask mandate for all indoor spaces already in place across the university system’s five campuses.

Under the new measure, faculty and staff will either need to be vaccinated or submit to regular coronavirus testing.

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ATLANTA — Georgia hospitals are raising alarms about being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients as coronavirus infections rise rapidly across the state.

Clinical leaders from four coastal Georgia hospitals said at a news conference Monday that their institutions are rapidly running out of beds and pleaded that more people get vaccinated and wear masks.

Donna Cochrane is the chief nursing officer at Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville and says her 25-bed hospital has 33 patients as of Monday morning, holding eight additional patients in the emergency room. Many are ill with COVID-19.

Georgia’s seven-day average for new coronavirus cases rose to nearly 5,700 on Monday, the highest level since Feb. 1. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide rose to nearly 3,500, eight times the lowest level earlier this summer.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas has set a new high for the number of people in the state hospitalized for COVID-19.

The state said Monday that hospitalizations rose to 1,376. The previous high for COVID-19 hospitalizations was in January, when Arkansas had 1,371 virus patients.

The Department of Health says there are only eight ICU beds available in the state now. There are 509 COVID-19 patients in ICUs.

Arkansas ranks third in the country for new virus cases per capita, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers. The state’s cases have been skyrocketing in recent weeks, fueled by the delta variant of the virus and state’s low vaccination rate.

Only about 37% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Officials in Oregon’s most populous county are reimplementing an indoor mask mandate.

All people age 5 and older — vaccinated and unvaccinated — in Multnomah County will be required to wear masks in indoor public spaces including stores, restaurants and gyms as of Friday.

In addition, officials said Monday that “for the first time” the mask requirement will be “accompanied by an enforcement mechanism” that includes a fine of up to $1,000.

The Oregon Health Authority recommends that people, vaccinated or not, wear masks while in indoor public spaces, but has stopped short of reinstating an indoor mask mandate.

Multnomah is the first county in the state to require masks in all indoor public spaces. It has the second-highest vaccine rate in the state.

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LAS VEGAS — Schools have reopened in the Las Vegas area, with masks required for the more than 300,000 students and about 18,000 teachers returning to in-person classes at the fifth-largest district in the nation.

The Clark County schools that were shuttered through most of the last school year began a new semester Monday still shadowed by the pandemic but with classrooms open for all grade levels and some online options available.

Washoe County schools also opened amid plans to follow Gov. Steve Sisolak’s requirement that public and private school students, employees and volunteers who aren’t fully vaccinated get tested for the coronavirus at least once a week.

State officials say almost 60% of people in Nevada ages 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine. About 49% are fully vaccinated. Vaccines are not yet available for children under age 12.

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas is seeing coronavirus vaccinations rise while the more contagious delta variant is increasing new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

State data show Kansas averaged 1,080 new virus infections daily for the seven days ending Monday. It was the first time the average topped 1,000 since Feb. 2.

Kansas averaged 30 new hospitalizations for COVID-19 and eight new deaths a day for the period. Hospitalizations had dropped below 10 per day in mid-June. The latest average for deaths was the highest in five months.

Federal data, meanwhile, show Kansas averaged 6,330 vaccine shots daily for the seven days ending Monday. The average had dropped below 3,000 in July.

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SEATTLE — Most state workers in Washington, as well as private health care and long-term care employees, will be required to show proof of vaccination for the coronavirus by Oct. 18 or will lose their jobs.

Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday that weekly testing for the virus rather vaccination will not be an option. The only opt-out of the requirement is either a medical or religious exemption.

The order applies to about 60,000 employees of the 24 state agencies that are part of the governor’s executive Cabinet. Those include the departments of corrections, social and health services and transportation, as well as the Washington State Patrol.

Employees in the private sector who are covered under the order include those who work in health care and long-term care and other congregate settings, including nursing homes, assisted living and treatment facilities.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said the rate of COVID-19 cases in his state is “probably going to continue to get tougher in the weeks ahead.”

Justice has said he will not consider reinstating an indoor mask mandate and has continued to urge residents to be vaccinated.

The number of active cases statewide has reached at least 4,010, after bottoming out at 882 cases on July 9, according to state health figures.

School began Monday in West Virginia’s largest county. Schools in many other counties are set to open their fall terms this month.

About 57% of state residents ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated, while about 69% have received one dose.

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MIAMI — The superintendent of the school district in the capital of Florida said Monday that he will require masks amid an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations fueled by the delta variant.

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna said children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade will be required to wear masks when classes resume in Tallahassee on Wednesday. He said students who want to opt out need a note from a physician or a psychologist.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an order in late July for the education and health departments to come up with ways of punishing school districts that mandate mask-wearing in classrooms.

The Florida Department of Health issued a rule last week that districts must allow parents to decide. And the Florida’s Board of Education approved an emergency rule granting private school vouchers for children who feel they are being harassed by a district’s COVID-19 safety policies, including mask requirements.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The number of COVD-19 patients in Alabama hospitals topped 2,000 Sunday, the highest figure the state has seen since January.

Medical officials have blamed low vaccination rates for a rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations as the highly contagious delta variant of the virus spreads throughout the region.

On Sunday, there were 2,047 patients with COVID-19 in state hospitals, including 581 in intensive care units and 300 patients on ventilators, according to numbers provided by the Alabama Hospital Association.

Decatur Morgan Hospital is treating 26 COVID-19 patients, up from 15 last week, hospital president Kelli Powers said Monday. She said the ill included a 38-year-old person who is on a ventilator in intensive care and that the sickest patients infected by the virus aren’t vaccinated.

“We have a lot of people who are on their deathbeds begging for the vaccine, but at that point it’s too late,” she said.

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s top public health official says that as COVID-19 cases continue to surge with the highly contagious delta variant, no intensive care beds are available in 35 of the state’s top-level hospitals.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs also said Monday that more than 200 people are waiting in hospital emergency rooms to be admitted. The wait times affect not only people with COVID-19 but also those with other health conditions.

The state Health Department said Monday that more than 6,900 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Mississippi from Friday through Sunday.

Dobbs said the intensive care units were full in Level 1, 2 and 3 hospitals in the state’s acute care systems. Those include the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson; North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo; Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg; Memorial Hospital in Gulfport and Singing River Health System in Pascagoula.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — One of North Carolina’s most vaccinated areas is instituting a mask mandate for indoor public places regardless of vaccination status.

Durham’s city and countywide emergency order took effect at 5 p.m. Monday and is an effort to combat the rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

Durham Mayor Steve Schewel says it’s time to go “back to the basics” to combat what he views as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” He called face masks “a common-sense, non-economically damaging way of limiting transmission.”

The order has no expiration date, but Schewel says the city and county will reevaluate the order every week or two.

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico will ask the United States to send at least 3.5 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccine as the country faces a third wave of infections

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday that he planned to discuss a transfer of vaccine with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris during a call scheduled for later in the day.

López Obrador said the U.S. government had initially offered the Moderna vaccine, but Mexican health authorities could not get the necessary approvals in time so now they are considering Pfizer or another approved vaccine.

Mexico has vaccinated more than 50 million people with at least one dose, representing about 56% of the adult population. It has received 91.1 million doses of five different vaccines.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have hit a record high again in Louisiana, with the state health department reporting 2,720 hospitalizations on Monday.

That’s 299 more hospitalizations than were reported in Friday’s figures.

The state hit a record number of coronavirus pandemic hospitalizations Tuesday, and the number has grown each day.

Monday’s report from the state health department says there have been 16,541 new cases reported since Friday and 50 more deaths. A spokesperson for the governor’s office said the new infection figures include 3,106 children under age 18 since Friday.

The highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is being blamed for the spread.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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