The Latest: North Dakota leads nation in per capita cases

World

A health worker makes a heart sign while she and her fellow workers celebrate as the last three patients are released from a field hospital at the National Stadium Mane Garrincha, after recuperating from COVID-19, in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota leads the nation with 978 new cases of coronavirus per capita in the last two weeks.

That’s according to the COVID Tracking project, which reports cases per 100,000 people. Health officials confirmed 877 new cases and 18 more deaths on Friday.

The surge in cases and deaths statewide resulted in Republican Gov. Doug Burgum raising the coronavirus risk level in several North Dakota counties this week. However, he issued no mandated restrictions and mask use is voluntary.

The deaths reported Friday include 10 women and eight men, all in their 60s or older. All had underlying health conditions.

North Dakota, with a population of fewer than 800,000, has 30,000 confirmed cases and 388 deaths.

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

— France records 30,000 virus cases, highest single-day rise

— WHO study finds remdesivir didn’t help COVID-19 patients

— U.S. testing 3 drugs to try to tamp down coronavirus

— Coronavirus cases are rising in key U.S. presidential battleground states ahead of Election Day.

— White House puts political operatives at CDC to try to control virus information

— Thousands arrive in Hawaii on first day pre-travel testing allowing no quarantine

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— 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:

MADRID — Spain’s health ministry has reported 15,186 new infections for the coronavirus.

The ministry says 6,591 cases were diagnosed in the last 24 hours. The remainder of the new cases were diagnosed in recent days but not reported until Friday.

Spain leads Europe with 936560 confirmed cases. With 222 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, Spain’s total has reached 33,775.

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DENVER — Denver’s mayor says the city will enforce stricter mask mandates and limits on group gatherings.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock says the mask mandate will include outdoor settings with exceptions for individuals who are outside alone or those with people in their households. Denver is also limiting the number of non-related people gathering from 10 to five through Nov. 16.

Colorado’s Department of Public Health Executive Director Bob McDonald says enforcement will include issuing summons to appear in court. Hancock emphasized the importance of personal responsibility to keep others safe and help protect the economy.

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GENEVA — A large study led by the World Health Organization suggests that the antiviral drug remdesivir didn’t help hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

That’s in contrast to an earlier study that made the medicine a standard of care in the United States and many other countries. The results announced Friday don’t negate the previous ones, and the WHO study wasn’t as rigorous as the earlier one led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

But they add to concerns about how much value the pricey drug gives since none of the studies have found it can improve survival. Remdesivir is among the treatments U.S. President Donald Trump received when he was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Oct. 1.

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LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened to force Greater Manchester into the most severe level of coronavirus restrictions.

Local officials have refused to accept the government’s financial package to implement measures targeted at areas with the highest infection rates.

Johnson says action is needed as hospitalization are rapidly rising. He appealed to leaders to reconsider and engage constructively with the government, adding pressure on Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

“I cannot stress enough: Time is of the essence. Each day that passes before action is taken means more people will go to hospital, more people will end up in intensive care and tragically more people will die,″ Johnson said during a news conference in London. “Of course, if agreement cannot be reached, I will need to intervene in order to protect Manchester’s hospitals and save the lives of Manchester’s residents. But our efforts would be so much more effective if we work together.”

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BERLIN — Germany’s domestic intelligence agency says its top leaders have tested positive for the coronavirus, but their cases are mild and working in quarantine.

The BfV said this week Thomas Haldenwang, who has headed the agency for about two years, had tested positive.

On Friday, it confirmed German media reports that Haldenwang’s two deputies also tested positive. But the agency says they have mild infections.

BfV says a few other employees are infected, but none have severe symptoms.

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STOCKHOLM — A Swedish hospital says a woman has been infected with the coronavirus twice, saying the second time around the illness was very mild.

The Dagens Nyheter newspaper quoted the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Goteborg, southwestern Sweden saying the 53-year-old woman had different strains of the virus in May and August.

It was the first such case reported case in Sweden, which has opted to keep parts of the society open. The Scandinavian country has 103,200 confirmed cases and 5,918 deaths.

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GENEVA — The World Health Organization says the number of coronavirus cases in Europe last week was triple the number reported during the first week in March.

The agency warns that increasing numbers of people needing hospitalization would strain the continent’s hospitals. Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO leader, says “we know of a number of cities across Europe where ICU capacity will be reached in the in the coming weeks.”

She notes advancements in treatment and some countries have significantly increased their testing.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece has reported its highest daily coronavirus cases, exceeding 500 for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The Health Ministry’s disease control agency says there’s been 508 confirmed cases and eight more deaths in the last day. That increased the total to 24,450 cases and 490 confirmed deaths.

Lockdown measures started for two weeks in a northern region of Greece near the city of Kozani. Officials say a region in northwest Greece was considered in a “critical” state, with infection rates nearing a level that would automatically trigger a regional lockdown.

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HONOLULU — About 8,000 people landed in Hawaii on the first day of a pre-travel testing program.

It allows travelers to come to the islands without quarantining for two weeks if they produce a negative coronavirus test. The state-run testing program is an effort to stem the devastating downturn caused by the pandemic on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy.

However, gaps in the program coupled with increasing cases across the U.S. and the world have raised questions about whether Hawaii is ready to safely welcome back vacationers.

Meanwhile, restaurant cards for unemployed workers are expected to begin arriving in Hawaii mailboxes on Friday. The $500 prepaid debit cards cover meals and purchases at bakeries and catering services. About 116,000 state residents have filed for unemployment insurance.

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LONDON — Lancashire agreed to move into England’s most severe level of COVID-19 restrictions after striking a deal with the U.K. government on funds to implement the measures.

The deal means that the region of 1.5 million people will join the neighboring Liverpool region in the government’s highest risk tier, forcing pubs and bars to close. Restrictions on socializing also come into effect and residents are advised to minimize travel.

No deal is in sightfor Greater Manchester, which is holding out for more money to implement the measures targeted at areas with the highest infection rates. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has criticized Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham for “effectively trying to hold the government over a barrel over money and politics.’’

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A leading Bosnian politician has tested positive for coronavirus as the country hit a record number of new cases.

Bakir Izetbegovic, the president of the Party of Democratic Action and a former Muslim member of the Bosnian three-member presidency, on Friday tested positive for COVID-19, his party said.

The 64-year-old has gone into isolation since taking a test after he felt mild symptoms of the virus, the Klix online portal said. He is recovering at home.

Bosnian health authorities on Friday reported 621 cases and eight deaths.

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BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania recorded more than 4,000 confirmed daily coronavirus infections for the third straight day.

Health authorities reported a record 4,026 cases on Friday. There were 75 deaths, slightly below the all-time-high of 82.

The nation of 19 million has conducted more than 2.8 million tests. There have been 172,516 confirmed cases and 5,749 deaths.

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Coronavirus infections in Slovakia hit a record high for the second straight day, surpassing 2,000 cases for the first time.

The Health Ministry says 2,075 tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, up from the previous record of 1,929 set a day earlier.

Slovakia has a total of 26,300 confirmed cases and 71 deaths.

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Coronavirus infections keep gaining pace in Slovenia with a record number in new cases reported Friday.

Authorities say 834 people tested positive and four have died in the past 24 hours in the small country of 2 million people.

Authorities have introduced more restrictive measures starting Friday, including a partial lockdown in the regions most affected.

The measures include a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and remote teaching in higher school grades.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. government officials are launching a new study testing three drugs to tamp down an overactive response by the immune system that can cause severe illness or death in people with COVID-19.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health says the study will enroll 2,100 hospitalized adults with moderate to severe COVID-19 in the United States and Latin America. All will get the antiviral drug remdesivir plus one of the three “immune-modulating drugs” or a placebo.

The drugs are Bristol Myers Squibb’s Orencia and Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade, which are sold now for rheumatoid arthritis and an experimental drug from AbbVie called cenicriviroc. The drugs work in different ways to inhibit “cytokine storm,” an overproduction of chemicals the body makes to fight infections that can damage lungs, kidneys, the heart and other organs.

“These are all different ways of slowing down an overactive immune system,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.

The new study is the fifth and final one in a series of experiments designed by a private-public partnership that includes dozens of drug companies, nonprofit groups and various U.S. government departments. Other therapies being tested include antibody drugs, anti-inflammatory medicines and plasma from COVID-19 survivors.

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PARIS — French restaurants, cinemas and theaters are trying to figure out how to survive a new curfew aimed at stemming the flow of record coronavirus infections.

France registered more than 30,000 virus cases Thursday, its highest single-day rise since the pandemic began. There were nearly 200 cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot told Le Parisien newspaper she is negotiating for exceptions to a monthlong curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. across the Paris region and eight other metropolitan areas. The curfew comes into effect Friday at midnight, and France is deploying 12,000 extra police to enforce it.

One movie theater chain will start opening at 8 a.m. in hopes of making up evening losses. Since Paris restaurants generally open at 7 or 7:30 p.m. for dinner, some might close altogether because it no longer makes financial sense to stay open for such a short shift.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — The number of deaths in Hungary caused by the coronavirus hit a record on Friday.

Hungarian health authorities reported 33 deaths in the past 24 hours, up from 29 a day earlier. The total number of confirmed infections since the outbreak of the pandemic stood at 41,732 and 1,085 deaths. The number of patients needing hospital treatment was 1,642, of whom 171 were on ventilators.

The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has implemented less severe measures than in other neighboring countries during the second wave of the contagion.

Hungarians are required to wear masks on public transportation, shops, malls and entertainment venues, as well state-run health care institutions. Restaurants and clubs close at 11 p.m. and visitors are banned from hospitals and nursing homes.

Policy makers have repeatedly stressed that shielding the economy from the fallout caused by the pandemic is a critical priority for the government.

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GENEVA — Europe is at a “turning point” in the fight against the coronavirus, the head of Switzerland’s biggest hospital complex says, acknowledging growing public fatigue over anti-COVID measures but insisting people must buckle down as the country grapples with record daily case counts.

CEO Bertrand Levrat of Geneva University Hospitals, which counts 12,000 personnel, spoke to The Associated Press at a time when Switzerland — like many other European countries — is fighting a second wave of coronavirus cases. It’s believed the increase grew in large part out of a summertime lull in which people let down their guard about the highly infectious pandemic.

“The virus doesn’t spread alone — we are the ones who spread it. It’s a line that we don’t repeat enough,” Levrat said from his office overlooking Geneva, a surgical mask tucked into his jacket pocket. “Today, the stakes center on how much people are going to follow health measures that allow most people, and economies, and life in general to get through this.”

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BRUSSELS — Belgian authorities are warning tighter restrictions are needed to help control the spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will meet Friday with senior government officials to work out how to respond to a new wave of infections.

Yves Van Laethem, a spokesman for Belgium’s COVID-19 crisis center, says “new measures are needed, because we see all the figures, all the data, mounting and all the indicators … remain in the red.”

Belgium, which has a population of around 11.5 million people, is one of the European countries hardest hit by the disease. Almost 6,000 new cases were recorded each day on average over the last week. In all, about 192,000 people have contracted the disease and 10,327 people have died.

Almost 2,000 people are currently in hospital due to the virus, more than 300 in intensive care. Around 180 are being admitted every day, on average.

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BERLIN — Germany has confirmed more than 7,000 new coronavirus infections for the first time, its second consecutive daily record.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national disease control center, says 7,334 new cases were confirmed in the previous 24 hours. That compares with 6,638 a day earlier.

Until this week, Germany’s highest recorded figure was nearly 6,300 in late March, though testing has expanded vastly since then. Figures tend to peak around the end of the week, but the latest reading underlines a sharp upward trend in recent weeks.

Earlier this week, the federal and state governments agreed to toughen mask-wearing rules and make bars close early in areas where infections are high.

Germany has confirmed more than 348,000 total cases in since the pandemic began. There were 9,734 deaths, an increase of 24 from Thursday.

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