HARRISBURG, PA — Gov. Tom Wolf is planning to announce that masks will be required in all Pennsylvania K-12 schools starting on Sept. 7.
That’s according to three people briefed on the plan. The people were not authorized to release details ahead of an official announcement and spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity. Wolf and administration officials are scheduled to hold an afternoon news conference. Two of the people said the masking order will apply to private as well as public schools and to child care facilities.
Pennsylvania’s two statewide teachers’ unions had urged K-12 schools to require masks in school buildings, citing the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masks in schools for students, staff and teachers.
Wolf is taking action amid a statewide resurgence of coronavirus that’s filling hospital beds just as students return to class. Pennsylvania is averaging more than 3,200 confirmed daily infections — 20 times the number in early July. More than 1,700 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, up sevenfold since last month. Deaths have doubled in two weeks to about 20 per day.
— By Marc Levy, Michael Rubinkam and Mark Scolforo
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Germany hopes broad vaccine drive boosts uptake
— EU takes US off safe travel list, and backs travel restrictions
— Even as COVID cases rise, US Open, other events welcome fans
— No stranger to plagues, Venice opens film festival with caution
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronvirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
OMAHA, Neb. — The number of coronavirus cases in Nebraska has nearly doubled over the past two weeks with the highly contagious delta variant.
Nebraska reported 5,006 new cases for the week ending Friday, according to an Omaha World-Herald analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 3,755 the previous week and nearly double the 2,668 cases recorded the week before.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen in the past two weeks from 190 new cases per day on Aug. 15 to 715 on Sunday.
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s governor has extended the state’s COVID-19 public health emergency through September.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is in discussions with health care providers about a new statewide executive order amid the state’s surge in coronavirus cases.
He signed his 18th extension of the public health emergency he first issued in March 2020. Health officials say about 97% of the people hospitalized in the state with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
About 52% of eligible Indiana residents are vaccinated. Indiana hospitalizations have surged in the past month and a record number of infections have been reported by Indiana schools.
The governor’s office says a new order for September would be issued Wednesday after talks with “health care stakeholders to evaluate pertinent information that supports hospitals during the current COVID surge.”
DENVER — Colorado health care workers at facilities, including assisted living homes, nursing homes and hospitals, must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October under a temporary emergency rule approved the state board of health.
The 6-1 vote during an emergency session came after Gov. Jared Polis requested the board consider a vaccine mandate, The Denver Post reported. It applies to staff and contract workers who work with patients or clients at about 3,800 licensed facilities regulated by the board. It doesn’t apply to doctors’ offices or urgent care centers.
Several people who spoke at the hearing suggested workers would quit rather than be vaccinated, worsening staffing shortages. Workers can seek medical or religious exemptions from their employers.
Facilities can ask for waivers from the state to allow less than 100% of their workers to be vaccinated but must propose a plan to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin lawmaker, who has been an outspoken critic of vaccine and mask mandates, remains hospitalized with COVID-19-induced pneumonia. His wife is urging people to get vaccinated for the coronavirus.
Republican state Sen. Andre Jacque has been hospitalized since Aug. 16. He was placed on a ventilator several days later.
His wife, Renee Jacque, said in an email to WBAY-TV on Monday that five of their eight family members have tested positive for COVID-19. They have six children, including an infant.
She said of three fully vaccinated family members, one person contracted the virus with mild symptoms.
VENICE — Venice’s central place in the history of pandemics provides the backdrop to this year’s Venice Film Festival.
In an early screening Tuesday, Italian director Andre Segre presents a documentary shot last year showing how Venice organizers managed to stage the first and only in-person international film festival during the first year of the pandemic. For Venice, it was nothing new, since for centuries the city has helped provide the baseline of what the world knows today about containing pandemics.
It was in Venice that the term “quarantine” was coined, after merchant ships arriving in the 15th century were moored for 40 days (“quaranta giorni” in Italian) to see if their crews were infected.
In Venice, the first isolated pestilence hospital was built on a solitary island in the lagoon, a precursor to today’s COVID-19 isolation wards. The 16th-century doctors donned beak-nosed masks filled with aromatic herbs to cleanse the air they breathed when treating the sick — an attempt at self-protection that today is the favored choice for Venetian Carnival costumes.
SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the faith widely known as the Mormon church remain divided on vaccines and mask-wearing despite consistent guidance from church leaders.
Members who support the stance say they fear that some Latter-day Saints who refuse to get vaccinated are allowing their political views to supersede their loyalty to a faith that prioritizes unity and obedience.
About 65% of Latter-day Saints who responded to a recent survey say they’ve gotten at least one dose or plan to soon. Another 15% identified as hesitant, and 19% say they would not get the vaccine, according to the survey this summer from the Public Religion Research Institute, a polling organization based in Washington, and Interfaith Youth Core.
The Utah-based religion of 16 million members worldwide is one of many faiths grappling with how best to navigate the lingering impacts of the pandemic.
BERLIN — Germany is organizing a special week-long vaccination drive to increase uptake amid concerns about declining demand for COVID-19 shots.
The government said Tuesday that vaccinations will be offered without appointments at easily accessible sites such as sports clubs, fire stations and pharmacies during the week of Sept. 13-19.
The locations will be listed on a national website and promoted on social media with the hashtag “Hier wird geimpft,” meaning “Vaccinations offered here.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany wants 75% of the population to be immunized against the coronavirus, but so far only 60% of the population has received all the necessary shots.
“The issue in Germany isn’t that we’ve got too little vaccine but that we have to convince as many people as possible to get vaccinated,” Merkel said. “Sadly, we’re not in the top ranks in Europe with our vaccination rate.”
BRUSSELS — The president of the European Union’s executive arm said the 27-nation bloc has reached its goal of getting 70% of the adults in the EU fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by the end of the summer.
In a message posted Tuesday on Twitter, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen thanked “the many people making this great achievement possible.”
The EU’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign got off to a slow start due to supply shortages and delays but now is among the most successful worldwide.
“But we must go further! We need more Europeans to vaccinate,” von der Leyen said. “And we need to help the rest of the world vaccinate, too. We’ll continue supporting our partners.”
She said the EU is the biggest contributor to the COVAX initiative, which aims to deliver vaccines to low-income nations.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s Health Ministry reports that the country has set a new daily record for diagnosed coronavirus cases as the delta variant surges.
The Israeli government registered 10,947 new cases on Monday, two days before 2.4 million students are scheduled to return to school this week. The country’s previous pandemic record of 10, 118 new cases was set on Jan. 18.
Israel is home to one of the world’s fastest vaccination programs. The country is offering third booster shots to it’s entire eligible population, requiring masks indoors and promising better enforcement of safety measures.
Nearly 6 million of Israel’s 9.3 million people have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Nearly 2.2 million have received a third shot.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean officials are expressing cautious hope that COVID-19 transmissions are beginning to slow, after battling the country’s worst wave of infections for weeks.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Tuesday reported the country’s lowest daily jump in about two weeks at 1,372 cases.
Officials have been enforcing the strongest social distancing restrictions short of a lockdown in the capital of Seoul and other large population centers, including banning private social gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m.
A senior health ministry official pleaded for citizens to remain vigilant ahead of next month’s Chuseok holidays, the Korean version of Thanksgiving, when millions usually travel across the country to meet relatives.
Less than 30% of South Korea’s population have been fully vaccinated.
OXFORD, Miss. — Colleges across the United States country are cautiously optimistic that tailgating atmospheres before football games will remain close to normal, even as they monitor how things have changed since the emergence of the delta variant.
About three dozen Power Five schools responded to an Associated Press survey regarding their tailgating policies. Nearly all the schools that responded are tentatively planning to restore the tailgating policies they had in 2019. Many of them noted that’s subject to change based on the status of COVID-19 cases in their area.
That’s a major shift from last year, when even the schools that allowed spectators at games either prohibited or strongly discouraged tailgating.
For example, last year the University of South Carolina didn’t open its parking lots until 2 ½ hours before kickoff, prohibited tents, asked large gatherings of people to disperse and discouraged the use of any grills, coolers or buffet-style spreads. This year, South Carolina is returning to its pre-2020 policies.
The return of tailgating is great news for tens of thousands of fans who consider that a vital part of the college football experience.
HONOLULU — The mayor of Honolulu says the city will soon require patrons of restaurants, bars, museums, theaters and other establishments to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for COVID-19.
The rules take effect on Sept. 13 and are aimed at helping the city beat back a surge in cases from the highly contagious delta variant.
Honolulu joins other cities such as New Orleans and New York that have implemented similar requirements. Children under the age of 12 will be exempt. Employees of the establishments will have to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing. Businesses that don’t comply could be fined or shut down.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia says it has reached a deal with Singapore to acquire 500,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine next week in return for delivering the same number of shots to Singapore in December.
Australia bought 1 million Pfizer doses from Poland for an undisclosed price earlier this month.
Half of Australia’s population is locked down due to an outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus that began in Sydney in June.
Australian government leaders plan to end lockdowns once 80% of an area’s residents aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated. Only 34% of that target population was fully vaccinated by this week.