SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has 121 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, its first triple-digit daily jump in a week amid concerns about the country easing social distancing restrictions just last week to cope with a weak economy.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Thursday that South Korea’s caseload is now at 25,543 for the pandemic, including 453 deaths.
Hundreds of recent infections have been tied to hospitals in major cities such as Seoul and Busan. Officials are testing 130,000 workers at hospitals, nursing homes and senior facilities in the Seoul metropolitan area hoping to reduce outbreaks.
South Korea has enforced its lowest level of social distancing measures since Oct. 13, allowing high-risk businesses and karaoke bars to reopen and fans to return to professional sports.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Spain reaches 1 million cases of coronavirus
— North Dakota Republican governor calls National Guard to help with test results
— CDC redefines coronavirus close contact, adds brief encounters
— Next up in hunt for COVID-19 vaccine: Testing shots in kids. Pfizer received permission last week to test its vaccine in U.S. kids as young as 12.
— Boston schools will switch to all-remote learning in response to rising coronavirus cases in the city.
— Brazil President overrules own health minister, rejecting purchase of 46 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine tested in Sao Paulo state.
Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MEXICO CITY — Mexican health officials estimated Wednesday that the country has risen above 1 million coronavirus cases, though the figure includes both confirmed infections as well as suspected cases.
Officials put the country’s apparent deaths from COVID-19 at 102,293, again including cases in which patients were not tested for the virus.
The Health Department says its pandemic caseload tally has reached 1,005,938. That includes people who have displayed symptoms of COVID-19 but were not given tests or whose samples could not be processed. Test-confirmed cases total 867,559.
The agency attributes 102,293 deaths to the pandemic, adding in deceased patients who weren’t tested but had symptoms judged to be caused by COVID-19. Test-confirmed deaths stand at 87,415.
Mexico has an extremely low testing rate.
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the state has more confirmed daily cases of the coronavirus than ever, and notes there has been a sharp increase since the state Supreme Court invalidated her sweeping restrictions earlier this month.
Confirmed infections had been gradually rising for months prior to the Oct. 2 ruling — from a seven-day average of 119 in June to 984 — as the governor loosened economic restrictions and allowed schools to reopen. Since the court decision, the seven-day average has nearly doubled to 1,818, although surrounding states without legal rulings have also seen similarly big spikes.
Whitmer said Wednesday that “these numbers are moving in the wrong direction” and are putting Michigan “in a dangerous moment,” though she did not indicate whether another lockdown might be necessary.
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Health officials in Idaho say people with COVID-19 in the northern part of the state soon may have to be sent for treatment in Seattle or Portland, Oregon, because the region’s hospitals are nearing capacity.
Kootenai Health said in a statement Wednesday that its hospital is at 99% capacity for patients that need medical or surgical care. Chief Physician Executive Karen Cabell told KREM that the hospital nearing capacity is “unprecedented.”
Idaho is seeing its largest spike in confirmed coronavirus infections since the pandemic began. Newly reported cases have increased statewide by 46.5% over the past two weeks.
MISSION, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura is again calling for a statewide mask mandate as coronavirus infections climb in rural parts of the state that don’t require face covering.
Kelly said Wednesday that two-thirds of the state’s confirmed cases now are outside the Wichita and Kansas City region.
Over the summer, the governor issued an order requiring Kansas residents to wear masks, but more than 90 counties chose to opt out. Kelly says she plans to discuss with legislative leaders on working toward a bipartisan requirement with more teeth.
The state health department says Kansas had 1,488 new confirmed coronavirus cases since Monday, an increase of 2% that brought the total number of infections for the pandemic to 74,456. Kansas has had 952 deaths from COVID-19.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama’s lieutenant governor, who has called the state face mask order a government overstep during the pandemic, says he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said Wednesday that so far, he has no symptoms. He said he took the test earlier in the day after being notified that a member of his Sunday school group had been infected.
Ainsworth has criticized mandatory mask orders, but he personally wears one. He says that “because I follow social distancing rules and wear a mask both in church and in my daily interactions, the positive result shows that even those of us who are the most cautious can be at risk.”
Data show coronavirus virus infections appear to be rising in Alabama again weeks of improvement.
SANTA FE, N.M. — Health officials in New Mexico have reported a single-day record of 827 newly confirmed coronavirus cases.
The increase reported Wednesday raised the state’s total of confirmed cases during the pandemic to 38,715. There have been 950 deaths linked to COVID.19.
New Mexico’s previous one-day high for new coronavirus infections was 819 reported Friday.
BEAVER, Pa. — A large, for-profit Pennsylvania nursing home where dozens of residents died of COVID-19 has been sued over allegations that it failed to take basic steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County near the Ohio border was among the hardest-hit nursing homes in the state. It had more than 330 residents infected and 73 deaths. It has been under a federal and state criminal investigation.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of five current residents and the families of 10 residents who died.
Brighton says it is working to “closely follow the guidance” of health officials.
ATLANTA — The deputy director for infectious diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the United States is seeing a “distressing trend” with coronavirus cases increasing in nearly three-quarters of the country.
Dr. Jay Butler said at a briefing Wednesday one factor in the rises, particularly in the Midwest, is that people are spending more time indoors with the arrival of cool weather.
He adds “that smaller, more intimate gatherings of family, friends and neighbors may be driving infections as well” at which people pay less attention to the need for face coverings and social distancing.
Butler says it’s important for people not to let down their guard. He says: “I recognize that we are all getting tired of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives. We get tired of wearing masks. But it continues to be as important as it’s ever been.”
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The number of Iowa residents dying from the coronavirus is quickly rising again after weeks of increasing hospitalizations and outbreaks at nursing homes.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 31 new COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, the highest daily figure since the beginning of the pandemic. The deaths didn’t all happen in a 24-hour period, but were only confirmed to state officials.
At the state’s peak for deaths in May, an average of about 14 people were dying daily from the coronavirus. A month ago, Iowa was averaging about six deaths a day, and the rate has climbed to about nine a day over the last two weeks. In all, 1,582 people have died since March.
State data updated Tuesday evening showed a record 534 people hospitalized with COVID-19.
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota has reported 35 new COVID-19 deaths, equaling the state’s single-day high set May 28.
It’s possible that some of the 35 deaths reported Wednesday did not happen during the previous 24 hours because it can take several days for deaths to be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health.
The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Minnesota had risen over the past two weeks from 9.71 to 11 as of Tuesday.
The latest deaths raised the state’s cumulative toll to 2,281. About 70% of the deaths have occurred among residents of long-term care facilities.
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin has recorded its highest one-day total of new COVID-19 deaths and the first patient was admitted to a field hospital near Milwaukee that opened last week to help hospitals coping with the influx of patients.
The surge that began in early September showed no signs of slowing with 48 new deaths reported Wednesday and a whopping 43% of those tested coming back as positive.
There have been 1,681 deaths to date from the coronavirus pandemic while nearly 183,000 people have tested positive, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported. That is up by 4,205 from the day before, although department spokeswoman Jennifer Miller said there was still some backlog in the reporting of positive cases following a data upgrade over the weekend.
The seven-day average of new confirmed cases also reached a new record high of 3,444, which is nearly double what it was a month ago and nearly five times what it was two months ago.
On Wednesday, the state reported its first patient to the field hospital on the state fairgrounds in West Allis outside of Milwaukee. The state health department declined to reveal any details about the patient, citing privacy concerns.
ROME — The Italian region of Lazio, which includes Rome, is imposing an overnight curfew to combat surging coronavirus infections.
Lazio’s Gov. Nicola Zingaretti, who was ill with COVID-19 early in the pandemic, signed an ordinance Wednesday. Starting at midnight Friday and for the next 30 days, people in Lazio won’t be allowed to leave their homes from midnight to 5 a.m. daily, except to go to or return from work or other urgent reasons such as health issues.
Earlier on Friday, Premier Giuseppe Conte, briefing senators, appealed to Italians to “limit” what he called “unnecessary” moving from place to place as well as “superfluous actions,” which he didn’t define. With Conte’s center-left central government so far avoiding any unpopular return to Italy’s severe lockdown earlier this year, regional leaders have been scrambling in recent days to devise their own strategy.
PHOENIX — An Arizona State University researcher says Arizona is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases that resembles the early stages of the summer spike that made the state one of the world’s worst hotspots.
Dr. Joshua LaBaer of the ASU Biodesign Institute said Wednesday the latest spike can be attributed to fatigue with masks and social distancing. He says holding strong on mitigation efforts can limit the spread of the disease.
Arizona on Wednesday reported 975 new confirmed coronavirus cases and another 17 deaths. Hospitals reported 832 beds used by COVID-19 patients, the highest number since late August but well below the peak of about 3,500 in July.
HONOLULU — Honolulu police have issued warnings or citations to thousands of people in violation of coronavirus protocols since Hawaii launched a pre-arrival testing program to reopen to tourists.
The Honolulu Police Department says officers issued 4,500 warnings and 470 citations for not wearing masks or failing to social distance since the launch of the traveler testing program Thursday.
Police say they do not separate visitors and residents on their list of citations and warnings. Officers also arrested several people for violations of the city’s emergency orders. Supporters of reopening say tourists pose fewer risks than large gatherings of residents.
TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and the first lady tested negative for coronavirus on Wednesday, just hours after he abruptly left an event.
The Democrat was speaking at a workforce development event his office organized with Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross at Camden County College when he learned a recent contact had tested positive.
The 63-year-old governor say he has no symptoms and last tested negative on Monday. Murphy spokesperson Mahen Gunaratna says Tammy Murphy also tested negative on Wednesday afternoon. The governor and first lady will quarantine until the end of the weekend and take a test before resuming any in-person events.
The state’s daily coronavirus figures have doubled in the past month, state officials said this week. New Jersey has reported more than 222,000 positive cases and 14,438 confirmed deaths.