Thursday, October 21, 2021

Latest: GOP senator bans local mask mandate

by Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy says he disagrees with GOP governors in Florida and Texas who are waiving mask mandates despite a high rise in COVID-19 cases.

Cassidy, a Louisiana physician, said on Sunday that “local officials should be listened to” if hospital ICUs in a community are overcrowded due to rising infections and school officials take safety measures such as wearing masks before students returning in the fall. want to apply.

He told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he does not agree with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or Texas Gov. Greg Abbott because, as a conservative, he “doesn’t want to go above Washington, D.C.” and “I don’t want to.” . Doesn’t want to go above the governor’s office. “

In May, Abbott issued an executive order barring local governments from enforcing mask mandates. DeSantis issued an order in July requiring school districts not to wear masks when instructing children in person.

Infections are increasing in those states and elsewhere because of the highly contagious delta variant. While officials value vaccination as the best protection, children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible.

President Joe Biden last week criticized DeSantis and other officials who have moved to block a re-evaluation of the mask mandate, calling on resistant Republican governors to “get out of the way” of vaccine rules.


More on the pandemic:

– To shake hands or not? A centuries-old human spirit is now in limbo

– Once lagging behind, Europe catches up to the US in vaccination

– Iran reports highest daily virus cases, deaths, pandemic

– US motorists zooming in as summer highway travel peaks


– Get more AP coverage at and


Here’s what else is happening:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia says it will ease lockdown restrictions for those who have been fully vaccinated as the government seeks to quell public anger against the alleged mismanagement of the pandemic.

Despite the lockdown since June 1, daily infections crossed 20,000 for the first time on Thursday. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Sunday that the government had decided to provide some exemptions for those who have been fully vaccinated because “many people are facing pandemic fatigue.”

From Tuesday, husband and wife can cross districts to meet each other and parents whose children are studying in other states.

Muhyiddin said local tourism, non-contact outdoor sports and exercise, as well as food in eateries, would also be allowed in at least eight states and areas where cases have decreased.

So far, 35% of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated, and Muhyiddin said this should rise to 50% by the end of August.

Malaysia on Sunday reported 18,688 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country’s tally to 1.26 million. Daily deaths set a new record of 360, raising the toll to 10,749.


RIYADH – Saudi Arabia says it is giving half a million riyals, the equivalent of $133,000, to the family of each medical worker fighting the coronavirus pandemic in the kingdom.

An announcement made on Sunday said the financial award would apply to all health care workers who died as a result of the virus, including those working in non-Saudi and private sector settings.

The health ministry has not publicly stated how many health workers were involved in the state’s 8,320 pandemic deaths.

Saudi Arabia, which has a population of 30 million, has given about 30 million doses of the vaccine. The state is currently reporting less than 1,000 new cases in a day.

Early in the pandemic, King Salman ordered the government to cover the cost of medical treatment for COVID-19 patients in the country. The state has recorded nearly 533,000 confirmed cases in total, and around 1,400 are currently considered critical.


PORTLAND, Maine – American motorists pedal to the metal during the pandemic, and police are concerned as roads get busy on the final stretch of summer commute.

The latest data shows the number of highway deaths in 2020 was the largest in more than a decade, even though cars and trucks covered fewer miles because of the pandemic.

“Summer is an incredibly dangerous time. And it ends with Labor Day, which is the last storm,” said Pam Shadell Fisher of the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Traffic data indicates that higher death rates were related to higher average speeds, higher with those driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and a slight decline in seatbelt use.

Tickets issued by the California Highway Patrol for speeds in excess of 100 mph from January to June were nearly twice the pre-pandemic level.

In New York state, the percentage of fatalities for which speed was the primary reason and the total number of speeding tickets increased from January to June, compared to the year before the pandemic, officials said.


JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says people are rushing to get a third vaccine shot as a form of protection from the growing delta version of the coronavirus.

Bennett pointed to government data Sunday showing that more than 420,000 Israelis over the age of 60 have received a booster shot, more than a third of the total target population. Bennett said that number is expected to rise to half a million people by the end of the day.

The Prime Minister spoke after the weekly cabinet meeting. Israel is seeing an increasing number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, almost all of them infected with the highly contagious Delta variant. The government has restored its mask mandate for indoor settings and is weighing more restrictions.

Israel became the world leader in vaccination against the virus during its initial public campaign, with about 5.4 million of the country’s 9.3 million people receiving two vaccine doses.

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The World Health Organization in recent days called for a moratorium on booster shots to help preserve supplies so that people in poor countries can get their first dose.


BRUSSELS – The European Union has put a one-time US coronavirus vaccination effort on hold, despite a sluggish start.

In mid-February, less than 4% of people living in the 27-nation bloc were at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to about 12% in the United States.

Now, about 60% of EU residents have received at least one dose, compared to less than 58% of Americans.

European officials attribute the success to nationalized health care in some countries and public confidence in the safety of vaccination in general.

The EU’s slow process to approve vaccination initially set the bloc back, but Dr. Peter Leese said the deliberations paid off because it reassured people that rapidly developing COVID-vaccine formulas had been thoroughly evaluated.

Still, all is not well within the European Union. The discrepancies between member states are huge. For example, in the Netherlands, 85% of adults have received at least one dose. In Bulgaria, it is less than 20%.


As workers return to the office, friends reconnect and more church services have shifted from Zoom to in-person, the question of whether the handshake is baffling a growing number of people.

Shaking hands has been going on for centuries. A widely held belief is that it originated to prove to someone that a person was offering peace and not a hidden weapon.

These days, a handshake can be a symbol of connection, especially after a long period of no touching. But hands can be germs. And herein lies the struggle. Is the handshake ever coming back? The answer depends on who you ask.

As the pandemic took hold in the United States, a Kansas City-area meeting and event planning business began putting up “I shake hands” stickers to help reduce awkward social encounters.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease specialist, cautioned last year, “I don’t think we should ever shake hands again, to be honest with you.”

On the other side is Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University. They feel that the whole shaking controversy is over.


TEHRAN – Iran has reported more new infections and deaths across the country than any other day since the pandemic began.

Health officials reported more than 39,600 new cases and 542 deaths from the virus. The daily deaths on Sunday broke the previous record set in November. The new all-time high brought Iran’s total number of infections to more than 4.1 million and deaths from the pandemic to more than 94,000, the highest in the Middle East.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed by the rush of new cases due to the rapidly spreading delta variant. The country has never seen so many COVID-19 patients in critical condition with 6,462 more serious cases reported on Sunday.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week ordered officials to discuss the possibility of a total national shutdown. The government has been shying away from enforcing such a lockdown, fearing it would harm an economy battered by years of US sanctions.

According to the Our World in Data Project at the University of Oxford, only 3.3% of the total population of some 80 million have been fully vaccinated.


Herre, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls is usually teeming with tourists, who come to marvel at the roaring Zambezi River as it plunges more than 350 feet (108 meters) down into the gorge, sending a mist Which is visible from miles away.

“The Smoke That Thunders” – the English translation of what the waterfall is called in the Sotho language – is still powerful, but the COVID-19 pandemic has hit visitors in a tizzy. Typically, Victoria Falls attracts 350,000 tourists annually, but their numbers have dropped to almost none as a result of travel restrictions.

To promote Victoria Falls as a safe destination, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has made vaccines available for all 35,000 residents of the city, which share a name with the waterfall. An estimated 60% of people have received either SinoPharma or Sinovac vaccines from China.

Although tourists have not returned in large numbers, Victoria Falls has mostly been spared the current wave of COVID-19 that has swept across Zimbabwe and the rest of southern Africa, which health officials attribute to the city’s relatively high level of vaccination .

On the strength of vaccination rates in Victoria Falls, the government last week reopened two land borders that connect the city with the neighboring countries of Zambia, Namibia and Botswana.


TORONTO – An Italian tennis pro was removed from a qualifying round at a tournament in Toronto because he left a “controlled environment” to prevent players and their team members from getting COVID-19.

Tennis Canada and the ATP Men’s Tour announced on Saturday that 60th-ranked Lorenzo Musetti will not be allowed to compete at the National Bank Open.

Musetti, 19, reached the fourth round of the French Open on his Grand Slam debut in June.

He even took a two-set lead against No. 1 Novak Djokovic at that stage and eventually stalled due to lower back pain and cramps, while 6-7 (7), 6-7 (2 ), 6-1, 6-0. , 4-0.

Tennis Canada and the ATP said an approval letter from the Public Health Agency of Canada that allowed the tournament to go ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic states that “any person except in a controlled environment is in violation of COVID-19 protocols and unable to Will have to re-enter to compete in the event. “

Musetti was replaced in the qualifying bracket by Max Purcell.

Nation World News Desk
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