Health workers wearing personnel protection equipment carry the body of a COVID-19 victim for cremation in Lucknow, India, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. India’s coronavirus cases are now the second-highest in the world and only behind the United States.
Rajesh Kumar Singh
MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Madison decided Monday to eliminate spring break next semester in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The university’s Faculty Senate voted 140-7 to erase the nine-day break from the 2021 spring calendar. Officials said the move is designed to discourage students and staff from traveling long distances and bringing the virus that causes COVID-19 back to campus, officials said.
“I realize the slog of going through a full 15 week semester with no break would be challenging, but given the vagaries of the pandemic, particularly in cold weather when people are indoors and the like. … I’m enthusiastically supportive,” said Provost John Karl Scholz.
The proposal has classes starting on Jan. 25, a week later than currently scheduled. Spring break would be eliminated, but classes would not be held Saturday, March 27, which is the beginning of Passover; Friday, April 2, which is Good Friday; or Saturday, April 3, the day before Easter. Classes would end April 30, the same day as the current calendar.
The idea got a lukewarm reception from some senators and students. Sen. Kurt Paulsen, an urban planning professor, asked why the spring semester couldn’t start on its regular schedule. Sen. John Mackay, a philosophy professor, warned that students will travel anyway. If the semester goes online, students will just log-on from Florida for a week, he predicted.
Kevin Jacobsen, shared governance campaign director for Associated Students of Madison, said spring break offers a respite from stress from students, which is worse in the spring with internship requests and other demands as the academic year ends.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— In defiance of Nevada’s coronavirus restrictions and US guidelines, Trump holds indoor rally in front of largely maskless crowd
— To door knock or not? Candidates are evolving tactics of political campaigning in the coronavirus pandemic era
— Teacher departures, some driven by health concerns, leave schools scrambling for substitutes
— A family struggle as pandemic worsens food insecurity
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada health officials say they expect to see an uptick in new coronavirus cases after President Donald Trump held rallies in the state over the weekend.
Thousands of mostly mask-less supporters attended the rallies in Minden on Saturday and Henderson on Sunday, which violated Nevada directives capping at 50 the number of people who can attend public gatherings.
The rally in Henderson was the first indoor event Trump has held since a mid-June arena event in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Nevada has reported more than 73,800 coronavirus cases and nearly 1,460 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil’s Supreme Court says its chief justice as contracted COVID-19 and is feeling well.
Luiz Fux, who has sat on the top court since 2011, assumed its top position five days ago from José Dias Toffoli. The 67-year-old will remain in the post for the next two years.
The Supreme Court said in a statement Monday that Fux will remain in isolation for 10 days. Brazil’s top court is meeting online due to the pandemic and, while the Chief Justice normally presides over hearings from the court’s main chamber, Fux is expected to chair Wednesday’s session from home.
LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan county has ordered a two-week quarantine for 23 fraternities and sororities and seven large rental houses near Michigan State University following a coronavirus outbreak that a local health official said was turning into a “crisis.”
The mandatory quarantine, ordered Monday, means students or others living in the buildings cannot leave except for medical care or necessities that cannot be delivered.
Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail acted two days after she urged all MSU students living locally to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days.
She said the outbreak was being fueled by a lack of cooperation and compliance from some students at the university, which is offering online-only instruction. People who willfully violate the order could face six months in jail, a $200 fine or both.
Since Aug. 24, two days before the start of classes, Ingham County’s COVID-19 case count has jumped by 52%, according to the county.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Officials in South Carolina say Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday, but is recovering in isolation with her family at home.
Brian Symmes, the spokesman for Gov. Henry McMaster, said Monday that Evette had a sore throat and headache and was tested for the virus. She has stayed at her family’s home near Greenville since noting the symptoms on Thursday.
Evette’s positive test prompted McMaster and his wife to get COVID-19 tests, which both came back negative Sunday. Symmes said it was the fifth negative test since the pandemic began for the governor and the third for his wife.
Symmes said two members of Evette’s staff and some of her security detail are also isolating but have not tested positive for COVID-19. Evette, 53, and the 73-year-old governor were last together on Sept. 6.
CAIRO — Egypt says wedding parties, funeral prayers and cultural events will be allowed next week, only at open venues, for the first time since the government imposed a partial lockdown earlier this year to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Nader Saad, a spokesman for the government, said Monday that wedding parties will be allowed with a maximum capacity of 300 people starting from Sep. 21 at tourist facilities and hotels that have obtained health safety certificates.
He said in a statement that cultural events, including book fairs, will be allowed in open-air places with 50% of its capacity. Funeral prayers will be also allowed at mosques with outdoor yards.
NEW YORK — This year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving parade has been reimagined for the coronavirus pandemic.
Macy’s officials said Monday that the parade will feature floats, performers and giant balloons parading along a one-block stretch of 34th Street in front of the retailer’s flagship Manhattan store.
The spectacle will be broadcast as usual from 9 a.m. to noon Eastern time on NBC and will include both live and recorded elements. The giant balloons will be flown without the traditional 80 to 100 handlers and will instead be tethered to vehicles. Most of the parade’s performers will be locally based to cut down on travel.
PANAMA CITY — Panama has lifted a five-month-old coronavirus measure that restricted women from going out one day, and men the next.
The rules, lifted Monday, limited when people could go out for essentials. They proved controversial because it led to harassment and discrimination against transgender people.
Health Minister Luis Antonio Sucre urged caution despite the lifting of the rule, which had been in place since March.
Similar measures were also tried in Peru as a way to reduce the number of people on the street and slow the spread of contagion.
PITTSBURGH — A federal judge has struck down Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic restrictions that required people to stay at home, placed size limits on gatherings and ordered “non-life-sustaining” businesses to shut down, calling them unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV on Monday sided with plaintiffs that included hair salons, drive-in movie theaters, a farmer’s market vendor, a horse trainer and several Republican officeholders who sued as individuals.
Stickman wrote in his ruling that the Wolf administration’s pandemic policies have been overreaching, arbitrary and violated citizens’ constitutional rights.
Wolf has lifted many of the restrictions since the lawsuit was filed in May, allowing businesses to reopen and canceling a statewide stay-at-home order. But his administration has maintained some capacity restrictions and limitations. A spokesperson for Wolf said the administration was reviewing the decision.
PARIS — Two of France’s biggest cities with COVID-19 infection rates exceeding the national surge in new cases are tightening limits on public activities as the French government seeks to ward off a new nationwide lockdown.
The stricter restrictions announced Monday in Marseille and Bordeaux responded to a demand from France’s prime minister that both cities take additional steps to stem their growing numbers of infections.
In Bordeaux, the top government official for the region announced a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people in public parks, along the city’s picturesque river and on beaches. The new rules also limit the size of large public gatherings to no more than 1,000 people.
To counter partying, Bordeaux cafes and restaurants will also no longer be able to serve clients who are standing up and will not be able to play music outdoors. Dancing is forbidden in public venues, including at weddings. Drinking alcohol in public is also banned in Bordeaux, a center of the French wine industry.
In Marseille, France’s second-biggest city after Paris, the regional government also announced a series of similar restrictions and the cancellation of an 11-day international festival.
ATLANTA — The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the fight against HIV. Across the U.S. South, clinics have stopped or limited testing for the AIDS virus and public health officials overwhelmed by demands to control COVID-19 have shifted staff away from tracking HIV patients.
Progress against the virus had already stalled in recent years. Now, health experts and advocates worry the country is at risk of backsliding, with a spike in new HIV infections because people don’t know they have the disease, aren’t aware if their treatment is working or aren’t getting a drug that can prevent them from getting HIV in the first place.
The issue is of particular concern in the South, which accounted for more than half of the country’s roughly 37,000 HIV infections in 2018 and has been a focus of the Trump administration’s goal of eradicating the disease by 2030. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer people in the South are aware that they have HIV compared with other regions in the U.S.
MILAN — The number of new positive cases of coronavirus identified in Italy narrowed in the last 24 hours almost in proportion to the lower number of tests.
Italy reported 1,008 new positives on Monday, the first day of school in most of the country after breaks of six to seven months, down by 30% from the previous day. During the same period, testing dropped by 37% to just over 45,000, according to Health Ministry statistics.
The number of confirmed positives has edged up for the last six weeks, mostly discovered during testing of returning holidaymakers. Most are asymptomatic, although the number of people in the hospital and in intensive care units is also edging up, with 80 more hospitalized in the last 24 hours and 10 more in intensive care. Fourteen people died in the period, bringing the pandemic total to 35,624 known victims.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is imposing travel restrictions for anyone coming from the Czech Republic after its neighbor registered a record level of new confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Starting on Friday, travelers from the Czech Republic will have to present a negative coronavirus test that is not older than 72 hours or be quarantined for five days and then get tested.
Random checks will be conducted to make sure people comply with the requirements.
Exceptions include students, teachers, health personnel, some artists and athletes and some others.
The two countries that formed Czechoslovakia have closer ties with one another than with any other country.
LONDON — New rules preventing gatherings of more than six people go into effect in England, Scotland and Wales on Monday, in an effort to simplify directives meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But a myriad of exceptions ensure that the public is likely to still find the rules hard to follow. For example, the rule applies to pubs but not to schools or workplaces.
The U.K. has suffered Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak. It recorded more than 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the third day running on Sunday.
Though an increase in testing accounts for some of the new cases, it’s clear that the U.K. has seen the virus spread in recent weeks, stoking concerns about a second wave.
To try to halt the spread, authorities have tightened a number of restrictions on everyday life. London’s Metropolitan Police pledged to take appropriate action, and say they will act to enforce the tighter restrictions across the capital.
WINTER PARK, Fla. — Police say a 70-year-old man was beaten after he asked a man who wasn’t wearing a mask to practice social distancing inside a central Florida gas station.
According to an Orange County arrest affidavit, the two men began arguing outside a Citgo gas station in Winter Park on Sept. 8. The older man paid for his items and left.
The report said 24-year-old Rovester Ingram followed him outside and began kicking and punching the older man. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the man went back inside the gas station, and Ingram punched him again, grabbed him by the hair and dragged him back outside.
Winter Park police confirmed the victim’s account through eyewitness accounts and security footage. They found Ingram at his house.
Court records show he is charged with kidnapping/inflicting bodily harm as well as aggravated battery.
The victim was taken to a hospital for treatment.
PARIS — A global development agency said the world’s 20 major industrialized nations have seen their economies shrink in an unprecedented manner between April and June amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Monday that the gross domestic product dropped by a record 6.9% in the second quarter of this year in the G-20 area.
This organization noted that is “significantly larger” than the 1.6% fall recorded in the first quarter of 2009 at the height of the financial crisis.
Between April and June this year, the GDP most dramatically fell by 25.2 in India, by 20.4% in the UK and by 17.1% in Mexico. It plunged by 9.1% in the United States.
The OECD said that China was the only G-20 country recording growth (11.5%) in that period. The organization said that reflects “the earlier onset of the pandemic in this country and subsequent recovery.”
NEW DELHI — India reopened its Parliament after more than five months Monday even as the country continues to report the most daily new infections of the coronavirus in the world and daily virus deaths remain above 1,000.
Lawmakers must wear masks and follow other sanitization protocols, sit on seats separated by transparent plastic sheets and keep their meetings limited. The Question Hour, when lawmakers ask questions to ministers and hold them accountable for the functioning of their ministries, will not be allowed.
Opposition parties have protested the decision to do away with the Question Hour and are expected to grill the government over its handling of the pandemic, the nosediving economy and simmering tensions with China.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Main streets were less crowded as Indonesia’s capital began two weeks of social restrictions Monday to curb a rise of coronavirus infections that has pushed its critical-care hospital capacity to unsafe levels.
Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan announced the restrictions Sunday, to last from Monday to Sept. 27, to combat a virus outbreak he called an emergency situation.
Social, economic, religious, cultural and academic activities will be restricted, with 11 essential sectors, like food, construction and banking, allowed to operate with health protocols and 50% of usual staffing levels.