The Latest: Education Dept OKs Georgia plan for relief funds

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA — The U.S. Department of Education approved Georgia’s plans to use $1.4 billion in federal coronavirus relief money.

Federal officials already distributed two-thirds of the $4.2 billion that Georgia schools received under the American Rescue Plan, the relief bill backed by President Joe Biden. Most of the money is being directly allocated to Georgia’s 180-plus school districts, with $425 million held by the state Board of Education to address statewide needs.

Georgia’s plan calls for deploying state-level academic recovery specialists, increased summer and after-school learning and establishing school-based health clinics. U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visited a DeKalb County school Friday to highlight federal aid.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Some U.S. states scale back virus reporting despite case surge

— Tanzania gets 1 million J&J vaccines from U.S.

— Vietnam locks down capital Hanoi for 15 days as cases rise

— Solidarity jogs in the park resume across England

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— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city’s private sector businesses should institute vaccine requirements for their employees.

He says the “limits of a purely voluntary system” have been reached. On Friday on WNYC radio, de Blasio told host Brian Lehrer the city’s private hospitals, as well as other private employers, should follow get vaccinated or tested weekly.

Daily COVID-19 infections in the state of New York have soared 327% since June 25, with most of the illnesses occurring among unvaccinated people.

De Blasio on Wednesday announced a policy that would require workers in New York City-run hospitals and health clinics to either get vaccinated or tested weekly.

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DES MOINES, Iowa — A state board charged with helping oversee Iowa’s response to the coronavirus pandemic can’t meet because it doesn’t have enough members.

The Des Moines Register reports that seven of the 11 seats on the Iowa State Board of Health are vacant. The board of health is made up of private individuals, including medical and public health professionals, and advises the Iowa Department of Health.

Members are appointed by the governor, Kim Reynolds. State law says one political party may not have more than half of a state board’s membership plus one. The board currently has three Republicans, one political independent and no Democrats. It last met May 12 and is not scheduled to meet again until Sept. 8.

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LONDON — Days after all remaining lockdown restrictions were lifted in England, organized runs resumed across England on Saturday for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

After 16 months of solo jogging, the return of the weekly 5-kilometer mass park runs in England were met with widespread jubilation.

The runs, which are open to everyone, regardless of age, gender or ability, have become increasingly popular over the past few years and likely improved the nation’s fitness.

And people don’t have to run. Walking will do. Runner Cameron Dockerill says, “It has been quite a lonely time and to come here is quite uplifting.”

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OMAHA, Neb. — Several states scaled back their reporting on the coronavirus this month just as cases in the nation tripled. The delta variant of the virus is spreading quickly among the unvaccinated in some states.

The shift to weekly instead of daily reporting in Florida, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota was accompanied by less detail about the virus in Florida and Nebraska. Some officials have characterized the move as part of a return to normal. However, the average number of new virus cases nationwide went from 11,500 on June 20 to nearly 38,000 this week.

In Florida’s last two weekly reports, the number of new cases increased from 23,000 to 45,000 and then 73,000 on Friday, an average of more than 10,000 day. Hospitals are starting to run out of space in parts of the state.

In Nebraska, the state stopped reporting on the virus altogether for two weeks after Gov. Pete Ricketts declared an end to the official virus emergency, forcing reporters to file public records requests or turn to national websites that track state data to learn about COVID statistics. Nebraska officials backtracked two weeks later and posted a weekly site that provides some basic numbers.

Public health communication expert Joseph Cappella says the spin that these reporting changes are part of a return to normalcy doesn’t fit with recent case numbers. State coronavirus dashboards have become a staple for closely tracking case counts and trends to navigate a crisis that has killed more than 600,000 Americans.

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PARIS — Far-right activists and members of France’s yellow vest movement are holding protests Saturday against new virus measures.

French lawmakers are debating a bill requiring everyone to have a special virus pass to enter restaurants and other venues and mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all health care workers.

French virus infections are spiking and hospitalizations are rising anew. The government is trying to speed up vaccination to protect vulnerable populations, protect hospitals and avoid new lockdowns. Most French adults are fully vaccinated and polls indicate a majority support the new measures.

But not everyone. Last weekend, more than 100,000 people protested around France against the measures.

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TOKYO — Olympics host cities often offer the tens of thousands of journalists excursions to advertise their tourist destinations.

But this time around, they are attempting to do so while keeping Olympic visitors within a carefully controlled bubble, cut off from Tokyo’s 14 million residents. The efforts include a lottery for nighttime tours to history museums and historic gardens, where journalists are required to pledge not to talk to locals.

A recent first stop was the 400-year-old Hama-rikyu Gardens on the edge of Tokyo Bay. About 600 people had visited that day. Then they closed the park, the locals went out and the visitors arrived.

Many trained their cameras on an exhibit about the 1964 Olympics, held less than two decades after World War II. At that opening ceremony, 8,000 white pigeons were released as a symbol of peace.

Now the games are here again, though less celebratory: In the world around them, a virus has killed more than 4 million people in less than two years.

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DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — Tanzania has received its first batch of 1 million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines donated by the U.S. government.

Tanzania had been among the few countries in Africa yet to receive vaccines or start vaccinating its population, mainly because its former leader had claimed prayer had defeated COVID-19 in the country. The vaccines were received by the foreign affairs minister and the U.S. ambassador at the airport in Dar es Salaam.

Former Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who died in March, had refused to accept vaccines after he claimed three days of prayer had healed the country of the virus in June 2020.

Magufuli’s deputy, Samai Suluhu Hassan, took over as president in line with the country’s constitution and became the first female president in Tanzania.

Hassan has reversed Tanzania’s practice of denying COVID-19′s spread in the East African country.

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BEIJING — The Chinese government says everyone in a county in the southwest near Myanmar will be tested for the coronavirus following a spike in infections.

The announcement says businesses and schools in Jiangcheng County in Yunnan province will close Monday and Tuesday while nucleic acid testing is carried out. Travel into and out of the county will be prohibited.

Yunnan has reported a spike in infections traced to nearby Myanmar, where a military government that seized power in February is struggling to contain a surge in cases. The Yunnan health agency says 297 people are treated for the virus, including 218 who are believed to have been infected abroad.

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MIAMI — Pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships are no longer in place under the latest ruling by a federal appeals court, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention try to fight a Florida lawsuit challenging the regulations.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had temporarily blocked a previous ruling last Saturday that sided with Florida officials, but the court reversed that decision on Friday, explaining that the CDC failed to demonstrate an entitlement to a stay pending appeal. Last weekend’s temporary stay had kept the CDC regulations regarding Florida-based cruise ships in place.

The lawsuit, championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, claims that the CDC’s multiple-step process to allow cruising from Florida is overly burdensome, harming both a multibillion-dollar industry that provides some 159,000 jobs and revenue collected by the state.

The CDC, however, said keeping the rules in place would prevent future COVID-19 outbreaks on ships that are vulnerable to the spread of the virus because of their close quarters and frequent stops at foreign ports.

“The undisputed evidence shows that unregulated cruise ship operations would exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, and that the harm to the public that would result from such operations cannot be undone,” the CDC said in a court filing.

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HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam has announced a 15-day lockdown in the capital Hanoi as a coronavirus surge spread from the southern Mekong Delta region.

The lockdown order, issued late Friday night, bans the gathering of more than two people in public. Only government offices, hospitals and essential businesses can stay open.

Earlier in the week, the city had suspended all outdoor activities and ordered non-essential businesses to close following an increase in cases.

On Friday, Hanoi reported 70 confirmed infections, the city’s highest, part of a record 7,295 cases in the country. Nearly 5,000 are from Vietnam’s largest metropolis, southern Ho Chi Minh City, which has extended its lockdown until Aug. 1.

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SYDNEY — Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Sydney and other Australian cities to protest lockdown restrictions amid another surge in cases.

Police made several arrests after crowds broke through barriers and threw plastic bottles and plants. The unmasked participants marched from Sydney’s Victoria Park to Town Hall in the central business district, carrying signs calling for “freedom” and “the truth.”

There was a heavy police presence in Sydney, including mounted police and riot officers in response to what authorities said was unauthorized protest activity. Police confirmed several arrests. New South Wales Police said it recognized and supported the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, but the protest was a breach of public health orders.

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