The Latest: Oklahoma new virus cases top 1,000 for third day

By The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — The number of newly reported coronavirus cases in Oklahoma topped 1,000 for a third consecutive day on Friday and the seven-day average of new cases has nearly quintupled in less than a month, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health figures.

The department reported 1,194 new cases for a total of 471,176 cases since the pandemic began, and a seven-day average of 938 cases, compared to a seven-day average of 196 on June 25.

Oklahoma ranked ninth in the nation with 249.8 new cases per 100,000 residents, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of hospitalizations reached 495 and health officials have estimated about 90% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated. The CDC reported Oklahoma was 39th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia with 46.6% of the population having at least one vaccination.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— AP poll: Most unvaccinated unlikely to get shots

— European agency clears Moderna vaccine for children 12-17

— Tokyo Olympics are arriving at last, after a yearlong delay

— In Canada and Zimbabwe, paths to vaccination diverge

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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:

SEATTLE – The top public health official in Washington state’s most populous county is asking everyone to wear masks in indoor public spaces because of the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant — even if they have been vaccinated.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer at Public Health – Seattle & King County, made the recommendation Friday.

Washington state’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Scott Lindquist, is urging people to use common sense and to try to not be in places with poor ventilation but is not issuing a state mask recommendation for vaccinated people.

Lindquist said Friday there are discussions about a broader recommendation but at this point the state is comfortable with local health officials making such decisions.

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This item has been updated to CORRECT that Washington state officials are not recommending vaccinated people wear masks indoors but are leaving such decisions to county officials. It also removes inaccurate figures about weekly case counts in Washington.

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WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the United States has shipped 22 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine to other countries this week.

The total was a weekly record as vaccines went to 23 countries. Psaki says the recipients included Pakistan, Vietnam, Guatemala, Panama, Senegal, Cameroon and Morocco, among other nations. By this weekend, roughly 80 million doses in total will have shipped from the United States to other countries.

Psaki stressed at Friday’s White House news briefing that the United States is “donating more to the world than any other country.” Still, there is a global vaccine gap between wealthier nations and poorer ones, a reflection of the economic might of American and European countries as well as the pressure to address the needs of domestic populations.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is encouraging everyone, whether vaccinated or not, to wear masks indoors if they can’t stay distanced from others.

His guidance released Friday comes as Louisiana sees more 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state.

But the Democratic governor stopped short of issuing any face covering mandates or new restrictions on activities and businesses.

Louisiana’s in its fourth spike of COVID-19, driven this time by the highly contagious delta variant. The state has among the nation’s lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates and is seeing thousands of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus illness each day.

Edwards said Louisiana has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases per capita in the nation.

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O’FALLON, Mo. — St. Louis city and county officials say they will require masks in some public places starting Monday, citing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases spurred by the delta variant.

Masks will be mandatory in indoor public places and on public transportation for everyone age 5 or older, even for those who are vaccinated, officials said in a news release on Friday. Masking outdoors “will be strongly encouraged,” especially in group settings.

The decision comes as both of Missouri’s urban areas are seeing a big uptick in cases in hospitalizations that began in rural areas of the state, especially in southwestern Missouri. The Kansas City Star reported Friday that medical leaders in that region appear to be on the verge of calling for a new mask mandate there as well.

Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the city of St. Louis, said more than 500 St. Louisans have already died from COVID-19, “and if our region doesn’t work together to protect one another, we could see spikes that overwhelm our hospital and public health systems.”

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ISTANBUL — Turkey has recorded a further increase in daily COVID-19 infections with 11,094 new positive cases and 60 deaths in the past 24 hours.

The 7-day average is now hovering above 8,660 cases, according to health ministry statistics. The total reported death toll is at 50,821.

Turkey’s government eased the majority of restrictions on July 1, lifting nighttime and Sunday curfews and opening nearly all businesses. While mask mandates remain, compliance has visibly dropped. People travelled for a 9-day holiday to seaside towns where distancing and masking rules were not followed.

Experts are worried the highly contagious Delta variant could have spread across the country. The most recent figures for variant cases were released by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on July 13, when he said there were 750 infections in Turkey – up from 284 a week earlier. The minister tweeted Friday that people should “return from relaxation to strict precautions” and urged vaccinations.

Though more than 65 million jabs have been administered using Sinovac and Pfizer vaccines, only about 26 percent of the 84 million population have been fully vaccinated.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — With Alabama trailing the nation in COVID-19 vaccinations, infections rising and the governor refusing incentives to encourage more people to get shots, state prisons are offering $5 canteen credits to inmates to encourage more inoculations.

The Department of Corrections, which said less than half of its more than 24,000 inmates have been vaccinated, is offering the canteen “grab bag” to inmates who get vaccinations and those who’ve already received shots, spokeswoman Kristi Simpson said.

Items like snacks, candy and personal hygiene products typically are offered to inmates in prison stores.

“Facility wardens (have) also been authorized to provide other incentives to encourage staff and inmates to receive a vaccination at their respective facilities,” she said in an email to The Associated Press.

Nearly all of the latest infections and deaths are among people who have not been vaccinated, health officials have said.

Gov. Kay Ivey has opposed incentives to encourage members of the general public to get shots, saying instead that “common sense” should be enough for people to get the free shots. A spokeswoman didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment on the prison incentives.

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BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil is reopening despite a looming threat from the delta variant of COVID-19.

The variant is boosting cases and deaths globally after a period of decline, and the World Health Organization anticipates it will become dominant within months. The race is on to vaccinate as many Brazilians as possible.

Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga says getting more of the population vaccinated the best way to stop the variant, but he insists that Brazil must resume its economic activities.

President Jair Bolsonaro has long opposed restrictions and played down COVID-19′s risks, often saying infection is inevitable. Lawmakers have begun investigating his administration’s handling of the pandemic, particularly why officials appear to have been slow to acquire vaccines.

Brazil’s Health Ministry counted 140 cases of the delta variant by Friday, including its three most populous states, and 12 deaths. Analysts say the figures are vast undercounts due to lack of testing and genome sequencing.

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WASHINGTON — The federal government is buying 200 million more doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to prepare for future needs, such as boosters and shots for kids under 12.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says the Biden administration wants to have “maximum flexibility” to address changing conditions, and it’s “going to prepare for every contingency.”

The additional doses will be delivered between this fall and spring of next year.

It’s unclear whether booster shots will be needed for fully vaccinated people, but breakthrough infections attributed to the rapidly spreading delta variant have sparked a discussion. Most new coronavirus cases in vaccinated people have been mild or asymptomatic.

Likewise, it is still unclear if coronavirus vaccines will be approved for younger children.

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BATON ROUGE — More than 1,000 people are hospitalized in Louisiana with COVID-19, the most since early February.

The state’s health department showed 3,127 new cases on Friday.

Soaring hospitalizations of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients are putting medical staffs in Louisiana under stress for a fourth time, as state officials plead for people to get the shots that can prevent the disease.

The highly contagious delta variant has become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Louisiana and around the country. Gov. John Bel Edwards planned to address the latest surge Friday.

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JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s acting health minister says the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign is regaining momentum after being disrupted by a week of riots sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma. Acting Health Minister Mamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says at least 120 pharmacies, including 71 that were vaccination sites, were damaged and closed during the unrest in the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

She says more than 47,000 vaccine doses were destroyed when the sites were ransacked and the “violent nature of the protests unsettled the health care system as a whole.”

The government has said at least 337 people died during the riots this month.

South Africa reported 14,858 new infections and 433 deaths Friday, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The nation gave shots to more than 220,000 people per day this week and aims to increase the number to 300,000 jabs each weekday next week.

More than 6 million South Africans have received at least one shot and 1.6 million are fully vaccinated with two the Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Vaccinations are open to those above age 35.

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ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatia and Montenegro have tightened rules against the new coronavirus along the Adriatic Sea coast amid a rise in infections and in effort to save the summer tourism season.

Starting next week, all gatherings in Croatia will be limited. Montenegro temporarily closed night clubs and discotheques.

Tourism is key for the economies in both countries, particularly after a bad season last summer. While vaccination has reached nearly 50% in of Croatia’s 4.2 million people and some 36% in Montenegro, a country of 620,000, officials say that’s far from enough.

The Adriatic Sea coastline of Croatia and Montenegro draws visitors from across Europe. Croatia is known for ancient towns along the coast and numerous islands.

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NEW YORK — A new poll shows that most Americans who haven’t been vaccinated against the coronavirus say they are unlikely to get the shots. About 16% say they probably will get the vaccine.

Most also doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant, despite evidence they do. Those findings underscore the challenges facing public health officials as soaring infections in some states threaten to overwhelm hospitals.

The poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 35% of adults who have not yet received a vaccine say they probably will not, and 45% say they definitely will not.

That means “that there will be more preventable cases, more preventable hospitalizations and more preventable deaths,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

Just 3% of unvaccinated Americans say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16% say they probably will. Some 37% of those under age 45 say they haven’t and likely won’t get the shots. Those without college degrees compared to those who graduated say they aren’t and won’t be vaccinated, 30% to 18%.

Nationally, 56.4% of all Americans, including children, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC. Vaccinations are starting to increase in some lagging states where cases are rising — Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada.

“What I learned from my patients is that when a loved one dies, that’s a tragedy,” says Dr. Howard Koh, a professor at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. “But when a loved one dies and you know it could have been prevented, that tragedy haunts you forever.”

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — U.S. regulators are weighing the final stamp of approval for certain COVID-19 vaccines. Governors in states hard hit by the pandemic hope the move will help persuade the many holdouts in their states to finally get the shot.

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines approved for use in the U.S. were authorized for emergency use. The governors of Arkansas and Ohio have appealed in recent days for full approval as virus cases and hospitalizations skyrocket in their states. They say the move would help combat vaccine resistance and could also clear the way for more businesses to require their employees to be inoculated.

It’s a topic that Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has confronted as he holds town halls throughout Arkansas, which leads the nation in new cases per capita but has one of the lowest vaccination rates. Only about 35% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.

All three vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. went through a fast-track approval process — but that didn’t skip the normal massive testing required of any vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna have applied for full approval, and a Pfizer decision is expected soon.

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