By The Associated Press
Russia is reporting its largest daily number of new coronavirus infections, more than 70% up on the number a month ago as the country faces a sustained rise in cases.
The national coronavirus task force on Sunday said 34,303 new infections were recorded in the previous day, compared with the 20,174 reported Sept. 19.
The death toll of 999 was barely lower than the record 1,002 deaths reported on Saturday.
Russian authorities have tried to speed up the pace of vaccinations with lotteries, bonuses and other incentives, but widespread vaccine skepticism and conflicting signals from officials stymied the efforts. The government said this week that about 43 million Russians, or some 29% of the country’s nearly 146 million people, are fully vaccinated.
Despite the mounting toll, the Kremlin has ruled out a new nationwide lockdown like the one early on in the pandemic that badly hurt the economy, eroding President Vladimir Putin’s popularity. Instead, it has delegated the power to enforce coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Robert Durst hospitalized with COVID-19 after murder verdict
— US cities, police unions clash as vaccine mandates take effect
— Protests greet start of Italy requiring COVID passes at workplaces
— Officials set stage for national campaign to vaccinate younger US children
— FDA panel endorses booster shot for Johnson & Johnson vaccine
See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities are allowing the reopening of cinemas and restaurants and also permitting wedding receptions as a part of the easing of COVID-19 related restrictions.
Cinemas will be open from next week, but with only 25% occupancy. Restaurants will be allowed to cater to a maximum 50 customers at a time. Wedding receptions are also permitted, but with a maximum of 50 guests.
Banks can accommodate only five clients at a time while gymnasiums can have a maximum of 10.
The government’s move to ease restrictions comes amid a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths over the past few weeks.
However, the government still continues with the ban on public gatherings while restrictions are imposed on public transport and trains are still halted.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand health care workers administered a record number of vaccine jabs Saturday as the nation held a festival aimed at getting more people inoculated against the coronavirus.
Musicians, sports stars and celebrities pitched in for the “Vaxathon” event, which was broadcast on television and online for eight hours straight. By late afternoon, more than 120,000 people had gotten shots, eclipsing the daily record of 93,000 set in August.
A throwback to TV fundraising “telethon” events that were popular from the 1970s through the 1990s, it comes as New Zealand faces its biggest threat since the pandemic began, with an outbreak of the delta variant spreading through the largest city of Auckland and beyond.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who chatted with motorists at a drive-through vaccination center in Wellington, initially set a target of 100,000 jabs for the day but upped that to 150,000 after the first target was met.
She also set a target of 25,000 shots for Indigenous Maori, whose vaccination numbers have been lagging and who have been hit hard by the latest outbreak.
MAINE — Opponents of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers in Maine filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after being dealt another legal defeat on Friday.
The appeal was filed hours after the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston denied a request to stop the mandate from going into effect. The Supreme Court previously rejected appeals of vaccine requirements for New York City teachers and Indiana University staff and students.
The vaccine mandate in Maine, announced by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, requires health care workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus or risk losing their jobs. The state begins enforcing the mandate on Oct. 29.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Northern California judge has tentatively ruled that state prison officials acted with deliberate indifference when they caused a deadly coronavirus outbreak at one of the world’s most famous prisons last year.
But Marin County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Howard said vaccines have changed the landscape so much since then that officials are no longer violating inmates’ constitutional rights.
The lawsuit stemmed from the botched transfer of infected inmates in May 2020 from a Southern California prison to San Quentin. The coronavirus then quickly sickened 75% of inmates at the prison north of San Francisco, leading to the deaths of 28 inmates and a correctional officer.
PHOENIX — Arizona’s three state universities will comply with federal mandates for government contractors and require their employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Dec. 8 unless granted exemptions, officials announced Friday.
The requirement by the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University includes undergraduate and graduate students who are also university employees, the state Board of Regents said in a statement.
The statement cited President Joe Biden’s executive order regarding on compliance with federal COVID-19 workplace guidance and said the universities have “hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts, funding critical research, employment and educational efforts.”
“We respect individual opinions regarding the vaccine and will include disability (including medical) and religious accommodations consistent with federal rules,” the statement added.
A regents spokeswoman did not immediately respond when asked what would happen to an employee not complying with the mandate.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The governing body of Alaska’s largest city has overridden the mayor’s veto of an emergency order instituting a mask mandate for 60 days.
Alaska Public Media reports the Anchorage Assembly on Thursday overturned Mayor Dave Bronson’s veto of the measure requiring masks by most everyone in indoor public spaces.
The ordinance mandates people wear masks in indoor public places and communal spaces. It provides some exemptions. Businesses must deny entry to people who aren’t wearing masks.
The order could be canceled earlier than 60 days if two of Anchorage’s three hospitals are not operating with crisis care protocols or if the city does not have a high transmission rate of COVID-19.
PORTLAND, Maine — A federal appeals court has denied an emergency request to stop a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from going into effect in Maine.
The rule, announced by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, requires health care workers to get vaccinated against the disease by Oct. 29 or risk losing jobs. Opponents of the mandate challenged it in federal court and a judge declined to block it earlier this week.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston issued a one-sentence statement on Friday that said the request for an emergency halt to the mandate was denied, the Bangor Daily News reported.
Health workers in the state needed to get their final shot by Friday to comply with the mandate in time.
Most already have. State officials said earlier this week that the compliance rate at hospitals in the state was more than 90%, and it was more than 80% in some other types of health care facilities such as intermediate care facilities.
OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska’s attorney general said Friday that he won’t seek disciplinary action against doctors who prescribe controversial, off-label drugs to treat and prevent coronavirus infections as long as they get informed consent from patients and don’t engage in misconduct.
The office of Attorney General Doug Peterson released a legal opinion saying it didn’t see data to justify legal action against health care professionals who prescribe ivermectin, a decades-old parasite treatment, or hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that former President Donald Trump took to try to prevent a COVID-19 infection.
“Based on the evidence that currently exists, the mere fact of prescribing ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 will not result in our office filing disciplinary actions,” the Republican attorney general said in the opinion.
Many health experts and leading medical groups have been trying to stop the use of both drugs, arguing that they can cause harmful side effects and there’s little evidence that they help.
BERLIN — The pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech say they have requested that their coronavirus vaccine be licensed for children aged 5 to 11 across the European Union. If authorized, it would be the first opportunity for younger children in Europe to be get immunized against COVID-19.
In a statement on Friday, Pfizer and BioNTech said they had submitted data to the European Medicines Agency, including late-stage results from a study testing their COVID-19 vaccine in more than 2,200 children aged six months to 11 years, using a lower dose than what’s normally given to adults.
The companies said those results showed a “strong immune response” in the children and that the vaccine was also found to be safe. There are currently no COVID-19 vaccines licensed for use in children younger than 12 in Europe or North America; the shots made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are authorized for children 12 and older in the European Union.
Earlier this month, Pfizer and BioNTech asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to green light their vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11.
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