By The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A surge of coronavirus cases in New York has forced the postponement of another signature event, the Westminster Kennel Club’s annual dog show.
The show announced Wednesday it has postponed its 146th annual event to have been contested in late January. The announcement didn’t give a new date for the show but said it would be later in 2022.
The dog show normally is held in February at Madison Square Garden but was moved to June last year and held at the Lyndhurst estate in suburban Tarrytown. Spectators weren’t allowed, and human participants had to be vaccinated or newly tested.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:
— Asia keeps omicron at bay, but a surge may be inevitable
— WHO: Global COVID cases up 11% last week, omicron risk high
— California 1st US state to top 5M cases amid omicron surge
— Stricter Canadian rules complicate NHL push through pandemic
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
MILAN — The Italian government on Wednesday put fresh restrictions on the unvaccinated and reduced quarantine times for those with boosters as the number of new virus cases skyrocketed by one-quarter to a single-day total of nearly 100,000.
Under a decree aimed at preventing an economic slowdown, anyone with a booster shot or who has completed two doses within four months will not be required to quarantine after close contact with someone who is positive. A 10-day quarantine remains in effect for the unvaccinated.
The government is reducing the list of free-time activities available to the unvaccinated. Starting Jan. 10, the jab will be required to access public transportation of any kind, hotels, ski lifts, conventions and fairs, swimming pools and wellness areas. Until then, a negative 10 within 48 hours will remain sufficient.
NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s COVID-19 death toll edged toward 15,000 on Wednesday, and the zoo in New Orleans said half of its lions had been diagnosed with the disease.
Five deaths reported Wednesday brought the state total to 14,983. And hospitalizations, after doubling in the week that ended Sunday, have risen nearly 47% since then to 659, the Louisiana Department of Health dashboard indicated.
The three infected African lions are doing well and have normal appetites, the Audubon Zoo said in a news release Wednesday. Arnold, a full-grown male; Asani, one of two yearling males, and Kali, one of three females, were tested after they came down with coughs and nasal discharges. The other three are now being tested, the statement said.
“All symptoms have been intermittent and mild,” so no medication has been needed, senior veterinarian Bob MacLean said in a statement relayed by a zoo spokeswoman.
“We are prepared to start treatments if signs or animal comfort warrant,” he said.
The zoo said veterinarians don’t know how the lions became infected, but it’s likely that they got the coronavirus from an asymptomatic keeper in spite of numerous precautions. Employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19, and those working with susceptible animals must wear N95 or KN95 masks, the statement said.
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is warning of a January surge in COVID-19 infections as hospitalizations from the virus continue to rise.
Hochul says more than 67,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 across the state on Tuesday. About 6,700 were hospitalized with the virus. That’s more than double the number in hospitals a month ago when the highly contagious omicron variant first emerged as a variant of concern.
Hochul urged New Yorkers to keep New Year’s Eve celebrations small in order to prevent further spread of the virus. New COVID-19 cases across the country have risen to their highest level on record at over 265,000 per day.
MADRID — Spain is reporting over 100,000 infections in 24 hours for the first time in the coronavirus pandemic, although authorities are working to streamline the data amid a backlog caused by a high number of positives confirmed with home testing kits.
Health Minister Carolina Darias called during a press conference Wednesday for self-diagnosed positive COVID-19 cases to be reported to health authorities. She also said that the omicron variant is now responsible for most new infections.
With 100,760 new infections, the 14-day cumulative incidence rose Wednesday to 1,508 cases per 100,00 residents, up from 199 only one month ago.
Darias said that despite the share of cases that need hospitalization in intensive care units is “significantly lower” in this surge, the high contagion rate “is slowly increasing occupation in hospitals.”
Fearing further disruption of economic activity, Spanish authorities have shortened from 10 to seven days the mandatory isolation period for people who contract COVID-19 but show no symptoms and those unvaccinated who have been in contact with infected people.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has reached a pandemic record high in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday as he ordered additional members of the state National Guard into hospitals to help with the surge. The state also saw another record number of new coronavirus cases.
Ohio had 5,356 people in the hospital with the coronavirus Wednesday, the highest since the pandemic began in March 2020, accounting for more than one of every five hospital beds. That’s also the highest per-capita hospitalization rate in the country, said Robert Wylie, chief medical operations officer at the Cleveland Clinic.
More than nine of every 10 people hospitalized with COVID-19 since June have been unvaccinated, DeWine said.
“If you’re vaccinated, the chances of you ending up in the hospital are pretty darn slim,” the governor said.
DeWine is ordering the deployment of 1,250 members of the Ohio National Guard to help hospitals. That’s on top of the more than 1,000 members of the Guard that DeWine called up earlier this month.
A total of 20,320 new coronavirus cases were reported Wednesday. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen over the past two weeks from 7,592.86 new cases per day on Dec. 13 to 12,525.57 new cases per day on Dec. 27, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cyprus will be muted after the government banned dancing and ordered bar, restaurant, reception hall and nightclub patrons to remain seated amid a third day of record daily COVID-19 infections.
Cyprus’ Health Minister Michael Hadjipantela said Wednesday that the daily infection rate now hovers at a record high of around 2.5% as the omicron variant has now taken a firm hold on the country and is projected to increase infections as well as hospital admissions.
Hadjipantela said that as of Thursday, the maximum number of patrons at bars, restaurants and nightclubs will be capped at 300 vaccinated persons. Anyone who hasn’t received a booster shot is required to have a negative rapid test 24 hours prior to attending any function.
Between Jan. 4 and Jan. 15, all inbound travelers will be required to undergo a PCR test 48 hours prior to their departure which they will pay for themselves.
Also next month, 40% of all staff at offices will be required to work from home, while attendance at sports stadiums will be capped at 50% capacity with all fans needing to wear masks. All visits to hospitals, hospices and nursing homes are also banned, while additional PCR testing will be required for health sector professionals who haven’t been fully vaccinated.
The Cypriot Health Ministry said nearly 83% of those receiving hospital treatment for COVID-19 are not vaccinated.
JACKSON, Miss. — COVID-19 outbreaks in Mississippi nursing homes have almost doubled in the past week, an indicator that the state is likely heading into another major surge of virus cases and hospitalizations, a top health official said Wednesday.
There were 63 outbreaks in Mississippi nursing homes Monday, around twice the number of nursing home outbreaks reported in the state last week, state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers wrote in a memo to Mississippi hospitals and health care providers. There were 8,344 new COVID-19 cases reported last week, an 80% increase from the week before. Byers said a growing proportion of Mississippi cases are fueled by the omicron variant of the virus.
The data points to “very rapid growth of COVID-19 infection and transmission and indicate that we have now entered our 5th wave of COVID-19 in the state,” Byers wrote.
Last week, the omicron variant accounted for around 13% of all samples sequenced in the state, up from around 8% in the previous week.
“This likely represents an underestimate of the impact of Omicron on the state, with samples collected in the last two weeks still pending sequencing,” the state epidemiologist said, noting that the omicron variant is significantly more infectious than the delta variant.
LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivia’s main cities canceled any public activities for New Year’s Eve after the country reached a record 4,939 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number for one day in all the pandemic in the South American nation.
The celebrations were called off for the cities of La Paz, Cochabamba and El Alto after local authorities said it would be irresponsible to allow public festivities.
“The pandemic is escalating, and life is first,” said Iván Arias, mayor of La Paz. “It’s preferable to be safe than sorry.”
Bolivia has not detected the omicron variant, but the health authorities have said that the surge in cases can be attributed to people not following some measures such as social distancing or wearing masks.
President Luis Arce issued a decree requiring people to show a vaccination certificate before entering some public places, like restaurants. The measure will take effect on Jan. 1.
Only a little bit more than 38% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to online research website Our World in Data. Bolivia, a country of 11.5 million people, has reported more than 585,000 infections and more than 19,600 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas judge has struck down the state’s law prohibiting schools and other government entities from requiring masks.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox issued the ruling on Wednesday, months after he temporarily blocked the state from enforcing the ban.
More than 100 public charter schools and school districts imposed mask mandates following Fox’s ruling in August, though many have since eased or lifted them altogether.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the ban into law in April, though he has since said he regretted that decision.
Judge Fox found the law unconstitutional, including on grounds that it discriminates between children in public and private schools. Private schools were not barred from requiring masks under the law.
LONDON — The U.K. reported a record 183,037 confirmed new coronavirus infections on Wednesday — a jump of 32% percent from the previous day.
Public health authorities hadn’t reported complete data from all parts of the country since Dec. 24, giving more attention to the numbers as the government weighs whether to impose further restrictions to stop the spread of the omicron variant. The figure reported Wednesday is somewhat inflated because it includes five days of data from Northern Ireland, the government said.
Britain has expanded its booster program this month, reopening sports stadiums and cathedrals as inoculation hubs, after research showed that two doses of the vaccine weren’t enough to protect against the highly transmissible omicron variant. While infections continue to rise, public health authorities are waiting to see whether those numbers result in a similar jump in hospitalizations and deaths.
The number of beds in English hospitals alone occupied by confirmed COVID-19 patients rose to 10,462 on Wednesday from 7,366 on Dec. 24.
Across the U.K., almost 58% of people 12 and over have received a booster dose after 325,087 received a third shot on Tuesday.
PHOENIX — Arizona on Wednesday reported 3,411 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 27 more virus deaths as several pandemic metrics showed decreases.
The state’s coronavirus dashboard reported that Arizona’s pandemic totals increased to over 1,368,000 cases and 24,171 deaths. Virus-related hospitalizations statewide dipped for the first time this week, with 2,280 COVID-19 patients occupying inpatient beds as of Tuesday.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, Arizona’s seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases and daily deaths both decreased over the past two weeks.
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