ORLANDO, Fla. — Deaths in Florida from the coronavirus surpassed 10,000, while teachers and state officials argued in court over whether in-person schools should reopen this month.
Florida reported 174 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total confirmed deaths to at least 10,067 — the fifth-highest death toll in the nation.
The state reported an additional 4,115 confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 584,047.
The positivity rate for coronavirus testing in Florida has averaged about 11.4% during the past week.
There were 5,351 patients being treated for the disease in Florida hospitals on Wednesday, down from peaks above 9,500 patients in late July.
Meanwhile, Florida’s largest teacher’s union is seeking an injunction from a judge in Tallahassee to stop schools from reopening by this Friday.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Spain’s records 3,700 infections in single day, most since mid-June
— UConn evicts students after crowded dorm party
— Trail of bubbles leads scientists to coronavirus clue about lung issues
— Iran passes 20,000 coronavirus deaths, the health ministry says. It’s the highest death toll for any Middle East country in the pandemic.
— Governments around the world are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to justify crackdowns on press freedom. Some regimes have moved to curb alleged misinformation about the coronavirus that doesn’t align with official proclamations about it.
—— Poll: Pandemic shifts how consumers use gig companies. It shows how consumer attitudes have changed about using ride-hailing and delivery services for groceries.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PRAGUE — The lower house of Czech Parliament has approved a government plan to allow those quarantined due to the coronavirus to cast a drive-in ballot for elections in October.
The new legislation includes an option for the quarantined citizens to vote at 78 drive-in ballot stations that will be established by the military across the country. Those who cannot use a car can ask for a visit of a special electoral committee member with a ballot box in their homes.
Such electoral committees would also visit isolated facilities, including nursing homes, where all people are quarantined.
The upper house is set to vote on the plan on Thursday.
The Czech Republic has 20,686 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 404 have died, according to Health Ministry figures released Wednesday.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek health authorities have registered 217 confirmed coronavirus cases, below Tuesday’s record high number but still considerably higher than early summer.
Another three deaths were reported Wednesday, bringing the total to 235. A total of nearly 7,700 confirmed infections have been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.
Travelers entering Greece from abroad accounted for 22 of the new cases, while most were in the two biggest cities of Athens and Thessaloniki.
MADRID — Spain’s Health Ministry says 3,715 coronavirus infections have been diagnosed in the past 24 hours, a new single-day record since the country emerged from a three-month lockdown in mid-June.
With 136 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for the past two weeks, Spain tops the European chart of the highest cumulative incidence. It’s one of the main indicators closely monitored by epidemiologists.
The Madrid region, home to 6.6 million, has emerged as one of the hot spots in the new wave of outbreaks, which officials have linked mostly to family reunions and nightlife.
New regulations, including on hours of nightlife and close outdoor smoking, take effect Thursday in the Spanish capital.
The country added 127 deaths to reach nearly 28,800 confirmed victims. However, the number doesn’t count those who suffered from the coronavirus but weren’t tested.
ROME — Italy has registered 642 new coronavirus cases, its highest daily increase in three months. The Health Ministry says 669 cases were confirmed on May 23. The increase Wednesday also reflects a boost in tests performed — more than 71,000 since Tuesday.
Thousands received swab tests when they arrived at Italian airports from abroad. Last week, the government made testing mandatory for people coming from Spain, Greece, Croatia and Malta.
The number of hospitalizations rose again on Wednesday, including COVID-19 patients needing intensive care. Health authorities are concerned young people aren’t wearing masks or social distancing at parties and bars, which favors the spread of the virus.
Italy has more than 255,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. With seven more deaths recorded Wednesday, the confirmed toll rose to more than 35,400.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland has applied for a FEMA grant to provide an additional $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits for state residents unemployed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Larry Hogan made the announcement Wednesday. Those eligible would receive $300 a week in benefits retroactive to the week ending Aug. 1.
To qualify, people must be eligible for a weekly benefit amount of at least $100 and must re-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the pandemic.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, would fund the $300-per-week benefit, and Maryland would fulfill a 25% match through funding already paid to claimants in regular unemployment insurance benefits.
STORRS, Conn. — University of Connecticut officials have evicted several students from on-campus housing after a crowded dorm room party with no mask wearing or social distancing.
School officials notified the campus community of the investigations and disciplinary actions for violating campus coronavirus rules in a letter Tuesday night.
Students began returning to campus last Friday. All were tested for the virus and were supposed to limit their contact with others during their first 14 days back on campus.
Video of the party was posted on social media.
As of Tuesday, UConn has received coronavirus test results for 3,850 on-campus students. Five tested positive and are isolated. School officials say 25 students on campus were in medical quarantine due to potential contact with others who tested positive
LISBON, Portugal — A 4-month-old baby girl has become the first child under 10 to die in Portugal of COVID-19.
The General Director for Health, Graça Freitas, says the infant was born with a congenital heart defect that worsened after she became infected with the coronavirus from a family member.
Freitas told a news conference the cause of death was septic shock. But the death was officially attributed to COVID-19 by Portuguese experts trained by the World Health Organization.
It was one of two officially recorded coronavirus deaths in Portugal in the previous 24 hours, the other an 80-year-old man. The total confirmed deaths stands at more than 1,700.
MADRID — Some hospitals in the Spanish capital have suspended or postponed urgent surgeries and other procedures to prioritize treatment of an increasing number of coronavirus patients.
Madrid and its surroundings are experiencing a surge of cases, following major outbreaks across the country since a three-month lockdown ended on June 21.
The region, home to 6.6 million, has more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals. That’s nearly one fourth of the total in the country, according to official data.
New restrictions on nightlife and smoking outdoors begin Thursday in Madrid, following similar measures in other Spanish regions.
With 131 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for the past two weeks, Spain tops the European chart of the highest cumulative incidence. It’s one of the main indicators closely monitored by epidemiologists. The official death toll for Spain stands at 28,600, eighth highest in the world.
ROME — Many of the 470 vacationers and staff at a resort on Santo Stefano island were still awaiting results of coronavirus tests after a musician who plays in a hotel band tested positive and was hospitalized.
Sardinian media says 21 positives came from 300 available tests. During quarantine, guests were free to move around the resort, which includes tennis courts, restaurants and beaches along the Mediterranean.
If people test negative, they can leave the resort. Luca Carlo Montella, mayor of La Maddalena archipelago that includes Santo Stefano island, ordered masks worn on the streets.
On San Pietro Island, 11 people recently tested positive among some 400 people at dance parties.
THESSALONIKI, Greece — Greek authorities say another four migrants have tested positive for coronavirus at a camp on the northeastern land border with Turkey.
That brings the total number of infections among the 204 residents to 12, including two hospitalized.
The temporary registration facility for asylum-seekers entering illegally from Turkey has been quarantined, along with an adjacent detention center for migrants who have had their asylum applications rejected and are awaiting deportation. Two policemen there were confirmed positive for the virus.
Also, health officials in Thessaloniki say 15 residents and seven staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus at a retirement home in the Evosmos district.
It’s the second retirement home in northern Greece affected by the virus. Six residents died at a facility near Thessaloniki where 50 of the 150 residents were infected.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities are imposing extra restrictions in the top holiday destinations of Mykonos island and the northern resort region of Halkidiki after an increase in the number of coronavirus cases traced back to those areas.
The Civil Protection authority says starting Friday through Aug. 31, all events such as live parties, religious processions, open-air markets are banned, while gatherings are limited to a maximum of nine people, both in public and in private settings.
A maximum of four people are allowed per table at restaurants, or six people per table in cases of immediate family members.
Masks are mandatory in all indoor and outdoor areas on Mykonos and throughout Halkidiki province.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has surpassed 20,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus.
Wednesday’s announcement comes as Iran struggles with the largest outbreak in the Middle East with 350,200 confirmed cases. But despite the somber statistic, the Islamic Republic is still holding university entrance exams for over 1 million students and is preparing for mass Shiite commemorations at the end of the month.
Earlier this year Iran suffered the Mideast’s first major outbreak, with senior politicians, health officials and religious leaders in its Shiite theocracy stricken with the virus.
It since has struggled to contain its spread across this nation of 80 million people, initially beating it back only to see it spike again, beginning in June.
LONDON — London’s Heathrow Airport, the U.K.’s busiest, has unveiled a new coronavirus testing facility that could sharply reduce the length of time people have to stay at home after arriving from countries on the government’s quarantine list.
Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye said testing will help avoid what he termed the “quarantine roulette” that many British travelers have faced over the past few weeks when countries like France and Spain were taken off the U.K.’s safe list.
The new facility has been set up by aviation services company Collinson and logistics firm Swissport at Heathrow’s Terminal 2. They say more than 13,000 tests will be available to passengers each day, with results within hours.
It is proposed that arrivals will then take a second test at home and will be able to leave their 14-day quarantine early if they pass both.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government was not in a position to back Heathrow’s plan but insisted that it was working with airports to find a way for coronavirus testing to reduce the quarantine period.
HELSINKI — Finland says it will tighten travel restrictions and reintroduce and step up border checks for arrivals from 10 countries starting Monday due to the worsening pandemic situation in Europe and elsewhere.
The Finnish government says border checks will apply for passengers to and from Nordic neighbors Denmark, Iceland and Norway as well as Germany, Greece and Malta – all countries belonging to the European Union’s borderless Schengen area.
Outside the Schengen area, border checks will be stepped up for arrivals from Cyprus, Ireland, San Marino and Japan.
Passengers arriving to Finland from those countries are recommended to self-quarantine for 14 days. Travel in Finland’s border areas with Sweden and Norway is more relaxed.
Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo says Finland’s current coronavirus travel policies are among the tightest in the EU.
Border checks can be relaxed if a country records fewer than eight infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two weeks.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is warning against any prospect that rich people would get priority for a coronavirus vaccine.
Francis says, “The pandemic is a crisis. You don’t come out of it the same — either better or worse.″ He added that “we must come out better.”
In remarks on Wednesday during his weekly public audience, he said that after the COVID-19 pandemic, the world can’t return to normality if normal means social injustice and degradation of the natural environment.
Said Francis: “How sad it would be if for the COVID-19 vaccine priority is given to the richest.”
He also said it would be scandalous if all the economic assistance in the works, most of it using public funds, ends up reviving industries that don’t help the poor or the environment.