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Australia’s Victoria State Reaches Lower Infection Milestone | World News

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s city of Melbourne, capital of the coronavirus hotspot state of Victoria, on Wednesday reported the lowest two-week average of new cases after a second contagion wave that led to one of the world’s toughest lockdowns.

For the first time since the second coronavirus outbreak caused more than 800 deaths in the state – more than 90% of the country’s 897 virus-related deaths – the two-week average has fallen below 10.

The metric is key as officials in the second-most-populous state are reluctant to ease mobility restrictions until the rolling average in the two-week window falls below five.

“The strategy is working,” premier Daniel Andrews told reporters at his daily briefing. “Its success is pinned ultimately to whether symptomatic people come forward and get tested.”

Australia has so far reported more than 27,000 COVID-19 cases, with Victoria accounting for about 75% of infections. In the previous 24 hours, the state had found six new cases and reported two more deaths, Andrews said.

In the neighboring New South Wales (NSW) state, the most populous, officials found three new locally transmitted infections overnight, putting an end to a 11-day run of zero such cases.

“It is a concern when you have a handful of community transmission, but … we’re always going to have cases pop up because we’re in a pandemic, but we’re also in an economy which is open where people are undertaking their business,” NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.

Although the number of deaths and infections in Australia from COVID-19 has been low compared with many other countries, the outbreak has driven the country to its deepest economic slump on record.

On Tuesday, Australia’s conservative government unveiled billions in fiscal stimulus as part of plans to boost jobs and help its economy out of its historic recession.

Its budget assumes the country will be able to contain COVID-19 outbreaks by the end of the year, the majority of its inter-state borders will be reopened, and a vaccine will be developed in 2021.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Carroll Couny passes COVID-19 milestone; health officer concurs with Trump tweet, stresses social responsibility

On the same day President Trump issued a tweet that said, in part, “Don’t be afraid of Covid,” Carroll County passed a milestone with more than 2,000 total cases of COVID-19 reported.

The 22 new cases announced by the Carroll County Health Department brought the county’s overall number to 2,007. That represents nearly 1.2% of Carroll’s population, a rate that is roughly half the national average. Additionally, 147 Carroll countians have died of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Trump, diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, tweeted Monday afternoon, in announcing he would soon be leaving the hospital and returning to the White House, “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

County Health Officer Ed Singer concurred with the theme of Trump’s message, while emphasizing that everyone has a “social responsibility” to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I would agree with the point that Donald Trump makes in that we should not be afraid and let COVID-19 dominate our lives; however, we continue to have a responsibility to protect each other from a potentially deadly virus that has killed over 209,000 Americans,” Singer wrote in an email to the Times in response to a question about the president’s tweet. “Although some people are able to recover from this disease, many people suffer serious complications, are hospitalized, and some people die.

“We have a social responsibility to each other to take common sense steps to avoid getting others sick. Continuing to follow distancing requirements, wearing masks over our mouths and noses, avoiding large gatherings, and washing our hands are critical to doing our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

Of the 22 cases announced Monday, 11 of them were reported before the end of Saturday. The preliminary total of community cases for last week was 58. That was up from 44 the previous week and 54 the week before that.

The county is approaching Carroll County Public Schools’ planned date of Oct. 19 to switch to a partly in-person model. Singer and CCPS officials have said they would like to see Carroll in the “moderate” risk of COVID-19 transmission before reopening schools. That would mean a a weekly rate of 42 cases, based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, and would include cases originating from congregate living facilities, though only six such cases have been reported for September. Carroll has been under 42 community cases in only two of the past 12 weeks. Carroll’s current seven-day rolling positive rate is 2.10.

While Carroll saw an uptick in cases last week, McDaniel College announced Monday morning that it was reducing its COVID-19 alert level after going a week without a case. McDaniel, which has had 15 positive results out of 2,018 total tests of its campus population since Aug. 14, had moved to Yellow level last Monday, Sept. 28, after four positive tests, but has seen none since and is back to Green.

“We are