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All AZ counties now OKed for partial reopenings

PHOENIX — Arizona is reporting 705 additional COVID-19 cases and 24 more deaths as health officials say all 15 counties have cleared state benchmarks for partial reopening of certain businesses.

The overall statewide total of confirmed cases is now 219,212 cases, and the death toll 5,674.

Arizona’s Department of Health Services says the classification of largely rural, southeastern Graham County improved to “moderate transmission stage.” That made it the final county to meet criteria for reopening businesses such as indoor gyms, bars serving food and movie theaters.

One county, tiny Greenlee in southeastern Arizona, is at “minimal” status, the highest step below normal conditions.


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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Push to bring coronavirus vaccines to the poor faces trouble

— In Appalachia, people watch COVID-19, race issues from afar

— NFL postpones Steelers-Titans game after more positive tests

— The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and possible COVID-19 relief bill with a price tag above $1.5 trillion.

— France’s health minister is threatening to close bars and ban family gatherings, if the rise in virus cases doesn’t improve.

— Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week to a still-high 837,000, suggesting the economy is struggling to sustain a tentative recovery from the summer.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

HELENA, Mont. — Nearly half Montana’s confirmed COVID-19 cases came in September as the state continues to report record numbers of infections.

The state reported 429 cases Thursday, the highest daily total by a margin of 81.

The state saw just over 6,000 cases in September, or 44% of the 13,500 since mid-March.

The true numbers are thought to be much higher because not everyone has been tested, and studies show people can have COVID-19 without having symptoms.

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BOISE, Idaho — Idaho will remain in the fourth and final stage of Gov. Brad Little’s economic-reopening plan for at least another two weeks as coronavirus infections and deaths rise.

The Republican governor says Thursday Idaho will receive 530,000 rapid antigen tests that will be prioritized for schools. Little also announced Thursday the formation of an Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee in anticipation of a vaccine that would be distributed by the federal government.

Stage 4 of Idaho’s plan 4 allows most businesses to open.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials say hospitals bought only about a third of the doses of remdesivir that they were offered over the last few months to treat COVID-19, as the government stops overseeing the drug’s distribution.

Between July and September, 500,000 treatment courses were made available to state and local health departments but only about 161,000 were purchased.

Dr. John Redd of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that “we see this as a very good sign” that supply now outstrips demand and it’s OK for hospitals to start buying the drug, also known as Veklury, directly from maker