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Britain renews sweeping powers to curb virus

LONDON — British lawmakers have renewed the government’s sweeping powers to impose emergency restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic, although many legislators criticized the way Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative administration has used them.

Legislators are increasingly unhappy about the government’s handling of the pandemic, which went from a national lockdown in March to a patchwork of local measures of varying stringency.

Johnson says it’s too soon to say whether restrictions introduced in recent weeks were working. The government has barred people from meeting in groups of more than six and banned millions of residents in northern England from mixing with people outside their household.

New hospitalizations for COVID-19 and virus deaths in Britain are rising again. There were 7,108 new infections reported Wednesday and 71 virus-related deaths, the same number of deaths confirmed the day before.

Britain’s official virus death toll has passed 42,000 — the highest in Europe.

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

— UK lawmakers grumble but renew sweeping govt virus powers

— Wisconsin hospitals filling with patients as virus surges

— At virus milestone, Italian priest reflects on loss, lessons

— Scientists are starting to unravel one of COVID-19′s scariest mysteries: Why are some people only mildly ill or have no symptoms and others rapidly die.

— The coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on student life across the globe. But in Brussels, the Belgian capital is using its famous Grand-Place square for graduation ceremonies of two universities.

— Scores of actors, technicians and theater staff marched through London’s West End to Parliament to the beat of showtunes, asking for plan to revive the arts.

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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:

MILWAUKEE — Coronavirus patients are filling Wisconsin hospitals, forcing doctors to transfer patients to other facilities as the disease surges across the state.

The number of people hospitalized in Wisconsin stood at 646 on Tuesday, a new record, with 205 patients in intensive care units, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Case spikes in northern and northeastern Wisconsin are driving much of the hospitalizations.

Officials at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay say their facility is at 94% capacity. Aspirus Healthcare President and CEO Matthew Heywood says the Wausau hospital has had a 30% increase in COVID-19 patients between Monday and Tuesday.

State health officials say if cases don’t subside, patients could be directed to a 530-bed field hospital the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built on the state fairgrounds in West Allis in April.

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HILO, Hawaii — Hawaii officials say state contact tracers have received productive responses from about half the travelers in a program for screening and contact tracing.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported a House Select Committee on COVID-19 heard testimony that during phone calls to ensure traveler quarantine compliance, contact tracers have successfully engaged half of the time.

Hawaii Medical Service Association CEO Mark Mugiishi says travelers can be reluctant to respond because of several factors,