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Former CDC director doubles down on importance of masks and social distancing

A top health expert warns US needs a “comprehensive approach” to the Covid-19 pandemic, following a week of several states reporting alarming trends.



a group of people standing on a lush green field: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: People with and without masks gather in Sheep Meadow, Central Park as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 26, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)


© Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 26: People with and without masks gather in Sheep Meadow, Central Park as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 26, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

“Testing does not replace safety measures including consistent mask use, physical distancing, and hand washing,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday.

His remarks came as a response to the President’s and the first lady’s positive Covid-19 tests. Their diagnoses, Frieden said, serve as “a reminder that Covid-19 is an ongoing threat to our country and can happen to anyone.”

Twenty-four states saw their number of new cases rise at least 10% this week from the week before, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The county’s seven-day average of new daily cases — about 42,400 — is more than 20% higher than where it was September 12, when it was at two-month low of about 34,300.

It’s still below a summer peak of roughly 67,000 from July — but health officials have said even daily cases in the 40,000s are far too high if the country wants to avoid a dangerous surge in the coming months, when cold weather will nudge people indoors more often.

Worrying trends across US

In many states, local and state leaders are reporting worrying milestones.

Kentucky on Friday recorded its second-highest number of cases reported in one day, at 999.

And that caps weeks of increases: Its seven-day average of new cases — more than 800 on Friday — is well above the 500s and 600s of early to mid-September, Johns Hopkins data show.

“This week is going to shatter last week’s record for number of cases,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday. “The situation is getting very dangerous in Kentucky.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week the state was facing a “cluster situation” with about 20 zip codes — many of them in New York City — reporting high positivity rates. That comes as thousands of students in New York City returned to schools.

And in Wisconsin, which reported on Wednesday its highest one-day Covid-19 death count — 27 — Gov. Tony Evers this week urged residents not to try and “live like we’re back to the way things used to be.”

Video: 26 states see increases in coronavirus cases (CNN)

26 states see increases in coronavirus cases

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But other US communities pushed further into reopening. Florida cleared the way for bars and restaurants to fully reopen. Mississippi lifted its mask mandate. In California, several counties moved into less restrictive tiers of the state’s reopening plan,

Pakistan shuts restaurants with no distancing

KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistan authorities have closed more than 100 restaurants and six wedding halls in the financial capital of Karachi over violations of social distancing rules amid a sudden increase in COVID-19 deaths.

The government has also imposed a lockdown in some of the city’s high-risk areas to contain the spread of the coronavirus. A similar crackdown over social distancing rules has also been ordered in other parts of the country.

Pakistanis have been seen routinely violating social distancing since last month when wedding halls were allowed to open on the condition they adhere to such rules.


Authorities earlier reported 13 out of the country’s 15 single-day COVID-19 fatalities in southern Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital.

Pakistan has reported 313,431 confirmed cases with 6,499 deaths.

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

— Trump says he and first lady tested positive for coronavirus

— US hiring l ikely slowed in September for 3rd straight month

— Pfizer CEO pushes back against Trump claim on vaccine timing

— Democrats controlling the House narrowly have passed a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, a move that came as top-level talks on a smaller, potentially bipartisan measure dragged on toward an uncertain finish.

— Mexican workers have confounded economists by sending home huge sums of money during the coronavirus pandemic. Experts had predicted that as the American economy took a dive, migrant workers would send their families less money, known as remittances.

— Madrid and its suburbs are preparing to enter a soft lockdown that restricts trips in and out of the Spanish capital following a weeks-long political turf fight over Europe’s latest infection hot spot.

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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:

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia and New Zealand have announced a partial opening of their borders to international travel between the neighboring countries.

Australian Transport Minister Michael McCormack says passengers will be able to fly to Sydney and Darwin without going into quarantine from Oct. 16 if they have spent at least two weeks in parts of New Zealand that are not considered COVID-19 hot spots.

But New Zealand will continue insist on travelers from Australia going into hotel quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

McCormack says, “We want to open up Australia to the world. This is the first part of it.”

The two countries separated by the Tasman Sea have long said that the return of international travel would begin with a so-called Trans-Tasman Bubble. McCormack says Australian authorities have concluded that New Zealand posed a low risk of COVID-19 transmission to Australia.

But travelers who have visited a New Zealand hot spot — defined as a region that has reported three new infections a day over three days — won’t be exempt from quarantine.

McCormack says the South Australia state capital Adelaide would likely become the next city to allow quarantine-free travel from New Zealand.

He says when New Zealand would allow quarantine-free