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Dutch PM Orders ‘Partial Lockdown’ To Halt Coronavirus Surge

The Netherlands will go into “partial lockdown” to curb one of Europe’s biggest coronavirus surges, with all bars, cafes and restaurants to close, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Tuesday.

The sale of alcohol and cannabis will also be banned after 8pm (1800 GMT) in a bid to reduce the social contacts that have led to the rise in Covid-19 cases, Rutte said of the steps.

After long refusing to make the wearing of masks compulsory, Rutte finally ordered that non-medical face coverings must also be worn in all indoor spaces by people aged over 13.

“We are going into a partial lockdown. It hurts but it’s the only way, we have to be stricter,” Rutte told a televised press conference.

“If we do all of this, we can quickly return to a more normal life.”

The rules will take effect at 10pm (2000 GMT) Wednesday and will last for an initial period of two weeks, when the government will review whether they have halted the spread of the virus.

The Dutch government for months opted for what Rutte called an “intelligent lockdown” policy that was far more relaxed than its European neighbours.

But it has scrambled to control the second wave of the disease.

The Netherlands currently has the third highest rate of new infections per 100,000 people in Europe over the last 14 days, behind only the Czech Republic and Belgium, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

After long refusing to make the wearing of masks compulsory, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte finally ordered that non-medical face coverings must also be worn in all indoor spaces by people aged over 13 After long refusing to make the wearing of masks compulsory, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte finally ordered that non-medical face coverings must also be worn in all indoor spaces by people aged over 13 Photo: ANP / Bart Maat

Dutch health authorities on Wednesday reported a daily record of 7,393 new coronavirus infections, with 43,903 new cases over the past week and 150 deaths.

Among the new measures, team sports for over 18s are banned, while people are now limited to having three visitors at their home per day.

The new steps largely target the catering and entertainments industry where the government says the disease is spreading.

Restaurants and cafes will close for everything except takeaway, as will the Netherlands’ famous “coffee shops” that sell cannabis.

“No more alcohol or soft drugs will be sold or delivered between 8:00pm and 7:00am,” the government’s new regulations say, while public consumption of either is also banned during those hours.

The Netherlands has also lagged behind other European countries in ordering the wearing of masks, but Rutte said he wanted to “settle a lingering discussion once and for all”.

The Dutch government gave “urgent advice” to wear masks in its last set of measures two weeks ago, but “that did not provide sufficient clarity” and many people continued to go without them, said Rutte.

Rutte, who marks ten years in power on Wednesday, has faced growing criticism over the government’s failure to rein in coronavirus cases.

Populist opposition parties in particular have been using the Covid-19 crisis to push their

China’s Qingdao orders city-wide testing after new COVID-19 infections

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese city of Qingdao said on Monday it will test its entire population of more than 9 million people for coronavirus, after discovering 12 new infections that appeared to be linked to a hospital treating imported infections.

Daily COVID-19 infections in mainland China have fallen drastically since early in the outbreak, which first emerged in the city of Wuhan. China had reported no new domestically transmitted cases since early August, but has remained on high alert.

Qingdao reported a total of six new COVID-19 cases and six asymptomatic infections on Sunday, all linked to the Qingdao Chest Hospital, where infected travellers arriving from overseas have been treated in an isolated area.

The specific source of infection was still under investigation, the city government said on Sunday.

The testing would cover the city in five days, the city said.

The new cases were all of current or former patients in Qingdao Chest Hospital, hospital staff, or their family members. One asymptomatic case was a taxi driver whose wife worked at the hospital and was also infected.

Qingdao said it has locked down the Qingdao Chest Hospital as well as the emergency department of its central hospital, which the taxi driver visited. Buildings housing infected individuals have also been locked down as part of the city’s virus containment measures.

The new infections emerged shortly after China completed its Golden Week holiday, during which millions of people travelled domestically.

Disease control authorities in several cities including Beijing advised residents to avoid unnecessary trips to Qingdao. An investment and trade expo in Qingdao organised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 16-18 was postponed, state TV reported.

Qingdao’s mass testing campaign is not China’s first. Wuhan tested its entire population, and mass schemes involving several million samples have also been conducted in Beijing and Urumqi.

The National Health Commission’s daily tally reported 21 confirmed COVID-19 cases, but none in Qingdao were included. The number of new nationwide asymptomatic cases, which China counts separately from confirmed cases, rose to 32 from 23 a day earlier, the NHC said. It did not offer a breakdown on where the new asymptomatic cases were reported, although it said 29 were imported.

Total confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stand at 85,578. The death toll remains at 4,634.

(Reporting by Winni Zhou, Jing Wang and Engen Tham in Shanghai and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Michael Perry and Tom Hogue)

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The Latest: Lebanon orders lockdown for 169 towns, villages

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Interior Ministry has ordered a lockdown in 169 villages and towns as well as ordering all nightclubs and pubs to close around the country amid a sharp increase of coronavirus cases.

The Ministry said Sunday that the lockdown will begin Monday morning and last until Oct. 19. Pubs and nightclubs will be closed until further notice, it said.

The new lockdown comes a week after the ministry ordered a lockdown in 111 villages and towns that ends Monday morning. Some of those towns are included under the new restrictions.

On Saturday, Lebanon’s Health Ministry registered 1,388 new cases of coronavirus, raising the country’s confirmed total to 52,558 infections and 455 deaths.

Cases in Lebanon have been rising since early July when the country eased a nationwide lockdown and opened its only international airport. The numbers increased dramatically following an Aug. 4 blast in Beirut that killed and wounded many, as people gathered at hospitals, funerals and anti-government protests.

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

— The White House doctor says President Donald Trump is no longer at risk of transmitting the coronavirus but did not say whether Trump had tested negative. Some medical experts are skeptical that Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting the virus so early.

— Trump makes speech from White House balcony, 1st appearance since return to residence

— India’s coronavirus cases top 7 million, a re on track to surpass the United States

— As a second wave of coronavirus infections hit, European nations seem not to have learned their lessons from the first surge

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismisses the latest White House offer in COVID-19 aid talks but remains hopeful progress can be made toward a deal.

— Queen Elizabeth II honors the work of doctors, nurses, delivery drivers, fundraisers and volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic.

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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:

LONDON — One of the main medical advisers to the British government has warned that the country is at a “tipping point” in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, a day before Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce fresh lockdown restrictions for virus hot spots in the north of England.

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said in a statement that the country is at a “tipping point similar to where we were in March.”

The U.K. has experienced Europe’s deadliest outbreak with more than 42,750 deaths.

Van-Tam laid out his hope that history won’t repeat itself in light of better testing and treatments, as well as greater knowledge of the virus itself.

Johnson is on Monday expected to impose additional restrictions in areas where the virus has been spreading fastest in recent weeks. Pubs and restaurants in northern cities like Liverpool or Manchester are expected to be closed.

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NEW DELHI — India’s confirmed coronavirus toll has crossed 7 million with a number of

Stay-at-home orders cut noise exposure almost in half

Oct. 9 (UPI) — Sometimes, living the quiet life is a choice. Other times, it’s the reality of a global pandemic. New research suggests lockdowns and stay-at-home orders led to a dramatic reduction in noise exposure.

For the study, published Friday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, scientists at the University of Michigan collected noise exposure data from volunteer Apple Watch wearers in Florida, New York, California and Texas.

“Volunteer participants opted to share environmental sound data from their Apple Watch and headphone sound data from their iPhone,” researchers wrote. “Participants for this analysis were chosen from four states which exhibited diverse responses to COVID-19.”

Scientists analyzed more than half-a-million sound exposure measurements from before and during the pandemic.

In locations where governments issued social distancing recommendations and stay-at-home orders, average sound exposure dropped three decibels during March and April compared to January and February.

“That is a huge reduction in terms of exposure and it could have a great effect on people’s overall health outcomes over time,” study co-author Rick Neitzel said in a press release.

“The analysis demonstrates the utility of everyday use of digital devices in evaluating daily behaviors and exposures,” said Neitzel, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The sound exposure reductions identified by researchers reflected the different pandemic responses in each of the four states. Sound exposure reductions in California and New York were greater and occurred earlier than reductions in Florida and Texas.

Before the pandemic, the largest drop in environmental sound exposure occurred on weekends, but after lock-down orders were issued in many parts of the country, the pattern was disrupted.

Researchers said they hope ongoing analysis of sound exposure data from volunteer Apple Watch wearers will continue to offer insights into the ways different people experience the world sonically.

The idea, they said, is to identify sound exposure differences between people of different ages and people in different states, as well as people with and without hearing loss.

“These are questions we’ve had for years and now we’re starting to have data that will allow us to answer them,” Neitzel said. “We’re thankful to the participants who contributed unprecedented amounts of data. This is data that never existed or was even possible before.”

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New Public Health Orders Issued In Boulder County: What To Know

BOULDER COUNTY, CO — Two new public health orders were issued Wednesday in Boulder County after a drop in coronavirus cases.

One order limits gathering sizes for people ages 18 to 22 years old, and the other order provides guidance for collegiate group homes.

“We are so pleased that the number of new COVID-19 cases in this age group has dropped significantly,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director.

“Thank you to every single young adult in our community who has been following this order, on top of all of the other behavior changes we’ve asked of you. Your actions have made a difference!”

The county’s first order outlines four levels for gatherings for 18 to 22-year-olds:

  • No gatherings at all

  • Private gatherings of six people

  • Attendance at regulated events

  • Gathering sizes permitted under the state dial level for Boulder County

“The metrics that trigger changes in restrictions between levels are largely influenced by individual behaviors, so they create incentives for young adults,” Zayach said.

The levels are based on:

  • Testing goals

  • Cases per 100,000 among people ages 18 to 22

  • The positivity rate among college-age students

  • Number of CU students tested

  • Cooperation with contact tracing

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Movement to ease restrictions on gatherings will be based on a 14-day positivity rate and 14-day cases per 100,000; while movement to more restrictive levels will be based on a 5-day positivity rate and 5-day cases-per-100,000 metrics. Any movement between levels will be decided and announced by Boulder County Public Health, officials said.

“First, I want to thank our students who have been complying with local and state public health orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19. I know this has been difficult,” Philip DiStefano, University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor.

“We believe we have strong testing plans, and we know that individual behavior is the biggest determinant of success in the fight against the virus, so I encourage all our students, faculty and staff to keep up the good work as we transition back to in-person instruction by Oct. 14.”

The second public health order, which is effective immediately, addresses collegiate group homes on a list of identified properties. The homes must remain under stay-at-home orders until Oct. 12, or until they complete an isolation, quarantine and testing plan, which needs to be approved by Boulder County Public Health.

The agency provided the following summary of the new orders:

What’s the same?

  • Young adults (18-22 years old) in the City of Boulder:

    • Face Coverings must be worn per state and local requirements

    • Social distancing must be followed per state and local requirements

    • May gather with one other person, including shopping and exercising

    • May go to work

  • Properties under Stay at Home Orders must stay at home until October 12 or until they submit an infection control plan, whichever is later

  • CU students continue daily symptom monitoring and reporting of symptoms

What’s

Santa Clara County Moves To Loosen Shelter Orders

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA — Santa Clara County’s top health officer issued a revised health order Monday calling the loosening of shelter-in-place orders as soon as officials get the go-ahead from the state.

Under Dr. Sara Cody’s revised health order, indoor dining and church gatherings would be permitted with significantly reduced capacity.

Santa Clara County would need to move to the “orange” tier in the state’s monitoring system for areas considered to be at a moderate risk level for the spread of the coronavirus, with testing positivity rate of 2 to 4.9 percent.

The county is currently in the “red” tier, with positive rate of 5 to 8 percent.

The loosening of shelter orders figures to provide a boost to a local economy battered by the economic effects of the pandemic since shelter orders went into effect March 17.

But it is far from a declaration that the crisis is over, Cody said in a statement.

“It is imperative that we all continue to practice the precautions that have made our COVID-19 numbers move in the right direction,” Cody said.

“The fact that you are able to do something doesn’t mean that you should. The public’s commitment, both businesses and our residents, to wearing face coverings, and maintaining social distancing and testing is what will help us move forward to the next tier in the state’s COVID-19 blueprint.”

Once the county moves to the orange tier, outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people and indoor gatherings of up to 25 percent capacity or 100 people (whichever is fewer) would be allowed.

Indoor dining up to 25 percent capacity or 100 people, (whichever is fewer) would also be permitted.

“The fact that an activity is allowed does not mean it is safe,” the county’s Emergency Operations Center-Public Health Department said in a statement.

“COVID-19 continues to pose a serious risk to our residents. This is why we urge all residents to be cautious, stay home when possible, minimize interaction with anyone outside their household, maintain social distance, wear a face covering, and move activities outdoors when possible.”

This article originally appeared on the Los Gatos Patch

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Whitmer’s Emergency Orders Have Been Struck Down. Now What?

MICHIGAN — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers were struck down Friday by the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled that a 1945 law she was citing was unconstitutional.

So, now what? As it turns out, several other entities have taken safety measures amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic into their own hands and some restrictions will remain in place.

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A 21-Day Battle

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday, which Whitmer has called a matter of partisan politics, has raised several legal questions Whitmer’s office said it is still reviewing.

Many of the questions concern when the previously issued executive orders will be voided. Whitmer’s office previously said they would not take effect until 21 days from the court’s ruling, citing Michigan Supreme Court law.

“When it comes to fighting COVID-19, we are all in this together,” Whitmer’s office said in a statement. “While we are moving swiftly, this transition will take time. As the governor said last week, many of the responsive measures she has put in place to control the spread of the virus will continue under alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in the court’s ruling. We will have more to say on this in the coming days. Make no mistake, Governor Whitmer will continue using every tool at her disposal to keep Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses safe from this deadly virus.”

Counties Coming Up With Plans

A day after the Michigan Supreme Court made its ruling to remove some of Whitmer’s executive powers, Oakland County was among Michigan communities to step up and implement their own orders.

Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford on Saturday issued local health order 2020-12, requiring that people wear masks or facial coverings when outside their home in Oakland County.

Stafford said additional health orders may be issued in the coming days to cover capacity at restaurants, bars, employee health screenings and other public health concerns.

“Health and science experts agree that facial coverings are critical to controlling the virus,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “We have come too far to backslide now especially as we want to get kids back to school and our economy moving again. In Oakland County masks will continue to be mandatory by order of our health experts. I am confident that our residents and businesses will continue to keep each other safe and protected.”

The order covers residents who are in any public space outside their home, includes K-12 schools and when outside and social distancing isn’t possible. Children other 5 and people who cannot medically tolerate facial coverings are among exceptions.

“Oakland County was hit hard by the COVID-19 and the virus is still in our communities,” Stafford said. “The law provides the tools for a local health officer to protect the public’s health during an epidemic and that is my