The Latest: Montreal enacts curfew as virus cases spike

By The Associated Press

MONTREAL — A curfew meant to curb a rising tide of COVID-19
cases took effect across Quebec on Saturday evening.

Premier Francois Legault says the measure is needed to prevent
gatherings that have fueled the rampant spread of the virus, The
French-speaking Canadian province has a population of more than 8.4
million

The rules will see most residents face police questions or fines
of up to $6,000 Canadian (U.S. $4,728) if they’re out between 8
p.m. and 5 a.m. for the next four weeks. There are exceptions for
essential workers, people walking dogs, and those who have medical
reasons to be out, such as a doctor’s appointment.

___

THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

Ten months into America’s viral outbreak, low-income workers
are still bearing the brunt of job losses — an unusual and harsh
feature of the pandemic recession that flattened the economy last
spring. The most populous U.S. state needs more medical workers at
facilities swamped by coronavirus patients. But almost no help is
coming from the California Health Corps, a program that recruited
95,000 volunteers and has just 14 now working in the field. And the
pandemic meets politics in Germany, where the start of 2021 heralds
the end of the Angela Merkel era. With a federal election scheduled
for September, frustration over the slow start of vaccinations has
brought jockeying among potential successors to the chancellor.
Elsewhere,

___

Follow AP’s coverage at
https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic,
https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and
https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

TOKYO — Japanese opposition lawmakers slammed the
government’s emergency declaration Sunday, as too little too late
to stem the surging coronavirus case.

They also pushed for more testing, which have lagged in Japan,
being expensive and hard to get unless severely ill.

“It’s essential to consider the worst possible scenario, but
the response has always been based on an overly optimistic
outlook,” Yukio Edano, a former economy minister, said on public
broadcaster NHK TV.

Opposition lawmakers Toranosuke Katayama and Kazuo Shii also
criticized the state of emergency as too limited in scope, area and
duration.

The declaration, which kicked in Friday, centers around asking
restaurants to close at 8 p.m., lasts a month and focuses on the
Tokyo area.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga defended the focus of the
declaration as needed for it to be effective. He stressed the
rising curve in the infection’s spread will get flattened in a
month.

Deaths related to COVID-19 have totaled about 4,000 nationwide
so far. Worries are growing about hospitals getting stretched thin.
Tokyo’s cases have surged recently to more than 2,000 a day.
Other urban areas have asked the central government for emergency
declarations.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee is
quarantining at home after coming into close contact with someone
who later tested positive for COVID-19, officials said
Saturday.

The lieutenant governor learned of the close contact Saturday
morning, has since tested negative and is showing no symptoms,
officials said. He will continue to be tested and will remained
quarantined until midnight on Jan. 12, officials said.

McKee is poised to serve the remaining two years of Gov. Gina
Raimondo’s term after Raimondo was named Democrat Joe Biden’s
Biden’s pick for commerce secretary.

McKee said in a statement that “no one is above the rules of
quarantine.”

“As a state official, I am committed to modeling the kind of
response to this virus that I hope all Rhode Islanders would have.
I will continue to meet with public health leaders and receive
other critical briefings remotely,” he said.

___

LAS VEGAS — Nevada is reporting one of the state’s highest
daily increases in coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began, and
its worst week yet.

The state on Saturday reported 2,648 additional known COVID-19
cases and 56 additional deaths. That’s close to the record of 60
deaths reported only on Wednesday. The Las Vegas Review-Journal
reported that the state’s one-week total of 299 COVID-19 deaths
was the worst yet.

Nevada has now had 246,309 known COVID-19 cases and 3,450 deaths
since the pandemic began.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nevada
increased from 2,115.3 on Dec. 25 to 2,373.6 on Friday while the
rolling average of daily deaths rose from 33.6 to 35.4, according
to data from Johns Hopkins University and The COVID Tracking
Project.

Officials anticipate a spike in cases and deaths in coming
weeks, following Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s
gatherings.

___

LOS ANGELES — California health authorities on Saturday
reported a record high of 695 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals
strained under unprecedented caseloads.

The state Department of Public Health said the number raises the
state’s death toll since the start of the pandemic to 29,233.

A surge of cases following Halloween and Thanksgiving produced
record hospitalizations in California, and now the most seriously
ill of those patients are dying in unprecedented numbers.

Already, many hospitals in Los Angeles and other hard-hit areas
are struggling to keep up and warned they may need to ration care
as intensive care beds dwindle.

___

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma judge has extended a temporary
restraining order allowing bars and restaurants across Oklahoma to
stay open past an 11 p.m. curfew issued in November by Gov. Kevin
Stitt in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

District Judge Susan Stallings heard arguments in the case
Friday and extended the Dec. 29 order while she considers ruling in
the lawsuit by bar owners who argue the governor doesn’t have
legal authority to impose the curfew, according to court
records.

Attorneys for the governor say state law gives Stitt “broad
and flexible authority needed” to combat the spread of the
virus.

On Saturday, Oklahoma has the sixth most new cases per capita in
the nation with 1,218.16 per 100,000 residents, according to data
from Johns Hopkins University. The state health department on
Saturday reported 324,875 total cases and 2,738 deaths since the
pandemic began.

___

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on
Saturday received the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine after
becoming the first Israeli to be inoculated last month.

Israel is in the midst of a third nationwide lockdown after
seeing a surge in cases despite unleashing one of the world’s
fastest vaccination campaigns. The country has given the first of
two vaccine doses to nearly 20% of its population, and Netanyahu
said Saturday that it has secured enough vaccines to inoculate the
whole adult population by the end of March.

Netanyahu has placed the vaccination drive at the center of his
campaign for reelection that month, when Israel will hold its
fourth nationwide vote in less than two years. In the meantime, he
has called on Israelis to make “one last big effort” to halt
transmission by adhering to the tightened restrictions.

Most schools and businesses were closed starting Friday, with
people required to remain within 1,000 meters (yards) from home
except for essential needs. Public gatherings are heavily
restricted and public transportation is limited. The restrictions
are to last for at least two weeks.

___

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has confirmed in an interview with
an Italian broadcaster that he has an appointment to get the
anti-COVID vaccine when the Vatican starts its vaccination program
next week.

The pope also said everyone should get the vaccine, calling it
an “ethical option, because you are playing with your health,
life, but also with the lives of others.”

Excerpts from the sit-down interview were released by Mediaset
on Saturday, a day before it is scheduled to be aired. It is the
first confirmation that the 84-year-old pope who is missing part of
one lung will get the vaccine, although the Vatican had already
announced it would begin administering the vaccines later this
month.

The Vatican has previously said that it’s “morally
acceptable” for faithful to receive COVID-19 vaccines whose
research used cell lines from tissue obtained from abortions.
Vatican City has had at least 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

___

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan announced it is expecting the first
doses of a coronavirus vaccine to arrive in the kingdom late
Saturday.

Wael Hayajneh, the Health Ministry’s official in charge of
COVID-19, said the vaccines are coming from state-owned Chinese
drugmaker Sinopharm.

Another shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to
get to the Middle Eastern kingdom on Monday, Hayajneh said.

Jordan plans to start its vaccination drive on Wednesday. It has
arranged to secure 200,000 doses in the first quarter of 2021 from
Pfizer and Sinopharm and possibly other vaccine suppliers.

Jordan’s health minister has said the inoculations will first
target 20% to 25% of the frontline workers and vulnerable
groups.

Jordan, with a population of 10 million, has recorded over 4,000
deaths and 305,000 confirmed cases since the start of the
pandemic.

___

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Health officials in Anchorage said
appointments for the city’s residents to receive their first dose
of a COVID-19 vaccine filled up in a matter of hours this week,
leading to frustration for people still trying to sign up for
vaccination clinics planned for throughout the weekend and early
next week.

Local television station KTUU-TV reported that Anchorage Health
Department Director Heather Harris said all 1,800 available time
slots were reserved within a four-hour period on Thursday.

Clinics are not accepting walk-ins.

Harris said Anchorage is expecting to receive about 14,600
vaccine doses this month.

Residents age 65 and older are eligible to get vaccinated and
there are about 33,000 people in that category.

___

LONDON — Another 1,035 people in the U.K. have died within 28
days of testing positive for the coronavirus, bringing the
country’s total death toll in the pandemic to over 80,000.

The British government reported Saturday that the number of
confirmed deaths has reached 80,868, the most in Europe and the
world’s fifth-highest pandemic death toll. The United States,
Brazil, India and Mexico are in the top four.

Hospitals around the U.K. are under heavy pressure treating
COVID-19 patients. London’s mayor declared the capital’s
COVID-19 situation to be critical Friday, when the country’s
daily reported deaths hit a record high of 1,325.

Official data also show that the total number of confirmed
coronavirus cases in the U.K. has exceeded 3 million.

___

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California desperately needs more medical
workers at facilities swamped by coronavirus patients, but almost
no help is coming from a volunteer program that Gov. Gavin Newsom
created at the start of the pandemic.

An army of 95,000 initially raised their hands, and just 14 are
now working in the field.

Newsom says the program “has been incredibly effective.” But
very few volunteers actually met qualifications for the California
Health Corps, and only a tiny sliver have the high-level experience
needed to help with the most serious virus cases.

Other states have had similar difficulties making volunteer
programs work.

A researcher says many eligible volunteers may have found other
jobs before the latest coronavirus surge.

___

PHOENIX — Arizona, which is a COVID-19 hot spot in the United
States, has now recorded more than 10,000 deaths and 600,000
confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

The Department of Health Services reported 11,094 new cases and
98 deaths on Saturday, the second straight day that Arizona’s new
confirmed cases exceeded 11,000.

The daily numbers brought Arizona’s total confirmed cases to
607,345 and the state’s death toll in the pandemic to 10,036.

Arizona and Rhode Island are tied for the country’s highest
COVID-19 diagnosis rate, with 1 in every 109 people diagnosed with
the disease between Jan. 1 and Friday.

There were 4,920 COVID-19 patients occupying hospital beds on
Friday.

___

NEW DELHI — The government of India is planning to kick off a
vaccination drive on Jan. 16 to stem COVID-19 in the world’s
second-most populous country.

The Health Ministry said Saturday that priority will be given to
healthcare workers and others performing frontline duties during
the pandemic, categories that together are estimated to include
around 30 million people.

They will be followed by individuals over age 50 and younger
people with underlying health conditions, numbering around 270
million, the ministry said in a statement.

Last week, India’s drugs regulator gave emergency
authorization for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and
U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, and for another developed by
Indian company Bharat Biotech.

The ministry said that both vaccines would be administered in
two dosages.

With 10.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases, India has the
second-highest total behind the United States. Indian has reported
almost 150,800 virus-related deaths during the pandemic.

___

CALUMET, Michigan — A cafe in a small town in the U.S. state
of Michigan has been found in contempt of court and fined $2,500
for continuing to serve customers indoors.

A judge held a hearing on Friday involving Cafe Rosetta, which
serves soup, sandwiches and more in Calumet, a town of roughly 750
in Houghton County.

“When it comes to court orders, in my opinion, civil
disobedience is not an option. It just absolutely is not,” Judge
Wanda Stokes said.

The cafe’s food permit has been yanked. State regulators then
got a Dec. 30 order from Stokes to shut down the business.

Since mid-November, Michigan restaurants and bars have been
restricted to outdoor service or carry-out orders to reduce the
spread of the coronavirus.

Cafe Rosetta co-owner Amy Heikkinen said she can’t afford to
limit business to carry-out orders. Hundreds of people rallied to
support her on Jan. 2.

Stokes suspended the contempt fine until Wednesday to allow the
cafe’s attorney to file legal arguments, The Daily Mining Gazette
reported.

Source: FS – All – Interesting – News 2
The Latest: Montreal enacts curfew as virus cases
spike