(AP) WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed a tweet by Donald Trump claiming the U.S. global lead in coronavirus cases is because of increased testing.
Responding to questioning by a House Democrat, Fauci says the scale of the U.S. outbreak is the result of multiple factors, including some states opened too quickly, disregarding federal guidelines. Those recommendations called for a phased approach to easing restrictions on restaurants, bars and gyms based on state case counts.
Trump tweeted as a House oversight committee heard from the nation’s top health officials on the federal response to coronavirus. Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, chaired the committee hearing.
Fauci’s warnings about the scope and dangers of the outbreak have drawn the ire of some of President Trump’s supporters and prompted calls for his firing. But he’s avoided open confrontations with the White House.
The National Institutes of Health is awarding nearly $250 million to several U.S. companies as part of a government effort to ramp up testing capacity for the coronavirus.
The announcement Friday comes as demand for testing outpaces availability, leading to backlogs at U.S. labs and delays in getting results to many patients.
The NIH grants to seven manufacturers are aimed at helping increase production to provide millions of more tests by the fall.
Three of the companies are developing tests run on portable devices that could be used at doctor’s offices, clinics and testing sites. The other four companies are working to expand testing at diagnostic laboratories, which process more than half of U.S. tests. Those companies include Helix OpCo, of San Mateo, California, which is studying a high-capacity testing system that NIH says could process 50,000 samples per day by September.
Several of the tests are already on the market, including a 15-minute antigen test from San Diego-based Quidel that was cleared by regulators in May.
MADRID — Spain has reported 1,525 new daily coronavirus cases Friday, the highest daily number since April 29.
Spain in mid-March went into a more than three-month lockdown as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths surged across the country. By the end of May, new daily infections had fallen to double digits.
The lockdown ended June 21, but the number of cases has rebounded. Since last Wednesday, cases have exceeded 1,000 a day.
The Aragon region in northeastern Spain recorded the highest confirmed infections, with 511, followed by the Madrid region (372).
LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization predicts the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be felt for “decades to come.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the coronavirus as a “once-in-a-century health crisis.” Tedros reconvened WHO’s expert committee on Friday to consider what further recommendations are needed to stem the spread.
“Most of the world’s people remain susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks,” Tedros says. “Although vaccine development is happening at record speed, we must learn to live with this virus and we must fight it with the tools that we have.”
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says 250,000 people have registered on a National Institutes of Heath website to take part in experimental vaccine trials.
The study of the first vaccine involving 30,000 people began this week. The U.S. government plans to launch studies of additional vaccines every month through the fall.
Trials are pivotal for establishing the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. Not all patients who volunteer for clinical trials are eligible to participate.
Fauci is testifying before House lawmakers on the federal response to the pandemic, alongside the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the government’s testing czar. With hospitalizations and deaths on the rise, Fauci says Americans most again embrace public health basics such as social distancing and mask wearing.
NEW YORK — A student’s positive test for the coronavirus in New York City schools will trigger a classroom shutdown under a back-to-school plan for the nation’s largest public school system.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan released Thursday says if there’s a single confirmed case, the entire classroom will self-quarantine for 14 days. Students will have the option for online learning.
Every New York City school will have an isolation room for students with coronavirus symptoms.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said it is up to him to decide whether any of the state’s 700 school districts can open in September. Friday is the deadline to submit reopening plans to the state.
ATLANTA — Georgia’s governor says one of the nation’s largest convention centers will reopen on Monday with “surge beds” to treat COVID-19 patients.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta will begin receiving patients on Monday. There will be 60 beds with an increase to 120 beds, if needed.
Kemp says the beds will provide relief to nearby health care facilities.
Reopening the convention center comes as Georgia hospital officials are concerned about bed space following a surge of cases. The Georgia World Congress Center says it’s the fourth-largest convention center in the U.S.
WASHINGTON — A top Democrat lawmaker is calling on the Trump administration to release a comprehensive plan to combat the coronavirus, blasting the national response effort as the U.S. death toll recently surpassed 150,000
South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn warned another 150,000 Americans could lose their lives “if we do not make drastic changes now.” Clyburn chairs the House subcommittee overseeing the COVID-19 response.
His Republican counterpart on the panel countered that thousands of lives could have been saved if governors had followed the Trump administration’s guidelines. Republican Steve Scalise of Louisiana brandished a stack of federal documents on testing and reopening schools and nursing homes to demonstrate the detailed scope of the administration’s response.
The lawmakers are questioning top federal health officials, including National Institutes of Health infectious disease chief Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir.
New COVID-19 cases spiked this month across much of the South and West, pushing the nation’s daily case count back to the 60,000-70,000 range. Those outbreaks appear to have peaked, but health officials are warning of new upticks in the Midwest.
HONG KONG — Beijing will send personnel to Hong Kong to assist in coronavirus testing and the building of treatment centers.
The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office say help will be sent to Hong Kong at the request of the city’s government. The personnel will help in large-scale testing and screening and assist in speeding up construction of temporary isolation and treatment facilities.
Hong Kong has reported a total of 3,273 coronavirus infections and 27 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The infections have more than doubled since July 1.
The city has tightened social distancing measures, implementing a dine-in ban from 6 p.m. and restricting public gatherings to two people.
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expressing concern about the recent increase in coronavirus cases.
“We are very carefully watching the surge in infections. First, we need to step up with tests,” he said.
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki issued the region’s own emergency declaration, with daily confirmed cases reaching a record 71 people Friday.
Tamaki says Okinawa was taking its own action, as cases were showing up among citizens in their 20s and 30s, but also in families and workplaces. He pleaded with people to not go out. He noted the prefecture’s ability to treat patients was limited.
Reported cases nationwide reached a record 1,463 people, topping the 1,305 cases confirmed by the health ministry on Thursday.
On Friday, 463 were in Tokyo, a record for the capital’s daily count.
ROME — Italy’s president says don’t confuse freedom with the right to make others ill during the coronavirus pandemic.
President Sergio Mattarella issued the caution to citizens in a speech on Friday, a few days after Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli said he felt “humiliated” by Italy’s lockdown and violated stay-at-home restrictions.
While describing the value of freedom as central to democracy, Mattarella says one must consider “the duty to balance that with the value of life, avoiding confusing freedom with the right to make others sick.”
Italy, once the epicenter of the coronavirus in Europe, has experienced increasing clusters of coronavirus cases after relaxing three months of a severe lockdown.
Mattarella noted four months ago, more than 800 COVID-19 deaths were registered in one day in Italy. On Thursday, there were three. Overall, Italy has confirmed more than 35,000 deaths.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is postponing some planned measures to ease the lockdown because coronavirus cases are on the rise for the first time since May.
The government is scrapping plans to allow venues such as casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks to open on Monday. A plan to allow a limited number of fans back into sports stadiums is on hold.
Johnson says the measures will be reviewed after two weeks.
He says a rule requiring face coverings worn in shops and on public transit will be extended to museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.
On Thursday, the government re-imposed restrictions on social life in a swath of northern England because of a surge in cases, barring households from visiting one another.
Scientists say they are no longer confident the R number, which measures how many people each infected person passes on the disease, is below 1 in England. A number above 1 means the virus will exponentially spread.
Britain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at more than 46,000, the third-highest total in the world after the United States and Brazil.)
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus is making mask-wearing compulsory in all indoor areas where people gather in large numbers and ramping up random coronavirus testing at two main airports.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou says a rollback of restrictions combined with a low infection rate led to “excessive complacency” by some people he blamed for “choosing to recklessly violate health protocols” and “put public health at risk.”
The internationally recognized part of Cyprus confirmed 1,084 COVID-19 infections and 26 deaths.
TOKYO — Japanese leaders are grappling with how to contain flareups in coronavirus cases while trying to avoid shutdowns that might push the economy deeper into recession.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said the confirmed number of new cases hit a daily record of 463 on Friday, up nearly 100 from Thursday’s 367. Nationwide, cases have recently topped 1,000 a day, and some areas that had avoided any cases at all, such as Iwate prefecture in the northeast and Sado island off the Japan Sea coast, have confirmed cases.
Koike says, “You might have plans or events for summer, but unfortunately this summer will be different from last summer. We cannot loosen our grips on (anti-infection) measures and I want to share this mindset with you all.”
Earlier this week, Koike asked bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m. Legal limits on what the government can demand of the private sector and individuals mean authorities largely must rely on social pressure and persuasion to compel people to comply with anti-disease precautions.
BERLIN — German authorities have added Catalonia and two other northern Spanish regions to a long list of risk areas, days after the foreign ministry advised against nonessential travel to the area.
The designation on Friday by the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national disease control center, comes as authorities prepare to make coronavirus tests for people arriving from risk areas compulsory as of next week. It affects the inland Aragón and Navarra regions as well as Catalonia.
Most countries in the world are currently on the high-risk list, though most of Germany’s partners in the European Union and the rest of the Schengen travel zone are not — except neighboring Luxembourg, where new infections have exceeded a level that is considered risky.