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2 biggest California districts say school will start online

SACRAMENTO — The Los Angeles and San Diego school districts, the two largest in California with a combined K-12 student population of about 720,000, announced Monday they won’t bring students back to classrooms next month because of rising coronavirus hospitalizations and infection rates.

School leaders said there is too much uncertainty surrounding the safety of students and staff to try to return pupils to classrooms right away so they will continue the distance learning that was employed for the final months of the spring semester.

Los Angeles and San Diego are the latest in a growing number of California school districts choosing to start the new term with digital learning amid strong concerns from teachers unions and as local leaders push Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration for clearer guidelines on what classroom learning should look like.

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Newsom, a Democrat, applauded Los Angeles and San Diego but stressed that each district has unique needs.

The governor has extended the closure of bars and indoor dining statewide and has ordered gyms, churches, and hair salons closed in most places as coronavirus cases keep rising in the nation’s most populated state.

On July 1, Newsom ordered many counties to close bars and indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, zoos, and family entertainment centers like bowling alleys and miniature golf.

On Monday, he extended that order statewide and closed additional parts of the world’s fifth-largest economy, including indoor malls and offices for noncritical industries.

California confirmed 8,358 new coronavirus cases on Sunday. Hospitalizations have increased 28 percent over the past two weeks.

Associated Press

Arizona reports record in patients using ventilators

PHOENIX — Arizona is reporting all-time highs in coronavirus patients using ventilators and occupying beds in intensive-care units.

The state Department of Health Services said 671 COVID-19 patients were on ventilators and 936 were in intensive care as of Sunday. Hospitals were hovering around 90 percent capacity as the state ranks first in the country for new per capita cases over the past two weeks.

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The state became one of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots in May after Governor Doug Ducey relaxed stay-at-home orders and other restrictions. Last week, the Republican governor closed gyms and bars and capped restaurants at half of their capacity but declined to shut down indoor dining entirely or issue a statewide mandate on masks.

Ducey said the state will increase testing, with a focus on low-income areas of Phoenix as many people report difficulty finding tests.

Associated Press

Judge: Women can get abortion pill without visits

SILVER SPRING, Md. — A judge has agreed to suspend a federal rule that requires women during the COVID-19 pandemic to visit a hospital, clinic, or medical office to obtain an abortion pill.

US District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland ruled Monday that the “in-person requirements” for patients seeking medication abortion care impose a “substantial obstacle” to abortion patients. Chuang said the requirements are likely unconstitutional under the pandemic’s circumstances.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups sued the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Food and Drug Administration in May to challenge the rule.

The judge didn’t set any geographic limitations on the injunction.

Associated Press

Texas GOP convention may go online after court losses

HOUSTON — The Republican Party of Texas said Monday it would consider moving its convention online after several courts refused to force Houston to allow in-person events the city canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Hours after the Texas Supreme Court dismissed the party’s appeal, the state GOP said in a statement that its executive committee would meet Monday night to vote on canceling a three-day event that would have drawn potentially thousands of people.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, said last week that he had directed city lawyers to terminate the contract because he believed the event could not be held safely. He denied that the convention was cancelled due to political differences and cited the potential risk to service workers and first responders if the virus spread through Houston’s downtown convention center.

The state party sued a day later, alleging the city illegally breached the contract and accusing Turner of shedding “crocodile tears.”

State District Judge Daryl L. Moore on Monday afternoon denied another party request for an injunction forcing Houston to allow the convention.

Associated Press

N.Y. to levy $2,000 fine for not filling out tracing form

ALBANY, N.Y. — Travelers from certain states landing at New York airports starting Tuesday could face a $2,000 fine for failing to fill out a form that state officials will use to track travelers and ensure they’re following quarantine restrictions.

New York — hard-hit by the pandemic in March and April — is trying to get more travelers to comply with a June advisory aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 from states where the virus is now surging.

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut last month issued a joint travel advisory that requires a 14-day quarantine period for travelers from a list that now includes 19 states, including Texas and Florida, where COVID-19 appears to be spreading. The advisory includes states if their seven-day rolling average of positive tests exceeds 10 percent, or if the number of positive cases exceeds 10 per 100,000 residents.

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In New York, airport travelers from those states will now face a $2,000 fine if they leave the airport without filling out the form. Impacted travelers could face a hearing and an order requiring mandatory quarantine, under a new state emergency health order issued Monday.

Associated Press

Hawaii V-J Day officials say virus hasn’t derailed plans

HONOLULU — Officials organizing events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Hawaii say the coronavirus has not derailed the plans.

Planners expect to follow though with the schedule of Victory over Japan Day, or V-J Day, events Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 as uncertainty remains about COVID-19 health restrictions, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The theme of the events is “Salute Their Service, Honor Their Hope,’’ and the schedule includes several warplane flyovers and a ceremony on or next to the battleship Missouri, on which the United States accepted Japan’s unconditional surrender Sept. 2, 1945.

Tony Vericella, executive director of the 75th World War II Commemoration Committee in Hawaii, said that as of last week more than 30 World War II veterans from outside Hawaii and their family members had committed to attending the events in Oahu.

Vericella said the participation of veterans and others from the US mainland relies on the state lifting a 14-day self-quarantine for out-of-state travelers, which would be replaced with a mandate for visitors to undergo COVID-19 screening tests prior to arriving.

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The Honolulu City Council last week urged Hawaii’s governor to consider delaying the plan until the rate of new coronavirus cases on the US mainland and in Hawaii drops significantly.

Associated Press