The Latest: Iowa's governor orders statewide mask mandate

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People wear face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus at a department store in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — With Iowa hospitals filling up, Gov. Kim Reynolds has dropped her opposition to a statewide mandate for mask use to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Reynolds signed a proclamation Monday requiring that everyone over 2 years old wear masks when in indoor public spaces. The mandate applies only when people are within six feet of others for 15 minutes and they aren’t members of their households.

Reynolds also is limiting gatherings for social, community, business and leisure purposes to no more than 15 people indoors and 30 outdoors, including family events. Routine office and factory work and spiritual gatherings are exempted.

The governor rejected calls to close bars and restaurants for in-person service but is ordering that they close by 10 p.m. She also has suspended sports and recreational activities, except for high school, college and professional sports.



— More good news about a second COVID-19 candidate vaccine as Moderna says its shots appear to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data

— President-elect Joe Biden seeks information on US vaccine plans as Trump stalls handoff

— The European Commission says it has agreed to buy up to 405 million doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by the German bio-tech company CureVac

— Amnesty International says Belgium violated the human rights of nursing home patients by not taking infected elderly patients to the hospital for treatment

— Many African students are missing out on the new term in school as the pandemic impoverishes families

British PM Boris Johnson is self-quarantining at the start of a crucial week for his government that includes discussions over a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union


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MONROE, La. — Louisiana landlords have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn a moratorium on evictions ordered by the CDC to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus.

The suit says that “the CDC’s eviction moratorium represents a sweeping assumption of power by an administrative agency that it simply does not possess.”

Figures provided by the Seattle-based Housing Justice Project says landlords in Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee have filed similar lawsuits against the CDC moratorium. Those in 13 other states and the District of Columbia are trying to overturn state or city eviction moratoriums.

The CDC’s Sept. 1 order came about three weeks after President Donald Trump issued an executive order telling federal health officials to consider measures to temporarily halt evictions.



NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Johnson & Johnson has begun a new late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, this time on a two-dose regimen.

J&J plans to give up to 30,000 people two doses of the vaccine. It’s been testing a one-dose regimen in a 60,000-person trial that began in late September and has enrolled nearly 10,000 volunteers so far.

In the new trial, volunteers will get either the vaccine or a dummy shot, then a second dose 57 days later, a company spokesman said Monday. That study is being conducted in the U.S., plus Belgium, Colombia, France, Germany, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain and the UK — locations chosen because they have a high incidence of COVID-19 and can start testing quickly.

The company said it’s being “extremely thorough”’ by testing multiple doses and dosing regimens to evaluate long-term effectiveness.

A small, early-stage study of the vaccine found it triggered a strong immune response and was well tolerated.


HARTFORD, Conn. — The Yale professor who co-chairs President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board said Monday that her group has not been able to speak with President Trump’s coronavirus advisors, but is optimistic the two groups will work together during the transition.

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith said there is a long “wish list” of information that the incoming administration would like to know about the Trump administration’s COVID-19 strategy, with plans for the storage and distribution of a vaccine at or near the top.

She said it was in everyone’s best interest for the two teams to sync during the transition.

Nunez-Smith also reiterated that Biden plans to work with governors, mayors and other elected leaders to reach “national agreement and unification” on mask-wearing standards.


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Monday showed no sign of budging from her hands-off approach to the pandemic, despite finding herself among a dwindling number of Midwest governors holding out against mask mandates and facing a death rate in her state that has risen to the nation’s highest this month.

South Dakota has reported 219 deaths in November — about a third of all its deaths over the course of the pandemic. The COVID-19 deaths have sent the state to the top of the nation in deaths per capita this month, with nearly 25 deaths per 100,000 people, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.

Still, Noem, a Republican, has no plans to issue mask requirements. The governor’s spokeswoman Maggie Seidel pushed back against arguments by public health experts, pointing to states like Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin that have also experienced significant virus waves in spite of having implemented mask rules.


SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was pulling the “emergency brake” Monday on the state’s efforts to reopen its economy as coronavirus cases surge more dramatically than during a summer spike.

The action that Newsom called the “emergency brake in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy” will impose more restrictions on businesses across most of the state. He said masks would now be required outside homes with limited exceptions.

Newsom’s action, which takes effect Tuesday, will put most of the state’s 58 counties in the strictest of the four-tier system for reopening that is based on virus case rates. That tier closes many non-essential indoor businesses.

Counties with lower rates have had more freedom for businesses to operate, schools to open for classroom instruction and for formal gatherings like religious services.


WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence is urging governors to tell constituents that the country has never been more prepared to deal with COVID-19 amid a record-breaking nationwide resurgence of the virus.

Pence told governors on a private call that they should share the good news that the country has an abundant supply of personal protective equipment and two experimental vaccines have shown strong early results. The audio of the call was obtained by The Associated Press.

Pence said there are some estimates that enough vaccines will be able to vaccinate every American that wants to be vaccinated by April or May and that he was “more convinced than ever that we’re going to get through this.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, asked on the call that the White House stress the importance of mask-wearing and social distancing.


SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday apologized for what he called “a bad mistake” in attending a birthday party that broke the very rules that he has been preaching to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

He has suffered severe political backlash since it surfaced Friday that he and his wife attended the party Nov. 6 with a dozen friends at the pricey French Laundry restaurant in wine country north of San Francisco.

Newsom says he recognizes that he must practice what he preaches and set a proper example. He says there were more guests than he expected celebrating the 50th birthday of a longtime political adviser.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s largest teacher organization called on the governor Monday to take public schools online-only through year’s end due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The plea comes after the state recorded a high of 4,404 confirmed virus cases over the past week from Nov. 9 through Sunday, a 63% increase from the previous week. The state health department reported 632 new cases and three more deaths on Monday, bringing West Virginia’s total confirmed cases to more than 30,000 and the death toll to at least 562.

Gov. Jim Justice has barred in-person instruction from Thanksgiving through Dec. 3 with the aim of stemming possible outbreaks in schools amid holiday travel.

But the West Virginia Education Association said in a statement that officials should go further and end classroom instruction for the remainder of the year.


OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Monday new restrictions on bars and restaurants amid surging coronavirus infections by imposing the first statewide restrictions since reopening the economy six months ago.

Effective Thursday, bars and restaurants statewide must have all tables spaced six feet apart and close in-person service at 11 p.m, he announced.

Stitt also plans to require all state employees and visitors to state buildings wear masks indoors, although the state Legislature will have to impose that restriction for the Capitol, he said. Many state lawmakers, security personnel and visitors to the Capitol do not wear masks inside the building.

The governor implored Oklahomans to wear masks in public, practice social distancing and good hand hygiene, with hopes that all Oklahoma school districts can reopen for in-person learning after the Christmas break.


The number of U.S. infants, children and teens diagnosed with COVID-19 has surpassed 1 million, according to data released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

The total hit nearly 1.04 million kids on Nov. 12, including nearly 112,000 new cases in that week. That was the highest weekly total of any previous week in the pandemic, the academy said.

AAP President Sally Goza called the data “staggering and tragic.” Children generally are much more likely than adults to have mild cases but hospitalizations and deaths do occur.

The data, based on reports from state health departments, show at least 6,330 pediatric hospitalizations and 133 deaths since May. Those numbers are incomplete as they do not include data from every state.


SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A central New York county has paused counting absentee ballots until Nov. 30 as a third of election workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

Onondaga County elections commissioner Dustin Czarny said Monday that eight of 26 staffers have tested positive. All staffers are in quarantine for two weeks, and the elections office is closed for a week.

Czarny said it’s unclear how election workers contracted the virus. He said the plan is to allow some essential personnel who test negative to return to the office next week to start preparing to count the remaining 30,000 ballots.

He hopes to provide the state with a partial certification for presidential ballot results by Nov. 28 and finish counting the remaining ballots by early December, when New York is set to certify its election results.


MADRID — The spread of the coronavirus in Spain continues to slow down, although pressure on the health system remains high and authorities warn against complacency.

On Monday, Spain’s pandemic czar Fernando Simón said that a long holiday weekend in early December could derail the progress.

The 14-day cumulative incidence, a variable monitored by epidemiologists, has dropped to 470 per 100,000 people on Monday from a Nov. 4 peak of 528.

The Health Ministry recorded 38,273 new infections since Friday and nearly 1.5 million since the beginning of the year.

Restrictions against the spread of the virus vary on a regional basis.

Hospital bed occupancy rates from COVID-19 remained stable at 16% nationally but in at least 7 of Spain’s 19 regions and autonomous cities, 40% of intensive care unit beds are filled with coronavirus patients.


BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the number of new coronavirus cases is flattening following two weeks of new restrictions, but it’s too early to tell whether more will be necessary.

Merkel said Germany is a long way from tamping down the number of new cases to 50 per 100,000 residents over seven days -- a level above which experts say it’s impossible to trace outbreaks.

Germany’s disease control center on Monday reported the case rate as 143.3 per 100,000 people. Germany’s states reported 10,824 daily confirmed cases on Monday but the seven-day daily average has stayed above 17,000.

The country initiated the four-week partial shutdown on Nov. 2. Restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities have closed, but schools and nonessential shops remain open.

Merkel said she and the governors will reevaluate the situation again on Nov. 25.