MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s northern border state of Chihuahua returned to the highest level of alert and lockdown Friday after coronavirus cases jumped there and hospitals began to fill up.
The Chihuahua state government declared the return to the “red” level of alert Friday, which closes down most non-essential services and encourages people to stay at home.
The Health Department said the state’s hospital beds were now 69% occupied, and that only about 23% of intensive care beds were open. The department said steps were being taken to expand hospital facilities.
The department also said that three other northern states — Durango, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon — were at risk of returning to maximum alert unless infections were brought under control.
Nationwide, 19 of Mexico’s 32 states will be at high alert starting Monday, 11 will be at medium alert and one state was considered at moderate risk level.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— France surpasses 1 million coronavirus cases
— WHO says Northern hemisphere at ‘critical juncture’ with rising cases, deaths
— FDA approves first COVID-19 drug: antiviral remdesivir
— UN chief says G-20 leaders must coordinate to fight coronavirus. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is frustrated leaders of 20 major industrialized countries didn't do it in March as he proposed.
— Schools from New Jersey to California have been hit with teacher and staff layoffs. Urban areas lacking the property wealth of suburban communities are especially vulnerable to budget cuts, with many schools hoping for a new round of federal money.
— An online Japanese-language text messaging service for suicide prevention has grown to 500 volunteers since March.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BOISE, Idaho — A hospital in southern Idaho says it can no longer accept any children because it is overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center announced Friday afternoon that anyone needing treatment who is under the age of 18 will be sent to a hospital in Boise — 128 miles (206 kilometers) away. The hospital will still admit newborns and neonatal intensive care unit patients, however.
The hospital in Twin Falls is like many around the United States that are running out of space and reeling from a surge in COVID-19 patients. One out of every four patients at the Idaho facility is a COVID-19 patient, and hospital leaders spent the week warning Idaho Gov. Brad Little and local public health officials that the state’s healthcare system would soon be swamped until steps are taken to stem the virus’ spread.
Still, neither the governor nor the regional public health department has issued a mask mandate.
ROME — Protesters in Naples, angry over a just-imposed 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. regional curfew and by the local governor’s vow to put the region under lockdown to try to tame surging COVID-19 infections, clashed with police on Friday night.
The demonstrators, who Italian media said numbered several hundred, headed toward the Campania region’s headquarters near the southern Italian city’s Mediterranean waterfront.
RAI state TV said local merchants joined the protest, hours after Gov. Vincenzo De Luca told citizens in a televised speech that he was “moving toward closing everything down” except essential services.
Demonstrators threw rocks and smoke bombs, and police officers responded with tear gas, Italian media said.
“You close us down, you pay us,” was one of the shouted slogans, the Italian news agency ANSA said.
Unemployment in the south runs double or even higher than in the productive north, and the country’s economy, already sluggish before the pandemic struck in late winter, risks being crippled by another lockdown like the nationwide one the central government placed the country under for some 10 weeks early in the COVID-19 outbreak.
Several people were detained in Naples, the Lapresse news agency said.
HONOLULU -- Hawaii had about 60,000 travelers arrive in the islands in the first week of its pre-travel coronavirus testing program.
That’s a state effort to get the tourism-based economy moving again.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Thursday that nearly 60,000 returning residents, military members, essential workers, tourists and others had been tested since Oct. 15.
The vast majority tested negative and were allowed to skip the previously required two weeks of quarantine.
The state accepts only negative nucleic acid amplification tests from certain entities.
Other travelers came to Hawaii without being tested at all. Nearly 7,300 people were ordered to quarantine upon arrival.
UNITED NATIONS — The president of the United Nations General Assembly has expressed concern that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio rejected a meeting with him to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work of the 193-member world organization.
Volker Bozkir said in a statement that the United Nations “has been proud to call the city its home since the middle of the last century” and is “happy to generate billions of dollars in economic benefits and tens of thousands of jobs in New York City.” But the Turkish politician said he was disappointed at the mayor’s refusal to meet him.
Bozkir said: “This lack of interaction concerns me.”
His spokesman, Brenden Varma, told reporters that Bozkir reached out about two weeks ago to ask for an appointment with the mayor. But the assembly president received a response a few days ago declining the request, he said.
Penny Abeywardena, New York City’s commissioner for international affairs, responded to the assembly president’s statement without mentioning the mayor’s decision not to meet Bozkir.
She pointed to de Blasio’s “excellent relationship” with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and “deeply collaborative relationship with Mr. Bozkir’s predecessors,” and said the city looks forward “to continuing our partnership with the United Nations.”
NEW YORK — The number of people hospitalized in New York because of the coronavirus has climbed back over 1,000.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there were 1,023 hospitalizations around the state as of Thursday. That’s more than double the number that were hospitalized month ago, and the first time since late June that the state has seen that many in hospitals with the virus.
At the pandemic’s peak in April, nearly 19,000 people were hospitalized. Statewide, 1,637 people tested positive with the virus on Thursday, on par with where levels have been for the month.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa has among the nation’s highest coronavirus infection and death rates and residents should avoid gatherings in most counties, federal health experts say.
Iowa had 238 new cases and 2.8 deaths per 100,000 people last week, about double the national per capita average between Oct. 10 and Oct. 16, the White House Coronavirus Task Force reported.
The task force report of Oct. 18 was released Friday by the Iowa Department of Public Health. The grim statistics came as Iowa’s hospitals faced a surge of coronavirus patients. The number hospitalized hit a record 536, according to data released Thursday.
In all, 90% of Iowa’s 99 counties are experiencing high or moderate levels of virus transmission.
The report recommends “mask wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, avoiding crowds in public and social gatherings in private and ensuring flu immunizations.”
The state reported a one-day record of 31 deaths on Wednesday and 38 more in the two days since for a total of 1,617.
PARIS — France has surpassed 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, becoming the second country in Western Europe after Spain to reach the mark.
The national health agency announced 42,032 new cases on Friday, bringing the total to 1.04 million cases. Health experts say the actual numbers are likely higher because of a lack of testing, asymptomatic cases and reporting issues.
French President Emmanuel Macron called on citizens to respect a nightly curfew and other measures to fight the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
Macron says cases are “very strongly accelerating,” with coronavirus patients occupying more than 42% of ICU beds nationally and 64% in the Paris region.
The government announced a six-week curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. in 46 regions and Polynesia.
France has more than 34,200 deaths, the fourth-highest death toll in Europe behind Britain, Italy and Spain.
LONDON — Bars, restaurants and most shops have closed across Wales in a lockdown to curb surging coronavirus cases.
The Cardiff-based government has imposed the U.K.’s strictest lockdown for 17 days starting Friday night. Most businesses will close, high school students will be taught online and people will avoid non-essential journeys.
The U.K. has Europe’s deadliest coronavirus numbers, with more than 44,500 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths. There have been 1,756 deaths in Wales, which has a population of about 3 million.
LA GUAIRA, Venezuela — Some Venezuelans headed back to the beach on Friday after the government relaxed measures aimed at containing the coronavirus.
It’s been seven months since tourists went to the La Ultima beach in the Caribbean town of La Guaira, outside the capital of Caracas.
Vendors again peddled drinks and snacks to sunbathers. Umbrellas waved above the sand.
Restaurants, flower shops, bars, liquor stores and ice cream parlors also opened along the seaside boulevard, with social distancing rules in place.
President Nicolás Maduro this week announced a broad reopening of most private businesses, parks and beaches around the country, saying the curve of new infections has flattened and “is steadily descending.” Open-air concerts, amusement parks and drive-ins return as well.
But Venezuela’s airports remain closed to international travel and officials haven’t said when they plan to resume operations. The government has reported 88,416 confirmed cases and 759 deaths since March.
GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization warns that countries in the Northern hemisphere are at a “critical juncture” with rising cases and deaths.
“The next few months are going to be very tough and some countries are on a dangerous track,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press briefing on Friday. “Many countries are seeing an exponential increase in cases,” and he called for immediate action.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on coronavirus, says the U.N. health agency had recorded about 445,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours; nearly half of those were from Europe.
She says in many cities across Europe, “the capacity for ICU is going to be reached in the coming weeks.” .
SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov will go into self-isolation after contact with an official who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Borissov was informed Friday that deputy construction minister Nikolay Nankov had tested positive earlier in the day.
Borissov says he was in contact with Nankov five days ago and a PCR test done Friday was negative. Before these events on Friday, Borissov had met with visiting U.S. Under Secretary of State Keith J. Krach.
Bulgaria hit record levels on Friday with 1,595 new infections. The Balkan nation of 7 million people has recorded 34,930 confirmed cases and 1,064 deaths.
MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez appealed to Spaniards to pull together and defeat the coronavirus, warning: “The situation is serious.”
Sánchez, in a televised address to the nation Friday, acknowledged public fatigue with restrictions to contain the spread. But he added: “We have to step up the fight.”
This week, Spain became the first European country to surpass 1 million confirmed cases. Sánchez says the actual number could be more than 3 million because of gaps in testing.
The current pressure on the health system, including hospitalizations, is not as acute as it was in the spring, he says. Even so, he asked for the public’s cooperation, discipline and unity during the winter months.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s government has announced the entire country will become a “red zone” of strict anti-COVID-19 restrictions starting Saturday, just short of a lockdown.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki appealed Friday to Poles to strictly observe the restrictions in order to protect lives. The appeal came as the nation of 38 million hit another daily record of new registered infections — over 13,600 and 153 deaths.
The measures, expanded from local red zones, include wearing masks at all times outdoors and switching all primary schools to remote learning. Morawiecki says the goal is to limit social contacts and the number of passengers on public transport. In other measures, restaurants and other eateries can provide takeout only for another two weeks and gatherings cannot exceed five people, except for professional activity.