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World hits coronavirus milestones amid fears worse to come | News, Sports, Jobs

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By Nicole Winfield and

Ken Moritsugu

The Associated Press

ROME (AP) — The world surpassed two sobering coronavirus milestones Sunday — 500,000 confirmed deaths, 10 million confirmed cases — and hit another high mark for daily new infections as governments that attempted reopenings continued to backtrack and warn that worse news could be yet to come.

“COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Gov. Greg Abbott, who allowed businesses to start reopening in early May but on Friday shut down bars and limited restaurant dining amid a spike in cases.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back reopenings of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles. He ordered them to close immediately and urged eight other counties to issue local health orders mandating the same.

More Florida beaches will be closing again to avoid further spread of the new coronavirus as officials try to tamp down on large gatherings amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said interactions among young people are driving the surge.

“Caution was thrown to the wind and so we are where we are,” DeSantis said.

South Africa’s health minister warned that the country’s current surge of cases is expected to rapidly increase in the coming weeks and push hospitals to the limit. Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize said the current rise in infections has come from people who “moved back into the workplace.

New clusters of cases at a Swiss nightclub and in the central English city of Leicester showed that the virus was still circulating widely in Europe, though not with the rapidly growing infection rate seen in parts of the U.S., Latin America and India.

Poland and France, meanwhile, attempted a step toward normalcy as they held elections that had been delayed by the virus.

Wearing mandatory masks, social distancing in lines and carrying their own pens to sign voting registers, French voters cast ballots in a second round of municipal elections. Poles also wore masks and used hand sanitizer, and some in virus-hit areas were told to mail in their ballots.

“I didn’t go and vote the first time around because I am elderly and I got scared,” said Fanny Barouh as she voted in a Paris school.

In Texas, Abbott appeared with Vice President Mike Pence, who cut campaign events from upcoming visits to Florida and Arizona because of rising virus cases in those states.

Pence praised Abbott for both his decision to reopen the state, and to roll back the reopening plans.

“You flattened the curve here in Texas … but about two weeks ago something changed,” Pence said.

Pence urged people to wear masks when unable to practice social distancing. He and Abbott wore face masks as they entered and left the room, taking them off while speaking to reporters.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, meanwhile, defended the fact that President Donald Trump has rarely worn a mask in public, saying he doesn’t have to follow his own administration’s guidance because as a leader of the free world he’s tested regularly and is in “very different circumstances than the rest of us.”

Addressing spikes in reported coronavirus cases in some states, Azar said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that people “have to take ownership” of their own behaviors by social distancing and wearing masks if possible.

A reported tally Sunday from Johns Hopkins University researchers said the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic had topped 500,00.

About 1 in 4 of those deaths – more than 125,000 – have been reported in the U.S. The country with the next highest death toll is Brazil, with more than 57,000, or about 1 in 9.

The true death toll from the virus, which first emerged in China late last year, is widely believed to be significantly higher. Experts say that especially early on, many victims died of COVID-19 without being tested for it.

To date, more than 10 million confirmed cases have been reported globally. About a quarter of them have been reported in the U.S.

The World Health Organization announced another daily record in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the world – topping over 189,000 in a single 24-hour period. The tally eclipses the previous record a week earlier at over 183,000 cases, showing case counts continue to progress worldwide.

Overall the U.S. still has far and away the most total cases. At more than 2,450,000 – roughly twice that of Brazil. The number of actual cases worldwide is much higher.

New York, once the nation’s pandemic epicenter, is now “on the exact opposite end,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with “Meet the Press.”

The state reported five new virus deaths Saturday, its lowest reported daily death toll since March 15. During the state’s peak pandemic in April, nearly 800 people were dying every day. New York still leads the nation in COVID-19 deaths with nearly 25,000.

In the state of Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee put a hold on plans to move counties to the fourth phase of his reopening plan as cases continue to increase. But in Hawaii, the city of Honolulu announced that campgrounds will reopen for the first time in three months with limited permits to ensure social distancing.

Britain’s government, meanwhile, is considering whether a local lockdown is needed for the central English city of Leicester amid reports about a spike in COVID-19 among its Asian community. It would be Britain’s first local lockdown.

“We have seen flare-ups across the country in recent weeks,” Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC on Sunday.

Polish voters were casting ballots, in person and by mail, for a presidential election that was supposed to have taken place in May but was chaotically postponed amid the pandemic. President Andrzej Duda, a 48-year-old conservative backed by the nationalist ruling Law and Justice party, is running against 10 other candidates as he seeks a second five-year term.

Iwona Goge, 79, was encouraged to see so many people voting in Warsaw.

“It’s bad. Poland is terribly divided and people are getting discouraged,” she said.

French voters were choosing mayors and municipal councilors in Paris and 5,000 towns and cities in a second round of municipal elections held under strict hygiene rules. Key battlegrounds include Paris, where the next mayor will preside over the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Italy was honoring its dead later Sunday with an evening Requiem concert in hard-hit Bergamo province. The ceremony in the onetime epicenter of the European outbreak came a day after Italy registered the lowest daily tally of COVID-19 deaths in nearly four months: eight.

European leaders were taking no chances in tamping down new clusters. German authorities renewed a lockdown in a western region of about 500,000 people after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive.

Africa’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to climb to a new high of more than 371,000, including 9,484 deaths, according to figures released Sunday by the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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DeWine schedules Wednesday night coronavirus briefing; cancels today’s session | News, Sports, Jobs

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COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine has scheduled a Wednesday night news conference to discuss the current state of the cornonavirus pandemic and the recent increases in cases and virus spread. The conference is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

DeWine canceled his scheduled briefing today a few hours before it was set to begin. His usual briefings begin at 2 p.m. An evening news conference is unusual.

A spokesman for the governor said that DeWine will deliver a speech, and that no question-and-answer session will follow at the end, as is typical in his afternoon briefings.

The governor is expected to still hold a briefing with media questions and answers on Thursday afternoon.

New COVID-19 cases reported in each of the last seven consecutive days have ranked among the state’s all-time record highest.

While the 1,142 cases reported today represented the second straight drop in the number of new cases, it still remained the 10th-highest number of new cases reported in Ohio in a day.

The state is averaging 1,260.3 new cases per day over the first three days of the week. That’s more than the 1,147.3 daily average last week, when the state set a record for most cases in a week with 8,031.

Statewide, five new COVID-19 deaths were reported Tuesday, down from the daily average of 16 during the previous 21 days. That did not yet include one reported Tuesday by the Trumbull County Combined Health District.

But hospitalizations in Ohio were up Tuesday. That number was 134 compared to the daily average of 80 for the previous 21 days.

Trumbull reported 1,090 total cases as of Tuesday, an increase of seven since Monday. Mahoning County listed 1,996 cases, an increase of 25 since Monday. Columbiana County had 1,406 cases, the same as Monday.

There was one death reported Tuesday in Trumbull County after two were reported Monday. It now has 83 COVID-19 deaths. Mahoning has 239 deaths, with none reported since Thursday. Columbiana has 60 deaths, with none reported since July 1.

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Walsh Administration Launches Initiative To Help Residents With Criminal Records Access Jobs, Housing

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is launching a new initiative called Project Opportunity, which aims to help residents seal or expunge their criminal records and help them get better access to jobs and housing. WGBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with Rufus Faulk, director of Boston’s Office of Public Safety, about the new program. The transcript has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: You were director of victim services at the Mass Department of Corrections earlier in your career, so you have pretty unique insight into how difficult it is to manage life with criminal charges or to reintegrate into society after being incarcerated. How would this program help?

Rufus Faulk: So the goal of this program is to make sure that we connect residents with free legal consultation to determine if their CORI’s even eligible for sealing or expungement. We cover the filing costs for that. But I think one of the main features of this program is our ability to, once folks have their records viewed, then try to connect them to employment and other social service opportunities. We’re just trying to assure that every resident in the city of Boston has an opportunity to prosper and recognize that those with CORI often have trouble doing so.

Mathieu: And when you say “CORI,” we’re referring to criminal charges in general, right?

Faulk: Yes, absolutely.

Mathieu: Are you working with the private sector [and] local industry to help place these individuals into jobs?

Faulk: So that’s one of the main features of this. We are making sure that we connect to the local and regional economy to try to see which industries are the ones that are most open for growth, and what we found is those tech spaces, those spaces around hospitality [and] in those building trades. We’ve had experience with this with a program called Operation Exit, which features some of the same population, giving them training around the building trades and then trying to usher them into that field, so we’re trying to expand upon that into other industries that are open for growth for folks who have CORI records.

Mathieu: We did some exclusive reporting about Operation Exit here at WGBH News, and I was lucky enough to attend one of the graduation ceremonies. It’s been a wild success from all metrics in terms of placing people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds into new careers, essentially. The numbers are relatively small, though, right? How will you start in terms of some of the class sizes, if you will, in helping individuals make that move?

Faulk: So as of right now, we’ve had 65 registrants. We’re trying to be very broad in terms of our external partners — both internal in terms of our city departments, but also externally working with other entities and departments who deal with that similar population. So we’re trying to cast a wide net. It’s simple registration. You go to owd.boston.gov/projectopportunity, and that gets the process started. We have a great partnership with Lawyers Clearinghouse and that’s our legal partner who [is] supplying the volunteer lawyers to meet with residents and to thoroughly review their CORI options. So we’re trying to be as inclusive and expansive as possible, trying to turn over every stone in terms of industry, but also make sure we’re pulling in all of our partners, whether it be the Suffolk County DA’s office, whether it be entities like our local courthouses and entities like STRIVE Boston — just trying to make sure that we are inclusive and expansive so that everyone recognizes that this is a free opportunity for them.

Mathieu: Director Faulk, that brings us to the greater conversation happening here in Boston and all over the country: how to break systemic racism. The fact is, criminal records disproportionately impact people of color.

Faulk: Absolutely, so we recognize that some of the unintended consequences of policy has been really just overpolicing and over criminalization of Black and brown communities, largely stemming from the war on drugs, where a lot of folks who were dealing with addiction were then criminalized. That created a massive population of folks who have these CORI records. And recognizing that in this time that we’re living in, we’re looking at, How do we have a real public health approach to closing some of these gaps? And that’s what we recognize in our Project Opportunity. Mayor Walsh has made the idea around second chances not only foundational in his life, it’s been foundational in his tenure as mayor. So this program is just a continuation of that.

Mathieu: Another story about second chances. There are efforts underway to dismantle systemic racism in city government. The mayor recently appointed a chief equity officer. The City Council is taking its own path. But I wonder, Director Faulk, as a man of color who works inside this very system, what are your thoughts on this? How much work does Boston need to do?

Faulk: I’m someone who was born and raised in Roxbury. I’m 38 years old. I’ve been very fortunate in my life that I don’t have a CORI. Well, I actually do have a CORI; I had a trespassing charge when I was 14. But I also had friends who were 16 [and] 17 who were caught with a bag of weed, and that one bag of weed really derailed their entire lives.

So I recognize what the landscape has been in the city of Boston and how so many of us could get caught up in the system so easily. Boston has a long history of issues around racism that impact Black and brown communities, but I think the first step is for us to acknowledge them, and then the second step is make sure that we’re listening to the community to fully address them.

And Project Opportunity is continuing our goal in trying to address the systemic racism and recognizing that the only way we will be able to undo some of the past missteps is to be able to be really at the forefront around policies. This is our attempt to do [something for] those impacted by CORI and impacted by criminal record. So we’re just trying to continue that process [and] recognize that we have a lot of work to do.

But I think Boston can be a leader, especially in this time. We are in a unique times. This is historic times around making sure Black life is valued in policy, and I think we are on the path. And I feel good about being an administrator and being able to lead such an effort.



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Strike | News, Sports, Jobs

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Members of Operating Engineers Local 324 picket in front of Road Machinery & Supplies Co. in Negaunee on Monday. Twelve employees, who work in the service department of RMS as mechanics, have been in negotiations with the distributor of construction and mining equipment for nearly a year. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

NEGAUNEE — Motorists traveling on U.S. 41 between Marquette and Negaunee may notice a group of picketers outside Road Machinery & Supplies Co. in Negaunee.

Members of Operating Engineers Local 324 are striking for a fair contract, union spokesman Matt Bourdage said.

Twelve union members, who are employed as mechanics in the service department at RMS, have been in negotiations with the local distributor of construction and mining equipment for over 10 months, he said.

“We are on strike until we get a contract,” Bourdage said. “We have been in pretty tough contract negotiations for, well, Aug. 1 will be a year now. So we have been working for almost a year without a contact and we want a contract with a fair retirement before we come back to work.”

When contacted on Monday afternoon, RMS officials declined to comment on the matter.

Members of the union will picket the business until a contract can be negotiated, Bourdage said.

“If members of any other union want to stand in solidarity with us and fight this fight, they are more than welcome,” he said.

According to its website, Operating Engineers 324 represents 14,000 individuals across Michigan who are employed in the construction trades as heavy equipment operators. The union’s members also include those involved in commercial and public building maintenance, bus drivers, hospital staff and hospitality workers.

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