The Latest: Biden unveiling $1.9T coronavirus economic plan | World News

WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden is unveiling a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to speed vaccines, revive the economy and reopen schools.

He plans to formally introduce the proposal, dubbed the “American Rescue Plan,” on Thursday evening from Wilmington, Delaware.

Ahead of that announcement, Biden officials said the economic aid would help sustain Americans through the vaccination process, but it would also provide a possible springboard for a stronger recovery once the pandemic wanes. More than $400 billion would go toward vaccinations, testing, public health jobs, reopening schools and family leave benefits, creating the infrastructure to achieve 100 million vaccinations in 100 days and even more going forward.

Eligible Americans would receive an additional $1,400 in direct payments. Unemployment insurance would pay an additional $400 weekly through September. The plan would also extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium through September. It would expand tax credits for children and child care, in addition to providing aid for child care providers. The federal minimum wage would grow to $15 an hour, up from $7.25 currently.

The plan would offer $20 billion in aid to public transit agencies, as well as grants and loans to small businesses.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus plan will stress vaccines, masks in a speech on Thursday night. California counties want more coronavirus vaccine from Gov. Newsom. President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club’s failure to enforce Palm Beach County’s mask ordinance at New Year’s Eve bash results in warning but no fine.

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas has distributed more than 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday as the state ramps up mass vaccination efforts while hospitals grapple with record numbers of patients.

Texas, the nation’s second-most populous state with nearly 30 million people, has boosted shot efforts in the last week by shifting doses to mass distribution centers that can handle thousands per day. State health records show 1,021,511 doses given with 132,396 people fully vaccinated.

The Republican governor called it the “biggest vaccination effort we have ever undertaken,” but refused to order new lockdowns even amid rising numbers of new cases and hospitalizations.

State health officials say Texas had more than 14,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals and its death toll has passed 30,000.

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HELENA, Mont. — Republican leaders in Montana’s Legislature are refusing to require lawmakers to wear masks while meeting with legislative staffers in their offices to discuss bill drafts or other issues.

The Legislature’s COVID-19 response panel met Thursday to further discuss rules to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at the state Capitol.

House Minority Leader Kim Abbott proposed a mandate, rather than an agreement, that lawmakers wear masks in legislative staff offices. She said she’s heard anecdotal reports that it’s not always happening.

The panel chair is Senate President Pro Tem Jason Ellsworth and he called the motion “wordsmithing.” It was rejected on a 6-2 party line vote.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina will now allow medical students, retired nurses and other qualified professionals to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says the temporary rule change is to make sure the state has enough people trained to administer the shots once the vaccine becomes more widely available.

Health officials say the state is currently receiving about 64,000 doses weekly from the federal government. The limited number of available doses has frustrated South Carolinians as the state opened up vaccine access to those 70 and older this week, leading to a rush for shots. Some hospitals ran out of vaccine spots for seniors just hours after they opened up appointments.

South Carolina has 924 sites currently enrolled in the federal program to administer the vaccine. The health department said there are 286 currently activated.

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PARIS — All of France will be under a stricter curfew starting Saturday at 6 p.m. for at least 15 days to fight spread of the coronavirus.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex also announced strict new controls for those arriving in France from countries outside the European Union. Starting Monday, they must produce a PCR test with negative results and self-isolate for seven days followed by a new, negative test.

France wants to coordinate a response with the European Union about arrivals from EU countries, he says. The French government is trying to avoid a third lockdown with partial measures like curfews the prime minister calls both “preventative” and “reactive.”

Most regions were under an 8 p.m. curfew, but now “everyone must be home at 6 p.m.,” Castex says. That means that stores must close by then. Bars and restaurants have been closed for months.

The average contamination rate for the coronavirus stands at about 16,000 people per day. France has one of the highest death counts in Europe, at more than 69,000, and ranks No. 7 in the world.

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MADRID — Spain reported 35,878 confirmed coronavirus cases and 201 new deaths from the coronavirus.

That increases the totals to 2.2 million cases and more than 53,000 since the start of the pandemic.

Fernando Simón, who heads Spain’s health emergency coordination center, is at odds with independent experts who say the spiraling contagion requires a stricter lockdown.

Spain’s 14-day cases for 100,000 inhabitants surged to 522 on Thursday.

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ROME — Italy’s vaccination program is moving faster than expected, with those over age 80 receiving their first injection this week instead of early February.

Health officials say by Thursday evening, more than 900,000 people in Italy had received a shot of one of the two vaccines so far approved for use by the European Union. The vaccination process first began with doctors, nurses and other health services.

The government’s special commissioner for the pandemic, Domenico Arcuri, says if EU approval comes later this month for a third manufacturer’s vaccine, as many as 50 million people in Italy could be vaccinated this year. Italy has a population of 60 million.

Italy on Thursday registered 17,246 new infections, raising the total to 2.3 million confirmed cases. There were 522 confirmed deaths since Wednesday, bringing the overall known death toll to 80,848, one of the highest in Europe and sixth highest in the world.

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PHOENIX — Arizona is expanding its COVID-19 vaccination program with plans for opening another state-run site in metro Phoenix.

Officials say the vaccination site will open Feb. 1 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium near the Phoenix-Tempe border, with registration starting Tuesday.

The state’s vaccination program was slow to get off the ground. But officials say the first state-run large site, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, is administering thousands of doses daily.

The state announced Wednesday that people 65 and older starting can sign up next week to get vaccinated. Arizona had the worst state diagnosis rate the past week, with one of every 107 people diagnosed with the coronavirus from Jan. 6 to Wednesday.

Arizona on Thursday reported 7,311 confirmed cases and 182 more deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 649,040 cases and 10,855 deaths.

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CHICAGO — The city of Chicago is opening six mass coronavirus vaccination sites that expect to deliver roughly 25,000 weekly shots once fully operational.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot visited a new site Thursday at a community college. Most sites will be at City Colleges of Chicago campuses. All six sites are expected to open later this month. Lightfoot says Chicago needs far more doses from the federal government so more people can be vaccinated quickly

Chicago has been receiving fewer doses each week, she says. From about 38,000 first doses two weeks ago to about 32,000 last week. Lightfoot says at the current rate, it’ll take 1.5 years to vaccinate all Chicagoans.

Currently, shots are going to health care workers and residents and employees of long-term care facilities. The next phase includes residents age 65 and older and essential workers, but health officials haven’t said when that will begin.

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WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York says he has the coronavirus.

He’s the latest House member to report testing positive since dozens of lawmakers huddled together for protection during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Espaillat says in a release that he has no symptoms, is quarantining at home and will keep up his work representing his Upper Manhattan district.

It’s not clear where and when the lawmakers caught the virus. But the Capitol’s attending physician has told House members they might have been exposed to someone in the room who had the virus. At least three other House members have tested positive.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has received the vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac company.

He announced it on messaging apps in a bid to encourage others to get the shot, adding a smiley face emoji. He called on other political leaders and legislators to get inoculated to set an example.

An image shared by his office showed Erdogan getting the shot with the sleeve of his black t-shirt pulled up.

Turkey rolled out its vaccination program against COVID-19 on Thursday, a day after Turkish authorities gave the green light for the vaccine’s emergency use.

Some 256,000 health care workers received shots on the first day of the inoculation program. Erdogan said he expects a Turkish-developed vaccine to be available in May.

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WILMINGTON, Del. — A coronavirus action plan from President-elect Joe Biden centers on a mass vaccination campaign and closer coordination among all levels of government.

The plan comes as more than 380,000 Americans have died.

Biden hopes his multidimensional strategy will put the country on the path to recovery, aiming for 100 million vaccinations in his administration’s first 100 days.

The nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start. About 10.3 million people received the first of two shots, although more than 29 million doses have been delivered.

As part of the plan to be unveiled in a speech Thursday evening, Biden will ask Americans to recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings.

A record of more than 4,400 deaths were reported on Tuesday.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Flights were delayed when an air traffic control center near Jacksonville, Florida, closed for several hours for extensive cleaning after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus.

Jacksonville International Airport tweeted Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration’s flight-control center in Hilliard would be closed “into the evening which may cause extensive delays and/or cancellations.” It advised passengers to check with their airlines regarding delayed flights.

It was the second time this year that this center has been closed for cleaning due to the coronavirus. Overall, the Hilliard facility has had 12 personnel testing positive since June, and the nearby Jacksonville International Airport tower also has had a dozen infections, according to data provided by the FAA.

The FAA data show hundreds of coronavirus infections among air traffic control workers since the pandemic began.

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BANGKOK — Thai health authorities say they’ll maintain strict coronavirus regulations imposed after a surge in cases last month in a province next to Bangkok.

Thailand had just 4,008 confirmed cases of the infection on Dec. 1. But after the surge — discovered among migrant workers and another among attendees of illegal gambling dens — spread to 60 of Thailand’s 77 provinces, the total increased to 11,262 on Thursday.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for Thialand’s COVID-19 Situation Administration, said measures to combat the spread of the virus would be maintained at least until the end of January.

Restrictions vary by province according to the severity of the threat. Those include lockdown measures and mandated closures of public areas. Generally, monitoring and enforcement of social distancing has been stepped up, and events drawing crowds banned.

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LOS ANGELES — California counties are asking for more coronavirus vaccine as the state added a potential 4 million people to those eligible for the doses.

State public health officials followed federal guidance Wednesday by announcing that people 65 and older could get it. But Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents and an epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, says it can’t do that before inoculating some 800,000 health care workers first.

California received more than 2.4 million vaccine doses but only a third have been used. The state aims to administer 1.5 million doses by Friday.

Nearly 50 state lawmakers signed a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for counties to receive supply updates and a “reliable” four-week forecast on expected vaccine quantities.

They also asked the governor to expand authorization for who can administer doses to include nursing students, retired medical workers, firefighters and National Guard members with medical training.

Newsom says the state’s priority is to deliver vaccines “as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences.”

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