The Latest: Georgia cases, hospitalizations creep upward

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ATLANTA — In Georgia, the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have been creeping upward over the past few weeks.

The state’s seven-day average of new cases stood at 743, up from 365 on June 25. Some 663 people were hospitalized with COVID – just over 4% of the state’s patient count and up from 423 on June 19, according to state data.

Both numbers are nowhere near January peaks, but health experts say they show the need for more people to get vaccinated. Only 39% of state residents are fully vaccinated, well below the rate in other states.

State health officials teamed up with the Atlanta Motor Speedway over the weekend to promote vaccination at a concert ahead of a NASCAR race.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Indonesia hits record 47,899 daily coronavirus cases

— Mississippi officials block COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

— Netherlands coronavirus cases soar among young

— Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Jens Spahn, Federal Minister of Health, and Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), from right, prepare for a picture in front of the entrance to the RKI in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Merkel visited the health ministry’s leading institute in the Corona pandemic at the invitation of Health Minister Spahn.

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch public health institute says coronavirus infections in the Netherlands skyrocketed by more than 500% over the last week.

The surge follows the scrapping of almost all lockdown restrictions and the reopening of night clubs in late June as the more contagious delta variant gained ground. The public health institute’s weekly update issued Tuesday showed that nearly 52,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week, up from 8,541 cases the previous week.

It reported that confirmed cases among people ages 18-24 increased 262%, followed by a 191% rise in ages 25-29. The caretaker prime minister of the Netherlands apologized Monday for last month’s relaxed lockdown and called it “an error of judgment.”

More than 46% of the Netherlands’ adult population is fully vaccinated, and more than 77% of adults have had at least one shot.

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JACKSON, MISS. — The Mississippi State Department of Health says the state agency is blocking comments on its Facebook posts because of a “rise of misinformation” about the coronavirus and vaccinations.

“The comments section of our Facebook page has increasingly come to be dominated by misinformation about COVID-19,” Director for the Mississippi State Department Health Office of Communications Liz Sharlot said in a statement.

Sharlot says allowing the comments that “mislead the public about the safety, importance and effectiveness of vaccination” is “directly contrary” to the state’s public health mission, which includes encouraging members of the public to be vaccinated against the virus.

The Department of Health posts multiple times each day on its Facebook page about COVID-19. Posts include information on numbers of new coronavirus cases in the state, details on pop-up vaccination clinics and transportation services to vaccination clinics for homebound residents.

Sharlot says the comments will be back when the department has “the resources to effectively curb misleading, harmful and off-topic commentary that disserves the public.”

The Mississippi State Department of Health officials announced Friday they are recommending people 65 and older and those with chronic underlying medical conditions to refrain from attending indoor mass social gatherings in coming weeks because of a rising number of coronavirus cases in the state.

Mississippi ranks among the last states for the total number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 at 31% fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health. Just over one million people in Mississippi, with a population of nearly 3 million, are fully vaccinated.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama, where coronavirus cases are on the rise, trails only Mississippi in low vaccination rates. Just under 31% of the state’s population is fully inoculated, according to the state.

Alabama’s overall positivity rate has increased each of the last two weeks, according to the state health agency. The Alabama Hospital Association says 290 people statewide were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, an increase of 75% since June 20. Even with the hike, hospitalizations are still less than 10% of the state’s peak in early January.

While some disease experts have said health officials might need to reimpose disease prevention measures, Gov. Kay Ivey pushed back against the idea last week. She encouraged citizens to get vaccinated.

Derek Moates, a researcher with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says recent testing showed about 70% of 48 random samples analyzed were the delta variant.

“Because we haven’t been compliant with everyone getting vaccinated, we’ve left the door open for the virus to learn everything it needs to get around that vaccine that we desperately worked so hard to get,” Moates says.

Alabama has ended all virus restrictions and precautions, meaning masks and social distancing are rarely seen in public across much of the state.

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is putting a dose of star power behind the administration’s efforts to get young people vaccinated against COVID-19.

The White House says 18-year-old actress, singer and songwriter Olivia Rodrigo will meet Wednesday with Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser.

Rodrigo will record videos about the importance of young people getting vaccinated. The videos will be featured on Rodrigo’s and White House social media. While the administration has had success vaccinating older Americans, young adults have shown less urgency to get the shots.

Rodrigo’s visit was first announced on Instagram with a photo of a youthful Biden, and the president asking for help getting other young people vaccinated.

Rodrigo replied: “I’m in. see you tomorrow at the white house!”

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BRUSSELS — European Union nations have approved the pandemic recovery plans of the bloc’s four biggest economies and eight other member countries.

The approval given Tuesday is seen as a bellwether for an economic revival from the unprecedented recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It will allow a dozen of the EU’s 27 members to start unlocking funds for the pre-financing of projects that are intended to put Europe on more solid economic footing while becoming greener and more digitally advanced.

The nations include the EU’s economic juggernauts — France, Germany, Italy and Spain — as well as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovakia.

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia has logged a record daily 47,899 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the Health Ministry.

The daily virus count topped 40,427 cases on Monday. Hospitals are already bursting beyond capacity and oxygen supplies are running out, leaving individuals to cope with caring for sick friends and relatives at home. The surge in newly cases is attributed to the highly transmissible delta variant.

At least 451 people who tested positive have died while self-isolating in their homes since last month, according to LaporCovid-19, an independent virus data group that keeps track of deaths at home. It noted many go unreported.

It says an average of 45 COVID-19 patients in self-isolation died at home each day in Jakarta, citing data from the Jakarta Health Agency.

Nationwide, there’s been more than 2.6 million cases and 68,219 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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MOSCOW — Daily coronavirus deaths in Russia hit a record 780 as the country continued to struggle with a surge of infections.

For the first time in the pandemic, the daily death toll exceeded 700 last Tuesday and remained at that level since. There were 24,702 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday. Daily new infections in Russia have soared from around 9,000 in early June to more than 25,000 last week.

Officials blame the surge on the spread of the delta variant and sought to boost vaccine uptake, which has remained lower than in many Western countries. As of Tuesday, 28.6 million Russians — or just 19.5% of the 146 million population — have received at least one shot of a vaccine.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force has reported over 5.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and a total of 144,492 deaths in the pandemic. However, reports by Russia’s state statistical service Rosstat, which tallies coronavirus-linked deaths, has retroactively revealed much higher numbers.

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LONDON — Scotland will relax many of its coronavirus restrictions starting next week, in line with England’s reopening timetable, but some measures such as the mandatory face masks will remain.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed Tuesday that Scotland’s successful vaccination rollout meant that restrictions could be eased as planned next Monday. Limits remain on the number of people who can gather indoors and outdoors. Face masks will be mandatory “for some time to come.”

The U.K.’s devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make many of their policy decisions independently of Johnson’s government.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Delta variant cases found in Turkey have more than doubled in one week, increasing to around 750 from 284 reported the previous week.

In comments carried by the state-run Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also reported a 20% increase in COVID-19 cases over the weekend from the previous.

The minister urged more people to get vaccinated, saying most of the increases were reported in areas where vaccination levels remain low.

The delta variant first detected in India is now present in 36 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, the minister says.

The country of 84 million has so far administered 58.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. Around 28% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated and 61% has received one dose, according to the Health Ministry.

Turkey eased most coronavirus restrictions this month, after the number of daily infections dropped to around 5,500 from the record 63,000 infections in mid-April.

The nation has registered more than 50,000 confirmed deaths and 5.5 million infections since the start of the outbreak.

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WASHINGTON — The nation’s top doctor says it’s “certainly possible” that Americans eventually will be advised to get a booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN that no decision had been made yet after a meeting Monday with Pfizer to discuss its request for approval of a third shot of its coronavirus vaccine. He added as officials make their assessments, “what we’re really looking for is clear evidence that immunity is waning,” such as breakthrough infections in the vaccinated population. He says that may trigger a recommendation for booster shots.

Murthy also says it’s “certainly very possible” a third shot will be recommended for immunocompromised or vulnerable Americans, such as those on chemotherapy.

“We are looking closely at that population,” he says, adding when the data suggests a booster dose is needed, it will be recommended.

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged her country’s citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying the more people who get the shot “the more free we will be again.”

Vaccination rates in Germany have slowed in recent weeks. About 58.7% of the population has received at least one shot and 43% are fully vaccinated.

Germany’s disease control agency said last week that the country should aim to vaccinate 85% of people ages 12-59 and 90% of people over 60 to prevent the delta variant causing a strong resurgence of coronavirus cases this autumn and winter.

Merkel, who has received both shots, called on Germans to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from serious illness, and linked higher immunization rates with the further easing of pandemic restrictions.

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MOSCOW — Russia’s sovereign fund has announced a deal with a top Indian vaccine manufacturer to produce the Russia-designed Sputnik V vaccine.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund said Tuesday its deal with the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, envisages annual production of over 300 million doses of the vaccine in India starting in September.

The RDIF that bankrolled Sputnik V and markets it abroad has previously negotiated Sputnik V production deals with manufacturers in several countries, including India, South Korea, Brazil, China, Turkey, as well as Belarus and Kazakhstan.

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PARIS — Nearly 1 million people in France made vaccine appointments in a single day, as the president cranked up pressure on everyone to get vaccinated to save summer vacation and the French economy.

An app that centralizes France’s vaccine and other medical appointments, Doctolib, announced Tuesday morning that 926,000 people had made appointments Monday, a daily record since the country rolled out coronavirus vaccines in December. People younger than 35 made up 65% of the new appointments.

President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday that vaccination would be obligatory for all health care workers by Sept. 15, and held out the possibility of extending the requirement to other parts of the population.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia shut down a mass vaccination center Tuesday after more than 200 medical staff and volunteers tested positive for the coronavirus.

Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said it was difficult to determine if the infections occurred at the center, while stressing that swift government action had stopped the cluster.

He urged people who were vaccinated at the center from Friday onward to isolate themselves for 10 days in case they develop symptoms.

The center was shut for deep sanitization and all its workers were being isolated. Khairy said the center will reopen Wednesday with a new team of medical workers.

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