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Infectious Diseases

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Georgia’s high-stakes primary election appeared to be running smoothly with no reports of major problems. Tuesday's election was the first statewide test of new voting restrictions passed by Republicans after the 2020 presidential election. A record number of ballots cast during the early voting period in the three weeks before Election Day helped ease the strain at polling places. There were no reports of long lines or widespread equipment problems by Tuesday afternoon despite hotly contested GOP primary races for governor and U.S. Senate. Voting in Alabama and Arkansas, the other two states holding regular primaries, also appeared to be problem-free.

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is facing eight challengers in Alabama's Republican primary Tuesday, and the question is whether a hard swing to the right will help her avoid a runoff. Ivey has repeated former President Donald Trump's false claims about election theft in 2020, and she aired a commercial showing her pulling a pistol out of her purse. But challengers including former Trump ambassador Lindy Blanchard and Tim James accuse her of not being conservative enough. A runoff will be held June 21 if no one gets at least 50% of the vote. The eventual GOP nominee will face a longshot Democratic challenger in the general election.

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Surges in COVID-19 cases are causing disruptions in many parts of the U.S., but as the school year wraps up and Americans prepare for their summer vacations, many people have returned to their pre-pandemic routines. Case counts are as high as they’ve been since mid-February, and those figures are likely a major undercount because of unreported positive home test results and asymptomatic infections. An influential modeling group at the University of Washington in Seattle estimates that only 13% of cases are being reported to U.S. health authorities. Yet vaccinations have stagnated and elected officials nationwide seem loath to impose new restrictions.

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A man wanted in an apparently unprovoked fatal shooting aboard a New York City subway train is under arrest. The development Tuesday came hours after authorities posted Andrew Abdullah's name and photo on social media and implored the public to help find him. The 25-year-old is expected to face charges in the death of 48-year-old Daniel Enriquez. Enriquez was shot to death while heading to brunch Sunday morning. The fatal shooting came about six weeks after 10 people were wounded in an attack on another subway train.

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Accusations have flown for months over who's to blame for Ohio’s redistricting protracted redistricting predicament. It's been a mess of a political mapmaking fight that has left the state with unsettled political boundaries and no date for its Statehouse primaries. Voting rights groups blame Statehouse Republicans. Lawmakers blame national Democrats and the Ohio Supreme Court. The court implicitly faults the Ohio Redistricting Commission. Commissioners fault census delays. An Associated Press review settled on one key finding: After hundreds of days of time with government statisticians, lawyers, judges and politicians, the public was the group given the least time with the maps.

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U.S. climate envoy John Kerry says the U.S. and China are making progress on putting together a group to work toward quickly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Kerry told The Associated Press during the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos that the the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases are close to agreeing on the structure of the group and how decisions would be made. He says “we are going to work on the practicalities of how we move faster” to reduce emissions. Kerry noted that “maybe we can help with technology of some kind to help China move faster. Maybe China could help us better understand some things we could do better.”

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A mistrial has been declared in the case of a Maine man charged with threatening to kill Jewish people because a witness tested positive for COVID-19. Federal authorities charged 25-year-old Brian Dennison of Buxton with one count of transmitting a threat through interstate communication because of a tweet that threatened Jewish people during Rosh Hashanah in 2021. Levy declared a mistrial after a federal agent learned he'd tested positive for the coronavirus during a court recess before completing his testimony. Dennison has pleaded not guilty.

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The families of two girls who were abducted and attacked 46 years ago by a Georgia man who was scheduled to be put to death last week say they’re “deeply upset and disappointed” that the execution was halted by a judge. Virgil Delano Presnell Jr. had been scheduled to die May 17. He killed 8-year-old Lori Ann Smith and raped her 10-year-old friend after abducting them in May 1976 as they walked home from school in Cobb County, outside Atlanta. In a statement provided exclusively to The Associated Press, the families say they've "suffered this trauma repeatedly and waited patiently for 46 years.” A judge stayed Presnell's execution last week in response to an emergency motion. The execution warrant was valid for seven days; it expired at noon Tuesday.

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World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was confirmed by the U.N. health agency’s member countries for a second five-year term on Tuesday. No other candidate challenged him for the post amid the ongoing difficulties of responding to the devastating coronavirus pandemic. Tedros is a former government minister from Ethiopia. He has directed WHO throughout its management of the global response to COVID-19 and withstood occasionally withering criticism over its multiple missteps. He is the first African to lead the agency and the only director-general not qualified as a medical doctor.

A man has been found guilty of fatally shooting a University of Wisconsin physician and her husband, who were the parents of his girlfriend, and leaving their bodies at the school’s arboretum. Jurors in Dane County on Monday convicted 20-year-old Khari Sanford of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the March 2020 shooting deaths of Dr. Beth Potter and Robin Carre. Testimony and the criminal complaint pointed to friction among the couple, their daughter and Sanford over coronavirus restrictions Potter wanted them to follow in their Madison home in the early days of the pandemic, as well as Sanford’s feelings that his girlfriend’s parents didn’t respect him. Sanford’s public defender says there was no evidence that anyone perceived Sanford as dangerous.

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U.S. births bumped up last year, but the number of babies born was still lower than before the coronavirus pandemic. The 1% increase was a bit of a rebound from 2020. The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic witnessed the largest one-year drop in births in nearly a half-century. Government officials think last year's uptick reflects pregnancies that were postponed during the early days of the pandemic. Deliveries were way down in January last year, but improved as the year went on. But the government report released Tuesday shows there were still about 86,000 fewer births last year than in 2019.

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Across Britain, food banks and community food hubs that helped struggling families, older people and the homeless during the pandemic are now seeing soaring demand. Skyrocketing energy and food bills are pushing millions deeper into financial hardship, and increasing numbers cannot afford to buy groceries. The cost of food and fuel in the U.K. has risen sharply since late last year, with inflation reaching the highest level in 40 years. In April, millions of families saw their annual energy bill jump by 54%, and another energy price hike is expected in October. Britain's Conservative government has been criticized for not doing enough to ease the crisis.

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Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy are warning of burnout among the nation’s health care staff after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their warning comes amid predictions of severe worker shortages in the years ahead. Harris and Murthy visited Children’s National Hospital in Washington on Monday. Murthy unveiled a new report sounding the alarm over a projected shortage of 3 million essential low-wage health workers in the next five years, and a shortage of nearly 140,000 doctors by 2033.

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Kansas is moving to provide $50 million in relief to businesses forced by state or local officials to shut down or restrict their operations during the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. The Republican-controlled Legislature on Monday approved a bill setting up the new program and sent it to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on lawmakers’ last scheduled day in session this year. The measure is aimed at small businesses and would allow them to receive up to $5,000 for 2020 and 2021 if state and local officials imposed COVID-19 restrictions. Many of the restrictions were lifted by the summer of 2020.

Argentina’s president and first lady will pay a fine of about $24,000 for hosting a party in July 2020 that violated quarantine orders the head of state himself had signed. Those prohibited group gatherings as a way to stem the spread of COVID-19. The fine will be in the form of a donation to Argentina's public health network. It will close a criminal case that was launched last year after photos emerged of the first lady’s birthday celebrations at a time when Argentines were largely forbidden from leaving their homes.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been shadowed by career-threatening scandal for months — but so far has escaped unscathed. This week he faces one more threat to his political future: a comprehensive report into lockdown-breaching parties in government offices that is expected to be published within days. Senior civil servant Sue Gray is due to release her findings on “partygate,” the scandal over gatherings in Johnson’s 10 Downing St. residence and nearby buildings during the pandemic. A hint of what the report might contain came Monday when broadcaster ITV published four photographs showing Johnson raising a glass in front of a group of people amid wine bottles and snacks. Critics said the photos proved Johnson had lied and should resign.

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In one of the busiest corridors for illegal border crossings, Cubans, Colombians and Venezuelans are often released to pursue asylum in the United States. Meanwhile, Hondurans struggle to be allowed to pursue asylum after entering the country. The opposite fortunes illustrate the dual nature of border enforcement under pandemic-era limits on seeking asylum, known as Title 42 authority. President Joe Biden wanted to end them Monday, but a federal judge in Louisiana issued a nationwide injunction that keeps them intact. Some nationalities are heavily affected by Title 42, while others aren't.

The longest-serving member of North Carolina’s current congressional delegation is recovering following a coronavirus diagnosis over the weekend. U.S. Rep. David Price of Chapel Hill wrote in a tweet that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday and that he was “experiencing mild cold-like symptoms.” The 81-year-old Price says he was vaccinated and boosted and would follow quarantining guidelines. Price has served in Congress almost continuously since 1987. He is not seeking reelection this fall for his Triangle-area 4th Congressional District. Other political notables in North Carolina testing positive recently include Attorney General Josh Stein and former Gov. Pat McCrory.

Tourists have returned to Florida in numbers that are surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Officials at Miami International Airport are projecting the “busiest Memorial Day weekend ever.” According to a news release sent Monday passenger traffic at the airport was up 17% over the last 30 days, compared to the same period in 2019. The airport is averaging 150,000 passengers a day compared to 126,000 in 2019. Similar growth in tourism is being seen statewide. Florida never had mandatory statewide mask mandates and was primarily open for businesses throughout the pandemic, even when the state was getting battered by the delta wave that killed thousands of Floridians last summer.

The European Union is extending looser limits on spending by member countries for an extra year in a bid to counter the economic fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine. The European Commission recommended Monday that the EU’s regular rules on national budget discipline be suspended through 2023. The 27-nation bloc’s executive arm says member countries need the longer fiscal flexibility to tackle heightened economic risks due to the Ukraine war. The EU deactivated its full controls on national debt levels in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the laxer framework was ending this year. Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni says the EU is still “far from economic normality.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is calling for “maximum” sanctions against Russia during a virtual speech at the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland. He said Monday that sanctions need to go further to stop Russia’s aggression, including an oil embargo, blocking all of its banks and cutting off trade with Russia completely. Zelenskyy also says Ukraine needs at least $5 billion per month. He said tens of thousands of lives could have been saved if Ukraine had “received 100% of our needs at once, back in February” in terms of weapons, funding, political support and sanctions against Russia.

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Beijing has extended orders for workers and students to stay home and ordered additional mass testing as cases of COVID-19 again rise in the city. Numerous residential compounds have restricted movement in and out, although conditions remain far less severe than in Shanghai, where millions of citizens have been under varying degrees of lockdown for two months. Beijing on Monday reported an uptick in cases to 99, up from a previous daily average of around 50. Despite China's small, local outbreaks, the central government has hewed to strict quarantine, lockdown and testing measures under its “zero-COVID" approach, even while the outside world is opening up.

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A doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group has described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe. In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, said the leading theory to explain the more than 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries including Britain, Spain, Switzerland, France, the U.S. and Australia was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium.

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