The Latest: US officials to test blood thinners in patients

WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials have started two new studies to test various blood thinners to try to prevent strokes, heart attacks, blood clots and other complications in COVID-19 patients.

Doctors increasingly are finding blood clots throughout the bodies of many people who died from COVID-19 along with signs of damage they do to kidneys, lungs, blood vessels, the heart and other organs.

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Director Gary Gibbons says that hospitals have been giving seriously ill patients anti-clotting drugs to try to prevent this, but “quite frankly, we didn’t know how best to treat it” in terms of which drugs or doses to use and at what stage of illness.

The National Institutes of Health will coordinate a study in hospitalized patients comparing low and regular doses of the blood thinner heparin. The study will involve more than 100 sites around the world participating in a research effort with various governments, drug companies, universities and others to speed coronavirus therapies.

A second study in COVID-19 patients not sick enough to need hospitalization will test various strategies against placebo pills: baby aspirin or low or regular doses of the anti-clotting drug apixaban, sold as Eliquis in the United States. The goal there is preventing blood clots or hospitalization.

A third study starting later will test blood thinners for people who have recovered and no longer test positive for the coronavirus. Evidence is building that they may remain at higher risk for blood clots.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

— UN Secretary General appeals to donor countries for $35B for WHO virus initiatives

— New York City to fine subway, bus riders $50 for not wearing masks

— University of Wisconsin-Madison moves all classes online

— Drugmaker AstraZeneca says it halted a coronavirus vaccine study because woman who received the experimental shot developed severe neurological symptoms.

— The coronavirus pandemic is reshaping how the U.S. is observing the anniversary of 9/11. The terror attacks’ 19th anniversary will be marked Friday by dueling ceremonies at the Sept. 11 memorial plaza and a corner nearby in New York.

— Football returns with the start of the NFL season, but many worry that attending games or get-togethers will lead to a new surge in coronavirus infections.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. envoy for children in conflict says attacking schools and teachers seems to be an emerging tactic of war, particularly in Africa’s Sahel region, and the COVID-19 pandemic “has made things worse.”

Virginia Gamba told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that in the Sahel, “schools are targeted precisely because they are schools, and even more if they cater to girls.”

In Mali, for example, she said that in the last two years teachers were threatened and killed, education facilities demolished, and learning materials burned, leading to the closure of over 1,260 schools, “even before COVID-19.”

Similarly, the last 12 months in Burkina Faso have seen increasing attacks including the burning of schools and kidnapping of teachers “forcing 2,500 schools to shut down, depriving hundreds of thousands of children from education,” Gamba said.

Elsewhere in the world, especially in Asia and Latin America, she said, “we are also seeing an increase in attacks to education in indigenous communities.”

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JERUSALEM — Israel has reported more than 4,000 new coronavirus cases, setting a record as authorities consider imposing another full lockdown ahead of Jewish High Holidays.

The Health Ministry on Thursday reported at least 4,013 new cases. The number of patients in serious condition has risen to 488.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the country’s coronavirus czar and hospital directors have “waved a red flag” and warned that the situation could rapidly worsen, overwhelming hospitals and leading to “many severe cases and many deaths.”

But he appeared hesitant to push for another lockdown, saying “we need to take action sagaciously and not recklessly.”

Israel largely contained its initial outbreak after imposing sweeping closures last spring, bringing new daily cases down to double digits. But the number of cases has steadily risen since authorities abruptly reopened the economy in May.

The coalition government formed that month has been paralyzed by internal bickering, and political leaders are hesitant to take any action that could further harm the economy after the earlier lockdown caused a spike in unemployment.

Israel has reported a total of more than 144,000 cases and 1,075 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The Israeli military has recently stepped in to assist civilian authorities, and said it carried out a record number of tests on Thursday, which could account for some of the rise in cases.

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PARIS — French health authorities have reported on Thursday 9,843 infections from the coronavirus in 24 hours, the highest daily tally since the end of France’s lockdown in April.

France has seen a sharp uptick in new cases in recent weeks and hospitalizations have started to increase steadily, reaching now over 5,000 including 615 people in ICU.

Increased testing could partially account for higher numbers in recent weeks. But relaxed social distancing measures since summer holidays and a return to work sites by many are also seen as contributors.

Over 30,800 people have died in French hospitals and nursing homes since the start of the pandemic, among the highest rates in Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron is to hold a defense council focusing on the COVID-19 crisis on Friday that may lead to new measures to fight the spreading of the virus in the country.

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NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says he’ll ease public gathering restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Details on Louisiana’s version of “Phase Three” restrictions will come Friday. Edwards says a statewide mask mandate will remain in place.

Current regulations limit restaurants to 50% capacity for in-person dining, restrict bars to takeout and delivery only and place occupancy limits on gyms, salons and other businesses. Indoor gatherings above 50 people are banned.

Edwards has expressed concerns about another surge in cases following the return of students to school and college campuses and the recent Labor Day holiday weekend.

The percentage of positive tests dropped below 10%, a key threshold used by the state, on Aug. 10. It has declined steadily to just below 7% on Sept. 4, according to the state health department website.

Louisiana’s health department reported 499 new confirmed cases Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 155,419. Hospitalizations dropped to 762, the lowest since late June. The number of deaths rose by 21 to 4,991.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — New York City commuters who refuse to wear a mask on subways, trains and buses could be fined $50 starting Monday.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Patrick Foye says the agency just needs to file emergency regulations with the secretary of state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he hopes the penalty will help encourage New Yorkers to return to public transit by lowering the possibility of getting infected while using transit.

New York City Transit interim President Sarah Feinberg says compliance with New York’s mask requirement is “very high” on public transit at a time when ridership is picking up. But Feinberg says some passengers refuse to wear a mask even when offered one by a transit worker.

Officials say the penalty will be enforced by MTA police, but New York Police Department officers can also enforce it.

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MADRID — Spain’s top coronavirus expert sees the rate of infections in the country easing and “possibly” reaching a plateau after weeks of sharp increases brought restrictions across the country.

The transmission, especially in the Spanish capital, was worrying because it took off before the reopening of schools and the return to work after many left big cities for summer holidays.

“In recent days there is a slowdown in this increase, and we are possibly seeing a stabilization,” Dr. Fernando Simón, who heads Spain’s health emergency coordination center.

Spain is preforming more tests than most European countries, Simón says, adding most of those infected have no symptoms

The Health Ministry reported 4,137 new infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to more than 550,000, the highest in Europe. The confirmed death toll reached 26,699 on Thursday.

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LONDON — The World Health Organization’s chief scientist says the agency isn’t overly worried about the pause in the clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan called the pause in Oxford’s clinical trial “a wake-up call” to the global community to realize “there are ups and downs in research.”

Swaminathan says early data in human vaccine candidates so far has been “quite promising,” showing the shots trigger an immune response. But she says trials must be conducted in tens of thousands of people to determine whether a vaccine can safely protect people from infection.

“It could be that we see some results end of the year, it could be next year,” she said. “We have to be a little bit patient and wait for the results.”

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MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Madison is moving all classes online and quarantining students in two of its largest dorms amid rising cases of coronavirus.

Colleges across the country have been grappling with outbreaks in recent weeks after choosing to return to in-person instruction. System President Tommy Thompson decided to open campuses this fall despite the warning signs.

According to UW-Madison data, 1,044 students and 26 employees have tested positive for the virus since Aug. 6. The city-county public health department says there are at least 46 separate outbreaks currently tied to UW-Madison.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank ordered the 2,230 residents living in Sellery Hall and Witte Hall to quarantine for 14 days starting Wednesday, the State Journal reported.

Blank ordered an end to in-person classes through at least Sept. 25, saying, “before we started this semester, we knew that no plan would be risk-free in the current environment.”

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi wants the university send all undergraduates living on campus home to contain the coronavirus. UW-Madison says it doesn’t believe such a step is warranted at this time.

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LONDON — Scotland has joined England in limiting social gatherings to six people after a recent spike in coronavirus cases.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told Scottish lawmakers the new regulations will start Monday, along with England, and apply to gatherings in and out of the home.

Scotland’s restriction is perhaps more onerous as it applies to a maximum of two households. In England, six individuals from six different households can meet.

Sturgeon says there will be some limited exceptions, including sports and places of worship. Children under 12 will not count toward the limit.

The U.K.’s four nations, including Wales and Northern Ireland, moved into lockdown together in March. They’ve gone different ways in the past few months on an array of virus-related policies.

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ROME — Italy added another 1,597 coronavirus infections to its official tally as the health system ramps up testing of Italians returning from vacation.

Another 10 people with COVID-19 died in the past day, bringing Italy’s official toll to 35,587, the second highest in Europe after Britain.

While Italy is experiencing an increase in infections and hospitalizations like other European countries, the number of people needing intensive care has remained limited: On Thursday, 164 people were in the ICU nationwide, a four-fold increase over the lows of late July but still a fraction of the 4,000 people who were in the ICU during the springtime peak of Italy’s outbreak.

Spain, also facing a rebound in infections, had more than 1,100 people in the ICU on Wednesday.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates has recorded 930 new infections, a fivefold increase from the same time last month.

Dr. Farida al-Hosani, a spokeswoman at the Ministry of Health and Prevention, delivered a warning to residents Thursday to show more discipline, wear masks and keep social distance. The trend in infections comes after months of increased testing.

Schools in the UAE started in-person instruction last week. The coastal emirate of Dubai, under financial strain, welcomed back tourists to reopened hotels and restaurants.

The day’s figures, the highest in four months, brought the total numbers to 76,911 confirmed cases and 398 deaths.

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