DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit island park was transformed Monday into a drive-thru COVID-19 victims memorial as policy makers across the U.S. moved forward with plans to reopen schools and public spaces.
Hearses led processions around Belle Isle Park in the Detroit River, where more than 900 large photos of local coronavirus victims provided by relatives were turned into posters and staked into the ground.
As the death toll continued to rise around the world, officials announced plans to bring children back to school in Rhode Island, allow diners back inside New Jersey restaurants and let fans watch football inside an Iowa college stadium.
New COVID-19 cases were linked to travelers on vacation in Europe and the head of the World Health Organization cautioned against opening societies too quickly.
More than 847,000 people worldwide have perished from the virus and more than 25.3 million have contracted it, according to Johns Hopkins University — figures experts say understate the true toll due to limited testing, missed mild cases and other factors.
DETROIT COVID VICTIMS
The pictures in the Detroit park showed those who died of COVID-19 during better times: Darrin Adams at his college graduation; Daniel Aldape catching a fish; Shirley Frank with an Elvis impersonator; and Veronica Davis crossing the finish line at a race.
They had “dreams and plans and a story,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said at the park. “They weren’t finished yet.”
The region’s classical music station added gospel music to its playlist and read the names of the deceased.
Detroit’s director of arts and culture, Rochelle Riley, said officials hope the memorial will “wake people up to the devastating effect of the pandemic” and also “bring some peace to families whose loved ones didn’t have the funerals they deserved.”
The national COVID-19 death toll increased by 305 Monday, boosting the U.S. number of deaths to 183,258, according to Johns Hopkins.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said Labor Day weekend will be key in determining whether the U.S. gets a “running start” at containing the coronavirus this fall.
Fauci said Monday he has a “great deal of faith in the American people” to wash their hands, practice social distancing, wear masks, avoid crowds, and congregate outside during the weekend celebrations. He said it’s important to avoid a surge in coronavirus cases like those seen after the Memorial Day and July 4th holidays.
Faucci made the comments on a White House conference call with governors, the audio of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
Vice President Mike Pence said he shared Fauci’s confidence in the American people to celebrate the holiday responsibly.
President Donald Trump’s new pandemic adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas said he believes college football should be played this year even though many universities have canceled all fall sports.
Atlas, appearing with Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Monday in Tallahassee, said stadiums have plenty of room for distancing.
“The communities of college towns depend on these activities,” Atlas said.
Iowa State said it will allow about 25,000 season-ticket holders to attend that team’s opener in Ames against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 12 , despite rising COVID-19 numbers in Iowa.
Iowa State Athletic director Jamie Pollard told fans in a letter that they will be required to wear face coverings and that tailgating will be banned. Pollard asked that fans respect others’ wishes for distancing.
The decision came as Iowa continues to struggle with the virus spreading in several counties, including those with university campuses.
BACK TO SCHOOL
In Rhode Island, all but two public school districts have been given the go-ahead to resume in-person classes when schools reopen in two weeks.
Only Providence and the Providence suburb of Central Falls did not meet metrics required for reopening. The two cities have had the state’s highest coronavirus infection rates.
Gov. Gina Raimondo said reopening schools is not risk-free but that she expects children will return to the classroom.
In Northern California, California State University, Chico has moved the limited number of in-person classes it offered online after at least 30 people tested positive for the coronavirus three days after the fall semester started.
University President Gayle Hutchinson said students who returned to campus housing must leave by the weekend.
In New Jersey, indoor dining with limited capacity will resume at restaurants Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced.
Restaurants will be allowed 25% capacity under the new rules, which includes maintaining social distancing between tables.
The United Nations chief said the pandemic has deepened inequality between men and women and reversed “decades of limited and fragile progress on gender equality and women’s rights.”
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during a virtual town hall meeting on Monday that 70 to 90 per cent of healthcare workers are women but only 30 percent have decision-making roles,
He also said the pandemic has also impacted physical and mental health, education, and employment.
“Today, millions of teenage girls around the world are out of school, and there are alarming reports of an increase in teenage pregnancies in some countries,” he said. “We know from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that when teenage girls leave school, they may never return.”
The secretary-general also pointed to “disturbing reports from around the world of skyrocketing levels of gender-based violence, as many women are effectively confined with their abusers, while resources and support services are redirected.”
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
The head of the World Health Organization warned that reopening societies too quickly is a “recipe for disaster.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “the more control countries have over the virus, the more they can open up.”
Tedros cited four key points that countries, communities and individuals should focus on: preventing “amplifying events” as the virus thrives on clusters; protecting vulnerable groups; people taking steps individually to protect themselves; and finding, isolating, testing and caring for infection cases, while tracing and quarantining their contacts.
British authorities said 16 coronavirus cases have been linked to a flight that brought U.K. tourists back from Greece. All people who were aboard have been told to isolate themselves for two weeks.
Public Health Wales said it was contacting nearly 200 people who were on the Tui flight from the Greek island of Zante to Cardiff, Wales, last Tuesday.
Gwen Lowe of Public Health Wales said 30 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed over the last week among people who returned from Zante on several flights and that the number is expected to rise.
In Italy, the popular holiday destination of Sardinia had experienced a handful or fewer cases for weeks. But with clusters of infections linked to crowded discos or holiday-goers’ parties on the Mediterranean island, Sardinia registered 79 new infections on Monday.
Associated Press journalists from around the globe contributed to this report.
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