The Latest: Trump’s payroll tax plan means big repayment

National News

President Donald Trump speaks at a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s payroll tax deferral would provide workers with a modest bump in take-home pay the rest of this year, but they’d face a big tax bill next year when repaying the money.

That’s according to an analysis Tuesday by a coalition of major business groups calling the policy “unfair” to workers and “unworkable” for employers.

A worker making $75,000 a year would get nearly $179 more every two weeks for the rest of this year. But that same worker would owe about $1,610 next year. A worker making $35,000 would get about $83 more biweekly the rest of this year and owe just over $750 next year.

The more than 30 business groups behind the analysis, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, want the Trump administration to make it optional for employers to offer workers a deferral of their Social Security payroll taxes. Or the group requests Congress permanently forgive repayment.

Trump says he’s ordered the tax deferral to boost an economy stricken by the coronavirus.


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

— Germany’s Merkel against relaxing of virus rules

— WHO: Herd immunity requires effective vaccine

— South Africa loosens coronavirus restrictions

— Paris mandates masks at all workplaces. The mandate takes effect Sept. 1 after a surge of coronavirus cases.

— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gained a national following through his management of the coronavirus pandemic. Now he’s writing a book about it.

— Britain rates of depression doubled among adults during lockdown. The Office for National Statistics says 19.2% of adults were likely to be experiencing some sort of depression in June.


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


HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PARIS — France will mandate masks in all workplaces, from the Paris business district to factories in the provinces.

The Labor Ministry says the mandate takes effect Sept. 1. It makes France one of the few countries in to require workers to wear masks on the job, though they’re routinely worn in many Asian countries and increasingly required in public places.

The move came after France’s daily infection count increased past 3,000 over the weekend for the first time since May. The number of virus patients in hospitals, intensive care units and nursing homes is starting to inch up again.

France currently has among the highest infection rates in Europe. It already requires masks in public indoor spaces such as restaurants and many areas outdoors.

France has more than 256,000 cases of the coronavirus and more then 30,400 deaths, seventh highest in the world.


MIAMI — A Florida school district has quarantined 231 students from two high schools, citing exposure to the coronavirus.

Martin County School District says the students at South Fork High School in Stuart, Florida, and Jensen Beach High School will switch to remote learning for 14 days. District spokeswoman Jennifer DeShazo says those ordered to stay home included members of a swim team and students who traveled on one of the bus routes.

The district in the county north of West Palm Beach had already quarantined some students at three elementary schools after reopening seven days ago. Other schools in other areas of the state began to reopen this week.

On Tuesday, there were 5,485 hospitalized patients compared to 5,657 on Monday. Those numbers have been declining since highs of 9,500 on July 23.


LONDON — Ireland is tightening coronavirus restrictions through mid-September following a sharp spike in new infections.

The government urged people to avoid public transport and to wear face masks on private transport when households are mixed. It also says sports events will take place behind closed doors and that visits to people’s homes should be limited to six people.

The country’s premier, Micheal Martin, says there is evidence that “a large number of people are acting as if the virus is no threat to them or that it is OK to take a few more risks.”

The Irish government says 190 new coronavirus cases were confirmed Tuesday, way above the recent average.


PHOENIX — State health officials on Tuesday reported 915 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 23 deaths.

That increased the state’s totals to 194,920 confirmed cases and 4,529 deaths.

The seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases and daily deaths in Arizona dropped over the past two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press.

The cases average went from 2,239 on Aug. 3 to 926 on Aug. 17. The deaths average went from 68 on Aug. 3 to 50 on Aug. 17.

Wind from a monsoon storm Monday night ripped apart an outdoor coronavirus testing site in a parking lot in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb. The storm tore down tents and blew over tables at the Embry Womens Health site at Mesa Community College. No injuries were reported.


HARTFORD, Conn. — For-profit nursing homes in Connecticut had about 60% more coronavirus cases and associated deaths per licensed bed than nonprofit facilities in the state.

That’s according to a third-party review of how the state, its nursing homes and assisted living centers prepared for and responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

The report from the research firm Mathematica in Princeton, New Jersey, was released Tuesday. It also found early responses to the coronavirus outbreak were “undermined by gaps in scientific knowledge about the how the virus spreads.”

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont ordered the third-party examination in June. It included input from the operators of the long-term care facilities, unions representing the workers, patients, health experts and others.


ROME — Italy reported 403 new coronavirus cases and five deaths on Tuesday.

There were 50 percent more tests performed on Monday, with nearly 54,000 swab tests carried out in the last 24 hours. Many were administered at Italy’s airports and ports on vacationers returning from trips abroad.

Last week, Italy made coronavirus testing mandatory for those who spent time Spain, Malta, Croatia and Greece in the last 14 days.

Italy has 254,636 confirmed cases and 34,405 confirmed deaths, sixthmhighest in the world.


RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s Health Regulatory Agency authorized a clinical coronavirus vaccine trial for a candidate produced by the Jansen Cilag branch of Johnson & Johnson.

The phase 3 study foresees 60,000 volunteers overall, with 7,000 of those in seven Brazilian states.

Brazil has more than 108,000 confirmed deaths and more than 3,350,000 confirmed cases, second highest in the world in both categories.

The vaccine candidate produced will be the fourth tested in the country. Brazil also has approved tests for versions developed by Oxford University, China’s Sinovac company and by Germany’s BioNtech with Pfizer.


MEXICO CITY — A Mexican-made and designed ventilator, meant to overcome an international shortage of the machines and at a lower price, is in service at hospitals.

A device that operates with bottled oxygen, the ventilator known by the name of “VSZ-20-2” has its own back-up power source. It was designed at the Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition and made by a consortium of about 15 companies.

Dr. Guillermo Domínguez Cherit, the institute’s head of critical care, says the machine is helping treat nine patients. Cherit says “this is a ventilator that was designed especially for the pandemic.”

Mexico had previously scrambled to import the machines, but Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard says now that won’t be necessary.


BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho hospital is reporting the state’s first case of a pediatric inflammatory illness associated with the coronavirus.

St. Luke’s Regional Health System spokeswoman Anita Kissée says a 7-year-old child with no known previous health conditions has been diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, a potentially serious disease sometimes called MIS-C. The child is in the pediatric intensive care unit in Boise.

The illness is newly recognized and believed to be a delayed complication of coronavirus infection. It often causes a fever, evidence of inflammation and severe illness involving more than two organs.

Idaho has nearly 28,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 273 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


BERLIN — The international Red Cross says there have been at least 600 attacks and threats against health workers and patients across more than 40 countries during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Geneva-based aid group says it gathered 611 first-hand accounts of “violence, harassment or stigmatization against health care workers, patients and medical infrastructure in relation to COVID-19 cases” between Feb 1. and July 31.

More than one in five incidents involved physical assaults. The International Committee of the Red Cross says the actual number of incidents is likely much higher.

It says fear of the spread of COVID-19, grievances sparked by a relative’s death and restrictions on burial rituals played a role in some of the incidents.


HONOLULU — The world’s largest maritime military exercise is scheduled to be held this week in Hawaii but scaled back because of the coronavirus.

Hawaii Public Radio reports the 27th Rim of the Pacific international military exercise will be considerably smaller. The exercise will consist of training exclusively at sea with only minimal land personnel to prevent potential spread of the virus.

The shift is a significant change from past exercises that included large, land-based training events, shore leave for sailors and numerous social gatherings.


ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s health ministry says it has temporarily removed a hospital in the northern city of Thessaloniki from the designated coronavirus treatment facilities after 14 staff members tested positive.

A ministry statement says the hospital would be disinfected and all staff members tested. It says staff members returning to all Greek health facilities from summer holiday leave would be tested for the virus.

Also Tuesday, Greek health authorities reported the largest single-day number of coronavirus cases at 269. That brings the total to nearly 7,500 confirmed cases and 230 deaths


BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out against further relaxing coronavirus restrictions in the country, citing the recent rise in the number of new cases.

Merkel says Germany is “in the middle of the pandemic” and called on Germans to respect social distancing and hygiene rules.

Speaking after a meeting with the governor and ministers of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, Merkel expressed support for uniform rules for some aspects of the pandemic.

Germany’s 16 states largely set their own rules, often leading to a mix-mash of differing regional regulations that have prompted confusion and frustration in the country of 83 million.

Merkel and Gov. Armin Laschet say possible future lockdowns shouldn’t unduly burden children and students.

Germany’s disease control agency on Tuesday reported 1,390 new confirmed coronavirus cases.


HELSINKI — Finnish prime minister says she has self-isolated and will take a corona test due to mild symptoms of an infection.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin tweeted on Tuesday: “I have mild respiratory symptoms. I will take a corona test and work remotely.”

The 34-year-old Marin, who assumed Finland’s top job in December and was the world’s youngest serving head of government at the time, told the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat that her child attended a daycare center after a summer break.

In recent weeks, the number of corona cases have gradually increased in Finland. Last week, the government for the first time recommended the use of masks in public.

Finland, a nation of 5.5 million, has so far recorded 7,776 confirmed corona cases with 334 deaths.


LONDON — The British government is scrapping a public health agency that’s taken some of the blame for the country’s uneven response to the coronavirus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the work of Public Health England will become part of a new body, the National Institute for Health Protection, which will guard against infectious diseases and biosecurity threats.

The new institute will be headed by Dido Harding, a former telecoms executive who leads the much-criticized test and trace program set up in recent months to help contain the coronavirus.

Hancock says it can learn from public health agencies in South Korea and Germany, which have been praised for their strong response to the pandemic.

Public Health England has been criticized for taking an overly centralized approach to testing and contact-tracing and abandoning widespread testing for the virus in mid-March because it lacked the diagnostic capacity.

Its defenders argue that Britain’s Conservative governments have been cutting public health budgets for years, leaving the country ill-prepared to deal with the pandemic.


ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s Civil Protection deputy minister says tourism is not to blame for a recent increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the country.

Nikos Hardalias says the increase in confirmed infections was due mainly to a domestic spread from large gatherings and lax adherence to protective measures. Hardalias says 83% of the new cases were attributable to domestic transmission and 17% to arriving travelers.

New daily cases above 200 for several days have alarmed health officials and led to new restrictive measures imposed in certain areas, including popular holiday islands.

Hardalias says more than 2 million people had arrived in the country during the tourist season, with more than 319,000 coronavirus tests carried out on arriving travelers. Of those, 615 were positive.

Greece has a total of 7,222 confirmed cases and 230 deaths in the country of 11 million people.


LONDON — The World Health Organization says the planet is nowhere near the amount of coronavirus immunity needed to induce herd immunity, where enough of the population would have antibodies to stop the spread.

Herd immunity is typically achieved with vaccination and most scientists estimate at least 70% of the population must have antibodies to prevent an outbreak. But some experts have suggested that even if half the population had immunity, there might be a protective effect.

WHO’s emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan largely dismissed that theory at a press briefing on Tuesday, saying we should not live “in hope” of achieving herd immunity.

“As a global population, we are nowhere close to the levels of immunity required to stop this disease transmitting,” he said. “This is not a solution and not a solution we should be looking to.”

Most studies conducted to date have suggested only about 10% to 20% of people have antibodies.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to WHO’s director-general, added that any mass immunization campaign with a COVID-19 vaccine would aim to cover far more than 50% of the world’s population.

“We don’t want to be wrong,” he said. “You want to plan to get high coverage and not get lulled into a dangerously seductive suggestion that (the herd immunity threshold) could be low.”


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