The latest AP stories on COVID-19 outbreak in the United States

Helena, Oct 14: Montana has set a new high for the number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 — 510.
The number reported Wednesday surpassed the previous high of 506 hospitalisations recorded Nov. 20, 2020, before any coronavirus vaccines were available.
Gov. Greg Gianforte issued a statement urging Montanans to get vaccinated, but added that “we will not mandate them.”
Meanwhile, the school district in Livingston, Montana, shifted its middle and high school classes to remote learning to slow the spread of the coronavirus among students. Officials said few students have used masks.
The school board voted Tuesday to have remote learning for its 740 middle and high school students until Oct. 25, because there are 17 coronavirus cases each at Park High School and Sleeping Giant Middle School.

Honolulu: Organisers are planning for the Honolulu Marathon even though it’s not clear government officials will allow it to be held in December.
Hawaii Public Radio reports marathon organisers are frustrated that Honolulu is easing pandemic-related restrictions on large events but neither Hawaii’s governor nor Honolulu’s mayor have provided clarity about whether the marathon can happen with the thousands of participants it normally draws.
In 2019, there were more than 33,000 runners in the Honolulu Marathon, including more than 16,000 from Japan.
Other large marathons in Boston and Chicago were held recently.
San Diego: Beleaguered business owners and families separated by a nonessential travel ban are celebrating after the Biden administration says it will reopen U.S. Land borders next month.
Travel across land borders from Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to workers whose jobs are deemed essential. New rules will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. Regardless of the reason starting in early November.
Unlike air travel, for which proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required before boarding a flight to enter the U.S., no testing will be required to enter the U.S. By land or sea, provided the travelers meet the vaccination requirement.
The 19-month coronavirus restrictions had economic, social and cultural impact, preventing shopping and cross-border family gatherings when relatives live on different sides of the border.
In Del Rio, Texas, Mexican visitors account for about 65% of retail sales, said Blanca Larson, executive director of the chamber of commerce and visitors bureau in the city of 35,000 people. “Along the border, we’re like more of one community than two different communities,” she said.
Fully vaccinated U.S. Citizens and permanent residents have been allowed into Canada since August, provided they have waited at least two weeks since getting their second vaccine dose and can show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. Mexico has not enforced coronavirus entry procedures for land travelers.

Portland: A federal judge declined Wednesday to intervene to stop Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ requirement that health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the month.
U.S. District Court Judge Jon Levy says none of the nine plaintiffs met the legal threshold for an injunction to halt the requirement to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 29 or lose their jobs.
Levy ruled the record indicates regular testing alone is not sufficient to stop the spread of the delta variant.
“The speed of the delta variant’s transmission outpaces test-result availability,” he wrote. Daily testing, he wrote, would require use of rapid tests that are both less accurate and in short supply.
The judge concluded the plaintiffs were unable to show an injunction was in the public interest or that they had a strong likelihood of prevailing if the lawsuit moves forward. The Liberty Counsel, which filed the lawsuit in August, vowed to appeal.
Boston: More than 800 people who work for Boston have been suspended without pay for failing to comply with the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate.
Acting Mayor Kim Janey announced in August the city’s roughly 18,000 employees would be required to either show proof of vaccination or submit to regular testing.
Janey says the suspended employees who didn’t meet Tuesday’s initial deadline came from five “public facing” agencies, including the public schools department, libraries, the center for youth and families, the disability commission and the age commission. Workers who continue to ignore the mandate face termination, she said. The school department alone has about 11,000 employees.
The city is making plans to deal with potential staffing shortfalls, which so far accounts for less than 1% of workers. Suspended employees can return to work by providing proof of a negative test.
Washington: The Food and Drug Administration is wrestling with how to decide on booster doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Other manufacturers want to offer boosters six months after primary vaccination. But J&J proposed a range of times, from two months to six months. In a review posted Wednesday, FDA scientists didn’t reach a firm conclusion, citing shortcomings with J&J’s data.
On Thursday and Friday, an FDA advisory panel will recommend whether to back boosters of both the J&J and Moderna vaccines. An extra dose of Pfizer’s vaccine already is available to certain Americans.
Pfizer and Moderna have provided the majority of U.S. COVID-19 vaccines. More than 170 million Americans have been fully vaccinated with those two-dose shots while less than 15 million Americans got the J&J shot.

Miami: Families of COVID-19 patients are asking hospitals to rethink visitor policies a year and a half into the pandemic, which has killed 716,000 people in the U.S.
The relatives say they’re being denied the right to be with loved ones at a crucial time. Doctors also are increasingly telling hospitals to relax restrictions to allow patients to see their families.
Hospitals in at least a half-dozen states have loosened restrictions governing visits to COVID patients. Others, however, are standing firm, backed by studies and industry groups that indicate such policies have been crucial to keeping hospital-acquired infections low.
The University of Utah Health this year announced its hospitals would allow up to two adult visitors for the entire hospital stay with protective equipment and recently vaccinated or recovered from the virus. Many hospitals have made exceptions only for coronavirus patients who are about to die. (AGENCIES)