The Latest: Egypt sees spike before schools open next week

CAIRO — Egypt’s daily reported cases of coronavirus have surpassed 400 for the first time in months.

The Health Ministry on Friday reported 413 cases and 12 fatalities for the past 24 hours. Daily cases have been spiking in recent weeks since the more contagious delta variant was detected in the country in July.

The latest increase is alarming for Egyptian authorities as schools are scheduled to open their doors for face-to-face classes next week.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with 100 million people, has reported 291,585 cases including 16,836 fatalities from the pandemic. However, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher since health authorities have done limited testing. ___

MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Sweeping new vaccine mandates for 100 million Americans

— Federal mandate takes vaccine decision off employers ’ hands

Analysis: Biden’s war on virus becomes war on unvaccinated

Key parts of Biden’s plan to confront delta variant surge

Los Angeles schools mandate vaccines for 630,000 students

— Virus claims Black morticians, leaving holes in communities

— See AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is doubling the fine for people who break the rule requiring masks on planes, trains and other forms of public transit to slow the spread of COVID-19, with President Joe Biden warning Thursday that violators should “be prepared to pay.”

First-time offenders would face a potential fine of $500 to $1,000 and second-time offenders could pay $1,000 to $3,000 under rules that the Transportation Security Administration said will go into effect Friday.

The fine currently starts at $250 and can go up to $1,500 for repeat offenders.

“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,” Biden said as he announced the increase during a speech outlining federal vaccine requirements.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka is extending a lockdown for another week as it struggles against a COVID-19 surge.

The COVID-19 committee chaired by President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa decided Friday to extend the lockdown that was to end Monday until Sept. 21, presidential spokesman Kingsly Rathnayaka said.

The lockdown was first imposed on Aug. 20. During that period, the government has allowed export-related factories to operate and for agriculture work to be done, in addition to essential services such as health, food distribution, communication and power.

Doctors and trade unions have warned that hospitals and morgues have reached their maximum capacities during the ongoing surge caused by the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Sri Lanka has confirmed 474,870 cases and 10,689 deaths from the pandemic.

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SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Department of Health says people who got a COVID-19 vaccine shot between Aug. 2-31 must sign up by 5 p.m. Friday if they want to claim the $100 incentive being offered to entice people to get inoculated.

New Mexico residents who got one of the two-shots of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible. To claim the money you must register at vaccineNM.org.

About 54% of residents ages 12 and older who are eligible have been vaccinated. The state has seen more than 239,000 COVID-19 cases and 4,585 deaths.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that starting next week, the state’s indoor mask mandate will be expanded to include outdoor events with 500 or more attendees, regardless of vaccination status.

The new requirement — which takes effect Monday — comes days after a similar outdoor mask mandates took effect in the state’s two most populous counties, King and Pierce, due to rising COVID-19 cases.

An indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, has been in place in Washington since Aug. 23. Last month, Oregon was the first state to reinstitute a statewide mask requirement for outdoor public areas where people are close together.

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BOSTON — The U.S. Education Department has announced a new grant program for schools that get state funding withheld for defying state mask policies.

The measure aims to push back against governors in Iowa, South Carolina and other states attempting to block schools from requiring masks among students and teachers. Some states, including Florida, have withheld the salaries of school leaders who have required masks in defiance of state orders.

Those schools will soon be able to apply for federal grants under Project SAFE to make up for any money lost due to implementing public health measures backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says school officials should be thanked, not punished, for taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and “this program will allow them to continue that critical work of keeping students safe.”

The money will come from an existing pool of federal funding that the Education Department can use on a range of student safety initiatives. The agency says it will invite districts to apply in the coming weeks.

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