RIO DE JANEIRO – The governor of Brazil's Amazonas state announced tough new lockdown measures to combat a surge in COVID-19 cases that has overwhelmed local hospitals.
Gov. Wilson Lima said Saturday that as of Monday, the state's 4 million people can only go out for essential activities such as buying food or seeking medical attention.
Hospitals in the state capital of Manaus have been strained amid reports that a new variant of the novel coronavirus is more contagious, and the state has seen a shortage of oxygen supplies. The state health secretary says 584 people are on a waiting list for hospital beds, 101 of them requiring intensive therapy.
“People need to understand that we have to take tough measures to save as many lives as possible,” Lima said in an announcement posted on social media.
Chicago restaurants, some bars reopen
Restaurants and certain bars across Chicago and suburban Cook County have opened their doors to customers for the first time since late October after winning approval Saturday from Illinois health officials.
With the city and county moving up to Tier I of the state's coronavirus mitigation plan, restaurants and bars that serve food can seat customers indoors at 25% capacity or 25 people per room, whichever is less.
Tables will be limited to no more than four people indoors or six people outdoors, and tables must be spaced 6 feet apart. Indoor service will be limited to a maximum of two hours.
Court rules church may not reopen
A federal appeals court has denied a Southern California church's request to overturn the state's coronavirus restrictions barring worship services indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Sacramento Bee says Friday's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals leaves the door open for addressing Gov. Gavin Newsom administration's limits on church attendance if a California county is in a less-restrictive COVID-19 tier.
A three-judge panel ruled against South Bay United Pentecostal Church of Chula Vista over public health orders that restrict religious services from being held inside while virus case rates and hospitalizations remain high.
Nevada man charged in relief aid scam
Federal prosecutors have charged a Nevada man with fraudulently obtaining about $2 million in federal coronavirus relief aid, meant for small businesses, to buy luxury vehicles and condominiums in Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the U.S. attorney's office in Nevada accused Jorge Abramovs of bank fraud after he allegedly applied for funding to at least seven banks between April and June 2020.
The complaint said a financial analysis determined Abramovs spent the money on personal luxury items, including a 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible for more than $260,000 and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 for about $55,000.
Spain's military chief resigns over vaccine
Spain's top military commander has been forced to resign after he and other high-ranking officers violated established protocols and received the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of time.
Spain's defense ministry confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that Minister Margarita Robles had accepted the resignation of Chief of Staff Gen. Miguel Ángel Villarroya.
His resignation comes after online news site El Confidencial Digital reported that Villarroya and other top brass had broken national protocols for Spain's vaccination strategy, which currently only allows nursing home residents and medical workers to receive shots.
Several public officials have jumped the vaccine queue in recent weeks, including a regional health chief for southeast Murcia, who also resigned.