U.N. chief: Virus will spur world poverty, conflicts

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that the cordonavirus pandemic not only threatens gains in fighting global poverty and building peace but risks exacerbating existing conflicts and generating new ones.

The U.N. chief told a Security Council meeting Wednesday that his March 23 call for an immediate cease-fire in conflicts around the world to tackle the virus led a number of warring parties to de-escalate or stop fighting. But, he added, “regrettably, in many instances, the pandemic did not move the parties to suspend hostilities or agree to a permanent ceasefire.”

Guterres predecessor as secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, told the council it is astonishing that the world has locked down billions of people, closed borders and suspended trade, but has failed to put conflicts on hold.

Montana to pay extra jobless benefits

HELENA, Mont. — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock says his state will begin paying the extra $400 in weekly unemployment benefits that President Donald Trump announced in an executive order over the weekend weekend.

A $600 federal payment expired in late July, and Congress has not allocated the money for the additional payments, so it may take weeks for the federal government to provide guidance.

But Bullock said Wednesday that Montana will use some of its $1.25 billion in coronavirus relief money to begin providing the additional payments to the state’s unemployed.

Trump to schools: No classes, no money

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is repeating his call to reopen the nation’s schools, and he again pressed Congress to steer future coronavirus funding away from schools that do not reopen this fall.

Trump made the remarks Wednesday at a White House discussion with parents, teachers and doctors who said they support a full return to the classroom.

Also joining Trump were Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Vice President Mike Pence, who said the health risks tied to keeping children at home are greater than those associated with the coronavirus.

Most of the nation’s largest school districts are planning to start the year with remote instruction as virus cases continue to rise.

As Congress negotiates a new round of virus relief, Trump has said school funding should go to parents if their local schools do not reopen for in-person instruction. He said Wednesday that he wants money to follow students, while Democrats want it to follow unions.

DeVos, a longtime proponent of school choice, added her support for Trump’s proposal. She says families need “options that are going to work for their child and their child’s education.”

Gov stops nursing home visits during virus surge

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has halted nursing home visits as both confirmed cases and deaths from the new coronavirus continue to surge.

Justice said at a news conference Wednesday that there are virus outbreaks currently at 28 nursing homes statewide.

Justice stopped nursing home visits in March and let them resume in mid-June. But the number of virus-related deaths in West Virginia has jumped 23% since Friday, pushing the total for the pandemic to at least 153. Multiple deaths have been reported this month at the Princeton Health Care Center nursing home in Mercer County.

Statistics show 26 of the 29 deaths reported statewide since Friday have involved people over age 70.

Ohio official: Nothing will stop our mail-in voting

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is seeking to reassure voters that nothing — including the coronavirus and skepticism about mail-in voting that’s been stoked by President Donald Trump — will stop the election and that it will be safe and secure.

The Republican issued on Wednesday a 48-point voting safety plan based on CDC guidelines to Ohio’s 88 county election boards that strongly recommends, but does not mandate, mask-wearing on Election Day.

He characterized the failure to wear a mask as rude and, like nose-picking, “just gross,” but said that his protocol makes accommodations to all voters. Those in-person voters who choose not to wear a face covering will be given options, including voting outside or using the curbside option, but they will not be stopped from voting inside if that’s their choice.

LaRose said requiring masks to be worn would step on people’s right to vote and place an unfair enforcement burden on poll workers.

School district can’t keep up with quarantined kids

ATLANTA — Georgia’s largest school district struggled Wednesday to launch online learning for its 180,000 students, with parents complaining students couldn’t log in to Gwinnett County’s system.

Meanwhile, Cherokee County has quarantined 1,156 students after trying in-school learning, adding about 330 students to yesterday’s total. They are home because of possible coronavirus exposure since classes resumed last week.

About 70 students and staff members in the 40,000-student Cherokee County district have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data posted Wednesday on the district’s website. It’s unclear whether any were infected at school.

— The Associated Press