Model predicts 300,000 virus deaths across U.S.

SEATTLE — A widely cited University of Washington model predicts U.S. deaths from COVID-19 will reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1.

The forecast of 295,011 deaths is 137,000 more than the roughly 158,000 U.S. deaths reported so far. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model assumes that many states will impose new stay-at-home orders as deaths climb.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors the model along with forecasts from about 30 other modeling groups. Combined, the models predict from 168,000 to 182,000 total COVID-19 deaths by Aug. 22.

Commission rejects Trump push for added debates

WASHINGTON — The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates has rejected a request from the Trump campaign to either add an additional general election debate or move up the calendar for the contests.

In a letter to Trump private attorney Rudy Giuliani, his liaison to the commission, the commission writes that it is committed to its existing schedule of three debates between Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, saying it would consider adding a fourth debate only if both sides agree to it.

“If the candidates were to agree that they wished to add to that schedule, the Commission would consider that request but remains committed to the schedule of debates it has planned as reflected in the attached release,” the commission wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Giuliani wrote to the debate commission Wednesday requesting that the schedule be moved up on account of expanded early and mail voting because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s campaign has highlighted that 16 states will have started voted by the time of the first scheduled debate on Sept. 29.

Montana governor orders all-mail November elections

HELENA, Mont. — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has issued a directive allowing counties to hold all-mail elections in November to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The Democratic governor, who is running for U.S. Senate, says voters shouldn’t have to choose between voting and their health.

State officials on Thursday also announced they will spend up to $20 million on testing and contact-tracing efforts at public universities. Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian says the universities will not have universal testing policies. It will focus testing efforts on groups that are at a higher risk of spreading the virus and students who have a heightened risk of contracting it.

Michigan teachers rally against school openings

LANSING, Mich. — Dozens of Michigan teachers chanted and waved signs during a rally at the Michigan Capitol to bring attention to the danger of schools reopening for in-person learning in the fall.

“We’re fighting for a safe return to school. For most of us that means starting online,” said Nichole Hartrick, a teacher in the Dearborn school district and one of the organizers of the event.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said more than a month ago that she was optimistic about returning to in-person instruction. Under her plan, in-person classes are allowed but not required. Several districts have announced plans to start with only online learning.

British officials announce quarantine for some travelers

LONDON — Britain has announced that travellers arriving from Andorra, Belgium and the Bahamas will have to quarantine for two weeks effective from Saturday, following an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in all three locations.

Officials say COVID-19 cases in Belgium have increased fourfold since mid-July, and that in Andorra new cases per week have increased five-fold over the same period. They added that the Bahamas also saw a significant increase in case rates.

Democrats sue election officials over lines at polls

ATLANTA — Democrats are asking a federal judge to order Georgia election officials to take steps to prevent long lines at the polls on Election Day.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Atlanta alleges that the causes of long lines that have forced Georgians to wait hours to vote during multiple elections, including the June primary, “are directly traceable” to election officials. The lawsuit seeks “to remedy the fundamentally unreasonable conditions that have led, repeatedly, to unconstitutional burdens on countless Georgia voters.”

With waits sometimes stretching for hours, Georgia voters have faced some of the longest average wait times in the country to vote since since at least 2008, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit was filed by the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and three Georgia voters against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who’s the top elections official in the state, and other state and county election officials.

Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said Raffensperger has been working with county election officials to determine where they might need to add polling places or voting equipment to avoid lines for the November general election.

In Japan, survivors mark world’s 1st atomic attack

HIROSHIMA, Japan — Survivors of the world’s first atomic bombing gathered in diminished numbers near an iconic, blasted dome Thursday to mark the attack’s 75th anniversary, many of them urging the world, and their own government, to do more to ban nuclear weapons.

As their numbers dwindle — their average age is about 83 — many nations have bolstered or maintained their nuclear arsenals, and their own government refuses to sign a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

Amid cries of Japanese government hypocrisy, survivors, their relatives and officials marked the 8:15 a.m. blast anniversary with a minute of silence.

The United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. It dropped a second bomb three days later on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000. Japan surrendered Aug. 15, ending World War II and its nearly half-century of aggression in Asia.

3rd Canadian sentenced to death on drug charges

BEIJING — China has sentenced a third Canadian citizen to death on drug charges amid a steep decline in relations between the two countries.

The Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court announced Xu Weihong’s penalty on Thursday and said an alleged accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, had been given a life sentence.

The brief court statement gave no details but local media in the southern Chinese city at the heart of the country’s manufacturing industry said Xu and Wen had gathered ingredients and tools and began making the drug ketamine in October 2016, then stored the final product in Xu’s home in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district.

Police later confiscated more than 266 pounds of the drug from Xu’s home and another address, the reports said. Ketamine is a powerful pain killer that has become popular among club goers in China and elsewhere.

— The Associated Press