The Latest: Melbourne extends lockdown amid delta cases

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has extended its lockdown in a bid to stamp out an outbreak of the coronavirus.

Melbourne’s lockdown will be extended for a second week until the end of Aug. 19, the Victoria state government said Wednesday as it reported 20 new infections.

Meanwhile, authorities in Sydney say they are considering easing restrictions for vaccinated residents despite the delta variant.

Australian cities have used lockdowns to successfully end coronavirus outbreaks throughout the pandemic. But the highly contagious delta variant poses new challenges.

The New South Wales state government reported 344 new infections and says some lockdown restrictions could be eased for vaccinated Sydney residents in September.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— In Iran, slow vaccinations sow anger in unending pandemic

— US hospitals are running low on nurses, swamped with COVID-19 patients

— Pandemic prompts changes in how future teachers in US are trained

— Some US entertainment venues may require vaccine passports

— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BEIJING — State media say one of China’s most serious recent outbreaks of COVID-19 partly stemmed from people gathered at mahjong parlors and at a virus testing site.

The city of Yangzhou in the eastern province of Jiangsu added another 54 confirmed cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to 448 since the outbreak spread from the international airport in the provincial capital of Nanjing on July 20.

Reports said the cluster has been traced partly to a 64-year-old woman who visited several mahjong parlors after returning from Nanjing and was positive for the virus during mass testing following the outbreak.

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Dozens of others were infected at a testing site in the village of Lianhe on the outskirts of Yangzhou, the ruling Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily said. While China has imposed stiff rules on testing, lockdowns and mask wearing, test sites in Beijing and elsewhere have experienced crowding and relatively little social distancing.

China currently has 1,789 COVID-19 patients in treatment, 666 of them in Jiangsu. The country has reported a total of 94,080 cases and 4,636 deaths from the illness since the first cases in the pandemic were discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government is warning its citizens to be prepared for a strict lockdown at the first sign of an outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the government’s response is likely to be “swift and severe.” New Zealand has stamped out the spread of the virus and had previously planned to rely primarily on contact tracing for any small outbreaks.

But Hipkins said the problems that Sydney currently faces in trying to contact trace a growing outbreak showed the delta variant was extremely hard to manage and that New Zealand’s tolerance for risk was now very low. He also hinted that New Zealand might soon mandate more mask use during outbreaks and change its strategy on administering second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to ensure more people got a first dose earlier, saying the details on the changes would be announced soon.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s daily increase in coronavirus infections has exceeded 2,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, continuing an alarming spread despite the enforcement of strict virus restrictions in large population centers.

Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol on Wednesday pleaded for people to stay home during the holiday break around Liberation Day on Friday. He said that “in our fight against COVID-19, we are entering a new phase, a new crisis.”

Officials said more than 1,400 of the 2,223 new cases are in the Seoul metropolitan region. Kwon says transmissions are also spreading at faster speeds in other parts of the country.

South Korea has so far administered first doses of coronavirus vaccine to 42% of a population of more than 51 million.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is ordering that students and employees in the state’s schools wear masks indoors, as the fast-spreading delta variant of the coronavirus brings more infections and hospitalizations.

Beshear’s executive order issued Tuesday applies to everyone in Kentucky schools for kindergarten through 12th grade, regardless of vaccination status. He says the requirement also applies to child care and pre-kindergarten programs.

The governor says that “we are to the point where we cannot allow our kids to go into these buildings unprotected, unvaccinated and face this delta variant.”

Beshear said he wants to avoid schools shutting down in-person teaching and shifted to remote learning as occurred earlier in the pandemic. The number of children infected with the virus has risen sharply, and children under age 12 aren’t eligible for the vaccines.

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HOUSTON — The latest wave of coronavirus infections in Texas continues to tax the state’s health care systems as health officials report that 10,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 for the first time since early February.

State health officials reported Tuesday that 10,041 hospital patients in Texas were ill with COVID-19 as of Monday. That is the most since 10,259 COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported Feb. 4.

Meantime, a state district judge in San Antonio granted a temporary restraining order to allow the governments of San Antonio and Bexar County to require public school students to wear masks in class and to quarantine unvaccinated students exposed to the virus.

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7 Tech Stocks That Will Avoid Government Regulation

As if investing in the tech sector did not carry enough risk, there’s a new threat to the tech part of your portfolio. There is a growing sense that the United States Congress will seek to regulate some of the largest tech companies.

At this point, it looks like several of the FAANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Alphabet/Google) may be the initial targets. Some regulation, particularly regarding data security and privacy – not to mention censorship – would be welcome. But we all know it’s not likely to stop there.

What will more extreme regulation look like? If the most vocal members of Congress hold sway, some of these companies may get broken up or face utility-like regulation. From an investment standpoint, it just adds uncertainty.

The good news is that the tech sector encompasses many companies that are likely to avoid government regulation. With areas like cybersecurity, support for remote work, and mobile gaming to continue to pick up steam, there are other areas that can help boost your portfolio.

And in this special presentation, we’ll give you seven of our picks for tech stocks that will avoid government regulation.

View the “7 Tech Stocks That Will Avoid Government Regulation”.