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SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea has reported more than 2,000 new cases of the coronavirus, approaching a one-day record set last month, as officials expressed concern about an erosion in citizen vigilance amid prolonged pandemic restrictions.
The 2,050 cases reported Wednesday was the sixth time the daily increase came over 2,000 in a span of a month, including a record 2,221 on Aug. 11.
The capital Seoul and the nearby metropolitan area have had the country’s toughest social distancing rules short of a lockdown for nine consecutive weeks. The measures force night clubs and churches to close and prohibits private social gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m. unless the participants are fully vaccinated.
The Health Ministry said people’s exhaustion and frustration with virus restrictions are becoming an increasing challenge. Highway traffic, credit card usage and other indicators of activity and movement are all rising, said Park Hyang, a senior ministry official, during a briefing.
There’s concern that transmissions would worsen during the Chuseok holidays, the Korean version of Thanksgiving that comes in two weeks.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Bulgaria, EU’s least vaccinated nation, faces deadly surge
— Idahohospitals begin rationing health care amid COVID surge
— Read AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina health officials are reporting 170 ongoing COVID-19 clusters in K-12 schools or child care settings.
The state health department says school districts that don’t require masks are seeing substantially more spread of the virus and hours of lost learning.
Union County Public Schools, the state’s sixth largest district, had about one in eight of its more than 41,000 students under quarantine as of Friday, after the district voted down a mask requirement last month. The more than 5,200 students were placed under quarantine after 337 pupils tested positive for the virus last week.
Meanwhile, the Wake County Public School System, where masks are mandatory and which is four times larger than Union County Public Schools, has less than a fourth the number of students quarantined. Data from the Wake County district shows less than 1,300 of its more than 161,000 pupils were quarantined last week.
The weekly report state health officials updated on Tuesday shows the Union Academy Charter School in Monroe has the worst cluster in North Carolina, with 111 cases, including 98 among children. About one in 20 of the charter school’s students were infected. Charter Day School in Brunswick County has the next highest cluster of 81 infected children.
ATLANTA — Another Georgia school district is switching to virtual learning, after three school bus employees died from COVID-19.
The 9,700-student Griffin-Spalding County school system made the announcement late Monday, citing a disruption in student transportation.
Districts across Georgia are struggling to line up enough drivers and monitors to keep buses running. In Savannah, some bus drivers staged a sickout for the second day on Tuesday after a similar protest Friday.
At least 210,000 Georgia students in 54 districts and charter networks have had their school schedules disrupted because of COVID-19. Some districts have taken days off, some shifted to every-other-day schedules and some sent home individual schools or grades. That’s more than 12% of Georgia’s 1.7 million public school students.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Georgia hospitals remains above 6,000, the highest level since the start of the pandemic. The number of newly reported cases has decreased in recent days, although cases remain near all-time high levels.
More than 34,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported among Georgia children aged 5-17 in the two weeks ended Sept. 2, according to state data, with more than 125 infection clusters reported in K-12 schools during that period.
SEATTLE — Fans attending most pro sporting events in Seattle will soon be required to show proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 or that they’ve tested negative for the virus.
The NFL’s Seahawks, MLS’s Sounders, NHL’s Kraken and MLB’s Mariners, along with the University of Washington and Washington State University, all announced updated policies Tuesday for fans attending games this season.
The Seahawks will be the first to implement the requirements, starting with their Sept. 19 home opener against Tennessee. Fans will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test taken within 72 hours of the event to be granted entry.
Team president Chuck Arnold said in a statement that the measures will allow for a full stadium while keeping the experience safe.
Washington will begin an identical verification process for fans with its Sept. 25 home game against California. The Sounders will begin with their Oct. 3 match against Colorado. Washington State said its verification process will begin in October.
The Mariners said fans should plan to provide proof of vaccination for any potential postseason games the team hosts. The team also said all front office, event staff and Mariners employees at team operated facilities in the U.S. were told in late August they must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 4 as a condition of employment.
While the other Seattle teams are permitting a negative test to gain entry, the Kraken will only allow vaccinated fans at games.