MOSCOW — Russia has reached another record daily death toll from COVID-19, with 968 deaths registered on Saturday.

The national coronavirus task force has reported a persistent rise, with nearly daily records in October. It’s about 100 more daily deaths than in late September.

The task force also reported more than 29,000 new daily infections. Authorities says the steep rise in cases and deaths is because of the nation’s low vaccination rate.

The deputy prime minister says 47.8 million Russians, or 33% of the population, have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Brazil coronavirus deaths surpass 600,000

— Russia hits virus death record as autumn surge persists

— Boosters, employer mandates drive increase in US vaccines

— Los Angeles County sheriff won’t enforce vaccine mandate

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— See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SAO PAULO — Brazil has topped 600,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths, the second-highest toll behind the United States.

However, recent fewer cases and deaths have encouraged mayors and governors to admit fans into soccer matches and allow bars and restaurants stay open late.

The country’s average daily death toll has hovered around 500 for a month, down sharply from more than 3,000 in April. Almost 45% of the population is fully vaccinated, and a booster shot is being administered to the elderly.

The U.S. has surpassed 710,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths.

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ROME — Italy will offer a third dose of a coronavirus vaccine to all people over 60 who completed vaccination at least six months ago.

The Health Ministry says booster shots also will be offered to those with “fragile” health conditions, regardless of age. Italy already had approved giving a third dose of the vaccine to people over 80 or living in care homes, along with health care personnel, transplant recipients and those with depressed immunity.

Ministry authorities have said a third shot to all who have been vaccinated isn’t under consideration. In Italy, 80% of those 12 or older have been fully vaccinated.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — The proportion of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations among vaccinated Pennsylvania residents has risen sharply in the past month, although the shot remains broadly protective.

That’s according to new statewide health data. The latest Department of Health statistics on so-called “breakthrough” infections show from Sept. 5 to Oct. 4, vaccinated people represented just over a quarter (26%) of more than 135,000 new infections and nearly 5,000 hospital admissions across the state.

That’s up from just 6% of cases and 5% of hospitalizations between January and September. Pennsylvania residents who remain unvaccinated are still far more likely to contract the coronavirus, become hospitalized and die than those who got the shot.

Dr. Denise Johnson, the state’s acting physician general, says the data reinforced the case for booster shots. Last month, U.S. health officials approved a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for all Americans 65 and older, along with younger people with health issues or those in high-risk, frontline jobs.

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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County sheriff says he won’t enforce the county’s vaccine mandate in his agency.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva oversees the largest sheriff’s department in the county with roughly 18,000 employees. He said Thursday in a Facebook Live event that he doesn’t plan to carry out the county’s mandate.

Los Angeles County employees had to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. The mandate was issued by executive order in August and allows only religious and medical exemptions.

Villanueva says his employees are willing to be terminated rather than get vaccinated. More than 26,000 people have died of the coronavirus in Los Angeles County.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama’s top health official is urging people who’ve not been vaccinated for the coronavirus to get a shot within the next week to help prevent another holiday spike of infections and deaths.

Dr. Scott Harris says it takes five or six weeks for someone to gain the maximum amount of immunity after the initial vaccine in a shot-two process. He says that means time is running out for people to have “the safest possible Thanksgiving.”

Harris says he was “cautiously optimistic” the holidays won’t be as deadly as last year because of vaccinations and the large number of people who have antibodies after contracting the virus.

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NEW YORK — A panel of vaccine experts will meet in early November to consider whether to recommend the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 12.

The Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices scheduled a two-day meeting for Nov. 2-3, health officials said Friday. The Pfizer topic is expected to take up part of the agenda.

The experts are anticipating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will have decided by then whether to authorize use of the Pfizer vaccine for children between ages 5 to 11. The committee’s job is to help the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention develop recommendations for doctors and the public about which vaccines should be used and how they should given.

Currently, Pfizer vaccines are authorized only for people 12 and older.

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WARSAW — Polish biotechnology company Mabion S.A. has signed a $372 million contract to produce one of the raw materials that American company Novavax needs to make its COVID-19 vaccine.

Under the four-year deal, Mabion will produce a protein antigen beginning in December at its facilities in Konstantynow Lodzki, central Poland. It is Poland’s largest contract in the biotechnology sector.

Novavax has partnered with Serum Institute of India and asked regulators in India, Indonesia and Philippines this week to allow emergency use of its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine, which is easier to store, cheaper to make and not already reserved by rich nations.

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla had said the company had hoped to launch the vaccine in India by June, but manufacturing was hobbled by the U.S. embargo on exports of critical raw materials. The company hopes to sell the vaccine in September, and Mabion will be part of the supply chain going forward.

“The addition of Mabion’s technical expertise and production capacity to Novavax’ global manufacturing network expands our ability to provide broad access to our vaccine across multiple regions,” Novavax Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Rick Crowley said.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Home health aides who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccination are barred from working in New York under a new state mandate.

The mandate, put in place by Gov. Kathy Hochul, also applies to workers at assisted living homes, hospice care, treatment centers and AIDS home care programs. It comes on top of another mandate, implemented last month, that covered hospital and nursing home workers.

Data on how many of the state’s more than 210,000 home health aides had been vaccinated ahead of the deadline Friday wasn’t immediately available from the state.

The Home Healthcare Workers of America recently estimated approximately 70% of the group’s 32,000 members had received the coronavirus shot.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — A judge has rejected a request by 33 Oregon State Police troopers to temporarily halt a mandate that requires them to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Jack Landau said in a written opinion Thursday that based on case law “the police power of the state includes the authority to enact public health laws that may have the effect of curtailing individual rights.”

Landau went on to say that Gov. Kate Brown is acting within her legislatively granted authority in issuing the vaccine mandate. Brown has mandated vaccinations for the state’s executive branch employees, including the troopers, and for hundreds of thousands of health care workers and K-12 educators and volunteers.

Religious or medical exemptions can be requested. At least eight lawsuits have been filed.

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LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s governor says a decrease in coronavirus case rates and an increase in vaccinations is partly due to a nearly two-month deployment of federal emergency management “surge teams” in areas of Las Vegas.

Gov. Steve Sisolak says test positivity, a key measure of the spread of the coronavirus, has decreased statewide to 8.5%.

The rate, measured as a 14-day average, stood Thursday at 6.7% in Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County. It was higher in some parts of the state, including 22.6% in Elko County. The World Health Organization goal is 5% for relaxing measures limiting the coronavirus.

Statewide, Sisolak says 63% of the eligible population age 12 and older has received at least one shot.

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