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By The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea’s professional baseball league says it will require fans to wear masks, sit at least a seat apart and prohibit them from eating food in the stands as it prepares to bring back spectators in the coming weeks amid the coronavirus epidemic.

The Korea Baseball Organization said Tuesday that teams will be initially allowed to sell only 30% of the seats for each game.

It said attendance could be expanded to as much as 50% depending on the progress in the country’s anti-virus efforts.

Fans will also be screened for fevers and discouraged from shouting, singing and cheering during the game. They will be able to buy tickets only with credit cards so that health authorities could easily locate them when needed. South Korea has been actively tracing the contacts of virus carriers using credit card information, cellphone location data and surveillance camera footage.

The KBO became one of the world’s first major sports competitions to return to action in May, but without fans in the stands. Seats have been covered with cheering banners, dolls or pictures of fans as teams tried to mimic a festive atmosphere.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Experts say the pandemic is wreaking havoc in poor and war-torn nations.

— Virus cases worldwide hit 10 million and deaths have surpassed 500,000.

— UK PM Boris Johnson says the pandemic “has been a disaster” for Britain.

— Hunger stalks Yemen's children as pandemic hits Arab world's poorest nation.

— Nurses, doctors feel strain as virus races through Arizona.

— The pandemic means millions of women in Africa and other developing regions could lose years of success in contributing to household incomes and asserting their independence.

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Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The island nation of Bahrain says it will cover 50% of the salaries of private-sector workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The island kingdom off Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf says the program will begin in July and covers “insured citizens employed in the private sector working for companies most affected by the coronavirus.”

The payments will go on for three months.

The kingdom says it also will cover electricity bills at employees’ homes.

Like other Gulf Arab nations, Bahrain has a large population of foreign workers. The kingdom’s announcement is among the most significant aid offered that covers those workers.

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SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported 43 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 from across the country as infections begin to spread beyond the greater capital area, which has been at the center of a virus resurgence since late May.

The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday brought national totals to 12,800 cases, including 282 deaths. Seventeen of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live, while infections were also reported in other major cities such as Daejeon, Gwangju, Busan and Sejong.

Twenty of the new cases were linked to international arrivals as the coronavirus continues to strengthen its hold in Southern Asia, the United States and beyond.

Authorities in recent weeks have been struggling to track transmissions that have been popping up from various places as people increasingly venture out in public amid an erosion in citizen vigilance.

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SALEM, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday that people throughout Oregon will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces starting Wednesday to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The guidance applies to businesses and members of the public visiting indoor public spaces, she said in a news release.

Face covering requirements were mandated in eight counties last week. Over the past month, Brown said the disease has spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties.

Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth play a critical role in reducing the spread of the disease because droplets from people’s breath can carry the virus to others without people realizing it, she said.

She said she did not want to close businesses again as has happened in other states that are seeing a spike in cases. She said Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) will take the lead in enforcing face covering requirements for all covered Oregon businesses.

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly says she will issue an executive order mandating the use of masks in public starting Friday to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“The evidence could not be clearer — wearing a mask is not only safe, but it is necessary to avoid another shutdown,” the Democratic governor told reporters Monday.

Kelly’s executive order would require every Kansan to wear a mask if they are around other people. She said her administration will issue specific guidance later this week and will work with the attorney general’s office to implement the policy.

Local officials would enforce the policy.

“”This is all we have to fight this virus and it is up to each of us to do our part,” Kelly said.

Kansas health officials reported on Monday at least 14,443 confirmed coronavirus cases, an increase of 905 since Friday. The state also had six more deaths from COVID-19, bring the total number of deaths in the state to 270. Kansas reported that 1,152 people had been hospitalized.

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MIAMI — In South Beach, not wearing a mask could lead to a $50 fine starting Tuesday. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the broader regulations, which include requiring masks when not able to socially distance, including outside, in condominium common areas and at hotels, will be punishable with a verbal warning or fine. A curfew is also being discussed.

“We don’t have too many tools left in our kit, and we don’t want to be forced to return to a shelter in place order that proved so economically devastating,” Gelber said, urging residents to comply.

The city will also dispatch ambassadors to congested areas to pass out free masks.

“To those of you who seem to believe that wearing a mask is a political statement — it is not. This virus couldn’t care who you support or what party you belong to,” said Gelber. “I don’t know the politics of the 13 seniors living here in South Beach and who recently perished.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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From Scarves to Masks: White House's Birx Seeks to Make Coronavirus Fashion Pivot

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. coronavirus official Dr. Deborah Birx, who attracted a cult following for wearing colorful scarves, on Wednesday sought to convince Americans that wearing face masks is not only sensible but stylish too.

"I know some of you do watch what I wear. I'm wearing this specially today," said Birx, showing a white mask with the words "Stay Safe! Stay Strong!"

"Masks can be a fashion statement," the White House coronavirus response coordinator told reporters.

As she appeared at daily televised coronavirus briefings in the spring, Birx captivated the internet with her scarf choices including bright florals and classic Hermes designs. An Instagram account devoted to her scarves attracted nearly 41,000 followers.

Birx noted that her mask on Wednesday was a gift from the Salt River Tribe in Arizona which she visited last week.

Public health officials have said face masks can prevent the spread of disease and allow for safer economic activity. While some people have resisted wearing the coverings, several states and cities are now requiring them.

President Donald Trump has refused to wear a mask publicly or ask Americans to do so, although he has said he would if he was in a crowd and could not distance himself. Vice President Mike Pence and many other Republicans, meanwhile, have urged greater mask wearing.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Susan Heavey; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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