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PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) — The cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls have received a $230,000 federal grant to create a joint economic development action plan.

The funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration will be used to develop a detailed economic development plan to guide growth in the two industrial cities and examine existing workforce strengths and needs, according to a statement from local and federal officials.

The plan will include a feasibility study for the creation of a new workforce training and innovation center.

The grant will also allow the cities to explore options for redeveloping a vacant 12-acre lot that was formerly the site of the Osram Sylvania light bulb factory in Central Falls.

The adjacent cities have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the ongoing pandemic, this project has also taken on a new significance, particularly the workforce development and training center study component, which could be very helpful in identifying the job training and retraining needs of our workforce currently and post-pandemic,” Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien said in a statement.

Pawtucket and Central Falls already share a joint planning commission tasked with supporting the development of the Conant Thread District that straddles the cities.

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Asia Today: Central Japan Region Put Under Virus Emergency

TOKYO (AP) — A governor in central Japan announced a state of emergency Thursday due to rising virus cases and asked businesses and people to curb their activities, especially during an upcoming holiday.

Aichi prefecture has been seeing more than 100 new infections reported daily since mid-July after an extended period of zero new daily cases. The prefecture includes the major city of Nagoya and the headquarters of Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s top automaker.

Gov. Hideaki Ohmura told reporters businesses are being asked to close altogether or close early, and people are being asked to stay home at night, to prevent infections from spreading.

The requests continue through Aug. 24, a period that coincides with Japanese Obon holidays, when schools and many companies close.

“Please avoid non-essential activity during the Obon holidays,” Ohmura said, asking people not to dine out in big crowds or go out partying. “The situation we are in is very serious.”

About 70% of the recent cases were people in their 30s, and most were showing no or mild symptoms, but Ohmura said worries were growing about more vulnerable people getting sick.

Japan has not had a lockdown. The voluntary emergency measures put in place in April, asking for social distancing to be used and businesses to close, were gradually lifted.

The national government's actions have been called inadequate, pushing economic growth at the risk of human life, such as the “GoTo” campaign, which encourages domestic travel with government-backed discounts.

Last week, the southwestern island prefecture of Okinawa also declared its own local emergency. Other regional governments may take similar action.

Japan has so far nearly 42,700 coronavirus cases and about 1,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University tally based on official figures.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— The leader of Australia’s hot spot Victoria urged residents not to panic-buy as he announced reductions in meat productions. The state capital Melbourne began its first full day of tough lockdown restrictions on Thursday as Victoria posted 471 new virus infections and eight deaths. Premier Daniel Andrews said beef, lamb and pork production will be reduced by one third from late Friday because of the virus transmission risks in abattoirs and meat processing plants. Poultry production will be reduced by 20%. “All of these measures are designed to drive down to the lowest numbers of workers we can practically get to without at the same time delivering a shortage of products,” Andrews said. Andrews said there was no need for shoppers to stockpile. “You may not necessarily be able to get exactly the cut of meat that you want, but you will get what you need and you will get all the products that are, basically, fundamentally important to you,” he added.

— China's biggest recent outbreak of coronavirus has grown slightly. More than 600 people have developed COVID-19 in the far northwestern region of Xinjiang, with 27 new cases reported Thursday in its capital and largest city, Urumqi. Another three cases were reported in the northeastern port city of Dalian, where a smaller outbreak has been traced to a seafood market, and seven cases were reported among Chinese travelers arriving from overseas for a total of 37 over the previous 24 hours. Hong Kong reported 85 new virus cases and one additional death. The origin of 33 of the cases remains unknown, according to the city’s Center for Health Protection. Hong Kong has recorded 43 deaths from the virus among more than 3,700 cases.

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

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