NYC Outbreak Worsens; California Warns of Lockdown: Virus Update

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(Bloomberg) — New York City’s average number of coronavirus cases and its infection rate hit the highest levels since May, while statewide daily infections closed in on 10,000. New Jersey reported record cases. California will impose a new shelter-at-home order if hospitals start running short of intensive-care capacity. Delaware, reporting record cases, issued a stay-at-home advisory.


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Pfizer expects to ship half the Covid-19 vaccines it originally planned for 2020 due to supply-chain problems, Dow Jones reported. Moderna Inc.’s vaccine appears to offer protection against the coronavirus that will last a minimum of three months and potentially much longer, researchers found.

The latest wave of Covid-19 has inundated the Sun Belt, adding pressure on tourism-dependent cities brutalized by infections and deaths in July and August. Facebook said it will start removing false claims about immunizations that have been debunked by public health experts.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases reach 64.9 million; deaths top 1.5 millionCovid fighters run out of weapons with virus spreading in homesCovid’s Sun-Belt return targets Miami, Phoenix and Las VegasOperation Warp Speed and U.K. vaccine drive leave Europe behindN.Y. developers hire influencers to sell homes during CovidVaccine Tracker: Covid-19 inoculations are about to begin

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chart, histogram: U.S. sets record with more than 2,800 virus deaths

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U.S. sets record with more than 2,800 virus deaths

Delaware Issues Stay-at-Home Advisory (5:01 p.m. NY)

Delaware issued a stay-at-home advisory, halting in-person learning at schools, prohibiting winter sports competitions and requiring people to wear masks indoors if mixing with another household. The order runs from Dec. 14 through Jan. 11.

The state reported a record 754 cases on Thursday.

“A vaccine is on the way but, make no mistake, we are facing the most difficult few months of this crisis,” said Governor John Carney, a Democrat. “I know we’re all tired of Covid-19 – but it’s not tired of us. We’re pleading with Delawareans to do the right thing.”

The state already requires masks in public settings — and the new order does not change the rules for people at work or commuting.

Colorado Projects Thousands More Deaths (4:43 p.m. NY)

Covid-19 could kill between 2,000 and 4,400 people in Colorado this month, based on official state modeling data released Thursday. “The numbers could go up by much as several thousand deaths,” said Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, during an online news conference.

As of Dec. 2, Colorado tallied 3,193 deaths among Covid-19 cases since the pandemic started. It is estimated 1-in-40 of the state’s population of 5.7 million are currently infected, Samet said. Last week it was 1-in-41 with Colorado Governor Jared Polis testing positive over the weekend.

“We have a population that is fatigued with doing what it needs to do,” Samet said. “I don’t like to be a grim prognosticator here. But if the curve keeps rising” it’s estimated “we’ll see more hospitalizations, more, cases more deaths.”

Ohio’s Travel Advisory Now Includes Ohio (4:25 p.m. NY)

Ohio’s positive-test rate climbed above 15% for the first week since April, Governor Mike DeWine said. He released a map showing states where Ohioans are advised against traveling — which now includes Ohio.

The state reported near-record hospitalizations amid warnings from medical officials that the system is already overwhelmed, before an expected post-Thanksgiving increase. DeWine reported 8,921 new cases, the fifth highest on record, and 82 more deaths.

N.Y. Hospitalizations Most Since May (4:01 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus hospitalizations in New York topped 4,000 for the first time since late May, as new cases in the state closed in on 10,000 a day, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Of the more than 203,000 tests conducted statewide on Wednesday, 9,855, or 4.84%, were positive, including hot spot areas, Cuomo said at a briefing in Albany. There were 4,063 hospitalizations, up 139 from the day prior, and 61 virus-related deaths.

The state is focusing on increasing the number of hospital beds available as fears of overwhelming the hospital system increase. There currently are about 53,000 hospital beds statewide, 35,000 of which are occupied, Cuomo said.

The state can increase to up to 75,000 beds using its “surge and flex” program, he said, adding that about 19,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized at the peak of the pandemic in March and April.

Pfizer Cut Vaccine Rollout Target on Supply-Chain Obstacles, DJ Reports (3:54 p.m. NY)

Pfizer expects to ship half the Covid-19 vaccines it originally planned for 2020 due to supply-chain problems, Dow Jones reported, citing a company spokeswoman.

The company still expects to roll out more than a billion doses in 2021.

“Scaling up the raw material supply chain took longer than expected and it’s important to highlight that the outcome of the clinical trial was somewhat later than the initial projection,” a company spokeswoman said.

California to Lock Down If ICUs Fall Short of Capacity (3:49 p.m. NY)

California, the first state to tell residents to stay home to fight the coronavirus pandemic, may be about to do it again.

Governor Gavin Newsom warned Thursday that the state would impose a new shelter-at-home order if hospitals start running short of intensive-care capacity, a dire possibility that could happen in some areas as soon a this week.

“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” he said.

The order would be imposed in specific regions — such as the San Francisco Bay Area or Southern California — rather than statewide. It would take effect once a region’s hospitals had only 15% of their intensive care unit beds available, a threshold none has crossed so far. If imposed, the order would last three weeks.

Iowa Reports Record Deaths Amid Spread to Long-Term Care (3:12 p.m. NY)

Iowa reported a record 70 fatalities, even as average deaths and daily cases have dipped in recent days. The state also reported outbreaks, defined as three or more cases, at 170 long-term care facilities, accounting for 1,097 of the state’s total 2,519 deaths. Two weeks ago, outbreaks were reported at 114 facilities.

Arizona Sees Spike in Deaths (2:15 p.m. NY)

Arizona reported 82 deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, the highest daily number since Aug. 26, when it recorded 104. The state’s toll rose to 6,821. The state Department of Health Services also reported 5,442 new virus cases, bringing the total to 346,421.

Ramaphosa Reinstates Curbs in South African Hotspot (1:50 p.m. NY)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa reimposed several curbs aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic in one of the nation’s biggest municipalities, which is battling a second wave of infections.

A 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew will be reinstated in Nelson Mandela Bay in the south of the country, Ramaphosa said in a televised address on Thursday. Alcohol sales be restricted and the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public spaces will be forbidden.

The number of new coronavirus cases in South Africa jumped to 4,400 on Wednesday, the highest since mid-August, Ramaphosa said. Of the 800,872 people diagnosed with the disease in the country so far, 92% have recovered, while 21,803 have died.

N.J. Reports Most Cases Since Pandemic Began (1:35 p.m. NY)

New Jersey reported 4,913 new cases of Covid-19, the most since the state’s first case was disclosed on March 4. The high number partly reflects vastly expanded testing: Like many states early in the pandemic, New Jersey tested only those with virus symptoms. Now the state routinely processes 30,000-plus specimens per day, and last month ran more than 75,000 tests over 24 hours.

The positivity rate, 13.68% on Nov. 28, is the highest since May as was the number of patients currently hospitalized, at 3,292. In addition, 64 deaths were reported.

NYC Plans Pandemic Response Center as Positivity Rate Jumps (1:17 p.m. NY)

New York City plans to partner with private companies to create an institute devoted to predicting and responding to future pandemics, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

His announcement came as new reported cases reached a weekly average of 1,962 and the citywide infection rate hit 5.19% — the highest levels since May for both.

The city’s latest data showed 174 hospitalized with Covid-19 symptoms as of Tuesday, a number the mayor described as “a serious increase.” During the summer and fall, admissions totaled fewer than 50 a day. Despite the rising numbers, the mayor said the city’s private and public hospitals remain well within their capacity to handle such increases.

West Virginia Offer Free Testing at Home (1:06 p.m. NY)

Free, in-home Covid testing is now available for all West Virginians, even if they don’t have symptoms. Gov. Jim Justice announced at a briefing on Wednesday that the state has partnered with New York-based Vault Health to provide convenient tests to its residents at no cost.

The saliva-based test kits will be mailed to people using UPS along with a prepaid return package. The sample must be taken under the virtual observation by a Vault Health representative. Results will be provided one or two days after the lab receives the results.

Moderna Vaccine May Offer Lasting Protection (11:57 a.m. NY)

Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine appears to offer potent protection against coronavirus that will last a minimum of three months and potentially much longer, according to a letter from the researchers who conducted the trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The number of antibodies produced to fight the infection dropped slowly over time, though they remained elevated and started to plateau three months after volunteers received the second injection.

The level of neutralizing antibodies produced by 34 healthy adult patients in the first trial of the vaccine was higher than a comparison group of 41 patients who had been recovering from the infection for just over a month, the researchers said. While specific details the immune response needed to confer lasting immunity to the virus are still unclear, the initial findings suggest the vaccine has the potential to provide durable immunity, they said.

The vaccine also triggered the production of helper T cells, a critical component of the immune system, 43 days after volunteers received their first shot, though longer studies are needed and are underway, they said. No new complications arose after day 57 of the trial.

Italy Reports Record Deaths (11:44 a.m. NY)

Italy reported a record number of daily coronavirus deaths Thursday, surpassing March’s peak, as the government laid out a plan to restrict movements over the coming holiday season.

New fatalities linked to the pandemic hit 993, ahead of 969 on March 27. Some 23,225 new cases were recorded, down 20% from the same day last week. The test positivity rate was stable, at about 10%.

The Italian government approved a new plan to stem the spread of the virus over the Christmas and New Year season, banning movements between regions from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6. Movements between different towns will also be halted on Dec. 25, Dec. 26 and Jan. 1.

Global Infections Top 700,000 in One Day (10:33 a.m. NY)

Daily infections reported worldwide reached a record 716,289 on Wednesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. It was the first time over 700,000. Daily cases recorded one month ago were 490,455.

Maine Hits Record (10:15 a.m. NY)

Maine, which had largely been spared from the outbreak, hit a record 349 daily cases, the state’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. That’s more than double the 153 infections reported a month ago, state data show. Cases began rising rapidly at the end of October, as did hospitalizations. Two more people died, for a total of 220 fatalities.

Fauci Says He Will Stay on Under Biden (10:10 a.m. NY)

Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the U.S., will continue at the National Institutes of Health under President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, he told CBS in an interview.

Fauci also said he’ll take a Covid-19 vaccine in public after it has been approved by the FDA, adding he wished the U.K. had spent more time reviewing the Pfizer vaccine.

U.K.’s ‘Obscure’ PPE Process Challenged in Suit (9:13 a.m. NY)

A public-interest group told a London court that the U.K. wasted millions of pounds on Covid-19 personal protective equipment as it rushed into contracts at the start of the pandemic. Nearly 400 million pounds ($538 million) worth of protective gear, including masks and gowns, that were bought earlier in the year remain in storage and have never reached front line doctors and nurses, the Good Law Project said in a court filing Thursday.

Facebook Will Take Down Covid Vaccine Misinformation (9 a.m. NY)

With vaccines against Covid-19 on the verge of being rolled out around the world, Facebook said it will start removing false claims about the immunizations that have been debunked by public health experts. The move announced Thursday adds to Facebook’s policy of taking down misinformation about the deadly virus that could lead to imminent physical harm.

Sweden Shuts Upper Secondary Schools (8:24 a.m. NY)

Sweden will close all of its upper secondary schools for one month as part of renewed measures to slow the spread of Covid-19. On Thursday, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven described the nationwide closure as necessary, saying “there will be a day when things return to normal, but that day isn’t here yet.”

U.S. Covid-19 Hospitalizations Rose to 14.6%; Most on Record (8:15 a.m. NY)

More than 14% of hospital beds in U.S. hospitals were occupied by Covid-19 patients on Nov. 30, the most on record, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The hospitalization rate rose to 14.6% from 14.3% the day before and hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients totaled 102,579.

The U.S. hospitalization rate was 0.6 percentage points above the five-day average of 14%.

Indonesia’s Virus Cases Rise by Record (7:13 a.m. NY)

Indonesia added the highest number of new coronavirus cases since the outbreak began, with the province of Papua adding the most new infections compared to other regions.

The health ministry confirmed 8,369 new cases in the 24 hours through midday Dec. 3, beating the previous record of 6,267 on Nov. 29. That brings the country’s positivity rate to 18.4% on Thursday, considering 45,479 people were tested during the period.

WHO Plans Vaccination Dashboard (7:05 a.m. NY)

The World Health Organization plans to develop a dashboard that will measure the uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations, according to Siddhartha Datta, program manager for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization.

That’s critical both for planning purposes in various countries and for any mid-campaign changes to vaccination strategies, he said. The WHO is working with different member states to understand their preparedness and has set up a regional monitoring mechanism that allows countries to submit their status.

Pandemic Pushed 32 Million Into Extreme Poverty (6:47 p.m. HK)

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the world’s poorest countries, pushing millions into extreme poverty, according to a United Nations report.

More than 32 million additional people in the poorest countries in the world now live on less than $1.90 a day — a direct result of the outbreak, the UN Conference on Trade and Development said Thursday.

Moscow to Begin Mass Vaccinations Saturday (6:46 p.m. HK)

Moscow will begin giving high-risk workers Covid-19 vaccinations on Saturday after President Vladimir Putin called for authorities to roll out a mass inoculation program. The first doses will be for teachers, health care workers and city social services employees, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on his blog.

Russia has the world’s fourth-highest number of cases globally, with almost 2.4 million. On Wednesday, Putin said more than 2 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine will be ready for use in the coming days.

Phase III Trials of Russia's 'Sputnik V' COVID-19 Vaccine

© Bloomberg
Phase III Trials of Russia’s ‘Sputnik V’ COVID-19 Vaccine

A health worker administers a Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine shot during a trial at the City Clinic #2 in Moscow, on Nov. 26.

Greece Extends Lockdown for a Week (6:43 p.m. HK)

Greece extended its lockdown until Dec. 14, said Stelios Petsas, a government spokesman. “Certain types of economic activity are simply not going to operate until we have a vaccine,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Wednesday.

Iran Surpasses 1 Million Covid Cases (6:30 p.m. HK)

The number of coronavirus cases reported in Iran surpassed 1 million on Thursday, underlining the virus’s persistent spread in the Middle East’s worst outbreak. The Health Ministry announced 13,922 new cases in the country of about 80 million, above the seven-day average of 13,598.

(An earlier version was corrected to the right time stamps)

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