U.S. Cases Rise 110,000 a Day Since Last Month: Virus Update

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The U.S., which recorded 177,552 new infections on Saturday, is now averaging almost 110,000 more daily cases than a month ago. Vaccinations against Covid-19 in the U.S. will “hopefully” start in less than three weeks, according to the head of the federal government’s program to accelerate a vaccine.

“We have patients gasping for breath, needing a ventilator to survive and too often dying,” some 2,000 employees of the University of Wisconsin health system wrote in an open letter pleading for residents to help stop the virus’s spread.

British ministers will weigh the next round of pandemic restrictions on Sunday, while the French government plans a three-phase easing of lockdown measures from December. Italy is also considering a pre-holiday easing.

Global Tracker: Cases pass 58.3 million; deaths 1.3 millionRegeneron gets emergency U.S. clearance for Covid-19 therapyPfizer’s Covid vaccine still faces hurdles after FDA filing FridayAstra-Oxford shot key to escaping pandemic for many nationsVaccine Tracker: Encouraging breakthroughs offer hope

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chart: Covid-19 patients more than doubled since Labor Day

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Covid-19 patients more than doubled since Labor Day

Swedish PM Sends Covid Plea to Nation After ‘Careless’ Response (2:28 p.m. NY)

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven used a rare Sunday night address to warn of the growing threat the coronavirus poses, amid fears the strategy used so far may not be enough to fight an increasingly deadly pandemic.

Lofven, the third prime minister in Sweden’s history to deliver such a national address, declared that “too many people have been careless about following the recommendations” that health authorities say are key if the virus is to be reined in.

Sweden famously avoided a lockdown, relying instead on voluntary measures. But with a death rate considerably higher than elsewhere in the Nordic region, and intensive care beds rapidly filling up, authorities in the country are now recalibrating their approach.

Wisconsin Medical System Pleads for Help to Stem Virus’s Spread (2:25 p.m. NY)

The University of Wisconsin health system, which now has a waiting list for patients, released a letter signed by 2,000 employees sounding an alarm for residents to prevent the virus’s spread.

“Wisconsin is in a bad place right now with no sign of things getting better without action,” said the letter, released Sunday. “We are, quite simply, out of time. Without immediate change, our hospitals will be too full to treat all of those with the virus and those with other illnesses or injuries.”

Wisconsin is one of the hardest-hit states in the virus’s recent surge. The seven-day average of new cases has roughly tripled since the beginning of October to about 7,000. Hospitalizations have also tripled in that time.

Turkey Hits Record (1:23 p.m. NY)

Turkey reported a daily record of 6,017 symptomatic Covid-19 patients, about 30% higher than three days ago, amid partial weekend curfews across the country.

The nation may have to impose stricter measures if the recent steps won’t slow down the pandemic, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.

France Cases Slow (12:58 p.m. NY)

France’s confirmed cases rose by 13,157 on Sunday to 2.14 million. The seven-day average of new cases continued to drop, as the country’s second lockdown is starting to slow the virus’s spread. The share of positive tests slipped to 14%, falling almost 3 percentage points in a week and down from 20.6% in early November.

Another 214 people died, the smallest increase in four weeks. The number of patients in the hospital and in intensive care has been falling from a peak on Monday.

Gottlieb Says Hospitals Likely to Face Staffing Shortages (12:48 p.m. NY)

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned that staffing will be a bigger issue at hospitals than the number of available beds during the unfolding spike.

“The hospitals can create new beds, they just won’t have the people to staff them,” he said. That’s because unlike previous waves, there will be limited ability to surge staff from less-affected areas of the country to hot spots.

Gottlieb, who is a Pfizer board member, predicted that the vaccines could be widely available to the general public by the second quarter of next year if all goes well. He also said that perhaps 30% of the public will have been infected with Covid-19 by the end of the winter, building up some immunity.

Cuomo Warns New Yorkers of Holiday Risks (12:16 p.m. NY)

New York reported 5,391 cases, the sixth day with more than 5,000 new infections, as Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a warning about the heightened risks of infection over the coming holidays. “This is a very dangerous period,” he told reporters in New York City, urging citizens to heed public health rules. “It’s purely a function of what we do.”

Hospitalizations ticked up to 2,562, while the statewide positive-test rate dropped slightly to 2.7%, one of the lowest in the nation. The positive rate in the “micro-cluster” areas targeted for more stringent restrictions remained steady at 4.4%.

U.K. Cases Pass 1.5 Million (11:54 a.m. NY)

The U.K. became the third western European country to pass 1.5 million cases after infections surged 50% this month. It reported 18,662 cases on Sunday, below the seven-day average of 21,290. Another 398 people died within 28 days of testing positive.

Both GOP Senators in January Runoffs Isolating (11:24 a.m. NY)

Both Republicans involved in run-off elections in Georgia to decide control of the U.S. Senate are now self-isolating at home after one, Senator Kelly Loeffler, may have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Loeffler’s campaign spokesman said late Saturday that she had a positive test followed by a subsequent inconclusive result. Senator David Perdue will remain home for now until Loeffler receives confirmation of her results, spokeswoman Casey Black said Sunday.

Loeffler and Perdue are in head-to-head matchups against Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively, on Jan. 5 after no candidate reached 50% of the vote in the Nov. 3 election.

Italy Weighs Easing Lockdown Before Holidays (11:18 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 28,337 new coronavirus cases Sunday, down from 34,767 a day earlier – in line with the normal weekend pattern as fewer tests are carried out. Daily deaths fell to 562 from 692 on Saturday.

The government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is considering temporarily easing a soft lockdown in the run-up to Christmas to allow shops to open for longer hours in worst-hit regions, Italian newspapers reported earlier Sunday.

U.S. Plans First Vaccinations Next Month, Warp Speed Leader Says (10:40 a.m. NY)

Vaccinations against Covid-19 in the U.S. will “hopefully” start in less than three weeks, according to the head of the federal government’s program to accelerate a vaccine.

“On the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in all the areas where the state departments of health will have told us where to deliver the vaccines,” Moncef Slaoui, head of the government’s Operation Warp Speed, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

U.S. Daily Cases Soar From Month Ago (8:52 p.m. NY)

The U.S., which recorded 177,552 new infections on Saturday, is adding almost 110,000 more cases every day compared with the same period a month ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Fatalities have doubled over that period, as the virus spread across the nation.

The seven-day average of new cases is now 169,657, compared with 59,954 in the same period a month ago. The record for daily infections is 195,690, set on Nov. 20.

Shanghai Reports New Cases in Pudong Outbreak (8:05 a.m. NY)

Two new cases were confirmed on Sunday afternoon in Shanghai. Both were close contacts of people infected the Pudong district, according to the official WeChat account of the Shanghai government.

The local government has quarantined and conducted tests on 52 other people, while a residential compound in Pudong has been classified as a medium-risk area.

U.K. Weighs Next Round of Restrictions (6:30 a.m. NY)

The “extremely damaging” economic impact of the closure of retail and hospitality businesses to stop the spread of the virus will be at the forefront of considerations when ministers meet on Sunday afternoon to decide on the next round of pandemic restrictions, according to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

Sunak said he will increase spending on public services this week in a bid to shore up the U.K. economy amid the “enormous stress and strain” of the pandemic.

Iran Reports 10% Increase in Deaths (6:55 p.m. HK)

Iran reported a 10% increase in daily deaths from Covid-19, with 475 fatalities in the last 24 hours. That brought the total death toll to 44,802. The number of new cases rose slightly to 13,053 overnight, the Health Ministry said.

France Plans Phased Lockdown Easing (6:10 p.m. HK)

The French government plans to ease lockdown measures in three steps as infections recede, while keeping some restrictions to contain the epidemic. A first easing will take place “around” Dec. 1, followed by a second one before the end-of-the-year holidays and a third from January, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told Le Journal du Dimanche.

Confinement measures and travel limitations will remain in place for some time, while restaurants and bars will still face restrictions, Attal told the newspaper. President Emmanuel Macron, who’s due to speak Tuesday, will detail the government strategy for the weeks to come, he said.

South Korea Imposes Tougher Social Distancing (6 p.m. HK)

South Korea is imposing stricter social-distancing measures, including limiting restaurant hours and social gatherings, as a surge in coronavirus cases threatens to undermine earlier efforts to contain the pandemic.

The country’s social-distancing alert level was raised to 2 from 1.5 for the greater Seoul area, effective Nov. 24. That will lead to a ban in gatherings in high-risk facilities such as night clubs and karaoke bars, while restaurants are prohibited from serving customers after 9 p.m. and can only operate takeouts and deliveries.

Russian Vaccine Price to Be Announced (5:50 p.m. HK)

The price of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine will be announced this week, one of the developers, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said in a statement Sunday. The cost will be “much lower” than the vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc, according to the Russian vaccine’s official Twitter account.

Polish Cases Drop to Lowest in Almost 3 Weeks (5:30 p.m. HK)

Poland saw 18,467 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the lowest since Nov. 2, while deaths rose by 330 to 13,618. The Polish government said yesterday it would consider easing some restrictions if a seven-day average of daily cases falls below 19,000.

Poland introduced a near-full lockdown earlier this month after infections surged in October, but it will allow shopping malls to reopen.

German Restrictions May Continue Past November (3:40 p.m. HK)

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 13,872 as the country headed into the final stretch of a partial lockdown of the economy. Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the restrictions may have to continue “for some time” beyond the end of November.

In that case, financial support for the sectors directly affected should also be extended, said Scholz, who’s also finance minister, noting that this would be “financially challenging.”

Russian Covid Cases Steady (3:35 p.m. HK)

The number of new Covid-19 infections in Russia remained steady at just over 24,000 in the past 24 hours. Total cases surpassed 2 million last week, pushing the country’s hospital system to the brink. Just over 400 deaths were recorded in the past day, a slight drop from the record 467 recorded on Saturday, the government’s virus response center said. Russia has the fifth-most cases globally, after the U.S., Brazil, India and France.

Hong Kong to Pay for Positive Tests (3:10 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong will give a one-time HK$5,000 ($645) payment to anyone in the city who tests positive for Covid-19 to encourage people to take tests for the virus, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said. The Labour and Welfare Bureau will announce details of the handout plan later, Radio Television Hong Kong cited Chan as saying in a radio interview.

Hong Kong will impose new social restrictions as local coronavirus cases spike. That increase prompted an announcement Saturday that a planned travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore would be postponed for two weeks.

Tokyo Finds 391 New Coronavirus Cases (2:10 p.m. HK)

Tokyo on Sunday confirmed 391 new coronavirus cases, up roughly 50% from a week earlier, according to municipal government data. On Saturday, the Japanese capital found a record 539 infections.

U.S. Added 177,552 Cases on Saturday (1:30 p.m. HK)

The U.S. saw 177,552 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from sources including Johns Hopkins University. That compares to a figure of 195,690 new infections on Friday as California and Ohio were among states to post new highs.

More than 12 million people in the U.S. have now been infected.

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