U.S. Vaccines Within Weeks; Shanghai Airport Tests: Virus Update

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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. Shanghai’s airport is conducting tests on all cargo employees after a worker was confirmed to be affected.

The U.K. will announce Monday that quarantine restrictions will ease in time for Christmas, the Telegraph reported, while the French government plans a three-phase easing of lockdown measures from December. Hong Kong and Singapore scrapped a travel bubble after cases spiked in Hong Kong.

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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

(Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble Halted (8 a.m. HK)

The shelving of the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble shows just how delicate the process of reopening borders is, even for places that have largely contained the coronavirus, casting further doubt over any global recovery in international air travel.

Asia’s virus outbreak is dwarfed by those in the U.S. and Europe, but a recent uptick in cases in Hong Kong proved enough to delay the start of the air corridor between the two financial hubs by two weeks, dashing the plans of those who booked flights that were due to begin Sunday. The bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was heralded as a pandemic world-first, allowing people to travel to and from the two places without the need for quarantine.

America’s Most Infected Area Shuts Outdoor Dining (8:10 a.m. HK)

The Greater Los Angeles area added 2,718 new coronavirus cases Sunday, with the five-day average exceeding the 4,000 threshold that triggered additional measures where restaurants, breweries and bars will once again limit their businesses to just pick-up and delivery. The new curbs will start at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

“If our cases and hospitalizations continue to increase, we will need to issue further restrictions to protect our health-care system and prevent more deaths,” Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement Sunday.

Shanghai Airport Testing (8:05 a.m. HK)

Shanghai conducted coronavirus tests on all cargo employees at Pudong airport Sunday night, after a worker there was confirmed to be infected, according to a statement from the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission. Shanghai had reported six confirmed local infections as of Nov. 22 after a new cluster was reported Nov. 9, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Hundreds of Bodies Still Unclaimed in NYC (7:07 a.m. HK)

Hundreds of bodies remain unclaimed in freezer trucks in New York City from the first deadly wave of Covid-19, the Wall Street Journal reported. The paper reported that 650 bodies are being stored near the waterfront in Brooklyn, many of whom are people whose families couldn’t be located or couldn’t afford a funeral.

“Supporting families and helping facilitate respectful final arrangements for individuals who passed at the height of the pandemic reflects the core mission of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner,” Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson said in a statement on Sunday.

U.K.’s Johnson Pledges Testing as Way Out of Covid Curbs (5:33 p.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a massive increase in community coronavirus testing on Monday as part of a plan to reintroduce tiered restrictions in place of the England-wide lockdown that ends on Dec. 2.

Areas under the highest level of curbs will have access to regular tests. People who come into contact with someone with the disease will be able to avoid quarantine by taking a test every day for seven days, Johnson’s office said.

U.K. to Lift Some Quarantine Curbs for Holiday Travel: Telegraph (5:28 p.m. NY)

U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will announce on Monday that quarantine restrictions will ease in time for Christmas so families can travel to high-risk countries to visit relatives, the Telegraph reports.

Restrictions will be cut from 14 days to five if travelers test negative five days after returning to the country, according to the newspaper.

German Lockdown Protester Goes Viral (5:26 p.m. NY)

Video of a German lockdown protester who likened herself to an anti-Nazi resistance hero drew a rebuke by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. The episode illustrates the challenges faced by governments, including Germany’s, in responding to citizens who say they oppose lockdowns on grounds of individual liberties.

The video “trivializes the Holocaust and shows an insufferable lack of awareness about history,” Maas tweeted on Sunday.

The woman likened herself to Sophie Scholl at a protest in Hanover, Germany, on Saturday, according to multiple videos of the event. Scholl, a student, was executed in 1943 at age 21 after being caught distributing anti-Nazi leaflets.

CVS Chief Says 48 Hours From Vaccine Receipt to Care Homes (4:24 p.m. NY)

Elderly Americans will be among the first to receive Covid-19 vaccines, and CVS Health will lean on processes developed by years of conducting seasonal flu clinics to speed a rollout to care homes across the U.S., the pharmacy chain’s CEO said Sunday.

“Our pharmacists, our nursing professionals have gone to skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities for several years now,” Larry Merlo said on CBS. “So we have the systems. We have the processes.”

Merlo said more than 25,000 long-term care facilities have selected CVS to be their Covid vaccine provider, and that the company is adding pharmacy staff ahead of the effort.

“Operation Warp Speed has said 24 hours after approval, those vaccines will be on the road. And 48 hours after we receive that vaccines, we’ll be in those facilities providing that vaccine into the arms of our elderly,” he said.

Georgia’s Loeffler Tests Negative for Covid, Will Keep Isolating (3:24 p.m. NY)

a person wearing a neck tie: House And Senate Meet As Biden Calls For Coronavirus Relief Bill

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House And Senate Meet As Biden Calls For Coronavirus Relief Bill

Kelly Loeffler

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

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

Loeffler’s latest Covid-19 test, done Saturday night, came back negative, her campaign said on Sunday. She’ll continue to isolate and will be tested again.

“Out of an abundance of caution, she will continue to self-isolate and be retested again to hopefully receive consecutive negative test results,” Loeffler campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson said in a statement.

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.”

a man driving a car: Wisconsin Faces Major Surge In COVID-19 Pandemic

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Wisconsin Faces Major Surge In COVID-19 Pandemic

A drive-up Covid-19 test center in Milwaukee. Wisconsin is one of the hardest-hit states in the virus’s recent surge.

Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

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.

a man sitting at a desk in front of a laptop: FDA And CDC Heads Testify To House Commerce Subcommittee On Seasonal Influenza Preparedness And Response

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FDA And CDC Heads Testify To House Commerce Subcommittee On Seasonal Influenza Preparedness And Response

Scott Gottlieb

Photographer: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg

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.

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.

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.

a man wearing a suit and tie: U.K. Cabinet As Brexit Talks Enter Crucial Phase

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U.K. Cabinet As Brexit Talks Enter Crucial Phase

Rishi Sunak

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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.

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