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U.S. Case Rise Steady; Alert for Florida’s Elderly: Virus Update

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 8/13/2020 Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. coronavirus cases increased by 1.1% on the day, matching the average daily increase over the past week. Joe Biden called for a nationwide mask mandate, saying it would save more than 40,000 lives over the next three months.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has generally resisted more stringent measures against Covid-19, warned of virus deaths at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Texas is investigating why data show a surge in positive-test rates while other metrics indicate the virus’s spread is slowing.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that many regions in the U.S. need to drive virus cases sharply lower to avert a dangerous convergence of the pandemic with flu season. Experts say, though, get used to living with Covid-19.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Global cases top 20.7 million; deaths pass 751,000Mass antibody study finds 3.4 million in England had Covid-19The keys to speed in race for vaccine, and its perilsBiometric fobs can ensure billions have immunity against CovidBrazil, Latin America’s Covid hotbed, leads its economic reboundHundreds quarantined in schools that followed Trump’s advice

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.

India's coronavirus deaths pass the U.K. for fourth worst in the world © Bloomberg India's coronavirus deaths pass the U.K. for fourth worst in the world

NYC Companies Don’t Expect Workers Back Soon (4:57 p.m. NY)

New York City’s largest employers remain worried and uncertain about the future course of the virus, with just 26% expecting workers to return by the end of the year, according to a report.

Only 8% of employees have returned to their workplaces, according to the survey of 146 companies by the Partnership for New York City, an association of chief executives. Just over half those surveyed, or 54%, expect offices to be occupied a year from now.

The executives’ uncertainty is greater now than it was in a similar May survey. It said 28% still haven’t even drafted a detailed reopening plan.

Experts Say Virus Not Going Away (4:52 p.m. NY)

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to be a challenge for years to come even with a vaccine, according to pharmaceutical and public-health experts.

While a vaccine will provide some measure of protection to societies around the globe, the virus is likely to flare up from time to time and be constantly battled, much like the flu and other pathogens.

“We know this virus is not going away any time soon. It’s established itself and is going to keep on transmitting wherever it’s able to do so,” Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist for the World Health Organization, at the “How Covid-19 Is Reshaping the Global Healthcare Ecosystem” event hosted by Bloomberg Prognosis. “We know we have to live this this.”

CDC Chief Warns of Covid-Flu Collision (4:33 p.m. NY)

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that many regions in the U.S. need to drive the rate of Covid-19 cases sharply lower to avert a dangerous convergence of the pandemic with flu season.

CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview Thursday that he’s optimistic they’ll do so, because newly recorded cases have declined from their recent peak in July and most areas of the U.S. are in a “downward trajectory.”

Even so, there’s a great distance for most of the country to go to reduce the burden of Covid before flu season arrives. “We’d like to see those prevalence rates down under 3%, 2% of tests positive,” he said, noting that the U.S. never brought cases down as dramatically as Europe did.

U.S. Cases Increase in Line With Seven-Day Average (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases rose 1.1% compared to the same time Wednesday to 5.23 million, matching the average daily increase over the past week. Deaths rose 0.8% to 166,623 over the same period.

California’s hospitalizations from the virus dropped 3.8% on Wednesday to 5,236 patients, the lowest since June 30, according to state health department data. They’ve dropped 27% from a July 21 peak.Florida reported 557,137 cumulative cases on Thursday, up 1.1% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.3% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 8,913, an increase of 148, or 1.7%.Arizona reported 1,351 new Covid-19 cases, a 0.7% increase to 190,794 marking the first time since Aug. 1 that the percentage exceeded the prior seven-day average. The state’s death toll rose to 4,383.Hawaii experienced a 5.4% increase in cases to 3,958, according to the data from Johns Hopkins and Bloomberg News.

Georgia Governor Pulls Mask Lawsuit (3:08 p.m. NY)

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp ended his lawsuit against Atlanta’s mask mandate, while saying he’ll sign an executive order saying private businesses can ignore local mask ordinances, the Atlanta Constitution Journal reported.

The lawsuit pitted the Republic governor against the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, in a state with a quarter-million infections and almost 4,500 deaths.

“Unfortunately, the mayor has made it clear that she will not agree to a settlement that safeguards the rights of private property owners in Georgia,” Kemp was quoted as saying. “Given this stalemate in negotiations, we will address this issue in the next executive order. We will continue to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”

Biden Calls for Nationwide Mask-Wearing Mandate (3:04 p.m. NY)

Joe Biden said all Americans should wear a face covering when outside for at least the next three months and every U.S. state governor should mandate mask wearing. Biden made his remarks in Delaware after he and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris were briefed by experts on the pandemic.

“It’s not about your rights, it’s about your responsibilities as an American,” Biden said.

A mandate would save more than 40,000 lives over the next three months, he said, citing public health experts.

California Hospitalizations at Lowest Since June (2:50 p.m. NY)

California’s hospitalizations from the virus dropped 3.8% on Wednesday to 5,236 patients, the lowest since June 30, according to state health department data. They’ve dropped 27% from a July 21 peak.

Governor Gavin Newsom has pointed to falling hospitalizations as evidence that the state’s outbreak is improving, after data on new infections was muddied by lab reporting issues last week. California on Thursday reported 7,085 new cases, a 1.2% increase, but said that count includes test backlogs from prior days.

The state had 160 additional deaths, above the two-week daily average of 136, bringing fatalities to 10,808.

Texas Investigates Positive-Rate Surge (2:15 p.m. NY)

Texas officials have launched an investigation into why statewide data is showing a surge in positive-test rates even as hospital admissions and other metrics indicate the virus’s spread is slowing.

A special “data team” has been brought in to examine state health department data analysis and calculations, Governor Greg Abbott said. One factor in the jump in the positivity rate may be that fewer Texans are seeking testing, he said.

The positive-test rate jumped to a record 24.5% on Tuesday and has been above 20% since Aug. 8. The state health department has not updated the rate since Tuesday evening.

Florida Governor Warns of More Nursing Home Deaths (2:05 p.m. NY)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned more Covid-19 deaths may be coming at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, even though cases and hospitalizations appear to be easing across the state.

“Over the next couple weeks, I’m concerned of seeing kind of a tail where we start to see some of these long-term-care deaths,” DeSantis said.

Florida has one of America’s largest 65-and-over populations, and many of the elderly live in group settings. DeSantis said protective measures have meant that it takes longer for Covid-19 to breach long-term care facilities. Earlier in the pandemic, he said deaths in those places continued well after the first peak in fatalities in the general public.

Lloyd Webber in Oxford Vaccine Trial (1:20 p.m. NY)

Andrew Lloyd Webber tweeted a photo of himself participating in the Oxford University vaccine trial. “I’ll do anything to get theatres large and small open again and actors and musicians back to work,” he tweeted.

Houston Transmission Rate Continues to Fall (1:15 p.m. NY)

The Houston metro area’s rate of transmission was below 1 for a third straight day and growth in new cases has fallen 22% from last week, according to the Texas Medical Center. A transmission rate below 1 indicates the virus’s dissemination is slowing.

The 9-county region recorded 1,558 new cases on Wednesday, down from almost 2,000 a day last week, the medical center said on its website. Meanwhile the positive-test rate was 10.2%, down by almost half from 20.3% last month.

Houston’s data has been closely watched not only because it’s the biggest city in the second-largest state, but because its hospital system was among the first to show signs of stress at the start of the Sunbelt outbreak.

Johnson Will Be ‘Ruthless’ on French Quarantine (1:08 p.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government will be “absolutely ruthless” in deciding whether to impose a quarantine on people arriving from France, with a decision possible Thursday evening.

France has seen an increasing number of infections this week. The U.K. is trying to stop its own infection levels rising by telling people arriving from high-risk countries to isolate for 14 days.

Florida Cases Continue to Moderate (12:40 p.m. NY)

Florida reported a total of 557,137 cases on Thursday, up 1.1% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.3% in the previous seven days.

Deaths among Florida residents reached 8,913, an increase of 148, or 1.7%, according to the health department report.

On Wednesday, Florida said that day’s case numbers were inflated by a dump of data dating back seven weeks. That also affects the day-over-day percentage change for Thursday’s numbers.

The numbers Thursday appeared on Florida’s Covid-19 dashboard, but a more detailed PDF report usually released earlier in the day was delayed without explanation.

Europe Nears Vaccine Deal with Johnson & Johnson (12:27 p.m. NY)

The European Commission said it’s seeking to secure 200 million doses of a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, stepping up efforts to protect citizens against the pandemic.

A proposed contract would let all European Union countries buy the vaccine and allow them to donate supplies to low and middle-income countries, the commission said in a statement. After the initial purchase, the EU would be able to acquire a further 200 million doses later.

Spain Cases Spike (12:22 p.m. NY)

Spain reported 2,935 cases, the biggest increase since at least May 25, when the government changed the way it reports the data. That’s a big jump compared with the 1,690 detected in the previous 24-hour period, when the Madrid region had failed to update its data due to technical reasons.

Greece Nears Record (12:18 p.m. NY)

Greece reported its second-highest number of cases since the start of the pandemic, after hitting a record the previous day. The nation added 204 new cases, bringing the total to 6,381. The number of deaths increased by five in the past 24 hours with the total at 221, the country’s National Health Organization said.

Arizona Posts Rise in New Cases (11:45 a.m. NY)

Arizona reported 1,351 new Covid-19 cases, a 0.7% increase to 190,794 that marked the first time since Aug. 1 that the percentage exceeded the prior seven-day average. But the 36 new deaths reported were among the fewest in that same period, according to figures from the Arizona Department of Health Services. The state’s death toll rose to 4,383.

U.K. Sandwich Maker Reports Outbreak (11:05 a.m. NY)

Greencore Group Plc, one of the biggest sandwich suppliers to the U.K. market, said a “significant number” of its staff tested positive for the virus in its Northampton factory and are now self-isolating, according to a statement. The Dublin-based company said that as a result of the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the area, it decided to start proactively testing all of its staff at the Northampton site. Shares fell as much as 6.3%

Puerto Rico Passes 300 Deaths (10:45 a,m. NY)

Puerto Rico on Thursday reported 11 new fatalities due to the coronavirus, taking the total death count to 306 people, the Health Department reported. The U.S. Commonwealth of 3.2 million people has 24,446 confirmed and probable cases of the virus. Puerto Rico’s coronavirus and economic task force is meeting Thursday, and Governor Wanda Vazquez is expected to issue new health and safety guidelines before the weekend.

Italy Prosecutors Ask to Drop Probe Into Premier (9:30 a.m. NY)

Rome prosecutors sought permission to drop a probe into Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and members of his cabinet after complaints were filed by several citizens on how the government handled the coronavirus pandemic, according to a note from the premier’s office.

U.S. Jobless Claims Below 1 Million for First Time in Pandemic (8:34 a.m. NY)

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell below 1 million for the first time since the pandemic began in March, suggesting the economic recovery is gaining some traction amid a deceleration in coronavirus infections.

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell by 228,000 to 963,000 in the week ended Aug. 8, Labor Department data showed Thursday. Continuing claims -- the total number of Americans claiming ongoing benefits in state programs -- decreased to 15.5 million in the week ended Aug. 1, the lowest since early April.

South Africa Data Suggest Second-Quarter Recession (7:41 a.m. NY)

South African data released this week suggests a record economic contraction in the second quarter following damage wrought by a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Manufacturing production, mining output and retail sales plunged in the three months through June as the country imposed a strict lockdown on March 27 that shuttered almost all activity except essential services for five weeks. With mining and manufacturing contributing about a fifth of total gross domestic product and trade, which includes retail, making up 15%, the drop means the recession probably became much deeper in the second quarter.

Thailand Sees Economic Crisis Lasting Through 2021 (7:13 a.m. NY)

Thailand’s worst economic crisis on record will endure through at least the end of next year, according to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha.

The government will continue to support businesses and workers affected by the pandemic, giving incentives to companies to continue employing staff and create jobs for fresh graduates entering the market, Prayuth said in comments prepared for a televised speech.

Thailand’s economy is headed for its steepest contraction on record after the pandemic battered its tourism and manufacturing sectors.

Finland to Recommend Use of Face Masks (7:06 a.m. NY)

Finland’s government will start advising citizens to use face masks in public transport and in other situations where social distancing isn’t possible.

The government will also recommend working remotely as much as possible in areas where Covid-19 cases are increasing, for instance in the Helsinki region, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a press conference on Thursday.

In the most recent case monitoring period of Aug. 3-9, authorities recorded a total of 139 new infections, an increase from 81 in the week before.

France Toughens Containment Measures (6:50 a.m. NY)

French authorities are demanding tougher enforcement of rules to stem the spread of coronavirus, including the use of masks, as the nation battles a rising number of cases.

a screenshot of a cell phone: French Virus Tracker © Bloomberg French Virus Tracker

With some regions nearing alert levels, the government is pushing local authorities to keep enforcing containment measures. Paris and Marseilles have already made masks obligatory in some streets and the government is encouraging labor unions to press for tougher rules within companies. The marathon due to take in the French capital in November was canceled this week.

Italy Imposes Tests for Travelers (6:32 a.m. NY)

Italy’s Health Ministry imposed mandatory Covid-19 tests on travelers arriving from Spain, Croatia, Malta and Greece after the number of new cases rose in the country.

Italy on Wednesday reported 481 new infections and 10 additional virus-related deaths. The country also imposed a ban on entries or transit for travelers from Colombia.

London City Airport Pauses Expansion (5:37 p.m. HK)

London City Airport Ltd. will pause the building of the next stage of a 480 million pound ($628 million) expansion due to a slower-than-expected recovery of the U.K. aviation industry from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The airport operator will postpone plans to extend its passenger terminal and new east pier from the end of this year, the company said in a statement on Thursday. The construction of eight new aircraft stands and a full-length parallel taxiway by the end of 2020 will still be completed.

Hong Kong Cases Re-Accelerate (4:51 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong reported 65 local virus cases on Thursday, with 33 of unknown origin, according to the financial hub’s health department. Infections are rising again after Tuesday’s tally of 32 local cases saw the lowest number of new local infections since a resurgence began early July.

IEA Cuts Oil-Demand Forecasts (4:00 p.m. HK)

The International Energy Agency cut forecasts for global oil demand as air travel suffers from the coronavirus crisis even more than previously expected.

The IEA reduced estimates for almost every quarter through to the end of 2021, with the second half of this year taking the steepest downgrades. Air travel remained two-thirds lower than last year in July, normally a peak month because of holiday flying, it said in a monthly report.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Second-Half Hit © Bloomberg Second-Half Hit

Spanish Regions May Curb Smoking to Combat Virus (3:07 p.m. HK)

Some of Spain’s autonomous regions are studying joining Galicia in restricting smoking in the street to stem the increasing rise in Covid-19 cases, El Pais reported.

Philippines to Join Human Trials for Russian Virus Vaccine (2 p.m. HK)

The Philippines will join the final phase of clinical trials for Russia’s coronavirus vaccine starting in October, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Thursday.

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Video: Doctors Concerned About Possible Spike In Chicago COVID-19 Cases This Fall (CBS Chicago)

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