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U.S. Lifts Cruise Ship Ban; Deaths in France Surge: Virus Update

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 10/30/2020 Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- New U.S. cases rose to a record of more than 89,000 after four consecutive days of increases, and now total over nine million. New Jersey reported the most Covid-19 patients in intensive care in four months. Utah’s governor called for anti-mask protesters to stop demonstrations at the home of a health official as the state again reported record cases.

Global cases surpassed 45 million. Italy and Greece reported infection records, increasing pressure on their governments to follow Germany and France in further tightening restrictions on public life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would lift a ban on cruises in U.S. waters, even as government scientists warned that ships remain vulnerable to deadly outbreaks.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases surpass 45.3 million; deaths top 1.18 millionHospitals are under strain from Poland to UtahPfizer, Astra vaccines in accelerated U.K. reviewsOperation Warp Speed could shape up to be an $18 billion bargainLockdowns overshadow record growth in euro area’s big fourHow do people catch Covid-19?: QuickTakeVaccine Tracker: Clinical trials restart in hopeful sign

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.

Trump Administration to Put 180-Day Ban on Many Asylum Requests (5:23 p.m. NY)

The Trump administration is expected to announce a 180-day ban on a range of asylum requests citing the threat posed by the coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter, in its latest effort to restrict immigration ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Under the new rule, anyone entering or trying to enter the U.S. by land from Canada or Mexico would be ineligible for asylum -- and subject to removal -- because of potential national security threats to the U.S. amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Colorado Issues Warning on Hospitalizations (5:09 p.m. NY)

Colorado health officials warned that rising hospitalizations could soon strain the medical system, surpassing records from the outbreak last spring within two weeks. “There is a small window to improve transmission control over the next few weeks,” said Dr. Jonathan Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. In a statement, state health officials said intensive care units could filled by December or January.

Denver has ordered most businesses to limit capacity to 25%. Pueblo, the state’s ninth largest city, imposed an overnight curfew amid a deadly surge.

France Reports Biggest Death Toll Since April (4:51 p.m. NY)

France reported the most daily Covid-19 deaths since April, the same day a lockdown came into effect aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

An additional 545 people died from the virus, bringing the total to 36,565, France’s public health agency said on its website on Friday. Confirmed cases rose by 49,215 to 1.33 million, the second-biggest increase, trailing only that of Oct. 25.

The country has closed bars, restaurants, and non-essential services until at least December, while allowing schools and most businesses to operate. President Emmanuel Macron says the goal is to protect public health while avoiding another debilitating blow to the economy.

Utah Governor Calls for End to Anti-Mask Protest (4:30 p.m. NY)

Governor Gary Herbert said he was “disgusted” by a pellet gun shooting overnight outside a state health office and called for an end to protests by anti-mask demonstrators at the home of the state epidemiologist, Angela Dunn. “These protests are disgraceful,” he wrote on social media.

Utah’s cases spiked to another daily record, 2,292, as total deaths passed 600. State officials are warning of new crisis protocols as its health system is being overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases.

CDC Lifts Cruise Ship Ban (3:46 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that it would lift a ban on cruises in U.S. waters, even as government scientists warned that ships remain vulnerable to deadly Covid-19 outbreaks.

The agency provided a list of detailed requirements that cruise lines must meet to resume U.S. operations -- meaning that ships could return to U.S. ports in the next few months.

Yet the CDC said recent outbreaks show cruise travel “facilitates and amplifies” Covid-19 transmission even at reduced passenger capacities and would pose a risk of fueling spread without proper oversight.

California Opens Lab to Double Testing Capacity (3:44 p.m. NY)

California is opening a $25 million lab in Los Angeles County that could double the number of coronavirus tests the most-populous state processes each day. The facility, built with diagnostics company PerkinElmer Inc., should be able to process 150,000 tests daily by March, Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday, up from about 120,000 currently.

“We’ve got to box this disease in,” Newsom said. “More testing is foundational.”

The Dakotas, Hardest Hit in U.S., Break Records Again (3:23 p.m. NY)

The Dakotas, which lead the nation in per capita cases and hospitalizations, again broke records for new cases Friday. South Dakota reported 1,560 confirmed or possible cases, while North Dakota reported another 1,357. Neither state has mandated masks or other anti-virus measures, though cities in each state have either begun to do so or are considering it.

North Dakota surpassed 500 total deaths, while South Dakota now has 415 fatalities.

Cuomo Will Allow School Openings in N.Y. Hot Spots (3:40 p.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he has established protocols that would allow students in Covid cluster areas to return to school.

Cuomo said he has been working with public and private schools, including yeshivas and Catholic schools, in zones with the highest positive infection rates.

All students will be required to test negative before returning to school, Cuomo said. There also will be a required random surveillance, with testing of 25% of the school population every week, according to state officials.


Video: Health officials discuss state's draft vaccine plan amid second surge of COVID-19 cases (WSHM)

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Cuomo shut schools and businesses in the areas weeks ago as cases surged. Many of the zones had large Orthodox Jewish communities, and some have sued the government.

San Francisco to Pause Reopening Plan (3 p.m. NY)

San Francisco will hold off on expanded reopenings set to take place Nov. 3, citing a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The city had planned to expand indoor capacity to 50% from 25% at restaurants, movie theaters, museums and places of worship, along with reopening indoor pools, gym locker rooms and bowling alleys.

San Francisco has been one of the most successful areas of California in containing the the virus, allowing it to move into the state’s least-restrictive tier for economic activity. Local officials have credited stringent measures and a slow approach to reopening for keeping cases low, with the city’s test-positivity rate at less than 1%. Still, infections are starting to rise, Mayor London Breed said Friday.

“Given what we’re seeing in our numbers here as well as across the country and the world, we want to make sure we continue our cautious and deliberate approach,” Breed said in a statement, noting that Halloween and Election Day in particular will present added risks of spread.

Ronaldo Tests Negative, to Stop Isolating (2:30 p.m. NY)

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo tested negative for Covid-19 and is no longer required to remain at home, his club Juventus FC said in a statement.

Arizona Cases Rising as Pence Makes Campaign Stop (2:20 p.m. NY)

Arizona reported 1,565 cases Friday, the most since mid-September and the fifth time this week it exceeded 1,000. The rise came as Vice President Mike Pence, leader of the White House coronavirus task force, visited the state where polls show Democratic challenger Joe Biden has a slight edge over President Donald Trump.

On Twitter, Governor Doug Ducey welcomed the vice president but also released a short clip reminding citizens to continue wearing masks and maintaining social distance as cases and hospitalizations are ticking up again.

Belgium Imposes Lockdown to Avert Health-Care Collapse (2:15 p.m. NY)

The number of daily hospital admissions in Belgium is doubling every eight days. The country risks running out of available intensive-care beds by the end of next week after it took only eight days for the number of Covid-19 patients being treated in intensive care units to soar from 525 on Oct. 21 to 1,057 yesterday.

All non-essential stores will close in Belgium and there will be a partial ban of visits to family and friends. Schools will also stay closed for two weeks. A night curfew is already in place and bars and restaurants were closed earlier this month.

French Hoard Pasta, Toilet Paper (1:45 p.m. NY)

French shoppers last week were stocking up on essential items, particularly pasta and toilet paper, in anticipation of a partial national lockdown announced by President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, according to Nielsen.

Sales of frozen foods, canned vegetables, flour, diapers and paper towels also accelerated, the market-research company said in a statement citing French grocery data. The measures took effect Friday.

WHO Plans Travel Guidance Update (1:40 p.m. NY)

The World Health Organization is working on updated advice for safe travel during the pandemic, Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program, said at a briefing.

The advisory will take a risk-based approach in dealing with travelers, said Didier Houssin, chair of the Emergency Committee. Tests for Covid-19 are set to have more prominence than quarantines, after airlines and airports took action to make international travel safer.

Spain’s Cases Top 9,000 for Third Day (1:17 p.m. NY)

Spain counted more than 9,000 new coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day, the biggest infection streak since pandemic began.

Connecticut Senior Home Suffers Outbreak (12:32 p.m. NY)

An assisted-living facility in Connecticut reported an outbreak among 41 residents and staff, reflecting a virus resurgence in a state that contained a major outbreak last spring. One person has died at the Geer Village Senior Community in Litchfield County, the Hartford Courant reported.

“This fire is accelerating,” Governor Ned Lamont said on Thursday, as he reported that the state’s positive-test rate had jumped to 6.1%.

Italy ICU Levels ‘Much Better’ Than in Spring (12:30 p.m. NY)

Italy’s new cases exceeded 30,000 for the first time on Friday and the positive-test rate rose to 14.5%, heightening pressure on Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government to impose a stricter lockdown.

While hospitalizations are rising, the number of patients in intensive-care units, or ICUs, is at less than half the peak level of last spring.

“The number of available intensive-care beds is much higher than in March and the occupancy situation is much better,” Franco Locatelli, head of Italy’s public health institute, said at a press conference.

Greek Leader to Address Nation (12:20 p.m. NY)

Greece reported a one-day record of 1,690 coronavirus cases, compared with fewer than 500 at the start of last week.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to present further measure to curb the spread of the virus in a nationally broadcast address on Saturday.

N.J. Cases Top 2,000 for First Time Since May (11:20 a.m. NY)

New Jersey surpassed 2,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time since May.

Hospitalizations for Covid exceeded 1,000 for a third straight day and intensive-care patients reached a four-month high.

“We’re still in the fight,” Governor Phil Murphy said Friday.

U.S. House Panel Faults Trump’s Response (10:56 a.m. NY)

The Trump administration’s response to the pandemic has been “inefficient, ineffective and inequitable,” according to a report by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

The 69-page report, based in part on hearings and briefing by administration officials, calls the virus “an American fiasco” and the administration’s response “among the worst failures of leadership in American history.”

Regeneron Shares Slide on Trial (9:54 a.m. NY)

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals shares fell as much as 2.1% on Friday after an Independent Data Monitoring Committee recommended pausing enrollment for hospitalized patients with high oxygen requirements in a study of its antibody treatment.

The recommendation came after the group saw a potential safety signal and an unfavorable risk/benefit profile, the company said in a statement.

U.K. ‘Striving to Avoid’ Lockdown (8:51 a.m. NY)

Boris Johnson’s government is sticking with its local plan to tackle coronavirus hot spots rather than impose a national lockdown, amid growing warnings that tougher measures are needed to contain the pandemic.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Friday it would be “desperately unfair” to impose blanket measures when Covid-19 rates vary so much across England, adding that the government is “striving to avoid” a national lockdown. But he didn’t deny reports that it is considering adding a new tougher level of restrictions for the worst-hit areas of the country.

The number of people who currently have the virus is now above half a million in England, according to figures published on Friday by the Office for National Statistics, which said Covid infections are sharply increasing among secondary school children. The total rate of infections rose to one in 100 in the week through Oct. 23, from 1 in 130, it said.

Czechs Plans to Keep Industry Running (7:07 a.m. NY)

The Czech government doesn’t plan to curb manufacturing production or shut factories as part of its efforts to stem the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Andrej Babis tells lawmakers.

One of Europe’s worst hot spots in recent weeks may be seeing a slowdown in infection rates, but mobility data show the activity of people was declining only very slowly, the premier said.

Pfizer, Astra Vaccines Said to Be in Accelerated U.K. Review (6:47 a.m. NY)

The U.K.’s drug regulator has started accelerated reviews of Covid-19 vaccines under development from Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc, as Britain gets ready to approve the first successful shot as quickly as possible.

The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency started a so-called rolling review of the Pfizer vaccine in recent weeks, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who didn’t want to be identified because the procedure hasn’t been announced publicly. The agency is also conducting an expedited review of Astra’s vaccine, which the company is co-developing with the University of Oxford, a spokesman for Astra confirmed.

Astra shares erased losses, trading 0.2% higher in London. Pfizer rose 0.5% in premarket trading in New York.

Europe’s GDP Beats Mask Year-End Reality (5:26 p.m. HK)

German GDP rose 8.2% in the third quarter, while there were double-digit gains in France, Italy and Spain, with every reading beating the median expectations of economists. Those rebounds follow huge slumps in the previous three months, when activity came to a near halt amid lockdowns.

More up-to-date indicators paint a gloomier picture due to renewed restrictions that put the European Union at risk of slipping back into recession. The European Central Bank signaled it will pump more stimulus into the economy in December.

graphical user interface: The euro area's initial rebound will be cut short by new virus lockdowns © Bloomberg The euro area's initial rebound will be cut short by new virus lockdowns

U.S. New Cases Top 89,000 in Record (1:15 p.m. HK)

Confirmed new cases of the coronavirus topped 89,000 in the U.S. as the outbreak deepened ahead of next week’s presidential election.

New York, New Jersey and states across the Midwest set records on Thursday.

In New York, 1.48%, or 2,499 tests were positive of the more than 168,000 conducted statewide on Wednesday, the highest it’s been since mid-May.

chart, histogram: Covid-19 cases in the U.S. topped 89,000 on Thursday © Bloomberg Covid-19 cases in the U.S. topped 89,000 on Thursday

(An earlier version of this story corrected the headline to clarify a U.K. vaccine review had been accelerated, not the trial.)

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