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Chicago, Denver Tighten Limits; French Deaths Soar: Virus Update

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 10/27/2020 Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Germany is looking at closing restaurants and prohibiting large events as governments across Europe seek to tackle rising infections and fatalities while avoiding full-scale lockdowns. Italy reported a record number of new cases, while deaths in France were the highest since April.

In the U.S., Covid-19 hospitalizations have risen at least 10% in the past week in 32 states and the nation’s capital as the month-old viral surge increasingly weighs on America’s health-care system. Chicago and Denver tightened restrictions in an attempt to stem outbreaks.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company may know by the end of October whether or not its vaccine is effective. Cadila Healthcare Ltd., one of two Indian companies trying to develop a vaccine, is in talks with potential partners to ramp up production.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 43.4 million; deaths exceed 1.15 millionSlow Covid recovery stalks health industry as new cases surgeAll-in push for vaccine in U.S. raises risk virus will lingerEuropean governments running out of options to avoid lockdownsVaccine Tracker: Vaccine trials restart, providing hope

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.

chart, histogram: Seven-day average of U.S. death toll is at 800 again © Bloomberg Seven-day average of U.S. death toll is at 800 again

El Paso Hospitals Fill With Virus Patients (5:30 p.m. NY)

More than 40% of the hospital beds in El Paso, Texas, are occupied by virus patients as the worsening outbreak in the state’s biggest hot spot tested the region’s health-care infrastructure.

Just a week ago, the Covid-19 census in El Paso-area facilities was under 25%, state health department figures showed. Federal and state agencies have opened field hospitals and deployed 1,000 nurses and other personnel to aid locals. Outbreaks are also accelerating in Lubbock and Amarillo, where more than 20% of hospital beds are taken by virus victims.

Statewide, hospitalizations have risen in seven of the past eight days and are now at levels not seen since late August. Texas hospitals housed 5,512 virus patients as of Tuesday, a 65% increase since the start of the month.

California’s Theme Parks Staying Closed (5 p.m. NY)

California Governor Gavin Newsom said he is hesitant to allow theme parks, including Disneyland, to reopen as coronavirus cases surge again across the world.

Walt Disney Co. and other theme park operators have been pushing the state for permission to resume operations, particularly after Florida parks started operating again in June. But Newsom said Tuesday that other states and countries that have been more permissive about letting businesses reopen are now enduring another wave of infections.

“Self-evidently, we should be concerned about opening up a large theme park, where by definition people mix from every conceivable walk of life,” he said during an update with reporters.

Illinois Suspends Indoor Dining in Chicago (4:36 p.m. NY)

Illinois will suspend indoor restaurant and bar service in Chicago starting Friday amid a surge in cases, according to Governor J.B. Pritzker. The region that includes Chicago “is now averaging more than twice as many Covid-related hospital admissions per day as it was a month ago, with a positivity rate that has almost doubled since the beginning of October,” Pritzker said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

France Reports Most Deaths Since April (3:16 p.m. NY)

France reported the most Covid-19 deaths since April on Tuesday, as President Emmanuel Macron readies new measures to control the coronavirus.

Fatalities linked to the virus jumped by 523 to 35,541, health authorities reported. That’s the biggest increase since April 22, before the end of France’s lockdown in May, with the data including several days of deaths from nursing homes.

Laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases increased by 33,417, while the seven-day average that smooths out weekly fluctuations increased to more than 38,000, having doubled in less than three weeks. France on Sunday reported a record 52,010 new cases.

Hospitalizations for the virus increased by 1,194 to 18,978, the biggest increase since April 2, while the number of patients in intensive care increased by 148 to 2,918, the highest level since early May.

Covid-19 patients now occupy 57.5% of France’s intensive-care beds, rising by almost 3 percentage points from Monday and up from 42.9% a week ago, according to health authorities.

N.Y. Adds California to Quarantine List (3 p.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo added California to New York state’s Covid-19 travel advisory. It had been one of only a handful of states that weren’t on the list. The advisory requires individuals who have traveled to New York from areas with significant community spread to quarantine for 14 days.

Neighboring state Massachusetts now meets the criteria for the travel advisory, in addition to Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But New York said that given the interconnected nature of the region, a quarantine on those states is not practically viable.


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Western States Join Vaccine Review Group (3 p.m. NY)

Washington, Oregon and Nevada joined California’s initiative to review any FDA-approved vaccine for safety and efficacy before distributing it to residents. The states will identify public-health experts who will help guide the review, joining an 11-member panel announced last week by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

“Any Covid vaccine must be guided by the expertise of scientists and medical professionals and that’s just what this workgroup will do,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement.

While the safety of a vaccine has become a political issue, Newsom said last week that the group would review a shot regardless of the outcome of the presidential election.

Belgium’s Flemish Region Shuts Cinemas, Gyms (2:35 p.m. NY)

Dutch-speaking Flanders became the latest Belgian region to tighten restrictions, ordering theaters, cinemas, gyms and swimming pools to shut down starting Friday for an undetermined period. Indoor sports are banned for all people age 12 and up. Unlike the Brussels capital district and the southern French-speaking region of Wallonia, Flanders didn’t extend the nationwide curfew that begins at midnight.

Young Adults Were Slow to Embrace Masks, CDC Says (2:30 p.m. NY)

Young adults in the U.S. were slow to embrace steps like mask-wearing and social distancing that could have reduced the spread of coronavirus early in the outbreak and were less likely than their elders to stick with the protective measures as the pandemic wore on, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall, about 80% of American adults engaged in at least four mitigation measures, which also included steps like frequent hand-washing, avoiding crowds, canceling social activities and skipping indoor dining, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. While they did embrace the use of face masks over time -- 89% of adults reported wearing them in June, up from 78% in April -- other steps to limit the virus declined over time, the researchers found.

The discrepancy in taking protective measures may help explain the rising rates of Covid-19 in younger adults that began in June and preceded increases in people age 60 and older, the CDC said. Those who didn’t wear masks were also more likely to start skipping other steps, suggesting a group of people may be increasingly resistant to the tools currently available to slow the spread of the virus.

Denver Tightens Limits (1:51 p.m. NY)

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock expanded restrictions Tuesday, ordering most businesses to limit capacity to 25%, effective immediately. “This is what we get when we don’t have a national strategy,” Hancock said. Denver reported a one-day record of 327 news cases Sunday. The Colorado capital could reimpose stay-at-home-orders, officials said.

Bulgaria Closes High Schools, Universities (1:40 p.m. NY)

Bulgaria is closing high schools and universities starting from Thursday, as well as night clubs and bars, while limiting further the capacity at restaurants, conferences and theatres. The Balkan country, whose prime minister is recovering from Covid at home, has so avoided nationwide restrictions in the past two months but hit a new record of death cases and intensive care patients Tuesday, putting pressure on its unreformed health care system.

Italy’s Cases Hit Record (1 p.m. NY)

Italy’s coronavirus cases reached a new daily record on Tuesday, rising to 21,994, compared with 17,012 the previous day. About 174,000 tests were carried out, and 221 deaths related to Covid-19 were reported, bringing the total to 37,70. Patients in intensive-care units rose by 127, to 1,411. Hospitalizations reached 15,366 , compared with April peak of 29,000

U.K. New Deaths Highest Since May (12:30 p.m. NY)

The U.K. reported the most new deaths from coronavirus since the end of May, as public health officials warned the number of deaths will continue to rise.

Some 367 new deaths were reported within 28 days of a positive test, compared with 102 on the day before. The number of deaths is often higher in the two days following a weekend, but Tuesday’s figure is the highest since the country experienced a second rise in the number of cases.

Dr. Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, said she expects the number of deaths to continue rising for some time in an emailed statement.

“Each day we see more people testing positive and hospital admissions increasing,” Doyle said.

Greece Cases Hit New Record (12:15 a.m. NY)

Greece reported 1,259 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, the highest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic, bringing the total to 32,752.

The country recorded 12 more deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours with the total number of dead now at 593. The country introduced new measures on Saturday to control the spread of the virus, including a night-time curfew, in high risk areas such as the capital Athens and the second-largest city, Thessaloniki. Greek Education Minister Niki Kerameus said Tuesday she tested positive for Covid-19 after her husband showed symptoms of the virus. He also tested positive. The minister said in a tweet that she has already gone into self-isolation.

Novavax’s U.S. Vaccine Study Start Delayed (11:25 a.m. N.Y.)

Novavax Inc. has delayed the start of a late-stage study of a Covid vaccine candidate in the U.S. and Mexico by more than a month until late November.

Novavax originally expected the 30,000-person trial to start enrolling in mid-October. The study is supported by a $1.6 billion contract from a U.S. government program to speed vaccine development. Different ethnicities will be proportionally represented, the company said in a statement.

Hungarian Doctor Group Warns of ‘Catastrophe’ (11:05 a.m. NY)

Hungary risks a “humanitarian and health catastrophe” without further government measures to stem the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors.

SUNY to Test Students Before They’re Sent Home (10:25 a.m. NY)

The New York State University system will require students to test negative for the coronavirus before heading home for Thanksgiving to prevent community spread, Chancellor Jim Malatras said on Tuesday.

The system plans to test about 140,000 students, those using on-campus facilities at the 64 colleges and universities, according to a news release. Testing will be conducted over a 10-day period prior to the holiday break. Most SUNY schools are planning to shift to remote learning after Thanksgiving.

Pfizer Trial Hasn’t Reached Key Milestone (10:15 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. indicated that a large, late-stage trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine hadn’t yet reached a key milestone that will help researchers determine how well it protects people from Covid-19.

In a presentation included with its third-quarter earnings results Tuesday, the drugmaker said the data-monitoring board of scientists overseeing the trial hadn’t yet conducted an interim efficacy analysis. That means fewer than 32 cases of Covid-19 have occured among the trial’s participants. The first of four efficacy analyses is scheduled to be conducted when the trial achieves that threshold.

Pfizer has enrolled more than 42,000 patients in its Covid-19 vaccine trial. Almost 36,000 have received their second dose as of Oct. 26, the company said Tuesday.

As one of the front-runners in the race for a coronavirus vaccine, Pfizer had said it could have initial efficacy results as soon as this month. Some analysts had wondered whether an interim analysis might already have been conducted and not reported, perhaps because it hadn’t shown conclusive results.

Netherlands Reports Record Cases and Boosts Aid (9:21 a.m. NY)

Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the Dutch government has made about 500 million euros ($592 million) in extra funds available for state aid on the same day a report showed weekly cases rose to a record.

The government will now allow all industries with companies whose revenue was ravaged by the pandemic to apply for help in paying fixed costs such as rent. The new support also includes compensating shuttered bars and restaurants for unusable stock.

Merkel to Push for Tougher Curbs (8:56 a.m. NY)

Germany is heading for harsher restrictions on movement and contact. Chancellor Angela Merkel will propose measures such as closing restaurants and banning major events to the country’s 16 state premiers on Wednesday.

Unlike the previous lockdown in the spring, every effort will be made to keep Europe’s biggest economy running and schools and daycare centers will stay open unless they are in regions with exceptionally high infection rates. German media reported the plans earlier on Tuesday.

Russia Begins Making Another Vaccine (8:55 a.m. NY)

Russia has begun production of a second Covid-19 vaccine that hasn’t completed trials. It’s being developed by former biological weapons lab Vector State Virology and Biotechnology Center in Novosibirsk and output will ramp up by the end of the year, state-run RIA Novosti reported, citing Anna Popova, head of Russia’s public-health watchdog.

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