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NYC, N.J. Mandate Teacher Shots; U.S. Deaths Climb: Virus Update

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 8/23/2021 Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) --

The vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE was granted a full approval by U.S. regulators, prompting President Joe Biden to call on companies to mandate shots for workers. The Pentagon is now set to require all service members to get vaccinated.

New York City and New Jersey will require vaccines for public school teachers and staff. U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh sees the delta variant’s aggressive path shaking his expectations for a rapidly recovering labor market. The seven-day average death toll in the U.S. topped 1,000 on two straight days for the first time since March.

The U.K. ordered 35 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be delivered in the second half of 2022. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said current measures in place to curb the virus remain sufficient. Iceland started vaccinating 12-to-15 year-olds.

China reported no new locally transmitted daily Covid-19 infections. New Zealand extended its nationwide lockdown.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 212 million; deaths pass 4.4 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 4.95 billion doses administeredCovid optimists see U.S. nearing delta peak, but risks aboundPregnant, unvaccinated and intubated: Case surge alarms doctorsPfizer FDA approval more likely to sway black, hispanic holdoutsTokyo’s Covid playbook offers a lesson for Beijing 2022 Olympics

Nigeria Epicenter’s Positive Test Rate Rises (4:55 p.m. NY)

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has risen sharply in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub and Africa’s biggest city. 

The test positivity rate jumped to 12.1% as of Aug. 21 from 7% at the end of July, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of the state said in an emailed statement. The state has also recorded a total of 135 deaths since the third wave of infections started at the end of June when the test positivity rate was 1.1%, Sanwo-Olu said. 

“We are now clearly in the middle of third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and Lagos has remained the epicenter of the disease in Nigeria,” he said. A total of 4,387 persons are currently being treated for the illness in the state. The number of oxygen cylinders used has also shot up to 400 daily when compared to just 75 cylinders before the current wave. 

The state plans to start a new vaccination round from Aug. 25 with 300,000 doses of Moderna vaccines it received from the federal government. 

CVS Orders Some Employees to Get Vaccinated (4:50 p.m. NY)

CVS Health Corp. is requiring workers who interact with patients, and all corporate staff, to be fully vaccinated by the end of October.

Chevron, Hess Mandate Shots for Some Workers (4:10 p.m. NY)

Chevron Corp. and Hess Corp. stepped up the oil industry’s attempts to protect workers from Covid-19 by requiring vaccines for employees who work on platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Chevron’s mandate applies to some onshore support personnel as well as those working offshore, the company said in a statement. Hess is requiring its employees who work in the Gulf to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1. 

In a further sign of companies encouraging vaccinations, Schlumberger, the world’s biggest oil-services provider, said some customers are requiring its staff be vaccinated and tested prior to arriving on job sites. It’s not hard to see why: vaccination rates across the U.S. have stalled in recent months leading to a surge in infections, mostly among the unvaccinated population.

Sao Paulo to Require Shots at Restaurants (2:55 p.m. NY)

Video: NYC mandates COVID vaccines for all school staff (Reuters)

The most populous city in Latin America will begin requiring residents to have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to enter restaurants, bars and public events.

Sao Paulo’s new “vaccine passport” rule announced by Mayor Ricardo Nunes mandates that some businesses must ensure the vaccination status of each patron in order to avoid fines, which Nunes said “won’t be cheap,” in a press conference Monday. 

Vaccination status can be proved by showing either the card given when the dose is administered or a QR code created via a web app that is expected to be launched Friday, the mayor said.

Merkel Doesn’t See Further Measures (1:35 p.m. NY)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said current measures in place to curb the virus remain sufficient, even as infection numbers tied to the spread of the delta are on the rise. Current rules requiring people to provide proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid -- and if not, a negative test --are working, the German leader said.

“Our goal is to achieve that, to go without any further measures,” Merkel said at an event late Monday in Dusseldorf. “But we need to be vigilant.”

U.S. Daily Death Toll Tops 1,000 (10:40 a.m. NY)

The U.S. is recording more than 1,000 deaths a day from Covid-19, with the daily toll more than tripling in a month. The seven-day average of fatalities topped 1,000 on Saturday and Sunday, crossing that level for two straight days for the first time since March, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. More than 628,500 Americans have died from Covid since the pandemic began.

chart, histogram: Average of daily U.S. virus deaths surges in a month to top 1,000 © Bloomberg Average of daily U.S. virus deaths surges in a month to top 1,000

NYC Mandates Shots for Teachers (10:20 a.m. NY)

New York City will require its public school teachers and staff to be vaccinated, according to Bill Neidhardt, press secretary for Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The order, expected to be announced at a briefing Monday morning, supersedes a previous policy that gave teachers and staff the choice of getting vaccinated or being subject to weekly tests. The mandate will start in late September, after the start of school on Sept. 13, Neidhardt said. 

The mandate won’t cover all students, although last week de Blasio ordered student athletes in the city’s Public Schools Athletic League, as well as coaches and staff, to get vaccinated by the first day of athletic competition.

Indonesia Eases More Restriction (10 a.m. NY)

Indonesia will allow more cities, including the greater Jakarta area, to have dine-in services at restaurants with limited capacity and let export-oriented industries operate with a full workforce as it extends the curbs through Aug. 30. Three soccer matches will be allowed to go ahead this week with no audience. 

As the delta variant pushes Indonesia’s goal of reaching herd immunity out of reach, the government will maintain some form of virus curbs for as long as the pandemic is still happening, said Luhut Panjaitan, the coordinating minister in charge of the virus response.

Denmark Says No More Lockdowns (8:34 a.m. NY)

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says the country isn’t likely to see any more national lockdowns in the future after a very successful vaccine rollout and low contamination figures, she told reporters in Copenhagen on Monday.

The government expects to offer a third vaccine jab at some point and is currently investigating at what time the extra inoculation makes sense.

Separately, the government said it will spend as much as 800 million kroner ($125 million) to help Bavarian Nordic A/S finance its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. “It has shown really good results so far,” Health Minister Magnus Heunickesaid in a Copenhagen press briefing on Monday. The vaccine is expected to be approved “early next year,” he said.

More Pregnant People Hospitalized in U.S. (8 a.m. NY)

More young and healthy unvaccinated pregnant people are ending up hospitalized on ventilators during the delta-fueled spike in cases in the U.S.

Doctors across the country are reporting this trend, not seen in previous surges, largely in the South but also in states like California and Washington. As of Aug. 14, 76.2% of pregnant people were unvaccinated.

Pregnant women with Covid-19 are 15 times more likely to die, 14 times more likely to need to be intubated, and 22 times more likely to have pre-term birth than those who are uninfected, according to a study published this month in JAMA Network Open.

U.K. Orders Vaccines as Booster Shots Eyed (7:00 a.m NY)  

The U.K. Government ordered 35 million more doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine to be delivered in the second half of 2022.

It follows a previous order of 60 million shots from Pfizer in April, and comes as the government prepares to launch a booster program for those most vulnerable to Covid. Third vaccinations for vulnerable individuals over 50 could begin as early as next month after the U.K.’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation issues its final advice.

“While we continue to build this wall of defence from Covid-19, it’s also vital we do everything we can to protect the country for the future too – whether that’s from the virus as we know it or new variants,” said U.K. health secretary Sajid Javid.

Indonesian New Infections, Deaths Ease (6:19 a.m. NY)

Indonesia added 9,604 new cases on Monday, the fewest in more than two months, while daily deaths numbered 842, the lowest since July 10, as the government starts to ease restrictions for shopping malls and export-oriented industries. The country still tops the world’s tally of daily Covid-19 deaths. 

Its positivity rate, a measure of how many people tested turn out positive for the virus, has improved to 12.5% from more than 30% in July. That, however, may be a function of insufficient testing and is still higher than the World Health Organization recommendation for the rate to be kept below 5%. More than 89 million vaccine doses have been administered in the world’s fourth-most populous country, with about 12% of people fully inoculated.

Singapore Urges Differentiated Vaccine Rules (6:18 a.m. NY)

Singapore urged all employers to consider implementing a differentiated policy for existing and new employees to get vaccinated or undergo regular testing, following the example set by the government. 

Under an updated advisory issued on Monday, employers can ask staff who choose not to be vaccinated to foot the bill for regular testing as well as exclude them from Covid-19 related medical benefits, the country’s tripartite partners consisting the government, unions and employers said.

From October 1, staff in selected sectors like restaurants and gyms would be required to get vaccinated or else undergo twice-a-week testing, a move that the government as the country’s largest employer will be implementing as well. 

Delta Upends U.S. Labor Chief’s Jobs Hope (5 a.m NY)

U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s hopes for easing restrictions and steadily improving jobs numbers in September are being dashed by the delta variant’s aggressive path. “We’ve had some good job growth here in the last six months,” and “I get worried that this is going to slow some of that,” he said in a wide-ranging Zoom interview with Bloomberg News Thursday from his home in Dorchester, Boston.

The resurgence of coronavirus cases has already pushed back a return to the office for many Americans and slowed down consumer activity. Walsh’s own department is delaying a partial return until at least October. 

Sweden Sees Cases Rising on Delta Spread (4 a.m. NY)

Sweden’s current recommendations and restrictions will probably need to remain for some time to come, the country’s health agency says in a statement. Covid-19 cases are set to rise during the fall due to increased contacts in population and the Delta variant, it said, adding that higher vaccination coverage is necessary to reduce transmissions and its consequences to “an acceptable level.”

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