California May Clamp Down; Powell Sees Challenges: Virus Update
Students wearing protective masks sit spaced apart during an examination at a  secondary school in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg)

California May Clamp Down; Powell Sees Challenges: Virus Update

California is considering a return to stay-at-home orders, and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy remains damaged.

Moderna Inc. plans to request clearance for its coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. and Europe on Monday, after a new analysis showed it to be highly effective with no serious safety problems.

New York City, the original U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, reported that its positivity rate has climbed above 4%. New York state is halting elective surgery in the Buffalo area. New Jersey will toughen the limit on outdoor gatherings to 25 people and halt indoor high school sports for the rest of 2020.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 63 million; deaths top 1.46 million
  • U.S. states fear shortfall of supplies for vaccine rollout, GAO says
  • The impact of school closures on children
  • Airlines face “mission of the century” in shipping vaccines
  • Drugs From Lilly, Regeneron raise concerns over access and timing
  • The best and worst places to be in the coronavirus era

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California May Clamp Down; Powell Sees Challenges: Virus Update

California Mulls Crackdown (4:45 p.m. NY)

California is considering a return to stay-at-home orders as hospitalizations from the coronavirus soar, with projections showing that intensive-care demand will exceed capacity in the next month.

Hospitalizations, already nearing a July record, are expected to double or triple by Christmas, Governor Gavin Newsom said at a briefing Monday.

Powell Sees Uncertainties (4:30 p.m. NY)

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is cautioning lawmakers that the U.S. economy remains in a damaged and uncertain state, despite progress made in the development of Covid-19 vaccines.

“Recent news on the vaccine front is very positive for the medium term,” Powell said in testimony released Monday ahead of a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. “For now, significant challenges and uncertainties remain, including timing, production and distribution, and efficacy across different groups.”

Croatia PM Tests Positive (3:10 p.m. NY)

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has tested positive for Covid-19. Plenkovic is at home and feeling fine, his spokesman said by phone. Plenkovic has been in isolation since Saturday, when his wife tested positive for the virus. His initial test came back negative.

France New Cases Lowest Since August (3:10 p.m. NY)

France added 4,005 new cases on Monday, the fewest since the end of August. The number of patients in intensive care continued to decline from a peak two weeks ago while total hospitalizations resumed their decline after an uptick on Sunday. Deaths linked to the virus rose by 406 to 52,731.

Turkey Orders Nationwide Curfew (1:10 p.m. NY)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a nationwide weekday curfew starting at 9 p.m. and ending at 5 a.m. as the country copes with about 30,000 new cases per day. On the weekend, the curfew is stricter, running from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. on Monday. The curfews are part of a slate of new restrictions on movement and commercial activity.

“We’re trying to find methods that protect the people’s health and also allow the continuation of production, commerce, employment and social life,” Erdogan said Monday, speaking after a weekly cabinet meeting.

WHO Emphasizes Importance of Origin Study (12:30 p.m. NY)

The World Health Organization is doing everything it can to find the origin of the coronavirus, despite attempts by some to politicize the process, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing Monday.

“We’ll start the study from Wuhan, know what happened there and then based on the findings we have there see if there are other avenues that we have to explore,” Tedros said. “There’s nothing to hide. We want to know the origin.”

Separately, the WHO said that governments need to take a risk-management approach to all activities that involve people congregating, including skiing, as winter approaches.

“The real issues are at airports, on buses to and from ski resorts, ski lifts -- pinch points where people come together in large numbers,” said Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program.

N.Y. Halts Elective Surgery in Erie County (12:05 p.m. NY)

New York is focusing on the growing number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations as cases continue to rise statewide, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. He suspended elective surgery in Erie County, home to Buffalo, starting Friday.

The state will take hospitalization numbers, available beds, availability of staff, death rates and cases into consideration when increasing restrictions in areas across the state, Cuomo said at a Monday briefing.

“We are now worried about overwhelming the hospital system,” he said. “Literally every region is dealing with a hospital issue now.”

Starting Monday, hospitals must identify retired nurses and doctors in case of shortages, Cuomo said. The state also is requiring hospitals to balance their loads, shifting patients across the system, so one hospital isn’t overwhelmed, he said.

New York is also looking to prepare field hospitals if needed, is calling on hospitals to plan to add 50% bed capacity, and is confirming that personal protective equipment is stockpiled.

Italy Cases Are Lowest in 5 Weeks (11:35 a.m. NY)

Italy’s new virus cases on Monday were the lowest in five weeks. The country reported 16,377 daily cases, compared with 20,648 on Sunday. The country’s total virus deaths surpassed 55,000 on Monday, with 672 daily fatalities, compared with 541 the day before.

Last Friday Italy’s government decided to ease restrictions for financial capital Milan and for industrial hub Turin, following a steady reduction in the number of coronavirus cases in the last few days.

NYC Positivity Rate Jumps Above 4% (10:50 a.m. NY)

New York City’s positive Covid-19 test rate has climbed to 4.03%, based on a seven-day average. The daily test rate was 4.69%, which was skewed by lower testing numbers, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday at a press briefing.

De Blasio also announced that in-person viewing of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a huge tourist draw, will be controlled to allow for social distancing. There will be a reservation system, limited viewing entrances and five-minute viewing limits, starting Dec. 3.

The mayor closed public schools earlier in November when the average positive test rate hit 3%.

N.J. to Tighten Rules as Cases Rise (9:50 am. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will toughen the limit on outdoor gatherings to 25 people from 150 and halt indoor high school sports for the rest of 2020 after reporting more than 28,000 new Covid-19 cases in the past week, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Murphy will announce the moves today at a press conference, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.

Philippines Extends Manila Restrictions (9:40 a.m. NY)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte extended the existing movement restrictions in the capital region through year-end, while keeping most of the country under the most lenient status.

The capital Metro Manila and Davao City, which is the main economic center on the island of Mindanao, are among the few areas placed under the so-called general community quarantine status, Duterte said in a televised briefing on Monday. Metro Manila’s mayors earlier agreed to shorten the curfew by an hour to 12 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Moderna Vaccine Progress (7 a.m. NY)

Moderna plans to request clearance for its coronavirus vaccine on Monday, after a new analysis showed the vaccine is highly effective.

The primary analysis, which included 196 cases, found the vaccine was 94.1% effective, in line with preliminary findings released earlier this month. None of the participants in the trial who’d received the vaccine developed severe Covid-19. All 30 severe cases observed in the study occurred in participants who received placebo shots.

Top Glove Curbs Continue (6:45 a.m. NY)

Malaysia will extend its movement control order on Top Glove Corp.’s worker dormitories in Klang for 14 days because of rising coronavirus cases. The order had been due to end Monday.

The government last week ordered Top Glove to close 28 of its factories in phases, after its Klang facility recorded 1,067 Covid-19 cases out of 1,884 new daily cases in Malaysia. The curbs have pared the meteoric rise in the shares of the world’s biggest rubber-glove producer. The stock tumbled 17% this month, the steepest drop since January 2016.

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