CDC Says Delta Strain Likely to Dominate in U.S.: Virus Update

A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Portland, Oregon, U.S. (Photographer: Alisha Jucevic/Bloomberg)

CDC Says Delta Strain Likely to Dominate in U.S.: Virus Update

President Joe Biden urged unvaccinated Americans to get inoculated, warning that a highly transmissible variant of the virus could cause more deaths. The delta variant first found in India and now spread widely in the U.K. is expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S., said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Americans can pack bags for European vacations as the European Union lifts travel curbs for residents of the U.S. Non-essential travel between the U.S. and Canada will be banned for another month despite mounting pressure from businesses on Justin Trudeau’s government to ease restrictions.

Italy ordered a five-day quarantine and mandatory testing for travelers arriving from the U.K., including those that have been vaccinated. Germany reached a milestone in its campaign to subdue the pandemic with more than half the population at least partially inoculated.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 177.5 million; deaths pass 3.8 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 2.55 billion doses administered
  • Covid counts hit zero in U.S. hospitals once overrun by victims
  • Germans pour onto Europe’s beaches while British have to wait
  • CureVac’s Covid setback shows not all mRNA vaccines are equal
  • Subscribe to a daily update from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here.
CDC Says Delta Strain Likely to Dominate in U.S.: Virus Update

Florida Wins Ruling on Cruises (5:06 p.m. NY)

Florida won a preliminary injunction against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, potentially easing cruise companies’ path back to the seas.

The injunction would prevent the CDC from enforcing a set of recently introduced rules -- the CDC’s so-called conditional sailing order -- at cruise ports in Florida. But U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday put the injunction on hold until July 18 and gave the CDC until July 2 to propose a narrower order. The conditional sailing order created a strict protocol for cruise lines to return to the sea.

Vaccine Lottery Little Help for N. Carolina (4:36 p.m. NY)

Governor Roy Cooper said North Carolina’s pace of vaccinations has continued to drop despite the offer of four $1 million lottery drawings and tuition for people who receive at least one dose.

“Not significantly yet,” the Democratic governor said when asked at a news conference on Friday if the lottery announced June 10 had helped. About a dozen U.S. states are offering lottery winnings as an incentive to vaccinations, and Ohio, one of the first, has said it has boosted vaccinations.

Cooper said he hoped the first drawing on June 23 would spur greater numbers. “I think we’re going to see a resurgence here,” he said. “I think the drawings will be a part of it.” About 44% of people in North Carolina have received at least one dose, compared with the U.S. national average of 53%, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Biden Warns on Variant, Urges Vaccines (3:19 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden urged unvaccinated Americans to get inoculated from coronavirus, warning that the highly transmissible delta variant of the virus could cause more deaths.

“Even while we are making incredible progress, it remains a serious and deadly threat,” Biden said Friday during a White House event to celebrate 300 million doses of vaccine administered during the first 150 days of his administration.“The data is clear: If you are unvaccinated, you’re at risk of getting seriously ill, or dying, or spreading it.”

A large swath of Americans -- particularly in the politically conservative South -- have declined shots despite warnings from health authorities that the virus remains a threat.

California Issues Digital Vaccine Record (2:25 p.m. NY)

California introduced a statewide digital Covid-19 vaccine record for residents, providing a scannable QR code and details of an individual’s inoculations that replicate the information on a CDC paper card.

Governor Gavin Newsom has said the record is not a vaccine passport, a contentious issue around the country and banned in many states. The digital record gives residents a “a convenient backup” to the card, the health department said, and was created with input from businesses and event organizers. The digital card could also provide an alternative to vaccine status when required for larger indoor events.

The new initiative was rolled out just three days after the state reopened, lifting most of the restrictions that were introduced since the start of the pandemic.

Palestinians Cancel Israeli Vaccine Deal (1:56 p.m. NY)

The Palestinian Authority canceled an agreement to exchange vaccines with Israel, saying the doses it was set to receive were about to expire.

Palestinian officials were expecting the doses to be good until August but instead received batches that expire this month, not leaving the Health Ministry enough time to use the shots for its population, Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said at a press conference on Friday.

Netherlands Eases Mask Rules (1:38 p.m. NY)

The Netherlands will move forward with the next stage of its reopening plan four days earlier than planned as cases continue to decline. From June 26, face masks will no longer be a requirement except for on public transport, in airports and where maintaining 1.5 meters of distance isn’t possible. The Dutch can also start to return to the office as long as social distancing is maintained.

“All that can be done with a distance of 1.5 meters, is allowed from 26th onward”, said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during a press briefing in the Hague on Friday evening. In places like nightclubs where social distancing can not be maintained, face masks are not a requirement, but a negative test or proof of vaccination must be shown at the door.

N.J. Reaches Vaccine Goal (1:36 p.m. NY)

New Jersey has fully vaccinated 4.7 million people in six months, beating a deadline that the state had set for June 30, Governor Phil Murphy said.

“While we are celebrating this remarkable achievement, our work is not yet finished, and we must continue working together to vaccinate all eligible individuals to end the Covid-19 pandemic,” the governor, a Democrat who is running for re-election in November, said in a statement. Seven municipalities with more than 100,000 residents, including New Brunswick, East Orange and Lakewood, have a vaccination rate of less than 50%, Murphy said this week.

Delta Variant Likely to Dominate in U.S. (1:27 p.m. NY)

The more-transmissible delta variant first found in India and now spread widely in the U.K. is expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S., said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. She added that full vaccination provides good protection against it.

“As worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper-transmissibility, our vaccines work,” she said Friday on “Good Morning America. “I would encourage all Americans, get your first shot, and when you’re due for your second, get your second shot and you’ll be protected from this delta variant.”

The CDC said earlier this week that the delta variant, which helped drive the deadly outbreak in India, now accounts for the 10% of cases in the U.S. and is present in most states. It is now accounts for almost all new cases in cases and hospitalizations in the the U.K.

Ban Extended on U.S.-Canada Travel (11:30 a.m. NY)

Non-essential travel between the U.S. and Canada will be banned for another month despite mounting pressure from businesses to ease travel restrictions.

Justin Trudeau’s border chief announced an extension of the current border rules until at least July 21 in a tweet Friday morning. The world’s longest undefended border has been closed to most travel since March 2020, when it was shut in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Astra Court Order Falls Short for EU (10:35 a.m. NY)

The European Union fell short of its court demands to receive millions more doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine after a Brussels court ruled in a dispute over supply shortfalls.

AstraZeneca must supply 80.2 million doses of the shot by Sept. 27, only about 10 million more doses than Astra said it has already sent the EU. The European Commission had asked for 120 million vaccine doses cumulatively by the end of June and a total of 300 million doses by the end of September, the company said.

Italy Imposes Quarantine for U.K. Visitors (8:28 a.m. NY)

Italy introduced a 5-day quarantine requirement and mandatory testing for travelers arriving from the U.K., Health Minister Roberto Speranza wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.

Italy joins European peers like Germany and France in curtailing travel from the U.K. The new restrictions apply also to vaccinated travelers arriving from Britain, the Italian Health Ministry clarified.

Delta Variant Cases Soar in U.K. (6:05 a.m. NY)

The number of laboratory-confirmed and probable cases of the highly-transmissable delta Covid-19 variant rose to 75,953 from 33,630 the previous week, Public Health England said Friday.

EU Lifts Travel Restrictions for U.S. Residents (5:04 p.m. HK)

The EU added the U.S. to its “white list” of countries from which non-essential travel is permitted. Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macau, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Serbia, and Taiwan were also added to list.

Moscow Sees Record Cases, Extends Curbs (4:30 p.m. HK)

The Russian capital reported a record 9,056 daily Covid-19 cases Friday, as Mayor Sergei Sobyanin extended a number of restrictions on public activities until June 29 to contain the outbreak.

New infections in the city have tripled in the last two weeks as the highly-contagious delta variant spreads, in part due to low vaccination rates. Cases are on the rise throughout Russia, reaching the highest level since Feb. 1.

Half of German Population Partially Inoculated (4:09 p.m. HK)

Germany reached a vaccination milestone with 50.1% of residents now having received at least one shot, Health Minister Jens Spahn said at a press briefing in Berlin.

Almost 30% of the population is now fully-immunized against Covid-19, he said.

South African Army to Fight Infections (2:35 p.m. HK)

South Africa deployed army medical personnel in the commercial hub of Gauteng province to help deal with a surge in cases. The military will assist with mass screening and testing, along with tracking and tracing programs, acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said.

Gauteng is the hardest-hit province in the country, accounting for about 60% of cases and averaging about 7,500 new infections daily, she said.

Hungary’s Orban Frets Over Vaccine Take-Up (2:17 p.m. HK)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he was “very concerned” that 3 million people, about a third of the population, haven’t taken up a coronavirus vaccine, slowing what was once one of the fastest inoculation campaigns in the European Union.

“This means there are 3 million potentially seriously ill people,” Orban said in a state radio interview. Hungary had a jump-start in its vaccination program after authorities procured non-EU approved Chinese and Russian shots to complement western ones.

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