U.S. Cases Steady With Deaths Heading for 200,000: Virus Update

U.S. cases increased at a steady pace as the nation heads toward 200,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19. Pfizer Inc.’s chief executive officer said it’s likely the U.S. will deploy a vaccine before the end of the year.

Israel’s cabinet backed a second national lockdown, which will start Friday on the cusp of a Jewish holiday season. Gatherings in the U.K. will be restricted from Monday after more than 3,000 new cases for three consecutive days. Europe got a warning of tough months ahead from Austria, where new cases reached a level last seen in March.

In contrast, South Korea is relaxing its social-distancing rules, including for Seoul, after cases slowed.

Key Developments:

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U.S. Cases Steady With Deaths Heading for 200,000: Virus Update

Wisconsin New Cases Climb to Record (3:45 p.m. NY)

Confirmed virus cases in Wisconsin increased by 1,582, the most for a single day since the start of the pandemic, raising the total to 89,185.

One person died from the virus over the latest 24-hour period, bringing the toll to 1,210, according to the state Department of Health Services.

California Reports Most Cases in a Week (2:07 p.m NY)

California reported 4,625 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the biggest jump in a week and more than the 14-day average of 3,930.

Deaths increased by 78, less than the 14-day average of 102, according to the health department’s website. More than 14,300 people have died from the virus in California.

Israel Backs Second National Lockdown (2 p.m. NY)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet approved a second nationwide lockdown starting Friday, brushing aside appeals from business leaders and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Israeli cabinet ministers voted Sunday to strictly limit movement, gatherings and economic activity for at least three weeks, coinciding with the Jewish new year holiday season.

French Surge Slows in Latest Daily Report (1:30 p.m. NY)

France reported 7,183 new coronavirus cases on Sunday after more than 10,000 a day earlier, which was the most since a national lockdown ended in May.

The seven-day rolling average of new infections extended its steady climb of almost four weeks, rising to 8,045. Six more people died of virus-related illness, pushing the death toll to 30,916.

French leaders and health officials have warned repeatedly that the virus is raging, mainly among young people.

FDA Ex-Head Faults U.S. Health Agencies (1 p.m. NY)

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said U.S. health officials failed the White House by providing inadequate guidance as Covid-19 began spreading through the country.

“The White House did not have the information they needed to make decisions,” Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. U.S. health agencies drew conclusions from “faulty” and “incomplete” information, said Gottlieb, who served as FDA head under Trump until last year.

He suggested that officials were overly reliant on a system meant to track spread of the flu, not the novel coronavirus.

Gottlieb said he was in contact with White House officials in February. “They were telling me over and over that they were hearing from top officials from the agencies that they were pretty confident that it wasn’t spreading here,” he said. “I think when history looks back, that’s going to be a key moment.”

Gottlieb, now on Pfizer Inc.’s board of directors, was more critical of the Trump administration’s messaging around the development and approval of a Covid-19 vaccine.

“You want to keep the politics and the science separate,” he said.

Pfizer CEO Predicts Vaccine By Year-End (12:30 p.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said it’s “likely” the U.S. will deploy a Covid-19 vaccine to the public before year-end and that the company is prepared for that scenario, pushing back against more tepid expectations shared by health authorities.

Bourla said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he’s “quite comfortable” that the vaccine the company is developing in partnership with BioNTech SE is safe and that it could be available to Americans before 2021, contingent on an approval from U.S. regulators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“I cannot say what the FDA will do,” Bourla said. “But I think it’s a likely scenario, and we are preparing for it.”

Florida Deaths Fall to Three-Month Low (12:24 p.m. NY)

Florida reported eight new deaths among residents, the lowest since June 15, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. That compares with 98 deaths among residents the previous day and a daily average of 107 for the seven preceding days.

The state reported 663,994 total cases on Sunday after an increase of 0.4% from the previous day. That was in line with the average daily increase over the previous seven days.

U.K. Reports Third Day Over 3,000 New Cases (11:35 a.m. NY)

The U.K. reported 3,300 new cases on Sunday, the third straight day over 3,000. Rising cases prompted the U.K. on Thursday to limit to six the number of people who can gather indoors or outdoors, starting Monday.

The number of daily confirmed cases is slightly lower than the 3,497 on Saturday.

Italy’s Cases Fall Slightly (11:27 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 1,458 new cases on Sunday, compared with 1,501 the previous day, with 72,143 daily tests. There were 7 additional deaths, higher than the 6 deaths reported on Saturday. The numbers remain distant from the pandemic’s peak of 6,557 new infections in a day on March 21. Total cases reported since February rose to 287,753.

Arizona Cases, Deaths Slow (11:25 a.m. NY)

Arizona on Sunday reported 384 new virus cases, a 0.2% increase to 208,512 that matched the prior seven-day average. The Arizona Department of Health Services recorded 7 new deaths, pushing the toll to 5,322. The state’s daily death tally has remained under 100 for more than two weeks.

New York Cases Steady (10:43 a.m. NY)

New York reported 725 new cases, a 0.2% rise in line with the average daily increase of the previous seven days. Hospitalizations also remained steady at 464. Another six people died from the virus, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet.

Portugal Again Reports Daily Cases Over 600 (9:50 a.m. NY)

Portugal reported 673 cases, bringing the total to 63,983, the government said. The country has had more than 600 daily new confirmed coronavirus cases in three of the last five days, remaining at a level last recorded in April. The number of cases in intensive care units fell.

The government announced last week that from Sept. 15 the limit on gatherings in Portugal will be tightened to 10 people from 20, aligning other regions with a rule that’s already in place for Lisbon.

U.S. Cases, Deaths Steady (8:08 a.m. NY)

The U.S. added 40,016 cases, a 0.6% rise in line with the average daily increase of the previous seven days. Total cases are now 6,483,064.

Another 708 people died, down from more than 1,200 the day before, but in line with the 0.4% average daily increase of the previous seven days. Total deaths reached 193,676.

Greek PM Would Be First in Line to Try Vaccine (7:42 a.m. NY)

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he would be first in line to try a new coronavirus vaccine, whenever it is developed.

“If, for reasons of symbolism, I and my family have to be vaccinated first, I will do it with great pleasure,” Mitsotakis told reporters in the northern city of Thessaloniki. The anti-vaccine movement has been rising in Greece.

Norway Overtakes Sweden in Infection Rate (7:15 a.m. NY)

Norway’s infection rate has risen to 24.8 per 100,000 inhabitants over the past two weeks, overtaking Sweden’s rate of 24.0, Aftenposten reported. That’s despite Norway introducing stricter restrictions than its neighbor.

German Reproduction Rate Keeps Rising (7 a.m. NY)

Germany’s reproduction rate -- which measures the average number of people infected by one person -- has risen to 1.15, the Robert Koch Institute said. It was 1.0 on Saturday and 0.9 on Sept. 10.

The number of infections rose by 1,713 to 261,448, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The increase was up on the day before but below the 1,898 tally measured on Sept. 8. Germany registered daily new infection numbers as high as 7,000 at the height of the pandemic.

Israeli Minister Quits Over Holiday Lockdown Plan (6:13 p.m HK)

A powerful ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quit the government on Sunday over a proposal to lock down the country during the upcoming Jewish holiday season to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak.

Yaakov Litzman, housing minister from the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism bloc, said the proposal reflected a “lack of values” at a time when summer holidaying and mass protests against Netanyahu were allowed to go on.

Israel’s cabinet was to vote Sunday on plans for a two-week lockdown.

Iran Has More Than 2,000 New Cases (5:50 p.m. HK)

Iran recorded 128 fatalities and 2,089 new cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 23,157 in 402,029 known infections, latest Health Ministry figures showed. Over 346,000 people have recovered from the virus with 3,791 patients under treatment in intensive-care units.

Austrian Leader Warns of Tough Months Ahead (5:20 p.m. HK)

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz urged citizens to stick to the rules after coronavirus numbers surged to levels last seen in March.

“What we’re experiencing right now is the beginning of the second wave,” Kurz was quoted as saying by Austria Press Agency. “We’re going to see 1,000 infections soon. Fall and winter will be hard on everybody.”

Health authorities registered 869 new daily infections on Saturday, the highest numbers since March 28. The numbers declined to 463 on Sunday.

Jakarta to Isolate Virus Patients in Official Facilities (4:39 p.m. HK)

Residents of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, who have tested positive for the coronavirus will be isolated in official facilities rather than be quarantined at home, the city’s governor said ahead of tighter restrictions that take effect on Monday.

Isolation at home must be avoided to limit contagion, Anies Baswedan said at a press conference on Sunday as Indonesia reported 3,636 new cases of Covid-19.

South Korea Eases Distancing Rules as Cases Taper (3:35 p.m. HK)

South Korea is relaxing social-distancing rules as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases tapers after last month’s surge.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said distancing requirements for the Seoul metropolitan area will be lowered to level 2 from level 2.5 for two weeks. The announcement came hours after the government confirmed 121 new coronavirus cases, the second-lowest total in the past month.

“We shouldn’t let our guard down, given one out of four cases can’t be traced back,” Chung said Sunday in an address televised on Yonhap TV. “But tighter quarantine is showing its effect slowly.”

Level 2 forbids indoor gatherings of 50 or more people, affecting everything from weddings to amusement parks.

South Korea adopted three levels of progressively tighter restrictions in June. After the number of daily virus cases surged into the hundreds last month, the government considered raising the level to 3. That would have forced the closures of bars, cinemas and cafes, and limited business hours at shopping malls and retail shops.

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