Texas Governor Tests Positive; Masks in Chicago: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. plans to extend mask requirements for travelers on airplanes, trains and buses, and at airports and train stations through Jan. 18, Reuters reported, citing three unidentified sources. The rule was set to expire next month.
The U.S. government is poised to begin offering booster shots as soon as next month. Morgan Stanley is stepping up efforts to ensure employees comply with its rule that they be vaccinated to enter its buildings.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott tested positive for Covid-19 in a breakthrough infection. Chicago is reinstating requirements for masks at indoor public places. Hospitals in Mississippi and Alabama are sending patients across their borders to Kentucky even as Bluegrass State officials warn their hospitals are running short on available staff and beds.
New Zealand, which has run a successful Covid elimination strategy, will enter a lockdown after reporting its first community transmission since February. Early Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were four additional Covid cases, RNZ reported.
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Texas Governor Tests Positive (4:50 p.m. NY)
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has tested positive for Covid-19, according to a statement from his office.
The Republican leader of the second-largest U.S. state is isolating in the governor’s mansion and receiving monoclonal antibody treatment, according to the statement. Abbott already was fully vaccinated and so far has been asymptomatic.
U.S. to Give $47 Million for Shots in Poorer Nations (4:43 p.m. NY)
The Biden administration will provide about $47 million dollars to a nonprofit that provides health services to developing nations to expand access to Covid-19 and influenza vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding the nonprofit Task Force for Global Health to expand vaccine coverage in low and middle-income countries and help prepare for vaccine deployment in future pandemics, according to a Tuesday Federal Register notice. The $47 million is part of a five-year total expected to reach $100 million, according to the CDC. The award period is scheduled for Sept. 30 of this year through Sept. 29, 2026.
Mississippi, Alabama Hospitals Divert to Kentucky (4:17 p.m. NY)
Hospitals in Mississippi and Alabama are sending patients across their borders to Kentucky even as Bluegrass State officials warn their hospitals are running short on available staff and beds.
“We’re very close to having all of our hospitals full,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said Tuesday in Frankfort. “By the end of this week we expect to have more people in the hospital battling Covid than we’ve ever had in this pandemic.”
New infections in Kentucky, population 4.5 million, have risen to 2,000 or more per day from a low of fewer than 150 cases per day in June, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Helping other states’ overwhelmed hospitals no longer may be possible, because this week Kentucky will exceed its record for intensive care unit patients, around 1,200 patients, and several Kentucky hospitals are deciding to limit or stop non-emergency care to preserve stretched staff, Beshear said.
Chicago Mandates Masks Indoors (4:15 p.m. NY)
Chicago is reinstating its indoor fmask mandate starting Aug. 20 given the recent jump in cases, the city’s department of public health said on Tuesday. The city’s average number of new daily cases has topped 400 due largely to the delta variant and “the time to act is now to prevent further spread,” Allison Arwady, the city’s commissioner of public health, said in a statement. The daily average number of cases was under 50 two months ago, according to city data.
Masks will be required for anyone over the age of 2 regardless of vaccination in all indoor public settings, including bars and restaurants when not actively eating or drinking, gyms, common areas of condos and private clubs, according to the new rules. Masks remain mandatory on public transportation, schools and congregate settings.
U.S. to Extend Travel Mask Mandate: Reuters (3:20 p.m. NY)
The U.S. plans to extend mask requirements for travelers on airplanes, trains and buses and at airports and train stations through Jan. 18, Reuters reports, citing three unidentified sources.
Apple Steps Up Staff Testing (1:15 p.m. NY)
Apple Inc. will increase testing of both corporate and retail employees and has reversed course on rebooting in-store classes in the U.S. this month.
This week, the iPhone maker informed staff participating in the company’s at-home testing program with Quest Diagnostics Inc. that they will now receive testing kits twice per week instead of weekly. The company told employees in the program that they are expected to get tested on Mondays and Thursdays.
Morgan Stanley Asks Workers for Vaccine Proof (1:05 p.m. NY)
Morgan Stanley is stepping up efforts to ensure employees comply with its rule that they be vaccinated to enter its buildings.
The firm told vaccinated workers to provide documentation of their shots by Oct. 1, after previously letting them attest to their status, according to an internal memo. The extra step is meant to “provide greater comfort for those working in the office,” it wrote.
Masks Required in U.S. National Parks (12:35 p.m. NY)
The U.S. National Park Service said it is requiring masks for crowded outdoor spaces and buildings “regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels.”
In a statement issued Monday, Shawn Benge, deputy director of the Park Service, said: “Visitors to national parks are coming from locations across the country, if not across the world. Because of this, and recognizing that the majority of the United States is currently in substantial or high transmission categories, we are implementing a service-wide mask requirement to ensure our staff and visitors’ safety.”
Greece Sees Biggest Case Jump Since April (11 a.m. NY)
Greece reported 4,205 new cases, the highest daily increase since April 6 and the third-biggest one-day jump since the start of the pandemic. Greek authorities are worried by the situation on the island of Crete, which is a popular vacation destination for foreigners and Greeks alike. The Heraklion area of the country’s largest island saw the third-biggest increase in new cases nationwide after Thessaloniki and central Athens.
U.K. Authorizes Moderna for Adolescents (9:15 a.m. NY)
Britain’s drug regulator authorized Moderna Inc.’s shot for children as young as 12, though few are likely to receive it in the near term as the country remains an outlier in its policy on vaccinating kids.
The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency extended the existing conditional marketing authorization for the Spikevax shot. It is up to the government’s advisory committee -- the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation -- to decide if and when the vaccine will be offered to to 12- to 17-year-olds.
The vaccine is the second after Pfizer Inc.’s to be authorized in the U.K. for use in older children, though Britain is currently only offering shots to those aged 16 and up, and to vulnerable kids aged 12 to 15 who have underlying health conditions or who live with immunosuppressed adults.
Swiss Cases Jump; Vaccine Demand Weak (8:20 a.m. NY)
Switzerland recorded 3,150 new infections within the last 24 hours, the biggest daily increase in months. Since early July, the number of hospitalizations has risen 10-fold, Patrick Mathys of the Federal Office of Public Health said.
The government has redoubled efforts to get more people vaccinated with a publicity campaign this week. Just 56% of the public has received at least one dose. With demand for vaccinations weak, the government agreed take delivery of just half the 1 million doses it was due to receive from Moderna.
“Vaccines globally are in very short supply and they should be located where they actually can be used,” Mathys said.
U.S., Singapore to Discuss Virus Response (7:57 a.m. NY)
Singapore expects to discuss areas of cooperation, including the pandemic response, during U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit in the city state next week, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in a Facebook post Tuesday.
S. Africa White Adults Most Vaccine-Hesitant (7:36 a.m. NY)
Vaccine hesitancy is most pronounced among White adults in South Africa, which is struggling to keep immunization centers busy just three months into the rollout, a survey showed. Only 52% of White adults in the country are willing to get a Covid-19 shot, compared with three-quarters of Black adults, researchers from the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of Johannesburg said in the highlights of a report due to be released on Wednesday.
Separately, South Africa may open registrations to allow people aged between 18 and 34 to get vaccinated as early as this week, Eyewitness News reported, citing Health Minister Joe Phaahla.
Iran’s Daily Cases Surpass 50,000 (6:02 a.m. NY)
Iran reported a record number of daily cases, with new infections surpassing 50,000 for the first time. The country had 50,228 cases and 625 deaths overnight, according to the Health Ministry, bringing the total figures to more than 4.5 million infections and 99,100 fatalities.
Serbia Set to Rollout Boosters (6 a.m. NY)
Serbia is offering booster shots to people who completed their initial, two-dose vaccination at least six months ago. The new rollout is starting with transplant patients and others with weakened immunity, as well as health workers, frequent travelers and nursing home residents.
The Balkan country is struggling to advance the inoculation rate from around 50% of its population of 7 million, amid some vaccine skepticism. Weeks of accelerating Covid cases soared on Tuesday to almost 1,500 new infections, the highest daily total since late April.
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