World Clamps Down as Covid-19 Refuses to Cede: Virus Update
New York City’s positive-test rate remained below the threshold set to close public schools. New Jersey reported the most infections since the start of the pandemic. States around the U.S. toughened rules as the nation reached almost 200,000 daily infections, another record.
Hong Kong is imposing stricter social-distancing curbs and will require some mandatory testing.
- Global Tracker: Cases top 53.5 million; deaths 1.3 million
- Covid’s rampage means no medical cavalry coming to the rescue
- Crucial vaccine, treatment data seen only days away
- The death toll from the latest spate of U.S. cases is poised to get worse
- Bloomberg is mapping coronavirus cases across the U.S.
- NYC’s private schools brace for lockdown with Covid rate spike
- Vaccine Tracker: Encouraging breakthroughs offer hope
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Fire in Romania Kills 10 Covid-19 Patients (3:35 p.m. NY)
A fire ripped through the intensive care unit of a Romanian hospital, killing 10 intubated Covid-19 patients and injuring several others, including doctors and nurses, according to Health Minister Nelu Tataru. The cause of the fire, in the northeastern town of Piatra Neamt, has not been determined.
Virginia Expands Restrictions (3:29 p.m. NY)
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced new restrictions to tame the coronavirus as new infections surged to record levels. Starting Sunday, the state will expand its mask mandate, lower its cap on gatherings to 25 individuals from 250, strengthen enforcement for distancing and other rules at retail businesses, and set a 10 p.m. alcohol service curfew for restaurants and bars.
The seven-day average for new infections among the state’s 8.5 million residents rose by a record 1,546 on Thursday, while total confirmed cases topped 200,000 for the first time Saturday.
South Dakota Deaths Spike (2:56 p.m. NY)
South Dakota reported a record 45 deaths Saturday. Deaths lag infections by weeks or months -- and the number reported Saturday represented almost 8% in a single day of the total 615 fatalities reported.
Governor Kristi Noem has opposed mask mandates and any other anti-virus measures, despite that her state has been among the worst-hit in recent months. On Friday, she said she would not enforce any national measures put in place by a Biden administration. The same day, Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota, who had also resisted anti-virus measures, announced a mask mask mandate and other restrictions.
Jail Inmates in Texas Hot Spot Assigned Morgue Duty (2:17 p.m. NY)
Inmates from the the El Paso County jail in remote West Texas are moving bodies of Covid-19 victims into refrigerated trucks as the outbreak overwhelms regular morgue staff, KTSM-TV reported.
The television station posted photos of inmates in black-and-gray striped jumpsuits outside the medical examiners office. The prisoners were “helping them there,” a sheriff’s department spokesperson was quoted as saying.
El Paso, the Lone Star state’s worst hot spot, logged more than 1,500 new cases in the past 24 hours and has more active cases than Houston’s Harris County, despite having just a fraction of the population.
Minnesota Hits Record (2:13 p.m. NY)
Minnesota reported a record 8,703 infections Saturday, as the state’s Covid-19 surge shows no signs of slowing.
The seven-day average is now 5,868, compared with an average daily increase of 1,327 in the same period last month. Another 35 deaths were reported, just below the seven-day average of 36. That compares with a daily average of 11 in the same period last month. Hospitalizations have also soared.
France Cases Slow, I.C.U. Levels Drop Slightly (2:09 p.m. NY)
France reported 32,095 new coronavirus cases on Saturday. The seven-day average, which smooths out fluctuations in the data, shows a 21% drop to 29,413, the biggest decline in weeks.
Deaths rose by 354 to 44,246 since the beginning of the pandemic.
The pressure on France’s intensive-care wards also eased slightly, as seriously ill patients now occupy 96% of the country’s initial ICU capacity, French health authorities reported. That rate rose sharply in the last weeks to reach 96.6% on Thursday, a level at which it remained on Friday.
North Dakota Breaks Record as Mask Mandate Announced (1:29 p.m. NY)
North Dakota broke another record for new infections, 2,278, the day after Governor Doug Burgum reversed course and imposed a statewide mask order and other anti-virus measures.
The Republican governor, long reluctant to impose restrictions even as North Dakota became one of the hardest hit states, announced the mask mandate along with other measures Friday night in a video, noting that hospital capacity was straining and that the state had crossed the “tragic milestone” of 700 deaths. Hours were limited for bars and restaurants, capacity for events was reduced and winter sports were paused.
Arizona Cases Highest Since July (12:51 p.m. NY)
Arizona reported 3,476 infections, the third time this week over 3,000 and the most since July. Hospitalizations have roughly doubled since the start of October, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
New York Cases Rise by More Than 5,000 for Second Day (12:16 p.m. NY)
New York reported 5,388 new infections, the second consecutive day over 5,000 -- the highest level since the peak of the outbreak in April. Governor Andrew Cuomo did not, however, indicate any move toward widespread restrictions. New York’s strategy has been to target hot spots for specific measures, and he suggested Saturday that would continue. “If those numbers go up we stand ready to tighten the valve,” he said in a call with reporters.
The state’s overall positive-test rate rose to 2.92% from 2.65% the previous day, though he said that remains one of the lowest in the nation.
New Jersey Hits Record (12:14 p.m. NY)
New Jersey reported a record 4,395 daily cases. “These numbers are alarming and concerning, to say the least,” Governor Phil Murphy said on Twitter.
Hospitalizations climbed to 2,000, with 370 patients in intensive care. New Jersey’s previous high was 4,391 in April.
Trump Says Congress Must Finish ‘Big and Focused’ Virus Aid Bill (11:43 a.m. NY)
President Donald Trump renewed a push for lawmakers to proceed with fresh stimulus to sustain the U.S. recovery as the coronavirus spreads at a record pace across the world’s largest economy.
“Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill,” Trump tweeted Saturday while traveling via motorcade to his golf course in Virginia, without offering details. “Make it big and focused. Get it done!”
Italy Cases Slow as Curb Widen (11:20 a.m. NY)
Italy reported 37,255 new coronavirus infections Saturday, a slight decrease from 40,902 the day before, and 544 deaths. The country widened the number of regions subject to its toughest restrictions to include the areas of Florence and Naples.
Silvio Brusaferro, head of the ISS public health institute, said in a press conference Saturday that Italy remains in an emergency situation with a very high pressure on hospitals and intensive care units. While about half of the people who test positive do not show symptoms, he said, the average age of the new cases is rising.
U.K. Cases, Deaths Outpace Previous Seven Days (11:14 a.m. NY)
The U.K. reported new cases and deaths Saturday that were above the seven-day average. Another 26,860 cases were reported, compared to the weekly average of 24,430, and 462 fatalities compared with 404 over the previous seven days. New infections have stayed above 25,000 for three straight days.
Austria Toughens Lockdown as Soft Measures Fail (11:10 a.m. NY)
Austria will shut down schools, most stores and services such as hairdressers starting Tuesday, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, after attempts to rely on self-discipline and moderate restrictions failed to slow the coronavirus pandemic.
The new measures come two weeks after a soft lockdown similar to Germany’s was imposed that left large parts of the economy and society open. With Austria’s infections spiking, Kurz said he hoped to end the latest measures on Dec. 6 to allow some sort of Christmas celebrations.
“Don’t meet anybody,” Kurz said at a news conference from the chancellery in Vienna on Saturday. “Every social contact is one too many.”
NYC Positive Rate Remains Below Level to Close Schools (10:40 a.m. NY)
New York City’s seven-day positivity average declined to 2.47%, from 2.83% the previous day. Mayor Bill de Blasio had warned parents yesterday to prepare for in-person schooling to close as soon as Monday. A seven-day positivity rate of 3% would trigger a shutdown, according to a threshold set by de Blasio. “We’re still below 3%, but that could change,” he said on Twitter. “We MUST fight back a second wave to keep our schools open.”
Istanbul Mayor Calls for Shutdown (10:05 a.m. NY)
A shutdown of two to three weeks should be implemented in Istanbul as the city accounts for more than 50% of the coronavirus cases in Turkey, Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said.
Imamoglu, who recently recovered from coronavirus himself, said that the city’s Science Advisory Board is recommending a shutdown followed by a controlled re-opening.
The mayor’s call comes after Turkey reported 3,045 new Covid-19 patients and 93 deaths, both the highest since the end of April.
Spain to Extend Grace Periods on State Loans (8:54 a.m. NY)
Spain plans to extend grace periods for credits from state lender ICO at its cabinet meeting next week, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said in an online forum. The positive news about Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine candidate will help remove uncertainty about the course of the pandemic that threatened to cloud the economic outlook, she said. Spain’s economy may shrink more than 11% in 2020.
Germany to Pay 22 Billion Euroes in Relief Aid (8:31 a.m. NY)
Germany expects to pay out 22 billion euros ($26 billion) in coronavirus relief aid to companies and self-employed in the first half of 2021, Reuters reports, citing sources it doesn’t identify. A support package for this month is also going to be bigger than anticipated and amount to 14 billion euros after the country imposed new lockdown measures, according to the report. Despite spiraling costs of containing the crisis, Germany last week raised its forecast for tax revenue this year and next.
Separately, the country reported the smallest increase in the number of coronavirus cases in four days. That brought its total to 785,093. Accumulated deaths rose to 12,404, 188 more than on Friday.
Hungary Aids Home Study With Free Web Service (8:16 a.m. NY)
Prime Minister Viktor Orban decided to offer free Internet services for 30 days to students who were pushed into remote education earlier this week. The step was one of several curbs intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus as hospitals are filling up. Covid-19 deaths reported Saturday reached an earlier record of 107, with 4,836 new cases.
Croatia Orders Vaccine Doses from Astra, J&J, Pfizer (8:15 a.m. NY)
Croatia ordered 2.7 million C19 vaccine doses from AstraZeneca PCA, 900,000 shots from Johnson & Johnson and 1 million from Pfizer Inc., Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told reporters on Saturday. The country will get a share of the 300 million doses allocated for the European Union from Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Plc, he said.
Switzerland Advised to Close Bars, Restaurants (6:35 p.m. HK)
Switzerland’s academic expert group recommended the federal government close bars and restaurants, among other measures. The body said steps taken so far hadn’t caused a trend reversal in infections.
While the city of Geneva has shuttered swathes of activity, the Swiss government is pursuing a targeted approach to avoid shutting down the economy.
Poland’s New Daily Cases Drop From Week Earlier (6:31 p.m. HK)
Poland’s new cases rose about 6% to 25,571 in the last 24 hours. Compared with a week earlier, however, daily new infections registered a 5.5% drop.
New cases are below a threshold set by the government for full lockdown, which is when they rise 70-75 daily per 100,000 people over a 7-day period, or about 26,850 per day. Daily deaths increased by 548 to 10,045.
Greece Closes Schools for Two Weeks (6:06 p.m. HK)
Greece decided to close all schools that remained open for two weeks beginning Monday, except for those educating special-needs children. Secondary and high schools were closed on Nov. 9.
The government has already put in place a national lockdown and a night curfew through November.
Iran to Close Non-essential Businesses in Tehran (5:57 p.m. HK)
Iran will close all non-essential businesses in the capital Tehran and some 100 other high-infection cities for two weeks. The mandate takes effect next Saturday.
Schools and universities in red zones will also be shut, religious gatherings will be banned and staff at workplaces will be reduced to one-third.
Separately, Iran has started the human trial of two home-grown vaccines for Covid-19, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Italy Extends ‘Red Zone’ to Florence, Naples (5:53 p.m. HK)
The country extended its soft lockdown to the regions of Florence and Naples as new cases continued soaring across the country. Health minister Roberto Speranza wrote in a Facebook post Friday evening that Campania and Tuscany will become “red zones,” where bars and restaurants are closed, and leaving home is only allowed for essential reasons.
The three-tier regional lockdown system will likely to continue for the entire winter, the deputy health minister said Friday. New cases jumped 8% to a record 40,902 Friday.
Hong Kong Tightens Restrictions (5:03 p.m. HK)
The Hong Kong government will tighten social-distancing restrictions and introduce mandatory testing for some groups after locally transmitted Covid-19 cases rose in the past week.
The new measures, which mostly affect bars and restaurants, will be in place from Monday until Nov. 26, the city’s Food and Health Secretary, Sophia Chan, said at a press conference.
Russia Records Record Number of New Cases (4 p.m. HK)
Russia reported a record 22,702 new Covid-19 infections in the past day, as Moscow closed bars and restaurants overnight to slow the spread of the virus. Nightlife venues were ordered to shut down from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting Friday until mid-January.
Moscow, the pandemic’s epicenter in Russia, has moved students to online lessons and told employers to keep most workers at home. Still, the authorities have resisted a lockdown like the one put in place during the initial wave in the spring. Russia has recorded the fifth-most cases worldwide, with 1.9 million.
Belgium Hospitalizations Rise (2:12 p.m. HK)
Belgium reported more deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the total to 14,106. Another 513 people were admitted to hospital, up from 399 the day before.
The number of patients in intensive care rose to 1,457, an increase of 5. The 14-day virus incidence rate has been falling since the introduction of lockdown measures last month, down to 1,104 per 100,000.
U.S. Infections Break Record Again (6:53 a.m. HK)
U.S. cases rose by a record Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The tally was 190,059, and Friday was the ninth consecutive day with more than 100,000 cases. Deaths increased to 2,238, the most since late June.
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