California Cases Accelerate; Birx Sees ‘New Phase’: Virus Update

Cases in California increased by more than the 14-day average and New Jersey’s virus transmission rate rose further. The pace of cases and deaths slowed in Arizona.

Florida reported 1.5% more cases on the day, slightly more than half of the rolling seven-day average, after testing was reduced due to Tropical Storm Isaias. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she doesn’t trust information on the pandemic from the head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, Deborah Birx.

The Philippines is reimposing a lockdown in Manila. Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said he tested positive for the coronavirus.

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California Cases Accelerate; Birx Sees ‘New Phase’: Virus Update

Gottlieb Advocates Masks, Targeted Mitigation (4:07 p.m. NY)

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he hopes “the combination of masks with some targeted mitigation” is enough to keep Covid-19 cases down in the U.S. He proposed that approach as a “happy medium” between strict lockdowns and unchecked spread.

“It’s going to be hard to keep the virus out,” Gottlieb said on CBS. “We’re likely to see this continue, where there will be these epidemics in different parts of the country, and compensatory action to get it under control.”

Even as cases ebb in the Sun Belt, infection rates are picking up in the Midwest. Across the country, “probably one in 70 individuals right now are actively infected,” he said.

Asked to reach for a note of optimism, Gottlieb said it looks like the U.S. flu season this fall and winter will be less harsh than expected.

Texas Pauses Virus Reporting (3:33 p.m. NY)

Texas isn’t reporting coronavirus data on Sunday to allow for what the state website called “a scheduled upgrade to the system that processes reports.” The Department of State Human Services said the data will be reported on Monday.

California’s Rise Exceeds 14-Day Average (2:10 p.m. NY)

California reported 9,032 new cases, an increase that’s bigger than the trailing 14-day average of 8,891. Cases rose to 509,162 after the Golden State’s number of infections crossed 500,000 on Saturday. Another 132 new deaths were reported, bringing the total to 9,356.

Ethiopia Faces Spike After Deadly Protests (2:10 p.m. NY)

Ethiopia’s government blamed protests and violence over the killing of a prominent musician in June for a spike in Covid-19 cases and said it would redouble testing.

“Following the conflicts and protests of the recent weeks, we are seeing the equivalent of monthly case numbers in just a few days,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on the state broadcasting network.

Protests after the slaying of Hachalu Hundessa ended with the deaths of about 200 people, property destruction and thousands of arrests.

Arizona Cases, Deaths Slow (12:35 p.m. NY)

Arizona reported 1,465 new cases, a 0.8% rise compared with the previous week’s daily average of 1.4%. Deaths slowed to 18, compared 53 the day before. The positive rate stayed steady at 12.7%, from a high of 35% on July 18. Total cases are now 178,467 and fatalities 3,765.

Deborah Birx, the White House’s virus task force coordinator, said that around the Sun Belt “mitigation efforts are beginning to work.”

“We can see it in Arizona with decreasing test positivity, decreasing cases, decreasing hospitalization — and we hope that decreasing deaths will follow,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Cuomo Won’t Force Teachers to Work (12:27 a.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said parents and teachers have to be comfortable with school reopening plans and he won’t force teachers to work.

“If the union and the teachers aren’t comfortable and they’re not going to show up, that’s a problem.” Cuomo said on a call Sunday morning with reporters. “No one wants to force teachers against their will to work.”

The state will make a decision next week on school reopening after reviewing plans submitted by school districts. Cuomo had said yesterday that the initial decision is to plan on reopening. He cautioned that he will shut down schools again if regional infection rates rise over 9% over a seven-day rolling average.

New York state reported 531 new virus cases, below the daily average of the previous week, and 3 new deaths. The number of people hospitalized for Covid-19 dropped to 556, the lowest number since March 17.

Manila Back on Stricter Lockdown (12:11 p.m. NY)

The Philippine capital will be back on a stricter lockdown starting Tuesday as coronavirus cases surged more than fivefold after curbs were eased in June.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved his Cabinet’s proposal to tighten restrictions in metro Manila and nearby provinces for 15 days, following doctors’ recommendation to reimpose the lockdown as a spike in infections overwhelmed the health-care system.

Cases rose by a daily record to 103,185 on Sunday, the second-highest in Southeast Asia. A total of 2,059 have died from the outbreak.

Forget Hydroxychloroquine, Says White House Testing Czar (11:54 a.m. NY)

There’s no evidence that hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug frequently touted by President Donald Trump, is an effective treatment for Covid-19, a member of the White House coronavirus task force said.

“There’s been five randomized control, placebo controlled trials that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine,” Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We need to move on from that and talk about what is effective,” said Giroir, mentioning public hygiene measures like hand-washing and mask-wearing, as well as treatments like steroids and the drug remdesivir and “promising” progress in vaccine developments.

Florida Cases and Deaths Drop as Storm Nears (11:40 a.m. NY)

Florida reported 7,104 new cases, a 1.5% increase compared with the previous week’s average of 2.8%. Reported deaths among residents was 62, the lowest in weeks. The state had shut down many testing sites late last week in preparation for Isaias, now downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, and numbers are expected to vary.

The state is now reporting a total of 487,132 cases and 7,084 deaths among residents.

Pelosi Doesn’t Trust Birx on Virus (11:26 a.m. NY)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she doesn’t trust information on the pandemic from the head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, the latest political skirmish over the U.S. virus response.

Trump has been spreading disinformation about the virus and Deborah Birx “is his appointee so I don’t have confidence there, no,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Pelosi had been asked whether she described Birx as spreading disinformation during a closed-door meeting on Friday. A New York Times article in July portrayed Birx as overly optimistic about the course of the pandemic.

New Jersey Transmission Rate Rises Again (10:24 a.m. NY)

New Jersey’s virus transmission rate continues to creep up. The rate is now 1.49, according to data posted on the state’s website. That’s the highest in months, and more than double the rate in mid-June.

The rate indicates the average number of people infected by each infectious person. A number higher than 1 indicates the virus is spreading. Between July 24 and July 31, New Jersey added more than 3,100 cases, data show. In the week prior, it added about 2,200.

On Friday, when the rate reached 1.35, Governor Phil Murphy had warned that the state was in “a very dangerous place” and it might have to reverse its reopening path. The rate had been as low as 0.62 in recent weeks and had climbed amid reports of noncompliance with mask and social-distance orders.

UAE, Iran Discuss Virus Response In Rare Talks (10:02 a.m. NY)

Iran and the United Arab Emirates vowed to support global efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine after the OPEC nations’ top diplomats held rare talks on Sunday.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Mohammad Javad Zarif “exchanged greetings” on the Eid Al-Adha Muslim celebration in a video call and reviewed their countries respective efforts “to contain the repercussions” of the pandemic, the UAE’s state news agency WAM reported. The UAE is closely allied with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s rival for regional hegemony.

Birx Sees ‘New Phase’ in U.S. Outbreak (9:15 a.m. NY)

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx cautioned Americans to take the virus seriously, saying it’s “extraordinarily widespread” across rural and urban areas. “We are in a new phase,” said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

America is on the move during the summer vacation season and people need to recognize the risks, including protecting vulnerable people when they come home, Birx said.

“We need all of the public to help us get control of this virus,” she said. “We definitely need to take more precautions.”

Bavaria Premier Damps Soccer Hopes (6:26 a.m. NY)

Markus Soeder doubted fans could return anytime soon to stadiums for Bundesliga matches. Germany’s professional soccer league has drawn up guidelines to help clubs create concepts to allow spectators back into stadiums, but Soeder said Sunday that he’s “very skeptical” and it would send the wrong signal amid rising infection numbers. The 2020-21 season is due to begin Sept. 18.

“We must expect that coronavirus will return with full force,” Soeder said on Twitter. “Absolute vigilance is required and that’s why it’s not the time for a fresh easing of restrictions or a naive lack of care.”

India’s Home Minister Hospitalized With Virus (7:40 a.m. EST)

India’s Home Minister Amit Shah said he tested positive for coronavirus in a post on Twitter. Shah has been admitted to the hospital on the advice of doctors and asked everyone who he has been in contact with to get tested. Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit also tested positive CNBC-TV18 reported.

U.K. Reviewing Possible London Lockdown (8 a.m. EST)

The U.K. is looking at all options for tackling flare-ups of the coronavirus and will use regional data to target its response, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said, following newspaper reports that a London-wide lockdown is being considered if cases spike in the capital.

While Jenrick said he wasn’t aware of a plan to seal off London, which the Sunday Times newspaper reported is being considered as a worst-case option by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s inner circle of advisers, he said restrictions introduced in the northwest of England late Thursday show ministers will act where and when it’s necessary.

Iran Cases Soar, Indonesia Deaths Decline (6:01 a.m. NY)

Iran saw its biggest jump in the daily number of cases in three weeks at 2,685, bringing the total to 309,437. The death toll reached 17,190 with 208 more fatalities overnight, down from 216 a day earlier.

Meanwhile Indonesia reported 43 deaths from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the lowest one-day tally since June 28, official data showed Sunday. Total fatalities reached 5,236, still the highest in East Asia. The nation also confirmed 1,519 new cases Sunday, taking the total to 111,455.

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