Bidens to Get Vaccine; N.Y. Cases Soar to Record: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, will get vaccine doses on Monday. Vice President Mike Pence was vaccinated on live television to encourage Americans to get their shots. New York state shattered its record for the most daily cases since the start of the pandemic, reporting more than 12,000 new infections. Michigan began lifting a partial lockdown as its outbreak eases.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will work quickly toward authorizing Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine, Commissioner Stephen Hahn said. The World Health Organization said the end of global pandemic is “in sight” as vaccines begin to roll out.
Some U.S. states say the federal government has cut their allocations of the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE for next week without explanation.
- Global Tracker: Cases pass 75.4 million; deaths top 1.6 million
- December is emerging as the U.S.’s worst month of the pandemic
- Manhattan’s quiet Christmas signals mounting distress for retail
- Global vaccine initiative adds to supplies amid access worries
- Can I be required to get vaccinated?: QuickTake
- Los Angeles is now the worst-hit U.S. metro area
- Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID
New Jersey to Open Vaccine ‘Mega-Sites’ (3:54 p.m. NY)
New Jersey will open six vaccine mega-sites across the state in early January. It also is working to open 200 satellite sites, including in urgent care centers, chain pharmacies and individual hospitals.
The state expects to begin vaccinations of residents and staff at long-term care facilities on Dec. 28, through a partnership with the CDC, CVS and Walgreens.
Hospitalizations have declined for two straight days, but “two days certainly do not make a trend,” Governor Phil Murphy said on Friday.
Murphy reported 3,975 new cases, for a total of 423,226 since March. There have been 10 new in-school outbreaks over the past week, leading to 40 new cases, he said.
“The vaccines are here at a time when we absolutely need them,” he said.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said she expects about 70% of eligible adult populations in the state -- 4.7 million individuals -- to be able to get the vaccine within six months.
Michigan Eases Lockdown (3:24 p.m. NY)
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer began relaxing a partial lockdown after the state’s outbreak eased. In-person learning for all grades will resume, as will indoor activities like casinos, movies and bowling though at reduced capacity. Indoor dining, nightclubs and indoor and contact sports are still prohibited.
“These past few weeks, Michiganders across the state stepped up and did their part to slow the spread of Covid-19,” Whitmer said in a statement.
New infections have fallen from a seven-day peak of 8,344 on Dec. 3 to 4,662 on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Hospitalizations have also begun ticking down, though fatalities, which lag infections, are rising.
North Carolina Breaks Record; Chief Doctor ‘Very Worried’ (3:02 p.m. NY)
North Carolina reported 8,444 new cases, again breaking a record as the outbreak there continues to accelerate. Hospitalizations also hit a new high, at 2,824, with available hospital beds in the state roughly three-quarters full. “I am very worried for our state,” Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said in a tweet. “Everyone must act right now to protect each other.”
Bidens to be Vaccinated Monday After Pence, Pelosi (2:55 p.m.)
President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, will get their first dose of coronavirus vaccine on Monday. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, will get their first shots the following week.
Biden has said he would take the vaccine as soon as was appropriate and that he would do so in public to raise trust and awareness. That will come after Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, were vaccinated earlier Friday, as was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Government officials are among the first to get the shots as part of longstanding plans to protect continuity of government.
President Donald Trump has said he will take the vaccine, but hasn’t said when.
Washington Monument Closed After Bernhardt’s Diagnosis (2:54 p.m. NY)
The Washington Monument is temporarily closed after some employees had to quarantine following a visit this week by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday.
Their absence has led to a staffing shortage at the monument. The monument reopened on Oct. 1 after a six-month closure forced by the pandemic. None of the National Park Service employees working at the monument has tested positive for Covid-19 since then.
France Adds 15,674 New Cases (1:51 p.m. NY)
France reported 15,674 new Covid cases on Friday, with the rolling seven-day average of cases rising for a third day to 13,088, the highest in three weeks.
Deaths rose by 610 to 60,229, making France the third European country after Italy and the U.K. to report more than 60,000 fatalities linked to the virus. French President Emmanuel Macron, who is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid, said in a video message he’s doing fine, even as he described tiredness and said his level of activity is “a little slowed down.”
L.A. County to Vaccinate a Third of Health-Care Workforce (1:30 p.m. NY)
Los Angeles County is aiming to vaccinate 10,000 of its health-care workers by the end of the year. That’s about a third of its health-care workforce, which the county’s health officials say will buy some time in containing the outbreak.
The county is gradually emerging as the new epicenter of the crisis, putting pressure on a health-care system that’s running out of intensive-care unit beds. “The system is in crisis,” said Christina Ghaly, director of the county’s health services.
WHO Says End of Pandemic is “In Sight” (1:15 p.m. NY)
The World Health Organization said it would have delivered enough vaccine doses to protect health and social care workers in all participating countries by mid-2021. A fifth of those countries’ populations would be vaccinated by the end of 2021, with further doses in the following year.
“This is a time for taking comfort that the end of the pandemic is in sight,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, calling the vaccine rollout “a milestone in global health.” “With today’s news the light at the end of the tunnel has grown a little bit brighter, but we are not there yet.”
New York City Administers More Vaccines (1:10 p.m. NY)
New York City administered 3,825 vaccines Thursday, for a total of 9,025 as of Friday morning. “This is a small beginning compared to where we’ll be going over the coming week,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who noted the East Coast snowstorm didn’t impact vaccine deliveries.
The daily count of new Covid-19 cases on a seven-day average increased to 2,805 Wednesday, a 66-patient increase over Tuesday. Meanwhile, tests for the virus produced a 6.16% positivity rate, which is above the city’s public health safety threshold of 5%.
Ireland Doctors Sound Alarm (1:05 p.m. NY)
Ireland “cannot cope” with the growth of coronavirus going into the holiday, the nation’s chief medical officer warned, as virus numbers continue to increase. Ireland reported 582 new cases on Friday, the most since November 5, while hospitalizations jumped. “The situation is getting worse more rapidly than we expected,” CMO Tony Holohan said. His comments come a day after the government warned it would bring in new virus restrictions before the end of the year.
Mexico City to Shut Down Nonessential Activity (12:59 p.m. NY)
Mexico City will shut down all non-essential activity starting on Saturday and until January 10 as Covid-19 cases soar in the nation’s capital.
The shutdown extends to the State of Mexico, the nation’s most populous state. The decision comes after the number of people with the virus occupying hospital beds reached a record this month in Mexico City.
Austria Set to Enter Third Lockdown After Christmas (12:37 p.m. NY)
Austria’s government will impose a third lockdown starting after the Christmas holidays until at least Jan. 17.
There will be a second round of rapid antigen mass tests at the end of the lockdown, with restrictions for those who don’t participate, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in Vienna. Negative test results will be required to visit restaurants or stores from Jan. 18.
N.Y. Daily Covid-19 Cases Top 12,000, Most Since Pandemic Began (11:59 a.m. NY)
New York state reported more than 12,000 new cases, the most since the pandemic began. Even with that record, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he is confident the state can slow the spread and avoid a shutdown.
“Shutdowns are very, very harmful,” Cuomo said Friday. “This has been a long year and the last thing anybody wants is a shutdown.”
Of a record 249,385 tests conducted on Thursday, 5.09% were positive, including hot spots, Cuomo said. There were 6,081 hospitalizations and 120 virus-related fatalities.
Murdoch Gets Vaccinated (11:24 a.m. NY)
Billionaire Rupert Murdoch, 89, was vaccinated against Covid-19 at his local doctor’s office after receiving a call that he was eligible, according to a statement.
Murdoch has been isolating at his home near Henley, England, with his wife, Jerry Hall Murdoch. He serves as News Corp.’s co-chairman along with his son Lachlan.
U.S. States Say They’re Getting Less Covid Vaccine Than Expected (11:21 a.m. NY)
Some U.S. states say the federal government has cut their allocations of the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for next week without explanation. Officials from Oregon, Nevada, and Washington state said the federal government cut distributions by roughly 40%.
“To slash allocations for states -- without any explanation whatsoever -- is disruptive and baffling,” Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said Thursday in a statement. The state now expects 17,550 doses, compared to 30,255 originally anticipated.
Switzerland to Close Restaurants, Leisure Venues (10:16 a.m. NY)
Switzerland will close restaurants and leisure venues, including gyms, museums and cinemas, from Dec. 22. The measures will last until Jan. 22, the government said in a statement Friday. It’s considering further steps should the situation worsen.
The nation of about 8.5 million on Friday reported 4,478 new infections, with the seven-day average up 3% compared to last week.
Covid Sweeps U.S. Prisons, Report Says (10:14 a.m. NY)
A fifth of U.S. state and federal prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19, with more than half infected in some states, according to data collected by the Marshall Project and the A.P. In total, at least 275,000 prisoners have been infected, and more than 1,700 have died, they reported. Among those who reportedly tested positive is Dustin John Higgs, convicted of killing three women in 1996 and who is scheduled to be executed at the end of President Donald Trump’s term in January.
EU Commission Doubles Moderna Vaccine Order to 160 Million (8:41 a.m. NY)
Moderna said the European Commission exercised an option to double its order of vaccines for Covid-19 to 160 million.
The first deliveries to European Union countries should begin early in 2021, following regulatory approval by the European Medicines Agency, Moderna said. An EU advisory panel meeting is scheduled for Jan. 6 and another the following week.
Global Vaccine Initiative Adds to Supplies Amid Access Worries (8:16 a.m. NY)
A program aimed at delivering Covid-19 vaccines to the entire world has gained access to almost 2 billion doses of future shots, including one developed by Johnson & Johnson, as it grapples with concerns about fulfilling its ambitious mission.
All the countries participating in the initiative known as Covax will be able to receive supplies to protect vulnerable groups in the first half of 2021, its backers said Friday in a statement.
Turkey to Begin Sinovac Covid Vaccinations Before Trials Over (8:04 a.m. NY)
Turkey plans to start Covid-19 vaccinations using the Chinese-made Sinovac Biotech shots as early as next month, before it completes human trials, officials said, as the country’s daily death toll from the virus hits new highs and intensive-care beds fill up.
Covid-19 Infection Rates Continue to Rise in England: ONS (7:08 a.m. NY)
The rate of coronavirus infection in England rose to one in 95 people from 1 in 115 a week earlier, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday. While the pace of new cases is falling in Yorkshire and the Humber, it is rising in London, east of England, East Midlands and the South East.
Belgium Accidentally Reveals Vaccine Costs (6:15 p.m. HK)
Belgium will pay between 1.78 euros and $18 per vaccine dose, according to a twitter post from budget secretary of state Eva De Bleeker, the Belgian public broadcaster VRT NWS reported on Thursday. De Bleeker later took down the tweet as the contents of the contracts between the European Commission and the various vaccine producers are confidential.
Separately, the country will step up enforcement of the obligation to work from home, threatening employers with tougher fines if inspections show they still allow office work when it’s not absolutely necessary. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also said the government will enforce the mandatory seven-day quarantine for returning travelers by sharing their identity with mayors and local police.
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