Summer Camp Rules Ease; U.S. Looks at Travel Pass: Virus Update
Morning commuters wearing protective face masks cross an intersection in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Japan. (Photographer: Soichiro Koriyama/Bloomberg)

Summer Camp Rules Ease; U.S. Looks at Travel Pass: Virus Update

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has loosened its guidance for summer camps, announcing Friday that fully vaccinated campers will no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said the U.S. is taking a “very close look” at vaccine passports for international travel. New York City passed a milestone in the outbreak’s easing, as the seven-day average for positive tests fell below 1% for the first time this year.

European regulators cleared Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine for children ages 12 and up. The U.K. approved a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases top 169.1 million; deaths exceed 3.5 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.81 billion doses have been given
  • Brazil let 70 million shots get away and sealed its Covid fate
  • Get vaccinated in Hong Kong, win $1.4 million new apartment
  • Indoor Spanish concert study shows no sign of Covid-19 spread
  • Where are we in hunting for the coronavirus’s origin?: QuickTake
Summer Camp Rules Ease; U.S. Looks at Travel Pass: Virus Update

CureVac Trial to Continue After Safety Analysis (4:30 p.m. NY)

CureVac NV said a late-stage trial of its Covid-19 vaccine will continue after passing its first interim safety analysis. The study has recorded 59 confirmed Covid cases, the company said in a statement. The trial of about 40,000 people in 10 countries will continue to collect data to conduct a statistically significant analysis of the vaccine’s efficacy, CureVac said Friday. CureVac is developing an mRNA vaccine that’s given in two doses.

A monitoring board determined there were no safety concerns, according to the statement.

N.Y. Expands Lottery Incentives (4:19 p.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo chose an additional 10 sites where people who get a vaccine will also get a scratch-off lottery ticket with a maximum prize of $5 million. He said there was “significant interest” in the first round of prizes announced a week ago. New York is one of several states, including Ohio, Maryland and Oregon, offering lottery winnings as a vaccine incentive.

Idaho Governor Decries Rival’s ‘Tyranny’ (3:59 p.m. NY)

Governor Brad Little returned home to Idaho to “clean up a mess” he said was caused by Janice McGeachin, his lieutenant governor. McGeachin, who is seeking to become governor herself, had a day earlier issued an executive order while Little was out of town repealing almost all local mask mandates, including in public schools. Idaho has never had a statewide mask mandate.

“The action that took place was an irresponsible, self-serving political stunt,” Little said of the order by his fellow Republican, which he repealed. “Taking the earliest opportunity to act solitarily on a highly politicized, polarizing issue without conferring with local jurisdictions, legislators, and the sitting governor is, simply put, an abuse of power.”

“This kind of over-the-top executive action amounts to tyranny,” he added.

Summer Camp Rules Loosen (2:08 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has loosened its guidance for summer camps, announcing Friday that fully vaccinated campers will no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing.

For those who are not fully vaccinated for Covid-19, mask wearing is especially important indoors and in crowded outdoor settings, where physical distancing cannot be maintained, the guidance says.

Netherlands, Ireland Ease Further (1:52 p.m. NY)

The Netherlands is speeding up its reopening plan as cases and hospital admissions continue to fall. Museums, theaters and cinemas can reopen from June 5, four days earlier than planned, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a press briefing in the Hague on Friday.

The Dutch government announced on Thursday it plans to spend an additional six billion euros on aid for companies impacted by the pandemic, bringing the total amount earmarked for businesses to 80 billion euros.

Ireland will continue easing virus restrictions next month, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said. Hotels can reopen from June 2 as scheduled while outdoor dining can resume on June 7. Cinemas and theaters will reopen and as many as 200 people will be able to attend outdoor events. Ireland will adopt use of the EU digital travel certificate from July 19 and “broadly” follow EU rules for travel from Great Britain and the U.S., effectively allowing international travel to resume.

Sinovac Assessment Due Next Week (1:06 p.m. NY)

The World Health Organization is finalizing its assessment of China’s Sinovac shot after it asked for further clarifications on the data provided, according to Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for drug access, vaccines and pharmaceuticals. The expert group will meet June 1 for a decision, Simao said.

The WHO approved China’s Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use earlier this month.

Burkina Faso Gets First Vaccines (1:04 a.m. NY)

Burkina Faso is set to receive the first shipment of vaccines this Sunday more than six months since the first roll out of a global vaccination campaign. The West African nation will receive AstraZeneca doses from Covax, an initiative to distribute vaccines to poorer countries, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health.

Africa remains the world’s least-inoculated continent with only 2% of vaccine doses available globally delivered here. Burundi, Tanzania and Eritrea are among countries that have so far rejected the World Health Organization’s advice to register for Covax, with some officials downplaying the impact of Covid-19 and effectiveness of the vaccines.

Employers Can Offer Vaccine Incentives (12:23 p.m. NY)

Employers can offer bonuses and other incentives to encourage employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in updated guidance addressing a legal gray area during the pandemic.

“Federal EEO laws do not prevent or limit employers from offering incentives to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination obtained from a third party (not the employer) in the community, such as a pharmacy, personal health care provider, or public clinic,” the agency said Friday.

NYC Positive Tests Fall Below 1% (11:56 a.m. NY)

New York City passed a milestone in the outbreak’s easing, as the seven-day average for positive tests fell below 1% for the first time this year. “All of our #COVID19 milestones are trending in the right direction, and this makes me hopeful,” Health Commissioner Dave A. Chokshi tweeted on Friday morning.

The statewide positive test rate, also averaged over seven days, has fallen to 0.76%, the lowest since Aug. 29, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Friday. That’s one of the lowest in the U.S.

U.K. Cases Continue to Accelerate (11:23 a.m. NY)

The U.K. reported 4,182 more cases on May 28, the first time the reported figure has been over 4,000 since April 1, government data show.

On Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the plan to end England’s pandemic restrictions on June 21 is hanging “in the balance,” with the more-transmissible virus variant first found in India now making up as many as three-quarters of all new cases.

U.S. ‘Looking’ at Vaccine Passports (11:18 a.m. NY)

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in an interview with ABC that the U.S. is taking a “very close look” at vaccine passports for international travel.

The White House has regularly dismissed any suggestion that it would create some federal document certifying vaccination status. Liza Acevedo, a spokesperson for the department, said later that Mayorkas was referring to work already underway to make sure “all U.S. travelers will be able to easily meet any anticipated foreign country entry requirements.”

Ontario Sets Summer Vaccine Goal (10:59 a.m. NY)

The majority of Ontario residents should be fully vaccinated by the end of the summer if they choose, provincial health officials confirmed Friday.

The priority continues to be targeting those who require first dose, including hard to reach populations. Students over age 12 should be fully vaccinated by September.

EU Clears Pfizer for Young Teens (10:40 a.m. NY)

European regulators cleared Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine for children ages 12 and up, preparing the way for the mass vaccination of younger teenagers across the continent.

The European Medicines Agency is expanding authorization of the shot, which is already cleared for people as young as 16, it said in a statement. The green light gives Europe, whose vaccine rollout was initially fraught with difficulties, the first vaccine in its arsenal for the inoculation of younger children.

Hong Kong Eases Quarantine for Finance Execs (9:52 a.m. NY)

Senior executives at Hong Kong licensed firms are exempt from mandatory quarantine rules in the city, the Securities and Futures Commission said Friday.

Relaxed rules apply to senior staff who are vaccinated and also extends to staff members at affiliates of Hong Kong licensed firms, according to statement.

Rwanda Receives More Doses (8:49 a.m. NY)

Rwanda will resume its vaccination campaign after receiving 247,000 AstraZeneca Plc doses through the Covax facility and a donation from France. The announcement from the health ministry follows a visit by France President Emmanuel Macron to the East African nation this week to help mend relations between the two countries. Rwanda was one of the first nations in Africa to start inoculations and has so far given out 350,400 doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.

China Reports Few Adverse Reactions (8:44 a.m. NY)

China says it saw only 119 cases of adverse events for every million doses of vaccines administered -- a rate that’s much lower than that reported for some western vaccines, although there’s little information on how the incidents were tracked, categorized and collated in the Asian country.

Malaysia Announces Lockdown (8:32 a.m. NY)

The Malaysian government announced a two-week nationwide lockdown, which will begin June 1 as cases continued to breach daily records.

Only essential economic and services sectors will be allowed to operate, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Friday. The government will consider aid packages for companies and people affected by the lockdown, which will last till June 14.

Merkel: Waiving Patents No Answer (7:51 a.m. NY)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated that waiving vaccine patents during the pandemic is not the right answer and companies need to be encouraged to invest in developing new drugs.

“We are talking about sensitive products and we have to make sure the quality assurance remains,” Merkel said during Q&A at a virtual Global Solutions Summit.

U.K. Approves J&J Vaccine (7:48 a.m. NY)

The U.K. cleared a vaccine for use from Johnson & Johnson, the first single-dose shot to be authorized in Britain.

The country’s drug regulator gave the green light for the vaccine, the Department of Health and Social Care said Friday in a statement. The authorization gives Britain a fourth shot in its arsenal, though its use may be initially limited given more than half the population has already received one vaccine dose.

Austria Eases Lockdown Further (6:17 a.m. NY)

Austria will remove further restrictions from June 10 amid a decline in cases and growing inoculations. Restaurants will be allowed to serve larger groups while sport and cultural events will be held with a higher, 75% limit on spectator capacity, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told reporters Friday.

Participation in social events will still require either a negative test, proof of vaccination or having recovered from the virus. The cabinet pledged further easing measures from July, including allowing weddings and larger festivities. More than 3.5 million people, or 46% of eligible, have received at least a first vaccine dose in Austria.

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