Texas Deaths Hit New Record; U.S. Cases Rise 2.1%: Virus Update
Lab technicians seal bagged boxes of Corosure probe-free RT-PCR based Covid-19 Diagnostic kits in a crimping room at the Newtech Medical Devices facility in Faridabad, Haryana, India. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Texas Deaths Hit New Record; U.S. Cases Rise 2.1%: Virus Update

Deaths in Texas topped the record for the third straight day. New Jersey’s virus transmission rate rose to the highest level in weeks and Arizona infections accelerated. California ordered schools in hard-hit counties to hold classes remotely until the outbreak is under control.

New York City will enter its final reopening stage on Monday, with restrictions, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said reopening requires a delicate balance.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson nudged Britons back to their office desks, contradicting his top science adviser. The European Union is negotiating advance deals for vaccines with companies.

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Texas Deaths Hit New Record; U.S. Cases Rise 2.1%: Virus Update

Texas Deaths Break Record for Third Day (5:20 p.m. NY)

Texas virus deaths broke records for a third consecutive day, with 174 fatalities that pushed the tally-to-date to 3,735, according to state health department figures.

The clash between local control and state rules setting limits on virus safety mandates in Texas deepened Friday. State Attorney General Ken Paxton issued guidance that private religious schools don’t have to abide by restrictions being issued by cities or counties, such as a Dallas County edict this week barring in-person instruction until after Labor Day, Sept. 7.

“This guidance allows religious private schools to determine for themselves when to reopen free from any government mandate or interference,” Paxton wrote.

U.S. Cases Rise 2.1% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 2.1% as compared with the same time Thursday to 3.61 million, as of 3:01 p.m. New York time, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. Deaths rose by 943 to 138,840.

  • Florida reported 327,241 cases, up 3.6% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 4.5% in the previous seven days. Deaths reached 4,805, an increase of 128, or 2.7%,
  • Arizona reported 3,910 new cases, a 2.9% rise to 138,523 that was above the prior seven-day average of 2.6%. The state reported 91 new virus deaths, bringing the total to 2,583.
  • Montana cases rose 6.1% to 2,366 according to the data from Johns Hopkins and Bloomberg News.

California Cases Rise Above Week’s Average (3:13 p.m. NY)

California said another 9,986 people have tested positive for Covid-19, above the 14-day average of 8,241. The most populous U.S. state reported 130 deaths Friday and has recorded a total of 366,164 positive cases since the pandemic began, the state’s Department of Public Health said.

California Orders Most Schools Online (3:05 p.m. NY)

California said public schools in the state’s hardest hit counties won’t be able to open for on-campus classes until the spread of the coronavirus in that area is contained. The order means that students in counties accounting for more than 70% of the state’s population will likely switch to remote learning for the beginning of the school year.

California has seen a dramatic surge in new virus cases, driving up the number of deaths and patients needing hospitalization and ICU beds at an alarming rate. That forced Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this month to scale back reopening and to order indoor dining and bars closed and a halt to indoor ac

South Africa Eases Quarantine Rule (2:15 p.m. NY)

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said South Africa will reduce its Covid-19 quarantine period to 10 days from 14 days, aligning the country with World Health Organization guidelines.

Isolation is required for anyone testing positive or showing symptoms, Mkhize told reporters. South Africa recorded 13,172 new coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, bringing the total to 337,519. The death toll rose by 134 to 4,804

U.S. Steps Up Aid for Hospitals (1:25 p.m. NY)

Hospitals taking care of the highest numbers of Covid-19 patients will receive an additional $10 billion in U.S. government aid. Distribution will be based on inpatient admissions from Jan. 1 through June 10 and will go to more than 1,000 hospitals that have admitted at least 161 patients, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

Hospitals will get $50,000 per Covid-19 patient and payments will start as early as Monday. HHS previously gave hospitals in hot spots $12 billion in May.

New Jersey’s Transmission Rate Rises (1:10 p.m. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state’s virus transmission rate is at the highest level in weeks, suggesting the state’s struggle to reopen while containing Covid-19 isn’t over. The rate has increased to 1.11, so “each new positive case is leading to one more positive case,” Murphy said in a Twitter post imploring people to observe precautions.

“Social distance. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay at home if you feel sick,” the governor said.

More Retailers to Require Masks (12:40 p.m. NY)

Lowe’s Companies Inc., Rite Aid Corp. and video-game retailer GameStop Corp. joined chains from Walmart to Kroger in requiring masks at all locations. Lowe’s and Rite Aid are offering free face coverings for customers.

“As the pandemic continues to embattle the country, it’s critical that healthcare companies lead by example and do all we can to ensure the health and safety of our associates and customers,” Rite Aid Chief Operating Officer Jim Peters said in a statement.

Target, CVS, Walgreens and Apple have also announced requirements for masks, an issue that has led to verbal and physical confrontations at stores.

WHO China Mission Not in July (12:35 p.m. NY)

The World Health Organization is building a team of international experts for a mission to China to study the coronavirus’s animal origins and transmission to humans, but it won’t happen soon.

“At this point it’s unrealistic, given the timelines and logistics, that we would expect a full mission going into the field in July,” Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies program, told reporters.

IMF Calls for More U.S. Stimulus (12:23 p.m. NY)

The International Monetary Fund urged more U.S. stimulus to hasten the economic recovery, saying the country “has fiscal space and it should be deployed quickly.”

The IMF warning reinforces concern that the looming expiration of several federal relief programs threatens the rebound. The fund’s statement reflects preliminary staff findings from the IMF’s annual review of the U.S. economy.

Fauci Renews Reopening Warning (11:43 a.m. NY)

Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he’s optimistic that science will come to the rescue in the fight against Covid-19. There’s a delicate balance when reopening economies and policy makers must prevent case increases from turning into serious surges, he said at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event.

Arizona Cases Continue Rise (11:40 a.m. NY)

Arizona reported 3,910 new Covid-19 cases Friday, a 2.9% rise to 138,523 that was above the prior seven-day average of 2.6%. The state Department of Health Services reported 91 new virus deaths, bringing the total to 2,583.

The statewide positivity rate rose to 25% on Friday from 24.5% the day before.

On Thursday, though, Governor Doug Ducey said Arizona is seeing its “first good news” in its coronavirus metrics since closing bars, gyms and other businesses at the end of June. Arizona’s average number of people expected to become infected by each Covid-19 case was 0.98 Thursday, down from 1.18 on June 29, he said. A number above 1 suggests the virus is spreading.

The governor said the numbers are cause for cautious optimism, but there’s no end in sight. “There will be no victory laps,” he said.

Masks for Republican Lawmakers (10:45 a.m. NY)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will require fellow Republicans in Congress to wear face masks at a conference on Tuesday, according to a summary of his directive seen by Bloomberg. He previously suggested lawmakers should wear masks at the Capitol in Washington, but hadn’t insisted.

NYC Set to Enter Final Reopening Stage (10:58 a.m. NY)

New York City is ready to enter the fourth and final phase of reopening Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Zoos, botanical gardens and outdoor movie production can resume, but indoor dining, museums and malls will remain closed. A formal announcement will come later from Governor Andrew Cuomo, the mayor said.

The two are in agreement on cautiously “opening the parts of our economy that we can do safely,” de Blasio said.

Florida Covid-19 Cases, Deaths Slow (10:45 a.m. NY)

Florida reported 327,241 Covid-19 cases on Friday, up 3.6% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 4.5% in the previous seven days. The state recorded 128 more deaths, an increase of 2.7%, down from the record 156 a day earlier. Total fatalities among Florida residents were reached 4,805, according to the state Department of Health report, which includes data through Thursday.

EU Seeks 300 Million Doses in Sanofi Talks (10:30 a.m. NY)

European Union negotiations with Sanofi to secure a coronavirus vaccine aim for 300 million doses in the second half of 2021, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The deliberations are part of a European Commission outreach campaign to several drug companies -- Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Inc., CureVac GmbHand BioNTech SE are others -- seeking agreements on the advance purchase of any successful Covid-19 vaccines, according to the person, who asked not to be indentified because the talks are confidential.

N.Y. Hospitalizations Drop to Four-Month Low (9:13 a.m. NY)

New York hospitalizations dropped to a four-month low, as fewer than 1% of residents tested Thursday were positive for coronavirus. Governor Andrew Cuomo reported an additional 776 cases, bringing the total to 405,551, the most in the nation. Once the epicenter of the crisis, the state continues to recover from the outbreak as it reopens in regions and in phases.

The governor has said he will announce Friday whether New York City can move into the fourth and final phase of reopening on Monday. Cuomo has said he fears a second wave because of people traveling to New York from other hot spot states.

Statewide, there were 10 deaths on Thursday, bringing the total to 25,024. At its peak in April, New York state reported 799 daily deaths. Hospitalizations dropped to a low of 765, compared with an April peak of more than 18,000.

Trump Should Resume Public Virus Briefings: Conway (9:12 a.m. NY)

President Trump should be briefing the public on the status of the pandemic, senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters.

“I think he should be out there talking about it,” Conway said in a Fox News interview early Friday. Trump’s previous virus briefings had “wild ratings” because “people were tuning in.”

His approval rating was better when he was at the podium, she said.

Imperial College’s Vaccine to Go to Next Trial Phase (8:50 a.m. NY)

Imperial College’s Covid-19 vaccine trial will progress to its next stage, the university said in a statement on its website. Some 105 participants between the ages of 18 and 75 will be randomized to receive their first shot of one of three doses of the vaccine at a west London facility, followed by a booster four weeks later.

“We have had a promising start but it remains too early to speculate whether our vaccine candidate will be effective in preventing infection,” Dr Katrina Pollock, clinical lead on the Imperial COVAC1 study, said in the statement.

Goldman Predicts U.S. May Have a Vaccine by End of Year (8:17 a.m. NY)

The first vaccine for Covid-19 could be available in the U.S. later this year, Goldman Sachs analysts forecast. The potential for Moderna Inc. to file interim results with U.S. regulators from a 30,000-patient trial due to start by July 27 is underappreciated, analysts led by Salveen Richter said.

The chances of success in 2020 are enhanced further by four other vaccine programs slated to enter into the final research phase of testing sometime this summer, according to Goldman. Those experimental inoculations expected to start large-scale testing this summer are from Pfizer Inc. in partnership with BioNtech SE; AstraZeneca Plc with University of Oxford; Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

Barcelona Hit With New Curbs (7:51 a.m. NY)

Catalan officials imposed new curbs on movement and gatherings in Barcelona after the business and tourism hub suffered an upsurge in new cases. Bars and restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity and night clubs, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters closed, Meritxell Budo, a regional government spokeswoman, said at a news conference.

Gatherings of more than 10 people will also be forbidden. People should stay at home unless going out is absolutely necessary, Budo said. The number of new cases in Barcelona jumped to 494 last week, tripling those recorded the week before, according to data published by the regional government.

Singapore Researchers Discover Antibodies: Straits Times (7:41 a.m. NY)

Singapore researchers have discovered antibodies that bind to four sites on the coronavirus and neutralize it, the Straits Times reported, citing findings by scientists from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

The findings have been published in two scientific journals -- Nature Communications and the Lancet -- and are about antibodies that can prevent the virus from hijacking a human cell in the first place, or stop it from replicating inside a human cell. They could guide vaccine discovery, or validate the effectiveness of one, the researchers said.

Singapore Tightens Rules for Some Travelers (7:20 a.m. NY)

Singapore will tighten rules on travelers who had been in coronavirus hotspots including Japan, Hong Kong and Australia’s Victoria state, mandating quarantine in dedicated facilities from July 20.

Travelers who have been in those regions in the 14 days prior to entering Singapore won’t be able to serve their quarantine at their residence, the island’s authorities said on Friday.

Fewer Americans Approve of Trump’s Handling of Covid-19 (7 a.m. NY)

President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak has the approval of 38% of Americans, down from 46% in May and 51% in March, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC poll. More than half of the public, or 52%, now disapproves “strongly” of Trump’s handling of the outbreak, roughly double the percentage who say they strongly approve and an increase from 36% in strong disapproval since March.

Johnson Relaxes U.K. Work-From-Home Rules (6:43 a.m. NY)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson relaxed work-from-home guidance, putting him at odds with his top scientific adviser as he seeks to pump life into the economy. Anyone will now be able to use public transport, Johnson said in a televised press conference, marking a change from guidance to avoid it where possible. And from Aug. 1, he said employers will have “more discretion” on bringing staff back into offices.

Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak are trying to revive economic activity and stave off an expected wave of job cuts as the government tapers support for businesses and continues to ease a lockdown that began on March 23.

The rate of coronavirus infection in England has leveled off, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.

Texas Deaths Hit New Record; U.S. Cases Rise 2.1%: Virus Update

Iran Cases Rise (6 a.m. NY)

Cases in Iran continued to climb at a rate of 0.9%, with 2,379 new cases recorded to bring the total to 269,440 infections. The health ministry also reported 183 deaths in the past 24 hours, just slightly below the average of 186 deaths in the past week, for a total of 13,791 fatalities.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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