California Cases Surge; Alabama Mandates Masks: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- California’s surge continued, with the largest U.S. state reporting near-record increases in cases and deaths. Alabama, one of the last states to shut down and among the earliest to reopen, required people to wear masks, and retail giant Walmart said its customers must wear face coverings at its U.S. stores.
The University of Oxford’s vaccine trial will report “positive news,” a U.K. journalist said, boosting AstraZeneca Plc shares. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. is striving to avoid a second spike of infections.
- Global Tracker: Cases top 13.4 million; deaths surpass 580,500
- Covid vaccine front-runner is ahead of her competition
- Oil workers are dying at unparalleled pace in Mexico
- Amid the pandemic, companies are embracing epidemiology
- Hospitals to send Covid-19 data to Washington, not CDC
- Covid spike in Norilsk could cause more problems for Potanin
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California Cases, Deaths Rise (1:45 p.m. SF)
New coronavirus cases and deaths in California surged to near-record highs, as the pandemic rebounds in the biggest U.S. state. California recorded 11,126 new cases, the second-highest one-day tally, while the 14-day rolling average rose to 7,927. It reported 140 more deaths, bringing the 14-day average to 83. The pandemic has killed 7,227 people in the state so far.
The number of Californians hospitalized with Covid-19 rose to a record 6,786, an increase of 41 patients from the previous day. The worsening outbreak this week prompted Governor Gavin Newsom to order indoor dining and bars statewide to close for a second time. In the worst-hit counties, he ordered gyms, hair salons and churches to stop all indoor operations.
U.S. Cases Rise 2%, Matching 7-Day Average (4 p.m. NY)
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 2% as compared with the same time Tuesday to 3.47 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase matched the average gain over the past week. Deaths rose 0.6% to 136,940.
- Florida reported 301,810 cases, up 3.5% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 4.5% in the previous seven days. Deaths reached 4,521, an increase of 112, or 2.5%,
- Arizona reported 3,257 new cases, a 2.5% increase that was below the prior seven-day average gain of 2.9%. The state also reported 97 new deaths, the fifth increase in six days, bringing the toll to 2,434.
- Montana cases rose 7.4% to 2,096 according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins and Bloomberg News.
U.S. Army Medics Deployed to Texas Hot Spot (3:50 p.m. NY)
U.S. Army medics are being deployed to two counties along the Texas-Mexico border to assist local hospitals overrun with new virus cases.
The Department of Defense dispatched an “urban augmentation medical task force” to Hidalgo and Cameron counties, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement. Covid-19 has expanded rapidly in both counties, with Hidalgo seeing an almost four-fold increase in the past two weeks, according to state health department data.
Ireland Delays Pub Reopening Plans (2:55 p.m. NY)
Ireland will delay the next stage of reopening its economy to Aug. 10 from July 20, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said, as it grapples with a rise in new coronavirus cases and an increase in the so-called reproduction rate above 1. Bars that don’t serve food and nightclubs will remain closed until Aug. 10, while face coverings will be mandatory in shops and malls.
In response to concerns about house parties, the government will limit the number of visitors to homes, while international travel continues to be discouraged. Ireland saw its highest number of new cases in a month on Tuesday. The health ministry reported 14 more cases and two deaths on Wednesday. So far, Ireland has had 25,683 cases, with 1,748 deaths.
California’s Rose Parade Canceled (2:45 p.m. NY)
The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association said it is canceling the 2021 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, citing the governor’s reopening rules. It is only the fourth time that the event has been canceled in more than 120 years. It was previously shut down for three years during World War II.
Trump Faults Navarro Over Fauci Critique (2:23 p.m. NY)
President Donald Trump admonished a senior White House adviser for writing an unauthorized critique of Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert who has clashed with the administration over the pandemic and plans to ease public health restrictions.
Peter Navarro “made a statement representing himself -- he shouldn’t be doing that,” Trump told reporters Wednesday, referring to an op-ed by the White House’s director for the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy published in USA Today. Navarro blasted Fauci over his comments about the coronavirus early in the U.S. outbreak.
Asked about Navarro’s op-ed, Fauci told The Atlantic: “I can’t explain Peter Navarro. He’s in a world by himself. So I don’t even want to go there.”
Oxford Trial Data to Be Published Monday: Sky (1:55 p.m. NY)
The Lancet medical journal on Monday will publish data on a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca Plc and University of Oxford researchers, Sky News said on Twitter. Earlier, ITV reported that “positive news is coming” on initial trials, sending AstraZeneca shares higher.
Alabama Governor Mandates Masks (1:25 p.m. NY)
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey is mandating masks in her state through the end of the month. Ivey, a Republican, was among the last governors in the U.S. to order businesses to close and among the first to allow gradual reopening: Alabama began a phased in reopening on the last day of April. The order requires masks in public when it isn’t possible to stay 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart.
Alabama had early outbreaks in Birmingham and Mobile. Starting in late May, the pandemic moved to rural Black Belt counties around Montgomery, temporarily swamping hospital capacity there. The state now has 58,225 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Oklahoma Governor Tests Positive (12:10 p.m. NY)
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt confirmed he tested positive for Covid-19 at a press conference Wednesday.
The first-term Republican governor attended President Donald Trump’s campaign rally last month in Tulsa, which experts said contributed to a spike of cases in the region.
Walmart Mandates Masks at U.S. Stores (10:21 a.m. NY)
Walmart Inc. will require customers to wear masks in all of its U.S. stores to protect against the coronavirus, an admission that the nation’s pandemic has reached new heights and setting up potential confrontations with customers who refuse to don them.
The measure will go into effect starting July 20, U.S. Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith said in a blog post Wednesday. The retailer will place employees, dubbed “Health Ambassadors,” near the entrance to “remind those without a mask of the new requirements,” it said. Stores will have a single entrance. Walmart’s decision follows similar moves by Costco Wholesale Corp., Starbucks Corp. and Best Buy Co.
U.S. Industrial Output Surges by Most Since 1959 (9:18 a.m. NY)
U.S. industrial production in June posted the largest monthly gain since 1959, indicating manufacturing is stirring to life. Total output at factories, mines and utilities increased 5.4% from the prior month after climbing 1.4% in May, Federal Reserve data showed. The Fed’s index of industrial output remains 10.9% below pre-pandemic levels. What’s more, sales may be tempered in coming months as states like California impose renewed lockdown measures.
Aging Drug Affects Virus Reproduction in Early Research (9:05 a.m. NY)
An aging cholesterol medication showed it can interfere with the virus’s ability to reproduce, according to early lab research. The drug, called fenofibrate and sold under brand names such as Tricor and Lipofen, allows lung cells to burn more fat, breaking the virus’s grip, a team from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York found. Their research is under review by the medical journal Cell Metabolism.
The scientists established that the new virus prevents the routine burning of carbohydrates, allowing fat to accumulate inside lung cells, which may help explain why patients with high blood sugar and cholesterol appear more at risk of developing severe disease.
White House Distances Itself From Screed Against Fauci (8:45 a.m. NY)
The Trump administration is distancing itself from a senior adviser’s critique of Fauci, the immunologist who has delivered warnings about the coronavirus’s resurgence as the president pushes to reopen. Peter Navarro, the White House’s director for the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, wrote an op-ed published in USA Today, criticizing Fauci. Navarro also had earlier sent a similar statement to CBS.
The statement was not signed off on by the White House communications office, according to Alyssa Farah, the White House’s director of strategic communications. Navarro was speaking for himself, Farah said Wednesday.
Philippines Curve Flattened Until Lockdown Eased (7:30 a.m. NY)
The Philippines was able to slow the spread until lockdown measures were lifted, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
“We flattened the curve for some time until we started opening up,” Duque said in a statement on Wednesday. A lockdown over large parts of the country had served its purpose since it now takes 8 days for cases to double from only 3 days in April, he said.
Russia Says Vaccine Trial Shows Promise (7:20 a.m. NY)
A Russian military hospital discharged the first group of 18 volunteers in a vaccine trial after a 28-day observation period, calling the initial phase a success, according to an emailed statement from the Defense Ministry.
The group had no health complaints, complications or adverse reactions to the vaccine, according to the statement. They will come back for further tests on the 42nd day after their first vaccination.
Oxford Vaccine Trial to Report ‘Positive News,’ ITV Says (7 a.m. NY)
“Positive news is coming” on initial trials of the Covid-19 vaccine that the University of Oxford is developing with AstraZeneca Plc, ITV’s Robert Peston said in a tweet, without specifying how he obtained the information. Shares in AstraZeneca rose as much as 4% in London.
“The vaccine is generating the kind of antibody and T-cell (killer cell) response that the researchers would hope to see,” Peston wrote, adding that details will be released soon in medical journal The Lancet.
Oxford’s vaccine trial -- led by Sarah Gilbert, who is profiled this week in Bloomberg Businessweek -- is already undergoing phase III testing in Brazil. The trial shot is seen as being months ahead of other key candidates.
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