California Deaths Hit Record; N.Y. Toll Above 100: Virus Update
A healthcare worker receives the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at UCI Medical Center in Orange, California, U.S. (Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg)

California Deaths Hit Record; N.Y. Toll Above 100: Virus Update

Pfizer Inc. and U.S. drug regulators are revising information for use and monitoring of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine after rare allergic reactions. The company also said it has shipped all 2.9 million doses that the U.S. government ordered this week, while governors from several states say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told them they will get fewer doses than planned.

California set a record for fatalities for the second consecutive day. New York state again topped 100 daily deaths, as Arizona reported the highest death toll since August. The U.S. passed 17 million total infections.

French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for Covid-19. Vaccinations across the European Union will start “on 27, 28 and 29 December,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. Germany reported over 45,000 cases on Thursday, its biggest-ever jump in infections.

California Deaths Hit Record; N.Y. Toll Above 100: Virus Update

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California Deaths Hit Record; N.Y. Toll Above 100: Virus Update

Portugal to Limit Movement on New Year’s Eve (4:29 p.m. NY)

Portugal will limit movement from 11 p.m. on Dec. 31 as it tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. On Jan. 1-3, movement will be banned in public spaces from 1 p.m., Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday night. No new restrictions will be added for the long Christmas weekend, he said.

Rhode Island Nursing Home Deaths Total Over 1,000 (4:07 p.m. NY)

Deaths at Rhode Island long-term care facilities have risen to as many as 1,039 at long-term care facilities and almost 100 at assisted-living facilities since the start of the pandemic, state data show. Total fatalities in the state, which has been hit hard in the virus’s recent wave, are 1,602.

European Leaders Isolating After Macron Tests Positive (3:54 p.m. NY)

Leaders from across Europe announced they’re isolating after coming into contact with French President Emmanuel Macron who tested positive for Covid-19.

Hours after being tested positive for Covid-19 after what an official described as “mild symptoms,” Macron, 42, took part in a conference about development aid via video, from isolation. His 67-year-old wife Brigitte tested negative on Thursday.

Macron is suffering from a cough, fever and fatigue, an official in his office said. Macron will isolate and work in a state residence known as “la Lanterne” in Versailles, while his wife will remain at the Elysee Palace.

Eight Nuns Die in Wisconsin (3:42 p.m. NY)

A convent outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin said that eight nuns had died of Covid-19 since Dec. 9, the A.P. reported, citing a statement from the School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province. The statement said more of the 88 sisters at the convent have tested positive, though they had practiced recommended anti-virus measures “including wearing masks, social distancing and handwashing.”

Florida Cases Rise by Most Since July (3:32 p.m. NY)

Florida reported 13,164 new cases among residents, the most for a single day since a summer surge in mid-July. The state’s positive-test rate, which stayed below 8% on most days in December, has recently risen and came in at 8.8% on Wednesday, according to health department data.

Even so, deaths declined from 87 as recently as a month ago to four in the latest daily update.

Sydney Beach Virus Cluster Triggers Swift State Restrictions (3:23 p.m. NY)

A week out from one of the biggest public holidays of the year, Australia’s largest city is battling to contain an outbreak of Covid-19, ending a more than month-long run with limited community transmission in New South Wales state.

Sydney reported an additional 15 cases on Thursday, taking the total cluster on the city’s northern beaches to 17. The state health department has asked that region’s 250,000 residents to remain at home as much as possible over the next three days and avoid unnecessary gatherings to assist with contact tracing.

Arizona Reports Most Deaths Since Summer (3:10 p.m. NY)

Arizona on Thursday reported 147 deaths from Covid-19, the biggest single-day tally since Aug. 12, as the state continues to battle a resurgence of the virus.

U.S. Governors Say They Will Get Fewer Vaccine Doses (2:57 p.m. NY)

Many U.S. states are going to get fewer vaccine doses than originally planned, according to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, marking what could be a significant hiccup in the effort to distribute shots to all Americans.

Next week’s allocation for Washington, the state that saw the first outbreak of the epidemic in the U.S., was cut by 40%, Inslee, a Democrat, said on Twitter. “All states are seeing similar cuts,” he said, adding the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention didn’t give the state any explanation.

On Monday, Washington said it was expecting 62,400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week and a total of 222,000 by the end of the month. The Evergreen State, which has about 7.6 million residents, would also get 183,800 doses of Moderna’s vaccine this month if that inoculation is approved by regulators. Washington’s frustrations echo complaints from states including Illinois, Michigan and Florida.

California Deaths Set Record for Second Day (2:23 p.m. NY)

California reported 379 daily coronavirus deaths, breaking the record of 293 set just yesterday. The state had 52,281 new infections, for a total of more than 100,000 in the past two days, though the health department said some of those cases reflect a processing backlog.

The home of 40 million people is facing a rapidly worsening crisis that is threatening to overwhelm medical systems. Hospitalizations jumped 3.3% over 24 hours to a record 16,426 patients, while the number of people in intensive care climbed 2.8%. Four of the state’s five regions are now under stay-at-home orders after ICU capacity fell below a 15% threshold.

Ireland May Impose New Covid Curbs Earlier (1:49 p.m. NY)

Ireland is likely to bring in new coronavirus limits before the end of the year, Prime Minister Micheal Martin told RTE Television. Ireland had planned to tighten restrictions on January 6 after easing them for three weeks over Christmas.

Now though, restrictions are likely to come in earlier, Martin said. The so-called reproduction number is now between 1.1 and 1.4, with case numbers rising steadily, he said. The government is likely to set new restrictions on pubs and restaurants, while limits on household visits will be tightened. There were about 480 newly confirmed cases on Thursday, Martin said. That’s the highest level in a month.

U.K. Passes Record After Error in Wales Reporting (1:18 p.m. NY)

The U.K. recorded its highest daily increase of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, in part because Wales added thousands of previously unreported infections.

A further 35,383 new cases were reported, about 11,000 of them as a result of “system maintenance in the NHS Wales Laboratory Information Management System.”

Even without the additional cases, the number is a worrying sign that the U.K. hasn’t fully controlled its second outbreak, with the seven-day rolling average steadily creeping higher. Earlier on Thursday more areas of England were moved to the nation’s highest level of coronavirus restrictions.

French Health Chief Sees Worrying Situation as Covid Cases Rise (1:07 p.m. NY)

France’s coronavirus situation is worrying as the number of new cases is rising again after a November decline and the year-end holiday period will increase infection risk, the country’s director general of health said.

“We know we have a two-week risk period ahead of us, this being the festive period,” Jerome Salomon said in a briefing on Thursday.

France registered 18,254 new Covid-19 cases over 24 hours, the most since Nov. 20. The rolling seven-day average of cases, which smooths out fluctuations over a week, jumped 5.3% to 12,764, back to levels last seen at the end of November.

Pfizer Says No Vaccine Shipments Have Been Delayed (1:03 p.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. said it has shipped all 2.9 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine that the U.S. government ordered this week and that it has millions more doses sitting in warehouses awaiting instructions for where to ship.

Some governors have complained this week that their allocations of Pfizer’s vaccine are less than what they had expected. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said Pfizer is experiencing production issues, an assertion that Pfizer rejected. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar made similar claims in a briefing Wednesday.

Maine Hits Record for Second Day (12:09 p.m. NY)

Maine reported 619 new cases, setting a record for the second consecutive day, the state’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Cases and hospitalizations have been rapidly rising, both more than double compared with a month ago. Another nine people died.

New York State Deaths Top 100 Again (11:50 a.m. NY)

Coronavirus-related deaths rose above 100 in New York state again -- the highest since mid-May.

Of the 202,772 coronavirus tests conducted statewide on Wednesday, 5.38%, or 10,914 were positive, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday during a briefing in Kingston.

There were 120 virus-related fatalities. Covid-19 deaths have been above 100 three of the last seven days.

Cuomo declared a state of emergency in 18 counties as a snowstorm barraged parts of the state. The distribution of the coronavirus vaccine has not been disrupted by the storm, he said.

FDA, Pfizer Revising Covid Vaccine Guidelines on Side Effects (10:32 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. and U.S. drug regulators are revising information for use and monitoring of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine developed with BioNTech SE after rare allergic reactions were seen in some recipients.

The revisions reflect guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for following vaccine recipients and managing potential reactions, Doran Fink, deputy director of FDA’s division of vaccines and related products applications, said Thursday in a meeting of FDA advisers.

The advisory panel meeting, called to consider whether to recommend Moderna Inc.’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use authorization, began with a focus on the allergic reactions. Two people in Alaska who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine suffered the reactions, which have also seen in vaccine recipients in the U.K.

U.K. Extends Wage Support and Business Loans (9:55 a.m. NY)

The U.K. government announced it will extend a package of measures aimed at helping businesses and workers through the pandemic, with support for wages and loans to firms at risk of collapse.

In a series of statements on Thursday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunakset out his plan to extend the business loans and furlough wage support programs, and announced he will unveil the government’s tax and spending plans at a budget on March 3.

Poland to Impose Quarantine (9:35 a.m. NY)

Poland will close hotels, ski-slopes and shopping malls under the planned quarantine at the turn of the year, as it braces for “tough days and weeks” before the vaccine effect, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said at a news conference in Warsaw. The country will impose a curfew on New Year’s Eve, and wants to put all visitors to Poland after Dec. 28 on a 10-day quarantine.

EU Strikes Seventh Vaccine-Supply Deal (6:40 a.m. NY)

The European Commission reached a preliminary agreement with Novavax Inc. for the supply of as many as 200 million doses of any successful Covid-19 vaccine to EU countries. The deal announced in Brussels by the commission, the EU’s executive arm, would offer the possibility to purchase 100 million doses and include an option to buy as many as 100 million more.

The planned contract would mark the commission’s seventh such accord with drug companies on behalf of the 27-nation EU.

Czech Government to Seek Emergency Extension as Cases Soar (4:00 p.m. HK)

The Czech Republic had 8,235 new cases in 24 hours through Wednesday, the highest number since Nov. 11. The government said it would ask parliament to prolong the state of emergency until Jan. 22 after daily new infections in the nation of 10.7 million started to rise since Dec. 7. Authorities have already ordered bars and restaurants to shut, and re-imposed stricter social distancing rules, including curfew, as of Friday.

Denmark Heads Into Lockdown as Covid Cases Hit a Record (3:17 p.m. HK)

Denmark will move into a lockdown over Christmas after the country recorded its highest number of new coronavirus infections since the pandemic hit. Shopping centers will be closed across the country from Thursday, while all school children not doing virtual lessons will be sent home on Monday. From Dec. 25, all shops, except those that sell food and medicine, will be shuttered. The lockdown will last into the first week of the new year.

Support for Sweden’s Top Covid Strategist Is Slumping (3:08 p.m. HK)

Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist and the country’s main proponent of an anti-lockdown strategy, saw his support slump 13 points in a poll published on Thursday, to 59% of those surveyed. Confidence in his employer, the Swedish Public Health Agency, sank to 52% from 68% in October, according to the poll by Ipsos and Dagens Nyheter. The drop came as a new wave of infections threatens to overwhelm Sweden’s health-care workers.

Germany Records Over 45,000 Cases, Most Ever (2:07 p.m. HK)

Daily virus cases in Germany jumped by 45,113, the most since the start of the pandemic. The number is more than twice the roughly 21,000 recorded the day before. Earlier this week, fatalities also hit a daily record and Chancellor Angela Merkel hinted that a hard shutdown that just took effect will remain in force beyond January.

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