NYC to Shut Down Schools; Illinois in ‘Bad Shape’: Virus Update
A restaurant converted to a Covid-19 testing center in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photographer: Peter Boer/Bloomberg)

NYC to Shut Down Schools; Illinois in ‘Bad Shape’: Virus Update

New York City will close the nation’s largest public-school system after virus infections reached a critical threshold, a setback to the region’s economic recovery

Pfizer Inc. said a final analysis of clinical-trial data showed its vaccine was 95% effective, paving the way for the company to apply for the first U.S. regulatory authorization for a coronavirus shot within days. The U.S. gave the green light for the first Covid-19 diagnostic kit for self-testing at home. In New Jersey, the number of patients needing ventilators doubled in a week.

In Europe, a protest over Germany’s strategy to quell the virus turned violent. Poland reported a record 603 deaths, and U.K. doctors warned that tough new measures must be in place when England’s lockdown ends. Tokyo reported a record number of new cases Wednesday, surpassing a previous daily high set in August.

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NYC to Shut Down Schools; Illinois in ‘Bad Shape’: Virus Update

Illinois in ‘Bad Shape,’ Health Official Warns (4:54 p.m. NY)

Covid-19 has become the third-leading cause of death in Illinois, behind heart disease and cancer, Governor J.B. Pritzker said during a press conference on Wednesday. Average deaths per day from the virus have jumped to 83 from 14 in August, said Pritzker, who announced a series of new statewide restrictions on Tuesday to curb the spread.

Illinois on Wednesday reported 140 more Covid-19 deaths, bringing its total to 11,014, according to state data. On Oct. 26, Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said the trajectory at the time meant the state could top 11,000 deaths this year.

“It means we are in bad shape,” Ezike said Wednesday. “If we’ve exceeded all of our projections by more than six weeks, the numbers for the end of the year would just be untenable.”

NYC Dealt Double Blow With Schools, Subway Cuts (4:40 p.m. NY)

New York’s recovery from the coronavirus outbreak suffered twin blows with the announcement of citywide school closings and the warning of massive cuts to public-transit service.

Parents of hundreds of thousands of kids must find alternative child-care arrangements or adjust their work schedules by Thursday, after Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city had reached a 3% positivity rate that triggered a temporary halt to in-class instruction.

Workers also face the prospect of longer commutes, after New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it will have to slash subways and buses by 40% and chop commuter rail service by half if aid doesn’t come from Washington.

Murphy Warns N.J. Daily Cases Could Double (3:05 p.m. NY)

New Jersey has reported daily cases in excess of 4,000 three times this week, and Governor Phil Murphy said Wednesday that some modeling showed at least double that number to come.

Murphy has lowered gathering limits to 10, from 25, for many indoor activities, and on Nov. 23 the outdoor crowd cap will be 150 people, rather than 500. “The steps we just announced over the past couple of weeks already should have some sort of an impact” on that 8,000- to 10,000-cases-per-day projection, he said at a news briefing in Trenton.

Statewide virus sampling on Nov. 14 showed 10.88% positivity. Southern New Jersey towns were highest, at 12.16%, while those in the northern part of the state reported 11.13% and central, 10%.

France’s ICU Patients Fall Most Since May (2:30 p.m. NY)

France reported 28,383 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with the weekly pace of infections again heading lower after an increase the previous day. Positive tests accounted for 16.2% of all testing, down more than 3 points from a week ago. Hospitalizations and the number of severely ill patients in intensive-care units both fell for a second day, with ICU occupation falling the most since May 20. Deaths linked to the virus, which trail other indicators, increased by 425 to 46,698.

Colorado Warns on Thanksgiving Travel (2:10 p.m. NY)

Colorado travelers were urged to cancel Thanksgiving plans following record hospitalizations and the Covid-19 death of a federal security officer at Denver International Airport,

“You’re taking the train, you’re taking the bus or you’re taking the airplane, you’re going to run into many more people,” Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, said at a news briefing. “You’re chances of being exposed to Covid-19, and potentially bringing the virus with you to your loved ones, is quite high.”

Transportation Security Administration Officer Eduard Faktorovich died Monday, the TSA said. His last day of duty was Nov. 2. Herlihy warned travelers against skirting health rules, saying, “This shouldn’t be about finding loopholes.”

Italy Deaths Hit Seven-Month High (12 p.m. NY)

Italy registered 753 deaths related to Covid-19 on Wednesday, the biggest daily increase in over seven months. New daily virus cases rose to 34,282 from 32,191 on Tuesday.

In the region around Milan, infections are slowing. New cases in Lombardy fell by about 10% versus Tuesday to 7,633, which is also about 7% lower than 7-days ago. Governor Attilio Fontana has said some restriction could be eased at the end of the month if the trend continues in coming weeks.

Turkey Sees Most Deaths Since April (11:30 a.m. NY)

Turkey reported 116 new deaths from coronavirus on Wednesday, its highest daily count since April. The latest data brought Turkey’s total death toll to 11,820, according to the Health Ministry.

Turkey stopped reporting all coronavirus cases in July, and has since only reported “patients” who both test positive and display symptoms. On Wednesday there were 4,215 new patients. On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a weekend curfew between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Geneva to Relax Restrictions (11:16 a.m. NY)

Geneva will begin relaxing its Covid restrictions beginning Nov. 21 following a recent plateau of positive cases in the southern Swiss canton. Certain occupations, such as hairdressers, beauticians, barbers, tattooists and therapists, are permitted to work as long as they adhere to cantonal requirements. Prostitution will remain prohibited.

German Finance Minister Defends Measures (11:15 a.m. NY)

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz defended the government’s latest measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, saying they are accepted by most of the population of Europe’s largest economy.

Scholz spoke to Bloomberg Television after thousands of people demonstrated in Berlin against legislation approved by parliament Wednesday that expands government powers to tackle the pandemic.

“Containing the virus is critical,” Scholz said, citing polls that he said show some 80% of citizens back Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition in their efforts to stem the spread of the disease.

NYC to Shut Down Schools; Illinois in ‘Bad Shape’: Virus Update

N.J. Hospitalizations Soaring (11 a.m. NY)

New Jersey, where hospitalizations have risen by more than one-third in a week, reported even more startling data on Wednesday: Over just 24 hours, the ranks of the sickest soared 44%. On Nov. 10, hospitals had 104 of those patients, who are breathing with assistance of ventilators. A week later, the number was 223, for a 114% increase.

Of the 29,455 samples collected statewide on Nov. 13, positivity was 8.73%. Southern New Jersey towns were highest, at 9.91%, while those in the northern part of the state reported 9.21% and central, 7.42%.

NYC to Shut Down Schools; Illinois in ‘Bad Shape’: Virus Update

Over 900 Mayo Clinic Staff Contract Covid (10:30 a.m. NY)

More than 900 Mayo Clinic staff have contracted Covid-19 in the past two weeks, according to a report Tuesday in the TwinCities Pioneer Press.

Ninety-three percent of staff who contracted the virus did so in the community and the majority of those who contracted the virus at work did so while eating in a break room with a mask off, newspaper reported, citing a briefing with a dean of clinical practice in Rochester, Minnesota.

Danish Study Undermines Consensus on Masks (9:39 a.m. NY)

A Danish study undermined the growing consensus, backed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that wearing a mask protects people from catching the coronavirus. However, the study didn’t address the idea, which has stronger evidence behind it, that masks prevent people who have the virus from spreading it.

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the study concludes that “the recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use. The data were compatible with lesser degrees of self-protection.”

Still, limitations mean that the findings “should not be used to conclude that a recommendation for everyone to wear masks in the community would not be effective in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections,” the authors wrote.

CureVac CEO Sees Enough Vaccine Capacity (9:27 a.m. NY)

There will be enough capacity to vaccinate the world until the end of next year, CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas told Bloomberg Television in an interview. How long protection lasts and what effect vaccines have on different immune systems remain to be seen, he said, reiterating that it’s good to have more than one shot. Haas said the development of vaccine stability will increase.

NYC to Shut Down Schools; Illinois in ‘Bad Shape’: Virus Update

Iran’s Actual Daily Deaths Could Top 1,000: Ministry (9:23 a.m. NY)

Iran’s actual number of daily deaths from Covid-19 could top 1,000 on certain days when probable fatalities linked to the virus are taken into account, the Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a televised statement on Wednesday. The country reported its deadliest day of the outbreak on Monday with 486 deaths.

Earlier, Iran reported a record jump in its daily new cases for a fourth straight day with 13,421.

Merkel Under Fire as Strategy Sparks Anger (8:07 a.m. NY)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under pressure as a protest over her strategy to quell the coronavirus turned violent and a close ally issued a public rebuke. Berlin police used water cannons to break up a large demonstration near Brandenburg Gate. Participants -- which totaled 14,000 people, according to police -- refused to abide by distancing and hygiene rules, while some threw bottles and other objects.

Pressure has been growing on German authorities, which are facing a crunch meeting next week to lay out a long-term plan to fight the pandemic. With restrictions likely to be extended and intensified, public anger and political tensions are rising.

EU Seeks to Boost Rapid Covid Tests to Avoid Travel Chaos (7:06 a.m. NY)

European Union regulators offered member governments guidelines on speedy testing for the virus in the latest effort to prevent national health measures from hindering the free movement of people across the bloc.

The European Commission recommendation covers the use of rapid antigen tests for detecting Covid-19 in “specific settings.” The commission also urged EU governments to recognize each other’s test results and approved 35.5 million euros ($42.2 million) for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to expand testing in the bloc.

Malaysia Declares Emergency in Constituency to Delay Poll (6:55 a.m. NY)

Malaysia’s king on Wednesday agreed to declare an emergency in a parliamentary constituency in the Borneo state of Sabah to delay a by-election there. The country has struggled to contain a growing cluster of infections that emerged in late September after local elections in Sabah. New cases in the nation remained above 1,000 for five days through Tuesday.

Pfizer, BioNTech Plan Filing as Shot Proves 95% Effective (6:45 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. said a final analysis of clinical-trial data showed its Covid-19 vaccine was 95% effective, paving the way for the company to apply for the first U.S. regulatory authorization for a coronavirus shot within days.

The U.S. drugmaker and partner BioNTech SE said their vaccine protected people of all ages and ethnicities, with no significant safety problems so far in a trial that includes almost 44,000 participants.

NYC to Shut Down Schools; Illinois in ‘Bad Shape’: Virus Update

Most Indonesians Want Vaccine, But Not to Pay for It (6:16 a.m. NY)

Most Indonesians would want to be vaccinated against the virus, but many are unwilling to pay for it. A September survey involving 115,000 respondents found that about 65% want to be inoculated, while just 8% would refuse and 27% were hesitant.

However, only one-third of those who said they want to get the shots would be inclined to shoulder the cost, while the rest said they wouldn’t pay or were hesitant to do so. Indonesia is banking on an ambitious vaccination plan in facing Southeast Asia’s largest outbreak.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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