Southern California Lockdown Likely to Be Extended: Virus Update
A hand sanitizer bottle in front of rental ski poles at Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. (Photographer: Kentaro Takahashi/Bloomberg)

Southern California Lockdown Likely to Be Extended: Virus Update

Covid-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. reached new highs, testing the nation’s health-care workforce, as officials warned of a post-Christmas surge in infections. In Southern California, health officials plan to extend a regional stay-at-home order.

Germany is seeking to expand production of shots to help bolster Europe’s vaccination program. The sense of urgency has grown amid concerns about a faster-spreading strain that emerged in the U.K. and has since been found elsewhere in Europe. Spain became the fourth European nation to record more than 50,000 deaths.

Singapore began relaxing virus rules Monday as the city-state moves into the final phase of curbs. Indonesia imposed a temporary ban on all foreigners from visiting the country, while Taiwan will increase the quarantine period for flight crews to seven days.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 81.1 million; deaths surpass 1.77 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 4.4 million shots given
  • U.S. Hot Spots: Surge sidelines health workers when they’re needed
  • China’s struggling to get the world to trust its vaccines
  • China jails ex-lawyer for four years over virus reports in Wuhan
  • California Uber drivers, teachers vie for Covid vaccine priority
  • Covid’s devastation reflected in the breadth of one family’s loss

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.

Southern California Lockdown Likely to Be Extended: Virus Update

U.S. Treasury Checks Set to Go Out (5 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Treasury Department intends to start issuing $600 direct payments from a pandemic relief bill President Donald Trump signed Sunday beginning this week, an official said.

But it was unclear how many Americans would receive payments before the New Year, and the official provided no further information. The House of Representatives planned to vote Monday evening to increase the payments, but the Republican-controlled Senate may block the effort.

Southern California Lockdown Extension Likely (3:55 p.m. NY)

Health officials on Tuesday likely will announce an extension of the regional stay-at-home order in place for Southern California as a surge in cases has overwhelmed hospitals and left few, if any, intensive-care unit beds left available, Governor Gavin Newsom said.

Los Angeles County has been seeing 12,000 to 15,000 new cases per day over the past few weeks, Newsom said Monday.

Newsom said more than 261,672 vaccine doses have been administered in California so far. He said that by end of this week, the state should have received all 904,000 Moderna vaccine doses and 858,000 Pfizer doses the state was expecting by this point.

South Africa Renews Ban on Alcohol (2:30 p.m. NY)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a renewed ban on alcohol sales and extended a curfew in a bid to contain the fallout from a second wave of coronavirus infections that have pushed the cumulative caseload past the 1 million mark.

Spain’s Deaths Top 50,000 (1:30 p.m. NY)

Spain on Monday became the fourth European nation to record more than 50,000 coronavirus deaths.

Fatalities from the disease reached 50,122, according to Health Ministry figures. A total of 408 people have died from the virus in the past week. Cases diagnosed over the past 24 hours fell to 2,822.

Spain is one of the countries in Europe to be hit hardest by the pandemic. The government imposed a national state of emergency and a strict nationwide lockdown from March to June to slow the spread of the virus, with management of the pandemic in the hands of regional governments since the end of the lockdown.

N.Y. Threatens $1 Million Fines (12:20 p.m. NY)

Health-care providers in New York that violate vaccine laws could be fined as much as $1 million and have their licenses revoked, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

Cuomo said he’ll sign an executive order increasing penalties for those engaging in fraud with the Covid-19 vaccine. The move comes as the state investigates reports that ParCare Community Health Network in Orange County improperly distributed Covid-19 vaccines to people not on the state’s priority list. There is enough evidence that the case is being referred to the Attorney General’s Office, Cuomo said.

ParCare is the only health-care provider that is being investigated for criminal fraud, according to Cuomo, who said that company is the only one he is “at liberty to speak about now.” Fraud is expected when dealing with a valuable commodity, he said. “We are hyper-cautious, hyper-vigilant. We’re putting in the strictest penalties in the country the best that we can determine,” he said.

To date, 140,000 New Yorkers have received one vaccine, and the state will receive 259,000 more shots this week, Cuomo said.

Hospitalizations for Covid-19, meanwhile, continue to climb. They reached 7,559 yesterday, double the number a month ago.

Hungary Gets 6,000 Doses of Russian Vaccine (11:30 a.m. NY)

Hungary has received 6,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik coronavirus vaccine, according to Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

The vaccines will be transported to Hungary’s National Health Center, where officials “will get another opportunity to decide” how to deploy them, Szijjarto said on Monday on Facebook.

Hungary, a European Union member that began vaccinating hospital workers over the weekend with the shot developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, hasn’t yet cleared the Russian vaccine, though Prime Minister Viktor Orban has indicated that his cabinet may sidestep EU regulators to grant it emergency approval.

N.J. Begins Vaccinating Nursing-Home Residents (10:30 a.m. NY)

New Jersey on Monday vaccinated its first nursing-home resident: Mildred Clemens, a 103-year-old woman who as an infant survived the 1917 pandemic. Governor Phil Murphy, in remarks at Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge, said more than 83,000 residents and staff statewide are to have the injections, with the task completed in early February.

Those individuals are part of Group 1A, which include 650,000 health-care workers with first access to the prophylactic. The next group will be essential workers and individuals over age 75.

The state’s general population may have access in April or May, Murphy said.

Russia Extends Ban on Flights From U.K. (10:25 a.m. NY)

Russia extended a ban on flights from the U.K. until Jan. 12 to keep the new strain of coronavirus from spreading, according to a statement from the government’s virus-response center. The initial ban, introduced Dec. 22, was for seven days.

Separately, Russia reported a record 35,645 deaths of people with Covid-19 in November, a 46% jump from the previous month as the second wave of the pandemic pressures the country’s health-care system.

The numbers published by the State Statistic Service Monday were more than three times the coronavirus toll based on the government virus-response office’s data.

Russia is on track for its deadliest year in more than a decade. The Kremlin has been hesitant to resume a lockdown as the economy slows. While President Vladimir Putin said this month that the country was coping with Covid-19 better than more advanced economies, its reported excess death rate has been among the highest in the world.

Mexico Allows Private Firms to Import, Sell Covid Vaccines (8:50 a.m. NY)

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday that he’ll allow private companies to import and sell the Covid-19 vaccine. The president said the Pfizer vaccine would be targeted at health-care workers, which he expects will all be vaccinated in January. The elderly would then begin receiving single-dose shots from companies like CanSino.

LA Vaccine Recipients Can Put the Proof in Apple Wallet (8 a.m. NY)

Covid-19 vaccine recipients in Los Angeles County, a major virus hot spot, will be offered a digital record that will help ensure they get a second shot and could, eventually, be used to gain access to concert venues or airline flights.

The offering is being provided starting this week through a partnership with the startup Healthvana. It’s initially geared toward ensuring people receive both doses of the two-shot regimens that have been authorized in the U.S., including through follow-up notifications before a second appointment.

Israel Plans Drive-Through Voting for Covid Patients (6:49 a.m. NY)

Israel is preparing for its second election during the pandemic, with special arrangements to safeguard public health. These will include drive-through voting stations for confirmed coronavirus patients, and about 30% more polling places in order to avoid crowding, Central Elections Committee Director Orly Adas said at an online press briefing Monday.

There will also be special stations set up for citizens who have been sent to quarantine due to contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient.

Thailand Reports First Virus Death Since November (6:40 a.m. NY)

Thailand reported its first coronavirus death in almost two months as a resurgence in the outbreak tied to migrant laborers in a seaside province near the capital continued to infect more people. A 45-year-old man in Rayong province, who tested positive for Covid-19 and had pre-existing heart conditions, died on Monday, according to Deputy Health Minister Satit Pitutecha.

The casino worker’s death was Thailand’s first virus fatality since Nov. 5, taking the nation’s total to 61 since the outbreak began in January. Thailand on Monday confirmed 144 new infections, which took the nation’s total to 6,285 cases.

Earlier, the country reported 3,065 foreign tourist arrivals in November, a 155% increase from October when visitors returned for the first time in six months. Thailand had 3.39 million visitors in November last year.

Southern California Lockdown Likely to Be Extended: Virus Update

Norway to Allow Shorter Quarantines on Arrival (6:29 a.m. NY)

Travelers arriving in Norway can leave quarantine after seven days at the earliest if they test negative for Covid-19 twice after arrival, Health and Care Services Ministry says in a statement on the government’s website. The first test must be taken within three days of arrival and the second no earlier than seven days after arrival.

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