Covid Surge Sets States on Path to New Clampdowns: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — With U.S. infections at a high, states are clamping down. New York City

(Bloomberg) — With U.S. infections at a high, states are clamping down. New York City may close schools as soon as Monday as statewide infections reached 5,000, the most since spring. Oregon will impose a two-week “freeze,” restricting retail, restaurants, gyms and gatherings. New Mexico ordered non-essential businesses shut. Wyoming may impose its first state mask mandate.

In his first public comments in eight days, President Donald Trump praised Operation Warp Speed’s progress toward a vaccine but said: “This administration will not be going to a lockdown.” President-elect Joe Biden called for “a robust and immediate federal response.”

Illinois reported a record number of daily cases and hospitalizations, a day after Chicago announced a stay-home advisory. Ohio’s governor said the state is facing a “monumental crisis.”

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 53.1 million; deaths approach 1.3 millionThe death toll from the latest spate U.S. cases is poised to get worseAfter trials, vaccine faces many hurdles before widespread useBloomberg is mapping coronavirus cases across the U.S.German twins boost wealth by about $8 billion with BioNTech stakeU.K. retailers’ key Christmas shopping season hangs in the balancePodcast: What to expect from the virus and the vaccine raceVaccine Tracker: Encouraging breakthroughs offer hope

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.

Texas Hospitalizations Top 7,000 For First Time in 3 Months (5:18 p.m. NY)

Texas virus hospitalizations climbed above 7,000 for the first time since Aug. 12 as hot spots multiplied in the second-largest U.S. state.

Hospitalizations have surged 40% statewide in less than three weeks, straining already full intensive-care wards in the hardest-hit enclaves such as El Paso and Amarillo.

Almost half the state’s 22 trauma service areas have more than 10% of hospital capacity occupied by Covid-19 patients, according to state health department data. There were 10,542 new cases reported on Friday, the third time in four days that positive tests exceeded 10,000.

Biden Calls on Trump to Mount Federal Response (4:55 p.m. NY)

Biden on Friday urged the Trump administration to undertake an immediate federal response as Covid-19 surges across the country and called on Americans to step up their vigilance in guarding against the virus.

“This crisis demands a robust and immediate federal response, which has been woefully lacking,” the president-elect said in a written statement released after a meeting Friday with his transition Covid-19 Advisory Board. “Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration — starting with an acknowledgment of how serious the current situation is.”

New Mexico Orders Non-Essential Businesses Shut (4:43 p.m. NY)

New Mexico’s governor is ordering the shutdown of non-essential businesses. The action, announced by Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office, is intended to relieve the “dramatically escalating strain on hospitals and health care providers across the state,” the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The two-week shutdown starts Monday.

Wyoming Considers First Mask Mandate (4:42 p.m. NY)

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, a Republican, said for the first time the state is considering a mask mandate, the Casper-Star Tribune reported. Gordon had been in quarantine after being exposed to the virus.

“There will be changes, they will be more restrictive,” Gordon said. ”All things are on the table.” Wyoming hospitals are operating near or at capacity. Gordon has been a proponent of personal responsibility regarding masks.

California Warns of Tougher Measures (4:38 p.m. NY)

California’s top health official said new coronavirus cases are rising faster than at any point during the pandemic and warned more stringent measures may be needed to stop the spike. In the first seven days of November, the daily case count per 100,000 people jumped 47%, a faster increase than the state endured during a major surge this summer.

California, which has surpassed a million virus cases, on Friday joined Oregon and Washington in suggesting that people traveling to or from the those states self-quarantine for 14 days. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said the advisory could be toughened if the surge in cases continues. He said a statewide stay-at-home order isn’t currently under discussion, although he didn’t rule it out for the future.

“As I say to my patients, often, ‘When I’m worried, I’ll tell you, so you can worry with me.’ And we’re there,” Ghaly said.

Toronto Residents Told to Stay Home (4:21 p.m. NY)

Residents of Canada’s financial capital were asked to avoid leaving their homes except for essential reasons to slow a virus outbreak that has left hospitals at risk of being overwhelmed.

Toronto, the country’s largest city, and most of its suburbs are being placed in a “control-red” zone under Ontario’s Covid-19 framework, Premier Doug Ford said Friday. The move means tighter restrictions on most indoor businesses and activities — closing movie theaters and some personal care services and placing tight limits on restaurants and fitness centers.

Colorado Governor Urges Trump to Sway Virus Skeptics (4:19 p.m. NY)

Colorado Governor Jared Polis called on President Trump to turn his attention to Covid-19 skeptics as infections and deaths increase across the U.S. “We are able to reach who we reach,” Polis said at a news conference. “I think President Trump reaches additional people that would hang on his words and follow his advice if he were to offer it.”

Polis also urged the state’s residents to “self-quarantine before you go to the Thanksgiving table” with friends and extended family for two weeks – starting now. Infections in Denver, the state’s largest city with a population of roughly 700,000, are running at an estimated 1-in-64 people, Polis said.

Oregon To Impose Two-Week ‘Freeze’ (4:16 p.m. NY)

Oregon ordered what amounted to a limited lockdown Friday, as Governor Kate Brown said the state was facing “a very dangerous situation.” Calling it a two-week “freeze,” which begins on Nov 18, Brown called for curtailed capacity at grocery stories and pharmacies, gyms shut and restaurants limited to takeout only. Indoor and outdoor gatherings cannot exceed six people, and masks should be worn at all times, indoors and out, except when eating and drinking.

“Whether we like or not we are about to face what might be the roughest days of the pandemic,” she said at a news conference.

Michigan Deaths at Highest Since Spring (3:31 p.m. NY)

Michigan reported 118 deaths, the most since the first wave of Covid-19 last spring, and 8,516 new infections, the second consecutive daily record. Hospitalizations, which have been doubling every two weeks, are five times higher than at the beginning of October.

Covid Death Toll Mounts in America (3:03 p.m. NY)

The U.S. is starting to see a rising death toll from its latest spate of Covid-19 cases, and it’s poised to get worse in the weeks to come.

The seven-day average of Covid-19 fatalities in America was 1,052 on Thursday, close to the highest since mid-August, according to Covid Tracking Project data. A consensus of models tracked by the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Reich Lab shows the daily pace poised to increase by about 200 by early December.

Ohio Cases Spike Again (2:42 p.m. NY)

Ohio’s new infections continue skyrocketing: The state set yet another record Friday as it reported 8,071 cases, some 2,200 more than two days ago. “We are facing a monumental crisis in Ohio,” Governor Mike DeWine tweeted. The Republican governor told the state Wednesday that he would step up enforcement of the mask mandate, and new restrictions may be ordered if infections did not come under control. The state reported 42 deaths, compared with the 21-day average of 25.

New York Daily Cases Top 5,000 for First Time Since April (2:12 p.m. NY)

New York state’s daily Covid-19 cases exceeded 5,000 for the first time since April.

Of 203,721 tests reported yesterday, 5,401 or 2.65% were positive, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday on Twitter.

The governors of six northeastern states will have an emergency meeting this weekend to discuss regional coronavirus policies, Cuomo said on Friday. He said it was likely each state would take steps to rein in the recent surge around the region, one part of the dramatic nationwide Covid-19 increase.

“We want to make sure that we align policies as much as possible or at least be aware of what the other states’ policies are,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters.

Puerto Rico Activates National Guard to Enforce Curbs (1:35 p.m. NY)

Puerto Rico will activate the National Guard on Monday to force compliance with Covid-19 measures, including a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, occupancy limits at restaurants and other locations, and mandatory mask policies.

Governor Wanda Vazquez said the extra manpower is needed as residents have been flouting some of the strictest rules of any U.S. jurisdiction.

Illinois Cases, Hospitalizations Rise to New Highs (1:33 p.m. NY)

Illinois reported a record number of daily Covid-19 tests, cases and hospitalizations. Cases rose to 15,415 from 12,702 a day earlier while hospitalizations increased to 5,362 from 5,258, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The state also conducted a record 106,540 tests in one day, with its positivity rate reaching 13.2%. Deaths declined to 27 from 43.

The data came a day after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a 30-day stay-at-home advisory that starts Monday. Earlier this week, the state said people should stay home as much as possible for the next three weeks and only go out for essential activities such as work, groceries and pharmacy visits.

French Christmas-Tree Sales Safe (1 p.m. NY)

France is expected to allow people to buy Christmas trees in person, resolving the question of whether they’re an essential item that isn’t restricted to online sales during the pandemic, Le Figaro reported. Government rules to be published soon could involve selling the trees outside in the parking lots of big retailers and flower shops, according to the newspaper.

The country reported 23,794 new cases in the latest 24-hours period, less than the trailing seven-day average of 42,478. Deaths in hospitals and nursing homes totaled 932 while the number of patients in ICU rose by four. The improving numbers follow a government decision Thursday to keep lockdown measures in place until the end of the month.

Texas to Send Antibody Therapy to Hospitals (11:29 a.m. NY)

Texas plans to begin shipping an Eli Lilly & Co. antibody therapy to acute-care hospitals next week, Governor Greg Abbott said.

Initial shipments of bamlanivimab will be allocated to regions with the highest rates of viral spread and hospitalizations, Abbott said in a statement on Friday. Texas on Wednesday became the first U.S. state to surpass 1 million cases.

The medicine is being supplied to Texas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NYC Schools Could Close Monday, Mayor Says (11:25 a.m. NY)

Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City schools could end in-person classes as soon as Monday and parents should be considering their options.

“People should get ready,” De Blasio said on WYNC-FM radio. “Parents should have a plan for the rest of the month.”

The mayor has said school doors will shut when the city’s positive Covid test rate hits 3%. The seven-day rolling average is 2.83% — meaning the “number has gotten quite close,” he said.

Italy Cases Reach Record (11:18 a.m. NY)

Italy’s new cases reached a record 40,902, while Covid-19 patients in intensive care increased by 60 to 3,230 on Friday, the smallest rise in three weeks. New deaths fell for the first day in five to 550.

Italy’s government is likely to extend its region-by-region lockdown system through the winter, Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said. The country will decide if any additional area will be included in the highest-risk zone in its weekly review later Friday.

West Coast Governors Issue Travel Advisory (11:04 a.m. NY)

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington — three states with a combined population of more than 51 million — issued travel advisories urging visitors entering their states or people returning home to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus.

“COVID-19 does not stop at state lines,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said.

Secret Service Reassures After Infections Report (10:58 a.m. NY)

The U.S. Secret Service said its safety procedures ensure it’s “prepared and fully staffed” to carry out its mission after the Washington Post said more than 130 agents have contracted Covid-19 or are in quarantine.

The cases, believed to be linked in part to President Donald Trump’s late-campaign rallies, are putting stress on the presidential security unit, the Post reported, citing sources it didn’t identify. In its statement, the Secret Service said it won’t release information on infected or quarantined employees for privacy and security reasons.

First Post-Virus Caribbean Cruise Struck by Outbreak (8 a.m. NY)

The first Caribbean cruise to set sail since an industry shutdown returned early to Barbados after passengers got preliminary positive test results for Covid-19. SeaDream Yacht Club didn’t say how many passengers had received positive tests. A journalist onboard the vessel tweeted that there were as many as six possible cases.

J&J Taps UnitedHealth to Speed Vaccine Trials (7 a.m. NY)

Drugmaker J&J teamed up with UnitedHealth to help find 60,000 participants for vaccine tests to potentially cut trial times in half.

J&J has so far only enrolled a “few thousand” patients in a late-stage clinical trial, partly due to an earlier recruitment pause caused by a safety concern, Mathai Mammen, head of global research and development at the company’s pharmaceutical division, said in an interview.

Austria Set to Tighten Restrictions (5:35 a.m., NY)

Austria’s government plans to announce steps to tighten its second lockdown on Saturday. Most schools, stores and services such as hairdressers have remained open, while restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theaters and gyms have closed.

Daily new cases have jumped 73% since Oct. 31, when restrictions were announced, to a record 9,262 on Thursday.

German Cases Dent Hopes for Easing of Restrictions (4 p.m. HK)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn cooled optimism about a potential easing of restrictions, saying that infection numbers haven’t come down enough.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government never promised that life would be back to normal in December, he said. Germany reported 24,738 new cases through Friday morning, almost a record.

Tesla’s Musk Says He Tested Positive (2:17 p.m. HK)

Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk tweeted he may have Covid-19 and renewed his conspiratorial posting about the virus that has infected almost 53 million people. He said four tests Thursday showed mixed results.

“Something extremely bogus is going on,” he said.

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