- Chicago issues stay at home order
- French ICU occupancy up to 96.6%
- Detroit returns to remote learning
- CDC releases guidance reminding users that masks also help protect wearers
- Austria sees new daily record in cases
- UK outbreak may finally be starting to slow
- Global cases see new record
- Global deaths top 12k for first time
- Cases rising in all 50 states for first time
- New cases finally starting to weaken in Europe
- Moderna says vaccine data incoming
- Turkey bans smoking on crowded streets
- Japan suffers biggest daily jump in cases yet
- Hungary strikes deal for Russian vaccine
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Update (1410ET): As new cases and hospitalizations in Illinois hit new records, the city of Chicago, the country’s third-largest, has just issued an “advisory” asking residents to call off Thanksgiving, and engage in only “essential” trips, like to school, work or the store, for the next 30 days.
- CHICAGO ADVISORY INCLUDES LEAVING FOR WORK, SCHOOL
- CHICAGO RECOMMENDS CALLING OFF THANKSGIVING GATHERINGS
- CHICAGO ADVISORY TO STAY IN PLACE FOR 30 DAYS UNLESS CHANGED
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Update (1310ET): After the government affirmed that France’s lockdown-lite measures would stay in place for at least another two weeks, official data showed that French ICU occupancy, one of the most closely watched indicators in Europe, has risen again to 96.6%, a new post-springtime high.
“We count in #France in recent days a hospitalization every 30 seconds and an admission to intensive care every 3 minutes,” PM Jean Castex warned.
In total, France has some 4,803 COVID-19 patients in its ICUs (with 40% of them under 65). Presently, 25% of all deaths in France right now are due to COVID-19
Over the past 2 weeks, 72,279 fines have been handed out for COVID-19 related infractions, according to Castex, the government’s pointman.
Over in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel just raised the possibility of extending that country’s COVID-19 restrictions through the Christmas holiday. Though the pace of the outbreak has slowed, Merkel said the levels of spread are still too high, with Germany looking to reduce cases to 50 per 100,000, from 138 as of Thursday.
Also, in case you forgot, the CDC has released new guidance reminding Americans that masks offer protection benefits to wearers (as opposed to, well, everybody else).
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Update (0945ET): As the US heads closer to the Biden lockdown, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that Detroit schools are about to halt face-to-face learning because of rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Per the report, Detroit Public Schools are halting in-person learning through Jan. 11, as COVID-19, meaning the city’s 50k students likely won’t return to classrooms until next semester.
“All classes will be held online starting Monday, November 16 due to the rapid increase in the COVID-19 infection rate in Detroit,” the district said in an announcement. “Face-to-face learning and learning centers will remain open this Thursday and Friday to provide families time to rearrange educational support for students.”
Other nearby Michigan districts that have reverted to online learning in recent days include: Grosse Pointe, Holly, Huron Valley, Pontiac, Rochester and Utica.
Meanwhile, Austria has become the latest EU member to report a new daily record, even after tightening restrictions on nonessential businesses last week. The country reported 9,262 new cases, and 44 deaths.
In a rare bit of good news, a recent UK symptoms study has put the COVID-19 rate of spread below 1, indicating that the outbreak is finally starting to slow.
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Around the world, the number of new COVID-19 deaths recorded over the 24 hours to Wednesday topped 12k for the first time, a new daily record, as the global coronavirus pandemic places unprecedented pressure on health-care systems from Paris to the Mountain West.
Cases are also rising in all 50 states for the first time since the pandemic began.
To be sure, over the past week, the number of new cases has finally started to plateau, or decline, in the UK, Germany and France. Meanwhile, hard-hit neighbors like Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic have seen significant declines in infection rates as well, as the chart below shows.
But the number of hospitalized patients is still growing: In the US, new national records north of 60k have been reached, while France, Italy and the UK have reached their highest levels since the springtime. Governors from New York to California have imposed new restrictions on businesses, social gatherings and movement this week.
By now, all of these countries have enacted at least some restrictions, including closing bars and restaurants, or at least limiting their indoor service capacity, closing non-essential shops, or barring alcohol sales after 2200, like Sweden just did.
In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute revealed that officials had counted another 21,866 new cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total number to 727,553. Germany has also recorded 11,982 deaths. Since the country imposed its “lockdown lite” earlier this month, the curve has flattening ever-so-slightly, a sign that “we are not completely at the mercy of this virus,” Germany’s Lothar Wieler, the head of the RKI, said.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now topped 52 million, after Johns Hopkins reported the first new daily record for new confirmed cases worldwide yesterday, with 666,955 new cases yesterday.
With vaccine news dominating the headlines this week, Hungary has reportedly agreed to buy its first doses of the Russian-made “Sputnik 5” COVID-19 vaccine after authorities in the country revealed that it was 92% effective at preventing infection, according to initial data from the final stage trial.
Even more importantly: In the US, Moderna – a company working on a vaccine with the same mRNA technology as the Pfizer vaccine – said that it finally has enough data for an “interim analysis” of the late-stage experimental trial. The company confirmed that the threshold of 53 patients sickened has been reached, meaning the data analysis on the results will soon be ready.The news predictably sent Moderna shares rocketed 5.3% in premarket trade.
BMO Capital Markets analyst George Farmer (outperform) said the announcement indicates first interim results could be “coming any day”, and that it has a greater than 95% chance of coming in positive. Jefferies analysts led by Michael J. Yee said they expect the results will be positive, with an efficacy rate around the 90% level seen in the Pfizer vaccine, and that we “could hear back soon”.
Finally, Turkey has banned smoking in some public places to try and stamp out a surge in infections. The country’s interior minister decreed late Wednesday that smoking would be banned on busy streets, at bus stops and in public squares. The ban was enacted after the country determined that Turks were “incorrectly using their masks by lowering them below their chins to smoke cigarettes.” Roughly one-third of Turks smoke, according to WHO data.
Here’s some more news from Thursday morning and overnight:
Japan hit a new daily record of coronavirus infections Thursday as authorities began hinting they may take stronger measures to arrest the increase. At least 1,634 cases were recorded nationwide, according to a tally by national broadcaster NHK, topping the previous high set during a surge in August. While numbers are low in absolute terms compared to many other countries, a spike in northern Japan is leading to concerns cases could spread as winter sets in (Source: Bloomberg).
Some regions in China might see clusters of infections during the winter season, Li Bin, the deputy director of National Health Commission, said at a briefing. China will enhance testing capacity, improve monitoring and increase testing on imported frozen food (Source: Bloomberg).
India’s medical research body and the Serum Institute completed the enrollment for phase 3 trial of the Oxford University AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, while the Serum Institute has produced 40mln doses of the vaccine and the medical research body stated that it was the most advanced vaccine in human testing in India. Furthermore, it was also reported that the Serum Institute received bulk COVID-19 vaccine from Novavax which it will soon fill and finish them in vials, while it is to test the Novavax vaccine in a phase 3 trial in India (Source: Newswires).
Belgium reported fewer Covid-19 patients in intensive care for a second straight day, providing further evidence the peak in hospitalizations may have passed. There are now 1,463 patients in ICU, down 7 from the day before and 11 fewer than the record 1,474 of Nov. 9. Belgium has a total capacity of about 2,000 ICU beds. Hospital admissions fell to 542 from 609 the prior day, with the total number of hospitals beds taken dropping to less than 7,000 again (Source: Bloomberg).
New Zealand health officials are asking people who work in downtown Auckland to stay home Friday while they trace the movements of a person who may have contracted coronavirus from within the community. New Zealand earlier this year succeeded in eliminating community transmission of the coronavirus by imposing a strict nationwide lockdown (Source: Bloomberg).