Apple Outlets Restore Mask Mandate; Texas Surging: Virus Update

Texas logged more than 10,000 in daily new virus cases for the first time in almost six months as the latest wave of the pandemic intensifies. California backtracked its guidance, recommending mask use in all public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.

The resurgence of Covid-19 is also hampering corporate America’s plans to get back to normalcy. Apple Inc. will reintroduce a mask requirement at most of its U.S. retail stores, while Google and Facebook will require employees to be vaccinated if they wish to work on corporate campus.

Norway leads a pack of European nations that have leaped ahead of the U.S. in Bloomberg’s latest Covid Resilience Ranking. The U.S.’s reign at the top of the list was short-lived as vaccinations slowed and the delta variant fueled cases.

Philippines Keeps Loose Curbs in Capital (6:45 a.m. HK)

The Philippines will keep its capital under the second-loosest restrictions even with rising coronavirus infections partly due to the highly contagious delta variant.

The Manila capital region, which accounts for about a third of the economy, will remain under general community quarantine with heightened restrictions from Aug. 1 to Aug. 15, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement Thursday. Most businesses can operate on limited capacity.

More Than Half of South Africans Believe in Prayer Instead of Vaccine (6:15 a.m. HK)

About 54% of South Africans say they are unlikely to get a Covid-19 vaccine and almost half say they believe prayer provides more protection than the shots against contracting the disease, a survey showed.

The Afrobarometer survey of 1,600 South Africans highlights a hurdle for the government’s drive to inoculate two thirds of its 60 million people in a bid to curb infections in the country, which is Africa’s worst hit by the disease, according to official statistics.

U.S. Labor Secretary Sees Delta Lasting Months (5:45 p.m. NY)

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said that the U.S. will likely be living with the Covid-19 delta variant for at least a few months, and encouraged people to get vaccinated to be able to get back to work.

“The reality of the current situation,” Walsh said on Bloomberg Radio, “is that we still are living with the coronavirus.”

“In the period essentially the next couple months now — maybe even longer than that — we’re going to be living with the variant.”

“The numbers are heading in the wrong direction,” he said,

The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask guidance and workplace vaccination requirements aren’t likely hindering people’s desire to return to work. “I think a lot of people will come back to work,” Walsh said. “My fear is that people that aren’t vaccinated are currently working.”

Netflix to Require Vaccines for Actors (4:40 p.m. NY)

Netflix Inc. will require actors and those who work in close proximity to them to be vaccinated on its U.S. productions, according to a person familiar with the company’s plans. The streaming service introduced the policy after a deal last week between Hollywood unions and major studios, which permitted producers to require vaccination in Zone A on productions.

The company has informed its employees and production partners that there will be exceptions to this policy for medical conditions and religious beliefs, as well as productions that are already underway.

Texas Reports More Than 10,000 Cases (4:40 p.m. NY)

Texas logged more than 10,000 in daily new virus cases for the first time in almost six months as the latest wave of the pandemic intensifies across the second-most populous U.S. state.

The caseload surged by 10,086 in the past 24 hours, a 55% increase from Tuesday’s addition and the highest since Feb. 9, state health department figures showed.

Hospitalizations, meanwhile, have more than doubled this month to 5,292, the data showed. Intensive-care unit occupancy by virus patients has pushed above 10% in three of the state’s 22 trauma service areas, and one of those regions has zero ICU capacity left.

California Joins Mask Recommendations (4:16 p.m. NY)

California is recommending mask use in all public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s revised guidance. More than 90% of the state’s population is in areas with substantial or high transmission, the Department of Health said. Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, has made masks a requirement.

Apple to Restore Mask Mandate at Stores (3:30 p.m. NY)

Apple Inc. plans to restore a mask requirement at most of its U.S. retail stores on Thursday for both customers and staff, even those who are vaccinated, in a response to a resurgence in Covid cases.

The company informed retail staff of the move Wednesday in a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Apple already started requiring masks for employees at select stores earlier this month, and it pushed back a return-to-office deadline for corporate employees. It also began requiring masks for customers in a few counties based on local guidelines.

Dyadic Joins Race to Produce Vaccines in Africa (3:07 p.m. NY)

Dyadic International Inc., a U.S. biotechnology company, has joined the race to produce Covid-19 vaccines in Africa, the least-vaccinated continent. The Jupiter, Florida-based company on Tuesday announced a technology transfer and licensing deal with South Africa’s Rubic Consortium, a newly formed group that includes, Mathews Phosa, a former treasurer-general of the country’s ruling African National Congress.

In October or November Dyadic may begin an early-stage trial for the company’s coronavirus vaccine candidate after applying to the local health regulator for approval, said Shabir Madhi, a vaccinologist at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand, which is partnering Rubic. Dyadic’s technology may later be used to develop other vaccines and treatments, he said.

Google to Require Employee Vaccines (1:40 p.m. NY)

Alphabet Inc.’s Google postponed its date for bringing employees back to its offices by a month, and will require returning workers to be vaccinated, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai wrote on Wednesday.

The internet search giant will now ask most of its staff to return to campuses starting Oct. 18. Previously, the company had set September for the return. Employees who come back will be required to show proof of vaccination, Pichai wrote in a note to employees that was posted on a Google website.

Apple Inc. also extended its return to office to October earlier this month.

Kenya to Get 817,000 Doses From U.K. (1:30 p.m. NY)

The U.K will donate 817,000 vaccine doses to Kenya to support its vaccination program, the British High Commission in Nairobi said in an emailed statement.
Half of the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses are through a bilateral donation and the other half via the Covax sharing facility. The consignment will be shipped to Kenya “in the coming days.”

Serbia to Give Third Shot to Vulnerable Groups (1:05 p.m. NY)

People with immunodeficiency or transplanted organs, dyalisis patients and others with major health issues will be offered a third dose of an anti-Covid vaccine, the Serbian government said on website. The Balkan country using four different vaccines has inoculated 50% of its population, now facing a steady increase in Covid-19 cases.

Uruguay to Give Pfizer Booster (1 p.m. NY)

Uruguay approved a Pfizer Inc. booster shot for people who were vaccinated with with the Chinese-made CoronaVac. The booster will be administered no sooner than 90 days after the second CoronaVac shot. Uruguay has vaccinated more than 61% of its population with two doses of CoronaVac, Pfizer or AstraZeneca Plc.

N.J. Forgoes Indoor Mask Mandate (12 p.m. NY)

Governor Phil Murphy urged New Jerseyans to mask indoors when Covid-19 transmission risk is increased but stopped short of issuing a mask mandate.

The decision comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed its indoor mask policy on Tuesday for vaccinated people in a bid to stem a surge of cases linked to the contagious delta variant.

N.Y. Eyes Vaccine Mandate for Employees (11:34 a.m. NY)

New York state is working with unions to mandate employees be vaccinated or get tested, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. Officials aim to have that done by Labor Day, he said, and urged local governments do the same.

All patient-facing health-care workers in New York state hospitals must get vaccinated, and there will be no testing option, he said.

In response to revised Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on indoor masking, Cuomo said he is reviewing the issue and speaking with federal and international experts. He urged local governments to consider following the federal agency. The governor urged the Food and Drug Administration to expedite approval of Covid-19 vaccines, which are being administered under emergency-use authorization. Full approval would give New York more authority with vaccine requirements, he said.

The state reported 2,203 new cases, compared with 275 on June 28. Most of the hot spots are in New York City, Cuomo said, with some high positivity areas in Long Island.

NYC to Offer $100 for Residents to Get Shots (10:55 a.m. NY)

New York City will give out $100 to any resident who gets their first Covid-19 vaccine in an effort to boost lagging vaccination rates. The cash incentive will start on July 30 at city run vaccination sites, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on a briefing.

France Declares Emergency in St. Barts (10:45 a.m. NY)

France declared a state of emergency in the overseas territories of Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy as Covid-19 cases rise there and there aren’t as many vaccinated people as in metropolitan France. Local authorities will be able to impose lockdowns or curfews if virus circulation is too high, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters Wednesday. He also said that France’s health pass — which displays immunization or testing status — could enter into force on Aug. 9, after approval by the top constitutional court.

England Drops Quarantine for U.S. Visitors (10:15 a.m. NY)

American and European Union travelers who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus will no longer need to spend 10 days in quarantine after they arrive in England.

Under plans backed by British ministers on Wednesday, international leisure cruises will also resume after being put on hold for more than a year.

The reforms to travel rules will allow visitors from the U.S. and most EU countries to enter the U.K. on the same basis as Britons who have received two Covid shots. U.K. residents are are no longer required to self-isolate when returning from most medium-risk countries.

The rule change initially applies to England, but other nations in the U.K. have generally followed the same regimes for international travel.

Romania to Relax Virus Restrictions Next Week (9:16 a.m. NY)

Romania’s government approved the easing of some pandemic restrictions from Aug. 1. The number of people allowed at concerts or sport events has increased and the opening hours have been extended at bars and clubs, where only vaccinated people are admitted. Wearing a face mask remains mandatory in all closed public spaces.

Zimbabwe Clears J&J Shot as Cases Climb (8:42 a.m. NY)

Zimbabwe cleared Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine for emergency use after previously blocking it as the southern African nation struggles to contain a surge in cases.

The approval is valid for 12 months or whenever the public health emergency ends, Richard Rukwata, acting director for the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe, said in a statement.

In nearby Tanzania, President Samia Suluhu Hassan received the J&J shot on Wednesday, kicking off a national vaccination campaign.

Lithuania to Donate More Vaccine Doses (8:11 a.m. NY)

The Lithuanian government decided to increase the number of vaccines it plans to donate to Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia. The Baltic nation will send a combined 200,000 dozes of the AstraZeneca shot to those countries.

Pfizer Raises Vaccine Revenue Forecast (6:46 a.m. NY)

Pfizer said the vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech SE is bringing in more sales than expected, prompting the company to raise its revenue estimate for the year to about $33.5 billion. The drugmaker previously expected the vaccine to garner about $26 billion in sales this year.

The Covid shot is poised to set a record for sales of a drug in a single year. In the second quarter, the vaccine drew $7.8 billion, more than the $7.05 billion analysts expected.

Norway Leads Covid Resilience Ranking (5 a.m. NY)

Norway now leads a group of European nations that have leaped ahead of the U.S. in Bloomberg’s July Covid Resilience Ranking.

The U.S.’s reign as the No. 1 on the ranking was short-lived. Its vaccination drive has plateaued and cases, fueled by the delta variant, surged anew in July, triggering renewed restrictions in some parts of the country. Still, deaths remain a fraction of what they were during previous waves.

The U.K. is also facing uncertainty, dropping 16 rungs to 25th as cases at one point jumped the most in the world. Though deaths have so far stayed low thanks to high vaccine penetration, the resurgence has undermined confidence.

Apple Outlets Restore Mask Mandate; Texas Surging: Virus Update

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