ECONOMY

U.S. Cases Triple; Biden Says Misinformation Kills: Virus Update

The U.S. is headed for its worst day of new infections since mid-April, almost tripling from the day before.

“The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated,” President Joe Biden said, with cases swelling in 49 U.S. states and hospitalizations on the rise. He said that social media networks are “killing people” by allowing the spread of misinformation about vaccines. The governor of Louisiana, one of the least-vaccinated states, said it was time to “run, not walk” to get a shot.

Biden signaled progress toward lifting a ban on travel from Europe, raising hopes for a reopening of the almost $40 billion North Atlantic air corridor 16 months after the pandemic grounded flights.

U.S. Cases Soar to Almost Triple Recent Levels (7:26 a.m. HK)

The U.S. is headed for its worst day of new infections since mid-April, almost tripling from the day before. By early evening U.S. Eastern Time, more than 74,000 new cases were reported, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

That compares with 27,956 new infections on Thursday, and a daily average from the previous seven days of 26,262.

New U.S. cases have been rapidly rising as the delta variant has spread in pockets of the U.S. with lower rates of vaccinations — but on no recent day have infections shot up so sharply. A peak of more than 300,000 daily infections was reached in late December.

U.K. Tightens Rules for Travelers From France (7:02 a.m. HK)

The U.K. government reimposed quarantine rules on travelers returning to England from France because of concern at the number of Covid-19 infections there, drawing immediate anger from tourism bodies and airlines.

From Monday, anyone arriving from across the Channel will have to isolate at home for up to 10 days and complete two coronavirus tests even if they have two vaccinations, the U.K. Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement Friday.

San Francisco Area Recommends Masks Indoors (6:20 a.m. HK)

Officials in the San Francisco area are recommending that residents wear masks again indoors in public places regardless of vaccination status.

A day earlier, Los Angeles took the stronger step of requiring masks indoors for everyone, as the delta variant pushes cases higher in California. That restriction takes effect on Saturday.

Seven Bay Area counties that also include the Silicon Valley area issued a joint statement on Friday announcing the stepped-up guidance, citing rising cases and the spread of the delta variant.

Florida Cases, Deaths Almost Double (5:10 p.m. NY)

Florida cases almost doubled in the week ending July 15, with 45,604 new cases compared to 23,697 in the previous week, state data show. The state accounts for 1 in 5 new cases in U.S., the White House said Friday.

The state’s positivity rate, meanwhile, surged from 7.8% to 11.5%. A total of 59 new new deaths were reported compared to 32 in the previous week.

The CDC reported that Florida’s current 7-day average of new hospitalizations of confirmed Covid-19 patients rose to 553 from 359 in the previous week. Florida’s vaccination rate is about equal to the national average, with 55.2% of the population receiving at least one dose, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Las Vegas Recommends Masks Again (5:04 p.m. NY)

Las Vegas casino patrons are again being asked to wear masks. The Southern Nevada Health District on Friday recommended masks be worn in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status as new infections driven by the delta variant have soared.

The recommendation, which also applies to grocery stores, malls and large events is a step to fully utilize the tools we have available to stop the pandemic,” the health district said in a press release.

Nevada is one of four states, with Missouri, Florida and Arkansas, classified by the CDC as a “high transmission” area.

Biden Says Virus Misinformation ‘Killing People’ (3:30 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden said Friday that social media networks are “killing people” by allowing the spread of misinformation about coronavirus vaccines.

“Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated,” Biden said after he was asked about his message for tech companies as he departed the White House on Friday. “And they’re killing people.”

Biden’s comments come after the White House earlier this week called on social media networks to do more to purge posts carrying incorrect information about the pandemic, or discouraging readers from taking vaccines that can largely eliminate the risk of a deadly outcome from coronavirus.

New Jersey Spread Rises (2:42 p.m. NY)

New Jersey’s transmission rate hit 1.24, highest since the week of the Thanksgiving holiday in November, when the state was deep into a second wave. Hospital patient counts, meanwhile, have remained steady for a month, at just over 300 per day.

A transmission rate above 1 indicates that Covid-19 is spreading. On Nov. 23, when New Jersey reported a 1.27 rate, the state had 2,785 hospitalizations and 48 deaths. The state health department reported 516 cases, the most since May 21, and two new lab-confirmed deaths.

The fast-spreading delta variant has accounted for 41% of New Jersey cases in the past four weeks, state data show. Almost 5 million residents, more than half the state’s population, has been fully vaccinated.

Canada Joins Vaccine Sweepstakes (2:20 p.m. NY)

Quebec, the Canadian province that suffered the most deaths from Covid-19, is resorting to cash and scholarships to boost its vaccination rates and weather the rise of variants.

After endorsing the idea of vaccine passports last week, the provincial government is going for a reward approach that has been used in the U.S. and elsewhere. Authorities said Friday they’re launching a lottery for vaccinated residents next month with C$2 million ($1.6 million) worth of prizes, including C$400,000 in scholarships for kids from 12 to 18. One or two jabs will be required, depending on the draw.

“We’re doing all this to avoid hospitalizations if cases start going up in the fall,” Health Minister Christian Dube said during a news conference.

Illinois’s Weekly Cases Jump 51% (2:15 p.m. NY)

Illinois’s Covid-19 cases jumped 51% in the past week, according to data from the state’s department of public health.

The state added 4,449 new confirmed and probable cases, up from 2,945 a week earlier. Weekly deaths climbed to 62 from 53. At least one vaccine dose has been given to 73% of Illinois adults and more than 57% are fully vaccinated, the department said Friday.

France Cases Highest Since May (1:56 p.m. NY)

France reported the highest increase in daily infections since May 28 with 10,908 new cases. The amount is nearly twice as much as the seven-day average but is just a fraction of this year’s peak in early April with 84,999 cases. France registered on Friday 22 additional coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing the official toll to 111,451.

New Cases Rise in 49 States, CDC Says (1:40 p.m. NY)

New infections increased in every U.S. state except Michigan during the week through Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Florida led increases among “high transmission” states with a 109% jump, followed by Arkansas, Nevada and Missouri.

Jacksonville, Florida, and Las Vegas recorded the highest positive-test ratios among urban areas with more than 1 million inhabitants during the week through Monday. Hospital admissions for Covid-19 increased 54% in Jacksonville, with Miami, Orlando, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas, reporting rises of 53%.

Austin, Texas, Nashville, Tennessee, and Milwaukee led major metro areas with an increasing Covid burden as measured by the upward curve in new cases, according to the CDC report published Friday.

CDC Sees ‘Pandemic of the Unvaccinated’ (1:09 p.m. NY)

With deaths and hospitalizations from Covid-19 on the rise, the U.S. is seeing a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” in parts of the country where inoculation rates are low, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

While Covid cases have fallen dramatically since the introduction of vaccines, the seven-day average of new infections is now up 70% from the previous week, with 26,300 new infections a day, CDC Chief Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing on Friday. The agency’s biggest concern given the falling pace of shots is that the agency will continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and deaths, she said.

Just four states accounted for 40% of Covid cases in the past week, said Jeffrey Zients, President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator, with 1 in 5 cases occurring in Florida alone. The 7-day average of hospital admissions nationwide rose 36% to 2,790 while daily deaths jumped 26% to 211 per day.

Louisiana Governor Says ‘Run’ to Get Vaccine (12:41 p.m. NY)

Governor John Bel Edwards said Louisianans need to “run, not walk” to get vaccinated as the delta variant has pushed cases up almost 200% over last two weeks. He also said the state was in a “fourth surge.”

“Our hospitals are again stretched thin with limited staff capacity, and the vast majority of Covid patients are not yet fully vaccinated against the illness,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.

Louisiana has one of the lowest rates of vaccination in the U.S., with 39.5% of the population having received at least one dose compared with the national average of 55.8%, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Only Alabama and Mississippi are lower.

Pfizer Expects Priority Review (12:13 p.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. said its vaccine was granted priority review by U.S. regulators, putting it on track for a potential full approval by early next year.

The drugmaker and its German partner BioNTech SE said in a statement Friday that the Food and Drug Administration plans to decide whether to approve the shot for use in people 16 and older by January 2022.

A full approval for the Pfizer vaccine could help bolster the flagging U.S. vaccination effort. Some people who have been reluctant to get a shot have said they are unwilling to get an experimental medication.

Delta Set to Become Dominant in Italy (11:10 a.m. NY)

The delta variant is expected to become dominant in Italy in the next few weeks, Silvio Brusaferro, president of the country’s public health institute, said in a press conference on Friday. “The general scenario, in terms of transmission of the infection, is worsening,” he said. “So the priority now is to have as many people as possible fully vaccinated.”

As of July 9, the delta variant made up almost 28% of samples tested.

Biden Hints at Lifting of Europe Travel Ban (10:50 a.m. NY)

U.S. President Joe Biden signaled progress toward lifting a ban on travel from Europe, raising hopes for a reopening of the almost $40 billion North Atlantic air corridor 16 months after flights were grounded by Covid-19.

Shares of Air France-KLM, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and IAG SA gained in Europe after Biden said his Covid-19 advisers are weighing when to lift the prohibitions, while U.S. airline stocks also rose in pre-market trading. German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue in a White House meeting on Thursday.

“It’s in process now,” Biden said at a news conference with Merkel following their meeting.

Trudeau Plans for Reopening (8:02 a.m. NY)

Justin Trudeau laid out a timeline for reopening Canada’s border to U.S. and overseas travelers after months of resisting calls for a clear plan from business groups and his political rivals.

The country will be able to welcome fully-vaccinated travelers from the U.S. as early as mid-August, and from all other countries by September, if “the current positive path of vaccination rate and public health conditions continue,” the prime minister’s office said Thursday night in a summary of his meeting with provincial leaders.

Singapore Shuts Nightlife Venues (5:45 p.m. HK)

Singapore will temporarily close hundreds of nightlife venues and re-enforce stricter measures for dining-in just days after relaxing them, amid a surge in daily cases linked to a karaoke cluster, ministers said at a briefing Friday.

The country will impose different restrictions on the local population based on their vaccination status, according to details released at a multi-ministry task force briefing on Friday, while warning that further restrictions may be necessary if daily cases continue to surge.

U.K. Warns Over Restoring Restrictions (2:56 p.m. HK)

The U.K. held out the prospect of restoring some restrictions amid a surge in new cases, just three days before it plans to drop all remaining social distancing rules.

“Of course if we get into a situation where it’s unacceptable and we do need to put back further restrictions, then that of course is something the government will look at,” Lucy Frazer, a government minister, told Sky News on Friday.

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