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U.S. Cases Rise 0.6%; N.J. Positivity Rate Rises: Virus Update

Bloomberg News
·15-min read
U.S. Cases Rise 0.6%; N.J. Positivity Rate Rises: Virus Update
U.S. Cases Rise 0.6%; N.J. Positivity Rate Rises: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey reported a 27% positive rate of coronavirus tests in Lakewood, contributing to a recent uptick in the statewide positivity rate to 3%, the highest in months. The NFL postponed a game for the first time after nine members of the Tennessee Titans were infected.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he won’t hesitate to impose new restrictions as governments across Europe are tightening measures to battle a Covid-19 resurgence. The Dutch government urged citizens to wear masks, and the Czech Republic issued a 30-day state of emergency to stem a surge in cases.

The Spanish government will order extra restrictions on Madrid and possibly elsewhere to curb the spread in Europe’s hardest-hit nation, after the International Monetary Fund warned the nascent economic recovery is threatened by a second wave of infections.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 33.7 million; deaths exceed 1 millionCovid-19 pounds Wisconsin ahead of Trump rally in Green BayNovartis CEO says it’ll take more than vaccines to fight the pandemicEuropean regulators are said to speed review of AstraZeneca shotU.K. ventilators sit in storage, watchdog says in reportWho’s succeeding against the coronavirus and why: QuickTake

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.

Goldman Job Cuts End Pause for Virus (4:45 p.m. N.Y.)

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is resuming job cuts as the coronavirus pandemic outlasts the financial industry’s resolve to offer jittery employees stability through the economic downturn.

The firm is embarking on a plan to eliminate about 1% of its workforce, or roughly 400 positions, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public. The move comes even as the firm’s core trading and dealmaking businesses are booming.

Persistent outbreaks in the U.S. are forcing the nation’s biggest banks to re-examine plans to wait out the turmoil as initially hoped. Wells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup Inc. were among the first to restart cuts.

Mississippi lifts mask mandate (4:20 p.m. N.Y.)

Mississippi is ending its statewide mask mandate and easing some social-distancing rules after cutting new coronavirus infections in half and Covid-19-related hospitalizations by two-thirds, Governor Tate Reeve, a Republican, announced at a news conference.

Masks still will be required in schools and for certain workers, such as salon and barbershop employees. Attendance at school extracurricular events such as football games will increase to 50% of capacity. Gatherings are limited to 100 people outdoors and 20 people indoors.

U.S. Cases Rise 0.6% (4 p.m. N.Y.)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 0.6% as compared with the same time Tuesday to 7.21 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase matched the average daily gain over the past week. Deaths rose to 206,494.

Mnuchin Says No Stimulus Deal Yet (3:40 p.m. N.Y.)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there’s still no agreement on a fresh fiscal stimulus package after he met for about 90 minutes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Mnuchin told reporters that he and Pelosi “made a lot of progress over the last few days,” and they’ll continue their talks.

The House will hold a vote on the latest Democratic proposal for a $2.2 trillion package later on Wednesday, Pelosi said. That bill has little chance in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Senegal to Expand Health care (3:15 p.m. N.Y.)

Senegal will recruit 1,500 additional health workers and raise 500 billion CFA francs ($893 million) to modernize hospitals and build new facilities, President Macky Sall said.

The coronavirus outbreak has exposed a need for additional personnel, equipment and facilities, Sall said on his website on Wednesday in response to questions from Senegalese citizens. Senegal had 14,982 confirmed coronavirus cases and 311 deaths as of Sept. 30.

The money will benefit the main hospital in the capital, Dakar, as well as regional facilities. The government plans to recruit 500 doctors and 1,000 nurses, midwives and support staff, he said.

Spain Pushes for More Curbs (3:05 p.m. N.Y.)

The Spanish government said it will order extra restrictions on movement and gatherings in Madrid and possibly elsewhere to curb the spread of the coronavirus, setting up a potential showdown with regional authorities.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said a majority of Spain’s 17 regions agreed to the new rules though Spanish media reported that regional officials in some of the most affected areas had rejected the proposal. The curbs will limit shops and public services to 50% of capacity and operating hours to 10 p.m., with certain exceptions.

The measures will target areas with more than 500 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two weeks and where more than 35% of intensive-care hospital beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients. That includes the capital and nine other cities in the Madrid region, Illa said.

U.K. Hospitalizations, Deaths Rise (2:10 p.m. N.Y.)

The U.K.’s coronavirus outbreak is not under control as hospitalization and death rates rise, Boris Johnson’s chief scientist said.

“Numbers of cases are going up, hospitalizations are going up, ICUs are going up, and unfortunately, very sadly so are deaths,” Government Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said. “We don’t have this under control at the moment.”

The bleak assessment from Vallance came as the prime minister warned he’ll impose tighter national restrictions if needed. The U.K. on Wednesday recorded more than 7,000 cases of Covid-19 for the second day running: the two highest daily tallies since the start of the pandemic.

N.J. Town Sees 27% Jump (2 p.m. N.Y.)

New Jersey reported a 27% positive rate of coronavirus tests in Lakewood, home to a large, tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community. The outbreak is contributing to New Jersey’s recent uptick. The statewide positivity rate is 3%, the highest in months.

Ocean County, home to Lakewood as well as many Jersey Shore towns, has a 5.4% positive rate.

Separately, the state has confirmed novel coronavirus outbreaks in 11 schools, Governor Phil Murphy said. In all, 43 individuals with links to the schools have tested positive, according to Judith Persichilli, the state health commissioner.

French Cases Slow (1:55 p.m. N.Y.)

France reported 12,845 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, marking an increase in the daily pace of infections after a lull in reporting at the start of the week.

The daily increase is still below highs seen last week, when France reported over 16,000 on one day. The seven-day rolling average, which smooths out daily variations, fell for the third day on Wednesday to 11,771.

The number of deaths rose by 64 on Wednesday to 31,956, in line with increases reported in recent days, data from French health authorities showed.

Irish Optimistic Surge is Stabilizing (1:10 p.m. N.Y.)

Irish authorities are “cautiously optimistic” that the spread of the coronavirus in Dublin may be stabilizing, though it will be sometime yet before the pattern is clear, health ministry adviser Philip Nolan said. The government tightened restrictions in the Irish capital 10 days ago.

Ireland recorded 429 new cases and one death on Wednesday. The country is seeing a 14 day average of about 92 cases per 100,000, up from 33 at the start of September.

AstraZeneca Vaccine Trials to Accelerate (12:45 p.m. N.Y.)

European regulators are set to start an accelerated review of the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine candidate, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, a sign it could be first to seek approval in the region.

The European Medicines Agency is expected to announce the “rolling review” as soon as this week, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the decision is still private. Such assessments are used in emergencies to allow regulators to see trial data while the development is ongoing to speed up approvals.

The move would be a key step forward for the shot after trials were halted earlier this month amid concerns about a participant in the U.K. study who became ill. While the British regulator cleared the trial to resume less than a week later, U.S. authorities have yet to give the go-ahead.

Titans-Steelers Game Postponed (11:55 a.m. N.Y.)

The NFL has its first postponement due to Covid-19, a troubling milestone for a league with scant capacity for scheduling changes. The Tennessee Titans were scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 4, but after eight Titans players and staff tested positive, the team was forced to shut down its facility Tuesday.

A ninth member of the Titans organization tested positive for the virus, the NFL Network reported on Wednesday. The person who tested positive was identified as a player, bringing that total to four. The game will be played either next Monday or Tuesday.

Italian Senators Test Positive (11:25 a.m. N.Y.)

Italy reported 1,851 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, up from 1,648 Tuesday, as daily tests jumped to more than 100,000. Nineteen deaths were reported, in line with previous days. Proceedings at Italy’s Senate in Rome were interrupted to allow disinfection after two senators tested positive for coronavirus.

Czech Approve State of Emergency (11:10 a.m. N.Y.)

The Czech Republic approved a 30-day state of emergency on Wednesday to stem the spike in the Covid-19 infections after ranking behind only Spain in the European Union with new cases per capita over the last two weeks.

The measure gives authorities more flexibility to tighten social-distancing rules in the nation of 10.7 million, though Prime Minister Andrej Babis pledged not to impose business restrictions that would inflict major damage to the economy. Social gatherings are limited to 10 or 20 people and high schools will shut for two weeks in most regions. Musicals and opera performances are banned and professional sporting events can take place without spectators.

NYC Hot-Spot Cases Continue Rise (11 a.m. N.Y.)

New York City’s seven-day rolling average of positive coronavirus tests rose to 1.46% as cases continued to climb in parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

The city’s daily indicators showed 87 hospital admissions with suspected Covid-19 symptoms, compared with 71 yesterday; and new cases increased to 354 from 338. The one-day citywide positivity rate decreased to 0.94% with stepped-up testing, after climbing to more than 3% for the first time in months.

Nine ZIP codes account for 25% of all cases citywide over the past two weeks, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

One More Shot at Stimulus, Mnuchin Says (10:45 a.m. N.Y.)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he sees “one more serious try” at securing a deal with Congress on another fiscal stimulus package and suggested he’ll offer Democrats a proposal for roughly $1.5 trillion in pandemic relief.

Mnuchin said Wednesday on CNBC that the administration’s counter-offer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is similar to a plan put forward by a bipartisan group of House members -- which included an escalation in spending up to $2 trillion if the coronavirus pandemic persists. That’s still short of a $2.2 trillion relief package that Democrats unveiled Monday and are preparing to bring to a House vote.

India Surge Driven by Super-Spreaders (10:30 a.m. N.Y.)

Coronavirus super-spreaders were behind the explosion of Covid-19 in India, the country with the most cases after the U.S., researchers said. One in 15 Indians have been exposed and more than 6.2 million cases have been recorded.

About 8% of India’s confirmed cases led to almost two-thirds of the infections, according to researchers who traced more than 3 million contacts in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The report, which appeared in the journal Science, is the first major study of transmission in a developing country.

Most research on the pandemic has come from China, Europe and North America, but cases are burgeoning in India and other developing countries. Barriers to health care are greater in these nations, and the risk of getting severely ill and dying from Covid is higher, they said.

“We’ve never had this degree of information to say, hey, some people are really transmitting the virus in a massive way,” Ramanan Laxminarayan, the director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy who wrote the report, said in an interview. In contrast with the super-spreader minority, 71% of confirmed cases whose contacts were traced weren’t found to have spread the virus.

One in 1,000 N.Y. Kids Lost Parent (9:38 a.m. N.Y.)

One in every 1,000 children in New York State lost a parent to Covid-19 between March and July, according to a report released today by United Hospital Fund, based on an analysis conducted in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group.

As many as 325,000 children were pushed into or near poverty by the pandemic-related economic downturn, the report shows.

U.K. Deal Averts Covid Rebellion (7:37 a.m. N.Y.)

Boris Johnson struck a deal with rebels in his Conservative Party over giving the U.K. Parliament more power to scrutinize new emergency coronavirus laws, in a bid to curb a growing backlash over his handling of the pandemic.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will set out details of the agreement when he introduces a debate on the renewal of existing measures later on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The prime minister had been warned that more than 100 of his own members of Parliament were preparing to vote against the government if he refused to compromise -- more than double the number needed to defeat him. They had backed an amendment by influential Conservative Graham Brady demanding that new rules must only come into force if Parliament has been given the chance to debate and vote on them first.

Iran Weighs Tehran Lockdown Amid Surge (7:15 a.m. N.Y.)

Iran’s authorities are weighing a week-long shutdown of Tehran, the capital, and several other provinces severely affected by the outbreak.

The number of Covid-19 fatalities in Iran rose to 26,169 with 183 more deaths in the past 24 hours, Sima Sadat Lari, a spokeswoman for the health ministry, said in a statement on national TV.

Singapore to Lift Australia, Vietnam Bans (6:13 a.m. N.Y.)

Singapore will lift border restrictions for visitors from Australia and Vietnam from Oct. 8, according to its Civil Aviation Authority.

Both countries have a comprehensive public health surveillance system and have displayed success in controlling the spread of Covid-19, the authority said. The decision comes after Singapore lifted restrictions for travelers from Brunei Darussalam and New Zealand in early September.

Ukraine Parliament Cancels Assembly Meetings (5:50 p.m. HK)

Ukraine’s parliament voted to cancel assembly meetings until the end of next week after at least eight lawmakers fell ill with the coronavirus in recent days. The country reported a record 4,027 new cases.

Lawmaker and former president Petro Poroshenko said on Facebook yesterday that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

Hungary Mulls Doubling Doctors’ Pay (5:26 p.m. HK)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s cabinet is scheduled to discuss a proposal to more than double the salaries of doctors, according to news website Origo.

The cabinet is leaning toward accepting a proposal to raise physicians’ pay by 120%, the pro-government website reported on Wednesday. Thousands of doctors over the years have emigrated for better-paid jobs abroad, leaving Hungarian hospitals understaffed.

Russia to Ship Vaccine to Egypt (3 p.m. HK)

Russian Direct Investment Fund and Egyptian Pharco agreed to secure supply of 25 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine for Egypt, the Russian sovereign wealth fund said in a statement.

RDIF has already announced supply agreements with Mexico, Brazil and India, among others. The Russian vaccine hasn’t undergone advanced clinical trials to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Becton Dickinson Rapid Test Cleared in Europe (2:30 p.m. HK)

Becton Dickinson & Co.’s Covid-19 test, which returns results in 15 minutes, has been cleared for use in countries that accept Europe’s CE marking, the diagnostics maker said.

The test is part of a new class of quicker screening tools named for the identifying proteins called antigens they detect on the surface of SARS-CoV-2. Becton Dickinson expects to begin selling the test in Europe at the end of October. It will likely be used by emergency departments, general practitioners and pediatricians.

Saudi Economy Shrank 7% in Second Quarter (2:17 p.m. HK)

Saudi Arabia’s economy contracted 7% in the second quarter from a year earlier, illustrating the damage wrought by the oil market turmoil combined with the pandemic.

The oil sector shrank an annual 5.3%, while the non-oil economy -- the engine of job creation -- declined 8.2%, according to data released on Wednesday by the statistics authority. Citizen unemployment surged despite a government stimulus program that covered 60% of salaries for many Saudi workers.

Shell to Cut Up to 9,000 Jobs (2:16 p.m. HK)

Royal Dutch Shell Plc will cut as many as 9,000 jobs as Covid-19 precipitates a company-wide restructuring into low-carbon energy.

Job reductions of 7,000 to 9,000 are expected by the end of 2022, including around 1,500 people taking voluntary redundancy this year, Shell said in a statement. The company sees sustainable annual cost savings of $2 billion to $2.5 billion.

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