The U.S. economy recorded its sharpest downturn on record and the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose for a second straight week. Mexico’s economy also shrank the most on record.
• Global Tracker: Cases exceed 17 million; deaths pass 668,000
• Hackers are targeting the remote workers who keep our lights on
• At 7,000 deaths a week, Brazil’s grim streak keeps going
• Virus relief talks in Congress stalemated as time runs short
• Kitchen table beats office for 335,000 bankers working from home
• Work-from-home trend is making lumber a winner
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U.S. Cases Rise 1.9% (4 p.m. NY)
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.9% as compared with the same time Wednesday to 4.47 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase was higher than the average 1.6% daily gain over the past week. Deaths rose 1.1% to 151,570.
• Florida reported 461,379 cases, up 2.2% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 2.5% in the previous seven days. The state posted a record 253 new deaths, bringing the total to 6,586. It was the third straight day of record fatalities.
• Arizona reported 2,525 new cases, a 1.5% rise that lifted the total to 170,798. The gain was in line with the average 1.6% increase of the prior seven days. The state counted a record number of 172 new deaths, bringing the toll to 3,626.
• Hawaii experienced a 6.1% increase in cases, bringing the total to 1,865, according to the data from Johns Hopkins and Bloomberg News.
DeWine Seeks to Halt Ohio Ban of Trump-Touted Drug (3:05 p.m. NY)
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine asked the state Board of Pharmacy to halt an order banning hydroxychloroquine for treating Covid-19, telling regulators to revisit the issue. In March, the pharmacy board approved limiting prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine, which President Donald Trump has promoted for coronavirus, because of concerns it wouldn’t be available to treat other conditions like malaria.
Large clinical trials have shown hydroxychloroquine to be ineffective against the virus and potentially dangerous. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in mid-June rescinded its clearance allowing for emergency use of the drug.
San Francisco Readies Temporary Hospital (2:35 p.m. NY)
San Francisco will open a temporary medical facility at its historic Presidio park to house patients without Covid-19 in case the worsening pandemic fills up local hospitals, officials said Thursday. The facility will accommodate up to 93 people who need low-intensity care and will be staffed by the city’s health department as well as the University of California San Francisco.
The city has 107 people hospitalized with Covid-19 and if current trends continue, the number will grow to 750 by mid-October, said San Francisco Director of Health Grant Colfax. Under “plausible worst-case scenarios,” hospitalizations could hit 2,400 in October, he said.
“We hope our hospitals will never need to open the relief valve that this site represents,” Colfax told reporters during a briefing.
California Reports Second-Deadliest Day (2:15 p.m. NY)
California recorded 194 new virus deaths, second only to the 197 reported Wednesday and above the 14-day average of 112. The 2.2% increase brought total fatalities to 8,909.
The state’s confirmed infections jumped 2.1% to 485,502. The 10,197 added Thursday exceeded the average daily increase of 9,191 over the past two weeks, while the 14-day rate of positive tests inched up to 7.5% from 7.4%. Hospitalizations, however, fell 2.7%.
Wisconsin Governor Mandates Masks (2:05 p.m. NY)
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers ordered everyone in the state over age 5 to wear face coverings in public, with some exceptions including private residences and the outdoors.
Citing the spread of Covid-19, Evers, a Democrat, said “the sooner we work together to box in this virus, the sooner we can get back to work, school, sports, restaurants, and get our state and our economy back on the right track.”
French Alert on Virus Spread (1:50 p.m. NY)
France’s coronavirus infection rate has almost doubled over the past three weeks, requiring “quick and sizable efforts” to contain the surge, according to the nation’s public health agency.
The number of new cases in France is increasing by more than 1,000 a day and the spread accelerated this week, the agency said in a statement. The average weekly infection rate has jumped to 10.2 cases per 100,000 people, an increase of 78% compared with three weeks ago that tops the “vigilance threshold” of 10 cases per 100,000.
Dunkin’ Mandates Masks (1:30 p.m. NY)
Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. became the latest U.S. chain to require masks inside its establishments, starting Aug. 5. “This simple step to wear a face covering will help to provide a safe environment for guests, franchisees and their restaurant employees,” the company said in a statement.
Phillies Suspend Play (1:17 p.m. NY)
The Philadelphia Phillies shut down all activities at their ballpark after reporting that a coach and home clubhouse staffer have tested positive for Covid-19. Previously the team reported a staff member who worked in the visiting clubhouse, which the Miami Marlins occupied last week, had tested positive.
Meantime, the Marlins reported that a 17th player had tested positive. The Phillies had been the Marlins’ first and only opponent this season.
WHO Says Countries Were Unprepared for Pandemic (12:38 p.m. NY)
Countries have made “a deep underinvestment in public health infrastructure,” said Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program. When asked to reflect on the past six months of the pandemic response, he said he was surprised to the extent that countries weren’t prepared for the contact tracing and testing that would be necessary. Ryan said if he could change anything, he would have the WHO offer more technical assistance to countries it had assumed would be more ready to face the challenges.
The absence of universal health coverage or affordable health care also aggravated the situation, he said. “We’re paying a heavy price again for the lack of that investment.”
New York to Fund More Contact Tracing (12:35 p.m. NY)
New York is making $30 million available to counties to increase contract tracing for coronavirus cases and to increase testing and vaccines for the coming flu season.
Flu season will pose problems for the state, as symptoms will look like those of Covid-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday on a conference call with reporters.
Tests must be done at the same lab facilities that already are busy conducting coronavirus testing, he said. “That could affect the turnaround time on the Covid tests, so we want the counties to be ready,” he said.
Houston Hospitalizations Slow Again (12:22 p.m. NY)
Covid-19 hospitalizations in the Houston area dropped for a ninth consecutive day, the longest streak of declines since the pandemic emerged, according to Texas Medical Center data.
Virus patients in standard hospital beds and intensive-care units have declining for 15 of the past 17 days after peaking on July 12, the center said on its website on Thursday.
Virus patients occupied 44% of the region’s intensive-care admissions as of Wednesday night, the data showed.
Spain Again Reports Over 1,100 Cases (12:10 p.m. NY)
Spain recorded more than 1,100 new infections for the second consecutive day, the first time the number has remained above that level for a two-day period since May 1.
The total number of new daily cases rose by 1,229 to 285,430. Deaths recorded in the last seven days were stable at 10.
Arizona Death Toll Rises (11:40 a.m. NY)
Arizona counted a record number of 172 new deaths, bringing the statewide toll to 3,626. But of those deaths, 78 were belatedly reported to the state based on death certificates, inflating the total.
The state Department of Health Services reported 2,525 new Covid-19 cases, a 1.5% rise that lifted the total to 170,798. The percentage gain was in line with the average 1.6% increase of the prior seven days. The positivity rate statewide was 21.3%, below the 22.3% positive tests reported on Wednesday. Maricopa County also had a decrease in positivity rate from 23.7% reported on Wednesday to 22.7% Thursday.
Portugal Eases Curbs in Lisbon Area (11:30 a.m. NY)
The Portuguese government eased restrictions in 19 parishes of greater Lisbon starting Saturday following a drop in new coronavirus cases in those areas.
Portugal, which has been less affected by the outbreak than neighboring Spain, tightened restrictions in some areas of greater Lisbon last month after a surge of new clusters.
Amsterdam Requires Masks in Some Areas (11:20 a.m. NY)
Amsterdam will require face masks in busy parts of the city, including the red-light district and shopping streets, starting Aug. 5. The measure doesn’t replace the 1.5-meter (5-foot) rule on social distancing. People in the Netherlands previously were required to don a face mask only when traveling on public transport.
Florida Posts Record Deaths for Third Day (10:40 a.m. NY)
Florida reported a record 253 new Covid-19 deaths among residents Thursday, bringing the cumulative total to 6,586. It was the third straight day of record fatalities.
The state has 461,379 Covid-19 cases, up 2.2% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 2.5% in the previous seven days, according to the health department report, which includes data through Wednesday. The seven-day rolling new cases totaled 71,511, the lowest since July 12.
The new rate of people testing positive for the first time fell to 12% for Wednesday, from 12.3% on Tuesday.
Johnson Warns U.K. Not Out of Woods (10:30 a.m. NY)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Britons the pandemic is far from over, and said there are “signs of a second wave of the pandemic” in European nations.
“It is absolutely vital as a country that we continue to keep our focus and our discipline and that we don’t delude ourselves that somehow we’re out of the woods or that this is all over, because it isn’t all over,” he told the BBC.
Earlier, the U.K. lengthened the self-isolation period for coronavirus patients to 10 days from seven.
South Africa Deaths Higher Than Reported, Experts Say (10:10 a.m. NY)
Medical researchers in South Africa found a “huge discrepancy” between the country’s confirmed Covid-19 fatalities and the number of excess natural deaths, providing further evidence that the number of people who have perished from the disease is higher than the government reports.
South Africa has the world’s fifth-worst epidemic, with 471,123 cases. The Health Ministry reported 7,479 Covid-19 deaths to date on Wednesday.
Sweden Says Keep Working From Home (9:25 a.m. NY)
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said residents of Sweden should continue to work from home this fall.
“The crisis is not over yet, far from it,” Lofven said on social media. “It’s important to keep our distance from others and limit the number of physical contacts.”
The number of deaths and infected in Sweden are dropping “faster than anyone had dared to hope,” state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told reporters in Stockholm.
Hydroxychloroquine Use Is Doctor-Patient Prerogative: FDA Head (9:20 a.m. NY)
The head of the FDA said individuals and their doctors should decide together if a patient should take hydroxychloroquine, a drug his own agency has said could have dangerous side effects if used to treat Covid-19.
“A doctor and a patient needs to assess the data that’s out there,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told NBC News.
Philippines Posts Record Cases, Recoveries (8:51 a.m. NY)
Cases in the Philippines rose by a record on Thursday to 89,374, with recoveries also posting the highest daily increase after an overhaul in data reporting.
Trump Asks If Election Should Be Delayed (8:51 a.m. NY)
U.S. Economy Shrinks Most on Record; Jobless Claims Rise (8:30 a.m. NY)
The U.S. economy suffered its sharpest downturn since at least the 1940s in the second quarter, highlighting how the pandemic has ravaged businesses across the country and left millions of Americans out of work. The number filing for unemployment benefits increased for a second straight week.
Long U.K. Pandemic Brings Europe’s Highest Death Rate (8:06 a.m. NY)
The failure to bring coronavirus under control has given the U.K. the highest cumulative death rate in Europe as of June 12, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday. Mortality in Britain peaked later than in neighboring countries and remained elevated for longer. The country was one of the latest to implement a lockdown and also among the last to ease restrictions.
Redhill Biopharma Starts Trial (7:05 a.m. NY)
Redhill Biopharma initiated a global Phase 2/3 clinical study of opaganib as a treatment for patients hospitalized with severe infection. The trial will include as many as 270 patients at sites across Europe, Latin America and other regions.
Mexican Economy’s Record Plunge (7 a.m. NY)
Mexico’s economy sank the most on record in the second quarter, putting the pace of the recovery in doubt and posing a dire challenge to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Gross domestic product in the three months through June fell 17.3% compared to the previous quarter, according to preliminary data. The result, the worst in data going back to 1993, came in slightly worse than the median estimate for a 17% drop from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
J&J Phase 3 Vaccine Trial (5:37 p.m. HK)
Johnson & Johnson wants to start Phase 3 Trials of its Covid-19 vaccine in September, the company said in a statement. The drugmaker’s experimental vaccine protected a handful of primates with a single shot in an early study, prompting the company to start trials in humans this month.
A study published in Nature showed that its candidate elicits a strong immune response that protects against infection.
Astra Gives Shots to Almost 10,000 in U.K. (5:12 p.m. HK)
Almost 10,000 people in the U.K. have been given an experimental vaccine from AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford, a key step toward finding a shot that will help control the pandemic.
AstraZeneca is also well on its way to administering shots to 5,000 volunteers in a late-stage trial in Brazil and may scale up the size of its studies there, Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg TV. Subjects are being enrolled in South Africa, and a test in the U.S. is about to begin.
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