Cases Surpass 41 Million; Europe Outbreak Worsens: Virus Update

Spain became the first nation in Western Europe with 1 million coronavirus cases as the continent struggles with an escalating outbreak. New infections in Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Germany reached a record, and the Czech government warned that its health system is at risk of collapse.

The U.S. trials of vaccines made by AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson may resume as soon as next week, according to the head of the government’s Operation Warp Speed program. A participant who died during Astra’s study in Brazil hadn’t received the company’s shot, a person familiar with the matter said.

U.S. hospitalizations for Covid-19 have reached a two-month high, led by the Midwest. New York state’s new virus cases exceeded 2,000 for the first time since May.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 41 million; deaths exceed 1.1 million
  • Doctors fight ‘infodemic’ with Americans seeing virus as a hoax
  • Covid plus decades of pollution are nasty combo for Detroit
  • Asia defies dire predictions of a spike in bankruptcies
  • See the latest on the race for a vaccine with Bloomberg’s tracker
  • How do people catch Covid-19? Here’s what experts say: 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.

United Tries Virus-Test App on Trans-Atlantic Flight (6 a.m. HK)

A United Airlines Holdings Inc. flight from London to Newark, New Jersey, performed the first U.S. trial of a new digital health app designed to share travelers’ coronavirus test results.

The CommonPass mobile app, created by the Commons Project Foundation and the World Economic Forum, is seen as a tool to help governments reopen borders by providing test data. The approach offers a common standard while avoiding paper documents and the risk of identity fraud, Paul Meyer, the foundation’s chief executive officer, said at a news conference in Newark.

Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed the arrival of Flight 15 at Newark Liberty International on Wednesday. The plane carried several passengers who were tested before boarding at London’s Heathrow Airport, with their results uploaded to the mobile app.

Texas Hospitalizations Surge (5:20 p.m. NY)

Texas virus hospitalizations jumped to almost 5,000 on Wednesday, the third straight daily increase, according to state health department figures. Statewide admissions have increased by 50% since the start of October.

In one of the state’s worst hot spots — El Paso — Covid-19 patients now occupy 28% of hospital beds, up from less than 19% five days ago, the health department data showed. The region has just 18 intensive-care beds available to service an area with almost 900,000 residents.

Warp Speed Chief Sees Trials Restarting Soon (3:47 p.m. NY)

Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, said he expects the U.S. trials of vaccines made by AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson to restart as soon as this week.

The two companies developing Covid-19 vaccines backed by Operation Warp Speed temporarily halted their trials because participants fell ill, slowing down the race for a shot to halt the pandemic.

“It’s for the FDA to announce and decide, but I understand that this is imminent,” Slaoui said in an interview when asked if AstraZeneca could resume its trial this week. “I hope that the J&J trial also will restart later this week.”

U.S. Hospital Use Reaches Two-Month High (3:08 p.m. NY)

U.S. hospitalizations for Covid-19 hit the highest point since Aug. 22, with New York doubling its count from early September and at least 10 other states reporting records.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, cited four national studies that predicted a probable in-patient increase of as much as 6,200 daily over the next four weeks.

N.J. Governor Quarantines After Staffer Tests Positive (2:38 p.m. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy placed himself in quarantine after coming into contact over the weekend with a senior staff member who tested positive for Covid-19.

Murphy said he had no symptoms of the virus, which has killed more than 14,000 people in the state.

Spain Passes 1 Million Cases (1:55 p.m. NY)

Spain became the first country in Western Europe to surpass 1 million coronavirus infections, as authorities struggle to control fresh outbreaks and contemplate a curfew for the capital Madrid.

Some 6,114 new cases were detected in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 1,005,295, according to Health Ministry data published Wednesday.

A curfew in Madrid would be the latest move by European governments to tighten restrictions amid an unrelenting spread of the disease. The capital was already hit with new restrictions this month when Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a state of emergency for the Madrid region, which has a population of almost 7 million.

N.Y. Hits 2,000 Cases for First Time Since May (1:15 p.m. NY)

New York state posted more than 2,000 new Covid-19 cases for the first time since May, a surge that officials are desperate to head off as they prepare to distribute vaccines in the new year.

Of the nearly 125,000 tests conducted statewide on Tuesday, 1.6% were positive, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday during a briefing in Albany. Excluding hot spots resulted in a 1.4% positive average.

“Though we made a lot of progress, the numbers are still not acceptable,” he said.

Luxembourg Infections Called ‘Alarming’ (1:10 p.m. NY)

Luxembourg reached a record in daily infections since the start of the pandemic, with 416 positive cases out of 7,475 tests done on Tuesday, Health Minister Paulette Lenert said at a press conference Wednesday. The situation is “alarming,” she said, urging residents and cross-border workers to respect virus-related restrictions.

Masks have been obligatory in Luxembourg since months as well as strict social-distancing measures. Still, the number of active infections in the nation, with a population of just over 600,000, has risen to 3,060 from 953 a month ago.

Greece Posts Record Rise (1 p.m. NY)

Greece saw a second straight record day for new cases. The country reported 865 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 27,334. It recorded six more deaths in the past 24 hours with the total number of dead at 534.

The northwestern city of Kastoria is being raised to level four, the ighest risk, with local lockdown measures to be introduced from 6 a.m. on Oct. 24, Deputy Citizen Protection Nikos Hardalias said Wednesday. Four areas, including the second-largest city of Thessaloniki, are being moved to level three from two, which means stricter measures including the compulsory wearing of face masks in indoor workplaces and outdoors where crowds gather.

NYC Readies Vaccine Rollout (12:12 p.m. NY)

New York City officials are beginning to plan for wide-scal distribution of a Covid-19 virus vaccine next year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Acting on state recommendations presented by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the mayor said the city would prioritize delivery of the vaccine to health-care workers, front line and essential workers and those whose medical conditions or age makes them most vulnerable to the virus, the mayor said.

Pharmacies, urgent-care clinics, public and private hospitals and current Covid testing sites will be used as inoculation centers for the general population in a second phase of distribution, the mayor said.

Italy Cases Jump to Record (11:19 a.m. NY)

Italy reported record new infections on Wednesday just a day before Milan, the country’s financial capital, starts a night-time curfew.

New virus cases rose by 15,199, a 40% increase compared to Tuesday and well above previous record of 11,705. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he cannot rule out further regional curbs as the country faces an accelerated spread of the pandemic.

The curfew in Lombardy, Italy’s most populous region which includes Milan, will be enforced from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., according to a copy of a decree seen by Bloomberg. Residents of the region will need a written explanation for being out after curfew, and will only be excused on grounds of work, emergency or health, according to the order, which runs until at least Nov. 13.

The Campania region around Naples is also preparing to institute a curfew. The northern city of Turin will close shopping malls on weekends.

South Africa Sees Increase in Infections (9:43 a.m. NY)

South Africa is recording a worrying increase in coronavirus infections, especially in the Western Cape province, which saw a 42% spike in new cases in the last week, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

Nationwide, new cases increased 9.1% in the last seven days, prompting the health department to urge South Africa’s nine provinces to “quickly mount a response, including contact tracing and quarantine,” said Mkhize, who is in quarantine at home after contracting the virus.

Switzerland Prepares Tougher Measures (9 a.m. NY)

Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset urged citizens to observe social distancing rules, saying that the government was preparing a new round of restrictions that would target events and crowds of people.

“The next two or three weeks are crucial for us,” he said at a press conference in Bern. All measures are possible, but “the goal is to prevent a closing down of society.”

The canton of Wallis, home to the ski resort of Zermatt, is closing cinemas, theaters, fitness centers and public swimming pools after cases soared. Public and private gatherings are limited to 10 people and restaurants will have to close no later than 10 p.m., the federal state said on Wednesday.

— With assistance by Mark Schoifet

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