California Deaths Climb and Florida Tops 200 Again: Virus Update

Virus deaths in California rose at an above-average pace and Florida reported more than 200 fatal cases for the fourth day this week. In Texas, patients hospitalized with Covid-19 fell to a seven-week low after infections peaked in mid-July.

Daily U.S. cases increased by more than 60,000 for the first time this month, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Major League Baseball postponed weekend games between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

South Africa lifted a ban on alcohol sales after its virus crisis eased. Italy and Ireland recorded the most new cases since May as a spike in infections shadows Europe’s summer season. The U.K. reported more than 1,000 new cases for the fifth day in a row.

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Texas Deaths Approach 10,000, Hospitalizations Decline (4:15 p.m. NY)

Texas reported 8,245 new coronavirus cases, the most since Tuesday, bringing the total to 528,838, according to Department of State Health Services data on Saturday. The death toll reached 9,840 as 238 more people succumbed to Covid-19.

The number of patients hospitalized with the virus fell to 6,481, the lowest since the last week of June. Reported new infections have declined from a peak of 10,791 on July 15. Governor Greg Abbott ordered Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in most counties on July 2.

California Deaths Exceed Two-Week Average (2:45 p.m. NY)

California reported 151 more deaths, exceeding the rolling 14-day average of 137, according to state health data. Cases increased by 12,614 to 613,689. While the rise compares with a two-week average increase of 8,111, the Department of Public Health cautioned that the numbers “do not represent true day-over-day change” because they include cases from other days.

The two-week average rate of positive tests for the virus rose for a third day to 6.3%. The state says its goal is to keep the rate to less than 8%, a level last exceeded in early May.

South Africa Lifts Alcohol Ban, Cuts Alert Level (2:20 p.m. NY)

President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa is reducing the nationwide pandemic alert by one notch to Level 2 because the pace of new cases slowed. A ban on on alcohol sales is lifted, subject to restrictions on store hours, he said.

“The move to Level 2 means that we can remove nearly all of the restrictions on the resumption of economic activity,” Ramaphosa said in a televised speech. Restrictions on inter-provincial travel are lifted, while a ban on international travel remains in place, he said.

Ireland Reports Most New Cases Since May (1:45 p.m. NY)

Ireland’s new cases increased by 200, the most since early May. Ronan Glynn, the country’s chief medical officer, said Ireland is seeing “multiple clusters” and described the trajectory of the spread as “deeply concerning.”

Michael Cawley, chairman of the Irish tourist promotion board and a former deputy CEO of Ryanair, resigned after it emerged he’s vacationing in Italy despite government advice to the avoid non-essential travel.

U.K. Airline Cuts More Than 100 Pilots (12:16 p.m. NY)

Leisure airline Jet2 plans to cut 102 pilots as the coronavirus pandemic pummels the aviation sector and travel industry.

Jet2 is making the pilots redundant at most of its bases in the U.K. after the British Airline Pilots’ Association’s attempts to save the jobs were rejected, the union said in a statement. The airline is owned by Dart Group Plc, the country’s third-largest carrier by passenger numbers.

Reds-Pirates Games Postponed (12:10 p.m. NY)

Two games this weekend between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates were postponed after an unidentified Reds player tested positive for Covid-19, a statement from Major League Baseball said in a statement. The postponement will allow for more testing and contact tracing.

Two outbreaks have already disrupted the league’s season.

South Africa Said to Ease Alcohol, Tobacco Bans (11:47 a.m. NY)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa plans to relax restrictions on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes in an address to the nation later Saturday, according to people familiar with the matter.

Arizona Cases Steady, Deaths Rise (11:35 a.m. NY)

Arizona reported 933 new cases, a 0.5% rise in line with daily increases over the previous seven days. Total cases are 192,654. Another 69 deaths were reported, up from 40 the day before, for a total of 4,492.

Italy Cases Highest Since May (11:30 a.m. NY)

Italy registered 629 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the highest since May 23. The number of new cases has been rising daily since Monday, according to data published by the civil protection agency. Total cases reported since late February rose to 253,438.

U.K. Cases Over 1,000 (11:28 a.m. NY)

New cases in the U.K. were above 1,000 for a fifth consecutive day, government data Saturday showed. Another 1,012 infections brought the total to 317,379 and deaths climbed by three to 41,361.

The country moved ahead with easing its lockdown on Saturday, allowing wedding receptions with up to 30 guests at sit-down meals. The resumption of indoor performances, bowling alleys and casinos meant that about 300 spectators were admitted to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield for the finals of the World Snooker Championship.

Florida Deaths Again Pass 200 (11:03 a.m. NY)

Florida posted 204 new Covid-19 deaths among residents, pushing the cumulative total to 9,345, according to a state Department of Health report Saturday. It was the fourth time the death toll rose above 200 in the last week.

Florida had a cumulative 569,637 Covid-19 cases, up 1.1% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.2% in the previous seven days, according to the report, which includes data through Friday.

U.S. Clears Saliva-Based Test (10:20 a.m. NY)

A Covid-19 test that processes saliva samples and doesn’t require special swabs or probes gained emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The rapid-detection test by Yale University’s School of Public Health “is groundbreaking in terms of efficiency and avoiding shortages of crucial test components like reagents,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

Yale plans to provide the test protocol to interested labs under an “open-source” arrangement, according to the FDA.

New York Cases Steady (10:22 a.m. NY)

New York reported 734 virus cases, a 0.2% rise in line with the average daily increase of the previous seven days. Another five deaths were reported, one more than the previous day, and the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients dropped slightly to 523. The positive-test rate was below 1% for the eighth consecutive day.

U.S. Cases Rise 1.2% (8 a.m. NY)

Virus cases in the U.S. jumped by 63,742 on Friday, the first day over 60,000 this month, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. It was a 1.2% increase compared with average daily growth of 1% for the previous seven days.

Deaths also rose, to 1,323, from 1,080 on Thursday. It was the fifth day in a week with fatalities over 1,000. California had the highest number of confirmed infections, at 613,101, while cases in Hawaii jumped 5.4%.

Hong Kong Issues New Travel Guidelines for Beijing (8 a.m. NY)

Passengers flying from Hong Kong to Beijing will be asked to show negative Covid-19 test results from Aug. 17.

The virus test should be done within seven days prior to boarding and from one of the testing centers recognized by the Hong Kong SAR Government, according to Hong Kong International Airport.

Hong Kong reported 46 new coronavirus cases Saturday, including seven that had a travel history and 12 of an unknown origin, according to Department of Health official Chuang Shuk-kwan. The city’s worst outbreak has been showing signs of abating as local infections have remained below the 100 level daily since earlier this month.

Denmark Plans More Stimulus (7:25 a.m. NY)

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the country is working on additional measures to stimulate the economy and help companies export. As of Aug. 22, the government will make the use of face masks on public transport mandatory at all hours of the day. In the first two weeks of August, it registered about 1,700 new cases of Covid-19, compared with about 1,000 in all of July, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

TUI Cancels Tours to Spain to Aug. 24 (5:10 p.m. HK)

TUI AG canceled all its tours to Spain and the Balearic Islands until Aug. 24 on the German government’s advice to avoid non-essential travel there, a spokesman said. The Canary Islands are excluded from the policy.

Spain’s Basque region will declare a health emergency on Monday, giving the local government exceptional powers to control the spread of the coronavirus, El Confidencial reported. The Basque Country, as it’s known, is an entry point from France, an industrial center and tourist destination. It would be the first of Spain’s 17 regions to grant its local leader exceptional powers to order mini-lockdowns since the national government ended the state of emergency in June.

Russia Starts Producing Vaccine, Tass Says (4:03 p.m. HK)

Russia has started production of its Covid-19 vaccine, the Health Ministry said Saturday, according to the state-run Tass news agency. President Vladimir Putin last week announced that Russia had become the first to approve an inoculation against the novel coronavirus, but critics said key tests needed to confirm its safety and effectiveness haven’t yet been completed. The government plans to begin administering the vaccine to medical personnel and other priority groups within weeks.

Shenzhen Finds New Local Cases, Shuts Stores (3:40 p.m. HK)

A product promoter in a supermarket in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and five other people tested positive for Covid-19, prompting some stores to close as officials act to damp a resurgence of the virus. A 41-year-old woman who sells yogurt at a supermarket run by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in the tech boomtown was diagnosed with the illness after visiting a doctor on Wednesday, Shenzhen Municipal Health Commission said late Friday night.

The emergence of local infections in the city comes just days after traces of the highly infectious pathogen was detected on frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil. It also follows an outbreak in the western region of Xinjiang that now appears to have waned.

New German Cases Hit Highest Since April (3:30 p.m. HK)

Germany reported 1,510 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the highest single-day increase since April 30, according to data from Johns Hopkins. Total cases rose to 223,791. Thirteen new deaths were reported, a number roughly in line with figures seen through August and July.

The four-day reproduction factor, or R value, calculated by Germany’s health body, was 1.08 for the day before. The seven-day R value, which is seen as being less influenced by fluctuations, was 1.14 on Friday.

-Bloomberg

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