Covid-19 continues to creep back into the early, deadly centers of the U.S. outbreak: New York reported nearly 2,500 daily cases, the most since May, while New Jersey’s positive test rate and hospitalizations reached a five-month high.
The virus’s surge in the Midwest rose toa record, led by new highs in Illinois, Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota as the region’s outbreak spread toward both coasts. The seven-day average of new cases per million residents hit 373, well above anything recorded by the Northeast and South during their respective surges in April and July.
Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease doctor, predicted it could take until the end of 2021 at least for social life in the U.S. to return to normal even with an effective vaccine.
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Minnesota Cases Reach Record (5:47 p.m. NY)
Minnesota, where both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are scheduled to campaign on Friday, reported the most daily cases since the pandemic began, broadcaster KSTP quoted state health officials as saying at a briefing.
Another 2,872 confirmed and probable cases were tallied on Thursday based on 26,592 Covid-19 tests reported the previous day, according to the state health department. That would represent an almost 11% positivity rate.
The number of hospitalized patients reached 685, with 168 in intensive care, which state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm called a “high-water mark,” KSTP reported.
Texas Hot Spot Cases Are Multiplying (5:33 p.m. NY)
The outbreaks in Texas’s worst hot spots — El Paso and Amarillo — are accelerating despite state and federal efforts to assist local medical teams.
El Paso’s virus hospitalizations topped 900 after surging 64% in the last week alone, according to city and county figures. The area recorded 1,128 new cases in a 24-hour period, a five-fold increase in the daily tally from the end of last month.
Caseloads are exploding so fast in El Paso that contact-tracing teams are struggling to keep up. Just 24% of identified contacts of diagnosed patients have been notified with 48 hours of a positive test, the figures showed.
In the Amarillo area, 27% of hospital beds are occupied by virus patients, up from 19% at the end of last week, state health department data showed. The region has just 14 intensive-care beds available to cover a population of more than 440,000.
Merkel Raises Specter of EU Border Closings (4:50 p.m. NY)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the European Union must keep its internal borders open amid the virus surge, citing the economic cost — notably to Germany — if countries began closing them.
Merkel told fellow EU leaders on a video call that a coordinated EU response is “of great importance,” her spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. “Especially for Germany as a country in the center of Europe it is important that the borders stay open.”
Utah Issues Alert on Medical System (5 p.m. NY)
Utah Governor Gary Herbert warned that the state’s hospital system is at risk of being overwhelmed as the virus continues its surge there. “We’re very concerned about the direction we’re going now,” he told reporters. “The hospitals just frankly can’t keep up.”
Hospitalizations for Covid-19 reached a record of 317 admitted patients, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The state department of health reported 1,837 new cases Thursday, the second highest of the outbreak.
South Dakota Breaks Fatality Record (3:55 p.m. NY)
South Dakota, one of the states hardest hit as Covid-19 moved to the Midwest, reported 19 deaths, its most since the beginning of the pandemic. New York, with a population of 19.5 million, also reported 19 deaths on Thursday. South Dakota’s population is just under 900,000. The state added another 1,000 cases, for a total 43,000.
North Dakota set a record number of cases, 1,223, since the start of the outbreak, as the capital of Bismarck was beginning its first mask mandate, having followed the cities of Fargo and Minot. The state does not mandate masks or enforce other social distancing rules.
New York Nears 2,500 Daily Cases (3:20 p.m. NY)
The number of daily positive coronavirus cases in New York continues to rise, nearing the 2,500-mark on Thursday, despite Governor Andrew Cuomo’s crackdown and optimism.
Of the more than 168,000 tests conducted statewide on Wednesday, 1.48%, or 2,499 were positive, the highest it’s been since mid-May. The statewide testing positivity rate was 1.25% without hot spot areas.
The number of positive tests in the hotspot areas was 3.24%, including parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and Rockland and Orange Counties. The state also is monitoring increases near the state’s border with Pennsylvania.
Daily death totals are also on the rise, with 19 deaths on Wednesday, the highest since June. There were 1,085 hospitalizations.
Cuomo the past few weeks has touched on the rise in Covid-19 cases, but said the issue is in “microclusters,” where the state is focusing its efforts.
“It’s important to put our state in context—we’re pushing ahead in the midst of increasing cases in the United States and around the globe,” Cuomo said in Thursday news release, calling on New Yorkers to stay vigilant.
France to Offer Lockdown Aid as Cases Rise (2:55 p.m. NY)
France will offer aid to companies totaling an estimated 15 billion euros ($17.5 billion) per month of lockdown, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said as new stay-at-home measures start Friday.
The country reported 47,637 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, pushing the seven-day average above 40,000 for the first time. Deaths linked to the coronavirus increased by 235 to 36,020, while the number of intensive-care patients rose to the highest since early May.
New Jersey Positivity, Hospitalizations at 5-Month Highs (1:54 p.m.)
New Jersey’s Covid-19 testing positivity rate and hospitalizations hit their highest since May as Governor Phil Murphy pleaded with residents to help “beat back the second wave.”
About 33,000 tests are performed each day in the state. On Sunday, the positivity rate hit 6.54%, highest since May 19, according to the latest state data.
“That has become very concerning,” Murphy said. On Wednesday, 1,072 patients were hospitalized, the most since May 30.
Illinois Cases Rise to Record (1:50 p.m. NY)
Illinois cases extended their climb to a record 6,363 on Thursday, pushing the 7-day test positivity rate to 6.9%, according to the state department of public health.
Statewide daily Covid-19 deaths climbed to 56 from 51. Patients hospitalized for the virus reached 3,030 and those in intensive care units climbed to 643, both the highest levels since June, according to the state. Nine of Illinois’s 11 regions in the next several days will operate under some sort of restrictions such as bans on indoor dining to curb the spread of the virus.
Death Rate Higher in Wealthy Countries, Study Shows (1:25 p.m. NY)
The death rate for Covid-19 is higher in high-income countries, which tend to have older populations, an Imperial College London research team found in a study.
Wealthy countries had an estimated infection fatality rate of 1.15%, compared with 0.23% for low-income countries, the team found. The study analyzed 10 surveys of antibody levels within populations, an indicator of the prevalence of the virus. The risk of death from Covid doubles for about every eight years of age, the team said — from 0.1% and below for people younger than age 40 to 5.6% among people older than age 80.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an influential modeling group, is projecting a higher U.S. death toll amid a surge in cases and hospitalizations. The group now projects about 405,000 Covid-19 deaths by Feb. 1, representing a nearly 20,000 increase from a previous projection of about 386,000 deaths.
Return to Normal Will Take At Least A Year, Fauci Says (1:16 p.m. NY)
Even with an effective vaccine, it could take until the end of 2021 at least for social life in the U.S. to return to normal, Fauci said on a Facebook live event.
The earliest a vaccine might be available is the end of December or early January, he said. “I can foresee that even with a really good vaccine mask wearing will continue well into the third or fourth quarter of 2021,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Midwest Surge at Record (1:11 p.m. NY)
The Covid-19 surge in the Midwest rose toa record, led by new highs in Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota as the region’s outbreak spread toward both coasts. Iowa joins Wisconsin among Midwest states with bad outbreaks that could be pivotal on Election Day.
Surging U.K. Cases Above Average (12:46 p.m. NY)
The U.K. reported an above-average number of new deaths and cases, indicating the country’s second surge of the virus continues to rise.
The U.K. has so far attempted to control the virus through localized restrictions, but as cases continue to rise some scientists and politicians are calling for national measures, including a two-to-three-week “circuit breaker” lockdown. On Thursday, U.K. moved some areas, including Oxford City, from “medium,” the lowest level of restriction, to “high,” which curbs socializing.
Some 280 new deaths within 28 days of a virus test were reported, along with another 23,065 cases. The 7-day rolling averages are 216.7 and 21,864 respectively, according to Bloomberg calculations.
The U.K.’s policy response to coronavirusisn’t succeeding in controlling the disease’s spread, scientists warned, adding pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce another national lockdown.
Infections are doubling every nine days and an estimated 960,000 people are carrying the virus in England on any given day, according to findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori. The virus’s reproduction rate has risen to 1.6, compared to 1.2 when figures were last published Oct. 9.
NYC Mayor Worried About Rising Positive Tests (12:39 a.m. NY)
New York City’s seven-day average of positive test results has taken “a meaningful jump” to 1.92%, its highest point since mid-June, a development Mayor Bill de Blasio described as worrisome. The data, recorded as of Oct. 27, also showed a daily positive test rate for that one day of 2.70% — twice as high as the previous day.
“What worries me but we cannot allow that number to keep growing,” de Blasio said, advising New Yorkers to avoid travel and holiday gatherings. “We’re really going to have to double down.”
Italy Hits Record Again (12:24 p.m. NY)
Italy’s coronavirus cases reached a another daily record on Thursday with new 26,831 cases. More than 200,000 tests were carried out, and 217 deaths related to Covid-19 were reported, bringing the total to 38,122.
Patients in intensive care units rose to 1,651. Hospitalizations reached 17,615, compared with the April peak of 29,000.
Italy may introduce new restrictions on movement, and create a number of specific red zones in the country as virus cases surge.
New Projection Shows Higher U.S. Death Toll (11:59 a.m. NY)
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an influential modeling group, is projecting a higher U.S. death toll amid a surge in virus cases and hospitalizations. The group now projects about 405,000 Covid-19 deaths by Feb. 1, representing a nearly 20,000 increase from a previous projection of about 386,000 deaths.
“Europe is seeing a surge right now and Europe is ahead about a month from the United States. So basically we are watching what would unfold here in the United States,” Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences with IHME, said Thursday morning in a briefing held by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The full data are set to be released later Thursday, he said.
Belgium, Portugal Reports Record Cases (10:34 a.m. NY)
With 5,924 Covid-19 patients currently in hospital, Belgium has surpassed its previous peak from April 6. A record 743 people were admitted to hospital Wednesday, following a revised 690 on Tuesday.
Portugal reported the biggest daily increase in virus cases since the start of the outbreak. There were 4,224 new cases in a day, taking the total to 132,616. The number of patients in intensive-care units rose by seven to 269, approaching the peak of 271 reached in April.
Sweden Steps Up Covid Response (9:59 a.m. NY)
Swedes living in Stockholmhave been told to avoid shops, gyms, museums and any other indoor venues that don’t provide essential services, as a record spike in cases threatens to overwhelm the country’s health-care system.
In the past 24 hours, Sweden registered roughly 3,000 new cases, the highest number since the pandemic erupted. Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist and the architect behind the country’s Covid strategy that has so far avoided a lockdown, said part of the increase is due to more testing.
The country joined Greece and Austria in tightening curbs.
Lagarde Says Economy Is Losing Momentum Faster Than Expected (9:40 a.m. NY)
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the economy is losing momentum faster than expected. While activity in many sectors has continued, the recovery in services has been slowing visibly, she said at a press conference in Frankfurt Thursday.
The ECB gave astrong indication that it will likely boost its emergency bond-buying program to stabilize the euro-area economy. For now, policy makers kept the pandemic bond-buying program and rates unchanged. But the policy statement also said that new economic forecasts in December will set the stage for more support.
The recovery in euro-area economic confidencecame to a halt in October, before a resurgence of fresh cases forced tough new restrictions that are now threatening to pitch the region back into recession. A European Commission sentiment index held at 90.9 following five months of improvement. It reflects a weaker assessment in services and among consumers, and continued optimism in industry, retail and construction.
— With assistance by Ian Fisher, Joao Lima, Katerina Petroff, Emma Court, Flavia Rotondi, Charles Capel, Henry Goldman, Jonathan Levin, Robert Langreth, Naomi Kresge, Shruti Singh, Rudy Ruitenberg, Keshia Clukey, Viktoria Dendrinou, Nikos Chrysoloras, and Joe Carroll
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