Covid-19 Outbreak: Live Updates and News for Sep. 15, 2020

Researchers monitoring Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine trial have reported no safety problems even after more than 12,000 people received their second of two doses. JPMorgan Chase & Co. sent some of its Manhattan workers home after an employee in equities trading tested positive.

Joe Biden’s advisers are developing plans to distribute a coronavirus vaccine if he were to be elected president as his campaign monitors the Trump administration’s effort to deliver a drug for signs of political interference.

The U.K. government warned that coronavirus tests could soon be further restricted as laboratories struggle to cope with rising demand. A London court ruling in a landmark insurance case could lead to tens of millions of payouts related to Covid-19.

Key Developments:

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Youth Hit

Biggest decline in employment has been among the youngest workers

Source: Office for National Statistics

Canada Pushes ‘Prudent’ Fiscal Policy in Pandemic (5:37 p.m. NY)

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland vowed to preserve Canada’s reputation for sound fiscal management as her government considers the next steps to drive the recovery.

In her most extensive comments on policy since she became finance minister last month, Freeland laid out two economic priorities: fighting Covid-19 and spurring economic growth and job creation, citing the 1.8 million Canadian workers who have lost jobs or are working less since the pandemic struck in March.

U.S. Cases Rise 0.7% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 0.7% as compared with the same time Monday to 6.59 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase was in line with the average daily gain of 0.6% over the past week. Deaths rose by 0.5% to 195,275.

  • Florida reported 668,846 cases, up 0.5% from a day earlier, compared with an average 0.4% increase in the previous seven days. Deaths reached 12,787, an increase of 1.1%, or 145.
  • California reported 2,235 new virus cases, a 0.3% increase and less than the 14-day average of 3,730. The state reported 66 additional deaths from Covid-19, bringing the total to 14,451.
  • Alabama experienced a 10% increase in the number of cases from the same time yesterday, bringing the total to 153,551, according to the data from Johns Hopkins and Bloomberg News.

California Positivity Rate at New Low (3 p.m. NY)

California continued to show improvement in its outbreak, with the 14-day average rate of positive tests falling to 3.6%, the lowest in state health data going back to April. The state reported 2,235 new virus cases, a 0.3% increase and less than the 14-day average of 3,730. A month ago, cases were averaging more than 7,000 per day.

The state reported 66 additional deaths from Covid-19, bringing the total to 14,451.

Pfizer Trial Free of Major Safety Issues So Far (2:35 p.m. NY)

Researchers monitoring Pfizer Inc.’s giant trial of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine have reported no safety problems even after more than 12,000 people received their second of two doses. The trial, now targeted at enrolling 44,000 people, has reached its initial goal of 30,000 subjects, Pfizer executives said. The trial is comparing two shots of the vaccine Pfizer is co-developing with Germany’s BioNTech SE to two doses of a placebo.

Houston Positive-Test Rate Hits 5-Month Low (12:53 pm ET)

Houston-area hospitals reported their lowest positivity rate since at least April, according to the Texas Medical Center. The rate averaged 4.6% during the week ended Sept. 13, lower than any period in data going back to April 20 on the center’s website.

The positive-test ratio has been steadily falling in the fourth-largest U.S. city since July 5, when it peaked at 22.3%, medical center data showed.

Meanwhile, hospitals in the nine-county Houston metro area sheltered 218 Covid-9 patients at the start of the week, the smallest number since mid-May, according to the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council. Virus cases accounted for about 13% of intensive-care occupancies.

Florida Positivity Rate Under 5% for Fourth Day (12:30 p.m. NY)

Florida reported 668,846 Covid-19 cases Tuesday, up 0.5% from a day earlier, compared with an average 0.4% increase in the previous seven days. That’s a daily change of 3,116 new cases, according to the health department report, which includes data through Monday.

The new daily rate of people testing positive for the first time rose to 4.2% for Monday, from 3.9% on Sunday. It was under 5% for the fourth straight day.

Deaths reached 12,787, an increase of 1.1%, or 145. Deaths often trail infections by weeks, and generally take even longer to be reflected in the data.

Irish Government Self-Isolates as Minister Tested (12:30 p.m. NY)

The Irish government cabinet is self-isolating after Health Minister Stephen Donnelly had to be tested for the coronavirus, Virgin Media reported.

Parliament has also been suspended, the broadcaster said. The government’s information service couldn’t immediately comment.

AstraZeneca Resumes Vaccine Tests in South Africa (12:20 p.m. NY)

AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford have restarted testing an experimental Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa, according to a researcher overseeing the trial, but tests remain on hold in the U.S. after studies were halted due to concerns about a participant who became ill.

The trial in South Africa resumed Tuesday, according to Shabir Madhi, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand who is leading the study. The move follows a recommendation in the U.K. to resume tests.

Dutch Cases Gain as Budget Shows Hit (10:25 a.m. NY)

A total of 8,265 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the Netherlands in the past week, up from the 5,427 cases reported in the seven days before that, the RIVM Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said on Tuesday. In the same period, 27 confirmed Covid-19 patients died. The latest update on cases came after Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra earlier on Tuesday presented the government budget for 2021, with the outbreak heavily affecting state finances as a result of lower tax income and billions in euros in state aid.

U.K. Closes Testing Site to Clear Space for Brexit Checks (9:29 a.m. NY)

Boris Johnson’s government closed a coronavirus testing facility so the site can be made available to handle customs checks after the U.K. leaves the European Union’s single market and customs union.

“The regional testing site at Ebbsfleet has ceased operations,” the Cabinet Office said in a statement. “Final decisions on inland sites will not be made until we have established the extent of new infrastructure that will be delivered at ports.”

The relocation of the facility, to a new site at Rochester, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) to the east, comes at a critical time for the government, which has faced shortages in its virus testing as new cases surge.

Sweden Allows Care Home Visits (9:04 a.m. NY)

Starting next month, Swedes will be able to visit elderly care homes for the first time since April as the spread of Covid infections continues to slow down. State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell described the move as “completely reasonable since transmission has decreased radically recently, and it’s obvious that knowledge and routines have improved greatly.”

Copenhagen, Dublin Face Restrictions (7:37 a.m. NY)

Bars, restaurants and cafes in Denmark’s capital will have to shut at 10 p.m. and customers will need to wear face masks, according to new restrictions being introduced following a fresh spike in coronavirus cases. The tightening will take place from Thursday and will apply for two weeks.

In Dublin, bars that don’t serve food will remain closed, the government said on Tuesday as additional restrictions were laid out. So-called wet bars will be able to reopen elsewhere in the country later this month. In addition, Dubliners shouldn’t have visitors from more than one home come to their houses.

Malaysia also won’t hesitate to reinstate lockdown measures or impose stricter rules in areas that have high coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised speech Tuesday.

Abivax Rebuffs Suitors as Drug Starts Tests for Covid-19 (7:30 a.m. NY)

Abivax SA, the French biotech embarking on tests of its lead experimental medicine for Covid-19, has turned away several suitors in recent months, according to its chairman. The company is in the process of recruiting more than 1,000 patients to test whether a drug it’s developing for inflammatory bowel diseases can also stifle a powerful overreaction of the immune system known as a cytokine storm that comes with the most severe coronavirus cases.

Siemens Healthineers, CDC to Develop Antibody Standard (7:15 a.m. NY)

Siemens Healthineers AG has joined U.S. and European health officials to create an international standard for coronavirus antibody tests, a key step toward knowing who needs a future vaccine or booster shot.