U.S. Tops 7 Million; Nursing Home Managers Charged: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — U.S. coronavirus cases rose to more than 7 million and the pace of…

U.S. Tops 7 Million; Nursing Home Managers Charged: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — U.S. coronavirus cases rose to more than 7 million and the pace of daily infections increased slightly, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Virginia’s governor tested positive for Covid-19, days after Missouri’s governor.

Florida Governor Ron Desantis lifted capacity restrictions on restaurants. In the first U.S. case of its kind, Massachusetts is charging the former managers of a veteran’s home where 76 people died of the virus.

London was added to a watch list of potential pandemic hot spots. Spain’s government asked for restrictions on movement to extend across the entire city of Madrid, drawing a rebuff from regional officials.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 32.3 million; deaths exceed 984,000Why Covid may be life-threatening for some patientsAn American CEO living in Sweden has a Covid lesson to shareWho’s succeeding against the coronavirus and why?: QuickTakeNew Jersey’s hot spots flare and tracers are being turned away

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Virus Hotspots

U.S. Infections Quicken Slightly (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased by 0.7% compared to the same time on Thursday, more than the 0.6% increase over the past week, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

North Carolina’s cases rose by 3.1%, the most of any state in the latest 24-hour period. Nationwide Covid-19 deaths increased to more than 203,000.

New Jersey Tracing Struggles (3:30 p.m. NY)

Five of New Jersey’s 21 counties are reporting swiftly rising novel coronavirus cases while Covid-19 carriers increasingly refuse to cooperate with tracers trying to stem the spread, Governor Phil Murphy said Friday.

Contact tracers reported that 58% of individuals reached statewide in the past week declined to help. A week earlier, 56% were uncooperative, according to state officials. In August, just under 50% wouldn’t disclose information.

Illinois Says Spread Shrinking (3:27 p.m. NY)

The number of counties in Illinois at warning levels declined to 17 from 24 a week earlier, state officials said Friday. The positivity rate has been steady at or near 3.6% for several days as the number of tests increased. The state reported almost 70,000 tests in 24 hours; 2,514 new cases and 25 more deaths on Friday.

U.S. Cases Top 7 Million (3 p.m. NY)

The number of Covid-19 cases stands at 7,005,746 in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Yom Kippur May Spark Rise (12:47 p.m. NY)

New York City officials alarmed at a spike in coronavirus cases in Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish communities are bracing for the Yom Kippur holiday beginning Sunday evening.

State regulations call for indoor religious services to limit gatherings to 33% capacity, with non-family related participants spaced 12 feet apart when singing or chanting. Many synagogues in the outbreak areas have relatively small prayer sanctuaries and compliance will be difficult.

“If you’re sitting cheek by jowl with people chanting and singing indoors in poorly ventilated spaces, the risk is as high as it gets,” said David Pollock, director of public policy for the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

Florida Eases Restaurant Restrictions (12:45 p.m. NY)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is lifting capacity restrictions on restaurants even as the state continues to report hundreds of Covid-19 deaths a week.

Speaking Friday in St. Petersburg, he also said he would make it harder for local governments to institute their own restrictions, which in the past have gone above and beyond the state’s rules.

Florida’s Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all dropped sharply from the surge that started in the Sun Belt in late June and continued through August. But the state continues to report about 700 Covid-19 deaths a week, and there’s still much uncertainty about the consequences of schools reopening and other more relaxed measures.

N.Y.C. Outdoor Dining Extended (12:30 p.m. NY)

New York City’s “Open Restaurants” program, which allows outdoor dining for restaurants, will be extended to year round, the mayor’s office announced.

The program, which had been set to expire Oct. 31, will allow restaurants to expand seating to adjacent properties with consent. It also lets restaurants use propane and natural gas heaters on sidewalks with a permit. Electrical heaters will be allowed in dining areas on both sidewalks and roads.

“We already have well over 10,000 restaurants participating, well over 100,000 jobs have been saved,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We hope it’s going to make it a lot easier for restaurants to survive.”

Nursing Home Managers Face Criminal Charges (12:25 a.m. NY)

The Massachusetts Attorney General announced criminal charges against two former managers at a state-run veterans’ home, where 76 people died of Covid-19.

It’s the first time in the nation that criminal charges are being brought as a result of Covid-19 outbreak at a nursing home, Attorney General Maura Healey said Friday.

Faced with overcrowding at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, the two managers knowingly moved a room of veterans in the home’s dementia unit who were ill with Covid-19 into a room with veterans from the unit who weren’t sick, Healey said. The beds for the 42 men were moved into a room intended to hold 25 people, Healey said.

“Residents were mingling together regardless of their Covid status,” Healey said. “Those reckless actions warrant criminal charges.”

U.K. Infections Stuck at High (12:10 a.m. NY)

Cases in the U.K. remained at the highest since the pandemic started, rising by 6,874 on Friday from 6,634 the previous day. Earlier, the country said the transmission rate ranges from 1.2 to 1.5 with the so-called R number above 1 in all regions of England, meaning each case is infecting at least one other person.

Spain Cases Rise Again (11:50 a.m. NY)

Infections in Spain rose to 4,122 in the past 24 hours, from 3,471 in the previous day. The occupancy rate of intensive care beds in Madrid rose to 40.1% from 38.9% the previous day, with 455 Covid-19 patients in intensive care in the capital and its surrounding region.

Denmark Hits Record, Extends Restrictions (11:45 a.m. NY)

Denmark’s government is looking into adding a new layer of restrictions to fight the pandemic after the number of daily Covid-19 cases hit a record on Friday.

Existing restrictions will be extended until Oct. 18, and further curbs are being considered, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said at a press conference in Copenhagen. The number of new cases soared to 678 on Friday, according to local health authorities. That’s well above numbers seen in March and April, when Denmark imposed a national lockdown and shut its borders.

Athens Orders Shops Closed (11:30 a.m. NY)

All retail shops in Athens and surrounding areas will be closed from midnight to 5 a.m. The measure will be effective from Saturday until Oct. 5 and it adds to a number of restrictive measures taken in the last 15 days.

Greece recorded 286 new Covid-19 cases Friday, of which 163 where located in the region of Attica, that includes Athens and its suburbs.

Italy Reports Most Cases Since May (11:22 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 1,912 new cases on Friday, up from 1,786 on Thursday. That marks the biggest daily increase since May 1, before the lockdown was lifted, although it’s below the peak of 6,557 new infections in a day on March 21.

The country reported 20 deaths. Patients in intensive care units fell to 244, from 246 a day earlier.

Plea at Irish Border Crossing (11:15 a.m. NY)

The pandemic is achieving what Brexit hasn’t — a hindering of travel over the Irish border.

During tortuous negotiations over the terms of the U.K.’s exit from European Union, Ireland successfully fought to keep the border which divides the north and south of the island free of checkpoints. But on Friday, authorities from both sides of the island came together to plead with locals to “avoid all but necessary travel across the border.”

“We realize that for those living in border areas this will not be welcome news but we must prevent further spread of this virus, ” said Irish Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn and his Northern Irish counterpart Michael McBride.

Second U.S. Governor Tests Positive (10:07 a.m. NY)

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and his wife Pamela Northam have tested positive for Covid-19, his office announced. Northam, a doctor and a Democrat, was experiencing no symptoms but his wife had “mild” symptoms. Virginia’s rolling seven-day average of new cases has declined over the past week after a summer surge amid a gradual easing of Northam’s lockdown orders.

Earlier this week, Missouri Governor Mike Parson and his wife were also diagnosed with the infection. The Republican governor has opposed a state mask mandate and has appeared in public without one, though he has urged people to wear them and maintain social distance. The state, like several in the Midwest, has been hit by a recent surge in cases.

Alert for London as Hot Spot (8:55 a.m. NY)

The U.K. added London to its watch list of potential pandemic hot spots as coronavirus cases surge across the country.

The move will fuel fears that the capital, which recorded 620 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, could face the kind of local lockdown measures imposed on other cities, which can include a ban on households mixing and the closure of non-essential stores.

Though no new restrictions will be put on London immediately, designation as an area of “concern” means extra testing will be made available, according to London Councils, which represents the capital’s local authorities. A formal announcement is expected Friday.

Amsterdam Region Looking at Additional Measures, Report Says (8:15 a.m. NY)

Officials in the safety region that includes Amsterdam, the largest Dutch city, are preparing additional measures to battle the recent jump in new patients in the area, newspaper Het Parool reported on Friday, citing unidentified sources.

Possible new regional measures currently under discussion include closing halls used for weddings and parties and lowering the number of people allowed at events, the daily said. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government is expected to announce the new curbs on Tuesday, according to the report.

Israel Outbound Travel to Be Restricted During Lockdown (7:47 a.m. NY)

Outbound international flights from Tel Aviv will be restricted to passengers who purchased their tickets prior to the beginning of Friday’s tightened lockdown, according to a Transport Ministry announcement.

Inbound flights will be permitted to continue, with those Israelis returning from “red countries” — that is, countries with high coronavirus infection rates — required to quarantine for 14 days.

Scotland Discloses Record Infections Amid Clampdown on Pubs (7:40 a.m. NY)

A record 558 new cases were reported in Scotland during the last 24 hours amid outbreaks at a number of the country’s universities, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. That takes the total since the start of the pandemic to more than 26,500.

Students have been told not to visit pubs or restaurants this coming weekend in an effort to halt escalating transmission rates. Separate outbreaks have been reported at Scottish universities across the country, including in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen.

U.K. Labour May Back Tory Rebels Over Johnson’s Covid Powers (7:06 a.m. NY)

Britain’s main opposition party is likely to back a bid by Conservative rebels to curb Boris Johnson’s emergency coronavirus powers, increasing pressure on the premier to back down or risk a damaging parliamentary defeat.

The government’s pandemic legislation is up for review on Sept. 30, and at least 40 Tories have put their name to an amendment that would give Parliament more of a say over any new government measures to tackle the virus. In theory, that could be enough to overturn Johnson’s 78-seat majority — if the opposition parties vote for it.

Iran Has Deadliest Day in Seven Weeks (6:39 a.m. NY)

Iran recorded its deadliest day for coronavirus in seven weeks, with the health ministry citing 207 fatalities and 3,563 new cases in the past 24 hours.

China Annual Vaccine Capacity Seen at 1 Billion Doses by End-2021 (4:36 HK)

China’s annual vaccine capacity is expected to reach 610 million doses by year-end and 1 billion doses by the end 2021, Zheng Zhongwei, an official at the National Health Commission, says at a briefing in Beijing. Prices will be affordable for the public, Zheng said, without giving specifics.

No serious cases of adverse reaction were reported yet in emergency use program of China’s inoculations.

Moscow Cases Soar; Mayor Asks Seniors to Stay Home (2:57 p.m. HK)

New cases in the Russian capital jumped by half on Friday from the previous day as Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told people over the age of 65 and with chronic health problems to stay home. He said there had been a “serious increase” in hospitalizations and requested businesses let more employees work from home, in a post on his official website.

The contagion rate in Moscow has risen to the highest since early May, when the city was subject to a strict lockdown, according to calculations by the state-controlled Tass news service. Moscow is the epicenter of the epidemic in Russia, which has 1,136,048 confirmed cases, the fourth-most worldwide.

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