Florida Cases Slow; Conway Urges Trump Briefings: Virus Update


(Bloomberg) -- Florida's virus cases rose by 3.6% compared with the weekly average rise of 4.5%. Hospitalizations in New York state, once the U.S. outbreak's epicenter, dropped to a four-month low as Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is set to enter its final reopening stage Monday, though with restrictions.

Senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said President Donald Trump should begin virus briefings again. A poll showed that more than half of the American public "strongly" disapproves of Trump's handling of the pandemic.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson relaxed work-from-home guidance, putting him at odds with his top scientific adviser. The European Union is negotiating advance deals for vaccines with companies. Imperial College London said its vaccine trial will progress to the next stage.Spanish officials slapped new restrictions on Barcelona as countries globally grapple with a surge in infections.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 13.8 million; deaths top 590,000U.S. virus relief set to vanish in series of fiscal cliffsNYC landlords are cutting rents for apartments closer to officesMask or No Mask? And Which Kind? What the Experts Say: QuickTakeChildhood Covid-19 infections mount with schools eyeing openingsVaccine hack shows dark side of world desperate for Covid relief

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Masks for Republican Lawmakers (10:45 a.m. NY)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will require fellow Republicans in Congress to wear face masks at a conference on Tuesday, according to a summary of his directive seen by Bloomberg. He previously suggested lawmakers should wear masks at the Capitol in Washington, but hadn't insisted.

NYC Set to Enter Final Reopening Stage: De Blasio (10:58 a.m. NY)

New York City is ready to enter the fourth and final phase of reopening Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Zoos, botanical gardens and outdoor movie production can resume, but indoor dining, museums and malls will remain closed. A formal announcement will come later from Governor Andrew Cuomo, the mayor said.

The two are in agreement on cautiously "opening the parts of our economy that we can do safely," de Blasio said.

Florida Covid-19 Cases, Deaths Slow (10:45 a.m. NY)

Florida reported 327,241 Covid-19 cases on Friday, up 3.6% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 4.5% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 4,805, an increase of 128, or 2.7%, according to the state Department of Health report, which includes data through Thursday.

N.Y. Hospitalizations Drop to Four-Month Low (9:13 a.m. NY)

New York hospitalizations dropped to a four-month low, as fewer than 1% of residents tested Thursday were positive for coronavirus. Governor Andrew Cuomo reported an additional 776 cases, bringing the total to 405,551, the most in the nation. Once the epicenter of the crisis, the state continues to recover from the outbreak as it reopens in regions and in phases.

The governor has said he will announce Friday whether New York City can move into the fourth and final phase of reopening on Monday. Cuomo has said he fears a second wave because of people traveling to New York from other hot spot states.

Statewide, there were 10 deaths on Thursday, bringing the total to 25,024. At its peak in April, New York state reported 799 daily deaths. Hospitalizations dropped to a low of 765, compared with an April peak of more than 18,000.

Trump Should Resume Public Virus Briefings: Conway (9:12 a.m. NY)

President Trump should be briefing the public on the status of the pandemic, senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters.

"I think he should be out there talking about it," Conway said in a Fox News interview early Friday. Trump's previous virus briefings had "wild ratings" because "people were tuning in."

His approval rating was better when he was at the podium, she said.

Imperial College's Vaccine to Go to Next Trial Phase (8:50 a.m. NY)

Imperial College's Covid-19 vaccine trial will progress to its next stage, the university said in a statement on its website. Some 105 participants between the ages of 18 and 75 will be randomized to receive their first shot of one of three doses of the vaccine at a west London facility, followed by a booster four weeks later.

"We have had a promising start but it remains too early to speculate whether our vaccine candidate will be effective in preventing infection," Dr Katrina Pollock, clinical lead on the Imperial COVAC1 study, said in the statement.

Goldman Predicts U.S. May Have a Vaccine by End of Year (8:17 a.m. NY)

The first vaccine for Covid-19 could be available in the U.S. later this year, Goldman Sachs analysts forecast. The potential for Moderna Inc. to file interim results with U.S. regulators from a 30,000-patient trial due to start by July 27 is underappreciated, analysts led by Salveen Richter said.

The chances of success in 2020 are enhanced further by four other vaccine programs slated to enter into the final research phase of testing sometime this summer, according to Goldman. Those experimental inoculations expected to start large-scale testing this summer are from Pfizer Inc. in partnership with BioNtech SE; AstraZeneca Plc with University of Oxford; Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

Barcelona Hit With New Curbs (7:51 a.m. NY)

Catalan officials imposed new curbs on movement and gatherings in Barcelona after the business and tourism hub suffered an upsurge in new cases. Bars and restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity and night clubs, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters closed, Meritxell Budo, a regional government spokeswoman, said at a news conference.

Gatherings of more than 10 people will also be forbidden. People should stay at home unless going out is absolutely necessary, Budo said. The number of new cases in Barcelona jumped to 494 last week, tripling those recorded the week before, according to data published by the regional government.

Singapore Researchers Discover Antibodies: Straits Times (7:41 a.m. NY)

Singapore researchers have discovered antibodies that bind to four sites on the coronavirus and neutralize it, the Straits Times reported, citing findings by scientists from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

The findings have been published in two scientific journals -- Nature Communications and the Lancet -- and are about antibodies that can prevent the virus from hijacking a human cell in the first place, or stop it from replicating inside a human cell. They could guide vaccine discovery, or validate the effectiveness of one, the researchers said.

Europe Eyes Vaccine Deals (7:30 a.m. NY)

The European Union is negotiating advance deals for vaccines with companies including Moderna, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, BioNtech and CureVac, Reuters reported. The talks are most advanced with Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi, the news agency said. Moderna shares jumped more than 3% to premarket highs while BioNTech ADRs rose 2.8%.

There are more than 160 projects underway as companies and research organizations around the world race to find a vaccine for the coronavirus that has now infected more than 13.8 million people globally.

Singapore Tightens Rules for Some Travelers (7:20 a.m. NY)

Singapore will tighten rules on travelers who had been in coronavirus hotspots including Japan, Hong Kong and Australia's Victoria state, mandating quarantine in dedicated facilities from July 20.

Travelers who have been in those regions in the 14 days prior to entering Singapore won't be able to serve their quarantine at their residence, the island's authorities said on Friday.

Fewer Americans Approve of Trump's Handling of Covid-19 (7 a.m. NY)

President Trump's handling of the coronavirus outbreak has the approval of 38% of Americans, down from 46% in May and 51% in March, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC poll. More than half of the public, or 52%, now disapproves "strongly" of Trump's handling of the outbreak, roughly double the percentage who say they strongly approve and an increase from 36% in strong disapproval since March.

Johnson Relaxes U.K. Work-From-Home Rules (6:43 a.m. NY)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson relaxed work-from-home guidance, putting him at odds with his top scientific adviser as he seeks to pump life into the economy. Anyone will now be able to use public transport, Johnson said in a televised press conference, marking a change from guidance to avoid it where possible. And from Aug. 1, he said employers will have "more discretion" on bringing staff back into offices.

Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak are trying to revive economic activity and stave off an expected wave of job cuts as the government tapers support for businesses and continues to ease a lockdown that began on March 23.

The rate of coronavirus infection in England has leveled off, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.

Iran Cases Rise (6 a.m. NY)

Cases in Iran continued to climb at a rate of 0.9%, with 2,379 new cases recorded to bring the total to 269,440 infections. The health ministry also reported 183 deaths in the past 24 hours, just slightly below the average of 186 deaths in the past week, for a total of 13,791 fatalities.

EU Publishes List of States Spared Travel Ban (5:40 p.m. HK)

The European Union published its updated list of non-EU countries whose residents should be allowed to travel to the bloc, confirming the removal of Serbia and Montenegro as a result of new coronavirus cases there. The remaining 13 states on the list include Canada, Japan, South Korea, China and Australia. The new recommendation reflects an accord earlier this week among member-country envoys to the EU, completing the first biweekly review of a July 1 move by the bloc to loosen an external-border closure prompted by the pandemic.

Austrian New Cases at Highest Since April 12 (5:20 p.m. HK)

Austria had 169 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest daily rise since April 12. The number of active coronavirus infections has risen almost four-fold to 1,393 since the low of 373 on June 14, driven by clusters around evangelical churches in Linz and Wiener Neustadt, a pork-processing plant near the Czech border, and cases in Vienna.

Hong Kong's New Outbreak Tops Earlier Waves (4:58 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong's fresh coronavirus outbreak has surpassed the magnitude of its previous waves of infection, in a cautionary tale that the worst may be yet to come in the global pandemic. Authorities reported 50 local virus cases on Friday, bringing total infections to over 350, making the Asian financial hub one of the first places in the region to see a new wave dwarf previous outbreaks.

The resurgence comes after a long stretch during which residents returned to work and normal life. About a third of infections in the new outbreak are of unknown origins, signaling that hidden chains of transmission are widespread.

Israel to Close Beaches, Shops at Weekends (4:24 p.m. HK)

Israel's government approved new restrictions that will shutter non-essential businesses on weekends to slow a surge of cases. Visiting the beach will be banned from Friday afternoons to Sunday mornings from next weekend.

More general regulations throughout the week will close gyms, prohibit restaurants from seating customers and limit the size of gatherings. Israel now has at least 44,000 confirmed cases and nearly 380 deaths, according to health ministry data, while the unemployment rate stands at above 21%.

Movement in Xinjiang Capital Limited (4:02 p.m. HK)

China locked down housing compounds across Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. The city of 3.5 million reported six confirmed infections on Thursday and Friday, along with 11 cases where the people didn't display any symptoms, breaking a 10-day streak of zero new domestic cases in China. The source of the new infections is unclear and the local government did not say if the cases are linked.

Tokyo Virus Cases Hit Record for a Second Day (2:50 p.m. HK)

Tokyo saw a second straight day of record coronavirus cases Friday, with 293 reported amid growing concern about the ability of authorities to suppress the outbreak. The city had 286 cases Thursday.

While Hong Kong and Australia have tightened restrictions on activities as virus cases rebounded, Japanese officials have said similar measures are not needed now. Even as nationwide cases approach peak levels, they continue to stress the differences between the current surge and the one in April when the country declared a state of emergency.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan's minister in charge of the virus, stressed at a briefing that serious cases -- those in an ICU or needing a ventilator -- weren't rising, and that while hospitalizations in Tokyo had increased to 760, the city's health care system wasn't under pressure.

Marinomed Drug Effective in Pre-Clinical Trials (2:40 p.m. HK)

Marinomed Biotech said pre-clinical data show its Carragelose product has the "potential to reduce the risk of an infection with SARS-CoV-2 and may also treat COVID-19."

A study confirms Carragelose reduces infection of cells from SARS-CoV2 virus. Marinomed plans clinical tests for an inhalation solution with efficacy results expected in the next 12 months. If clinical data are positive, the inhalation product could be available in 2021, the company said.

India Crosses 1 Million Case Mark (12:05 p.m. HK)

India saw its coronavirus cases exceed 1 million, becoming the third country to cross that mark, according to its health ministry, as the virus continues to spread rapidly in the world's second most-populous nation.

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