U.S. Hospital Rates Fall; N.Y. Vaccines Run Short: Virus Update

An emergency medical technician (EMT) directs an ambulance outside the emergency room of the East Los Angeles Doctors Hospital in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. California reported 459 daily virus deaths, the second-highest tally since the pandemic began, as the most-populous state continues to battle a surge of cases that has strained health-care facilities.
An emergency medical technician (EMT) directs an ambulance outside the emergency room of the East Los Angeles Doctors Hospital in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. California reported 459 daily virus deaths, the second-highest tally since the pandemic began, as the most-populous state continues to battle a surge of cases that has strained health-care facilities.

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden turned to executive action to help Americans with finances depleted by the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, as his more ambitious legislative proposals face mounting opposition on Capitol Hill. Covid-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. fell by the most ever on Thursday, the latest sign that relief may be coming to a health-care system that’s been fighting the virus for almost a year.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state today will run out of all the vaccines that have been delivered. Some of New York’s biggest employers are urging local leaders to let them help with the Covid-19 vaccination effort, arguing that the slow rollout is putting the state’s economic recovery at risk.

The U.K.’s new more contagious strain of coronavirus may be linked to higher mortality, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. France surpassed 3 million infections amid warnings of a third lockdown.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases exceed 97.9 million; deaths pass 2.1 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 56.7 million shots given worldwide
  • U.S. sees record single-day drop in Covid hospitalizations
  • Biden’s 100-day vaccine goal was nearly met before he arrived
  • Wealthy women say Covid-19 hurts their careers, blocks pay gains
  • These five factors will determine whether the Olympics go ahead
  • Why the mutated coronavirus variants are so worrisome: QuickTake

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.

Bulgaria Reports First Cases of U.K. Variant (5:16 p.m. NY)

Bulgaria reported first 8 cases of the U.K. coronavirus variant, some with patients who recently returned from Britain, Todor Kantardzhiev, the head of the National Center of Infections and Parasitic Diseases, said in an interview with the public BNT TV channel.

San Francisco’s Vaccine Plan Faces Shortage, Mayor Says (4:30 p.m. NY)

San Francisco’s goal of vaccinating all residents against the coronavirus by June hinges on getting enough shots, which are currently in short supply, Mayor London Breed said.

“The biggest challenge we have right now is the number of vaccines that we have not received,” Breed said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. The city can inoculate residents at a rate of at least 10,000 doses per day once the supply arrives, she said.

EU Airs ‘Deep Dissatisfaction’ With AstraZeneca (4:02 p.m. NY)

European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said EU governments expressed “deep dissatisfaction” with AstraZeneca’s announcement of delays to vaccine distribution and demanded that the company come up with “a precise delivery schedule on the basis of which member states should be planning their vaccination programs.”

The AstraZeneca matter concerns “delays in the delivery of vaccines compared to the forecast for the first quarter of this year,” Kyriakides said in a Twitter post on Friday.

Biden Boosts Virus Aid as Opposition Grows to $1.9 Trillion Bill (3:48 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden turned to executive action to help Americans with finances depleted by the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, as his more ambitious legislative proposals face mounting opposition on Capitol Hill.

Biden directed his administration to boost food assistance for needy Americans and leverage federal contracts to improve pay for low-wage workers in executive orders signed Friday at the White House.

“Families are going hungry. People are at risk of being evicted. Job losses are mounting again,” Biden said. “We need to act.”

Idaho Governor Spars With Legislators Over Covid Rules (3:22 p.m. NY)

Governor Brad Little angrily lashed out at state legislators seeking to weaken his powers to declare an emergency to control Covid-19. “They are playing politics and unfortunately the loser in this shameful game will be you, the citizens of the Idaho,” the Republican governor said in a video message.

Idaho has largely beat back a surge in infections, deaths and hospitalizations that came close to overwhelming the state’s medical system in December. Republican legislators say they oppose various actions by Little, particularly limiting gatherings, and are proposing laws to rein in his authority. Little warned that the emergency declaration is essential for federal funding and to gain fair access to vaccines.

Biden’s 100-Day Vaccine Goal Was Nearly Met Before He Arrived (3:17 p.m. NY)

The U.S. is close to administering Covid-19 vaccinations at a pace of a million doses a day, suggesting that the Biden administration’s 100-million-doses-in-100-days goal may be a modest aspiration.

As of Thursday, 940,000 shots a day were administered on average over a seven-day period, according to data from the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The most recent two days topped a million doses.

South African Death Toll Breaches 40,000 (3:02 p.m. NY)

Almost 10 months after the first coronavirus case was detected in South Africa, the official death toll of those diagnosed with the disease has breached the 40,000 mark. The country now has almost 1.4 million confirmed cases -- more than triple the number of any other African nation. That may in part be due to the fact that it has conducted almost 7.9 million tests, way more than its continental peers. A second wave of infections has largely been driven by a new strain of the virus that studies show is about 50% more transmissible than earlier versions.

French Cases Hit 3 Million Amid Talk of New Lockdown (2:23 p.m. NY)

France passed the threshold of 3 million Covid-19 cases on Friday, as an acceleration in the spread of the virus prompted warnings from the government that a third lockdown is possible.

France’s second lockdown that began in late October reversed a spike in Covid-19 cases, but hospitalizations and intensive-care patients remain more than five times higher than in August, keeping pressure on the health system. As more contagious variants of the virus spread, Health Minister Olivier Veran has said a decision on another lockdown or tighter curbs could be made within days or weeks.

“This crisis isn’t letting up, and France is paying a heavy price for it,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said on a visit to the port city of Le Havre on Friday.

U.S. Sees Record Single-Day Drop in Covid Hospitalizations (1:57 p.m. N.Y.)

The number of people currently hospitalized with Covid dropped by 2,773 in a single day to 119,927, according to Covid Tracking Project data. The one-week drop of 9,020 was also a record, the data show. And the decrease is accelerating on a percentage basis.

The absolute number of people with Covid-19 in hospitals is still extraordinarily high: The virus remains dangerously prevalent in much of the country, and it’s still unclear how new variants will affect the arc of the pandemic. Deaths, a lagging indicator, are likely to continue mounting at a rapid pace for weeks to come.

JBS to Give Bonus to U.S. Workers for Getting Vaccine (1:56 p.m.)

U.S. employees of Brazilian-owned meatpacker JBS SA and its subsidiary, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., will get a $100 bonus if they opt for the Covid-19 vaccine.

JBS, the biggest meat producer in the world, is hoping the payment will lead to a high percentage of its 66,000-strong workforce being vaccinated, which will mean fewer outbreaks and disruptions in production.

Finland Tightens Border Controls (1:54 p.m. N.Y.)

Finland will only allow essential work-related travel and arrivals for pressing personal reasons from the European Union’s Schengen area, the government said on Friday.

People living in the Swedish and Norwegian border regions will no longer be able to cross the border to Finland freely, and will be required to undergo a quarantine when they do, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said at a press conference. Finns can always leave and re-enter the country.

Madrid Tightens Curfew (1:50 p.m. N.Y.)

Spain’s Madrid region brought forward its curfew by an hour to 10 p.m. to rein in coronavirus infections. Shops, bars and restaurants will have to close an hour earlier at 9 p.m. when the new restrictions take effect on Jan. 25, the regional government said. Home visits will also be prohibited unless for tasks such as caring for children or the elderly.

WHO Still Hunting for Virus Origin (1:45 p.m. NY)

It’s too early to come to a conclusion about where exactly the coronavirus pandemic started, either within China or outside China, Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, said at a briefing.

“All hypotheses are on the table,” he said. “Our team is on the ground, having a good experience working with our Chinese colleagues. We’re working through the data, and the data will lead us to the next phase -- where we need to go next to look at the origins of this virus.”

Hundreds of National Guard Members in DC Have Covid-19, Politico Reports (1:06 p.m. NY)

Hundreds of National Guard members deployed to Washington after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 have tested positive for Covid-19, Politico reports, citing Guard sources.

CDC Finds One in 400,000 Had Anaphylaxis After Moderna Shot (1:04 p.m. NY)

About one in 400,000 recipients of the Moderna Inc. Covid-19 vaccine had a severe allergic reaction to the first shot, according to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Friday.

The research, which tracked 10 cases of anaphylaxis among about 4 million doses administered through Jan. 10, concludes that such reactions to the vaccine still appear to be rare.

Michigan, Illinois Ease Restrictions (1:01 p.m. NY)

Michigan will allow limited indoor dining at restaurants and bars starting Feb. 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday. The change mostly ends a partial Covid-19 economic shutdown that was out-of-step with other Midwest states.

“Our actions saved our hospitals from shutting down, our actions saved lives,” Whitmer said during a news conference in Lansing.

Illinois began gradually easing restrictions, which were placed ahead of Thanksgiving to curb spread over the holiday season, during the last week. Among the most anticipated re-opening measures is the return of limited-capacity indoor dining as early as Saturday in Chicago.

Wall Street Presses New York to Let It Help Speed Up Vaccines (12:51 p.m. NY)

Some of New York’s biggest employers are urging local leaders to let them help with the Covid-19 vaccination effort, arguing that the slow rollout is putting the state’s economic recovery at risk.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and KKR & Co.were among a few dozen companies that got on a call Thursday with the state’s vaccination czar, Larry Schwartz, according to people on the call. Some of the firms said they can provide distribution and logistics, and could help persuade the Biden administration to boost New York’s vaccine allocation.

“Our economy will not recover, and we won’t be able to get people back into the office, until we have good penetration of the vaccines,” Goldman Chief Executive Officer David Solomon said.

Cuomo Says N.Y. Will Run Out of Vaccine Today (12:32 p.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state today will run out of all the vaccines that have been delivered.

The state is beginning to receive deliveries of the 250,400 doses it will have for the next week. Providers should only schedule appointments for allocations they know they will receive, Cuomo said Friday during a press briefing.

New York is administering 80,000 doses a day and could easily ramp up to more than 100,000, Cuomo said.

AstraZeneca Says Initial Vaccine Supply To Be Less Than Expected (12:19 p.m. NY)

AstraZeneca’s initial supply of coronavirus vaccine doses to Europe will be smaller than previously expected. “Initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain,” a company spokesperson said.

U.K. Says New Variant May Be Linked to Higher Death Rates (12:14 p.m. NY)

The U.K.’s new more contagious strain of coronavirus may be linked to higher mortality, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

“In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears there is some evidence that the new variant” may be “associated with a higher degree of mortality,” Johnson said at a press conference in London. “All current evidence continues to show that both the vaccines we’re currently using remain effective against both the old variant and this new variant.”

Pfizer, BioNTech to Supply Up to 40 Million Covid Shots to Covax (12:03 p.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE will supply as many as 40 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to Covax, a global alliance many poorer countries are relying on to protect their populations. Shipments will start in the first quarter and continue throughout 2021, the companies said in a statement.

Vaccine Doses May Be Spaced Six Weeks Apart, CDC Says (11:57 a.m. NY)

People may receive their follow-up doses of the Covid-19 vaccines as much as six weeks later if it’s not feasible to get them in the recommended interval, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The guidance posted in a Jan. 21 update to the CDC website said a second dose should be administered as close to the recommended schedule as possible, either three weeks for the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine or four weeks for the Moderna Inc. shot.

Italy Outbreak Slows (11:44 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 13,633 cases Friday and 472 deaths, both down from a day earlier. The positive test rate fell to 5.1% from 5.3% and patients in intensive-care units fell for a fourth day, to 2,390, the lowest since early November.

The virus reproduction rate fell below 1 in the past week after five weeks of increases, Giovanni Rezza, head of virus prevention at Italy’s Health Ministry, said in a video. There’s also a declining trend for the occupancy rate in ICUs, still close to a critical level, he added.

U.K. Says Covid-19 May No Longer Be Spreading Exponentially (9:07 a.m. NY)

The coronavirus pandemic may no longer be spreading exponentially in the U.K., according to official data suggesting the country’s third lockdown is working. Still, the government said the case rates remain “dangerously high” and urged the public to keep to lockdown rules.

The official estimate of the “R rate” -- which measures how many people each infected person passes the virus on to -- fell to between 0.8 and 1, the results released on Friday showed. When R is above 1 the virus spreads exponentially. Last week, the R rate was estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.3.

Pfizer Vaccine Safe for Elderly Despite Norway Scare, WHO Says (4:54 p.m. HK)

The World Health Organization said it sees no evidence that Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine contributed to the deaths of elderly people and urged that the shot still be used.

Reports of deaths “are in line with the expected, all-cause mortality rates and causes of death in the sub-population of frail, elderly individuals, and the available information does not confirm a contributory role for the vaccine in the reported fatal events,” the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety said in a statement on Friday. The risk-benefit balance of the vaccine “remains favorable in the elderly.”