Mexico Now Sixth in Deaths; Vaccine Shows Promise: Virus Update

Mexico overtook Spain in coronavirus deaths and is now the sixth hardest hit nation, while the latest surge in the U.S. spurred areas including New York City and California to pull back on reopenings and more local governments instituted mask requirements.

Apple Inc. will close more stores and McDonald’s Corp. paused resuming dine-in services. Brazil’s lower house approved delaying municipal elections by a month, while delivery staff at the biggest mobile app providers in the nation staged a one-day walkout to demand better working conditions.

An early trial of an experimental vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNtech SE showed promise, winning praise from Wall Street analysts and showing the industry remains on track for having a potential shot by January.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Global cases pass 10.6 million; Deaths top 514,000
  • Young Americans party hard and spread virus fast
  • Arizona’s daily death record chips at Pence virus talking point
  • Tourism industry’s losses seen exceeding $1.2 trillion
  • Australia opens borders for students
  • Chinese firm jumps to front in vaccine race
  • Half of all Mexico Covid tests are positive, highest in the world

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JetBlue Guarantees No Furloughs in Pilot Accord (7:53 a.m. HK)

JetBlue Airways Corp. agreed not to furlough any pilots involuntarily until May 1 in exchange for unspecified contract concessions designed to help the carrier cut expenses.

The deal doesn’t include changes to pay rates or significant modifications in work rules, the JetBlue unit of the Air Line Pilots Association said Wednesday in a letter to members. The union said it couldn’t yet disclose short-term changes in portions of its contract from October through April, which will return to normal earlier “if demand for flying recovers.”

N.Z. Health Minister Resigns, Citing Distraction (7:44 a.m. HK)

New Zealand’s Health Minister David Clark has resigned, saying his remaining in the role would be a distraction from the government’s successful response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Clark came under pressure after twice breaching the nation’s strict lockdown rules by traveling outside his local area to exercise. He offered to resign at the time, but Ardern retained him, saying it wouldn’t be appropriate to change ministers while the pandemic was raging.

“The prime minister made it clear at the time that under normal circumstances she would have accepted that resignation, but she did not want significant disruption to the health system in the middle of the emergency response,” Clark told reporters today.

Top Copper Producer Scales Back as Workers Fall Ill (7:38 a.m. HK)

BHP Group announced plans to scale back one of its copper mines in Chile, while unions in the country push for safer conditions as more workers fall ill. In the first mining cutback since Covid-19 infections began to explode in Chile six weeks ago, BHP said its Cerro Colorado operation will “significantly” reduce activities and trim its workforce.

Cerro Colorado is small and has a short mine life, but the decision stokes concerns over whether the top copper-producing nation can maintain output at high levels as the virus spreads.

Brazil Delays Municipal Election By a Month (7:13 a.m. HK)

Brazil delayed this year’s municipal elections by a month as the country struggles to control the coronavirus pandemic.

Brazil’s lower house of congress approved on Wednesday a constitutional amendment to postpone the first round of the election, initially scheduled to October, to November 15. Run-off votes will take place on November 29th. The proposal, which had already been approved by the Senate, is ready to be signed into law by the president of Congress.

Delivery staff at Brazil’s biggest mobile app providers staged a one-day nationwide walkout Wednesday to demand better working conditions and highlight the country’s increased dependence on the informal labor market. Demands by staffers for apps such as Uber Eats, Rappi, Loggi, and iFood include increased pay per delivery, benefits such as life insurance and coverage for on-the-job injuries, personal protective equipment during the pandemic, and meal vouchers.

Trump Says Masks ‘Good’ But Questions Mandates (6:46 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump said he’d wear a mask if he were “in a tight situation with people” but that he’s not convinced they should be required even as coronavirus cases are spiking in parts of the U.S.

“I don’t know if you need mandatory,” Trump said Wednesday in a Fox Business Network interview. “I’m all for masks, I think masks are good.”

Trump has mocked his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, for wearing a mask and hasn’t publicly worn one, though he is facing calls to do so. His comments come a day after Surgeon General Jerome Adams said: “Please, please, please wear a face covering when you go out in public.”

Trump added that Americans should “do what makes you feel good” and follow guidelines, and alluded in both interviews to wearing a face covering during a tour of a ventilator plant in Michigan. In that visit, he opted not to wear the covering in front of the media but was photographed masked during a private part of the tour.

McDonald’s Halts Resuming U.S. Dine-In (6:20 a.m. HK)

McDonald’s Corp. is pausing the resumption of all dine-in services in its U.S. restaurants as the coronavirus outbreak flares up in areas across the country.

The halt will last for 21 days, the fast-food chain said in an internal letter that was viewed by Bloomberg. Locations that have already reopened their dining rooms should consult guidance from local and state officials on whether to roll back services, according to the letter, which was signed by Joe Erlinger, McDonald’s U.S. president, and Mark Salebra, head of the National Franchisee Leadership Alliance.

Florida’s Miami-Dade to Require Masks (6 a.m. HK)

Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populous, will start requiring masks in all public spaces.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he will sign an emergency order later Wednesday, according to an emailed statement. Masks were previously required in indoor public spaces and outdoors when effective social distancing was not possible.

Under the new rules, masks must be used outdoors “with few exceptions,” the statement said.

Texas Posts Record Rise in Cases (4:58 p.m. NY)

Texas posted a record 8,076 new virus cases, pushing the total to 168,062, according to state health department figures. Fatalities jumped by 57 to 2,481 for the biggest one-day increase since May 14.

The state’s positive-test rate has been above 13% for four days, the longest stretch above that threshold since the pandemic emerged.

U.S. Cases Rise 1.8% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose by 46,065 from a day earlier to 2.66 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The 1.8% rise was in line with the average daily increase over the past week. Deaths rose 0.9% to 127,681.

  • Florida reported 158,997 cases, up 4.3% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 5.7% in the previous seven days. Deaths reached 3,550, an increase of 1.3%.
  • Arizona reported 4,878 new cases, a record number for the state. That brought the total number of cases to 84,092. It also reported 88 new deaths, another one-day record that put the total at 1,720.
  • California reported 9,740 new infections, its biggest-ever daily jump. The 4.4% rise in cases exceeded the seven-day average of a 2.8% increase, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

California Closes Indoor Dining in Hard-Hit Counties (3:41 p.m. NY)

California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the shutdown of indoor businesses including restaurants, bars, museums and movie theaters in 19 counties as the state grapples with a surge of infections from the coronavirus.

The areas affected include Los Angeles County, the hardest-hit part of the state, and in total account for about 70% of California’s population, Newsom said at a press briefing Wednesday.

Pennsylvania Mandates Masks (3:30 p.m. NY)

People in Pennsylvania must now wear masks when leaving home, Governor Tom Wolf announced Wednesday.

“This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in Covid-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” Wolf, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Pennsylvania has 84,751 confirmed coronavirus cases and 6,649 deaths, according to its website.

South Africa Reports Record Case Increase (3:30 p.m. NY)

South Africa reported a record 8,124 new coronavirus cases over a 24-hour period on Wednesday, with the infection-rate in the economic hub that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria set to rise to the highest in the nation over the next few weeks.

With eased lockdown guidelines, more people are returning to work as more businesses including hairdressers and sit-in restaurants have reopened.
Cumulative infections rose to 159,333 in the latest daily report, with an additional 92 confirmed deaths, bringing the national coronavirus death toll to 2,749.

Miami-Dade Covid-19 Hospitalizations Jump (1:46 p.m. NY)

Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populous, reported the highest numbers of Covid-19 intensive-care patients since at least early April.

Covid-19-related ventilator use is now about two-and-a-half times higher than it was at the end of May, according to the county’s daily report on Wednesday, which is based on self-reporting by hospitals.

Miami-Dade has 1,298 people with Covid-19 in hospitals, an increase of 96 from a day earlier. The number of virus patients in intensive-care unit beds rose to 266 from 245. There are 118 Covid-19 patients on ventilators, up from 103 a day earlier.

N.Y. Allows All Residents to Get Tested (1:35 p.m. NY)

New York state is opening testing to all residents as the number of positive coronavirus cases in more than half of the country continues to rise.

The state previously had limited testing to essential workers, nursing-home staff and those who had been exposed. But Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a virus briefing on Wednesday that it has increased testing capacity and all New Yorkers can and should be tested.

“Go get a test,” Cuomo said. “It doesn’t cost you anything. It doesn’t hurt.”

Since March, the state has tested 4 million of its approximately 19 million residents and has more than 750 testing sites, he said.

Houston’s ICU Beds Exceed Capacity (1:20 p.m. NY)

Houston’s intensive-case units exceeded full capacity as the Covid-19 outbreak spread, according to data from the Texas Medical Center.

There were 1,350 patients in Houston-area ICU wards as of late Tuesday, surpassing the system’s normal capacity of 1,330 beds, the medical center said on its website on Wednesday. Covid-19 patient accounted for 36% of those beds.

Houston’s intensive-care wards are overflowing normal capacity, prompting hospitals to tap so-called surge beds to cope with the expanding outbreak. Surge capacity comes from converting beds normally used for standard care to ICU use.

WHO Laying Out New China Mission Scope (12:45 p.m. NY)

A small World Health Organization advance team is making preparations with Chinese colleagues to set up the scope of its mission to China to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, according to Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies program. The WHO plans to send an expert on animal health and an epidemiological expert with a background in field investigations of epidemics.

“We expect then in collaboration with our colleagues in China to define a larger international mission,” Ryan said.

Europe Says It Has Enough Covid Drug (12:30 p.m. NY)

Countries including Britain, Germany and Switzerland sought to allay concerns that they won’t have sufficient stocks of Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir, one of two drugs shown to treat Covid-19, after the U.S forged a deal to snap up almost all the supplies for three months.

The U.K. worked with Gilead in May to secure remdesivir in advance and has enough of the medicine to treat every National Health Service patient who needs it, officials said in an email response to questions Wednesday. Switzerland has supplies of the drug set aside for seriously ill patients, according to a government spokesman.

Arizona Reports Record Case Jump (11:33 a.m. NY)

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 4,878 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, a record for the state as it battles a surge in the virus. That brought the total number of cases to 84,092. The state also reported 88 new deaths, another one-day record that put the total at 1,720.

NYC Delays Indoor Dining (10:30 a.m. NY)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was postponing a planned return to indoor dining next week, citing a surge in infections in other states. He said outdoor dining would continue.

“It is not the time to forge ahead with indoor dining, but it is the time to double our efforts with outdoor dining,” de Blasio said, citing rising cases in Florida, California and Texas. “The news we’ve gotten around the country gets worse and worse all the time.”

The city — which had initially planned a return to indoor dining on July 6 — will now help restaurants expand operations outdoors on sidewalks and curbside parking spaces, he said.

De Blasio also announced that city’s beaches in the Rockaways, Coney Island, Staten Island and the Bronx would open Wednesday, and that 15 of the city’s largest public pools will be open over the next few weeks.

— With assistance by Kara Wetzel

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