Maryland reported a case of the coronavirus variant first found in South Africa, the third documented in the U.S. California surpassed 40,000 fatalities, as the Greater Los Angeles area reported its highest daily death numbers in about three weeks.
Starting Tuesday, travelers will be required to wear masks, including on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced. Coronavirus infections in the U.S. continued a downward trend, with 162,390 new cases added on Friday.
The number of U.K. listed companies at risk of insolvency has doubled as coronavirus restrictions continue to ravage the economy.
- Global Tracker: Cases exceed 102.4 million; deaths pass 2.2 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 90.8 million shots given worldwide
- Faced with a vaccine emergency, the EU made an enemy of everyone
- Covid mutations undercut optimism even as more vaccines get near
- Computer-shy elderly are shouldered aside in vaccination race
- Latest Covid surge appears to flame out even in worst hot spots
- How vaccine nationalism flares over scarce supplies: QuickTake
L.A. Deaths Rise to 3-Week High (8:16 a.m. HK)
The Greater Los Angeles area reported its highest daily death numbers in about three weeks. L.A. County reported 316 new fatalities, bringing the total to 16,647. Cases rose 6,918 to 1.1 million cases.
The county also found a second case of the U.K. variant. The developments come as L.A., along with the rest of California, is easing curbs that will allow outdoor dining and the resumption of other businesses.
“Although some restrictions were just lifted in our county, we are still in a very dangerous period,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health.
Growing Number of U.K. Firms Face Bankruptcy (8:08 a.m. HK)
The number of U.K. listed companies at risk of insolvency has doubled as restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus continue to ravage the economy.
A record 35% of U.K. companies issued profit warnings last year, according to a report by the consulting firm EY. There was also a surge in the number of companies issuing three or more profit warnings in a 12-month period, a warning sign for insolvency.
Chicago Continues Talks on School Reopening (5:36 p.m. NY)
The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools remained in talks Saturday about a proposed in-person reopening on Monday for kindergarten through eighth grade that the union opposes.
Some of the sticking points included which public health metrics should guide a safe reopening, and giving teachers a chance to be vaccinated before getting back into the classroom with kids. A teachers’ strike remains possible.
The union said tentative agreements were reached Saturday in four areas: health and safety protocols; ventilation; contact tracing; and safety committees. Chicago is the third-largest U.S. school district.
U.K. Lockdown Could Last Through May, Telegraph Reports (5:25 p.m. NY)
The U.K. will have to remain in lockdown until the end of May in a best-case scenario of vaccines being 85% effective at stopping transmission of the virus, the Daily Telegraph reported citing a paper from the University of Warwick.
The paper was commissioned by the government’s Sage committee and seen by the prime minister’s office. It also suggests that if Boris Johnson were to relax lockdown measures in mid-February — when the government is set to review the vaccine roll-out — a third spike in infections and deaths would ensue in April.
Brazil Outbreak Shows Signs of Slowing (5:19 p.m. NY)
Brazil’s second-wave outbreak eased as new cases and deaths slowed over the last week, according to Health Ministry data.
The nation reported 58,462 cases Saturday, capping the second week with a decline in new infections. Still, the caseload is almost as high as the peak of the first wave last summer. Total infections are approaching 8 million. Deaths declined compared with the previous week, with 1,279 new fatalities reported Saturday. Brazil has the most fatalities after the U.S., with a total of 223,945.
Brazil will receive from 10 million to as many as 14 million doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines from the international consortium Covax starting mid-February, the nation’s Health Ministry said Saturday.
Cuba to Force Travelers to Quarantine (4:50 p.m. NY)
Cuba will make travelers quarantine under a new set of restrictions announced Saturday after coronavirus cases surged this month in the Caribbean’s largest island.
Tourists, businesspeople and foreign diplomats are among those who will be forced to isolate at their own expense in government-approved hotels upon arriving, according to a statement on the health ministry’s website. It did not specify how long foreigners will be kept in quarantine.
Billionaire Slim Home From Hospital (4:29 p.m. NY)
Billionaire Carlos Slim returned to his home in Mexico City after being hospitalized for Covid-19, a family member said.
Slim is recovering and recuperating well, his son-in-law and spokesman Arturo Elias Ayub said in a message Saturday. Latin America’s richest man, who turned 81 this week, was hospitalized in Mexico City’s Instituto Nacional de Nutricion, where he was experiencing mild symptoms, Elias Ayub said previously.
France Cases Rise Slightly (2:38 p.m. NY)
France reported 24,392 new cases, a slight increase from the previous day, and an additional 242 deaths from virus-related illness. Total fatalities are 75,862. This comes a day after the French government said it was giving itself a “chance” of avoiding a third lockdown by instead sealing its borders from travelers outside the European Union and closing large shopping centers.
On Saturday, Emmanuel Macron insisted on a shared responsibility to steer away from tougher measures. “I have faith in us,” the French President said in a tweet. “Let’s do everything to halt the epidemic together.”
California Deaths Top 40,000 (2:13 p.m. NY)
California breached the 40,000 mark for Covid-19 fatalities, with the addition of 638 deaths yesterday, according to the health department’s website. The state recorded more than 14,000 deaths in January alone. Yesterday saw 18,427 new cases of Covid-19 added to the rolls, below the 14-day rolling average of 23,152. The state’s 14-day positivity rate dropped to 7.8%, down from 12.2% a month ago. California has administered some 42 million tests in total.
Maryland Finds Case of South African Variant (1:24 p.m. NY)
Maryland has found a case of the coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa, Governor Larry Hogan said in a statement. He said the case involves a resident living in the Baltimore area with no history of international travel.
The first two U.S. cases of the South African variant were found in South Carolina on Jan. 28. Hogan’s statement said the variant is “believed to be more transmissible” but hasn’t been shown to cause more serious illness or risk of death compared with other variants. A new vaccine from Novavax Inc. was effective in big trials in both the U.K. and South Africa, but the effectiveness appeared to be reduced in South Africa where the mutation is prevalent.
Meantime, South Carolina reported its first case of the variant first found in the U.K. and now spread across states in more than half the U.S. The state released few details but said the adult patient had travelled internationally.
North Carolina Reports More Than 100 Deaths Again (12:56 p.m. NY)
North Carolina reported 130 new deaths, the fourth consecutive day of more than 100 fatalities at the end of the state’s deadliest month. Total deaths are 9,287, according to state data. Fatalities in the state have remained high even as cases and hospitalizations have eased over the last few weeks.
U.K. Students May Get Home Tests Before Return (12:26 p.m. NY)
Students in U.K. secondary schools may be sent Covid-19 testing kits at home prior to a planned return to classrooms in March, the Telegraph reported, citing a person familiar with the plan. The government may abandon plans to conduct lateral flow testing at schools in favor of the home testing. The kits are already being used by primary school teachers and may eventually be rolled out for younger children, according to the report.
Masks Mandated on Transport, CDC Announces (12 p.m. NY)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public health order requiring the wearing of masks by all travelers into, within or out of the U.S. It will take effect Feb. 2.
The order applies to airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares, as well as transportation hubs such as airports and seaports; train, bus and subway stations; and any other areas that provide transportation.
The CDC announcement follows an executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Jan. 21.
Italy Cases Slow (11:30 a.m. NY)
Italy registered a decline in new virus cases on Saturday to 12,715 from 13,574 the previous day as the country prepares to ease virus restrictions from Monday for some regions, including the Rome and Milan areas. Daily deaths were also lower, at 421 compared with 477 a day earlier.
The country’s Aifa medicines agency has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, though it is recommending its use on people 18-55 years old, according to the Ansa newswire.
U.K. Cases Moderate (11:23 a.m. NY)
The U.K. reported 23,275 new cases on Saturday, more than 3,500 fewer than the average of the previous seven days and 30% lower than a week ago. Another 1,200 people died within 28 days of a positive test, in line with the weekly average. More than 8.37 million people have received their first vaccination.
Pakistan to Begin Receiving Vaccine (11:21 a.m. NY)
Pakistan will receive as much as 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under the Covax arrangement by the…