Michigan Urges Vaccine Surge; U.S. Cases Steady: Virus Update

The federal government needs to urgently surge vaccine doses into the state of Michigan in order to combat a spike in coronavirus cases there, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. The rate of new infections across the U.S. was barely changed on Saturday as the country’s vaccination push gathered pace.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy is at an “inflection point” with stronger growth and hiring ahead but that Covid-19 remains a threat. The U.K., set to ease restrictions on Monday, reported the fewest daily cases since September.

China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention is considering mixing vaccines to improve the efficacy of its current shots, which is “not high,” a top Chinese health official was quoted as saying.

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.

Australia Won’t Set Vaccination Goal (5:58 p.m. NY)

Australia won’t set any targets for completing first doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the wake of recommendations regarding the AstraZeneca Plc treatment and new doses acquired from Pfizer Inc., Prime Minster Scott Morrison wrote in a post on Facebook on Sunday.

“While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties,” he wrote.

No-Appointment Vaccinations Start in Florida (5:40 p.m. NY)

Florida residents will able to get vaccinated without an appointment starting Monday at the U.S.-run center at the Hard Rock Stadium north of Miami. Vaccination hours were also expanded, Mike Jachles, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Sunday. The site is administering the Pfizer/BioNTech shot.

“This is a big announcement that will make the Pfizer vaccine available to more people who want to get it,” Jachles said.

Florida has administered enough doses to cover 28% of its residents, matching the national average, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Its positive test rate, at 8.1%, is among the highest in the nation, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Blinken Renews Call for China Transparency (4:21 p.m. NY)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed U.S. calls for China to provide a fuller accounting of the origins of the Covid-19 virus, saying Chinese secrecy meant the virus “got out of hand faster and with, I think, much more egregious results than it might otherwise.”

China and other countries he didn’t name must make “a real commitment to transparency, to information sharing, to access for experts” to prevent a repeat, Blinken said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“That’s why we need to get to the bottom of this,” he said.

California Deaths Approach 60,000 (1:41 p.m. NY)

California’s deaths rose 105 to 59,218, as Covid-19 fatalities edge closer to the 60,000 mark. The state reported 4,954 new cases, bringing the total to 3.6 million.

Like hard-hit Michigan, California has been pushing for more vaccinations to combat the outbreak even as its positive test rate continued to decline, falling to 1.6% as of Sunday. Almost 22.8 million shots have been administered, with more than 70% of those 65 and older having received at least one dose.

Los Angeles is the latest city to open up vaccine appointments to those 16 and older, days ahead of California’s deadline on April 15.

U.K. Has Fewest Cases Since September (12:22 p.m. NY)

The U.K. reported 1,730 new cases on Sunday, the lowest since Sept. 2. Infections have dropped 30% over the past week. Another seven people died within 28 days of a positive test. Figures are usually lower on Sundays, and fatalities are up 2.4% for the week.

Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating and hairdressers in England can open tomorrow for the first time since Jan. 5. With more than 32 million first vaccine doses given, and almost 7.5 million people fully inoculated, the government is hoping the gradual easing of lockdown won’t lead to an increase in cases.

Michigan Governor Urges Vaccine Surge (12:10 p.m. NY)

The federal government needs to urgently surge vaccine doses into the state of Michigan in order to combat a spike in coronavirus cases there, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said.

More contagious variants, widespread pandemic fatigue, and large numbers of people who have never been exposed to Covid-19 have created a critical infection situation in the state, she said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“We are seeing a surge in Michigan despite that we have some of the strongest policies in place,” Whitmer said.

Gottlieb Supports Boosting Vaccines to Hot Spots (11:45 a.m. NY)

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb supported calls to send additional vaccine doses to Covid-stricken Michigan, he said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been pushing in recent days for a program that allocates additional vaccines to states that are experiencing surges. The state has reported more than 53,000 cases in the past week, more than any other U.S. state, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We need to get into the habit of trying to surge resources to hot spots,” said Gottlieb. “It’s not just Michigan, it’s the entire Great Lakes Region.”

Ontario Hits Record Cases (11:41 a.m. NY)

Ontario reported a record 4,456 new cases on Sunday and 1,513 hospitalizations. Canada’s most populous province is in the midst of a four-week emergency lockdown imposed April 3 amid a spread of virus variants and a slow rollout of vaccines across Canada.

Powell Says Covid Remains a Risk (11:04 a.m. NY)

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy is at an “inflection point” with stronger growth and hiring ahead thanks to vaccinations and powerful policy support, but that Covid-19 remains a threat.

“The principal risk to our economy right now really is that the disease would spread again. It’s going to be smart if people could continue to socially distance and wear masks,” Powell told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in an interview conducted Wednesday.

Vaccines Seized in Colorado (10:34 a.m. NY)

The Colorado National Guard seized thousands of doses of Covid-19 vaccines from a private clinic as health officials launched an investigation into storage, handling and documentation at the facility, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported in Sunday’s edition. The clinic in Colorado Springs was administering Pfizer and Moderna jabs, the newspaper said. Last week, 11 people took ill at a community vaccination site in Commerce City, Colorado, administering the Johnson & Johnson shot but state officials found no irregularities.

India Bans Remdesivir Export (10:12 a.m. NY)

India has prohibited exports of the drug Remdesivir, used to treat Covid-19, as the country registered a record number of daily new coronavirus cases.

The government took the step amid a sudden spike in demand for the injection, the health ministry said in a statement on Sunday, adding that “there is a potential of further increase in this demand in the coming days.”

U.S. Cases Steady at About 67,000 (8:10 a.m. NY)

The U.S. added almost 67,000 cases on Saturday, broadly in line with the country’s seven-day rolling average.

Another 728 deaths from Covid-19 were reported nationwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. While this week’s comparisons are skewed by a backlog of data from Oklahoma, the latest death toll compares with several-day series of more than 1,000 deaths as recently as late March.

Daily vaccinations across the U.S. rose to a record of 4.6 million on Saturday.

German Spread Accelerates (8:20 a.m. NY)

Germany’s fatalities fell on Sunday, the fourth day of consecutive declines. The numbers suggest little lasting letup however as Germany is battling a rising wave of infections with the reproduction rate jumping to 1.07 from 0.82 the day before.

French Borders to Stay Closed (7:39 a.m. NY)

“It’s too early to say yet when it’ll be possible to resume travel to Europe,” French Junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said on RTL radio on Sunday. “Hopefully it’ll be possible this summer. We’re doing everything we can to restore travel within France before the summer to start with, then in Europe, and then more globally, but it’s impossible to give more precise a timetable.”

Iran Deaths Jump (6:56 a.m. NY)

Iran’s deaths from Covid-19 reached the highest in four months with 258 fatalities over the last 24 hours. The number of new cases rose by 21,063 overnight, just short of a record 22,586 infections set earlier this week. The country now has 64,490 deaths and more than 2 million cases.

China Vaccine Efficiency ‘Not High’ (6:30 a.m. NY)

China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention is considering mixing vaccines to improve the efficacy of current shots, The Paper reported.

The efficacy of vaccines that are available now is “not high,” the report cited Gao Fu, head of the China CDC, as saying at a national vaccine and health conference on Saturday.

Russia Deaths Slow (4:11 p.m. HK)

Russia reported 337 deaths from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, a two-week low, with the number of new cases little changed at 8,702. Health authorities are keeping a cautious eye as spring temperatures rise and more Russians venture outdoors. While the country has three domestically developed vaccines, including Sputnik V, people have been wary of getting a jab and only around 4% of the population has been inoculated.

Pakistan Deaths Surge (2:33 p.m. HK)

Pakistan reported 114 deaths in its latest data, the highest in almost five months. The South Asian nation’s third wave is picking up pace with more than 5,000 new infections found daily for the past four days.

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