ECONOMY

U.S. Cases Swell; New York State Reports One Death: Virus Update

The U.S. reported the most cases since mid-May, as the delta variant takes hold in less vaccinated areas of the nation. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease specialist, said “ideological rigidity” is preventing people from getting Covid-19 shots and voiced frustration at the struggle to boost vaccination rates.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will warn people to remain vigilant as he prepares to lift virtually all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England, including mandatory mask wearing.

French officials warned of a new wave of infection, though a minister said the nation is unlikely to impose more lockdowns. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa extended bans on alcohol sales and most public gatherings as the government struggles to bring a third viral wave under control.

U.K. Johnson to Urge Caution (5:39 p.m. NY)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will warn people to remain vigilant as he prepares to lift virtually all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England.

In a news conference on Monday, Johnson is widely expected to confirm that mandatory curbs will end as planned on July 19, including the legal requirement to wear masks in indoor settings.

But he’ll also warn that the unlocking will drive a new surge in cases and that people must “all take responsibility” in the coming weeks to help keep infections at a manageable level, his office said in an emailed statement.

U.S. Donates to Indonesia, Bolivia (5:19 p.m. NY)

The U.S. is sending 3 million doses of Moderna Inc. vaccine to Indonesia and more than 1 million Johnson & Johnson doses to Bolivia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter. More doses are on the way for Indonesia, which is receiving the shots through the World Health Organization-backed Covax program, he said.

On Saturday, Blinken said the U.S. was delivering 2 million Moderna doses to Vietnam.

While the U.S. has vaccinated more than two thirds of its population with at least one dose, many countries are facing vaccine shortages. President Joe Biden initially announced donations from the U.S. stockpile in May.

Box Office Record Set (4:37 p.m. NY)

More than 80% of North American movie theaters were open this weekend, setting a pandemic record for box office sales, Comscore reported. At the start of the year, 35% of theaters were open. This weekend, “Black Widow,” a Disney film starring Scarlett Johansson as a former KGB assassin, broke the pandemic record, generating $80 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters. It also drew more than $60 million from viewers who paid $30 to watch it at home, Disney reported.

L.A. Cases Hit 4-Month High (4:10 p.m. NY)

Los Angeles County added 1,113 new cases, the highest in four months, as health officials warned of the spread of the delta variant.

New cases also exceeded 1,000 for a third straight day, with the positive test rate at 2.5%. On Friday, the county said its case loads doubled from a week earlier. Four new deaths were added.

Statewide, California’s test positivity rate stands at 2.3%, one of the highest levels since early March.

South Africa Extends Restrictions (3:03 p.m. NY)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa extended bans on alcohol sales and most public gatherings for two weeks as the government struggles to bring a third wave of coronavirus infections under control.

The country will remain on virus alert level 4, the second-highest, although there will be adjustments to some curbs, including allowing restaurants to resume operating at half their seating capacity and gyms to reopen, Ramaphosa said Sunday in a televised address. A night-time curfew will remain in place from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. and schools will remain closed until July 26.

“We have had to make difficult decisions, knowing that almost every decision carries a cost to the economy and society,” Ramaphosa said. “We remain committed to do all that we can to mitigate the impact of the lockdown on people’s livelihoods.”

France Warns of New Viral Wave (2:32 p.m. NY)

As the French government warns increasingly of a “fourth wave” due to the now-dominant delta variant of the coronavirus, the number of new cases remains low but is rising steadily. France reported 4,256 new cases in 24 hours, up 60% in a week based on a 7-day rolling average, and four deaths, while the number of patients in need of intensive care continues to decline.

President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to address the nation Monday evening, when he’s expected to speak about the risks of the delta variant and measures to counter its rapid spread, including mandatory vaccination for healthcare personnel.

Separately, a key Macron ally said France must “live with the virus” rather than count on a new lockdown to contain the spread of a new variant of Covid-19.

The country could reintroduce limits on the number of people allowed in bars, restaurants and other venues, and extend the use of the so-called “health pass,” junior minister for European affairs Clement Beaune said on Europe 1 radio Sunday.

N.Y. Reports One Death As Cases Trend Up (12:53 a.m. NY)

New York state reported one death from Covid-19 on Sunday, even as new cases are rising and the positive test rate topped 1% for the first time since late May. Another 666 infections were reported by Governor Andrew Cuomo, with the seven-day average increasing after a dip to the level of a month ago.

The delta variant accounts for 26% of New York City’s cases, which are also increasing, the city health department reported last week. That is about half the percentage nationally, according to the most recent estimate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NYC’s Adams Urges Indoor Masks in Public (11:32 a.m. NY)

Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City, said he’d recommend that vaccinated residents also wear masks in public indoor settings given the spread of the delta variant.

“I believe that we should err on the side of caution,” Adams said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I still wear my mask from time to time when I’m in crowded settings.”

Fauci Voices Frustration at Vaccine Lag (10:34 a.m. NY)

Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease specialist, said “ideological rigidity” is preventing people from getting Covid-19 shots and voiced frustration at the struggle to boost vaccination rates in parts of the country.

“It’s not an easy solution,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We’ve got to get away from this divisiveness that has really been a problem right from the very beginning with this outbreak.”

With vaccination rates lagging mostly in southern and Midwestern states, Fauci made the rounds of U.S. Sunday morning talk shows to reinforce the Biden administration’s message that Covid shots are safe and offer strong protection against the delta variant that’s now dominant in the U.S.

Libya Bans Social Gatherings (9:20 a.m. NY)

Libya reinstated a partial lockdown for two weeks, ordering the closing of restaurants and cafes and banning social gatherings, after reporting its highest-ever number of daily Covid-19 cases.

Authorities also cut working hours at government institutions and reduced staffing to 25% capacity. The North African nation recorded 2,854 positive cases on Saturday.

U.S. Cases Jump (8:55 a.m. NY)

The U.S. reported 33,933 new cases Saturday, the most since mid-May, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. New infections rose for the third consecutive week as the delta variant sweeps through pockets of unvaccinated Americans, jumping to almost 134,000 for the week ending Saturday. That compares with about 92,400 for the previous week.

Another 319 deaths were reported Saturday. Weekly fatalities were up slightly from the previous seven days, but still about half the level of early May.

Separately, U.S. vaccinations have plunged, despite the spread of the delta variant that is fueling a new rise in infections. The U.S. recorded 599,000 vaccinations on Saturday, the lowest level since early January, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Daily vaccinations peaked in mid-April at almost 4 million. President Joe Biden missed his goal of administering at least one dose of vaccine to 70% of adults in the U.S. by July 4. That number is now 67.5%, according to the CDC.

Moscow Sees Infections Leveling Out (5:04 p.m. HK)

Officials in Moscow believe the city has passed the peak of infections and will start to see levels stabilize, RIA Novosti reported on Sunday, citing the capital’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin. Russia has reported more than 700 deaths in each of the past six days, with the seven-day average hitting a high of 725.

Israel Suggests Vaccine May Weaken (4:12 p.m. HK)

Data collected in Israel suggests that the protection afforded by the Pfizer Inc.- BioNTech SE vaccination weakens over time, the Ynet news website reported.

People who were among the earliest vaccinated figure prominently among the new cases, though even among this group, protection against severe illness remains strong, according to the data presented to the Health Ministry.

Separately, Israel reached an agreement with Pfizer to bring forward a planned delivery of coronavirus vaccine to Aug. 1, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday.

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