(Bloomberg) -- Texas sports leagues can have some fans attend games even as new coronavirus cases in the state climbed at amost twice the weekly average. Overall U.S. infections increased 1.2%.
New York gave store owners the power to keep out customers for not wearing a mask. Securities regulators are scrutinizing public companies that got U.S. stimulus aid.
The U.S. Veterans Administration is using less of a drug touted by President Donald Trump for Covid-19. Roche’s immune suppressor Actemra will be paired with Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir in a late-stage trial.
- Virus Tracker: Cases top 5.7 million; deaths over 358,000
- Why New York suffered when other cities were spared
- India’s deaths exceed China’s as global hot spots shift
- Vaccine makers may need to infect subjects to get results
- Latin America now accounts for 40% of daily virus deaths
- How can I get it? The evidence on transmission: QuickTake
Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus. For a look back at this week’s top stories from QuickTake, click here.
San Francisco to Reopen Retail, Sports (5:10 p.m. NY)
San Francisco, one of the first U.S. cities to close, is taking steps to reopen businesses, while stay-home orders remain in effect. Starting June 15, restrictions will be loosened on outdoor dining, indoor retail and certain outdoor activities like summer camps, Mayor London Breed said. Professional sports can resume, but without spectators.
The city will open child care and outdoor museums June 1. In the next phase, scheduled for July 13, hair salons will open and indoor dining and real estate open houses will be permitted.
Breed said a stay-at-home order remains in place indefinitely, and encouraged office workers to continue to telecommute. “This plan is being implemented, but we are still asking people to stay at home if at all possible,” she said.
Texas Cases Jump; Fans Return to Stadiums (4:25 p.m. NY)
Texas Governor Greg Abbott will let professional sports leagues play games in stadiums and outdoor arenas with fans, limited to 25% of capacity. Indoor sports events remain closed to spectators. New cases rose faster than the weekly average.
Leagues must submit a health and safety plan for screening and regular testing of employees, players and contractors, according to a statement on the state’s website. Six feet (1.8 meters) of distance should be maintained in settings including locker rooms, break rooms, workout or practice facilities, and showers.
Texas cases climbed 3.2%, almost twice the seven-day average, to 59,766, according to state health department data. New-case detections outpaced the 2.9% increase in testing and, in terms of raw numbers, the case count increased at the steepest daily rate since the pandemic began.
Fatalities rose 2.5% to 1,601. Abbott has been dispatching so-called surge response teams to Amarillo and other hot spots to deal with outbreaks centered in facilities such as meatpacking plants.
U.S. Cases Rise 1.2% (4 p.m. NY)
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.2% as compared to the same time Wednesday, to 1.71 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That’s in line with Wednesday’s rate and the average of 1.3% over the past seven days. Deaths rose 1.4% to 101,129.
- New York had more than 366,000 cases and 23,600 fatalities as of May 27, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Hospitalizations are declining, and daily fatalities were below 100 for a fourth day, after peaking at more than 700 in April.
- Florida reported 53,285 cases, up 1.2% from a day earlier, below the average increase of 1.5% in the previous seven days, according to the state’s health department. Deaths reached 2,364, an increase of 1.9%.
- California cases rose 2.7% to 101,697 while deaths rose 2.3% to 3,973, according to the state’s website.
Boston Marathon Canceled (3 p.m. NY)
The Boston Marathon was canceled by the Boston Athletic Association, which in a tweet said a virtual event will be staged in September. All participants who signed up for the April 20 race will be offered a refund and can participate in a virtual event Sept. 7–14. Participants in the virtual race will run the marathon distance 26.2 miles and upload data to a fitness app.
Mayor Marty Walsh, in a tweet, said the organizers “with our input and support” determined a one-day race isn’t feasible. “This kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14 or any time this year,” he said.
Chicago Lets Workers Return (2:55 p.m. NY)
More than 130,000 Chicago workers will be permitted to return to work on Wednesday as the city begins to reopen its economy, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. Industries permitted to open June 3, with specific safety guidelines in place, include office-based jobs, real-estate services, personal services such as salons and barber hops, and child-care centers.
Italian Soccer to Restart June 20 (2:41 p.m. NY)
Italy’s top soccer league will restart on June 20 after the national lockdown closed arenas, Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said, according to newspaper La Repubblica. The decision was announced after Spadafora met with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and soccer officials, Repubblica said on its website.
Premier League to Resumes in Mid-June (1:50 p.m. NY)
The English Premier League set a provisional restart date of June 17, although Chief Executive Richard Masters said safety requirements must be met before soccer matches resume. The league has 92 outstanding matches for the season.
The league will restart with Aston Villa facing Sheffield United at home with Manchester City playing against Arsenal. Matches will take place without fans. The BBC will broadcast games for free for the first time once matches resume, the network said separately.
Egypt has Most Cases in One Day (1:30 p.m. NY)
Egypt reported 1,127 new cases, the most for one day in the Arab world’s most populous nation, and 29 new deaths, the Health Ministry said.
France Paves Way to Reopen (12:55 p.m. NY)
France will lift domestic travel restrictions and let most bars, restaurants and museums reopen starting Tuesday following weeks of stringent controls to contain the epidemic. Officials said confinement measures were more effective than expected in combating the disease’s spread. “Freedom will finally become the rule again, and prohibition the exception,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Thursday, following a cabinet meeting.
In areas including Paris and the surrounding region, lifting curbs will be slower. Bars and restaurants will be able to open only outdoor spaces, and sports centers will not open until the next phase starting June 22.
SEC Opens Inquiry on Stimulus (12:30 p.m. NY)
The Securities and Exchange Commission has started an inquiry into companies that received U.S. stimulus funds, scrutinizing whether representations made in loan applications were consistent with disclosures in securities filings, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The SEC’s enforcement division has sent letters to some companies that got funding from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, asking for information about how the funds were being used and for copies of loan applications, these people said.
One person said investigators may be focusing on companies whose dire condition qualified them for paycheck loans but whose financial disclosures prior to the outbreak didn’t reflect such vulnerability.
VA Trims Use of Trump-Touted Drug (12:20 p.m. NY)
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is reducing its use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients, Secretary Robert Wilkie told a House Appropriations Committee panel on Thursday. The VA’s use of the drug peaked at the same time it did in the rest of the nation after President Donald Trump touted its use in March despite a lack of clinical evidence that it works.
“We started ratcheting it down when we went more to remdesivir and we went to the convalescent plasma,” Wilkie said. “Last week we only used it three times.”
Some analyses have found hydroxychloroquine associated with more deaths in Covid-19 patients given the drug’s heart risks compared with patients who didn’t use the treatment. Wilkie said he relied on the intent of a so-called Right to Try law pushed by Trump and passed by Congress in 2018 meant to increase access to experimental drugs.
“This Congress was very clear in saying that if people of sound mind ask to be given experimental treatments because that may be the last thing that separates them from life and death then we do that,” he said. “The other option is to do nothing.”
Italy’s Death Lowest in 4 Days (12:15 p.m. NY)
Italy reported 593 new cases on Thursday, a slight rise from from 584 a day earlier. New deaths were 70, the fewest in four days, down from 117 on Wednesday. The country’s death toll is 33,142.
The government will weigh regional data at the end of the week before further relaxing containment measures with free movement within the country from June 3.
Cuomo Expands Mask Order (12:03 p.m. NY)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will sign an executive order that lets owners of private businesses deny entry to anyone who doesn’t wear a mask or face covering. “We’re giving the store owner the right to say, ‘If you’re not wearing a mask, you can’t come it,” Cuomo said at a Brooklyn news conference.
Later in his briefing, Cuomo defended the new order, saying individuals “don’t have a right to expose the store owner to the virus” or the right “to expose other patrons in the store to the virus.”
New cases rose 0.5%, up from the 0.4% one-week average.
Florida Cases Rise Below Average (11:50 a.m.)
Florida reported 53,285 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, up 1.2% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.5% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 2,364, an increase of 1.9%.
Moscow Revises Death Count Higher (11:10 a.m. NY)
Moscow’s health department said deaths linked to Covid-19 in April more than doubled after the count was broadened to include direct as well as related cases. While 636 deaths are blamed on the pandemic, an additional 756 people died of other causes while testing positive, according to a statement. Using the new methodology, the Russian capital’s virus death rate rose to 2.8% from 1.4%, it said.
The city said it’s following the World Health Organization’s recommendations from mid-April to record fatalities “where the disease caused, or is assumed to have caused, or contributed to death.” Moscow had 1,753 more deaths in April than the three-year average, an increase of 17%, the department said.
Trump Acknowledges ‘Very Sad Milestone’ (9:37 a.m. NY)
President Donald Trump on Thursday publicly acknowledged the death toll of the U.S. outbreak had reached 100,000.
Port Authority to Seek Fed Aid (9:35 a.m. NY)
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will seek a short-term loan from a Federal Reserve relief program aimed at buying bonds from local and state governments under stress from the pandemic. The agency faces a $3 billion loss over two years tied to a 97% drop in airport traffic, a 95% decline in PATH train ridership and a 40% cut in bridge and tunnel traffic, according to a statement issued after the board approved making the request.
White House Scraps Eco Forecast (9:30 a.m. NY)
The White House won’t issue a formal economic forecast that would show Covid-19’s impact, according to two people familiar with the matter. One said the administration lacks the data to meet the deadline for the forecast, and the other said the unprecedented nature of the pandemic makes a forecast impossible.
The outlook is usually in the “mid-session review,” issued in July or August, as a follow up to the budget released in February.
Poland Surprises With Third Rate Cut (9:07 a.m. NY)
Poland unexpectedly lowered borrowing costs for the third time in three months to stem the economic damage from the pandemic. The National Bank of Poland reduced its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 0.1% from 0.5% on Thursday, following cuts of one percentage point in March and April. All 24 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted no change.
Iceland’s Airport Testing Plan Hits Snag (9:03 a.m. NY)
Iceland’s plans to test every passenger arriving at its international airport for Covid-19 has hit a snag, after it emerged that the island doesn’t have enough testing facilities. Opening up the country to foreign travelers is a crucial step to lift the economy, which is forecast to contract 9% this year.
U.S. Jobless Rolls Shrink for First Time in Pandemic (9:01 a.m. NY)
U.S. states’ jobless rolls shrank for the first time during the pandemic in a sign people are starting to return to work, even as millions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits.
Continuing claims, which tally Americans’ ongoing benefits in state programs, fell to 21.1 million for the week ended May 16, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. Initial jobless claims for regular state programs totaled 2.12 million in the week ended May 23, to bring the 2 1/2-month total above 40 million.
Separate data showed that U.S. orders for durable goods sank sharply for a second month in April as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the manufacturing industry.
Johnson to Set Out Results of U.K. Virus Response Review (8:51 a.m. NY)
“The Prime Minister will be able to set out later what we have concluded as a result of that review and to talk in some more detail about the recovery plan and what the next steps are likely to be,” Boris Johnson’s official spokesman, James Slack, said on a call with reporters Thursday.
Johnson will speak at a 5 p.m. press conference with Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance. The prime minister’s office also dismissed a police finding that Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s top aide, may have broken lockdown rules, insisting the matter is now closed.
Separately, the U.K.’s coronavirus tracing program was hit by technical problems on the day of its launch, with some health-care workers unable to log on to the system. The so-called Test and Trace service is a key part of Johnson’s plan to help the British economy return to normality.
AstraZeneca Joins With Oxford Biomedica to Produce Shot (8:33 a.m. NY)
AstraZeneca Plc joined forces with Oxford Biomedica Plc to help produce one of the world’s fastest-moving potential vaccines against Covid-19. Oxford Biomedica will produce multiple batches of the vaccine this year and give AstraZeneca access to its Oxbox manufacturing center, according to a statement Thursday. AstraZeneca has been working with the University of Oxford on the inoculation.
Third of Russians Believe Threat Is Overblown: Poll (8:26 a.m. NY)
Nearly a third of Russians believe that the threat from the coronavirus crisis has been massively overblown, according to an opinion poll published on Thursday. The survey of 7,600 people from across Russia was conducted on May 21-26 by the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.
Harrods Set to Reopen (7 a.m. NY)
Luxury British retailer Harrods is set to reopen its flagship London store in June, with “significant” social distancing measures in place, and unveiled plans to open an outlet shop to sell stock left over from the season.
The company plans to use footfall monitoring technology to limit capacity at its main Knightsbridge store and ensure social distancing can be maintained. Specific doors will be designated for entering and exiting the store, which was closed in March as the coronavirus outbreak started to spread in Britain.
The new concept store, based in West London’s Westfield mall, has been designed to allow more space for customers, the company said. “In the new world in which we find ourselves, the economy needs businesses willing to look at its business model and current operations and think differently to enable growth, while protecting its customers and employees,” Managing Director Michael Ward said. “Harrods Outlet allows us to enable better social distancing across a larger footprint.”
WHO Warns Against Austerity (6:37 a.m. NY)
The World Health Organization warned against austerity in health spending as Europe’s economies reel from the effects of lockdowns to rein in the coronavirus. “We must learn from the mistakes of the past,” when public spending on health fell in the wake of the euro crisis, Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said in a briefing.
Cuts in public spending on health shift costs to households who may already be facing financial insecurity, the WHO’s European office warned. Kluge called for solidarity among European governments. “If there’s something we have learned so far it’s that one country, even if it’s doing a great job, is not standing alone. We are safe only when everyone is safe.”
‘Safer’ for BOE to Err With Too Much Easing (6:22 a.m. NY)
It’s safer for the Bank of England to ease too much rather than too little as it responds to the coronavirus pandemic, according to policy maker Michael Saunders. The U.K. is at risk of a relatively slow recovery from the crisis, which could prove especially damaging, Saunders said on a webinar Thursday. Failing to add more stimulus now could see the economy slip into a “lowflation trap.”
“The costs of policy error are, to an extent, asymmetric at present,” he said. “It is safer to err on the side of easing somewhat too much, and then if necessary tighten as capacity pressures eventually build, rather than ease too little and find the economy gets stuck in a low-inflation rut.” The pound slid after the comments and money markets moved to price in a 10 basis-point interest-rate cut for May 2021. That would take the key rate to zero.
Synthetic Bio Pioneer Ginkgo Raises $70 Million (6 a.m. NY)
Ginkgo Bioworks Inc. has raised $70 million in an effort to build out DNA-based Covid-19 testing on a massive scale. The firm is best known for its efforts to design, modify and manufacture organisms to make industrial processes cheaper and more efficient — for example, it’s working to help program bacteria for treatments as living medicines. Now, Gingko is looking to repurpose the DNA-sequencing and automation infrastructure it developed to read and modify living cells to help address the nation’s shortfall of diagnostic testing.
The U.S. has vastly scaled up its testing and is now processing somewhere between 300,000 and 450,000 each day, according to The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer initiative to compile virus data. But those numbers still fall far short of the tens of millions that some experts have suggested are needed daily to reopen the economy safely and return to a new normal.
DNA sequencing, Gingko is betting, might allow those efforts to scale up far more rapidly and cheaply to help achieve that end. The company is worth about $4.2 billion, based on a September effort that raised $290 million. The latest round includes investors such as DNA-sequencing giant Illumina Inc.
Google Launches ‘Scam Spotter’ (6 a.m. NY)
Alphabet Inc.’s Google has created “Scam Spotter” in partnership with Cybercrime Support Network, an organization that supports victims of online crimes. The website is intended to simplify and organize expert advice about coronavirus-related scams. Scammers have taken advantage of “fear and uncertainty,” around the virus, leading to approximately $40 million in fraud losses, Google said.
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