(Bloomberg) -- The world topped 15 million Covid-19 infections. California set a daily record and topped New York as the U.S. state with the most confirmed cases, while deaths in Texas reached a new high.
Brazil also set a record for new cases. The virus tightened its grip on the Asia Pacific region, with deaths reaching a daily high in Indonesia and infections hitting records in Hong Kong and Japan. Cases also set a record in Australia, once hailed as a virus success story.
The U.S. sealed a pact for an initial 100 million doses of a vaccine Pfizer Inc. is developing with Germany’s BioNTech SE. Aviation regulators in the European Union and Singapore are working together to establish health measures and facilitate a recovery of air travel.
Global Tracker: Cases reach 15 million; deaths pass 617,000Month into the outbreak, U.S. testing still isn’t rightNew York taxes will stalk those who fled pandemicPreschooler parents are facing tough choices as offices reopenThe keys to speed in race for vaccine, and its perils: QuickTake
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Brazil Cases Surge by Record (6:05 a.m. HK)
Brazil reported a record number of coronavirus infections, days after the World Health Organization said the country had reached a plateau.
The Latin American country registered 67,860 new cases on Wednesday, more than 20% above the previous record for daily infections. The numbers of Covid-19 cases added in the last 24 hours pushed the total to 2,227,514. Deaths rose by 1,284 to 82,771, according to the Health Ministry.
Brazil, a nation of 210 million with some states the size of France, trails only the U.S. in both case and death counts. The numbers, while still high, have stabilized in recent weeks, the WHO said Friday. It urged Brazil’s government to seize the opportunity to take control of the virus.
Texas Has Record Daily Deaths (6 a.m. HK)
Texas virus deaths rose by a record 197 as the crisis afflicting some of the Lone Star state’s poorest border counties worsened. The cumulative death toll reached 4,348, according to state health department data released on Wednesday.
Even as the pressure on hospitals leveled off in some major metropolitan areas such as Houston, case counts and admissions continued to surge in places like Hidalgo and Nueces counties.
Caseloads in many of those border areas have surpassed more populous regions like Collin County in suburban Dallas. With health-care infrastructure and staffing pushed to their limits, Army and Navy medical teams have been dispatched to lend assistance.
Florida Governor Says Schools May Delay Reopening (5:50 p.m. NY)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said state schools may delay opening if they need time to protect against the risk of coronavirus, easing off past demands they open on time. “If a school district needs to delay the school year for a few weeks so everything will be in good shape, have at it,” he said in a speech from Tallahassee.
DeSantis urged school districts to give parents the choice of keeping their children home for distance learning or sending them to school. “No parent should be required to send their child to in person instruction if they don’t want to,” he said. Still, he said the potential damage to children being kept home might be greater than the risk of getting coronavirus.
The governor’s recommendations contrast with an emergency order that his education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, issued on July 6 that requires all public schools to open for in-person instruction next month. The commissioner issued the order the same day that President Donald Trump, in a tweet, demanded schools reopen in the fall. Trump also threatened to cut federal funding for schools that offer distance learning instead of reopening.
South Africa Reports Record Deaths (5 p.m. NY)
South Africa reported a record 572 deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday, almost tripling the previous daily high.
The number of confirmed infections rose to 394,948 from 381,798 the day before, the Department of Health said in a statement. It gave no explanation for the surge in death numbers. So far 5,940 people have officially died from the virus in South Africa, according to the department.
The country also said that excess deaths, a measure of mortality exceeding historical averages, have surged as the pandemic worsens. Between May 6 and July 14 there were 17,090 more deaths from natural causes than would have been expected, the South African Medical Research Council said in a weekly report published on Wednesday.
“The timing and geographic pattern leaves no room to question whether this is associated with the Covid-19 epidemic,” the council said.
U.S. Cases Rise 1.9% (4 p.m. NY)
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.9% as compared with the same time Tuesday to 3.93 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase was in line with the average daily gain of 1.8% over the past week. Deaths rose 0.7% to 142,459.
California reported a record 12,807 new confirmed cases, bringing the state’s total to 413,576. With the increase, the state surpassed New York as having the most cases.Florida reported 379,619 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, up 2.6% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 3.5% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 5,345, an increase of 139, or 2.7%, according to the state Department of Health report, which includes data through Tuesday.Arizona’s virus cases continued to decline, with the state on Wednesday reporting 1,926 new infections, a 1.3% increase to 150,609 and below the prior seven-day average of 2.2%. The state Department of Health Services reported 56 new deaths, bringing the toll to 2,974.Illinois reported 1,598 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, the highest daily increase in July, Governor J.B. Pritzker said. The state reported 23 new deaths.
Minnesota, Ohio Mandate Masks (3:45 p.m. NY)
Minnesota and Ohio became the latest states to mandate facial coverings. Minnesotans will be required to wear a mask indoors and in some outdoor spaces beginning Saturday under an executive order signed Wednesday by Democratic Governor Tim Walz.
In Ohio, residents over age 10 will be required to wear a mask in public starting Thursday. The executive order by Governor Mike DeWine came less than a day after the state’s most prominent mask opponent, House Speaker Larry Householder, was accused of participating in a $60 million bribery scheme, diminishing his standing in the state’s culture battles over face coverings and other coronavirus-related health orders. Both officials are Republicans.
DeWine also issued a travel advisory -- not an order -- asking those who travel from states with high positivity rates to self-quarantine for 14 days after their arrival in Ohio. The state suggests the quarantine if a traveler comes from a region with a positivity rate of 15% or higher -- the same travel advisory level set by bordering Kentucky on Tuesday.
Illinois Cases Hit July High (2:38 p.m. NY)
Illinois reported 1,598 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, the highest daily increase in July, Governor J.B. Pritzker said in a news briefing. The state reported 23 new deaths. Cases have spiked in counties bordering Missouri, pushing Pritzker to urge local officials there to implement mitigation measures.
California Reports Daily Case Record (2:25 p.m. NY)
California reported a record 12,807 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to 413,576. With the increase, the state surpassed New York as having the most cases, a sign of how the pandemic is changing as it sweeps across the U.S. New York, the early epicenter of the virus, has an official tally of 408,806.
California saw some of the earliest confirmed cases in the U.S. this spring but averted a runaway outbreak by shutting down its economy before any other state. But new case counts, hospitalizations and deaths all started climbing again as the state allowed many businesses to reopen and residents started socializing together again, not always with masks. The number of Californians killed by the virus, 7,870, remains far below New York’s tally of 25,068, according to websites run by each state.
N.Y. MTA Eyes Spending Cuts, Fare Hike (1:27 p.m. NY)
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering nearly $1.4 billion of spending cuts and may impose steeper fare increases than planned as ridership may not return to pre-coronavirus levels until almost 2023.
The MTA, the largest public transportation system in the nation, is in the midst of a “fiscal tsunami,” that’s wiped away 40% of its revenue, Pat Foye, the agency’s chief executive officer, told board members Wednesday during its monthly meeting. The MTA may impose bigger fare and toll increases, delay pension contributions, freeze wages, and postpone or reduce its record $51.5 billion capital program if Congress fails to allocate more relief funds to the agency, MTA officials warned board members.
Hospital Admissions Slow, HCA Says (12:40 p.m. NY)
HCA Healthcare said on its second-quarter earnings call that Covid admissions at its hospitals in Texas have begun to decline, and they’re flattening out in Florida. HCA has restricted some elective surgeries in both states. The company expects ebbs and flows of the virus to continue, and executives said the company has proven it can scale up and down capacity in response to the virus.
World Hits 15 Million Cases (12:10 p.m. NY)
Worldwide coronavirus cases reached another grim milestone on Wednesday. More than 15 million people have now been infected by the highly contagious virus since it was first reported in China in late January, resulting in more than 600,000 deaths.
The three worst hit countries -- the U.S., Brazil and India -- account for nearly half of all confirmed cases globally and more than 40% of fatalities.
After sweeping through Europe and parts of the U.S. in the spring, global cases are now growing by more than 1 million a week, and the U.S. recently saw a record number of daily infections.
Governments across the Asia Pacific region are struggling to contain a fresh wave of infections, with cities from Hong Kong to Tokyo reporting record daily case totals in recent days.
Arizona New Cases Continue to Slow (11:45 a.m. NY)
Arizona’s virus cases continued to decline, with the state on Wednesday reporting 1,926 new Covid-19 infections, a 1.3% increase to 150,609 and below the prior seven-day average of 2.2%. The state Department of Health Services reported 56 new deaths, bringing the toll to 2,974.
Florida Infection Rate Falls (10:50 a.m. NY)
Florida reported 379,619 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, up 2.6% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 3.5% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 5,345, an increase of 139, or 2.7%, according to the state Department of Health report, which includes data through Tuesday.
Cumulative hospitalizations of Florida residents rose by 463, or 2.1%, to 22,243. The new rate of people testing positive for the first time fell to 10.6% for Tuesday, from 13.6% on Monday. The median age of cases among Florida residents rose to 42 from 41.
California Tops N.Y. With Most Cases (10:20 a.m. NY)
California passed New York, once the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, as the state with the most confirmed Covid-19 infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There are 409,382 confirmed cases in California, and 408,181 in New York.
Painkillers Run Short in Opioid Crackdown (9:03 a.m. NY)
Intravenous painkillers are running short during the pandemic in part because of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s opioid production restrictions, one of the biggest hospital policy groups in the U.S. said.
Tokyo Urges Stay-Home Weekend; Japan Cases Hit Record (8:10 a.m. NY)
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told residents to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors as much as possible during a forthcoming four-day weekend as the city’s running total topped 10,000 and new cases nationwide were reported to hit a new daily record. Japan’s capital had another 238 cases on Wednesday. The long weekend was originally scheduled to celebrate the start of the now-postponed Tokyo Olympic Games.
Zimbabwe Imposes Curfew to Curb ‘Frightening’ Spread (7:46 a.m. NY)
Zimbabwe imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and warned of stiff penalties for people who break quarantine rules. The number of infections almost doubled to 1,713 by Tuesday, from 985 a week earlier, as deaths jumped by 40% to 26.
U.S. Seals Deal for Millions of Vaccine Doses (7:13 a.m. NY)
U.S. health officials agreed on an order as many as 600 million doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, the latest step in an effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. government will pay the companies $1.95 billion upon the receipt of the first 100 million doses, following FDA authorization or approval, according to a statement, with an option to acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.
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