- Joe Biden warns of “dark winter”, unveils task force members
- NJ imposes new restrictions
- NYC on verge of 2nd wave, mayor says
- Shanghai reports first case in months
- US hospitalizations back to July highs
- Ukrainian president tests positive
- Dr. Fauci hails Pfizer-BioNTech news
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Update (1200ET): After spending the morning with the co-chairs of his newly announced coronavirus task force, Joe Biden delivered an update where he expanded on his statement from earlier, warning Americans about the “dark winter” ahead’, as he prepares to impose mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing rules.
“There’s a need for bold action to fight this pandemic. We’re still facing a very dark winter…infection rates are going up, hospitalizations are going up, deaths are going up,” Biden said during the video briefing, after which he did not take questions.
I spent the morning with the co-chairs of my COVID-19 Council discussing the status of this pandemic and how we move forward. Tune in as I provide an update on how we’re going to beat this virus. https://t.co/VVGHZNnUFY
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 9, 2020
Biden also laid out his 13-member advisory panel, which is made up of doctors and other “health experts”, including Dr. Rick Bright, a former top vaccine official who was fired from the Trump administration, as a member of his COVID-19 advisory panel, which he announced on Monday.
Biden’s task force will have three co-chairs: Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general during the Obama administration; David Kessler, Food and Drug Administration commissioner under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine. Murthy and Kessler have briefed Biden for months on the pandemic.
As the Washington Post pointed out, Biden’s picks for the panel intend to communicate to the public that he’s embracing a “science-backed” approach, which essentially means doubling down on economically harmful restrictions on business and movement, in addition to the social distancing, as New Jersey showed us earlier. Biden also plans on working closely with local officials, calling both Republican and Democratic governors to get their input.
We imagine NJ’s Phil Murphy and NY’s Andrew Cuomo will have quit a bit of input.
Biden’s comments come as US cases have soared to new daily records in recent days, including the 128,000 cases reported on Saturday, a daily record.
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Update (1110ET): Phil Murphy just announced that among the latest batch of restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Garden State, will be an order barring indoor dining between 2200 and 0500, a strategy that has also been implemented in Asia and Europe.
Importantly, the halt comes just after the FDA approved more rapid antigen tests for COVID-19. Manufacturers and many scientists argue the tests could be used by restaurants to safely serve customers, since they’re cheap (only a few dollars per customer).
Of course, most family restaurants in the state won’t be impacted, it’s the nightlife industry, which, in theory, leads to more spread, that will suffer the bulk of the impact.
It’s notable in that the bounce-back in restaurant spending was a major contributor to last quarter’s GDP print. NJ is officially back ahead of the pack in its efforts to curb the latest round of the virus.
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Monday’s torrent of optimistic vaccine-related news, sparked early this morning by a WSJ report previewing the first batch of results from the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine candidate, has, predictably, been followed by a statement from the Biden campaign (which, curiously, got a preview of the results around the same time as Pfizer’s own top executives, and possibly even before the sitting president himself) warning Americans that masks remain the best tool to prevent spread of the virus.
It began Sunday evening, when Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency and ordered a statewide mask mandate, blaming a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations that he said was threatening hospital capacity, CBS News reported.
Herbert and the Utah Department of Health issued executive and public health orders requiring residents to wear face coverings in public, at work and when they are within 6 feet of people who don’t live in their households. Herbert, a Republican, had resisted a statewide mandate, even as several counties in the state went ahead with more restrictive mask rules. But apparently the election results, combined with the latest data, have been convincing enough to sway them.
Across the US, hospitalizations have returned to their highs from late July, with 56,768 patients in the hospital, 11,108 of those in the ICU and 2,959 on ventilators.
On Monday morning, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy suggested that he would revive some restrictions in the wake of the state reporting about 5,000 new COVID-19 cases in two days.
New restrictions might impact the state’s bars, restaurants and indoor youth sports may be reined in, Murphy said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Though notably the limits wouldn’t be extended to include college sports as part of measures he said would likely be announced Monday.
“If you sit at a bar there’s a much higher likelihood of a transmission,” he said.
Across the river in NYC, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city was coming “dangerously close” to a second wave. His warning comes as cases and hospitalizations rise, and the city health department, which has caught a lot of flack for its dysfunctional relationship with city hall (or rather, city hall has caught flack for its dysfunctional relationship with the health department, and decisions to delegate tasks like organizing the city’s contact tracing effort to others outside the department) releases a “real time” breakdown of zip-code by zip-code data.
While daily case numbers remain uncomfortably elevated, and deaths and hospitalizations continue to climb, the number of confirmed cases is currently at 50,550,062, while 1,258,321 deaths have been recorded.
Here’s some more COVID-19 news from Monday morning and overnight:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating. Zelenskiy is feeling fine and will continue to work remotely, according to a statement from his office (Source: Bloomberg).
Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer will have a “major impact” on the battle against the coronavirus. The efficacy of the Pfizer drug candidate being over 90% “is just extraordinary,” Fauci said Monday on a call with reporters. Separately, he said Moderna may have similar results to the Pfizer vaccine because it is also based on mRNA technology (Source: Bloomberg).
Shanghai reported a single domestic case of Covid-19 on Monday, according to the municipal government. The confirmed case works as a porter at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The Chinese financial hub hasn’t reported any local cases in months, although it has seen a steady stream of imported cases (Source: Bloomberg).