- US sees back-to-back COVID-19 case records
- Spain imposes 6-month state of emergency
- French official warns of possible lockdown as Paris ICUs strain
- Hungary sees another record
- Global cases top 400k on Sat, down from Friday
- Iran sees another daily record
- Poland cases decline for 2nd day
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For the second day in a row, US COVID-19 cases surpassed 84k, a record back-to-back showing as the current wave of the US outbreak has officially surpassed the worst of the July numbers from Florida, Arizona, California and Texas.
Hospitalizations have been steadily moving higher since the beginning of October; most recently, they’ve reached levels unseen since mid-August. After remaining largely flat for weeks, deaths have finally started to creep higher.
Source: the COVID-19 Tracking Project
Measuring by rate of spread, New Jersey has slid back into the lead with 1.37 (rates above 1 mean the virus is expanding, as each infected individual is passing the virus to more than 1 additional person). Ohio, which saw several record highs in terms of new cases in the past week, has seen its “R” rate hit a record 1.22.
Rates have been rising across the Midwest and the West, with North Dakota, South Dakota and New Mexico all well above 1.20. Illinois, another populous Midwest State, has seen its rate climb to 1.20.
The US reported 85,317 new cases on Saturday, a record for the second day in a row. But on Sunday morning, attention turned back to Europe, as Spain on Sunday approved a new national state of alarm, marking an end to a contentious row with local officials in Madrid, who chafed at being singled out for curfews and restrictions.
El País reports that the new national state of alarm, designed to allow local authorities more autonomy to limit mobility and business activity (particularly nightlife) as they see fit. However, an obligatory curfew beginning at 2300 – 0600 for the entire country (though regional officials will have power to move it forward or back).
Crucially, regional officials will have the power to restrict movement into and out of their territories, aside from ‘essential’ reasons. Notably, Spain’s borders will remain open (unlike during the first wave, when Spain’s borders closed).
“The whole of Europe is now taking measures to limit mobility,” said the prime minister on Sunday to justify the decision. “The situation in which we are in is extreme.”
According to El Pais, this is the second time in seven months where Spain’s coalition government has invoked its constitutional authority to use the lowest of three emergency measures that are set out in the Spanish Constitution.
This will be the second time in seven months that the coalition government – headed by the Socialist Party (PSOE) with junior partner Unidas Podemos – has made use of the emergency measure, the lowest of three that are set out by the Spanish Constitution.
Unlike in March, when the state of alarm was used to subject Spaniards to one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns, this time it will be used in a much less severe manner, in particular to introduce the curfew. Nearly all of the regions want to use such a measure in order to slow the second wave of the pandemic in Spain as quickly as possible, and reach the Christmas season with figures that are more under control.
Another difference between now and March is that the government is making clear its duration from the outset, and wants the measure – which will initially be established for 15 days – to remain in place until May 9, 2021.
The first state of alarm had to be extended every two weeks by Spain’s lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies, something that turned into a political headache for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the PSOE given that the coalition lacks a working majority and he thus needed the support of opposition parties to prolong the measure. The state of alarm came to an end in June when it was clear the government no longer had the votes it needed for another two-week extension and full powers to control the epidemic were returned to the regional governments.
Here are some more COVID-19 headlines from overnight and Sunday morning:
Iran reported a record number of daily cases for the fourth time this week at 6,191, taking the total to 568,896. The death toll reached 32,616 with 296 more fatalities in the past 24 hours, down from 335 a day earlier (Source: Bloomberg).
Poland registered a second day of declines in coronavirus cases, to 11,742 on Sunday versus the Friday record of 13,632. Covid-19 deaths halved to 87 today from a record 179 on Saturday, as the pandemic resurgence pushed Poland to impose new restrictions from this weekend. Polish President Andrzej Duda tested positive for coronavirus. He said on Saturday he’s feeling fine (Source: Bloomberg).
Hungary reported a record 3,149 new infections Sunday. A further 35 people died in the past day, bringing the death toll to 1,425, with 2,449 patients being treated in hospital. The country has lagged neighboring countries in imposing restrictions, opting to keep its economy open. One soccer game in Budapest alone hosted more than 15,000 spectators Saturday, highlighting the lax attitude of authorities, with virus testing also generally behind peers (Source: Bloomberg).
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Looking ahead, French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari warned Sunday morning that the government was prepared for all possibilities, including the possibility of another lockdown, something President Emmanuel Macron has said he would do his best to avoid. On Sunday morning, patients in southern France were shuffled between hospitals as ICUs strained under the pressure of newly sick patients. Djebbari issued the warning during an interview one Europe 1 radio that region-to-region patient transfers likely wont’ be as helpful as they were earlier in the epdiemic because it’s spreading so rapidly across the entire country. In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is also expected to unveil the most restrictive new measures since the country exited lockdown over the summer.