(Bloomberg) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is giving schools more flexibility to decide how to safely keep kids in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms while guarding against the further spread of Covid-19.
Florida cases are surging, as are hospitalizations in Texas. In Canada, Ontario residents could see the vast majority of restrictions lifted in August, allowing them to finish the summer in near pre-pandemic conditions.
California Schools Will Keep Mask Rules (4:46 p.m. NY)
California will continue to require students and teachers to wear masks in schools even though the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention dropped the mandate, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction,” California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly said at a briefing Friday, according to the Times.
The CDC said students and teachers no longer need to wear masks, but had recommended that prevention strategies, including masks, should be used when it’s not possible to maintain a distance of at least three feet in a classroom.
Ghaly said that not all school facilities in the state can accommodate physical distancing.
Texas Hospitalizations Climb for 6th Day (4:45 p.m. NY)
Texas virus hospitalizations rose for a sixth straight day — the longest streak of increases since the pandemic peaked in the state six months ago.
The tally rose to 1,888 beds in the past 24 hours, the highest since late May, state health department figures showed. The last time hospitalizations expanded for such a sustained period was early January, when the count was approaching its all-time high of more than 14,000.
New virus cases in the Lone Star state jumped by more than 1,000 for a third consecutive day, according to government figures.
Florida Cases Surge (4:10 p.m. NY)
Florida cases are surging, more than doubling in the last three weeks, state data show. Florida, which now reports Covid-19 data weekly, reported 23,697 new cases as of July 8, compared with 16,031 the week before and about about 10,500 the week ending June 17.
The state’s positive test rate has also increased to 7.8%, compared with 5.2% the previous week. Reflecting a national trend, vaccinations are also falling, to 207,089 doses, compared with almost half a million a month ago. New fatalities fell, to 172 from 213.
The data does not reflect hospitalizations, thought the CDC said in its most recent report that Florida admissions rose 27%, week over week.
Missouri Outbreak Spreading (3:03 p.m. NY)
Missouri’s renewed outbreak, driven by the highly transmissible delta variant, is spreading into the suburbs and the cities of St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, citing a top state health official.
“Do not assume it is over. It is not over, by far. And get vaccinated,” said George Turabelidze, a state epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Senior Services. “That is what we can do, as a community, to stop this outbreak from going out of control.”
Missouri has the nation’s highest percentage of cases caused by the delta variant. Just above 45% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine, lagging the national average of 55.2%, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The state reported more than 1,500 new cases on Friday, the most since late January, the newspaper reported.
Dutch Reimpose Curbs (1:40 p.m. NY)
The Netherlands will re-introduce some restrictions after new cases doubled last week as the government attempts to prevent renewed pressure on the health system and avoid potential travel restrictions. Starting tomorrow morning, bars will have shorter opening hours and will close at midnight, while night clubs will be shuttered until Aug. 13, Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at a press conference Friday evening. Public events such as music festivals can last a maximum of 24 hours and are only allowed if visitors have fixed seating and 1.5 meters of distancing can be adhered to.
Ontario Could Lift Curbs in August (1 p.m. NY)
Ontario residents could see the vast majority of Covid-19 restrictions lifted in August, allowing them to finish the summer in near pre-pandemic conditions.
On Friday, Canada’s most populous province announced it was moving into Step Three of its reopening plan sooner than expected, as vaccination rates continue to exceed targets.
“While this is exciting news, we must still remain vigilant and continue to follow the public health measures we know work and keep us safe,” Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health, said in a written statement. “Vaccines remain our ticket out of the pandemic.”
Portugal Donates Vaccines (12:50 p.m. NY)
Portugal will deliver 12,000 doses of vaccine on Saturday to the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The move is part of Portugal’s commitment to provide 5% of its vaccines to Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa and to East Timor, the ministry said.
Russia Raises May Death Toll (12:06 p.m. NY)
Russia’s death toll from Covid-19 in May grew to 18,695, up 65% from initial official reports, even before a new wave of infections pushed fatalities to a record high this week.
May’s total was down 9% from the revised April figure of 20,650. Russia publishes daily death figures and then updates the monthly total when the Federal Statistics Service releases its own data weeks later.
Total fatalities in Russia linked to the epidemic rose to nearly 290,000 through May.
CDC Eases School Guidance (11:15 a.m. NY)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its Covid-19 guidance for kindergarten through high school, providing flexibility for local decision makers to determine what’s needed to safely keep kids in the classroom.
With the delta variant dominant in the U.S. and just half of adults fully vaccinated, there are concerns about a potential Covid surge in under-vaccinated areas, including among school children. Meanwhile, regions with high inoculation rates and low infections may want to choose lesser levels of protection, said Erin Sauber-Schatz, who leads the CDC’s Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force.
The updated guidance continues to highlight distancing where possible, screening, mask use, ventilation and hand-washing. The new part: If localities decide not to use these strategies based on local conditions, they should be stopped one at a time, the guidance suggests, with ongoing monitoring for any rise in cases.
U.K. Cases Surge (9:26 a.m. NY)
U.K. cases surged, presenting Prime Minister Boris Johnson with more worrying data about the fast-spreading delta variant of the virus ahead of a planned easing of restrictions on July 19.
The reproduction rate of the virus in England has risen to levels last seen in October, the government said Friday. Cases of the delta variant, which now accounts for 99% of U.K. infections, rose by almost a third in the past week to 216,249 cases, data from Public Health England showed.
Pandemic Not Slowing Down (8:59 a.m. NY)
Coronavirus infections are rising across most regions of the world as the delta variant spreads, clear evidence that the pandemic isn’t on the wane, according to the World Health Organization’s chief scientist.
While vaccination levels in some countries are reducing severe cases and hospitalizations, large parts of the world face oxygen shortages, a lack of hospital beds and higher mortality, the WHO’s Soumya Swaminathan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
Spain on German Risk List (8:28 a.m. NY)
Germany reclassified Spain as an area of risk after infections surged, raising the alarm about a country that’s among the most popular destinations for German tourists.
The ranking, which is Germany’s third highest, includes the Balearic and Canary Islands. But it has little practical impact, as quarantine can be avoided by travelers returning to Germany as long as they have proof of full vaccination or recovery from Covid-19, or can provide a negative test.
South Africa Virus Council to Meet (7:46 a.m.)
South Africa’s National Coronavirus Command Council will meet on July 11 to assess the country’s response to the pandemic and whether current restrictions aimed at curbing its spread are appropriate.
The meeting comes two weeks after President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the country on virus alert level 4, shutting schools and banning alcohol sales and all public gathering other than funerals.
The mayor of Johannesburg, Geoff Makhubo, died after contracting Covid-19. Makhubo was hospitalized after becoming infected with Covid-19 and succumbed to the disease on Friday, the city said.
EMA Issues Safety Advice (7:15 a.m. NY)
The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee (PRAC) recommended that people who have previously had capillary leak syndrome must not be vaccinated with J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine.
The committee also noted “very rare” heart inflammation risk following vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines.
England’s Covid Rate Rises (7:10 a.m NY)
One in 160 people in England are infected with Covid-19, rising from 1 in 260 in the previous week, the Office for National Statistics said.
An estimated 332,900 people within the country’s community population had the disease in the week to July 3.
Britons Value Masks (5:58 a.m. NY)
The British public continues to see value in the current health measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 as the government prepares to end compulsory face coverings and social distancing on July 19.
Mask wearing is believed by 91% of adults to be important to tackling the disease, according to Office of National Statistics figures. Social distancing was ranked important by 87%.
France Backtracks on Warning (3:50 p.m. HK)
France’s government attempted to calm fears about holidaying in Spain and Portugal, backtracking on a minister’s warning on Thursday about the rapid spread of the delta variant of Covid-19.
“Citizens who have booked holidays in Spain, Portugal or elsewhere shouldn’t panic,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said in a France Inter radio interview.