ECONOMY

N.Y. Offers Lottery Tickets; EU Backs Certificates: Virus Update

New York state will offer $20 scratch-off lottery tickets as a vaccine incentive, with a maximum payout of $5 million. Maryland residents who get vaccinated can compete for $2 million in prize money.

The European Union moved forward with a plan for EU-wide vaccination certificates, boosting chances of a summer tourism rebound. The number of U.K. cases of a worrying virus variant from India more than doubled for a second week, adding fresh doubt to plans to fully unlock the economy.

Unvaccinated people in the U.S. should keep wearing masks in public, said Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top health adviser. There’s “understandable confusion” after health authorities relaxed rules on masks for fully vaccinated people, he said.

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 165 million; deaths exceed 3.4 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.57 billion doses have been given
  • How long do vaccine protections last? Science can’t say for sure
  • Social networks are exporting disinformation about vaccines
  • Vaccine holdouts in Africa reject world’s route to recovery
  • Can I be required to get vaccinated against Covid-19?: QuickTake

S.F. Hospital Free of Covid Patients (5:45 p.m. NY)

The Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center had no Covid-19 patients for the first time since March 2020, according to Vivek Jain, an infectious disease doctor, who called the day a “huge milestone.”

Covid-19 hospitalizations in San Francisco hit a peak of 259 on Jan. 11, with 62 people in intensive care. The public hospital is the major trauma hospital for the San Francisco area and serves many poor and elderly residents.

U.K. Cases of India Strain Double (5:23 p.m. NY)

The number of U.K. cases of a worrying coronavirus variant from India more than doubled for a second week as authorities also monitor a new mutation of the virus, adding fresh doubt to U.K. plans to fully unlock the economy.

Health officials have now detected 3,424 cases of the B1.617.2 variant, Public Health England said Thursday in a statement. That’s up from 1,313 last week, and 520 a week earlier. They’re also investigating a mutation called VUI-21MAY-01, with 49 cases logged so far.

Taiwan Seeking U.S. Vaccine Help (5:15 p.m. NY)

U.S. help in securing vaccines could protect Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, according to James Lee, the head of Taipei’s cultural and economic office in New York.

While Taiwan’s increasing cases haven’t had an impact yet, “if it lasts too long there could be logistical problems,” he said in an interview. “We have talked to the Biden administration and we work closely together. We expect them to help.”

The argument may resonate in the U.S. amid concern in government and the business community about a shortage of chips used in everything from mobile phones to automobiles.

Minnesota Offers Shots at Sports Events (5:09 p.m. NY)

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced Thursday that sports fan will be able to get vaccinated when they attend upcoming baseball, basketball or hockey games, in partnership with professional teams.

The vaccinations are part of the governor’s push to take shots to state residents instead of waiting for them to show up for them. “We are always looking for creative ways to get vaccines directly to Minnesotans. This partnership is just another example of that work,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.

Texas Passes 50,000 Deaths (4:20 p.m. NY)

Texas joined California and New York in surpassing 50,000 deaths related to Covid-19, though fatalities and new infections have been dropping.

Texas added 52 deaths on Thursday, state data showed. That compares with a daily peak of more than 600 in January, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

Morocco to Ease Nightly Curfew (3:30 p.m. NY)

Morocco’s nightly curfew, which has been in force for much of the last 13 months, will be eased on Friday after new cases declined, the government said in a statement.

Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to say open an extra three hours until 11 p.m., according to a cabinet statement on the MAP newswire.

Africa Seeks Workaround for Shortages (3:20 p.m. NY)

African countries should use more than one brand of Covid-19 shot to complete people’s vaccine cycles if needed, according to the African Union’s health agency. Several countries are facing shortages.

“In the event that there is absolute clarity that people will not get their second doses, it’s better to opt for that, than not get their full immunization,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an online briefing Thursday.

EU Vaccine Certificate Plan Set for Summer (2:45 p.m. NY)

With the summer tourism season at stake, European Union negotiators agreed to introduce mutually recognized vaccination certificates designed to let people travel within the EU without having to quarantine.

European Parliament representatives and the 27 EU governments agreed on the plan, which requires a formal approval process before taking effect at the end of June. Proof of vaccination issued by non-European governments would be accepted.

The EU will soon allow quarantine-free travel for vaccinated visitors from non-EU countries deemed safe, too.

Maryland Offers $2 Million in Rewards (2:34 p.m.)

Maryland, which previously offered residents free pizza as an incentive to get vaccinated, is now trying it with a $2 million lottery.

Forty daily drawings with $40,000 in prize money and a grand prize of $400,000 on July 4 are planned, according to Kata Hall, Governor Larry Hogan’s deputy communications director.

Brown Requires Staff Vaccinations (2:33 p.m. NY)

Brown became the latest U.S. university to require faculty and staff to be vaccinated before classes resume this fall.

Yale required last week that all faculty, staff and post-graduate students be vaccinated by Aug. 1. Providence, Rhode Island-based Brown on Thursday asked employees to receive their final vaccine dose by July 1. All Brown employees and students will have to verify their vaccination status by uploading their vaccination card.

BioNTech to Begin Production in Turkey (1:39 p.m. NY)

BioNTech SE Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said Thursday that the company plans to both produce and engage in research and development of vaccines in Turkey.

BioNTech plans to increase the number of vaccines to be dispatched to Turkey to 120 million, with new shipments planned from July to September, Sahin said during a televised press conference after attending a meeting of the Turkish pandemic board.

Eiffel Tower to Reopen in July (1:20 p.m. NY)

The Eiffel Tower, which has been shut to visitors since Nov. 30, will reopen on July 16, its operator said in a statement. Tickets go on sale on June 1.

France will open vaccination to all adults from May 31 as it expects increased deliveries of vaccines next month, the government said in a statement.

Astra Efficacy Reported High (12:27 p.m. NY)

Two doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine provide about 85% to 90% protection against symptomatic disease, according to statistics released by Public Health England on Thursday.

The health body estimated that 13,000 deaths have been prevented in England as of May 9 in people ages 60 and older. It also suggested that vaccinations have stopped almost 40,000 hospitalizations among the over 65s, a crucial metric in a country where the National Health Service has struggled to contain Europe’s highest death toll from the pandemic.

N.Y. Offers Lottery Tickets for Shots (12:05 p.m. NY)

If you get vaccinated next week you could win up to $5 million, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.

Vaccinations next week will come with free scratch-off lottery tickets worth $20, with the chance of both small prizes and a multimillion dollar payoff. “Vax and scratch,” Cuomo said at a press briefing in Buffalo. “The chances of winning something in this program are one in 9.”

The tickets will be distributed at the 10 mass vaccination sites around the state, he said. The program will run May 24-28. Cuomo said the state will later decide whether to extend it.

New York will also start vaccine centers at airports, including John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.

Fauci Cites Masking Confusion (11:36 a.m. NY)

U.S. health leaders’ move to relax nationwide rules on masks for fully vaccinated people has spurred “understandable confusion” that must be cleared up, said Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease doctor.

Fully vaccinated Americans can shed their masks in most places, including indoors and in large groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said May 13. The devil is in the details: Even fully vaccinated people are recommended to wear masks on forms of public transportation, in health-care and correctional facilities, and where required by state and local governments or businesses. And the unvaccinated should still mask up in public places as before.

“The problem is,” said Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “people interpreted that as a signal that you don’t need masks anymore, which absolutely is not the case.”

NYC Passes Vaccine Milestone (10:40 a.m. NY)

New York City has passed 4 million first doses, with a total of 7,753,184 shots administered.

“We have proven vaccinations work,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a briefing Thursday. “Vaccinations are your ticket to freedom. We can have an extraordinary summer of joy, but we need to keep getting vaccinated.”

New York is trying to entice more residents to get vaccinated, and is now targeting families. The mayor announced the city is opening a vaccination site at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, with the extra lure of free same-day admission and a family pass for a future visit. A site is also set to open at the Bronx Zoo, and one is in the works at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island.

These come on top of the vaccination site at the American Museum of Natural History, below the suspended model of a blue whale.

Brazil Reports India Variant (10:35 a.m. NY)

Brazil confirmed its first cases of a variant first found in India. The infected people are six crew members of the Shandong da Zhi vessel, which came from South Africa and was chartered by Vale to deliver iron ore in Sao Luis in Maranhao state, UOL reported.

Moderna Exports Shots From U.S. (10:31 a.m. NY)

Moderna Inc. has begun exporting U.S.-produced Covid-19 vaccines to other countries, a key step as U.S. vaccine supply begins to be shipped abroad.

Moderna and Pfizer Inc. have been the backbone of the U.S. vaccination campaign, which is leveling off as domestic demand wanes. Their shipments of their coveted mRNA vaccines could be a turning point for nations that have sought to get any doses they can, including ones that have shown lower efficacy.

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