Oregon Offers $1 Million; U.S. Enlists Dating Apps: Virus Update

The White House is enlisting popular dating apps to encourage Americans to brandish their vaccination status in exchange for a better shot at love. Just as Wall Street offices are filling up, New York City’s high-flying social life is returning.

Oregon joined states offering lottery winnings as an incentive to get vaccinated, with a grand prize of $1 million. California outlined its plans for full reopening, saying it will lift physical distancing and capacity limits on June 15.

Europeans and some foreign visitors can firm up their summer plans in the region, after EU negotiators agreed to introduce vaccine certificates. The EU’s drug regulator issued a warning against using AstraZeneca’s vaccine in some cases.

U.S. Deaths Approach 14-Month Low (5:30 p.m. NY)

A measure of U.S. deaths related to Covid-19 fell to the second-lowest level since the earliest days of the pandemic. The seven-day moving average of deaths reached 580 on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Apart from Apart from March 2020 when the pandemic took off in the U.S., only July 7 had a lower number.

Variant From India Found in Louisiana (5:13 p.m. NY)

Two cases of a virus variant first found in India have been identified in Louisiana, the Center for Emerging Viral Threats at LSU Health Shreveport reported on Friday. Two other cases of the variant were reported Thursday in North Texas by UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The variant, called B.1.617.2, was initially detected in India, where it’s helping drive the most severe outbreak in the world. It’s spreading rapidly in the U.K., more than doubling this week to almost 3,500 cases. The World Health Organization classifies it as a variant of concern, though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t.

N.Y. Mets Drop Test Requirement (3:35 p.m. NY)

The New York Mets are ending a negative Covid-19 test requirement at Citi Field on Monday and allowing fully vaccinated fans into 21 reopened seating sections that won’t have social-distancing rules.

The change kicks in for the start of a Mets home series against the Colorado Rockies. It increases capacity to 12,222, the team said in a statement — less than a third of a full park.

Oregon Joins Vaccine Sweepstakes (3:16 p.m. NY)

Oregon joined states offering lottery winnings to people who get vaccinated. Governor Kate Brown said one person will win $1 million, five teenagers will win $100,000 college savings plans and 36 people will win $10,000 — one from each county. All Oregon residents who have at least one dose will eligible for the June 27 drawing.

“Take your shot,” the Democratic governor said at a press briefing. “It can save your life and just maybe make you a millionaire.”

New York, Ohio, Maryland and Kentucky are also offering lottery prizes or tickets to encourage vaccinations, as the pace of inoculation slows nationwide. Almost 52% of Oregonians have had at least one dose, compared with the national average of 48.2%, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Canada Weighs Opening With U.S. (2:40 p.m. NY)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government began to sketch out necessary conditions to ease travel restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border. The world’s longest international border has been closed to non-essential traffic for more than a year.

“We recognize that in the coming weeks, when the number of vaccinated people grows and if we continue to see a reduction in Covid cases and hospitalizations, that we may be in a position to progressively loosen these measures,” Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc told reporters.

N.Y. Positive Tests Dip Below 1% (2:15 p.m. NY)

New York’s state’s seven-day positivite test rate dropped below 1% for the first time since September, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday. The rate is among the lowest in the nation. California was the only state with a seven-day rate below 1% in the latest data from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With more than a month of declining cases, hospitalizations and deaths, New York followed the CDC guidance and dropped its mask mandate this week for fully-vaccinated residents. On Friday, Cuomo said four counties — Putnam, Yates, Hamilton and Essex — all recorded zero new positive cases.

California Details June Reopening (1:49 p.m. NY)

California outlined its plans for full reopening, saying it will lift physical distancing and capacity limits on June 15, as well as drop quarantine requirements for people traveling into the state. The state has already said it will conform to CDC guidelines and lift mask mandates for those who are vaccinated on June 15.

The state said it is recommending that large outdoor sporting events and concerts with more than 10,000 attendees and indoors events of more than 5,000 should require proof of a vaccine or a negative coronavirus test. “We feel like we are tracking well,” said California Health Secretary Mark Ghaly said during a call with reporters, citing high vaccination rates and plummeting hospitalizations.

Heathrow to Separate Arrivals (1:12 p.m. NY)

London Heathrow airport will devote a terminal to arrivals from countries with high levels of Covid-19 infection amid concern that having them share a building with other passengers risks spreading the virus.

A dedicated facility for flights from so-called red list nations will open in Heathrow’s Terminal 3 from June 1, the airport said in a statement Friday. The hub had been in protracted talks over government funding for the plan, which it said will be very challenging logistically.

Masks, Airflow Lower School Spread (1:04 p.m. NY)

Mask use and improved ventilation were linked to a lower rate of Covid-19 cases in schools in a study that reinforced federal health guidance on how to keep the nation’s children safe.

Among Georgia elementary schools, the frequency of Covid cases at the end of last year was 37% lower in schools that required teachers and staff to use masks, according to a Friday report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The incidence of Covid cases was 39% lower in schools that enhanced ventilation.

NYC High Society Revives the Gala (11:53 a.m. NY)

Just as Wall Street offices are filling up, New York City’s high-flying social life is returning, with cater-waiters, high heels and all the other wonderful and annoying things about being in person to support a cause.

Of course, gatherings are outdoors and in smaller groups, but the masks are largely off, with safety protocols still in place.

The Whitney Museum of American Art offered on-site rapid testing and crudite in individual containers. The Central Park Conservancy’s legendary hat lunch took place at several locations, on two days, after its first round-robin tennis tournament and before an in-person board meeting of the Women’s Committee at the Colony Club.

G-20 Pledges Greater Cooperation (11:37 a.m. NY)

Leaders of the Group of 20 nations called for greater global cooperation in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic and to prevent future outbreaks, a bid to turn the page on damaging tensions over how to tackle the disease.

China pledged $3 billion in additional international aid over the next three years to support developing countries recover. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris vowed to continue donating excess supplies of vaccines to countries in need, and France will share at least 30 million doses by the end of this year and contribute 500 million euros ($609 million) to the G-20’s Act-A initiative.

U.S. Enlists Dating Apps (10:47 a.m. NY)

The White House is enlisting popular dating apps to encourage Americans to brandish their vaccination status in exchange for a better shot at love.

Nine of the largest dating apps in the U.S., including Bumble Inc.’s namesake and Match Group Inc.’s Tinder and Hinge, are adding badges that show a person’s vaccine status and offering perks for those who have already gotten their inoculations.

The program is the federal government’s latest effort to boost vaccination rates in the U.S. and achieve President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70% of adults at least one jab by July 4.

EU Backs Vaccine Certificates (10:24 a.m. NY)

Europeans and some foreign visitors can firm up their summer plans in the region, after European Union negotiators agreed to introduce vaccine certificates that will allow quarantine-free travel within Europe, handing the pummeled tourist industry an important chance to salvage the season.

“Citizens will be able to travel safely. Businesses will be able to benefit from their spending, and transport will be able to operate,” European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said at a press conference Friday. “Today we are one step closer to making this happen.”

France Set to Vaccinate Youth (9:32 a.m. NY)

Youngsters in France between the age of 16 and 18 years old could start to be inoculated in June, vaccination czar Alain Fischer said in an interview on BFM TV on Friday.

Earlier in the day, health authorities revised lower the total number of confirmed Covid cases since the start of the pandemic by 348,846 to 5.57 million, or about 6%. That’s due to an updated tracking system that now avoids double-counting of people who were tested twice in a very short period of time.

The authorities said the the revisions don’t modify the broad trend of the epidemic, which has slowed after a recent partial lockdown and as vaccination ramps up.

Ireland Monitoring Variant (9:18 a.m. NY)

Ireland is “closely monitoring” the variant first identified in India, chief medical officer Tony Holohan said, amid the strain’s “possible higher transmissibility” and “early reports of its impact on vaccine effectiveness.”

The nation has been easing restrictions steadily in recent weeks after a four month lockdown. There have been 72 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant in the country so far. Ireland is due to move to the next stage of easing restrictions next month, with bars and restaurants set to reopen.

U.K. Confident on Lockdown End (8:41 a.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he remains confident that England’s lockdown will end on June 21 as planned, despite the rapid rise in cases of a variant first detected in India.

Authorities have found 3,424 cases of the B1.617.2 variant in the U.K., up from 1,313 last week. Public Health England also announced late on Thursday it was investigating a separate variant with an “unusual mutation profile,” with 49 cases logged so far.

That prompted fears that the U.K.’s reopening plans could be in doubt, but Johnson told broadcasters on Friday: “At the moment I can’t see anything that makes me think we’ll have to deviate from the roadmap.”

EU Adds Warning on Astra Shot (7:49 a.m. NY)

The EU drug regulator warned healthcare professionals against giving AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria to anyone who developed blood clots with low platelets after receiving the vaccine, according to a statement.

Doctors should make checks within 3 weeks of vaccination and ensure that such patients receive specialist care.

Oregon Offers $1 Million; U.S. Enlists Dating Apps: Virus Update

Germany Eases Restrictions (4:40 p.m. HK)

Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn said the third virus wave “has been broken” amid accelerating vaccinations. The country’s seven-day incidence rate has been steadily falling and was at 67.3 per 100,000 people on Friday.

Europe’s biggest economy is reopening outdoor dining and is easing restrictions on non-essential stores. Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute public-health agency, said the willingness of Germans to get vaccinated was very high. Still, he warned that infections could jump back up quickly if restrictions were relaxed too soon.

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