EU Official Warns COVID-19 Cases "Almost Back To March Levels": Live Updates

Summary:

  • EU Covid cases "almost back" to March levels
  • Iowa now state with highest infection rate
  • France sees another 7k+ jump in new cases
  • Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has COVID
  • Midwest outbreak worsening
  • China mulls joining WHO vaccine program as US pulls out
  • California outbreak moves to central valley
  • India outbreak still on track to outpace US, Brazil
  • Global cases near 26 million

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Update (1500ET): COVID cases in Europe are "almost back" to March levels, the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Andrea Ammon, warned on Wednesday during a debate held by EU Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

Her remarks come as France sees another 7k+ jump in new cases.

"The virus hasn't been sleeping over the summer so it didn't take vacation and that is something that we see now. We have seen now this week that the notification rate in the EU and EEA (European Economic Area) countries and the UK is now 46 per 100,000. You may remember that at one point we have been already below 15 so there is an increase and this increase we have been seeing now for more than five weeks. It has been a slower increase (than) we had in March. However, we are almost back to the numbers that we have seen in March," Ammon said.

“In August, now, we are seeing more that also (an) older population is affected, indicating that it's really a true increase in transmission.”

Meanwhile, as Joe Biden warns that reopening schools is a "national emergency", Ammon said , regarding school reopenings, that "there are very few significant outbreaks in schools that have been documented and the evidence is really at the moment conflicting, meaning it's very inconclusive to say whether it's useful or not from a transmission point of view to close schools."

Meanwhile, as cases in the Sun Belt continue to decline to decline, Iowa has stolen the mantle of the state with the highest rate of infections in the US this week. 

Iowa has seen its rate of new cases reported over the past week increase by a staggering 70%, while its positivity rate for tests has climbed north of 10% to the 5th highest level in the country.

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Update (1250ET): France just reported more than 7,000 cases in a single day once again, while Silvio Berlusconi, the longtime PM of Italy, has reportedly been confirmed infected with COVID-19.

Italy's longest-serving leader of the post-war era, known affectionately by the nickname "Bunga Bunga", is resting in his home town of Arcore where he is expected to spend a period of isolation. According to Italian newswire ANSA, Berlusconi will continue to support his Forza Italia candidates during the upcoming regional and administrative elections across Italy. Berlusconi is still the leader of Forza, the center-right Italian party. Two of his sons also tested positive.

In France, the 7-day average of new cases has climbed during every day but one for the past 49 days. Officials reported 7,017 new cases compared with 5,429 last Wed. That's a 29% increase in cases. Another 26 deaths were also reported. It comes as officials have expanded mandatory mask requirements and other restrictions across Paris and Marseilles.

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At least twice over the past week, we have warned about the startling acceleration in new cases from four (GOP-controlled) states: Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Alabama. As the number of new cases continues to decline across the Sun Belt (although, as Bloomberg reminded us Wednesday, a new outbreak is emerging in California's central valley now that SoCal's outbreak has quieted down), Wall Street and some of America's top public health officials - including CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield - have been heralding this declining trend in cases and hospitalizations as a sign that the US might finally be moving past the outbreak.

Decisions by governors in Texas and Maryland to move into the next phase of reopening, allowing more businesses to re-open, suggest a high degree of official confidence in the declining trend, even as experts like Dr. Fauci seize every opportunity to warn about the risks of another wave emerging in the fall, as falling temperatures force more Americans inside.

This chart, shared by a team of Bank of America analysts, sums up the situation in the Midwest.

Outside of the US, the most important trend internationally is what's happening with India. As officials move to test practically the entire population of India's biggest cities, which have also emerged as the country's most virulent hotspots, the country has persistently reported just under 80k new cases per day. India has broken the record for most cases reported in a single day for any country on earth at least twice over the past week.

As the world's second-most-populous country moves ahead with reopening its schools and economy, experts warn that India will soon likely surpass both the US and Brazil as the world's worst-hit hotspot.

India registered 78,357 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, pushing its total north of 3.7 million as the government eases pandemic restrictions nationwide to help revive its battered economy.

In other major news on Wednesday, China has reportedly hinted that it might move to pick up some of the slack left by the US in a WHO-led global vaccine program that the White House recently withdrew from. As the US leaves behind the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility - or COVAX, a global effort to develop and distribute a vaccine being led by the WHO - China looks to be using the program as the vessel for it to keep its promise to supply the developing world with badly needed vaccines.

Per Bloomberg, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that "China’s purpose is highly consistent with Covax’s aim" and that Beijing is in close contact with the people in charge of COVAX. Showering Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa and other poorer countries with billions of doses of various vaccines would be a major coup in China's struggle to outflank the US in terms of geopolitical influence.

The latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University show more than 25.7 million people have been diagnosed worldwide, while 857,015 have died. More than 17 million people have recovered. News was mostly slow, as we await the latest batch of numbers out of the US. Though Japan is reportedly considering universal vaccinations in caretaker PM Shinzo Abe's hope to knock out the virus quickly with a vaccine. South Korea and Singapore have also agreed to ease some travel restrictions.