Florida Gov Lifts Restrictions On Bars, Restaurants As State Enters "Phase 3": Live Updates

Summary:

  • Florida moves to "Phase 3" reopening
  • Scientist warns true global COVID death toll could be twice recorded total
  • Netherlands posts new case record
  • London added to list of COVID hotspots
  • WHO Dr. Ryan says 'Not Impossible' 2 million could die of COVID-19 before vaccine
  • Madrid imposes local lockdown on more than 1 million people
  • China vaccine test subjects have antibodies 6 months later
  • China can produce $1 billion vaccines a year
  • World added more than 361k new cases
  • Poland prepares new restrictions
  • Madrid braces for possible lockdown
  • UK's Tesco imposes new limits on items like wipes and toilet paper
  • Russia, Iran team up for vaccine production
  • North Dakota, Wisconsin report records, near-records
  • Germany records most new infections since late April

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Update (1334ET): As the world approaches 100,000 dead from the coronavirus, one scientist believes that actual fatalities may be closer to 1.8 million, a toll that could grow to as high as 3 million by the end of the year, according to Alan Lopez, a laureate professor and director of the University of Melbourne’s global burden of disease group.

Lopez says the virus's rapid spread and ability to transmit in people who show no signs of the disease have enabled it to outrun measures to accurately quantify cases through widespread diagnostic testing. "One million deaths has meaning by itself, but the question is whether it’s true," Lopez said. "It’s fair to say that the 1 million deaths, as shocking as it sounds, is probably an underestimate - a significant underestimate."

Lapses are everywhere - in the US, in India, Brazil and beyond. In Russia. Researchers found that nearly 30k excess deaths occurred in July compared with July 2019. However, officials only reported fewer than 5k COVID-19 deaths, while many COVID deaths were attributed ot underlying conditions, per Bloomberg.

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Update (1215ET): Friday afternoon has carried a flurry of upsetting coronavirus news to torment markets.

In Europe, Italy reported 1,912 new cases on Friday, up from 1,786 the day before. This marks the biggest daily increase since May 1, before the end of Italy's grueling lockdown, and yet another sign that Italy - which has managed to avoid the level of resurgence seen in France and Spain - is seeing a genuine 'second wave'.

Though, to be sure, the country's numbers are well below the 6,557 new infections in a day reported on March 21.

Italy also reported 20 deaths, while the number of ICU beds occupied by COVID patients fell for the first time in days to 244 from 246.

While we await the latest numbers out of France, here's a look back at the situation in France, where a record number of new cases was reported yesterday.

In the UK, after imposing new social distancing restrictions earlier in the week, officials have just placed London on the list of emerging COVID-19 hotspots. Ontario implemented new province-wide public health measures, with last call at bars for 11 pm, and strip clubs required to close even later.

In the US, Virginia Gov Ralph Northam reportedly tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, along with his wife.

But in the biggest news for Americans, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis announced Friday afternoon that Florida will move to "Phase 3" of its reopening plan, lifting all restrictions on bars and restaurants blocking them from operating at full capacity. The order also prevents local governments from enforcing social distancing requirements like wearing masks in public.

"We are today moving into what we initially called phase 3," DeSantis said during a press conference on Florida. "And what that’ll mean for the restaurants is there will not be limitations from the state of Florida."

"We’re also saying in the state of Florida everybody has a right to work," he added. "(Local governments) can do reasonable regulations but they can’t just say no."

The news is already horrifying public health experts who insist that the US is on the cusp of an especially brutal fall resurgence, as the virus couples with the seasonal flu.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, there are 4 main provisions to the order :

  • "It removes all remaining state-level restrictions on businesses, including on bars and restaurants, which were capped at 75% capacity in Phase 3 of DeSantis' original reopening plan."
  • It provides a general right to work and to operate a business. Local governments can limit and regulate businesses, but won’t be able to close businesses because of coronavirus concerns.
  • "Local governments won’t be able to prevent restaurants from operating at above 50% capacity. Under previous orders, local governments could go further than state-level restrictions, and counties in South Florida kept restaurants and bars closed after the state allowed them to reopen. Also, cities and counties won’t be able to impose any restrictions without an economic and health justification."
  • "Cities and counties can’t collect on any outstanding fines they issued as part of their pandemic response. The order, though, doesn’t compel local governments to refund anyone who has already paid a fine."

Florida reported 2,847 coronavirus cases on Friday, well below the daily numbers from its summer peak. The numbers pushed the statewide total to 695,887 infected. With 120 new deaths reported statewide, Florida's death toll has climbed to 13,915.

Finally, in a Friday afternoon dose of fearmongering, WHO's Dr. Mike Ryan warned that it's "not impossible" that 2 million people could die before a vaccine is found.

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Update (0825ET): A team of analysts at Deutsche Bank have just put together the rankings showing the biggest outbreaks relative to population around the world over the past week.

Spain, France and Belgium are all among the leaders in terms of the weekly change in proportion to their respective populations.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands just reported 2,777 cases, a new record tally, as Europe's 'second wave' of the outbreak continues to worsen.

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Update (0750ET): Madrid's regional deputy health minister has just confirmed that the broader Madrid 'local lockdown' will be expanded to impact more than 1 million (some 1,025,000) people. 

Yesterday, the FT published a deep dive comparing Madrid's handling of the virus to NYC's. It appears some Bank of America analysts have followed that up with a chart comparing the various 'waves' of outbreaks, Sputnik reported.

In other news, researchers in China reported Friday that some test subjects from a vaccine trial that started way back in March still have evidence of antibodies six months later.

Participants in China’s COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials retain a relatively high level of antibodies six months after inoculation, Zeng Guang, a leading epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Friday.

China approved clinical trials of its first coronavirus vaccine on March 16. The vaccine was developed by a team led by Chen Wei, an academician of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, which headed to Wuhan in January to start research.

"At present, there are already relatively positive results, and serological tests show that the level of antibodies in the very first participants in clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine in our country is still quite high," Zeng said at a briefing.

According to the researcher, "this indicates that the vaccine may have a fairly long protection period."

China has been carrying out clinical trials of its first COVID-19 vaccine since March 16.

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Within Europe, both the UK and the EU's biggest economies are all struggling to curb spiking coronavirus cases and mounting hospitalization numbers without resorting to full-scale lockdowns like they did back in the spring. Yesterday, both the UK and France reported record-breaking tallies of new cases.

Now, Europe’s biggest economies are struggling to bring the coronavirus back under control as hospitalizations and newly confirmed cases soar. After announcing new curbs earlier this month, Madrid’s local government is expected to decide on Friday whether to expand restrictions on movement within the city of Madrid and its suburbs, with nearly 40% of ICU beds in the region around the Spanish capital filled with COVID-19 patients. France earlier this week just expanded restrictions in and around Marseilles.

Poland, which has continued to report record after record in terms of new cases, is expected to introduce new restrictions next week to combat the virus.

Globally, cases have surpassed 32 million, while deaths have surpassed 980k. The exact numbers as of 0630ET Friday were 32,261,676 cases and 983,492 deaths. Yesterday, the world saw a record surge, according to JHU data, with more than 361,000 new cases reported.

Another 6,704 deaths were reported, too.

Meanwhile, in the US, cases topped 7 million on Thursday - 20% of the global total - as outbreaks in Midwestern states continue to spread.

Even Sweden is introducing new social distancing guidelines as European cases climb. However, there's also mounting evidence that lockdowns aren't effective. Israel confirmed a record 7,527 new cases in a single day, bringing its total to 214,458, including 1,378 fatalities, after PM Benjamin Netanyahu moved ahead with another lockdown as cases in the small Levantine nation surge. Mounting paranoia among Britons fearing another lockdown has led to runs on supermarkets like we saw in March and April. On Friday, British supermarket Tesco introduced new restrictions on certain goods: 3 items per customer for flour, dried pasta, toilet paper, baby wipes, and anti-bacterial wipes.

In China, after reporting its first asymptomatic case in more than a month, authorities said they're aiming to have 610 million vaccine doses ready by the end of the year, enough to vaccinate roughly half of China's population. Yesterday, a government scientist warned max vaccination could take up to 2 years. By the end of 2021, it's believed China will be able to produce up to 1 billion doses.

Here's a roundup of the other big news this morning:

Sovereign wealth fund of Iran and Russia are discussing a joint production deal for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Source: Nikkei)

The WHO supports China's decision to start administering experimental coronavirus vaccines to people, even as clinical trials are still underway (Source: Nikkei).

The Japanese government is planning to offer up to 1 million yen ($9,500) to people who move to rural areas while continuing to do their jobs in Tokyo remotely (Source: Nikkei).

Indonesia reported yet another new daily record tally of new cases for the third straight day, with 4,823 new infections and 113 additional deaths. The totals have reached 266,845 cases and 10,218 fatalities from COVID-19 (Source: Nikkei).

Russia's daily tally of new cases hit its highest level since June 23, as officials reported 7,212 infections across the country, bringing the national tally to 1,136,048. The surge is largely being driven by Moscow, where new cases are up almost 50% overnight to 1,560 from 1,050 (Source: Nikkei).

India reports 86,052 cases in the last 24 hours, slightly down from 86,508 the previous day, bringing the country's tally to over 5.8 million. The death toll jumped by 1,141 to 92,290. Of India's total confirmed cases, 16.67% are active patients, while 81.74% have recovered, the health ministry says in its latest update, adding that the country's COVID-19 mortality rate is at 1.59% (Source: Nikkei).

Germany recorded 2,321 new infections, the most since late April and taking the total to 281,346, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It was the first figure above 2,000 since Saturday. Germany has seen an uptick in new cases since the start of August, though its daily rate remains well below 7,000 (Source: Bloomberg).

New York City health inspectors will start entering private schools in several Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods experiencing an outbreak, the city health department announced Thursday. Officials are adding enforcement personnel to ensure people comply with mask and social distancing requirements. The city may tighten rules to ban gatherings of more than 10 people in those areas, close schools or impose fines if mask standards aren’t met (Source: Bloomberg).

North Dakota reported eight new deaths, matching the record reached last weekend. Among the total 211 fatalities, 64 have been reported in September. Another 471 new cases were reported in Wisconsin yesterday, among the highest daily tallies yet, pushing the state's total to a still-meager 19,451 cases. The state also hit a record of active cases, 3,483. However, positive-test rates were 18%, compared with less than 1% in New York (Source: Bloomberg).