The U.S. reported more than 200,000 new coronavirus infections for the first time following the Thanksgiving break. Germany may extend virus restrictions into 2021, its economy minister told Die Welt.
South Korea posted more than 500 cases for a third day, while countries including Japan and the Philippines made progress with their vaccine plans.
Los Angeles imposed a new stay-home order starting Monday, and infections in New York state topped 8,000 for the first time since April. Black Friday crowds were sparse in the U.S. as the virus accelerated the shopping day’s move online.
- Global Tracker: Cases exceed 61.5 million; deaths top 1.4 million
- Anger grows at Hong Kong’s erratic Covid rules as cases mount
- Black Friday gets busted by Covid in sign of retail’s future
- Thanksgiving testing crunch foreshadows strain in December
- Hospitals race to set vaccine priorities for health-care workers
- How Covid-19 has turned the spotlight back on obesity: QuickTake
- Workers stick to office during U.K.’s second lockdowns: Chart
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Germany May Extend Restrictions to 2021 (12 p.m. HK)
Germany’s partial shutdown could be extended until early spring 2021, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt.
“There are three to four long winter months ahead of us,” Altmaier said. “It is possible that the restrictions will remain in place for the first months of 2021.”
Restrictions will remain in place as long as the number of new infections is above a reasonable level, and the next days will show whether rules have to be adjusted, he said.
U.S. Cases Post Daily Record After Thanksgiving Break (9:50 a.m. HK)
The U.S. added 203,013 new cases Friday, a record, as some states resumed daily updates following the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
The increase brings the total for the country to 13.1 million. Deaths increased 1,421 to 264,838. The CDC said in a tweet that forecasts predict as many as 21,400 new deaths may be reported during the week ending Dec. 19, with up to 321,000 fatalities. It also warned that cases and hospitalizations are rising.
South Korea Cases Top 500 for Third Day (8:44 a.m. HK)
South Korea reported 504 new coronavirus infections, the third straight day that cases topped 500 after the country raised social distancing rules in Seoul and surrounding areas.
The health ministry said Friday the country will decide on Sunday whether further tightening of social distancing rules is needed. The measures imposed on Nov. 24 restrict operating hours of restaurants and gatherings of more than 100 people in high-risk facilities such as night clubs and karaoke bars.
Japan to Start Distributing Vaccine by March (8:11 a.m. HK)
Japan is set to start distributing Covid-19 vaccines in the country by the end of March as clinical trials move forward, Nikkei reported.
The country aims to secure enough vaccines for its entire population during the first half, the newspaper said. A local trial of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine is set to begin soon, with Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. handling approval application, sales and distribution, Nikkei said.
Los Angeles Area Imposes New Stay-Home Order (7:41 a.m. HK)
The Greater Los Angeles area, the U.S. county with the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths, introduced a new stay-home order starting Monday through Dec. 20.
The new measures are far less stringent than those imposed in the lockdown in March. They came just two days after the county of 10 million, the most populous in the country, banned outdoor dining as cases continued climbing.
The order includes prohibiting public and private gatherings with those who aren’t in the same households, with exceptions made for church services and protests.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area overtook Brooklyn this week as the U.S. county with the highest number of fatalities.
Philippines, AstraZeneca Sign Deal for 2.6 Million Doses (7:16 a.m. HK)
The Philippines signed a deal with AstraZeneca Plc to buy 2.6 million coronavirus vaccine doses, amid questions about the vaccine’s trial results.
Philippine companies will buy the vaccine doses, and donate half to government, presidential adviser on entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said during the virtual signing. The vaccines may arrive in the Southeast Asian nation by May or June and help about 1.5 million people, he added.
California Hospitalizations Highest in Three Months (5:53 p.m. NY)
California added 12,635 new cases, bringing the total to 1.17 million. Deaths rose by 54 to 19,033. While the number of new infections fell short of records set earlier in the week, the cases drove the 14-day rolling average to a new high.
Hospitalizations have risen to the highest levels since the start of August, pushing the number of available ICU beds to a three-month low.
Connecticut Warns of Fake Virus Tests (5:01 p.m. NY)
Connecticut officials warned residents on Friday about fraudulent Covid-19 testing sites, urging people to go through established channels like the state’s testing locator to ensure their personal health information is safeguarded.
The state has in recent weeks “seen scammers set up fake Covid-19 testing sites trying to cash in on this pandemic,” Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz said in a Friday release.
Texas Cases Slow Over Holiday (4:45 p.m. NY)
The 2,473 new Covid-19 cases reported in Texas Friday during the extended Thanksgiving holiday represented an 83% drop from the record number of cases reported Wednesday, figures from the Department of State Health Services show.
New cases dropped from the 14,648 reported Wednesday, figures show. El Paso County has the most active cases in the state at 37,476 and has reported an additional 4,392 cases since Nov. 21, more than 5% of the state’s new cases in that time period, figures show.
The number of coronavirus cases in Texas now stands above 1.1 million with 21,207 deaths, figures show.
New York State Cases Spike (4:12 p.m. NY)
New York state reported more than 8,000 Covid-19 cases for the first time since April.
Of a record 219,442 tests reported Thursday, 8,176 were positive, or 3.72% of the total, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Twitter. The average positivity two weeks ago was 2.86%.“We’re seeing an increase with the numbers across the country and within our own state,” Cuomo said in a press release. “It started with the fall, and it’s going to continue and probably worsen in the winter.”
France’s Pace of New Covid Cases Falls to 7-Week Low (2:02 p.m. NY)
France reported 12,459 new cases on Friday for a total of 2.2 million, while the seven-day average of infections fell 11% from a day earlier to 12,421, the lowest since Oct. 6. That’s as the rate of positive tests has dropped to 11.7%, almost 9 percentage points lower than in the first week of November.
Hospitalizations and the number of Covid patients in intensive care continued to decline from a peak 11 days ago. Deaths linked to the coronavirus increased by 957 to 51,914, while the seven-day average continued a week-long decline.
France’s overall mortality appears to have peaked on Nov. 7, when deaths from all causes numbered 2,281, statistics office Insee reported. That’s lower than during the first wave of the pandemic, when the country registered 2,810 deaths on April 1.
Belgium May Not Ease Virus Restrictions Until Mid-January (1:35 p.m. NY)
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo warned against immediately easing the virus restrictions which took effect almost 4 weeks ago. He said the latest epidemiological models suggest Belgium may not start relaxing curbs before mid-January.
While non-essential retailers are allowed to reopen with crowd limits on Dec. 1, the Belgian authorities will maintain restrictions during the holiday period: families are allowed a single guest on Christmas eve and the evening curfew will be maintained on Dec. 31.
Ireland Begins Lifting National Lockdown (1:25 p.m. NY)
Ireland moved to roll back its nationwide lockdown after six weeks, in a bid to allow a relatively normal Christmas period. Stores, gyms and churches will reopen from December 1, while restaurants and pubs serving food will reopen shortly after. Pubs not serving food will remain closed.
Travel restrictions will be eased from December 18 until January 6, while more households will be allowed to mix over the holiday. “The efforts and sacrifices that each of us have made are working,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said in a national address. Ireland reported 206 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the lowest number in more than two months.
European Virus Reports Draw WHO Attention (1:13 p.m. NY)
Officials from the World Health Organization are looking into reports that cases of Covid-19 emerged in Europe in the fall of 2019, well before the pandemic erupted in China last December, though their focus remains on the first human cases in Wuhan, said WHO official Michael Ryan.
No one knows the origin of the virus, which appears to thrive in certain families of bats, or what occurred before the events in Wuhan. The agency is conducting studies with Chinese scientists because the first clusters of human cases were there. It would be “highly speculative” to say the disease didn’t emerge in China, Ryan said. Still, the agency is examining multiple reports of cases from France, Spain and Italy that emerged in September and October, WHO officials said.
Italy to Ease Restrictions (12:53 p.m. NY)
Italy’s government will ease restrictions for financial capital Milan and for industrial hub Turin starting on November 29, following a steady reduction in the number of coronavirus cases.
Health minister Roberto Speranza signed a new order Friday which will allow more movement and economic activities in five Italian regions, according to a statement.
Italy has avoided a second full nationwide lockdown, arguing its fragile economy must be shielded from another body blow following a strict three-month shutdown last spring.
Crowds Thin on a Black Friday Reshaped by Covid-19 (11:46 a.m. NY)
Crowds were sparse on Black Friday, as the virus accelerated the shopping day’s move online.
On New York’s Fifth Avenue, the line outside the Philippine Consulate was longer than the tiny queue to get into Zara. At Macy’s Herald Square, the biggest department store in the U.S., it looked more like a normal day than the busiest shopping event of the year. At International Plaza and Bay Street mall in Tampa, Florida, a half-full parking lot still allowed shoppers to easily find a spot shortly after the stores opened at 9 a.m.