Coronavirus update: U.S. case tally tops 8.7 million and marks seven-day record, with more than 20 states seeing most new cases since start of the outbreak
The U.S. case tally for the coronavirus illness COVID-19 climbed above 8.7 million on Tuesday, with more than 20 states counting record numbers of new infections, as more business curfews were announced to combat the spread.
The U.S. has counted an average of at least 71,000 new cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 in the last seven days, according to the New York Times, the highest seven-day number since the start of the outbreak. On Monday, new cases totaled at least 74,300.
The Midwest and Mountain West are the current hot spots, led by the Dakotas. Those states were hit hard after the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August drew about 500,000 bikers to the small town, most of whom were filmed gathering closely in bars and restaurants without wearing face masks.
North Dakota counted 5,019 new cases on Monday, according to the New York Time’s tracker, while South Dakota added 4,492, the highest numbers in the nation measured per 100,000 people.
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Task Force created to manage the pandemic, visited North Dakota on Monday and warned that she was seeing the lowest use of face masks that she has seen while traveling around the country.
“Over the last 24 hours as we were here and we were in your grocery stores and in your restaurants and frankly even in your hotels, this is the least use of masks that we have we seen in retail establishments of any place we have been,” Dr. Deborah Birx told reporters after the meeting, according to the Bismarck Tribune. “And we find that deeply unfortunate because you don’t know who’s infected and you don’t know if you’re infected yourself.”
There are currently 42,917 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project, the highest number since Aug. 19. There are 8,842 patients in intensive care units. Hospitals in many parts of the country are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients and resources are rapidly becoming stretched. Utah has warned that it may have to start rationing care of the most ill people in ICUs, the Washington Post reported.
Newark is the latest city and first area in New Jersey to introduce a business curfew, starting Tuesday. Businesses will be required to close at 8 p.m. New Jersey, an early hot spot in the pandemic, has lost 16,292 lives to the virus, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
A USA Today analysis of President Donald Trump’s election rallies found that he left a trail of coronavirus outbreaks in his wake. Since mid-August, Trump has staged nearly three dozen rallies, mostly inside airport hangars, defying federal health guidelines and some state orders.
Supporters were filmed gathering closely, many without face masks. USA Today found that cases grew at a faster rate than before after at least five of those rallies in the counties of Blue Earth, Minnesota; Lackawanna, Pennsylvania; Marathon, Wisconsin; Dauphin, Pennsylvania; and Beltrami, Minnesota.
There were 1,500 more new cases in the two weeks after Trump rallies than the two weeks before for a total of 9,647, up from 8,069, according to USA Today.
A new study has found that a national face mask mandate could significantly reduce COVID-19 deaths in the next few months, as flu season arrives and people are expected to gather more indoors. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimate that a mask mandate could save nearly 130,000 lives by February of 2021, MarketWatch’s Elisabeth Buchwald reported. The study was published in Nature Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal.
In 39 U.S. states, it’s a requirement that people wear masks and in some places, failure to wear a facial covering can result in a fine. But in 11 states where masks are recommended, but not mandated, people in some areas can shop in supermarkets, ride public transportation and even go to school without a mask.
In the absence of a universal mask mandate, the researchers forecast that approximately 511,000 people total will die from COVID-19 in the U.S. by February 2021. That’s also based on the assumption that businesses and schools will close if the daily death rate is at least 8 deaths per million population. It also takes into account survey evidence compiled from sources including Facebook and YouGov that tracks people’s mask wearing behavior.
If 95% of the population in the U.S. wore masks, the researchers projected about 381,000 cumulative deaths in the U.S. by Feb. 2021.
“Under all scenarios evaluated here, the United States is likely to face a continued public health challenge from the COVID-19 pandemic through 28 February 2021 and beyond, with populous states in particular potentially facing high levels of illness, deaths and ICU demands as a result of the disease,” the study states.
In other news:
• With the Dow Jones Industrial Average
suffering on Monday its biggest single-day drop since early September and the coronavirus pandemic picking up steam, Washington threw in the towel on efforts to help the economy, MarketWatch’s Jonathan Nicholson reported. The Senate, after confirming Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court, closed up shop until after the election, allowing its members to depart the capital and join their House counterparts on the campaign trail, where the representatives have been since early October. The Senate action, which had been expected, marks the final shoe to drop on three months of negotiations involving the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Republicans to get a deal done in time to take credit at the polls. The news will disappoint the millions of Americans who are out of work and have almost exhausted their savings.
• Germany is close to reaching 20,000 new coronavirus infections a day, economy minister Peter Altmaier told a German-French economic conference in Berlin, Reuters reported. His warning comes a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country, which was widely admired for its initial efforts to contain the spread, was close to losing control of the pandemic. “We are dealing with exponential growth,” Altmaier said. “In Germany the number of new infections is rising by 70-75% compared to the week before.” Merkel is expected to move forward talks planned for Wednesday with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states on the next steps.
• Russia has reinstated a nationwide face mask mandate, after a record 320 people died in a 24-hour period, The Moscow Times reported. Bars and clubs in Moscow will stay open past 11 p.m. and continue to use the QR code check-in system. Russia has 1.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Johns Hopkins data shows, or fourth highest in the world, and at least 26,409 Russians have died.
• China counted 26 new coronavirus cases in the prefecture of Kashgar between Sunday and Monday, according to broadcaster CGTN. Officials have tested all 4.7 million residents of Kashgar, after finding a cluster of asymptomatic cases that are understood to have come from a textile factory.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 world-wide now stands at 43.6 million, Johns Hopkins data shows, and the death toll is 1.16 million. At least 29 million people have recovered from COVID-19.
The U.S. has the highest case tally at 8.7 million and the highest death toll at 225,765, or about a fifth of the global total.
Brazil has the second highest death toll at 157,397 and is third by cases at 5.4 million. India is second in cases with 7.9 million, and third in deaths at 119,502.
Mexico has the fourth highest death toll at 89,171 and 10th highest case tally at 895,326.
The U.K has 45,088 deaths, the highest in Europe and fifth highest in the world, and 897,740 cases.
China, where the disease was first reported late last year, has 91,185 cases and 4,739 fatalities, according to its official numbers.
What’s the latest medical news?
Antibodies that may protect against COVID-19 in people who have previously had the virus declined over the summer, according to a new study that could throw doubt on the idea that a population can develop herd immunity, MarketWatch’s Lina Saigol and Jaimy Lee reported.
The React-2 study, published on Tuesday, found the number of people testing positive for antibodies has fallen by 26% between June and September — from almost 6% of all participants to just 4.4%.
The study by Imperial College London was released as a preprint paper, which means the research hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed.
The researchers screened more than 365,000 adults in England who had taken three antibody tests between June and September. Antibodies, a key part of immune defenses, can help stop the virus from getting inside the body’s cells.
Separately, U.S. government officials are putting an early end to a study testing an Eli Lilly
antibody drug for people hospitalized with COVID-19 because it doesn’t seem to be helping them, the Associated Press reported.
Independent monitors had paused enrollment in the study two weeks ago because of a possible safety issue. But on Monday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsors the study, said a closer look found no safety problem but a low chance that the drug would prove helpful for hospitalized patients.
It is a setback for one of the most promising treatment approaches for COVID-19. President Donald Trump received a similar experimental antibody drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
on an emergency basis when he was sickened with the coronavirus earlier this month.
In a statement, Lilly said that the government is continuing a separate study testing the antibody drug in mild to moderately ill patients, to try to prevent hospitalization and severe illness. The company also is continuing its own studies testing the drug, which is being developed with the Canadian company AbCellera.
expects to launch a Phase 3 trial for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Mexico and the U.S. by the end of next month. The company already started a late-stage trial for its vaccine in the U.K. in September.
Novavax has published some data for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine from its Phase 1 clinical trial, in September in the New England Journal of Medicine. It said Tuesday it plans to present new reactogenicity data from the Phase 2 trial on Friday, during an advisory committee on immunization practices meeting convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biosig Technologies Inc.
halted a trial of its COVID-19 treatment given disappointing results. The company’s oral merimepodib, in combination with intravenous remdesivir in adult patients with advanced COVID-19 was undergoing a Phase 2 trial.
The company said that all 22 grade 4 patients discharged from the hospital did not relapse during the 37-day follow-up period, but grade 3 patients had “markedly” different outcomes.
“Specifically, the unblinded [Safety Monitoring Committee] detected an imbalance in survival rates in these NIAID Grade 3 patients between the placebo and merimepodib making it unlikely that the trial would meet its primary safety endpoints,” the company stated.
What are companies saying?
• 3M Co.
the consumer, health care and industrial products company, reported third-quarter profit that beat expectations, while sales rose just above forecasts, helped by a surge in health care sales during the pandemic. Health care sales rose 25.5% to $2.2 billion, beating the FactSet consensus of $2.06 billion; safety and industrial sales grew 6.9% to $3.0 billion to top expectations of $2.95 billion; and consumer sales grew 5.6% to $1.4 billion, in line with expectations of $1.37 billion; while transportation and electronics sales fell 7.4% to $2.3 billion to fall shy of expectations of $2.35 billion. The company didn’t provide full financial guidance given uncertainties related to the pandemic, but said October sales are expected to be in the flat to up low-single digits percentage range from a year ago.
• Amazon.com Inc.
will hire 100,000 seasonal employees for the holidays, which are expected to see a boost in delivery due to the pandemic. The jobs will be across the U.S. and Canada and could lead to longer-term employment. Amazon’s minimum wage is $15 an hour and full-time employees receive benefits like health insurance from the first day. Amazon says it has promoted 35,000 operations workers in 2020 and more than 30,000 employees have taken advantage of the Career Choice program that offers the chance to learn new skills in high-demand areas like computer support specialist and paralegal.
• AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.
will reopen cinemas in Northern California on Friday, a key market, after they were ordered closed during the pandemic. Locations in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area will reopen on Friday, albeit at reduced capacity. The company is expecting to have 540 of its roughly 600 cinemas operating by the end of October. The company has enhanced its cleaning procedures and includes nightly disinfecting and the use of high tech vacuums, upgraded air filtration efforts and guest will be obliged to wear face masks. Films available for viewing include “Tenet,” “The War with Grandpa,” “Honest Thief” and “2 Heart.”
• Crocs Inc.
reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and revenue. Digital sales rose 35.5%, while retail comparable sales jumped 16.2%. “We achieved record third-quarter revenue and EPS despite the challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Andrew Rees, chief executive officer of the company. Cash and equivalents were $123.6 million as of Sept. 30. Excluding any potential impact from COVID-19-related shutdowns, Crocs is guiding for fourth-quarter revenue growth between 20% and 30%, and full-year revenue growth of 5% to 7%. FactSet forecasts fourth-quarter revenue of $286.0 million, suggesting 8.8% growth, and full-year revenue of $1.24 billion, implying a 1% rise.
• Eli Lilly & Co. shares posted weaker-than-expected earnings for the third quarter. “Despite ongoing health care disruptions from the global pandemic, we remain confident in the strength of our underlying business and continue to manage our operations to deliver success over the long term,” Chief Executive David A. Ricks said in a statement. The company is now expecting full-year EPS of $6.20 to $6.40 and adjusted EPS of $7.20 to $7.40. The FactSet consensus is for EPS of $7.28. Revenue is still expected to range from $23.7 billion to $24.2 billion, compared with a FactSet consensus of $23.9 billion.
• Harley-Davidson Inc.
reported third-quarter earnings and revenue that well exceeded the Street forecast, despite the effects of the pandemic. Revenue of $1.16 billion was down from $1.27 billion but also ahead of the FactSet consensus for $844 million. The company attributed the revenue decline to a shift in new model launches that “better align with seasonality,” one of the goals of the company’s yearlong strategic turnaround plan. The company is also focusing on markets in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific with the highest growth potential, streamlining the product lineup and more.
• JetBlue Airways Corp.
swung to a narrower-than-expected loss, as revenue fell less than forecast during the pandemic. Revenue dropped 76.4% to $492 million, but topped the FactSet consensus of $466 million. Load factor declined to 42.6% from 85.5%, missing expectations of 46.0%, as traffic declined 78.9% while capacity fell 57.6%. Average daily cash burn was $6.1 million, below previously provided guidance of $7 million to $9 million. The company is planning for fourth-quarter revenue to decline 65%, while the FactSet consensus of $698 million implies a 65.6% decline.
• Marriott International Inc.
unveiled Tuesday new Day Pass, Stay Pass and Play Pass packages to offer members of its Marriott Bonvoy travel program working remotely access to select hotels. The Day Pass is a new offering in which check in is 6 a.m. and check out is 6 p.m., and allows guests access to on-property facilities and equipment, including printers and scanners. The Stay Pass is a Day Pass plus an overnight stay, and Play Pass is for those looking for vacation getaways, with family, while also working. “Increasingly, consumers are choosing to escape the confines of their home office or work desk and travel while making the most of work and play time too,” Marriott said in a statement.
• Pfizer Inc.
said revenue fell 4% to $12.1 billion in the third quarter, compared with $12.7 billion in the same quarter a year ago. The FactSet consensus was $12.3 billion. The company attributed an estimated unfavorable impact of $500 million for the quarter to the COVID-19 pandemic, citing lower demand for anti-infective products used in surgeries in China and disruptions in traditional prescribing patterns in the U.S. as people avoided going to the doctor, including a 19% drop in sales of its smoking-cessation drug Chantix. The impact was offset to some degree by “strong performance” of its heart drugs, Vyndaqel and Vyndamax, and its biosimilars business. It did not disclose any additional details about its work to develop a COVID-19 vaccine with BioNTech [s: bntx]. However, it did note that the Phase 2/3 clinical trial for the vaccine candidate had enrolled 42,000 participants as of Monday, and about 85% of the participants have received their second and final dose of the experimental vaccine. Pfizer adjusted its 2020 guidance for adjusted earning share to $2.88 to $2.93, from $2.85 to $2.95.
• Turning Point Brands Inc.
the maker of cigarette rolling papers and vapes, blew past earnings estimates for the third quarter. Louisville, Kentucky-based Turning Point posted net income of $7.8 million, or 40 cents a share, in the quarter, up from $6.3 million, or 31 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted per-share earnings came to 75 cents, well ahead of the 32 cents FactSet consensus. Sales rose 7.6% to $104.2 million, also ahead of the $91.7 million FactSet consensus. “Smokeless saw continued same-store sales momentum in MST and newfound strength in loose leaf chewing tobacco. Smoking (Zig-Zag) saw its highest growth rate in recent history driven by product and channel growth initiatives behind rolling papers, the benefits of greater control of our MYO cigar wraps business after the Durfort transaction closed in the second quarter, and a burgeoning e-commerce presence,” Chief Executive Larry Wexler said in a statement. “Overall, we are seeing ongoing benefits from reshaping our business towards a more growth-oriented mindset and are able to raise our outlook once again for the remainder of the fiscal year.” The company is now expecting sales to range from $395 million to $401 million, up from prior guidance of $370 million to $382 million. The current FactSet consensus is for full-year sales of $401.1 million. Sales of cannabis in those states that have legalized it for medical or recreational purposes have held up during the pandemic.
• Twilio Inc.
the developer of communications software, reported fiscal third-quarter revenue that blew past Wall Street estimates as it benefited during the pandemic. Twilio reported a loss of $116.9 million, or 79 cents a share, compared with a loss of $87.7 million, or 64 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Twilio reported an adjusted loss of 4 cents a share. Revenue vaulted 52% to $447.9 million from $295.1 million a year ago. Across-the-board strength in business operations, led by gains in vertical markets such as health care and financial services, contributed to the hike in revenue, Twilio Chief Financial Officer Khozema Shipchandler told MarketWatch after the results were announced. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected a net loss of 4 cents a share on revenue of $407 million.
• United Parcel Service Inc.
is planning to hire 50,000 seasonal workers this Friday at its annual “UPS Brown Friday” hiring blitz. The one-day events are part of the transportation and shipping company’s plan to hire up to 100,000 workers for the annual holiday season. Much of this year’s effort will be conducted virtually, with applicants checking into a virtual lobby for interviews, during the pandemic. The jobs going are for package handlers, drivers and driver-helpers.
• Walmart Inc.
will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., extending its shopping hours from a previous closing time of 10 p.m., starting Nov. 14. “This will give customers more time to shop and help us disperse traffic throughout the day. Stores with more reduced hours will keep current hours of operation,” the retailer said in a tweet. Walmart will continue to offer a special hourlong shopping window for customers ages 60 and over before the official 7 a.m. opening time, to protect them during the pandemic.