N.Y. Hits Recovery Milestone; Macy’s Cuts Jobs: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — New York reported 996 virus hospitalizations, the first time the figure dropped below 1,000 since March 18, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Twitter. Germany’s infection rate fell to the lowest in almost three weeks, easing concerns that local outbreaks would prompt a resurgence.

The U.S. economic recovery is showing early signs of weakening in some states where cases are mounting, and more people claimed unemployment benefits than forecast for a second straight week. Macy’s Inc. said it plans to cut about 3,900 jobs to reduce costs.

The outbreak worsened across the U.S. heartland and a new modeling predicts the virus will kill 180,000 Americans by October, though an embrace of masks may lessen the toll. The efficacy of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine will be known in the Northern Hemisphere’s autumn, Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said.

Global Tracker: Cases reach 9.46 million; deaths pass 483,000France plans furlough program that could run for two yearsEurope is approaching a disastrous economic cliff edgeFear of vial shortage for Covid vaccines prompts flurry of dealsInvestors are favoring firms that let people work from homeRich Brazilians pour money into their crisis-stricken businessesModi wants to make India more self-reliant as crisis bitesMillennial job mobility set to decline because of the pandemic

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus.

Kentucky Derby to Run With Spectators Under Guidelines (9:18 a.m. NY)

The Kentucky Derby will run with spectators on Sept. 5. The race will occur with spectators “under strict guidelines,” Churchill Downs said. Venue capacity will be reduced to limit crowd density, and access throughout the facility will be “severely limited.” Fans will be “frequently encouraged” to wear a mask at all times unless seated in their reserved seat or venue. Derby week is to be held Sept. 1-5.

N.Y. Reaches Milestone With Hospitalizations Below 1,000 (9 a.m. NY)

At its peak, New York had 18,825 people hospitalized for Covid-19. The state tested 51,144 people for the virus on Tuesday, and 1.1% were positive. At one point, more than half of New York’s tests were coming back positive.

Five New York regions — Finger Lakes, Central New York, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and North Country — are on track to enter the fourth phase of reopening on Friday. This step includes outdoor arts and entertainment, like zoos, at 33% capacity; indoor museums and aquariums at 25% capacity; and professional sports without fans.

Macy’s Cuts 3,900 Corporate Jobs (8:39 a.m. NY)

Macy’s Inc. will cut about 3,900 corporate and management jobs to slash costs in an effort to weather the long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the reeling retail sector. The restructuring, announced Thursday, is expected to save the company $365 million this fiscal year, then about $630 million a year going forward, it said in a statement.

U.S. Jobless Claims Worse Than Forecast for Second Week (8:34 a.m. NY)

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was higher than forecast for a second straight week, adding to signs that the recovery is cooling amid a pickup in coronavirus cases. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell to 1.48 million last week from an upwardly revised 1.54 million in the prior week, Labor Department data showed Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had forecast 1.32 million.

HK Reports 14 Cases From People Who Traveled (7:31 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong confirmed 14 additional coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the city’s number of confirmed and probable cases to 1,194, according to the Centre for Health Production. All the new cases traveled during the incubation period.

BOE Sees Equity Stakes as Solution to Firms’ Recovery (7:21 a.m. NY)

The Bank of England pledged to work with the British government on increasing equity investment in companies to help them recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Struggling U.K. companies face a 50-billion-pound ($62 billion) cash-flow deficit, which is threatening their ability to take on more debt to meet financial needs, Governor Andrew Bailey said in a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on Thursday. The central bank and the Treasury are looking into whether private investment funds could help provide an equity boost, Bailey said.

EU Warns of Food Trade Risks (6:42 a.m. NY)

Regulatory decisions for food trade have to remain science-based and proportionate to the risk, a European Commission spokesperson said by email. “Any other approach could easily lead to a global spiral toward imposing unjustified import controls,” said the commission. “This would have grave, negative consequences on food security, global trade, but will also undermine the trust of the public.”

Singapore Sees Most Migrant Workers Cleared of Virus by End-July (6:39 a.m. NY)

Singapore’s government said as many as 80% of the more than 300,000 migrant workers living in dormitories will either have recovered from or tested free of the coronavirus by the end of next month.

So far, some 120,000 of the workers have been cleared, Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong said during a briefing in Singapore on Thursday evening. The target is to clear about 250,000 by the end of July.

Iran’s Virus Deaths Rise Past 10,000 (6:35 a.m. NY)

The death toll from Iran’s coronavirus outbreak has reached 10,130 after 134 died in the past 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry. Infections and fatalities continue to rise following the relaxation of many of the country’s restrictions.

HK Plans to Increase Daily Tests to 7,000, Lam Says (6:09 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong has set a short-term target of 7,000 daily coronavirus tests, an increase from an average of 4,000 tests per day in the first half of June, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in an article posted online Thursday.

Europe Outbreak in Check But Virus Apps Struggle for Traction (6:06 a.m. NY)

Europe’s efforts to control the coronavirus have largely held up, but a key tool aimed at keeping the pandemic in check has struggled to gain traction. Apps to help authorities track contact between people have been slow to take off, with skeptical users balking at downloading the software as daily life returns to normal. Switzerland is the latest country to try its hand, with a new program going live Thursday.

Eiffel Tower Reopens With No Elevator (5:55 a.m. NY)

The Eiffel Tower reopened for visitors on Thursday, but its elevators won’t start functioning until July 1, while face masks are compulsory and traffic flow is in only one direction.

Fear of Vial Shortage for Covid Vaccines Prompts Flurry of Deals (5 p.m. HK)

Fears that a shortage of glass vials could hinder efforts to quickly deploy a Covid-19 vaccine are prompting a flurry of deals to clinch the in-demand containers. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a global organization funding vaccine development, is the latest to announce such a pact, paying 19.7 million euros, or $22.2 million, to Stevanato Group, an Italian manufacturer of pharmaceutical containers, for 100 million glass vials that can hold up to 2 billion vaccine doses.

Thailand Set to Extend State of Emergency (4:51 p.m. HK)

Thailand is set to extend its state of emergency for a third time to help manage the reopening of schools as well as high-risk businesses, such as nightclubs, following a decline in coronavirus infections.

Large Numbers of Austrian Ski Resort Residents Have Antibodies (4:20 p.m. HK)

A study found that 42% of residents in the Austrian ski resort Ischgl, whose infamous apres-ski bars helped spread the coronavirus from Germany to Iceland and beyond, have antibodies to the novel coronavirus, said Dorothee von Laer, a virology professor at Innsbruck University.

That’s the highest distribution of antibodies in a defined region ever recorded in a published scientific study, said Von Laer. The virus probably started spreading in the resort, sometimes dubbed “Ibiza of the Alps” due to its sprawling party and bar scene, in the second half of February, she said.

Swedish Scientist Who Doubted Face Masks Reconsider Their Use (4:13 p.m. HK)

The scientist behind Sweden’s controversial Covid-19 strategy said he’s willing to reconsider using face masks, after previously advising against them. Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist and the architect of its hands-off response to the coronavirus pandemic, said there are situations in which it might be advisable for people to cover their mouths and noses even though masks “definitely won’t become an optimal solution in any way.”

WHO Urges Caution Over Europe Recovery (4:00 p.m. HK)

A resurgence in cases in 11 European countries, if left unchecked, could overwhelm health services, said Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director. The weekly number of cases are increasing again, with about 20,000 new confirmations daily, he said.

Royal Mail Slashes Jobs After Virus Hit Demand (3:20 p.m. HK)

Royal Mail Plc said it will cut around 2,000 management posts in a bid to streamline the business after the coronavirus outbreak accelerated a decline in letter volumes.

Danish Consumers Go on Spending Spree (3:09 p.m. HK)

Consumers in Denmark went on a spending spree last month, after the country ended its lockdown and allowed shops to reopen. Retail sales soared 9.4% in May from April, after months of stagnation punctuated by declines, Statistics Denmark said on Thursday.

Top Lufthansa Investor Backs $10 Billion Rescue (2:54 p.m. HK)

Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s biggest stockholder said he’d vote in favor of a 9 billion-euro ($10 billion) government bailout, giving the rescue plan a shot of momentum on the eve of a crucial vote.

Billionaire Heinz Hermann Thiele told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he’d support the package at Thursday’s special shareholder meeting, ending days of frenzied speculation about his intentions.

Antibody Tests Not Ready for U.K. Roll-Out (2:44 p.m. HK)

Covid-19 antibody tests still need better assessment before the U.K. government rolls them out in a massive effort for doctors and patients, health experts warned.

The tests aren’t accurate enough to reliably show whether people have been exposed to the coronavirus and can’t tell whether they’re immune, 14 professors and scientists said a letter published in the BMJ medical journal. The U.K.’s National Health Service wants to process thousands of samples a day within a 24-hour period.

Vietnam in No Rush to Open Its Doors (2:25 p.m. HK)

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc says the country will not rush to open its borders to foreigners as it strives to prevent a second wave of the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a post on the government’s website.

Phuc said the country is not going to open for tourists yet and the travel of foreign experts, high-level workers and investors into Vietnam will be closely monitored, according to the post. Allowing Vietnamese people to work abroad will also be watched closely.

UAE Ends Curfew, Allows Vaccine Tests (2:21 p.m. HK)

The United Arab Emirates lifted a curfew put in place three months ago to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Citizens and residents will now be able to move freely after the completion of its sanitation drive, state-run WAM reported. The restrictions had been gradually eased over the past months, but a 10 pm to 6 am lockdown had remained in place in most places.

The UAE aims to have a coronavirus vaccines available “by end of 2020 or earlier 2021,” after it allowed a Chinese state-owned vaccine developer to test in the country, WAM said.

Royal Mail Slashes Management Posts as Letter Demand Hit (2:20 p.m. HK)

Royal Mail Plc said it will cut around 2,000 management posts in a bit to streamline the business after the coronavirus outbreak accelerated a decline in letter volumes.

Royal Mail aims to cut labor costs by 130 million pounds ($161 million) this year and shave 300 million pounds off capital spending on the next two years, the 500-year-old U.K. postal service said in a statement Thursday.

German Infection Rate at Lowest in 3 Weeks (2:07 p.m. HK)

Germany’s coronavirus infection rate fell to the lowest in almost three weeks, while the number of new cases remained well below the level at the height of the outbreak.

The reproduction factor — or R value — dropped to 0.72 on Wednesday, from 2.02 the day before, according to the latest estimate by the country’s health body, the Robert Koch Institute. A number below 1.0 is seen as preventing exponential growth in the number of cases and a second wave of infections.

There were 391 new infections in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, down from 712 the previous day and bringing the total to 192,871, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Fatalities increased by 14 to 8,928.

Moderna Vaccine Efficacy Will Be Known in Fall (2 p.m. HK)

The efficacy of Moderna’s vaccine against the novel coronavirus will be known in the fall, with a possible regulatory approval at the end of the year or in early 2021, CEO Stephane Bancel said in an interview on France 2 television.

Phase 3 of the trial will begin in July on 30,000 patients, with a result in the fall, Bancel said. He remains confident that a vaccine will be developed against the virus, with an 80% to 90% chance it will be ready next year.

WWE Star Tests Positive for Covid-19 (1:40 p.m. HK)

WWE announcer Renee Young said she has tested positive for Covid-19 as cases in the U.S. continue to rise.

The development comes as World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., the sports entertainment company that has continued to produce pro wrestling TV shows throughout the coronavirus pandemic at a Florida location, grapples with rising positive cases both among its employees and talent, as well as in the state where it set up production.

Senegal President in Quarantine (1:26 p.m. HK)

Senegalese President Macky Sall will be self-isolating for the next two weeks after coming into contact with a person who tested Covid-19 positive, the presidency said.

Sall, 58, has tested negative for the disease, according to a statement on Twitter on Thursday. The West African nation has had 6,129 confirmed coronavirus cases and 93 deaths.

Hong Kong Reports Seventh Virus Death (1:11 p.m. HK)

A 55-year-old male coronavirus patient who returned from the Philippines died on Thursday morning, according to a statement from the Hong Kong government.

The patient had suffered a stroke in the Philippines and was admitted to a hospital there in May before being flown back to Hong Kong via an air ambulance. He tested positive for Covid-19 and his condition deteriorated, the government said.

In a separate statement on Thursday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that of the 114 confirmed cases between May 25 and June 24, 102 of them were imported cases, mostly from Pakistan, the Philippines, India and Bangladesh.

Tokyo Find 48 Cases Thursday (12:58 p.m. HK)

Tokyo found 48 cases of coronavirus Thursday, broadcaster NTV reported, without attribution. Read here: Tokyo Virus Cases Jump to 55 With Workplace Clusters in Focus.

West Virginia Governor Forces Out Health Chief (12:58 p.m. HK)

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice forced out the commissioner of the public health bureau on Wednesday after he publicly questioned the accuracy of the state’s coronavirus data, according to The Associated Press.

Justice expressed his “lack of confidence” in Cathy Slemp, State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health, to Bill Crouch, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Crouch then asked Slemp to resign.

The billionaire Republican governor vented during a news conference that West Virginia’s active virus caseload may have been overstated, AP reported.

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