CDC Plans Dual Flu-Covid Test; Latin America Surge: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. is developing a test that can simultaneously check for seasonal influenza and Covid-19, a tool that could help health authorities more efficiently determine whether there is a second wave of coronavirus later this year.

Iran reported its highest number of daily cases, while Mexico and Brazil each had a record increase in deaths. AstraZeneca signed a deal to support Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine.

The European Central Bank steppped up its response to the coronavirus recession with a bigger-than-anticipated increase to its emergency bond-buying program, and data showed Americans are still filing for unemployment benefits even as businesses reopen.

China will ease its ban on foreign airlines starting Monday and lessen quarantine requirements for official and business travelers, while Japan debated scaling back next year’s Summer Olympics.

Key Developments:

Virus Tracker: Cases pass 6.5 million; deaths exceed 386,000Swedish faith in country’s Covid-19 strategy sinksRoche gets emergency approval for test for severe casesU.K. minister’s virus test sets Up tracing challenge for JohnsonTexas capital braces for deficit after virus scraps festivalsMerkel stimulus seals German shift from frugality to largess

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. For a look back at this week’s top stories from QuickTake, click here.

CDC Says Face Coverings Remain Key (12:50 p.m. NY)

Masks and face coverings remain an important tool to stop spread of the coronavirus, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Congress, adding that he’s worried that some Americans appear to be ignoring the advice.

“We continue to see this as a critical public health tool,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in Washington Thursday. Responding to questions about large public gathers of unmasked people, he said that, “obviously we’re very concerned that our public health message isn’t resonating.”

Redfield said the agency would continue to try and push the message that people should wear marks: “We’re going to continue to try to figure out how to get more and more people to embrace it.”

Italy Has Fewest Cases Since February (12:47 p.m. NY)

Italy registered 177 new Covid-19 cases, down from 321 on Wednesday and the fewest since Feb. 26. Total cases climbed to 234,013. Deaths were 88 up from 71 on Wednesday for a total of 33,689.

Nine regions reported no daily cases, while Lombardy added 84 infections.

N.Y. Expands Test Criteria After Protests (11:45 a.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, noting people demonstrating over the death of George Floyd may have become infected, said the state’s testing criteria has been expanded to cover the protesters.

“If you went to a protest, get a test,” Cuomo said. “Act as if you may have been exposed.”

Cuomo said the state had 52 new deaths in the past day, up slightly from Wednesday, but the said the overall decline “is still in a positive direction.” Cases rose 0.3% in the past 24 hours, below the 0.4% seven-day average.

Florida Cases Jump Most Since May 21 (11:40 a.m. NY)

Florida reported 60,183 Covid-19 cases, up 2.4% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.6% in the previous seven days. It was the biggest increase since the May 21 report and the second straight day with an increase above 2%. Deaths reached 2,607, an increase of 1.4%,

Governor Ron DeSantis has blamed “data dumps” for momentary upticks in the numbers. Indeed, the data showed 38,220 test results received Wednesday, the third-highest level in the past two weeks, in which the daily range is 11,303 to 41,561. Among those results, the positivity rate was 5.3%, in line with the 4%-8% range in the past two weeks.

The state started its phased reopening on May 4.

NYC Targets July for Outdoor Dining (11:30 a.m. NY)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is targeting a July reopening of outdoor dining. The mayor, preparing for the June 8 start of the first phase of reopening, said he anticipates reaching the second phase in July. Restaurants are a key part of the city’s economy, de Blasio said at a press briefing.

AstraZeneca Signs Vaccine Deals (11:15 a.m. NY)

AstraZeneca agreed on a $750 million deal with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance to support making and distributing 300 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, with delivery starting by the end of the year.

The drugmaker also announced a licensing agreement with the Serum Institute of India to supply 1 billion doses for low- and middle-income countries, with 400 million before the end of 2020.

Astra said it has now global supply capacity to exceed 2 billion doses of Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine.

CDC Developing Dual Flu-Coronavirus Test (10:27 a.m. NY)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is developing a test that can check for seasonal influenza and Covid-19 infections at the same time, the agency’s director said in testimony to Congress.

Symptoms of the two illnesses are similar, and when seasonal influenza season arrives later this year it will be important for public-health authorities and health workers to be able to differentiate between the two viruses. Such a test would help determine whether Covid-19 infections are experiencing a second wave, or if patients are showing up with normal seasonal flu.

CDC Director Robert Redfield announced the plan in prepared testimony to Congress ahead of a hearing on the agency’s budget later Thursday in Washington.

Top German Banking Regulator Warns on Defaults (9:37 a.m. NY)

Banks need to brace for a second wave of loan defaults next year, Germany’s top financial regulator said on Thursday, adding that the continent’s lenders will see the bulk of the challenges posed by Covid in the next two quarters. The longer-term effects of the crisis will be drawn out and could lead to another peak in 2021, Bafin President Felix Hufeld said at a virtual event hosted by Bloomberg.

EBay Raises Outlook as Business Moves Online (9:26 a.m. NY)

EBay Inc. raised its forecast for revenue and earnings in the current quarter as people flock to the digital marketplace amid the pandemic.

Moderna Names New CFO at Pivotal Moment (8:50 a.m. NY)

Moderna Inc. named a new chief financial officer as its coronavirus vaccine moved ahead in wider testing. David Meline takes over the top finance role as the company leads the race to develop a shot. Moderna has also come under scrutiny as executives have sold millions of dollars worth of the firm’s highly valued shares.

U.S. Jobless Claims Persist (8:40 a.m. NY)

As business reopenings picked up nationwide, Americans filed nearly 2 million applications for unemployment benefits last week, reflecting a slowing — though far from a halt — in job losses.

Initial jobless claims for regular state programs totaled 1.88 million in the week ended May 30, Labor Department figures showed Thursday, down from 2.13 million the prior week. It was the first reading below 2 million since the coronavirus-related layoffs began en masse in mid-March.

‘Social Bubbles’ Can Limit Spread: Oxford Study (8:37 a.m. NY)

The best way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus post-lockdown is for people to limit their interactions to a few repeated contacts, or so-called social bubbles, research from the University of Oxford showed. Strategically reducing contacts can lower infection rates and flatten the curve considerably more than simple social distancing can, according to the study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

ECB Unveils Bigger-Than-Expected Boost to Bond Buying (7:46 a.m. NY)

The European Central Bank intensified its response to the coronavirus recession with a bigger-than-anticipated increase to its emergency bond-buying program.

At a virtual meeting on Thursday, President Christine Lagarde and colleagues decided to expand the amount of purchases by 600 billion euros ($675 billion) and extended their duration until at least the end of June 2021. The vast majority of economists surveyed by Bloomberg last week expected policy makers to boost buying by 500 billion euros.

Iran Records Highest Number of Daily Cases (6:16 a.m. NY)

Iran reported the largest number of daily cases as it entered a second wave of the pandemic. The 3,574 positive tests exceeded the previous record, in March, by almost 400. The country now has a total of 164,270 infections and 8,071 deaths.

(An earlier version corrected the spelling of Danske Bank and the scope of increase in Iran cases.)

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