NYC Suburbs Hit Phase 2; WHO Backtracks on Spread: Virus Update

New York’s Westchester and Rockland counties entered the second phase of reopening Tuesday, while Long Island is set to do so on Wednesday. New York City reached a milestone on testing, and New Jersey lifted its stay-at-home order.

A top World Health Organization official attempted to downplay her comment Monday that asymptomatic transmission of coronavirus is “very rare,” an assessment that revived controversy over transmission routes.

South Asia coronavirus cases have increased at thefastest rate globally in the past week, as the region becomes one of the latest pandemic hot spots. The Eiffel Tower in Paris will reopen following the longest shutdown since World War II.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases pass 7.1 million; deaths exceed 407,000
  • Little sign of acceleratinginfection as Europe reopens
  • How the virusupended 20 million lives in India’s finance hub
  • China wants it both ways on coronavirusrecovery
  • Angst, masks, new safety alert mark myfirst flight since Covid
  • Where are we in the quest for avaccine?

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, clickhere.

New Jersey Lifts Stay-at-Home Order (1:42 p.m.)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy lifted the state’s stay-at-home order that has been in place since March 21, while urging residents to wear masks and maintain social distance.

Murphy also is raising the limit on gatherings. Indoors, gatherings must be at 25% of a building’s capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower. Outside, crowds of as many as 100 will be allowed.

The governor also said he anticipated raising the limit on non-protest and non-religious activities to 250 people on June 22 and 500 people on July 3.

Westchester in Phase 2; Long Island Next (1 p.m. NY)

New York’s Hudson Valley, including Westchester and Rockland counties, entered the second phase of reopening Tuesday, while Long Island is set to do so on Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

In New York City, which began the first phase of reopening on Monday, the state is keeping an eye on hot spots including the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, Cuomo said Tuesday at a press briefing. While the number of positive cases citywide is at 19.9%, it’s above 50% in some of those zip codes, he said.

Cuomo said the state must now focus on the daily testing numbers, and is adding a new regional dashboard so citizens can watch for the positive test results.

“We need to look at the facts and the numbers through a different lens now. We’re all reopening, everything is reopening, the question now is could there be any spike in the rate of transmission upon reopening?” Cuomo said. “This is a whole different universe for us now.”

Cuomo released guidelines for the third phase, which include restaurants, nail salons and other personal-care businesses. Mandates include limiting indoor capacity to no more than 50%, keeping tables at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart and requiring employees to wear masks.

Food Production Changes Needed, UN Says (12:05 p.m. NY)

The coronavirus pandemic has signaled an urgent need to change the way food is produced to help contain hunger and develop environmentally sustainable supplies, according to the United Nations.

The combined effects of the Covid-19 crisis, government measures and the emerging global recession risk a worldwide food emergency and in the long-term could disrupt how food systems function, the UN said in a policy brief. That could lead to consequences for health and nutrition on a scale not seen for more than half a century, it said.

NYC Sees Just 1% Test Positive (11:23 a.m. NY)

New York City reached a milestone, with just 1% testing positive for the novel coronavirus for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Unbelievably good news,” de Blasio said Tuesday at a press briefing. “Let’s keep clinging to that progress.”

The city, which began to reopen on Monday after almost three months on lockdown, reached a high of 71% positivity in April. The city is now conducting more than 30,000 coronavirus tests a day, he said.

Florida Weekly Cases Mount; DeSantis Cites Testing (11:15 a.m. NY)

Florida reported 66,000 Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, up 1.7% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.9% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 2,765, an increase of 2%.

The 8,553 new cases in the past week is the most of any seven-day period. But in a press briefing Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis attributed the rise to a dramatic increase of testing. The new positivity rate — people testing positive for the first time among overall tests in a day — was 3.8%, within the 1%-7% range in the past month.

Total cumulative coronavirus hospitalizations rose 1.6% to 11,185 from 11,008 a day earlier.

WHO Official Downplays Comment on Asymptomatic Spread (10:40 a.m. NY)

A top World Health Organization official attempted to downplay her comment Monday that asymptomatic transmission of coronavirus is “very rare,” an assessment that revived controversy over transmission routes.

In a live event on social media to take questions from the public on Tuesday, Maria Van Kerkhove said her comments referred to two to three studies that have been published and that try to follow asymptomatic cases over time and look at all their contacts to see how many additional people were infected.

“That’s a very small subset of studies,” said Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist. “I was responding to a question, not stating a policy of the WHO. I was just trying to articulate what we know. I used the phrase ‘very rare’ and I think that’s a misunderstanding to state asymptomatic transmission globally is very rare. What I was referring to was a subset of studies. I also referred to some data that isn’t published.”

Van Kerkhove said that while it’s known there are some asymptomatic patients who can transmit the virus, it needs to be better understood how many of the people in the population don’t have symptoms and separately, how many of those individuals go on to transmit to others. Van Kerkhove also said asymptomatic patients tend to be younger and without underlying medical conditions.

Her comments elicited criticism from some public health experts.

“If you look at the data overall, I think it’s overwhelming that there has to be asymptomatic carriers that are spreading,” said Mark Dybul, the co-director of Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Practice and Impact. “It’s almost impossible that they don’t. I’d have to look at why she’s saying that, because it runs counter to everything, the growing body of evidence over the last five months.”

Paris Eiffel Tower to Reopen June 25 (9:04 a.m. NY)

The Eiffel Tower in Paris will reopen following the longest shutdown since World War II. The French capital’s second-most visited tourist landmark behind the Louvre Museum will reopen to visitors on June 25 after being closed for three months due to the virus. Visitors will initially only be able to access the tower via the stairs and will have to wear masks.

Airline Industry Forecast to Suffer Record $84 Billion Loss (8:58 a.m. NY)

Airlines will post a record collective loss this year that will be more than twice that suffered after the 2008 global economic slump, according to the industry’s main trade group. Carriers will lose $84 billion in 2020 and almost $16 billion in 2021, the International Air Transport Association said in a briefing Tuesday. That compares with a $31 billion loss after the last recession.

South Asia Cases Rise at Fastest Rate Across the Globe (8:23 a.m. NY)

South Asia coronavirus cases have increased at thefastest rate globally in the past week, as the region becomes one of the latest pandemic hot spots. Infections have risen by 27% in Pakistan, 19% in Bangladesh and 17% in India, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Pakistan and Bangladesh also had their single biggest daily spike in fatalities.

As cases dwindle in the U.S. and Europe, they are still increasing in South America and South Asia. More than 136,000 cases were reported worldwide on Sunday, the most in a single day so far, with nearly 75% from 10 countries in the Americas and South Asia, according to the World Health Organization.

Sweden Says Strategy Wasn’t About Shielding Economy (8 a.m. NY)

Sweden’s finance minister says it was never the government’s intention to adopt a relaxed Covid-19 strategy in order to protect the economy. “We haven’t taken economic considerations when we have decided on the Swedish strategy,” Magdalena Andersson said in an interview in Stockholm.

Sweden’s softer lockdown has resulted in one of the world’s highest death rates, relative to the population. Andersson said in May that her country was facing a “very deep economic crisis,” with GDP set to sink about about 7%, despite the softer lockdown. The decisions taken in Sweden have fed into aglobal debate over the economic consequences of shuttering a society to fight a pandemic.

Thuringia Is First German Region to End Social Distancing (7:53 a.m. NY)

Thuringia is set to lift contact restrictions from June 13, the state’s left-wing government decided Tuesday, making it thefirst German region to end social distancing requirements. Swimming pools, saunas and cinemas will also be allowed to reopen if they observe hygiene requirements.

Earlier, Germanyrecorded an increase in new cases, and the infection rate climbed to 1.11, pushing above the key threshold of 1.0. There were 359 new cases in the 24 hours through Tuesday morning, bringing the total to 186,109, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That compares with 300 the previous day and almost 7,000 at the peak of the pandemic in late March. Case numbers have increased by an average of 0.2% each day over the past five days, Bloomberg analysis shows.

Emirates Begins Firing Staff (7:45 a.m. NY)

Emirates started theprocess of firing thousands of workers to help the world’s largest long-haul carrier preserve cash during the industry’s recovery from the pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter. The majority of those being retrenched are said to be cabin-crew members.

Plan to Reopen U.K. Primary Schools in Doubt (7:40 a.m. NY)

A government ambition to get all primary school children back to classes before the summer vacationhas been abandoned, a person familiar with the matter said. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is due to make a statement on the issue in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Iran Outbreak Shows No Sign of Abating (6:32 a.m. NY)

The number of daily new cases in Iran remained above 2,000 for the 14th straight day. The country recorded 2,095 new infections overnight, raising its total infections to 175,927. The virus death toll reached 8,425, with 74 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Scale of Outbreaks at U.S. Meat Plants Tallied (6:25 a.m. NY)

At least 60 food-processing facilities outside the meatpacking industry have seen outbreaks, with more than 1,000 workers diagnosed with the virus, according to anew study from Environmental Working Group. The advocacy group compiled its figures — thought to be an under-estimate — using local media reports because there are no federal agencies reporting the data.

— With assistance by Mark Schoifet, Corinne Gretler, Chloe Whiteaker, Nathan Crooks, and Keshia Clukey

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