FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, May 6, 2021

May 06, 2021

Headlines

  • Covid-19 cases will likely surge again in the US, peaking in May before sharply declining by July, according to new data released Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the rise in infections expected as states relax pandemic prevention strategies for businesses, large-scale gatherings and schools, and the B.1.1.7 variant first reported in the United Kingdom spreads more rapidly throughout the country.
  • President Joe Biden's new benchmark in the fight against COVID-19 - ensuring 70% of American adults to get at least one shot by July 4 - seems to be a tacit acknowledgement of what scientists have been saying now for months that eradicating the virus might not be possible but if enough Americans get some protection, it'll become manageable, an approach being embraced by scientists and politicians alike as considerably more pragmatic than the idea of waiting on "herd immunity," especially considering that a fourth of Americans might never accept the vaccine.
  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday that 12- to 15-year-olds could be getting vaccinated against Covid-19 in less than two weeks.
  • One dose of a coronavirus vaccine has been found to be more than effective in preventing infections among people over 60, according to a large study from South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency, with data released Wednesday based on more than 3.5 million people in the country finding that two weeks after being administered one dose of Pfizer, the vaccine was 89.7 percent effective in preventing infection, and AstraZeneca’s vaccine was found to be 86 percent effective.
  • The B.1.526 Covid-19 variant, which was first identified in New York City in November, is not associated with more severe infection or a greater risk of reinfection, according to new research from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • A booster shot of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine revs up the immune response against two worrying coronavirus variants from South Africa and Brazil, the company reported Wednesday, and additionally, a booster dose formulated specifically to match the African B.1.351 strain was even more effective.
  • The pace of immunization against coronavirus has slowed by about 20% in the US, according to data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with nearly 250 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine having now been administered.
  • Americans can expect guidance on mask wearing to “continue to be updated” and “changed” when asked about the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation to have children wear masks at summer camp, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
  • Maria van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for Covid-19. said today that while there are virus hotspots in all regions, there have also been positive signs in all of them, with several reasons for the increased transmission in some parts of the world, including virus variants, an uneven and unequitable global rollout of vaccines and a lot of fatigue, with governments wanting to open societies.
  • India accounted for 25% of the world's Covid-19 deaths reported in the past week, according to the World Health Organization’s weekly Covid-19 report released Wednesday, and the country recorded 382,315 new cases and a further 3,780 Covid-19 related deaths in the past twenty-four hours, according to health ministry figures.
  • India has approved Roche/Regeneron’s antibody cocktail for emergency use to treat Covid-19, as essential medical supplies run low in the country amid a devastating second wave of infections.
  • Canada announced Wednesday that it has authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, with the company saying clinical trial results showed its efficacy is 100% and well tolerated in youths ages 12 to 15, and the most commonly reported side effects were temporary and mild, like a sore arm, chills or fever.
  • In a ruling that could have a tremendous impact on millions of Americans, a federal judge in Washington D.C. on Wednesday ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its legal authority when it issued a nationwide eviction moratorium, with District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich’s 20-page order saying that the protection, first put in place during the coronavirus pandemic under the Trump administration and now set to run out on June 30, goes too far.
  • In two days, President Biden said 186,200 restaurants and other food industry businesses applied for federal relief funding allocated by the $1.9 billion American Rescue Plan, with applications coming from establishments in all 50 states and about 97,000 businesses owned by women, veterans and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals.
  • The Small Business Administration said Wednesday that the Paycheck Protection Program has been exhausted, and as of Sunday, the PPP had given out nearly 10.8 million loans worth more than $780 billion since April of last year.
  • If you receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits and are still waiting on a stimulus check, you should file a tax return as soon as possible in order to get your money, the Social Security Administration said Wednesday.
  • Cruise ship operators may begin simulated voyages with volunteer passengers, per an order from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guidelines that are a new phase in the agency’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order released in October, with instructions that include eligibility and requirements for conducting a trial voyage, which would help prepare for future restricted passenger voyages and guide cruise ship inspection on those voyages.
  • The New York Stock Exchange is loosening Covid-19 protocol and will allow fully vaccinated people on the trading floor to go unmasked when socially distanced beginning next Monday.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that Broadway shows will be "ready to open September 14 at 100% capacity," with tickets going on sale tomorrow and the logistics regarding how theaters will reopen still being ironed out.
  • Just weeks until the Tokyo Olympics, Covid-19 cases in Japan are on th

US Restrictions & Schools

  1. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky responded to criticism over the latest CDC guidance on outdoor mask-wearing for fully vaccinated individuals, saying its recommendations have to cover a wide swath of the population, with guidance for individuals, populations and all regions of the country, whether they have high or low rates of vaccination.
  2. It's too soon to say whether school districts might require students to be vaccinated to return to classrooms this fall, Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to the White House's Covid response team, said Tuesday night, adding that such a decision would be made locally and might require full approval of the vaccines from the Food and Drug Administration.
  3. Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that vaccinated individuals in that age group will be able to remove their masks outdoors at camps, remarks that came after criticism that the agency’s recently issued guidance for campers was needlessly strict.
  4. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday that US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on summer camps, which says everyone in the facility should wear a mask at all times and keep at least 3 feet of distance between campers, are conservative, but they will likely be reevaluated in real time.
  5. New US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for cruise ships released today states that simulated voyages must have at least 10% of the maximum number of passengers permitted on board a ship, they must all be at least 18 years old and confirm in writing that they're participating in a simulation voyage, the volunteer passengers must be able to furnish proof of vaccination or provide a letter from a physician that they are not in a high-risk category for Covid-19, and all volunteers must also be willing to get a test three to five days after the voyage is over.

Economy and Business

  1. Montana is ending its expansion of unemployment benefits - including a $300 weekly increase in aid - more than two months early on June 27, and some fear that other states will take similar measures before the labor market recovers.
  2. A group of 7-Eleven franchise owners is pleading with its corporate backers to reverse a recent order to resume 24-hour operations, saying their inability to recruit labor at current wages makes longer hours impossible and unsafe.
  3. Indian banking shares jumped on Wednesday, with the Nifty Bank Index up 1.36%, after the central bank introduced measures to boost lending as the coronavirus crisis continues to take its toll on the country.
  4. The Reserve Bank of India will monitor the economic impact of India’s second wave of infections and deploy all resources possible to ease the economic stress, governor Shaktikanta Das said Wednesday during an unscheduled speech.
  5. Thailand is planning to spend billions of dollars for financial relief to low-income groups to cope with the economic hit from the biggest outbreak sweeping the nation since the pandemic began, with the cabinet on Wednesday approving in principle fiscal stimulus measures, including extension of two cash handout programs by a month at a cost of 85.5 billion baht ($2.8 billion), and also proposing 140 billion baht of spending for co-payment and e-voucher programs and more cash handouts to welfare cardholders and special groups to stimulate consumption.