Great Britain

Coronavirus latest: record jump in Illinois deaths, California smashes daily case record

Peter Wells in New York

Texas on Wednesday reported its second-biggest one-day jump in new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and its biggest increase in deaths in about two weeks.

A further 14,758 new cases were revealed on Wednesday afternoon, down from Tuesday's record of 15,182, according to data from the health department.

Authorities also added a further 1,666 older cases stemming from backlogs of tests to the statewide total, although these were excluded from the daily figures.

Deaths rose by 207, up from 170 on Tuesday and compared with 200 on Wednesday last week. It was the biggest jump in fatalities since a near-three-month-high of 230 on November 19.

Hospitalisations rose to 9,109 from 9,047 on Tuesday. That remains the highest level since January 31 and is about 16 per cent below the state's July 22 peak.

Peter Wells in New York

California on Wednesday became the first US state to report more than 20,000 coronavirus cases in a single day.

The most populous state logged 20,759 infections, its health department revealed this afternoon, up from 12,221 on Tuesday and eclipsing its previous record of 18,350 on November 25.

The single-day jump is more than the 18,266 cases logged for the entire pandemic by Hawaii, which was the third-fewest number of infections among US states. It is more than 10 times the overall tally for New Zealand, which has a population about an eighth of California's nearly 40m residents.

Although California has confirmed some 1.24m cases, more than any other US state, it ranks among the bottom quartile when adjusted for its population.

Although the Golden State has averaged more than 200,000 tests a day over the past fortnight, the latest batch of cases came from just 137,813 tests, the fewest in about two weeks. The positivity rate has averaged 6.9 per cent over the past 14 days, according to state data, the highest since the end of July.

Recent daily cases may be affected by delays to processing following Thanksgiving and the long weekend, but other metrics suggest California may be experiencing a spread of coronavirus that is set to surpass its summer surge. Governor Gavin Newsom warned earlier this week about the possibility of more "drastic action" if hospitals become overwhelmed, and hinted that officials could soon announce a stay-at-home order akin to earlier in the year.

Hospital admissions hit a record 9,365, the health department revealed, having crossed 9,000 for the first time yesterday. That eclipses the previous peak of 8,820 in late July.

Authorities attributed a further 113 deaths to coronavirus, up from 70 yesterday and compared with 106 on Wednesday last week. It was the biggest one-day jump in fatalities since the 162 reported on October 22. The state set a one-day peak of 219 in late July.

The German authorities have decided to extend the partial lockdown, in force since the start of November, until January 10. The measures have closed all restaurants, bars, gyms, theatres and concert halls, and essentially shut down domestic tourism.

Moncef Slaoui, who leads the US Operation Warp Speed to accelerate vaccine development, believes the UK approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should reassure Americans they can trust the shot. Mr Slaoui said the UK regulator is of the "highest calibre" and equivalent to the US Food and Drug Administration.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he expects the state will receive its first batch of vaccines from Pfizer on December 15, pending federal government approval. That shipment should provide enough vaccines for 170,000 New Yorkers, starting with care-home residents and healthcare workers.

US health officials have changed official guidelines so that people who come into contact with someone who has been infected with coronavirus will no longer have to remain in quarantine for 14 days, and could return to normal life as soon as a week after their last contact.

Europe’s largest tour operator Tui secured a third round of government-backed funding. The company said on Wednesday it reached an agreement with banks, the German government and Unifirm, Tui's largest shareholder, on a package worth €1.8bn. The deal will "ensure that the company can bridge the gap if the pandemic persists in 2021", Tui said.

Airlines and airports have renewed their calls for quarantine restrictions to be dropped following the publication of European travel guidelines that say travellers should not automatically be considered high-risk for spreading infection.

Becton Dickinson, the world's largest needle maker, plans to invest $1.2bn to expand syringe production, as the US and other nations prepare for the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines.

Austria's government has bowed to pressure from fellow EU countries and will keep its ski resorts closed until at least Christmas Eve amid fears that a normal start to the alpine sporting season will accelerate the spread of coronavirus.

Bonmarché has collapsed into administration, putting roughly 1,600 jobs at risk. Bonmarché's administrators on Wednesday said it had not yet made redundancies or closed any stores. "Bonmarché remains an attractive brand with a loyal customer base," it said.

Peter Wells in New York

Illinois on Wednesday reported its biggest one-day jump in coronavirus deaths of the pandemic, while new cases remain below recent record highs.

Daily deaths, which tend to lag cases and hospital admissions, have hit high or record levels in several Midwest states in recent days, but encouraging trends for most of the region remain in place as new infections continue to decline from peak levels in November.

Illinois attributed 238 deaths to coronavirus on Wednesday, soaring past the state's previous one-day record of 191 on May 13, according to health department data. Its overall death toll of 11,963 ranks sixth in the US, behind New Jersey and ahead of Massachusetts.

Wisconsin this afternoon reported a further 82 deaths, down from Tuesday's record of 107, while Indiana revealed 91 more fatalities, down from the 146 on Tuesday that ranked among the state's 20 most deadly days.

Ohio reported a further 123 deaths, it's third-biggest daily jump of the pandemic, up from 119 on Tuesday. The state set a daily record of 156 on November 25.

More encouraging, though, is that daily cases in these states have trended lower in the past few weeks. On Wednesday, Illinois reported a further 9,757 infections, down from an 11-day high on Tuesday of 12,542.

Wisconsin had a further 3,777 new confirmed cases, down from 4,078 on Tuesday but nearly half its record of 7,989 on November 18, according to health department data. Indiana revealed a further 6,655 cases, up from 5,396 yesterday and compared to its record of more than 8,300 on November 14. Ohio reported 7,835 new cases, down from 9,030 on Tuesday. The state had 11,885 on a single-day on November 23.

With the exception of Ohio, all of the 11 states in the Midwest had seven-day average case rates that were down at least 10 per cent from peak rates, according to a Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data.

While officials in many states across the country have warned that it may take a week or so to gauge any impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on infection rates, states in the Midwest were already experiencing a gradual decline in daily case rates from around mid-November. That may help, albeit partially, to offset rising trends in other parts of the country. California and Texas, which rank first and second among states by population, are reporting one-day jumps in new cases that exceed levels they hit during their summer surge.

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