Houston Mulls Reimposing Limits; U.S. Cases Rise: Virus Update

Houston could reimpose stay-home orders and open a unused Covid-19 hospital as cases in the Texas city continue to surge. Indoor dining returns in five upstate New York regions while in New York City, fewer workers than expected returned to their jobs.

New Jersey will move to the second of four reopening stages June 15. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dismissed the need for a second U.S. shutdown even if new cases accelerate.

U.S. consumers filed 91,000 complaints related to Covid-19 since January, with losses due to fraud estimated at $59.2 million. A court in Australia ruled against a weekend rally amid concerns it could hurt efforts to control the virus outbreak.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases pass 7.4 million; deaths exceed 418,500
  • Mining recovery after lockdown willaid Australia’s economy
  • Amazon price-gouging stepworsened sanitizer, wipes shortage
  • What towatch in Pakistan’s budget amid coronavirus pandemic
  • U.K.’s reopeningtakes place amid jobs carnage across economy
  • After enduring Covid, hospitals brace forcancer onslaught
  • Does warm weather curb coronavirus?QuickTake

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.

Houston on ‘Precipice of a Disaster’ (5:45 p.m. NY)

Houston-area officials said they are “getting close” to reimposing a stay-at-home order and are prepared to reopen a Covid-19 hospital set up but never used at a football stadium as virus cases expand in the fourth-largest U.S. city.

“We may be approaching the precipice of a disaster,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the highest-ranking official in the county that includes Houston. “It’s out of hand right now. The good news is it’s not severe out of hand.” New cases in the state rose 2.3%, up from the 2.3% 7-day average, officials said Thursday.

The Texas Medical Center said cases in the Houston areaaveraged 407 a day in the week ended June 7, up from 267 the previous week. The high was 417 in the week ended April 12. The ad hoc medical facility opened at NRG Stadium, home to the NFL’s Houston Texans, on the city’s south side will be re-established if demand on local hospitals become “severe,” Hidalgo told reporters.

Australia Court Rules Against Rally (5:30 p.m. NY)

The Supreme Court in Australia’s New South Wales ruled against a weekend rally to support refugee rights amid concerns the gathering could hurt effort to control the outbreak, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Justice Michael Walton ruled in favor of police, saying the risks of Covid-19 remained despite low community transmission rates, according to the report. Hundreds of people were expected in Sydney for the protest.

A protester who attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne last weekend has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to state authorities, and officials are conducting tracing to ensure any close contacts are tested.

U.S. Cases Rise 1.1%, Matching 7-Day Average (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased by 22,317 from the same time Wednesday to 2.01 million, according todata collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The 1.1% increase matched the daily average over the past seven days. Deaths rose 0.9% to 113,407.

  • Florida reported 69,069 cases, up 2.5% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 2% in the previous seven days. Deaths reached 2,848, an increase of 1.7%.
  • New York cases rose by 736, or 0.2%, to 380,892,according to the state’s health department.
  • California cases rose 2.3% to 139,281, compared with the average 2.1% increase in the past seven days,according to the state’s website. Deaths rose 2.2% to 4,881.

NYC Says 200,000 Back at Work (3:30 p.m. NY)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said perhaps less than half the workers expected to be back at their jobs returned this week as the city started to reopen, a signal people remain concerned about their level of comfort.

“I’m pretty certain based on the information we have that at least a 100,000 to 200,000 people are back,” the mayor said on WINS Radio. “I think that number grows as people watch and see things that are safe.” Officials estimated as many as 400,000 people would be back as retail shops offered curbside pickup and nonessential construction and manufacturing restarted this week.

De Blasio said the second stage of the city’s reopening could be “two weeks away, three weeks away.”

Ohio Health Director Vilified by GOP Steps Aside (3:30 p.m. NY)

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton is resigning her post, ending her run as one of the nation’s most prominent and vocal supporters of Covid-19 social-distancing orders.

Acton receivedbroad public approval unheard of for an Ohio state health official. The fame that came from near-daily press conferences led fans to emblazon T-shirts with her catch-phrases and the National Bobblehead Museum to sell her wobbly likeness. But with that notoriety came ire from state Republican lawmakers who criticized her orders that shut large swaths of the state economy in attempts to combat the spread of coronavirus.

“Certainly as a person, and I’m only a person, I didn’t run for election, and this is a new world for me,” Acton said during a Thursday press conference in Columbus. She said she was leaving the post to focus on a new health adviser role in Governor Mike DeWine’s administration, and she said the hours-on-the-job she kept as health director weren’t sustainable.

N.J. to Expand Reopening (1:30 p.m. NY)

New Jersey will begin the second of four reopening stages starting June 15, Governor Phil Murphy said, 100 days since the state reported its first case of coronavirus.

The state has one of the slowest Covid-19 transmission rates in the U.S., he said. Deaths rose by 70 to 12,443, while new cases increased 539 to 165,816. More than 1 in 9 residents have tested negative.

Florida Cases, Positivity, Hospitalizations Jump (12:25 p.m. NY)

Florida reported 69,069 cases, up 2.5% from Wednesday, higher than the 2% average increase in the previous seven days. Deaths reached 2,848, an increase of 1.7%. Hospitalizations jumped by 226, the biggest single-day increase since May 21.

The new positivity rate — people testing positive for the first time among overall tests in a day — climbed to 5.6% for Wednesday, the second straight day above 5% and the third highest single-day reading in the past month. The range has stretched from about 1% to 7%.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has consistently blamed higher Covid-19 numbers on expanded testing. But a sustained rise in the positivity rate would undercut his case.

Consumer Complaints Soar: FTC (12:15 p.m. NY)

TheFederal Trade Commission reported more than 91,000 complaints related to Covid-19 since the beginning of the year, with consumer losses due to fraud estimated at $59.2 million. Fraud accounted for almost 48,000 complaints. More than $20 million in losses was attributed to travel and vacation fraud, the FTC said. Complaints peaked in early April.

N.Y. Regions to Resume Indoor Dining (11:45 a.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said five of 10 regions of New York on Friday will begin the third phase of reopening, meaning restaurants can resume indoor dining with some restrictions. Personal-care service can also resume.

In the regions — Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, Central New York, North Country and Southern Tier — restaurants will be allowed to have indoor as well as outdoor dining at 50% capacity, and nail salons and other personal care services will be allowed to reopen. Businesses are expected to follow social distancing and sanitizing rules, and employees must wear personal protective equipment.

New York reported 36 deaths, down from 53 on Wednesday, Cuomo said, the fewest in almost three months. New cases rose 0.2%, or 736, in line with the weekly average.

Outbreak Accelerates in Africa: WHO (11:15 a.m. NY)

The spread of the coronavirus in Africa is accelerating, the World Health Organization said, with total cases reaching 200,000 less than three weeks after the first 100,000, a milestone reached in 98 days. The continent accounts for less than 5% of global cases.

Deaths exceed 5,600, the WHO said. More than 70% are in five countries: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan. South Africa has a quarter of all fatalities, the WHO said.

Mnuchin Rejects Second Lockdown (10 a.m. NY)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. “can’t shut down the economy again” even if there is another surge in coronavirus cases. “You create more damage, not just economic damage — medical problems that get put on hold,” Mnuchin said on CNBC.

A shutdown can be avoided if cases surge, he said, because Covid testing and contact tracing are improving and officials understand more about how to contain outbreaks.

— With assistance by Steve Geimann, and Jonathan Levin

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