Covid-19 Pandemic: Live Updates and News for April 18, 2021

We’re tracking the latest on the coronavirus outbreak and the global response. Sign up here for our daily newsletter on what you need to know.

The U.S. is “in somewhat of a precarious position” with a seven-day average of more than 60,000 new Covid-19 infections per day, though vaccinations will bring the number down, said Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser. He also said a decision on how to resume vaccinating Americans with the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus shot will probably come by Friday.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the outbreak in her hard-hit state may be easing, though she worries demand for the vaccine may also be slowing. France’s President Emmanuel Macron said U.S. citizens will be able to travel there again in the summer with a “special pass” for those who are vaccinated.

India reported another daily record of new infections. Turkey reached record deaths amid an increase in critically ill young people. Israel lifted a regulation requiring residents to wear masks outdoors.

Key Developments:

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.


Half of U.S. Adults Have At Least One Dose (2:41 p.m. NY)

Half of Americans 18 years or older have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday. About 32{b530a9af8ec2f2e0d4045baab79c5cfb9bfdc23e498df4d376766a0b44d3f146} of adults have been full vaccinated.

Another 3.5 million doses were reported on Sunday, as the seven-day average dipped slightly to 3.19 million doses, according the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Most states have opened shots up to all people 16 years and older, and some are reporting a growing surplus of unused vaccine. Total doses administered are 209 million.

N.Y. Positive Tests Fall (2:01 p.m. NY)

New York state’s rate of positive tests dipped to 2.35{b530a9af8ec2f2e0d4045baab79c5cfb9bfdc23e498df4d376766a0b44d3f146}, the lowest since Nov. 7, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. Hospitalizations in the state, once stubbornly high, have dropped to less than 4,000, and cases and deaths are trending downward. Another 35 people died, the fewest since Nov. 22.

More than 41{b530a9af8ec2f2e0d4045baab79c5cfb9bfdc23e498df4d376766a0b44d3f146} of New Yorkers have had at least one dose of vaccine, and 28{b530a9af8ec2f2e0d4045baab79c5cfb9bfdc23e498df4d376766a0b44d3f146} are fully vaccinated, the governor said. More than 13 million vaccines have been administered.

Turkey Reaches Record Deaths (1:28 p.m. NY)

Turkey reported 318 fatalities on Sunday, a 10{b530a9af8ec2f2e0d4045baab79c5cfb9bfdc23e498df4d376766a0b44d3f146} rise from the previous day and the highest figure since the start of the pandemic.

As the number of new cases continues to hover among the highest in the world, an expert warned about the surge in the number of critically ill younger people.

Sunday’s death toll raised total fatalities to 35,926, official data show. Social distancing measures announced on April 13 have “started to decrease the speed of the increase,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a tweet. However, the nation ranks as the third in the number of daily cases, behind India and Brazil.

Gottlieb Says Logistics Key With J&J Sidelined (12:47 p.m. NY)

“Better logistics” will be key to keeping the U.S. vaccination momentum rolling while the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot remains sidelined, said Scott Gottlieb, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“The challenge now is that we’re going to have to set up better logistics to try and reach communities we know are hard to reach,” Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” The J&J shot has been seen as an important part of the national strategy because it’s one-and-done and doesn’t need special storage equipment.

Still, he agreed with Biden adviser Anthony Fauci that “the J&J vaccine will be back on the market in a reasonable period of time – hopefully this week.”

Michigan Surge May Be Easing (12:06 p.m. NY)

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said cases may be slowing in her state, which has been hit hard by the virus variant first detected in the U.K. and has the most per-capita Covid infections in the U.S.

While Michigan is starting to see “the beginning of what could be a slowdown,” she expressed concern about getting people vaccinated. “We are going to see, I think, a moment where supply outweighs demand,” Whitmer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The Democratic governor suggested she partly blames opposition by state Republicans for the surge, saying she doesn’t “have all of the exact same tools” to stem the outbreak as at the start of the pandemic. “And that’s why we’re imploring people to take this seriously, mask up, get tested.”

Hong Kong Bans Flights From Asia Hot Spots (11:42 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong will ban flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines for 14 days starting April 20, the government said in a statement Sunday.

A circuit breaker arrangement is triggered for each of the countries as there had been five or more arrivals with the N501Y mutant coronavirus strain within seven days, the government said. Under the mechanism the three countries will be designated as “extremely high-risk.”

Macron Says France Open Soon to U.S. (10:50 a.m. NY)

French President Emmanuel Macron said U.S. citizens will be able to travel to the country again in the summer. France is working on a “special pass” to allow Americans who are vaccinated to enter the country, in addition to an ongoing EU initiative to create certificate for European citizens to travel, he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Macron also said Russia’s Sputnik vaccine was not a “solution” to accelerate France’s vaccination campaign because it will “take time” for the European Medicine Agency to approve and produce the vaccine in Europe.

U.S. at Precarious Point, Fauci Says (10:34 a.m. NY)

The U.S. is “in somewhat of a precarious position” with a seven-day average of more than 60,000 new Covid-19 infections per day, though vaccinations will bring the number down, Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“That’s good news, we’ve got to keep that up,” he said. “But we also have to make sure that people don’t throw caution to the wind and declare victory prematurely.”

He also said a decision on how to resume vaccinating Americans with the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus shot will probably come by Friday. “I doubt very seriously if they just cancel” the J&J vaccine, one of three approved for use in the U.S., he said.

Israel Eases Mask Rules (10:22 a.m. NY)

Israel has lifted a regulation requiring residents to wear masks outdoors, due to the low rate of coronavirus morbidity in the country, the Health Ministry said. Residents are still required to wear masks indoors, and the Health Ministry has recommended that people continue to use masks in open-air gatherings. More than half the population has been vaccinated, and the number of new coronavirus cases has dropped to about 150 a day on average for the week, from about 1,400 one month ago.

U.S. Adds Some 52,000 Cases (7:55 a.m. NY)

The U.S. added about 52,000 Covid-19 cases on Saturday, the fewest in six days, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Another 678 deaths linked to the disease were reported nationwide. The pace of U.S. infections has picked up since mid-March, fueled in part by cases among younger people, even as vaccinations have increased to about 3.2 million doses a day, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

At that pace, it’ll take another three months to cover 75{b530a9af8ec2f2e0d4045baab79c5cfb9bfdc23e498df4d376766a0b44d3f146} of the population. Covid-19 deaths, measured on a seven-day rolling average, declined this month to the lowest levels since October.

U.K. Wary on Next-Stage Reopenings (7:23 a.m. NY)

A U.K. minister said it’s too soon to say if hospitality venues in England can reopen indoors as planned next month. The comments from Environment Secretary George Eustice on Sunday signal concerns that the road map out of lockdown could be knocked off course by mutations in the virus seen in India and Brazil.

The next stage of the plan to unlock more of the economy is on May 17, when hotels, cinema and museums are allowed to reopen, and other hospitality venues including pubs and restaurants — which were allowed to open outdoors earlier this month — can serve customers inside.

EU Aims for Travel Policy (6:57 a.m. NY)

The European Union will try to coordinate a common policy for travelers from countries dealing with coronavirus variants such as Brazil and India, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

France announced late Saturday the implementation of a 10-day quarantine for travelers from Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Brazil, with police controls and stiff fines, to try and limit the spread of variants within the country, on top of mandatory tests. The French government will discuss these new measures with its European partners early next week, Prime Minister Jean Castex said in an emailed statement.

India’s Variant Spreads to South Korea (5:26 a.m. NY)

South Korean authorities have identified nine cases of the so-called double-mutant variant in people arriving from India. The government said seven cases were found this month, while two cases were confirmed in March.

Pakistan Cases Surge (5:16 a.m. NY)

Pakistan reported 6,127 coronavirus cases, the highest in 10 months, in the latest government data. The South Asian nation is going through its third wave with government officials stating it may be the worst.

Johnson’s India Trip ‘Covid Secure’ (5:13 a.m. NY)

U.K. Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News that the prime minister’s visit will proceed in a “Covid secure” manner. Asked if India was being held off the so-called red list of banned countries to let the trip go ahead, Eustice said government scientists keep the matter under constant review. A Labour shadow minister said the trip should be scrapped, given the worsening outbreak in the sub-continent, the Independent reported.

Cases Decline in Poland, Malaysia (4:33 a.m NY)

Poland reported 12,153 new cases, a decline from 21,703 last Sunday. The death toll rose by 207, compared with 245 a week ago.

Malaysia added 2,195 cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 375,054, according to health director general Noor Hisham Abdullah on Twitter. Sunday’s cases are lower than Saturday’s 2,331 cases.

Spread During Quarantine in Sydney (4:15 a.m. NY)

Three new cases among a family of returned travelers were discovered to have been transmitted in a Sydney hotel. The infections, initially recorded as contracted overseas, are now believed to have been picked up from a family of four in an adjoining room in a city quarantine hotel, New South Wales Health said in a statement Sunday. Investigations into how the transmission occurred are under way, it said.

U.K.’s Nears New Travel Rules (3:45 a.m. NY)