Coronavirus news from Nov.4

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Migrant workers in Malaysia are left out of most government Covid support

Malaysia’s government has provided little help to low-wage migrants workers who have been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak, two researchers said at an online seminar organized by the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre in mid-October.

Migrant workers play an important role in Malaysia’s labor market, with many taking up low-wage and low-skilled jobs shunned by locals who are becoming more educated, the researchers said. Thousands of them have lost their jobs and face slim employment prospects as the government prioritizes help for locals.

The Southeast Asian country is home to around 2 million documented migrant workers, and an additional 2 million to 4 million undocumented migrant workers, according to the International Organization for Migration. — Yen Nee Lee

Italy to lockdown some regions to curb growing outbreak

A waiter prepares to close a bar-restaurant on Piazza Navona in Rome on October 26, 2020, as the country faces a second wave of infections to the Covid-19 (the novel coronavirus).

Tiziana Fabi | AFP | Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced new restrictions on some of the nation’s most populous regions, including the city of Milan, in an effort to curb surging coronavirus cases, Reuters reports.

In highly-affected “red zones,” people will only be allowed to leave their homes for work, health needs or emergencies, the reprot says. Bars, restaurants and most shops will be closed. Classes for high school and some middle school students will be moved online. Conte said the red zones will include the large northern regions of Lombardy and neighboring Piedmont.

Factories, however, will remain open, unlike the measures Conte took in the spring when Italy was the first European nation to introduce a local, then regional and then national lockdown in early March, according to Reuters.

Italy is reporting roughly 27,864 new Covid-19 cases per day based on a weekly average, a near 50% jump compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

—Noah Higgins-Dunn

McConnell says eonomic stimulus will be Senate’s top priority before end of 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at a press conference that passing more economic stimulus will be the chamber’s top priority when it reconvenes next week.

The Kentucky Republican, who won reelection to his seventh Senate term on Tuesday, said that state and local aid could be included in a new bill. Additional fiscal support for state and local governments has been a key demand from Democrats in ongoing relief talks.

“As I’ve said repeatedly in the last few months, we need another rescue package,” McConnell said. “Hopefully, the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election. And I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year.”

Thomas Franck

Pet Valu says it’s shuttering due to pandemic

Add Pet Valu to the list of retailers shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The specialty pet store said it will wind down its business and shut all of its U.S. locations. It plans to start closing sales in the coming days and will immediately stop online sales.

It becomes the latest company pushed to the financial brink during the global health crisis. Companies including J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, J.Crew, Brooks Brothers and Lucky Brand, have filed for bankruptcy protection this year. That list includes retailers that have closed their doors for good including off-price shop Stein Mart, home goods retailer Pier 1 Imports and department store Lord & Taylor.

—Melissa Repko

Denmark to cull entire mink population after mutation spreads to humans

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen addresses a press conference on the novel coronavirus COVID-19 at the State Department in Copenhagen, Denmark on April 6, 2020.

PHILIP DAVALI | Ritzau Scanpix | AFP via Getty Images

Up to 17 million minks in Denmark will be culled after a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals spread to humans, according to the prime minister, Reuters reports.

Health authorities found virus strains in humans and in mink which showed decreased sensitivity against antibodies, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. The mutated virus strains could potentially lower the efficacy of future vaccines, according to the wire service.

“We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well,” Frederiksen said.

Terri Cullen

Pandemic leads Wendy’s to restructure as consumers change their habits

The coronavirus pandemic has led consumers to break their old habits, and Wendy’s response to the shift includes building its breakfast business, testing drive-thru only restaurants and offloading some of its office space.

The burger chain made its breakfast available nationwide just weeks before lockdowns began. In the third quarter, breakfast contributed about 6.5% to the company’s U.S. same-store sales growth of 6.6%. Wendy’s spent $6.2 million on advertising the meal.

Wendy’s plans to restructure some of its operations, which is expected to cost between $7 million to $9 million to cover severance costs and office closures. CEO Todd Penegor said the company needs less field office space because workers have been working from home efficiently during the crisis.

Shares of the company slipped about 3% in afternoon trading, however, after the company fell short of analysts’ revenue estimates despite its breakfast success.

—Amelia Lucas

U.S. Covid-19 hospitalizations surge at an alarming rate

As the number of new Covid-19 cases soared across the country, the number of people hospitalized with the virus has reached record levels in many states, the Associated Press reports, noting the surge was most pronounced in the Midwest and Southwest.

Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota and New Mexico all reported record high hospitalizations this week, according to AP. Officials in Iowa and Missouri also warned that hospital bed capacity could soon be overwhelmed.

Terri Cullen

U.S. reports second highest daily number of cases on Election Day

Healthcare workers wearing powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) hoods process COVID-19 test samples at a drive-thru testing site operated by Avera Health inside the former Silverstar Car Wash, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, U.S., October 28, 2020.

Bing Guan | Reuters

The U.S. reported 91,530 new coronavirus cases yesterday, the nation’s second-highest daily total so far as millions of Americans cast their ballots on Election Day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The nation is now averaging around 86,300 new coronavirus cases every day, continuing a trend of record-high daily infections and sending the U.S. pandemic steeply into its third peak ahead of the holidays.

Some states are reporting record levels of hospitalizations, based on a weekly average, following spikes in cases in America’s Midwest and West, including Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by the  Covid Tracking Project.

—Noah Higgins-Dunn

Europe confronts new lockdowns as residents grow tired

As the United States teeters on the edge of what some say is the start of a dark winter with roughly 90,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, Europe is already seeing an “astronomical” number of new cases and deaths, prompting governments to roll out strict lockdown measures to slow the spread.

Like the U.S., pandemic fatigue has set in across Europe where residents say pubs and bars in the U.K. and France have been packed before the lockdowns took effect. It’s led to a resurgence in the virus across Europe and America where people miss human contact and have grown weary of working in isolation for months on end.

The worsening outbreak in Europe is starting to strain hospital systems there, which epidemiologists worry will happen in the U.S. in the coming weeks.

“There was a kind of united front the last time around – people were excited to do this together,” a 34-year-old Parisian videographer Joseph Savage told CNBC in an interview. “We know that we have to do it again, but the general consensus is that people are fed up and a bit sad to go through it again and not knowing when it’s going to end.” 

—Will Feuer

S&P 500 opens up 1.5% as investors await U.S. election winner

U.S. stocks opened higher even as results of the U.S. presidential contest has so far failed to yield a clear winner, reports CNBC’s Fred Imbert and Yun Li.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 270 points, or 1.0%. The S&P 500 traded 1.5% higher and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite popped 2.7%.

—Melodie Warner 

Republican Dave Andahl wins North Dakota House seat despite dying of Covid-19

Voters enter a early voting site inside the Bismarck Event Center as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Bismarck, North Dakota, October 26, 2020.

Bing Guan | Reuters

Republican Dave Andahl was elected to a seat in North Dakota’s House of Representatives during Tuesday’s elections despite dying of Covid-19 last month, according to preliminary data from state elections officials.

Andahl, whose death last month shook up the race in the state’s eighth district, was elected alongside fellow Republican Dave Nehring to one of the two seats for that district that were up for grabs. Andahl earned more than three times the number of votes as his nearest Democratic rival.

State officials said at the time of Andahl’s death that he could not be removed from the ballot.

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said in an email on Wednesday that the state would follow an opinion issued by the attorney general last month. That opinion indicated that Andahl could be legally elected but that his death creates a vacancy, which should be filled via an appointment from the state’s Republicans.

North Dakota Covid-19 cases are rising sharply.

Johns Hopkins University

Covid-19 cases are climbing in North Dakota, where nearly 50,000 have tested positive and 555 people have died of the virus, according to data from local health officials. The state has a population of about 750,000.

Tucker Higgins

Study of lung damage found in Covid dead may shed light on ‘long Covid’

Doctors may get a better understanding of “long Covid,” a syndrome in which patients suffer ongoing symptoms for months, by studying the lungs of people who have died from Covid-19, Reuters reports.

Scientists leading the research said they found persistent and extensive lung damage in most cases and also found some unique characteristics of the virus, which may explain why it is able to inflict such harm, according to Reuters.

Mauro Giacca, a professor at King’s College London who co-led the work, told Reuters his research team found no overt signs of viral infection or prolonged inflammation in other organs, while they discovered “really vast destruction of the architecture of the lungs,” with healthy tissue “almost completely substituted by scar tissue.”

The research team analyzed samples of tissue from the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys of 41 patients who died of Covid-19 at Italy’s University Hospital of Trieste between February and April 2020.

— Melodie Warner 

Private payrolls for October come in well below expectations

A worker wearing a protective mask changes a face shelf on a helmet at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Oakland, California, on Thursday, July 16, 2020.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Private job creation in the U.S. showed a sharp deceleration in October as the economy struggled with a virus resurgence, CNBC’s Jeff Cox reports.

Companies added 365,000 jobs in the month, well below the 600,000 that economists polled by Dow Jones expected. It’s the lowest reported gain, according to ADP data, since July.

—Sara Salinas

Palantir reportedly in talks to help Britain with contact tracing

Palantir, the data analysis firm cofounded by billionaire Peter Thiel, is in talks with the U.K. government about a new deal that would see its Foundry software used for coronavirus contact tracing in England, according to reports from Bloomberg and The Financial Times.

Specifically, the platform would be used to manage sensitive data collected by the nation’s Covid-19 contact tracing app, according to the reports.

It comes after the U.K. failed to report 15,841 positive cases due to a technical error involving an Excel spreadsheet that became too big.

Sam Shead

Oxford vaccine trial results could come this year, trial chief says

A Brazilian doctor voluntarily receives an injection as part of phase 3 trials of a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, in July 2020.

Nelson Almeida | AFP | Getty Images

The Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford could present late-stage trial results before the end of the year, Reuters reports.

Andrew Pollard, the chief trial investigator for the vaccine, said, however, that it is unclear if the vaccine will be rolled out before Christmas, according to the wire service.

“I’m optimistic that we could reach that point before the end of this year,” Pollard said of presenting trial results this year, Reuters said. When asked if the vaccine would be ready by Christmas, he said: “There is a small chance.”

Terri Cullen

No extra Covid risk from living with kids, UK study finds

FatCamera | E+ | Getty Images

Living with children does not mean you’re at a greater risk of contracting Covid-19, according to a large study carried out in the U.K.

In fact, living with children was associated with a lower risk of dying from the coronavirus compared to those that didn’t live with children, researchers at the University of Oxford and London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found.

They investigated 9 million adults in the U.K. under the age of 65 between February and August to see whether the risk of infection with Covid-19, and the risk of severe outcomes from having the virus, was different for those living with and without children.

They found that living with children under the age of 11 “was not associated with increased risks of recorded Covid-19 infection, Covid-19 related hospital or ICU (intensive care unit) admission but was associated with reduced risk of Covid-19 death.”

However, living with children aged 12-18 years was associated with a small increased risk of recorded coronavirus infection, the study noted, but not associated with other Covid-19 outcomes.

Holly Ellyatt

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