The number of U.S. cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 climbed above 2.9 million on Tuesday, data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University showed, as Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Americans the country is “still knee-deep in the first wave,” and reiterated his message to young people that they are not invulnerable.
In an interview livestreamed on Twitter and Facebook with the head of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, Fauci said that unlike Europe, U.S. communities “never came down to baseline and now are surging back up.”
His warning came after the July 4 holiday weekend featured widely shared images of young people partying and drinking without wearing face masks or attempting to socially distance, measures that health experts say are key to containing the spread.
While President Donald Trump said over the weekend that 99% of coronavirus cases are “harmless,” many states are still reporting climbing and alarming hospitalization rates. Arizona reached 89% capacity for intensive care unit beds on Monday, and other states, including Texas and California were expressing concerns about their hospitals rapidly filling.
In Florida’s Miami-Dade Country, Mayor Carlos Gimenez rolled back a reopening plan with an executive order shutting down restaurants and gyms, along with ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues and short-term rentals.
“We are still tracking the spike in the number of cases involving 18- to 34-year-olds that began in mid-June, which the County’s medical experts say was caused by a number of factors, including young people going to congested places — indoors and outside — without taking precautions such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing,” Gimenez said in the order.
Doctors said graduation parties, gatherings at restaurants that turned into packed parties in violation of the rules, and street protests where people could not maintain social distancing and where not everyone was wearing facial coverings were behind the spike, he said.
Fauci said a much hoped for vaccine for COVID-19 may not be the home run people are expecting.
It’s not going to be like a measles vaccine,” he said in the interview. “So there’s going to be follow-up in those cases to see if we might need a boost. We might need a boost to continue the protection, but right now we do not know how long it lasts.”
Vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, human papillomavirus and even influenza all require boosters to remain effective.
The virus has killed 130,312 Americans, the highest death toll in the world.
A New York Times tracker shows that 40 states and territories have recorded increasing cases over the last 14 days, while just two, Washington, D.C., and New Hampshire, are reporting a decline in new cases and 12 are unchanged. And while the number of deaths is stable, that number is expected to rise in the coming weeks given deaths lag the infection rate and there will likely be a cluster of fresh cases within five days of the holiday weekend.
There are now 11.65 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 world-wide, according to the Johns Hopkins data, and at least 539,058 people have died. At least 6.3 million people have recovered.
Brazil has the second highest case tally at 1.6 million and the second highest death toll at 65,487.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro, a virus skeptic who has been widely criticized for his blasé approach to dealing with the crisis, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Guardian. Bolsanaro also had his lungs scanned after he had symptoms, including a high fever.
The right-wing populist has repeatedly played down the seriousness of the disease, has refused to wear a mask in public and attended several events, including a July 4 lunch with the U.S. ambassador at which he was photographed unmasked and posing close to a group of eight men.
India has the next highest case toll at 719,664, followed by Russia with 693,214, Peru with 305,703 and Chile with 298,557.
The U.K. has 287,291 cases and 44,321 deaths, the highest in Europe and third highest in the world.
China, where the first cases were reported late last year, has 84,889 cases and 4,641 deaths.
In Australia, the city of Melbourne has reimposed a strict stay-at-home order for six weeks, after reporting 191 new cases in a single day, the Guardian reported.
Australia has 8,755 confirmed cases and 106 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins data.
What’s the latest medical news?
Novavax Inc. NVAX, +29.62% has received $1.6 billion in funding from the federal government’s accelerated COVID-19 vaccine development program dubbed “Operation Warp Speed.” The Gathersburg, Md.-based biotech said the funds will be used to complete late-stage clinical development of its vaccine candidate called NVX-CoV2373, including a Phase 3 trial, and to scale up manufacturing.
The company is aiming to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine, as early as late 2020. The trial will comprise up to 30,000 subjects and will start in the fall.
A Phase 1/2 trial in 130 healthy participants was launched in Australia in May with initial immunogenicity and safety results are expected to be available at the end of July. A Phase 2 trial is expected to start after that.
The Phase 1/2 trial is being supported by up to $388 million in funding from international entity the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, an Oslo-based group. Novavax shares soared 38% premarket on the news. The news sent shares of Novavax up 25%.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. REGN, +3.78% it received $450 million from the federal government to manufacture and supply its still investigational COVID-19 treatment, as MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported. The agreement is with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the Department of Defense.
The news comes a day after Regeneron said that the antibody cocktail candidate is being tested in two Phase 2/3 clinical studies as a treatment for COVID-19; the therapy is also in a Phase 3 trial evaluating whether or not it can prevent someone who has been exposed by a close contact from getting infected with the virus.
The company said that if the Food and Drug Administration grants the experimental therapy an emergency use authorization or an approval, “the government has committed to making doses from these lots available to the American people at no cost and would be responsible for their distribution.”
There was a setback for Becton Dickinson & Co. BDX, +0.67% when the FDA issued an alert about an increased risk of false-positive results for one of the company's COVID-19 diagnostic tests. In one study, 3% of the results were false positive for the BD Max System test, which received an emergency use authorization from the regulator in April.
“Consider any positive result presumptive from tests using the BD SARS-CoV-2 Reagents for the BD Max System,” the FDA said. “Consider confirming with an alternate authorized test.”
A spokesperson confirmed that BD had received reports of the false-positive results, saying that “the elevated rates represent a small subset of the positive results” and that the company is in discussions with the FDA about the issue. The news comes a day after Becton Dickinson said it would launch a test that can detect the virus within 15 minutes.
Finally, Corvus Pharmaceuticals Inc. CRVS, +110.95% soared 137%, after the company said it has launched an open-label Phase 1 clinical trial testing an experimental monoclonal antibody as a treatment for COVID-19.
The U.S.-based study plans to enroll up to 30 participants with mild to moderate symptoms. The company is also testing this investigational therapy in cancer patients.
“Our B cell activating monoclonal antibody may be a potential immunotherapy for COVID-19 based on its ability to stimulate the production of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies,” CEO Richard Miller said in a news release. The company expects to release data from the study sometime this year.
What are companies saying?
Shake Shack Inc. SHAK, -4.86% warned that its second-quarter sales would miss estimates, hurt by restaurant closures and reduced hours due to the virus, protests and curfews. Dales totaled $91.8 million for the quarter ending June 24, below the FactSet consensus for $101.0 million.
The burger chain said same-restaurant sales sank 49%, compared with a FactSet consensus for a 43.6% decline. Shake Shack is scheduled to announced second-quarter earnings on August 11. Same-restaurant sales are “acutely impacted” by a slow recovery in New York City, one of the company’s most important regions and the early epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S.
New York City accounted for 20% of the company’s sales in the first quarter before the pandemic.
Elsewhere, companies continued to raise capital and to cut costs to combat the impact of falling sales and lost business.
Here’s the latest news about companies and COVID-19:
• With demand for bicycles soaring due to the coronavirus, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. DKS, -2.03% is Bank of America’s “solitary leisure” pick. With consumers shifting their dollars from entertainment like movies and amusement parks, analysts note a 103% year-over-year spike in dollars spent on bicycles in May, based on debit card activity. Despite states beginning to reopen, June sales remain up 68% compared with last year. Bank of America also notes a rise in downloads for the Strava app, which offers GPS tracing to cyclists and runners. Dick’s offers a variety of bike brands and a large percentage of its bikes are priced less than $500.
• Mesa Air Group Inc.’s MESA, -2.97% block hours, a measure of aircraft utilization, fell 75.8% in June because of reduced schedules during the pandemic. Block hours are counted from the moment an aircraft door closes at departure until the moment the aircraft door opens at the arrival gate on landing. The Phoenix, Az.-based regional airline has partnerships with American Airlines Group Inc. AAL, -5.46% and United Airlines Holdings Inc. UAL, -5.65%. It said block hours for American Airlines fell 81.9% in June, while hours for United fell 71.2%. Departures for both airlines were down 75.8%.
• Nielsen Holdings PLC NLSN, -2.06% is accelerating a previously announced transformation plan and will exit smaller, underperforming markets and noncore businesses in the second half. The market research and audience measurement company expects to substantially complete the program in 2020 and to generate about $250 million in pretax annual run-rate savings. New York-based Nielsen will cut 3,500 jobs world-wide and expects to book pretax restructuring charges of $150 million to $170 million, up from a prior range of $120 million to $140 million. “As discussed on our earnings call in April, we have increased our focus on platform consolidations, further automation, optimizing our global footprint, and ensuring that our resource allocation aligns with high-margin essential services,” Chief Executive David Kenny said in a statement. “Today’s plan encompasses, accelerates, and expands on those initiatives.” The exits are expected to shave no more than 100 basis points off 2020 revenue growth. The company expects to book $40 million to $50 million of noncash, pretax impairment charges in the second quarter. The company will release second-quarter earnings on Aug. 5.
• Paychex Inc. PAYX, -3.38% estimates for its fiscal fourth quarter, despite the pressure of the pandemic. “In this changing work environment, our human capital management solutions and mobility applications have enabled our clients to function and maintain their businesses while working remotely,” Chief Executive Martin Mucci said in a statement. The company ended the quarter with $1.0 billion in cash and $801.9 million in debt. “We currently anticipate that cash, restricted cash, and total corporate investments as of May 31, 2020, along with projected operating cash flows and available short-term financing, will support our business operations, capital purchases, share repurchases, and dividend payments for the foreseeable future,” said the statement. The company is now expecting fiscal 2021 revenue to fall 2% to 5% and for adjusted EPS to fall 6% to 10%.
• Tripadvisor Inc. TRIP, -3.53% is planning to offer $500 million of new senior notes that mature in 2025, joining the many companies raising capital during the pandemic. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes.