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U.S. States Warn on Fake Vaccine Pass; MLB Stymied: Virus Update

Attorneys general for most U.S. states warned Twitter, eBay and Shopify to take steps against the sale of fraudulent Covid-19 vaccine certificates on their sites. Thursday’s Opening Day game between the New York Mets and Washington Nationals has been postponed due to Covid-19 protocols, MLB.com reported.

New York City’s health commissioner warned residents to take precautions during the Easter and Passover holidays as the city’s Covid-19 cases remain stubbornly high and more-contagious variants surpass 70% of them. President Joe Biden’s administration is “assured” that Johnson & Johnson will meet its U.S. vaccine delivery targets despite a setback at a Baltimore site, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Chile will close its borders for the month of April in a dramatic escalation of the country’s fight against its worst coronavirus outbreak to date. Ontario will lock down for four weeks.

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 129.3 million; deaths exceed 2.8 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 593 million shots given worldwide
  • Vaccine trickle becomes torrent as U.S. eligibility rules widen
  • Rich Brazilians urge government to let them buy vaccines to help
  • Facebook is letting anti-vaxxers scare women from Covid shots
  • What’s the best vaccine? Why it’s not so simple

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.

Ontario Locks Down (5:13 p.m. NY)

Ontario declared a four-week state of emergency after hitting a record for the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care, driven by virus strains that are more contagious and dangerous.

The order imposes restrictions on businesses and residents across the Canadian province of 14.7 million people, beginning April 3. Restaurants won’t be allowed to serve customers except for takeout and delivery orders; indoor public events are banned, with a few exceptions. Supermarkets and pharmacies will operate at 50% capacity and other retailers at 25%.

“The variants of concern are spreading rapidly. This is a new pandemic. We are now fighting a new enemy,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Kansas Lawmakers Act Against Masks (4:56 p.m. NY)

Kansas legislative leaders Thursday revoked an order of Gov. Laura Kelly’s urging counties to keep their mask mandates hours after she issued it.

State law gives eight leaders in the state legislature the power to overturn an order of the governor issued because of a pandemic or an emergency. They immediately did so after Kelly issued an order that would have required people to wear masks indoors and socially distance, unless county officials voted to opt out.

MTA Rider Drop May Be Permanent (4:36 p.m. NY)

Ridership on New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest public transit system in the U.S., is expected to decline permanently by 20% as people will continue to work remotely, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Demand for subways, buses and commuter rails will fail to rebound to pre-pandemic levels as commuting into New York City for work is expected to decrease over the long term, Moody’s analysts wrote in a report released Thursday. That could reduce revenue by 8%, according to the report, which also addressed the finances of the transit systems in London, Paris and Vancouver.

Florida Cases Jump (4:15 p.m. NY)

Florida’s department of health said Thursday that there were 6,895 new cases on March 31, the biggest daily increase since March 1. The positivity rate was flat at about 6.4% after reaching 7.6% earlier in the week.

States Warn on Fake Vaccine Proof (3:56 p.m. NY)

Attorneys general for most U.S. states warned Twitter, eBay and Shopify to take steps against the sale of fraudulent Covid-19 vaccine certificates on their sites.

“It has come to our attention that your platforms are being used to market and sell blank or fraudulently completed COVID vaccine cards bearing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logo,” says the letter from the National Association of Attorneys General. “The use of your platforms to disseminate the deceptive marketing and sales of fake vaccine cards is a threat to residents of our states.”

The letter gave the companies until April 9 to respond with a plan to prevent such sales.

White House ‘Assured’ on J&J Supply (3:35 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden’s administration is “assured” that Johnson & Johnson will meet its U.S. vaccine delivery targets despite a setback at a Baltimore site, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Psaki spoke Thursday at the White House after J&J and one of its subcontractors, Emergent BioSolutions Inc., acknowledged that a batch of drug substance had been spoiled. She said the U.S. doesn’t expect J&J to miss any delivery targets, and alluded to having some room with a larger supply of Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. The U.S. has said it will have enough vaccine doses for all American adults in May from those companies.

Maine Moves Up Adult Eligibility (2:18 p.m. NY)

Maine will open vaccines up to everyone 16 years and older starting Wednesday, moving the original date forward from April 19. “With the Federal government significantly increasing our supply of vaccines, it is appropriate to accelerate our timeframe, ” Governor Janet Mills said in a statement.

Maine is in the top tier of U.S. states for vaccinations, with 35% of residents having received at least one shot and 20% fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Hard-Hit Michigan Reports Brazil Strain (2 p.m. NY)

Michigan reported its first case of the variant that is helping drive the outbreak in Brazil. The state already has the U.S.’s highest number of cases of the variant first found in the U.K. after Florida, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also among the hardest-hit U.S. states in the latest wave of infection, with the most cases per capita over the last seven days, CDC data shows.

“The rise of these new variants definitely impact the progress we have made this year with vaccinations,” said Joel Strasz, public health officer in Bay County, where the variant was found. No information was released about the person who contracted the variant.

Detroit is at the top the CDC’s list of concern for large metropolitan areas, after cases increased 63% over the last week and a positive test rate of 14.5%.

Chile to Close Its Borders (12:59 p.m. NY)

Chile will close its borders for the month of April in a dramatic escalation of the country’s fight against its worst coronavirus outbreak to date.

Chilean citizens and foreign residents will be forbidden from entering or leaving the country starting April 5, Deputy Interior Minister Katherine Martorell told reporters on Thursday. All truck drivers will be required to present a negative PCR test carried out in the 72 hours before entering the country.

WHO Expects More on Covid Origins (12:44 p.m. NY)

The Covid-19 origin report published earlier this week included many recommendations for next steps made by the international team of scientists, and the World Health Organization expects there will be follow-up assessments, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing.

More than a dozen nations have criticized the report, saying the mission “lacked access to complete, original data and samples” and calling for more transparency and timeliness in response to future outbreaks.

The WHO hasn’t yet discussed follow-ups with China yet because the report was just released, Tedros said, adding the WHO will start engagements as soon as possible.

Mets-Nationals Opener Postponed (11:47 a.m. NY)

Thursday’s Opening Day game between the New York Mets and Washington Nationals has been postponed due to Covid-19 protocols, MLB.com reporter Anthony DiComo reports, citing a source.

The Nationals had a positive Covid-19 test from a player Wednesday morning, MLB.com reported.

Montana Won’t Impose Masks (11:36 a.m. NY)

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte is resisting a White House request to states to restore mask mandates as Covid-19 infections increase nationally. “I don’t think one size fits all,” Gianforte said Wednesday, according to the Billings Gazette. “I said that from the beginning.” Gianforte, a Republican, said the number of cases and hospitalization is falling in Montana.

Mumbai Hits Record (11:33 a.m. NY)

Mumbai reported 8,646 infections on Thursday, the city’s highest ever daily tally. India’s financial hub is seeing a resurgence in cases in recent weeks and local authorities have warned of another lockdown if cases keep rising and residents flout rules.

NYC Warns Over Holiday Spread (10:55 a.m. NY)

New York City health commissioner Dave Chokshi on Thursday warned residents to take health precautions during the Passover and Easter holidays as the city’s Covid cases remain stubbornly high and more contagious variants surpass 70% of cases sequenced.

Chokshi said the city expects to get a significant uptick in vaccine supply in the coming weeks which could ease the crush of residents who flooded appointment hotlines and websites after the state opened up eligibility on Tuesday for people 30 years and old. Universal eligibility will open in New York on April 6.

Poland Apologizes for Vaccine Chaos (7:33 a.m. NY)

Poland’s government apologized for a glitch that threw its vaccination efforts into disarray on a day the country registered a record in new coronavirus infections.

Michal Dworczyk, the head of the prime minister’s chancellery who oversees the rollout, said he was sorry after a “system error” on a government website unexpectedly allowed 40 and 50 year olds to sign up for shots a month ahead of schedule, and before many older residents got their vaccinations. The website crashed and several hours later, some of the new appointments were canceled.

U.S. States Warn on Fake Vaccine Pass; MLB Stymied: Virus Update

EU Solidarity Frays Over Doses (7:10 a.m. NY)

Infighting among European Union countries over how to disperse extra Covid doses to member states most in need threatened to undercut the bloc’s delicate approach to vaccine solidarity.

Austria led a group including the Czech Republic and Slovenia that continued to block a proposal Thursday morning that would divert 3 million extra Pfizer Inc. doses to five countries that are lagging in their vaccination efforts, according to officials familiar with the talks. The doses are part of 10 million shots Pfizer will deliver ahead of schedule.

Pfizer Effective After Six Months (7:05 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine remained highly effective after six months, according to new long-term results that the company said could be used to seek an expansion of its regulatory status.

Follow-up data from a final-stage trial of 46,307 people showed the vaccine was 91.3% effective in preventing symptomatic cases starting one week after the second dose through as long as six months. In the U.S. alone, the efficacy rate was 92.6%, according to a report Thursday by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE.

French Minister Sees Peak Near (6:30 a.m. NY)

The peak of the epidemic could be reached within 7 to 10 days, Health Minister Olivier Veran said during a France Inter radio interview Thursday. That would be followed two weeks later by a peak of patients in ICU units. Veran is hoping the AstraZeneca vaccination for those under 55 will resume soon, once the European Medicine Agency completes its review.

U.S. States Warn on Fake Vaccine Pass; MLB Stymied: Virus Update

Slovakia Reshuffles Government (4:42 p.m. HK)

Slovakia completed the reconstruction of its government after a political crisis over buying Russian coronavirus vaccines forced the prime minister to swap posts with his finance chief.

President Zuzana Caputova swore in a revamped cabinet on Thursday with Eduard Heger as the new prime minister. His predecessor, Igor Matovic, resigned two days earlier and replaced Heger as finance minister, in line with an agreement among the four parties in the ruling coalition.

Poland Reports Record Cases (4:41 p.m. HK)

Poland reported a record 35,251 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.

The death toll jumped by 621 cases, compared with 520 cases the week before. The country of 38 million has so far administered 6.27 million vaccine doses, including 2.04 million second shots.

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