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CDC Urges Masks for Schools; U.S. Outbreak Slows: Virus Updates

U.S. schools should maintain mask requirements at least through the end of the academic year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, even after its decision this week that fully vaccinated adults can safely shed face coverings in most settings.

Businesses from Walt Disney Co.’s theme park in Florida to Walmart Inc. have loosened their mask requirements after the CDC’s Thursday announcement. Governor Andrew Cuomo said that more than half of New Yorkers 18 years and older are now fully vaccinated.

Covid has killed more than 1,000 bank employees in India, which has declared banking services essential even as the disease ravages the country, a key industry body said.

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.

CDC Urges Masks for Schools; U.S. Outbreak Slows: Virus Updates

Brazil Restricts Flights (5:51 p.m. NY)

Brazil, still fighting off a major outbreak driven in part by a virus variant, will restrict flights from India, the U.K. and South Africa to avoid the spread of a strain first found in India. The restrictions will be place for two weeks and exempt cargo carriers, the government said.

Deaths in Brazil declined for a fifth consecutive week, dropping to the lowest level since mid-March, according to health ministry data. The country reported 2,087 new fatalities on Saturday, for a total 434,715, the most after the U.S.

Weekly cases ticked up for the third time, but remain almost 100,000 below a peak in March. Another 67,009 cases were reported Saturday, for a total of almost 15.6 million.

U.K. Reported to Double Vaccinations (5:14 p.m. NY)

The U.K. aims to double the pace of vaccination to hit as many as 1 million shots a day, in part to combat the rapid spread of a virus variant first found in India, the Telegraph reported. Without citing sources, the newspaper said the drive can increase doses from 500,000 to 800,000 within two weeks. The hope is to reach 1 million over the summer with the likely approval of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Florida Parks Loosen Mask Rules (4:52 p.m. NY)

Florida’s other major theme parks joined Walt Disney World in loosening masking policies.

Universal Studios Orlando set a policy in line with that of Disney World, saying masks are optional outdoors but are required inside, including in shops, restaurants and attractions. Unlike updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the park made no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors.

SeaWorld Orlando and its sister park Busch Gardens Tampa said that people who were fully vaccinated didn’t have to wear masks at all, though in line with CDC guidance. “We will not require proof of vaccine, but ask our guests to respectfully comply with our revised policy,” statements from the parks read. Park workers must continue to wear masks.

CDC Says Schools Should Keep Masks (3:43 p.m. NY)

U.S. schools should maintain mask requirements at least through the end of the academic year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its latest guidance, even after saying fully vaccinated adults can safely shed face coverings in most settings.

“Universal and correct use of masks should be required” at K-12 schools providing in-person instruction, the CDC said in a statement Saturday. “Physical distancing should be maximized to the greatest extent possible.”

That includes creating distance between children on school buses when possible and ensuring that “teachers and staff use proper handwashing and respiratory etiquette,” according to the agency.

California’s Positive Rate at 1.1% (1:39 p.m. NY)

California’s seven-day average positive test rate was little changed at 1.1%, the health department’s website said. The state reported 1,864 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, a rate of 3.4 new cases per 100,000. There were 27 deaths, up from zero the previous day. California has administered more than 34.1 million vaccines in total.

N.Y. Hits 50% for Fully Vaccinated Adults (1:02 p.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said that more than half of New Yorkers 18 years and older are now fully vaccinated, and 61% have at least one dose. Almost 17.5 million shots have been administered.

New York’s outbreak eased further. The state reported 2,041 new cases, and a seven-day average of 1.18% for positive test results, among the lowest in the U.S. Hospitalizations continued to fall.

Unlike many other state leaders, Cuomo has not announced changes to rules on mask wearing after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened its guidelines on Thursday.

Donations to Colombia Urged (12:36 p.m. NY)

Democratic lawmakers urged the Biden administration to immediately make available tens of millions of surplus vaccine doses to Colombia and to Latin America more broadly. The request came in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken focused on a call to end U.S. weapons sales to the Colombian police.

“Colombia is undergoing its third and most deadly surge of Covid-19. We can make a genuine difference in restoring health, security, confidence, and hope among the Colombian people,” the lawmakers wrote.

Bloomberg News reported Saturday that the “stockpile” of shots in the US is less apparent than many believe, since most unused doses are scattered across tens of thousands of locations.

Singapore Limits Taiwan Travel (12:20 p.m. NY)

Singapore won’t allow entry to short-term travelers holding an Air Travel Pass with travel history to Taiwan within the past 21 days amid rising infections.

Others with travel history to Taiwan in the past 21 days who are not Singapore citizens or permanent residents will be required to take a test within 72 hours before departure, and would need to present a negative test result as a condition of approval for entry, the Singapore Ministry of Health said in a statement Saturday.

Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders entering the country who have been to Taiwan, will be subject to a 14-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities, followed by an additional 7-day quarantine at their homes.

France Passes Vaccine Milestone (11:21 a.m. NY)

President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Saturday that 20 million people have now received a first vaccine dose in France. Earlier today, Prime Minister Jean Castex said the goal was to administer 30 million first doses by mid-June. “The situation is improving,” Castex said.

As of Friday night, almost 30% of France’s total population had received a first dose and 38% of those 18 years and older, the government said.

Disney World Loosens Mask Rules (9:11 a.m. NY)

Disney World Resort made masks optional in common outdoor areas, although they’re still required indoors, on all attractions and transportation.

The theme park in Orlando, Florida, will continue to make adjustments as guidance evolves, it said late on Friday. Florida has no statewide mask mandate, though private businesses may require them.

Walmart, the U.S.’s largest private employer, said on Friday that fully vaccinated staff and customers did not need to wear masks. At least two of the largest casinos in Las Vegas also dropped masking rules.

Publix Super Markets Inc., one of the nation’s largest regional grocery chains, said it would no longer require masks for fully vaccinated workers or staff, unless local rules required them. Trader Joe’s Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. are taking a similar approach.

U.S. Cases Continue to Decline (7:30 a.m. NY)

Overall infections in the U.S. continued their decline to the lowest levels since early autumn, even as the country recorded slightly more than 41,000 new cases on Friday, the most in a week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

CDC Urges Masks for Schools; U.S. Outbreak Slows: Virus Updates

As vaccines roll out at a steady if slower pace, average weekly cases were down or even in all U.S. states and territories except Wyoming, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fatalities also continued to decline, with another 746 deaths recorded, albeit at a slower rate than cases. Daily fatalities haven’t been above 1,000 in more than a month.

Bank Staff Dying in India (5:45 p.m. HK)

Indian banks have lost more than a thousand employees and many more are infected, S. Nagarajan, the general secretary of the All India Bank Officers’ Association, said on Saturday.

With more than 24 million people sickened in India and over 266,200 dead, most Indian states are in a lockdown with strict stay-at-home orders. But the banking sector is slotted as an essential service and is partially exempt from the lockdown orders.

Lenders are allowed in some cases to call as much as 50% of their workforce into branches to avoid any disruption in banking services.

Singapore Reports More Local Cases (4:50 p.m. HK)

Singapore reported 19 new local virus cases on Saturday and 12 imported infections.

Checking in to a hotel room in Singapore, starting Sunday, could also mean agreeing to random checks from staff to ensure only two guests are in the room, a step one hotel in the Marina Bay area is asking customers to agree to.

People who breach the safety measures may be fined as much as S$10,000 ($7,506) or jailed for as long as six months, or both, according to the document given to staycationers at check-in.

CDC Urges Masks for Schools; U.S. Outbreak Slows: Virus Updates

Moscow Cancels Popular Race (4:36 p.m. HK)

Cases in Moscow remained above 3,000 for a second day on Saturday, after jumping to the highest level since January on Friday. While President Vladimir Putin oversaw his annual Victory Day parade on Red Square last weekend, a popular running race through the Russian capital scheduled for this Sunday was canceled because of the epidemiological situation.

Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said the virus situation remains tense and “the numbers don’t make us happy,” state news service Tass reported on Friday.

India Infections Trend Downward (1:50 p.m. HK)

India reported 326,098 new infections Saturday, keeping with a downward trend the past week after hitting an all-time high of more than 414,000 cases earlier this month, stirring hope the virus curve may have peaked in the Asian nation.

India’s total infection tally has now crossed 24 million while Covid-related deaths have exceeded 266,200, according to latest data from India’s health ministry. More than 180 million Covid vaccines have been administered in in the country so far, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

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