California Tops N.Y. in Cases; U.S. Vaccine Deal: World Virus Updates

California has surpassed New York as the U.S. state with most confirmed Covid-19 infections. The U.S. sealed a pact for an initial 100 million doses of a vaccine Pfizer Inc. is developing with Germany’s BioNTech SE.

The coronavirus tightened its grip on the Asia Pacific region, with deaths reaching a daily high in Indonesia and infections hitting records in Hong Kong and Japan. Cases also set a record in Australia, once hailed as a virus success story.

Aviation regulators in the European Union and Singapore are working together to establish health measures and facilitate a recovery of air travel.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases near 15 million; deaths pass 617,000
  • Month into the outbreak, U.S. testing still isn’t right
  • New York taxes will stalk those who fled pandemic
  • Preschooler parents are facing tough choices as offices reopen
  • U.K. oil industry at odds with government on mass testing
  • The keys to speed in race for vaccine, and its perils: QuickTake

Florida Infection Rate Falls (10:50 a.m. NY)

Florida reported 379,619 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, up 2.6% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 3.5% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 5,345, an increase of 139, or 2.7%, according to the state Department of Health report, which includes data through Tuesday.

Cumulative hospitalizations of Florida residents rose by 463, or 2.1%, to 22,243. The new rate of people testing positive for the first time fell to 10.6% for Tuesday, from 13.6% on Monday. The median age of cases among Florida residents rose to 42 from 41.

California Tops N.Y. With Most Cases (10:20 a.m. NY)

California passed New York, once the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, as the state with the most confirmed Covid-19 infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There are 409,382 confirmed cases in California, and 408,181 in New York.

Painkillers Run Short in Opioid Crackdown (9:03 a.m. NY)

Intravenous painkillers are running short during the pandemic in part because of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s opioid production restrictions, one of the biggest hospital policy groups in the U.S. said.

Tokyo Urges Stay-Home Weekend; Japan Cases Hit Record (8:10 a.m. NY)

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told residents to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors as much as possible during a forthcoming four-day weekend as the city’s running total topped 10,000 and new cases nationwide were reported to hit a new daily record. Japan’s capital had another 238 cases on Wednesday. The long weekend was originally scheduled to celebrate the start of the now-postponed Tokyo Olympic Games.

Zimbabwe Imposes Curfew to Curb ‘Frightening’ Spread (7:46 a.m. NY)

Zimbabwe imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and warned of stiff penalties for people who break quarantine rules. The number of infections almost doubled to 1,713 by Tuesday, from 985 a week earlier, as deaths jumped by 40% to 26.

U.S. Seals Deal for Millions of Vaccine Doses (7:13 a.m. NY)

U.S. health officials agreed on an order as many as 600 million doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, the latest step in an effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. government will pay the companies $1.95 billion upon the receipt of the first 100 million doses, following FDA authorization or approval, according to a statement, with an option to acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.

Indonesia Has Record Daily Virus Deaths (5:16 p.m. HK)

Coronavirus deaths in Indonesia hit a record daily high of 139 in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 4,459, official data showed on Wednesday. New cases jumped by 1,882 to 91,751.

The world’s fourth-most populous nation has seen a surge in cases since June with the government relaxing some curbs in a bid to reboot the economy.

Separately, a survey showed that two out of three Indonesians oppose continuing strict social-distancing orders. Bali, Indonesia’s most popular holiday destination, is pressing ahead with a plan to welcome back visitors.

Hong Kong Warns of ‘Severe Moment’ (4:45 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong reported a record 105 new local virus cases as the city’s “most severe” situation since the epidemic began prompted health officials to expand protection measures.

Of the additional local cases, 63 were not linked to previous cases, according to data from the city’s health department on Wednesday. “I urge all citizens to stay in their homes and stop unnecessary outings,” Sophia Chan, secretary for food and health, said in a briefing.

Masks will have to be worn in Hong Kong’s indoor public venues — including malls, shops, supermarkets, markets and building lobbies — from Thursday through Aug. 5, Chan said.

Virus Wave Swells

Hong Kong reported a record 105 new local coronavirus cases on Wednesday.