By Powerscourt on 25/07/2020
In a week that has seen Donald Trump concede the seriousness of the outbreak, US coronavirus deaths surpassed 1,000 on Friday for the fourth day in a row. 75,193 people have tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, up from 71,027 on Thursday, the second-biggest one-day jump since the crisis began.
Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus task force co-ordinator, stated that “what we have right now are essentially three New Yorks” when discussing the severity of the unfolding situations in California, Texas and Florida, the US states that have seen the largest increases.
The latest spike in cases came as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reminded Americans that even if a vaccine clears the testing process and is successful by the end of the year, it will be several months before vaccination is available across the US. In an interview, Dr Fauci told the Washington Post that it would be “several months…into 2021 before any vaccine was widely available to US citizens.”
In other news, indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities in England will start to reopen today in the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown. However, at least a third of public facilities are expected to remain shut while those that are reopening must follow strict hygiene and social distancing measures, such as limiting the number of people using the facility, spacing out equipment and reducing exercise class sizes.
These measures, combined with an expected reduction in user numbers, have prompted concerns of widespread closures. Community Leisure UK, the members’ association that specialises in representing charitable leisure and culture trusts across England, Scotland and Wales, estimates that 48% of all public leisure facilities face closure, meaning as many as 1,300 could disappear by the end of the year, along with more than 58,000 jobs.
The reopening of gym and other leisure facilities comes as a study by Public Health England found that being obese or overweight puts patients at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19. The review of evidence found that excess weight put people at risk of needing hospital admission or intensive care, with the risk growing substantially as weight increased.
WHAT ARE COMPANIES SAYING?
Industrials & Transport
The owner of British Gas has ended its international expansion plans, selling its US business, Direct Energy, to local group NRG Energy in order to strengthen its balance sheet. This was announced alongside its financial results yesterday, in which it revealed a fall in earnings over the first half of the year with the coronavirus lockdown causing a drastic fall in energy demand. Shares in the company jumped by over 20 per cent to over 50p a share for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak on the back of the announcement.
International Airlines Group
The owner of British Airways has acknowledged media speculation around a possible equity raise, confirming that it is evaluating the merits of a rights issue of up to €2.75 billion to strengthen its balance sheet which has been hit by falling passenger numbers throughout the coronavirus crisis. It included that no final decision has yet been made on whether and when to proceed with this.
The American aerospace company is reportedly preparing to delay the commercial launch of its new 777X jet by several months, as a result of the coronavirus crisis causing a drop in demand for the largest jetliners. The company intends to bring it to market as passenger travel rebounds following the pandemic. A formal announcement on the delay is expected as early as next week when Boeing releases its second quarter results.
Transport for London
The London transport authority has warned that it will need £6.4bn in funding support over the next two years if it is to plug the financial shortfall caused by a vast decline in passenger numbers as a result of the pandemic. In a revised budget released yesterday, the government body set out that it would need £3.5bn for the current financial year, and a further £2.9bn for the 2020/2021 financial year due to the slow return of passengers to public transport.
IN THE NEWS
US coronavirus deaths surpass 1,000 for fourth day in a row – The Financial Time
Retail enjoys swift revival in sales after shops reopen – The Times