The US is surpassing an average of 160,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. With the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant and many students returning to the classroom for a new academic year, the rise is concerning officials and health experts.

“First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing on Tuesday.

Walensky said that while people who are fully vaccinated can travel with precautions, current transmission rates mean they too need to take Covid-19 risk into consideration when deciding whether or not to travel.

Health experts have said that vaccination is the best way to protect against the virus’ spread, and many have attributed the spike in cases to the large portion of Americans who are unvaccinated.

Of those eligible for vaccinations, which includes Americans 12-years-old and older, 38.6% are not yet fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC.

This week, data presented by a CDC vaccine adviser showed a hospitalization rate 16 times greater in the unvaccinated population than in those vaccinated. And the surge in hospitalizations, particularly among unvaccinated people, has stretched hospitals thin.

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little said the state has reached a point in the pandemic “we have not seen before” with more Idahoans in the ICUs than ever before. He stressed multiple times that the “vast majority” are unvaccinated.

“Yesterday evening I toured a nearly full ICU wing in Boise. What I saw was heartbreaking,” he said Tuesday. “Some were young, two were middle-aged, two patients were pregnant… All of them were struggling to breathe and most were only breathing with help from a machine.”

He said medical staff are “exhausted,” so the state is adding up to 370 additional personnel to help.

A new case study published Tuesday illustrated the impact of gatherings of large groups of unvaccinated people.

In June, attendees met for a five-day overnight church camp and a two-day men’s conference in Illinois, neither of which required vaccination, testing or masks. By August, 180 Covid-19 cases were connected to the events, including five hospitalizations, according to the investigation, conducted by the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

A healthcare worker at a 24-hour drive-thru site set up by Miami-Dade and Nomi Health in Tropical Park administers a Covid-19 test on Monday in Miami, Florida.

More than 200,000 kids test positive in a week

Concern is growing over infections in children, many of whom don’t have access to the vaccine yet.

And those who are eligible are not reaping the full benefits. Children ages 12 to 15 are eligible but less then half of that group is vaccinated with at least one dose, according to data published Monday by the CDC.

The result has been cases in children increasing “exponentially,” the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday.

More than 200,000 children tested positive for Covid-19 in the last week, a five-fold increase from a month ago, the AAP said. And rates of hospitalizations have risen with the cases.

Between August 20 and 26, an average of 330 children

Gondolas and gondoliers, one of the characteristic presences of the canals of the city of Venice, have resumed carrying tourists around with small limitations on the number of contemporary passengers to avoid possible infections.

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

LONDON — The euro zone economy lost some momentum in August but is still on track for solid growth in the third quarter of this year, according to preliminary data released Monday.

IHS Markit’s flash composite PMI for the euro zone, which looks at activity across both manufacturing and services, hit a two-month low of 59.5 in August versus 60.2 in July. A reading above 50 represents an expansion in economic activity.

“Encouragement comes from a second month of job creation at the strongest for 21 years, which reflects efforts by firms to boost operating capacity and meet demand, which should ultimately further help bring price pressures down,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said in a statement.

The latest business activity data come as many consumers in the region enjoy the lifting of Covid-related restrictions, which has boosted the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic.

Growth estimates last month showed that the euro area had bounced back from a technical recession (defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction) by growing by 2% in the second quarter of this year.

These data releases are important as the European Central Bank is due to meet next month and some of its members are pushing for talks on reducing some of the ongoing stimulus.

There are, however, some concerns about supply chain issues and higher inflation.

“The concern is that we are seeing some upward movement on wage growth as a result of the job market gain, which could feed through to higher inflation, and supply delays from Asia in particular look likely to persist for some time to come,” Williamson added.

As a result, momentum slowed more in manufacturing than in services. The former hit a six-month low in August, whereas services fell to a two-month low.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” Monday, Williamson said that supply chain issues are not as widespread as before but are still curbing growth in manufacturing activity.

Nonetheless, he said: “These numbers are still very high in terms of these PMI growth rates. It’s very rare for these indexes to stay at this level for long simply because it is such a surging growth being recorded so some cooling is nothing really to worry about.”

France

French businesses did not escape the slow down in momentum during August.

The flash composite PMI for the country slipped to 55.9 in August from 56.6 in July, representing 4-month low. However, the data still points to solid growth in the third quarter of the year.

“Despite some of the challenges businesses are facing on the supply side, it’s encouraging to see PMI data consistently signaling robust expansion,” Joe Hayes, senior economist at IHS Markit, said in statement.

He added: “Given we’re now

The highly contagious Delta variant is spreading rapidly in the US, with deaths rising to more than 600 per day.

The United States government has extended a one-month ban on nonessential travel along the borders with Canada and Mexico to slow the rising spread of COVID-19 despite increasing political pressure to lift the restriction.

US border communities that are dependent on shoppers from Mexico and Canada and their political representatives have urged the Biden administration to lift the ban.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a tweet on Friday the restrictions on nonessential travel were still needed to minimise the spread of COVID-19. It extended the ban until at least September 21.

The highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly worldwide and in the US where the seven-day average of new cases has risen to 133,000 a day, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hospitalisations in the US are averaging more than 11,000 per day and daily deaths from COVID-19 have risen to 641, according to the CDC.

Announcing the renewed travel restrictions, DHS officials said the agency is working with public health and medical experts to determine how to “safely and sustainably resume normal travel”.

American tourists who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are being allowed to enter Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government earlier this month lifted restrictions.

The US travel restrictions have been in place since early in the pandemic in March 2020 and repeatedly extended while allowing commercial traffic and essential crossings to continue.

Separate from the Canada and Mexico land border restrictions, the US bars most non-US citizens who within the previous 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, Ireland, 26 countries in Europe, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

Large companies across the US have announced that COVID-19 vaccines will be required for their employees to return to work in person, although requiring vaccines, masks and social distancing remains a political issue in some areas.

Across the US, 200 million people have been fully vaccinated, or about 60 percent of those eligible.

Meanwhile, Canadian banks Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce will require employees entering their premises to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from this fall, according to company memos seen by Reuters news agency on Friday.

The moves follow a similar measure announced to staff by the Royal Bank of Canada on Thursday as companies battle the spread of the coronavirus in their offices.

In the US state of Montana, which borders Canada, a law passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, requiring vaccines as a condition for employment is deemed “discrimination” and a violation of the state’s

Boris Johnson has ditched plans for tougher quarantine restrictions for some holidaymakers after days of chaos, as it emerged the chief of the Joint Biosecurity Centre that advises on travel rules has left the job, leaving the centre “rudderless”.

After a cabinet revolt and a backlash from the travel industry, government sources said the prime minister would not be going ahead with proposals for a new amber watchlist to warn travellers which countries were at risk of turning red.

Cabinet sources said the plans were killed off by the Treasury and Department for Transport, as ministers grew in confidence about the drop in daily cases, which fell to 21,052 on Monday.

After weeks of confusion over travel guidelines, Labour and the Lib Dems called on Johnson to get a grip on advice for holidaymakers. The Department of Health and Social Care has refused to say who is in charge of the Joint Biosecurity Centre, which is responsible for advising the government on the risk of travel as well as setting the UK’s overall Covid threat level.

It is understood that Clare Gardiner, a former spy who ran the JBC, has left the job of director-general without a permanent successor having being appointed to the organisation, set up under Johnson. Her details were removed from its website in mid-June.

The Department of Health and Social Care said on Tuesday: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre is part of the UK Health Security Agency and is led professionally by the chief executive. The former director general has returned as planned to a role in national security. The JBC continues to operate routinely under robust interim arrangements. A formal open competitive recruitment process has concluded and the new DG will be announced imminently.”

Labour said leaving the crucial organisation with a vacancy at the top was “reckless”, while the Lib Dems called for the government to “step in and appoint a head to the currently rudderless Joint Biosecurity Centre”.

Johnson had been due this week to decide, based on advice from the JBC, whether to create the new warning category to tell holidaymakers if they were at imminent risk of going on the red list – which requires 10 days of expensive hotel quarantine.

He backed away from the idea on Monday, with senior cabinet sources saying the plan had been killed off by Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, for fear it would leave holidaymakers in limbo. Another government source said the prime minister had never been in favour, but it had been put forward within Whitehall at a “Covid O” meeting last week over fears that a new variant could be carried back with travellers from Spain, Italy or Greece over the summer.

“The watchlist could have warned people that the country they were going to [might] turn red and given them the full information, but the backlash is so big that we have lost that position. There’s not a chance it will go ahead now,” one Whitehall source

New Zealand on Friday suspended its quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia for at least eight weeks due to a growing COVID-19 cluster in Sydney.

New Zealand recently imposed quarantine restrictions on travelers from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia states, where lockdowns have been introduced to contain delta variant clusters.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said quarantine-free travel would be suspended from anywhere in Australia from 11:59 p.m. New Zealand time.

New Zealand suspended travel with Australia for at least eight weeks after New South Wales, Australia, reported 136 new infections in Sydney within a 24-hour period

New Zealand suspended travel with Australia for at least eight weeks after New South Wales, Australia, reported 136 new infections in Sydney within a 24-hour period
(iStock)

NEW ZEALAND TO DELAY ELECTION UNTIL OCTOBER, CITING CORONAVIRUS RESURGENCE

Ardern said she hoped to have all New Zealanders who wanted to return flown home from Australia with managed flights within a week.

The travel bubble has existed since April and has provided both countries with their only quarantine-free international flights.

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Both Australia and New Zealand have been among the most successful in the world in containing coronavirus outbreaks. But Sydney is failing to contain a cluster of the highly contagious delta variant, which has spread across the country.

On Friday, New South Wales state declared an emergency over the Sydney outbreak. Authorities reported one fatality and 136 new infections in the latest 24-hour period, the biggest daily jump since the outbreak began in mid-June.

Yehyun Kim :: ctmirror.org

Corey Gile, a cook with The Whaler’s Inn, makes a drink wearing a mask on Thursday, Aug. 13.

Connecticut has known for months the coronavirus hit its hospitality industry harder than those in most other states.

Now it’s learned things are worse than many thought.

According to revised projections from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Connecticut will have regained — by year’s end — slightly less than 72% of the 26,225 direct hotel industry jobs it lost during the pandemic.

Those 7,400 unfilled jobs is significantly worse than the 5,900-position-gap the AHLA forecast for Connecticut back in May.

“The pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce, wiping out 10 years of hotel job growth,” the association wrote, adding that the hotels and other lodgings are expected to end 2021 down 500,000 jobs compared with 2019 employment levels.

Direct hotel jobs, such as housekeeper and front desk attendants, do not include workers from restaurants, retail operations, tourist attractions and other small businesses supported by the lodging industry.

Only four states — Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York — along with the District of Columbia, are projected to have regained a smaller percentage of direct hotel jobs than Connecticut will have by year’s end.

“We are still facing incredible challenges,” said Ginny Kozlowski, executive director of the Connecticut Hotel and Lodging Association.

Perhaps the biggest, she said, is regaining the full contingent of business travelers who comprised 60% of the customer base at Connecticut hotels, motels and bed and breakfast operations before the pandemic.

Vacation and other leisure-related travel has recovered well this summer, though there still some work to do, Kozlowski said. But business-related travel has lagged considerably. 

For example, are many companies going to permanently limit their conventions, retreats and planning meetings?

Will salespeople who normally visit their customers four or five times a year now do it just once — and stay in touch the rest of the time via online conferencing?

“That’s where we’re not sure,” Kozlowski said.

Another unknown pressing the industry is the coronavirus itself.

Kozlowski praised Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration for Connecticut’s strong effort to promote vaccinations. As of Monday, 71% of residents age 12 and older were fully vaccinated.

And she noted the governor and legislature have been supportive in other ways.

Between the new, two-year state budget and federal coronavirus relief funding, Connecticut officials have dedicated more than $60 million in new resources that will assist tourism promotion and the hospitality sector.

David Lehman, Lamont’s economic development commissioner, said a portion of those resources also will support a new grant program to assist hospitality and related businesses. That program likely will be unveiled early in 2022, he said.

And none of that assistance includes another $150 million the state deposited directly into the unemployment trust fund. The state has borrowed more than $700 million to keep the fund afloat, and the debt is expected to approach or top $1 billion by year’s end. Businesses normally are

Panel attempts to dispel Covid disinformation. Video / RT

Experts are cautioning that a full travel bubble halt may not be needed despite half of Australia being in lockdown, provided the Government is confident with state border control measures.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be joining Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and director general of health Ashley Bloomfield to provide an update at 1.30pm regarding the quarantine-free travel arrangements with Australia.

Ardern has cut her recess holiday short, fuelling speculation a full pause of the travel bubble could be on the cards.

However, experts say this might not be necessary provided there was enough confidence in Australia’s ability to contain the virus within states experiencing outbreaks.

The announcement comes after an urgent Cabinet meeting on Thursday afternoon with half of the Australian population in lockdown and NSW yesterday recording the most daily cases since the latest Delta outbreak began.

It’s understood a complete pause on all travel from Australia was being considered at Cabinet.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said that an update was expected on Thursday but no update was released.

Now an update has been set for 1.30pm Friday.

Covid

The meeting was understood to be a full Cabinet meeting, with ministers meeting despite many being on leave – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson.

Half of the Australian population is currently in lockdown and NSW yesterday had the most daily cases since the latest Delta outbreak began.

New Zealand has paused quarantine-free travel with NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

As of Friday morning quarantine-free travel remained open with ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, subject to conditions including pre-departure tests.

However, a major safety issue remained with up to half of the arrivals from Australia not being checked for negative pre-departure tests.

Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker told the Herald if the Government was confident in Australia’s state border controls, a full pause might not be necessary.

The current “selective” approach saw travel remain open with states such as Tasmania and Western Australia that had done well to keep the virus from crossing state borders, and stamp out quickly any cases they had seen.

Provided the Government was confident in those state border measures, one option would be a more prolonged pause for those eastern states currently experiencing outbreaks, Baker said.

However, the highly-transmissable Delta variant, which is rampant in NSW, meant the threshold for restricting travel was much lower than previously.

There were also questions around the desirability and practicality of keeping the travel bubble open.

If New Zealand did pause the full travel bubble based on the situation in NSW, then it could be for a prolonged period, Baker said.

“I think largely interrupting most travel from Australia would be sensible given how the virus is moving between certain states, particularly in the east.

“But if they do make a decision based on the situation in NSW it could be for a very prolonged period

Business

Is NZ’s border already closed to Aussie? Air NZ message says it is. Video / NZ Herald

An automated voice message on the Air New Zealand general inquiries phone line suggests the transtasman travel bubble is already closed.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins are expected to announce at 1.30pm today whether New Zealand will completely pause the bubble with Australia.

Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper reported this morning that his calls into the general inquiries line of the national carrier led to an automated voice message that said quarantine-free travel between the countries had been paused.

The automated voice message said: “The New Zealand Government has announced an extended pause on quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand. We are working closely with the Government for people to return home as soon as possible.”

Asked about the message, Air New Zealand general manager of customer Leeanne Langridge said it was recorded and uploaded on 5pm on Wednesday 21 July in response to large increases in call volumes.

“With Quarantine Free Travel paused from a number of Australian states, we found customers were confused about their ability to travel and the team tried to simplify the message. Unfortunately in this case the simplification has led to an incorrect message that the New Zealand Government had announced an extended pause of quarantine-free travel with Australia,” Langridge said.

“This is a rapidly changing environment, and our teams are doing their best to get the most up to date information to customers, we apologise that in this case we may have added to the confusion.”

This comes amid an escalating outbreak of the Delta strain of coronavirus in Australia.

Cabinet ministers met yesterday to discuss the transtasman bubble – with a full pause likely to have been discussed.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said that an update was expected today. No official public statement has been released by the Government so far.

The meeting is understood to be a full Cabinet meeting, with ministers meeting despite many being on leave – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson.

Half of the Australian population is currently in lockdown and NSW yesterday had the most daily cases since the latest Delta outbreak began.

A major safety issue remains with up to half of the arrivals from Australia not being checked for negative pre-departure tests.

The move by Air New Zealand indicates the airline has already made the call to shut the border between the two countries.

New York and Illinois are among the states that have lost the highest percentage of hotel jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and are still hurting even as travel starts to return to normal levels across the country, according to a new report.

The data released this week by the American Hotel & Lodging Association shows that projections for the industry remain “well below pre-pandemic levels,” according to a news release. The association notes that more than 1 in 5 direct hotel operations jobs lost during the pandemic – about 500,000 total – will not return by the end of 2021, and the lost room revenue will amount to $44 billion compared to 2019.

In percentage terms compared to 2019, New York (37.9%), Illinois (35.2%), Massachusetts (30.2%) and Hawaii (28.8%) are the states that are seeing the biggest hotel job losses expected by the end of 2021, according to the association’s state-by-state breakdown. The hotel industry in Washington, D.C. – also covered in the report – has been hit even harder, with job losses at 43.1%. COVID-19-induced hotel job losses for the country as a whole are nearly 21%, and 19 states have losses higher than the national average.

“Despite an uptick in leisure travel, midway through 2021 we’re still seeing that the road to a full recovery for America’s hotels is long and uneven,” said Chip Rogers, the association’s president and CEO, in a statement.

Travel and tourism is coming back in the U.S. as restrictions lift, but Jennifer Myers, AHLA’s senior director of government affairs communications, tells U.S. News via email that the recovery is happening “unevenly” with business travel lagging the recovery in leisure.

“While the recent uptick in leisure travel for summer is encouraging, business and group travel, the industry’s largest source of revenue, will take significantly longer to recover,” Myers says. “Business travel is down and not expected to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023 or 2024. Major events, conventions and business meetings have also already been canceled or postponed until at least 2022.”

Photos: America’s Pandemic Toll

Registered traveling nurse Patricia Carrete, of El Paso, Texas, walks down the hallways during a night shift at a field hospital set up to handle a surge of COVID-19 patients, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, in Cranston, R.I. Rhode Island's infection rate has come down since it was the highest in the world two months ago, and many of the field hospital's 335 beds are now empty. On quiet days, the medical staff wishes they could do more. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Myers notes that Illinois, Massachusetts and New York – three states where hotel jobs have been hurt the most – “are all examples of markets that are heavily reliant on business travel, which has been nearly nonexistent during the pandemic.”

Hawaii, on the other hand, is “heavily dependent” on tourism in general, she adds. The industry contributed to 16% of the state’s gross domestic product in 2019, which was the second-largest share among all sectors, according to Hawaii government data.

Predictably, the pandemic hit tourism hard in the islands: Preliminary statistics show that visitor arrivals decreased by nearly 75% in 2020 and hotel room tax revenues dropped by almost 91% between April and October 2020, according to Eugene Tian, Hawaii’s chief state economist. Tian notes, however, that the return of inbound tourism has accelerated since March as restrictions start lifting in Hawaii, with visitor counts for July – as of July 20

Manchester City’s planned pre-season friendly at sister club Troyes later this month has been cancelled due to coronavirus travel restrictions affecting France

The scrapping of the July 31 fixture leaves Pep Guardiola’s side with just two other games, including the Community Shield against Leicester before they begin their Premier League title defence at Tottenham on August 15.

The club say they have no plans to replace the friendly with another pre-season fixture.

City cancelled the game after this week’s tightening of quarantine rules for travellers returning from France, by the UK government, made it impractical to proceed.

France is now classified in an ‘amber-plus’ category for travel, meaning that people must still isolate for 10 days after entering the UK, even if they are fully vaccinated.

The news comes after City announced this week that their first pre-season friendly, against Preston on July 27, will be played behind closed doors at their Academy Stadium. This decision was taken as a precautionary measure after a number of positive tests for Covid-19 forced the closure of their academy building last week.

A club statement read: “Manchester City are disappointed to confirm that our planned pre-season friendly at fellow CFG (City Football Group) club ES Troyes AC has been cancelled.

The champions will now have just one outing before the Community Shield

(PA Wire)

“Both clubs explored all avenues to be able to play the game, but the recent UK government changes to quarantine rules for travellers returning from France, has made the required restrictions too difficult to overcome.

“Pep Guardiola’s first-team squad will remain in Manchester and continue their pre-season preparations at the City Football Academy. There are no plans to replace the ESTAC friendly with another pre-season fixture.”

Troyes, who were promoted back to Ligue 1 last season, would have provided strong opposition for City in the build-up to the new campaign. The club became part of the CFG stable last year.

Guardiola’s squad began pre-season training on Monday but a number of senior stars are yet to report back after being involved in international tournaments over the summer. The Community Shield takes place on August 7.