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Dow drops 800 points as fears grow over fallout of COVID-19 surge | US & Canada News

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Wall Street’s main stock indexes were firmly in the red on Wednesday as rising coronavirus infections in the United States fuel fears of more growth-sapping pandemic restrictions and curb investor appetite for risk.

In late morning trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 802 points or 2.92 percent at 26,661.10.

The S&P 500 – a gauge for the health of US retirement and college savings reports –  and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index were both down more than 3 percent.

A bludgeoning pandemic and failure in Washington to pass fiscal support sent the S&P 500 and Nasdaq spiralling to their lowest close in three weeks on Tuesday. The Cboe Volatility Index, known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge”, spiked on Wednesday to its highest level in nearly two months as uncertainty grows around the course of the pandemic and the outcome of the US election on November 3.

New infections and hospitalisations are setting records in the US Midwest as Washington continues to squabble over the scope of the next round of virus relief aid. The impasse could leave millions of out-of-work Americans and struggling businesses entering the cold and heavy flu season and another round of possible restrictions without additional federal support.

It is unlikely that a deal will be struck before Election Day, which also brings its own set of concerns.

It remains entirely possible that the US will not have a clear winner when polls close on Tuesday and or that the results could be challenged.

Concerns are mounting over the possible delay in counting a large number of mail-in ballots.

 

President Donald Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden is leading in national polls, but the race has tightened in key battleground states, which are likely to determine the winner.

Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to throw shade on the media, accusing it of engaging in a “unified chant” and up-playing the threat of the virus to sway election results.

“They will talk about nothing else until November 4th, when the Election will be (hopefully!) over. Then the talk will be how low the death rate is, plenty of hospital rooms, & many tests of young people,” Trump wrote.

Things are not looking any better across the pond. The coronavirus pandemic is raging in Europe again, with severe restrictions, curfews and lockdowns returning to Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Anti-lockdown demonstrations have turned violent as people have taken to the streets to protest the restrictions that have millions on the continent out of work and on the brink of poverty.

Worldwide, the travel and services industries have been hit the hardest as the COVID-19 pandemic guts air travel and shutters hotels, restaurants and bars. As the possibility of another round of lockdowns lingers, industries are coming to grip with the fact that things may not return to the pre-pandemic way of life for years to come.

New York City’s century-old Roosevelt Hotel announced it will close at the end of October due to ongoing losses associated with the coronavirus pandemic [File: Carlo Allegri/Reuters]

Mass layoffs in the travel industry continue with more furloughs and pink slips on the horizon.

In a memo to employees on Wednesday, Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said the company expects to eliminate some 30,000 jobs through buyouts, layoffs and attrition by the end of 2021.

The news hit the same day as the aerospace giant reported its fourth straight quarterly loss as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing 737 MAX grounding hammers Boeing’s bottom line.

Boeing’s revenue fell 29 percent to $14.14bn in the third quarter –  topping analysts’ estimate of $13.90bn.  The company also reaffirmed its expectation that US deliveries of the 737 MAX – grounded worldwide after two fatal accidents- would resume before year-end.

Shares of Boeing were down 3.64 percent in  late morning trading in New York.

Tech stocks were also in the spotlight as the chiefs of Facebook, Twitter and Google parent Alphabet testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday over protections they have shielding them from liability over content that users post on their social media platforms.

Microsoft is also moving after reporting quarterly results after the bell on Tuesday that surpassed analysts’ expectations.  Shares of the tech giant were down more than 4 percent.

All eyes are now turning to Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook, which are due to report earnings results on Thursday.



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US says it has jabbed 82 million people, topping the world | Coronavirus pandemic News

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But coronavirus rates have plateaued over the past week, raising concern over yet another surge in cases and deaths.

The United States has administered 82 million coronavirus vaccine shots, White House officials announced on Friday, more than any other country in the world.

During a coronavirus task force news conference, health officials said 55 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have now received at least one shot, up from 8 percent just six weeks ago.

“Altogether we’ve administered more than 82 million shots, more than any country in the world,” said Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the COVID-19 response team.

But the US has also suffered more deaths than any other country in the world – more than 518,000 Americans have lost their lives to the disease.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccines administered during his first 100 days in office [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

US President Joe Biden who took office in January has promised to make tackling the pandemic a top priority for his administration and has set a target to vaccinate 100 million Americans by early May – to coincide with his 100 days in office. He has said the country is well under way to meeting that goal.

Officials say 450 vaccination sites have been set up around the country which has sped up the effort and they have plans to open up more sites as vaccine supplies increase over the next weeks.

In an effort to further boost the campaign, last week the US gave emergency approval to use a third vaccine produced by drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. Biden has also announced that the US will manufacture the J&J vaccine, a shot that requires only one dose, further speeding up the effort.

But even with the vaccination campaign well under way, officials said deaths and infection rates have plateaued in recent days, indicating that the nation could be at risk of yet another surge.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said amid the rapid spread of new variants across the country, Americans need to ‘double down’ on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, said over the past week, there have been daily 60,000-70,000 new coronavirus cases, and 1,900 Americans have been dying every day.

“The current numbers remain concerning,” Walensky said, “cases and deaths are still too high, and have now plateaued for more than week.”

Amid the rapid spread of new variants, which have been detected in 48 US states, she urged Americans need to “double down” on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing.

“I know that the idea of relaxing mask wearing and getting back to every day activities is appealing,” she said, “but we’re not there yet.”

Several states have in recent days announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions on businesses and have lifted statewide mandates to wear masks. Health officials have responded with concern and urged Americans to continue to wear masks and follow precautions set under federal guidelines.

Biden blasted the decisions by state governors on Thursday, calling it “a big mistake” and “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.”

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said the current numbers are an indication of a likely fourth surge in cases.

“When you have that much viral activity in a plateau it almost invariably means that you are at risk for another spike,” he said.

During the briefing on Friday, officials also announced that the CDC is working on publishing guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, indicating which activities they may or may not be able to resume.



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