• US sees 7-day average for cases hit new record
  • Hospitals across US near capacity
  • Utah hospitals ask Gov to approve new triage plan
  • French official warns France seeing 100k new cases per day
  • Malaysia extends lockdown
  • Hong Kong focuses COVID efforts on public transit
  • UK approves new rapid test
  • AstraZeneca trial data shows vaccine effective on elderly

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New COVID-19 cases declined on Sunday following the Friday-Saturday peak both in the US, and globally. With the US adding roughly 61,000 new cases (according to JHU), bringing the US total to 8,637,108. Globally, the world broke above 43 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, with roughly 377,000 new cases reported yesterday alone.

However, the US average of new COVID-19 cases is now at its highest point since the start of the pandemic, as the US added more than 480,000 new cases (481,372 per JHU) after Friday and Saturday both saw new cases top 80k.

Currently, there are more than 41,000 COVID patients hospitalized in the United States, a 40% rise in the past month, and unlike during the first wave, which hammered urban areas, the second wave is spreading out to more smaller towns with fewer resources, which can translate to less effective care. In Kansas City earlier this month, ambulances were reportedly turned away from hospitals that ran out of room. Field hospitals are currently opening in Salt Lake City and Milwaukee.

In Utah, hospitals are preparing to start rationing care as patients flood its ICUs. That’s reportedly the prediction of a top hospital association official, who has reportedly conveyed his warning to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. The new criteria, which would require the state’s approval, creates a new triage program for doctors to decide who can stay in the ICU, and who will be sent back to a regular bed, per the Salt Lake Tribune.

Perhaps the biggest news overnight was the first trickle of Phase 3 trial data from AstraZeneca, a leak that seemed suspiciously well-timed, coming just days after US regulators finally gave the vaccine being developing in partnership with Oxford the green light to restart its US trials. The report should be taken with a large grain of salt; none of this is tantamount to conclusive evidence that the candidate will provide lasting immunity.

In Asia, news broke on Sunday that China had discovered its largest outbreak in months in the far-flung province of Xinjiang. One day later, authorities are reporting another 26 asymptomatic cases.

China’s Xinjiang province reported 26 new asymptomatic coronavirus infections between 1600 Sunday and 1600 Monday in Kashgar prefecture, China Central Television reported.

In other news, SCMP reports that Malaysia has just extended its partial lockdown in Kuala Lumpur, its capital city, as well as the surrounding state of Selangor, from two weeks to four.

Jean-Francois Delfraissy, the chair of the scientific team advising French President Emmanuel Macron, warned that the country is probably seeing roughly 100,000 new cases a day as the coronavirus pandemic steers the nation into a “very difficult, or even critical situation.” He added that “this second wave will definitely be stronger than the first.” For context, France reported its 4th consecutive daily record of new cases on Sunday.

In the UK, pharmacy chain Boots is set to launch a 12-minute COVID-19 swab test in some of its stores, while it has begun to offer private pre-flight testing for those traveling abroad.

Here’s some more COVID-19 news from Monday morning and overnight:

South Korea reported an uptick in new coronavirus cases despite a lower number of tests, over the weekend, as a cluster of infections in nursing homes in the greater Seoul area emerged. The country added 119 more cases, increasing the total caseload to 25,955, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (Source: FT).

Hong Kong will focus its testing efforts on taxi and bus drivers over the next fortnight, as it seeks to control the coronavirus pandemic (Source: FT).

WHO director general Dr. Tedros said some countries in the northern hemisphere are facing a “dangerous moment” after US infections hit a record for the second day (Newswires).

Australia’s state of Victoria, the country’s new coronavirus hot spot, reports zero cases for the first time since June (Source: Reuters).

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