Coronavirus update: NY turns corner as COVID cases plummet to lowest since March

Anjalee Khemlani
Senior Reporter

New York announced fewer than 50 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday for the first time in more than two months, marking a new positive milestone for the country’s largest cluster of cases as the global pandemic continues to extend its reach.

However, other states are seeing rising diagnoses, amplifying the concerns of public health officials that the virus could move through the country in waves. North Carolina, for example, is seeing a steady increase in daily cases, forcing the Republican National Convention slated for August to move out of Charlotte.

NC Gov. Roy Cooper told the RNC he could not guarantee a full auditorium — in line with President Donald Trump administration’s own social distancing guidelines — while the president and the RNC were demanding the opposite.

Meanwhile, California’s COVID-19 count remains stubbornly high, in spite of restrictive lockdowns expected to last through most of the summer.

The emerging areas of increased cases are concerning for experts, who are weighing the impact of states reopening against widespread protests against police brutality. The mass demonstrations creating havoc in the streets are leading to more interpersonal interactions at a time when the country, on average, has been flattening the curve.

Overseas, the outlook in certain regions is also mixed. Italy, which itself was once an epicenter of the outbreak, became the first European country to reopen its borders.

However, Sweden is in the throes of a surging per capita death toll, which has sparked recriminations about the country’s decision to adopt far less stringent restrictions than most other countries. Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top epidemiologist, told Sveriges Radio Wednesday morning that they should have adopted stricter measures.

“If we would encounter the same disease, with exactly what we know about it today, I think we would land midway between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world did,” Tegnell said.

Vaccine optimism

Despite the growing civil unrest in the U.S., investors continue to bet on a relatively brisk recovery. Stocks were on a tear in Wednesday’s session, despite a new batch of ugly employment data.

A number of investors are optimistic about the prospects for a coronavirus treatment or cure. Though multiple pharmaceutical companies are working hard through a compressed timeline, the availability of a vaccine or widely available treatment option remain uncertain.

In an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) editor Howard Bauchner on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a vaccine is not the end-all for the virus.

He said that any treatment is unlikely to provide “a long duration of immunity,” if the new coronavirus acts like previous coronaviruses.

But his institute is continuing to research the vaccine candidates, including frontrunner Moderna (MRNA). Fauci said Tuesday that the plans for a phase 3 clinical trial to begin in July are under way, and he’s cautiously optimistic that one of the four vaccines in trials will succeed.

The widely respected doctor added that he believes with the commitments of at-risk production from the various companies, he hopes to have hundreds of millions of doses by 2021.

Meanwhile, in the treatments sphere, Gilead Science’s (GILD) stock was upgraded by SVB Leerink, which sees opportunity in commercial sales of remdisivir. The antiviral drug is being used as an experimental treatment for the coronavirus.

Analyst Geoffrey Porges believes sals of remdesivir may reach $7.7 billion in 2022.

Anjalee Khemlani is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @AnjKhem

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