Coronavirus: Fauci calls herd immunity 'dangerous'; NJ to use targeted approach to hot spots

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Daily new U.S. cases of the coronavirus, as a seven-day average, continued to rise and topped 52,345 as of Wednesday, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. Average daily new infections are 17% higher than a week ago and have been growing for the last 10 days, CNBC's analysis shows. Meanwhile, European leaders are reimposing sweeping restrictions and shutdowns in an effort to curb what is feared as a second wave spread of the virus.

Here are some of the biggest developments on Thursday:

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 38.5 million
  • Global deaths: At least 1.09 million
  • U.S. cases: More than 7.91 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 216,904

Chris Christie talks about his battle with coronavirus: 'something to take very seriously'

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he was in the ICU for seven days with Covid-19 and told Americans that the disease is "something to take very seriously," NBC News reported.

Christie tested positive around the same time as President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, and is among a number of people to test positive after attending the White House event for Amy Coney Barrett.

Christie said he "was wrong" to not wear a mask at the Rose Garden event and in his debate prep sessions with Trump.

"No one should be happy to get the virus and no one should be cavalier about being infected or infecting others," Christie said in a statement obtained by NBC News. "It is something to take very seriously. The ramifications are wildly random and potentially deadly." —Chris Eudaily

NBA coaches go virtual as athletes are stuck home during pandemic

Boston Celtics Coach Brad Stevens during an eCoach training session.
Source: eCoach

Some of the most elite coaches in the NBA are going virtual. More than 40 top coaches in the league are now offering their expertise through the virtual coaching platform eCoach. Instructors include big names like Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr, Toronto Raptors Nick Nurse and Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers. Through a membership, eCoach offers video classes teaching everything from shooting techniques, using analytics to improve your game, as well as conditioning drills. eCoach CEO Rich Hempel said the platform was originally created to democratize coaching for athletes all over the world. However, as many athletes are sidelined from the pandemic, they are seeing an uptick in users as athletes look to keep their skills sharp. — Jessica Golden

ECB says further economic stimulus on standby amid upsurge of coronavirus cases

ECB president: We are ready to continue support as and when needed
ECB president: We are ready to continue support as and when needed

Europe has recorded more than 7.4 million cases of the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization, with 251,478 related deaths, and hospitalizations rising at an alarming rate.

"We are still in the long grass for the moment and there is still a lot of work to be done, especially as from this corner of the world in Europe, we are seeing recurrences of contagion," ECB President Christine Lagarde told CNBC's Geoff Cutmore during an IMF World Bank panel on Thursday.

"The many weapons that we have available, ranging from interest rates to forward guidance and asset purchase programs, we stand ready," Lagarde said. —Sam Meredith

Used cars are hot in the Covid-19 economy

How the auto sales market embraced Covid-19 digital acceleration
How the auto sales market embraced Covid-19 digital acceleration

Used cars are in such demand right now as consumers rethink car needs in the new Covid-19 normal that inventory is moving at record pace and prices are rising, a rare phenomenon in the market.

Online sales of used cars are booming for tech upstarts like Carvana, and local dealers are upping their online game as well, with the digital acceleration that has been compressed into months by the pandemic plays out in auto sales. Experts say consumers need to be careful to not overpay. —Eric Rosenbaum

United Airlines digs in for a long, bumpy recovery

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says the worst of the pandemic's impact on air travel demand appears to be over, but it'll take years to fully recover.

Kirby told CNBC that the key to travel demand bouncing back is a widely available vaccine, which he expects won't be available until the end of next year. The airline, which lost $1.8 billion in the last quarter, is seeing an increase in bookings as Thanksgiving and Christmas travel season approaches, but it is still below last year.

The carrier has refocused its network to domestic destinations, many of them aimed at leisure travelers, like Florida, because corporate and international travel is largely on pause. Kirby said business travel won't likely get back to normal levels until 2024. —Leslie Josephs

New Jersey hoping to use targeted approach to dealing with new hot spots, Gov. Murphy says

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on preparing for a second wave of coronavirus during the fall
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on preparing for a second wave of coronavirus during the fall

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told CNBC on Thursday he hopes officials can avoid broad coronavirus lockdowns of nonessential businesses to deal with rising infections in the state and around the nation.

"We're less likely to use blunt instruments we used in March and April ... and much more likely to use a scalpel and go into a particular community," the Democrat said in a "Squawk Box" interview.

"We've come a long way but our numbers are up," he added. "There's a fair amount of community spread."

Murphy said that people are mostly following virus mitigation measures, such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing, when they are out in public. However, he warned that people are letting their guards down in their homes and in their private lives.

Government officials need to continue to encourage people to stay vigilant as "hot spots" pop up in the state, he added. —Matthew J. Belvedere

Kamala Harris delays travel as two people involved in campaign test positive for Covid-19

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris postponed travel through Sunday after two people involved in the Biden campaign tested positive for Covid-19.

Neither Harris nor Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden came into close contact with the people, according to campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon. But "out of an abundance of caution," the California senator will hold virtual campaign events for several days, O'Malley Dillon said.

Harris' husband Douglas Emhoff will also cancel travel planned for Thursday. Since Harris took a flight with the two individuals on Oct. 8, the senator has tested negative for the virus twice, while Emhoff has done the same three times.

The Democrats have criticized President Donald Trump for recklessness after more than 30 people involved with his White House and campaign, including the president himself, tested positive for Covid-19. Trump restarted campaign events with large crowds as soon as his doctors said he was no longer infectious. —Jacob Pramuk

New York Gov. Cuomo is being sued over continued movie theater closures

A property owner in Orchard Park, New York is suing the state of New York in federal court over the continued closure of movie theaters.

Gerry Buchheit, the owner of Quaker Crossing Retail Center, a shopping center that has a Regal Cinema says he is suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and the state in an effort to get cinemas to reopen.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday, Regal has not paid Quaker Crossing its monthly rent of $133,000 since March, and that doesn't include other charges and the percentage of sales revenue the cinema was expected to pay in 2020. Buchheit says that Quaker Crossing has seen a loss of more than $1 billion because the theater chain cannot open.

New York's guidelines have remained firmly against theaters reopening. As of last weekend, only two of New York's nearly 300 locations were open.

Cinema owners have rallied together to try to pressure Cuomo and the state, to permit theaters to reopen. Studios have made it clear to these operators that if the state does not reopen, major blockbusters will continue to be delayed.—Sarah Whitten

Financial stress is disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic Americans, study says

Black and Hispanic/Latino Americans are feeling more financial and job-related stress than those who identify as White, according to a new study by the American Staffing Association.

From paying for their mortgage or rent, to affording child care and paying student loans, more people who identify as Black or Hispanic/Latino reported feeling concern than those who identify as White, the analysis found.

Work-related concerns were also weighing more heavily on minority communities, the study found.

The online ASA survey of 2,065 U.S. adults aged 18 and older was conducted by The Harris Poll from June 16-18, 2020. Results were weighted on gender, education, age, race/ethnicity, household size and income, marital status and geographic region to bring them into line with their proportions in the U.S. population. Additionally, the data were adjusted for differences between the offline and online populations. —Michelle Fox

Dr. Fauci says letting the virus spread unchecked is ‘nonsense’ and ‘dangerous’

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the idea of achieving so-called "herd immunity" against the coronavirus is "nonsense" and "dangerous." Allowing the virus to rip through the U.S. population unchecked would cause a lot of unnecessary deaths, he said.

Fauci was asked about the "Great Barrington Declaration," an online movement that favors herd immunity and was mentioned by a senior White House official on a call with reporters on Monday, NBC News reported.

"Quite frankly that is nonsense, and anybody who knows anything about epidemiology will tell you that that is nonsense and very dangerous," Fauci told Yahoo! News. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Mnuchin says he’ll cede on virus testing in stimulus talks with Pelosi

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the White House won't let differences over funding targets for Covid-19 testing interrupt stimulus talks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the chief negotiator for Democrats, has categorized testing as one of the main sticking points in the negotiations.

"That issue is getting overblown," Mnuchin told CNBC. "When I speak to Pelosi today, I'm going to tell her that we're not going to let the testing issue stand in the way. We'll fundamentally agree with their testing language subject to some minor issues. This issue is being overblown." —Thomas Franck

U.S. weekly jobless claims total 898,000, more than expected

More American workers than expected hit the unemployment line last week with 898,000 new claims filed for jobless benefits, reports CNBC's Jeff Cox.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for 830,000. —Melodie Warner 

What a pause means in a Covid-19 clinical trial

Covid-19 clinical trials from Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly hit a snag after safety monitors halted them over bad reactions from participants.

But pauses to clinical trials are not uncommon, and the delays should reassure the public that the systems in place intended to protect volunteers are working, medical experts told CNBC.

The data and safety monitoring board, an independent group of experts who oversee U.S. clinical trials to ensure the safety of participants, recommends a pause to a clinical trial any time there is an "adverse event." The pause will take as long as needed to gather all information and does not necessarily mean there is a problem with the vaccine or treatment, said Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist who is a member of the DSMB. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Airborne spread has made filtration systems more popular than ‘toilet paper in April’

Getty Images

Evidence has been mounting for months that the coronavirus can spread by air, but effective and high-quality air filtration as well as proper ventilation can reduce the risk of spread, airborne pathogen specialists say. It's no silver bullet, but as the weather turns colder and people spend more time indoors, it's another layer of a multi-pronged defense against the virus.

Jeff Siegel, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Toronto and a specialist in indoor air quality, ventilation and filtration, said people have been overlooking air quality and HVAC systems for a long time "and now we're paying a price for that."

"You might be talking about a 100-year-old school, you might be talking about a postwar apartment building, you might be talking about a brand-new condominium or office building," he said. "We've got to get fresh air into those spaces and when you can't get fresh air, you have to do other things, maybe portable filtration, maybe limiting how that space is used."

He said that "everyone should be prepared" for when someone in their household gets infected, adding that one of the best ways to do so is to buy a portable HEPA filter. —Will Feuer

Walgreens forecasts 2021 profit growth as Q4 results top expectations

Walgreens Boots Alliance expects its profit to grow in the second half of 2021 as higher sales at U.S. pharmacies contributed to a fourth-quarter profit that beat estimates, Reuters reported.

Excluding items, Walgreens earned $1.02 per share, beating analysts' expectations of 96 cents per share. The drugstore chain said same-store sales at its U.S. retail pharmacy division rose 3.6% from a year earlier. —Melodie Warner 

UK government to impose tougher restrictions on London

Cyclists ride along The Mall near Buckingham Palace in central London on May 16, 2020.
JUSTIN TALLIS | AFP | Getty Images

The U.K. government announced plans to impose tougher coronavirus restrictions on London from midnight on Friday, saying the rapid spread of the disease warranted action now in order to avoid even stricter measures later on.

The U.K. capital city will move to a so-called "high" alert level, up from the current "medium" alert level.

It means millions of people in London will soon be unable to meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in public.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Health Minister Matt Hancock said infection rates in London were on a "steep upward path," with the number of new cases doubling every 10 days. —Sam Meredith

WHO says full-scale lockdown should be 'very, very last resort'

A return to the full-scale lockdowns seen earlier in the year in Europe should only be a last resort if restrictive measures don't work to curb the second wave of coronavirus cases, the World Health Organization's regional director for Europe said Thursday.

"A proportional and targeted response is the way forward. Measures or tightening up in many countries in Europe ... are appropriate and necessary responses to what the data is telling us," Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO's regional director for Europe, said Thursday.

"It is never too late (to tighten measures) but definitely, we are concerned. In general, this is the time to step up the restrictive measures ... with lockdowns as a very, very last resort. We know much better than in March what can, and needs, to be done."

Europe now has over 7.2 million confirmed cases of the virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and hospitalizations are rising at a worrying rate. In the last 24 hours, France has declared a public health state of emergency, the U.K. is approaching a second national lockdown and Germany has introduced a raft of new rules in an effort to lower the infection rate. —Holly Ellyatt

Oxford scientists develop 5-minute antigen test

General view of the sign for University of Oxford, Old Road Campus and Trials clinic on May 02, 2020 in Oxford, England.
Catherine Ivill | Getty Images

Scientists at Oxford University say they developed a Covid-19 test able to identify the virus in less than five minutes, Reuters reports.

The device could eventually be used for mass testing purposes in airports or businesses, for example, but isn't likely to be ready anytime soon. Researched hoped to start product development early next year and see an approved testing device available roughly six months after that, Reuters reports. —Sara Salinas

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