Coronavirus update: Sun Belt surge fans recovery fears; Trump ally Herman Cain dies

Anjalee Khemlani
·Senior Reporter
·3 min read

Grim jobless and economic growth data on Thursday underscored how badly the coronavirus pandemic has damaged the world’s largest economy, as still rising COVID-19 diagnoses in the Sun Belt region amplify concerns for the recovery, and America’s ability to contain the fallout.

The U.S. continues a concerning upward trend in cases and deaths, with Texas, California and Florida all surpassing New York as states with the highest cases in the past week, surpassing 4.4 million cases. The Empire State, a former hotspot, continues to see hospitalizations and casualties decline amid slowly spreading cases.

Meanwhile, the political world was jolted by news that former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain lost his battle with COVID-19 Thursday, making him the latest victim among the more than 150,000 in the U.S. that have now died from the virus. In recent weeks, high profile politicians like Atlanta’s Mayor and Oklahoma’s governor have tested positive for the virus.

The rising number of confirmed cases put a spotlight on the nation’s patchwork approach for the upcoming school year, which continues to be revealed in bits and pieces.

Among the latest, Miami-Dade County has decided to stay remote as the crisis wallops South Florida. Separately, Yale University announced a decision to open in-person classes and dorms for the new school year, with a testing strategy in place.

The economic news, combined with the rising case count, shook markets in Thursday’s trading — and overwhelmed encouraging results from Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) coronavirus vaccine candidate.

Pre-clinical trials were published Thursday that showed largely positive defense against the virus in rhesus monkeys. While such news normally boosts risk appetite on Wall Street, investors were in a foul mood given the ugly labor market and growth data.

The pharma giant’s candidate differs from frontrunners Moderna (MRNA), and Pfizer (PFE) with BioNTech (BNTX), in both the type of vaccine technology it is using and the dosage. Both Moderna and Pfizer are two-shot vaccines, which would require a follow-up doctor or clinic visit, J&J’s is a single dose.

New York City, Chicago, Florida, and southern California were major hotspots. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
New York City, Chicago, Florida, and southern California were major hotspots. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

Hydroxychloroquine debate stirred again

A new round of controversy over the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine has taken hold after a viral video of doctors touted it. The clip was shared by President Donald Trump — but was eventually taken down by multiple sites. Meanwhile a Yale University professor wrote an article supporting its use.

At a press conference, Trump repeated that he thinks it works, but urged anyone interested in using it should consult with their doctor. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration initially authorized the drug for emergency use, it eventually reversed course after several studies proved no effect.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top epidemiologist, has reiterated that science and all valid data available shows the the generic drug, an anti-malarial used for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, does not work.

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

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