Covid live updates: U.S. sees decline in new cases, CVS earnings get boost from vaccine rollout – CNBC

Repeat layoffs have swelled during the pandemic

Repeat layoffs have swelled in recent months, signaling unstable work prospects for many Americans and hinting at deep pain in the labor market.

Almost 2 in 3 workers who began receiving unemployment benefits in October collected them at least one other time since April, according to a new paper by economists at the University of Chicago and JPMorgan Chase Institute.

That may occur if workers were recalled to a job in the summer but were laid off again in the fall, for example. In California, 96% of new unemployment claims from accommodation-and-food-services workers are due to repeat layoffs.

At the same time, continuous long-term unemployment spells are also increasing nationwide.

Greg Iacurci

Quest Diagnostics doubles genetics sequencing to find Covid variants

A Quest Diagnostics requisition form is displayed for a photograph at Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton, Illinois, U.S..

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Quest Diagnostics said it has doubled the amount of genetic sequencing it’s doing in an effort to track new mutations and variants of the coronavirus.

The company announced last month that it was helping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention track new variants of the virus in the U.S. by sequencing more samples from around the country. The company is now sequencing 2,000 samples per week, up from 1,000 per week when the partnership was announced, the company said.

Quest also noted that it continues to expand its testing capacity to provide services to businesses, schools and elsewhere that might want large-scale testing to reopen.

“Although demand for COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing has recently declined, the spread of more infectious variants and loosening of restrictions in certain parts of the country could lead to another surge of cases,” Quest said in a statement. “Moreover, COVID-19 testing continues to play a significant role in pandemic response.”

—Will Feuer

Moderna expects to deliver 100 million doses by end of March, full 300 million in July

A Moderna (COVID-19) vaccine is seen at the LA Mission homeless shelter on Skid Row, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 10, 2021.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Moderna expects to deliver 100 million doses of its two-shot coronavirus vaccine to the U.S. government by end of March, according to an update from the company.

The company will supply an additional 100 million doses by the end of May and complete its agreement with the U.S. for 300 million doses by the end of July, it said.

The update comes after President Joe Biden said Thursday that his administration had secured deals with Pfizer and Moderna for another 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, bringing the U.S. total to 600 million. Because the vaccines require two doses, a total of 600 million doses would be enough to inoculate 300 million Americans.

Moderna has supplied 45.4 million doses of its vaccine to the U.S. so far.

—Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Vaccine rollout is the key to everything global markets and the economy this year, strategist says

Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, tells CNBC the vaccination data is so important because it will give us an indication as to when global economies can reopen, and when we can see the recovery everyone is expecting.

Presidents Day holiday boosts air travel, but passenger counts are still short of last year

The Presidents Day holiday drew more air travelers, with Transportation Security Administration airport screenings topping 1 million a day on Thursday and Friday, the most since the start of January.

Despite the uptick, screening volumes are still less than half of last year’s levels as the pandemic continues to depress air travel demand.

Southwest Airlines said leisure demand has improved in February from January and that it expects even more of an uptick in March from this month, warning that business travel and bookings, in general, are still depressed.

The carrier expects its operating revenue this month to be down 65% to 70% from last year, compared with an earlier forecast of sales down as much as 75% year-over-year. It forecast March revenue down 20% to 30%, compared with last year with capacity off 15%.

Leslie Josephs

New Orleans shuts down bars for Mardi Gras

The Kraken house float, on Memphis St., in Lakeview, is one of thousands in the New Orleans area decorated in celebration of Mardi Gras in Louisiana, U.S., February 7, 2021.

Kathleen Flynn | Reuters

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell closed all bars in the city from the Friday before Mardi Gras through Fat Tuesday itself, citing coronavirus-related concerns, NBC News reported.

Cantrell said on Feb. 5 that liquor sales wouldn’t be allowed in the French Quarter, even from liquor stores, and to-go beverages were banned during the five days. According to NBC News, parades and large gatherings were already prohibited, and masks and social distancing are required.

“We had already purchased all of our food and drink supplies … and we had the rug pulled out from under us at the last minute,” said Beaux Church, director of Café Lafitte in Exile, Good Friends Bar and Rawhide 2010. “All of the bar owners would have been much better off with at least two weeks’ notice.”

Officials said the restrictions are necessary to avoid a repeat of Mardi Gras 2020, which attracted over a million people to New Orleans to celebrate Carnival and unknowingly contributed to the outbreak and caused the city’s hospitals to reach capacity, NBC News reported.

—Melodie Warner 

House Democrats may vote on Covid relief bill this month

CNBC’s Ylan Mui reports Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes the House can get the bill for a coronavirus stimulus package done by the end of the month.

CVS earnings top expectations as it plays bigger role with Covid vaccines

CVS Health‘s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings topped Wall Street’s expectations as the drugstore chain plays a bigger role with the nationwide rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.

The drugstore chain said it has administered about 15 million tests nationwide. It’s also given more than 3 million Covid vaccines in over 40,000 long-term care facilities. The drugstore chain and its competitor, Walgreens, struck a deal with the federal government to provide shots to staff and residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Same-store sales grew 5.3% during the three-month period compared with a year earlier. They jumped by 7.5% in the pharmacy division, as prescription volume rose, but were down by 1.8% in the front of store, as customers skipped visits and did not need to buy as much flu and cold medication during the pandemic.

Melissa Repko

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