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Coronavirus update: Don’t count on more federal financial aid, Delta places 250 people on no-fly list

Wall Street bets on a potential vaccine winner

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 5,878,338 (5,838,695)

Total U.S. deaths: 181,022 (180,020)

Total global cases: 24,507,036 (24,242,062)

Total global deaths: 832,748 (827,165)

More aid growing more unlikely

Americans hoping for additional help from Washington to cope with the economic effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) may be in for some disappointment. After a lengthy call with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said Republicans and Democrats remain deadlocked.

Pelosi said Democrats, who originally proposed a $3.5 trillion aid package, have compromised at the $2.2 trillion level but will accept nothing less than that. Meadows said Republicans want additional unemployment benefits, help for small businesses, and money for schools and daycare. 

Most of the benefits under the CARES Act expired nearly a month ago. Congress left Washington on August 7 for a month-long recess.

Delta bans 250 passengers for mask violations

There are at least 250 people who won’t be boarding a Delta Air Lines flight anytime soon. The airline has put that many people on its “no-fly” list for failing to comply with orders to wear a face covering.

“Although rare, we continue to put passengers who refuse to follow the required face-covering rules on our no-fly list,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in the memo to employees.

According to company policy, passengers and flight crew are required to wear a mask or face covering while onboard the aircraft. The company says it is simply following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) best-practices guidelines.

Wall Street picks a vaccine winner

Nearly every major pharmaceutical company is working on a vaccine to combat COVID-19, but keep an eye on a small company called VBI Vaccines. A major Wall Street analyst says the company may have a winner.

Steven Seedhouse, a 5-star Raymond James analyst, upgraded VBI Vaccines stock to "strong buy" this week based on its enveloped virus-like particle (eVLP) vaccine against COVID-19. Seedhouse says it could be the best coronavirus vaccine among those in development.

Seedhouse bases his call on data showing that the company’s vaccine produces "an order of magnitude greater" number of neutralizing antibodies (NAb) compared to recombinant pre-fusion spike protein-based vaccines. He says the difference is "striking." 

J&J vaccine trials set for Europe

A unit of Johnson & Johnson is preparing to launch Phase II clinical trials for its vaccine candidate in three European countries, according to a Reuters report. 

Spain’s health minister,  Salvador Illa, announced the trials would take place in Spain, as well as in Germany and the Netherlands. 

The vaccine test is expected to take at least two months and include 590 participants across the three countries, Illa said. Previously, Johnson & Johnson said it expected to have 100 million doses of the vaccine for use in the United States once it received approval.

There was money in masks

Gap is among the apparel makers that faced an economic apocalypse when the coronavirus shut down the economy and people didn’t see the need to spend money on clothes.

But the company made what turned out to be a pretty profitable pivot, producing fewer sweaters and going into full production on masks. The proof is contained in the company’s second-quarter earnings.

The company reported that mask sales totaled $130 million during the period, offsetting losses in other areas. The company said it sold masks to individuals in its stores and made bulk sales to governments and institutions.

Around the nation

  • Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf has released a set of legislative proposals designed to alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic. Among them is a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, with the tax proceeds supporting small businesses in the state.

  • California: Coronavirus cases have dipped in recent weeks, so the state is prepared to try reopening the economy again. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to announce that many types of businesses, shuttered during the July spike, can resume operations.

  • New Mexico: New rules take effect tomorrow covering indoor dining and safely conducting church services. Gov. Michelle Grisham says the news has been good lately, but she cautioned residents that "the virus is still here...we’ve got to get the indoor part right."

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