NFL-Union, league agree to daily COVID-19 testing through Sept. 5

FILE PHOTO: The NFL logo is pictured at an event in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

August 12, 2020

By Amy Tennery

(Reuters) – NFL players can expect daily COVID-19 testing through Sept. 5, the players’ union said on Wednesday ahead of the season kickoff next month.

The league has conducted 109,075 COVID-19 tests among players, staff and coaches since the start of training camps through Tuesday, NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills told reporters on Wednesday, with an overall positive rate 0.46% and a positive rate among players of 0.81%.

Sills said a total of 53 new positives were confirmed among players upon their intake into training camp last month.

Sills added that he was not aware of any individual who was “seriously ill” from a COVID-19 positive, adding that not every positive necessarily meant a person was “actively infected.”

“Our goal is all the same: to have the safest possible environment for everyone,” said Sills. “We want to try to ensure that there’s no-one – player, coach, staff member, official, anyone – who steps onto a field with an active COVID infection.”

The league continues to enforce social distancing measures ahead of its Sept. 10 season start.

More than 60 players have opted out of playing this season, according to media reports, amid the new coronavirus pandemic that upended professional sports earlier this year.

The Washington Football Team said on Tuesday it would not allow any fans to attend out of an “abundance of caution,” but added that it would re-evaluate the decision if conditions improved, becoming the latest franchise to limit – or ban outright – spectators at games.

But the Dallas Cowboys, which in July was again ranked by Forbes as the most valuable sports team in the world, “plan on playing all of our football games and we plan on playing them in front of our fans” at AT&T Stadium, owner Jerry Jones told reporters on Wednesday.

“Our safety precautions that we are doing won’t be unfamiliar to a lot of people when we look at the general protocol of the country,” said Jones.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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Trump administration strikes another deal for a promising COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna Inc. reached a deal with the Trump administration to supply 100 million doses of its experimental vaccine for COVID-19, in a pact valued at up to $1.5 billion, the latest in a string of supply agreements the U.S. has reached to stockpile the most advanced vaccines in testing.

“I’m pleased to announce we’ve reached an agreement with Moderna to manufacture and deliver 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine candidate,” President Donald Trump said at a White House briefing. “The federal government will own these vaccine doses, we’re buying them.”

Moderna, which is already receiving $955 million in government assistance to test the vaccine, will be selling the vaccine for roughly $15 a dose, or $30 for a two-dose regimen.

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The Trump administration has already reached supply agreements with several other vaccine front-runners. In July, it agreed to buy 100 million doses of a messenger RNA vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE for $1.95 billion, should the vaccine work in trials. And earlier this month, the federal government also reached a supply pact with Johnson & Johnson for the company to provide 100 million doses of its vaccine for over $1 billion.

While Pfizer’s price is slightly more than what Moderna will get on a per-dose basis, Pfizer hasn’t received government money for testing its vaccine.

Shares gained 10% to $76.01 in late trading in New York. Earlier Tuesday, the company’s stock had fallen as much as 7% after Reuters and Axios flagged language in a Moderna filing last week concerning patent risks to its vaccine candidate.

Moderna will manufacture the vaccine as clinical trials continue, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Today’s investment represents the next step in supporting this vaccine candidate all the way from early development by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, through clinical trials, and now large-scale manufacturing, with the potential to bring hundreds of millions of safe and effective doses to the American people,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in the statement.

Despite the efforts to lock down domestic supplies of any successful vaccine, most Americans will likely need to wait until 2021 to be inoculated, Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force has warned.

More coronavirus coverage from Fortune:

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4 Ways Renting a Home Has Become Contactless During to COVID-19

Prior to the pandemic, leasing a home involved a lot of paperwork and back and forth – but the new age of moving means everything can be done from the comfort and safety of home. 

While online tools like digital application platform 1form already existed, the rental industry has pivoted to completely online processes as a result of COVID-19 social distancing rules, making the task of renting out a new home contactless.

1. Paperwork has gone completely online

Describing traditional property management as a paperwork nightmare, head of property management at Code Property Group, Terrie Kineskin, said her office was already trying to streamline things but that the pandemic helped them realise they could do more to reduce paper waste.

“We are now 100% paperless in our office…that was our biggest change in that we converted everything to online.”

2. Inspections have gone digial

Open for inspections have also changed dramatically since the health pandemic hit in mid-March.

In the early days of the health crisis, the number of people allowed into a property during an inspection was limited in most states and territories, but inspections became available by private appointment only as restrictions tightened.

Currently, in Melbourne, home inspections are banned completely under stage 4 lockdown rules, meaning they can only be done digitally. Elsewhere in the country, there are limits around social distancing and strict personal hygiene protocol needs to be followed.

“We’ve been using digital inspections long before COVID… and what it is is an effective pre-screening tool and post-COVID it will continue to be an effective pre-screening tool,” said Sam Nokes, Head of Department – Property Manager Jellis Craig in Melbourne.

“I think it’s great, it saves our agents from unnecessarily having to attend properties, which not only improves business efficiency but for the customer, they’re not viewing properties that may not meet their needs.”

Digital inspections will be the new norm for leasing, especially in Victoria. Picture:

But while digital inspections have been a useful tool in the COVID-19 environment, they will never be as thorough as the real thing, according to Real Estate Institute of Victoria president, Leah Calnan. 

“[Melbourne’s] rental market will absolutely be impacted if we are unable to conduct private one-on-one inspections. While the option of virtual inspections is great, there are very few tenants that agree to sign leases and move into a property without having seen it in person,” Ms Calnan explains.

Mr Nokes added that until more clarity is provided by the Victorian Government about whether or not an agent can physically attend a property to film a virtual inspection under stage 4 restrictions, they will not even be producing new digital inspections and will instead rely on pre-existing videos. 

“We’re not creating any new digital inspections, but in saying that we’ve got some properties under a break lease situation and some properties where the landlord is occupying them, so we’re doing FaceTime calls and whoever is residing in the property is doing the walk around and allowing tenants to join in, that way nobody is actually leaving the property,” he said.

Digital inspections also have some potential legal pitfalls, given that faults in a property might not be apparent on camera, said chief executive of Tenants Union Victoria, Jennifer Beveridge.

“There are risks in taking a property without viewing it in person, but it may be the only option for some people while stage 4 restrictions are in place,” Ms Beveridge said. 

“It’s really important that renters always be aware of their rights. If they move into a property, which they didn’t see in person and later find it needs repairs, then they are entitled to, and the landlord is obliged to, ask for the repairs to be undertaken. This is so even while stage 4 restrictions are in place.”

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3. Contactless removalists and cleaners

Even under the strictest of social distancing measures, removalists and cleaners are still classed as an essential service for those who are moving. In Melbourne, tenants are allowed to move home if they had arrangements in place before the stage 4 lockdown came into effect.

Many removalists and cleaning companies are now advertising a completely contactless service to protect the health and safety, not only of their staff but of tenants.

Companies such as popular removalist, Man With a Van, and Melbourne Vacate Cleaning have new guidelines for customers to follow to ensure their entire move excludes human-to-human contact.

Moving in can be quite exhausting.

The Victorian Government has flagged that moving house will still be allowed for some under stage 4 restrictions. Picture: Getty

These include tenants isolating in another room while the removalists do their work, leaving the front door open or a key outside the door so the removalists can gain entry, labelling all items and cleaning of high-touch areas including doorknobs and surfaces of furniture.

4. Contactless key handover

For tenants who have signed a new lease, or are ending their lease, keys will need to be exchanged between property manager and tenant.

This will move forward without contact either through lockboxes, post, or leaving the key in a safe place for the receiving individual to collect.

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Brisbane Broncos COVID-19 pub breach, 10 players, Everton Park Hotel

The NRL’s integrity unit is investigating claims up to 10 Brisbane Broncos players attended a Brisbane pub earlier this month and may have breached COVID-19 protocols.

The NRL is attempting to ascertain whether the players breached protocols or if at the time of the pub visit the Broncos were permitted to attend the restaurant area to have lunch.

The COVID-19 protocols have been altered for NRL players over the course of the last month.

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Initially they were relaxed before a second-wave of COVID led to state borders being closed and players being forced back into stricter bubble restrictions.

The Broncos are reportedly hoping to be cleared of any wrongdoing, having already reported to the NRL after the group attended a restaurant attached to a pub for lunch earlier this month.

There is a grey area in the rules in that players are allowed to visit restaurants and cafes, but not pubs.


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Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has already warned that the NRL was on its last chance after a string of infringements, as Queensland health brokered a strict agreement with the league.

“I will be reminding the NRL the future of the season is in their hands,” Palaszczuk said. “Everyone has to do the right thing. Nothing is more important than protecting the health of Queenslanders.”

The Broncos released a statement on Wedneday in relation to the matter.

“The Brisbane Broncos are aware of reports of an alleged COVID breach by a group of players at the Everton Park Hotel after reports to both Queensland Police and the NRL’s Project Apollo,” the statement said.

“The Club has spoken at length to the players involved, who attended the hotel for lunch on Saturday, August 1 – the same day that players and staff inside the Club’s “COVID bubble” had transitioned back into more-relaxed Project Apollo Queensland restrictions.

“The team had played Cronulla at Suncorp Stadium the night before, which marked the end of a 14-day hard lockdown put in place after the team travelled to Sydney for the Round 10 game against the West Tigers on July 17.

“The players were of the understanding that lunch at the hotel was permissible under the more-relaxed restrictions which they were under at the time.

“The Club has been working closely with the NRL and provided a range of information as requested, and is awaiting a determination.”

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Which test is best for COVID-19? – Harvard Health Blog

Now that we’re several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, steps we need to take to effectively control the outbreak have become clear: conscientious prevention measures like handwashing and distancing, widespread testing with quick turnaround times, and contact tracing. None of these is easy to maintain over a prolonged period. But combined, they are our best bets while awaiting better treatments and an effective vaccine.

So, which tests to use?

The many types of tests available are sowing considerable confusion. Unfortunately, because this novel coronavirus is indeed novel, and COVID-19 is a new disease, information about these tests is incomplete and the options for testing keep changing. But here’s what we know now about tests designed to diagnose a current infection, and those that show whether you previously had the virus.

Diagnostic tests for current infection

If you want to know if you are currently infected with the COVID-19 virus, there are two types of tests: molecular tests and antigen testing.

Molecular tests (also called PCR tests, viral RNA tests, nucleic acid tests)

How is it done?  Nasal swabs, throat swabs, and tests of saliva or other bodily fluids.

Where can you get this test?  At a hospital, in a medical office, in your car, or even at home.

What does the test look for?  Molecular tests look for genetic material that comes only from the virus.

How long does it take to get results?  It depends on lab capacity. Results may be ready the same day, but usually take at least a day or two. Throughout the pandemic, especially lately, delayed turnaround times of up to a week or two have been reported in many places.

What about accuracy?  False negatives — that is, a test that says you don’t have the virus when you actually do have the virus — may occur. The reported rate of false negatives is as low as 2% and as high as 37%. The reported rate of false positives — that is, a test that says you have the virus when you actually do not — is 5% or lower.

A molecular test using a deep nasal swab is usually the best option, because it will have fewer false negative results than other diagnostic tests or samples from throat swabs or saliva. People who are in the hospital, though, may have other types of samples taken.

You may have heard about pooled testing, in which multiple samples are combined and a molecular test is performed on them. This could speed up the testing of large numbers of people and reduce the number of tests needed.

If a pooled test is negative, the people whose samples were combined are told they have a negative test and individual testing is unnecessary. But if the pooled sample tests positive, each of the individual samples that were taken will then be tested to see which person(s) is responsible for the positive pooled result.

This approach may be particularly helpful in settings where the number of infections is low and declining, and most test results are expected to be negative. For example, in a community where the infection seems to be under control and reopenings of schools and businesses are planned, pooled testing of employees and students could be an effective strategy.

Antigen tests

How is it done?  A nasal or throat swab.

Where can you get these tests?  At a hospital or doctor’s office (though it is likely home testing will soon be available).

What does the test look for?  This test identifies protein fragments (antigens) from the virus.

How long does it take to get results?  The technology involved is similar to a pregnancy test or a rapid strep test, with results available in minutes.

What about accuracy?  The reported rate of false negative results is as high as 50%, which is why antigen tests are not favored by the FDA as a single test for active infection. However, because antigen testing is quicker, less expensive, and requires less complex technology to perform than molecular testing, some experts recommend repeated antigen testing as a reasonable strategy. According to one test manufacturer, the false positive rate of antigen testing is near zero. So, the recent experience of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who apparently had a false-positive result from an antigen test, is rare.

Tests for past infection

Antibody tests (also called serologic testing)

How is it done?  A sample of blood is taken.

Where can you get these tests?  At a doctor’s office, blood testing lab, or hospital.

What does the test look for?  These blood tests identify antibodies that the body’s immune system has produced in response to the infection. While a serologic test cannot tell you if you have an infection now, it can accurately identify past infection.

How long does it take to get results?  Results are usually available within a few days.

What about accuracy?  Having an antibody test too early can lead to false negative results. That’s because it takes a week or two after infection for your immune system to produce antibodies. The reported rate of false negatives is 20%. However, the range of false negatives is from 0% to 30% depending on the study and when in the course of infection the test is performed.

Research suggests antibody levels may wane over just a few months. And while a positive antibody test proves you’ve been exposed to the virus, it’s not yet known whether such results indicate a lack of contagiousness or long-lasting, protective immunity.

The true accuracy of tests for COVID-19 is uncertain

Unfortunately, it’s not clear exactly how accurate any of these tests are. There are several reasons for this:

  • We don’t have precise measures of accuracy for these tests — just some commonly quoted figures for false negatives or false positives, such as those reported above. False negative tests provide false reassurance, and could lead to delayed treatment and relaxed restrictions despite being contagious. False positives, which are much less likely, can cause unwarranted anxiety and require people to quarantine unnecessarily.
  • How carefully a specimen is collected and stored may affect accuracy.
  • None of these tests is officially approved by the FDA. They are available because the FDA has granted their makers emergency use authorization. And that means the usual rigorous testing and vetting has not happened, and accuracy results have not been widely published.
  • A large and growing number of laboratories and companies offer these tests, so accuracy may vary. At the date of this posting, more than 160 molecular tests, two antigen tests, and 37 antibody tests are available.
  • All of these tests are new because the virus is new. Without a long track record, assessments of accuracy can only be approximate.
  • We don’t have a definitive “gold standard” test with which to compare them.

The bottom line

Unfortunately, getting a test for COVID-19 can be confusing, because the options are rapidly changing and tests from many companies are being marketed. Despite the current limitations of testing, we’re lucky to have reasonably accurate tests available so early in the course of a newly identified virus. Imagine where we’d be if that was not the case.

Still, we need better tests and better access to them. And all tests should undergo rigorous vetting by the FDA as soon as possible. Lastly, widely available tests and short turnaround times for results are essential for effective contact tracing and getting this virus under control.

Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling

For more information about coronavirus and COVID-19, see the Harvard Health Publishing Coronavirus Resource Center.

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Russia’s approval of COVID-19 vaccine greeted with some alarm

“Fast-tracked approval will not make Russia the leader in the (vaccine) race, it will just expose consumers of the vaccine to unnecessary danger,” Russia’s Association of Clinical Trials Organisations said on Monday, urging government officials to postpone clearing the vaccine without completed advanced trials.

The vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow uses a different virus — the common cold-causing adenovirus — that’s been modified to carry genes for the “spike” protein that coats the coronavirus, as a way to prime the body to recognise if a real COVID-19 infection comes along.

That’s similar to vaccines being developed by China’s CanSino Biologics and Britain’s Oxford University and AstraZeneca.


Advanced clinical trials are set to start on Wednesday, said Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The fund bankrolled the development of the vaccine.

The trials study will span several countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and possibly Brazil, and involve “several thousand people,” Dmitriev said. In the meantime, the vaccine will be offered to tens of thousands of people who volunteer to be vaccinated.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said the vaccination of doctors could start as early as this month. Russian authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to undergo vaccination.

According to officials, large-scale production of the vaccine will start in September, and mass vaccination may begin as early as October.

“We expect tens of thousands of volunteers to be vaccinated within the next months,” Dmitriev said. “So people outside of clinical trials will have access to the vaccine in August, and some, already on the massive scale, in October.”

The Gamaleya Institute’s director, Alexander Gintsburg, said that initially there will be only enough doses to give the vaccine in 10 to 15 of Russia’s 85 regions, according to the Interfax news agency.

The Associated Press couldn’t find documentation in the Russian Health Ministry’s records indicating that permission to start the advanced trials was granted. The ministry has not responded to a request for comment.

The World Health Organisation’s list of vaccine candidates undergoing human testing still lists the Gamaleya product as in preliminary safety trials, which involve giving a low dose to a small number of people.

President Putin said one of his daughters has received two shots of the vaccine. “She has taken part in the experiment,” the Russian leader said, adding that she had minor side effects, such as slight fever, and is now “feeling well and has high number of antibodies”.

The Health Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the vaccine was expected to provide immunity from the coronavirus for up to two years, citing “(prior) experience of using vector vaccines with the two-shot scheme of administration”.

However, as Russia has not yet published any scientific data from its first clinical trials, scientists both at home and abroad find these assurances hardly convincing. No vaccines have ever been developed for any coronavirus, including SARS and MERS, and new immunisations typically take years to develop.

“The collateral damage from release of any vaccine that was less than safe and effective would exacerbate our current problems insurmountably,” Imperial College London immunology professor Danny Altmann said in a statement on Tuesday.

Russia has so far registered 897,599 coronavirus cases, including 15,131 deaths. When the pandemic struck Russia, Putin ordered state officials to shorten the time of clinical trials for potential coronavirus vaccines.

Becoming the first country in the world to develop a vaccine was a matter of national prestige for the Kremlin as it tries to assert the image of Russia as a global power. State television stations and other media have praised scientists working on it and presented the work as the envy of other nations.

The Gamaleya Institute’s Gintsburg raised eyebrows in May when he said that he and other researchers tried the vaccine on themselves before the start of human studies.

Human trials started June 17 with 76 volunteers. Half were injected with a vaccine in liquid form and the other half with a vaccine that came as soluble powder. Some in the first half were recruited from the military, which raised concerns that servicemen may have been pressured to participate.


Amid Russia’s rush to become the first to create a vaccine, the US, Britain and Canada last month accused Russia of using hackers to steal vaccine research from Western labs.

As the trials were declared completed earlier this month, questions arose about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

“It is not possible to know if the Russian vaccine has been shown to be effective without submission of scientific papers for analysis and then there may be problems on data quality,” Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases of the University of Nottingham, said in a statement.

The World Health Organisation said all vaccine candidates should go through full stages of testing before being rolled out. Experts have warned that vaccines that are not properly tested can cause harm in many ways — from a negative impact on health to creating a false sense of security or undermining trust in vaccinations.

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New Zealand records four new COVID-19 cases and plunges back into lockdown

New Zealand‘s remarkable COVID-19 run is over, with the country plunging back into lockdown after four members of the same family tested positive on Tuesday. 

The nation has been the envy of the world for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis, with Monday marking 101 days without a single case of community transmission.

For three months, New Zealanders have enjoyed the return of usual freedoms after an autumn lockdown proved effective in eliminating the deadly virus. 

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scheduled a last minute press conference for 9.15pm on Tuesday night and announced those freedoms would be put on hold. 

Stay-at-home orders will be implemented throughout Auckland for 72 hours from midday on Wednesday after the new cases were identified in the city.

More than 1.6million people won’t be allowed to leave their homes unless for essential reasons. 

The rest of the nation will enter a level two lockdown – mandating social distancing and placing caps on gathering sizes. 

Contact tracing is now underway among multiple workplaces across New Zealand, and close contacts of the confirmed cases have been ordered to self isolate.  

The popular PM will plunge Auckland back into a stage three lockdown from Wednesday in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus as part of her ‘resurgence plan’


Should New Zealand go back into lockdown following the new COVID-19 cases?

  • Yes 268 votes
  • No 230 votes

Ms Ardern is concerned about the origin of the outbreak, given the family have no links to overseas travellers or managed hotel isolation. 

An Auckland man in his 50s tested positive to coronavirus twice on Tuesday, five days after he first developed symptoms, sparking fears he could have spread the virus throughout his community.

The man’s partner and preschool aged child are also among the new confirmed cases.

‘We have not yet been able to determine the source of these cases, there is no known link to hotel quarantine,’ Ms Ardern said on Tuesday night. 

‘One of the most important lessons we have learned from overseas is to go hard at this… in line with our precautionary approach, we will be asking Aucklanders to take swift lockdown.’ 

Ms Ardern revealed authorities are ‘expecting to see more cases’ linked to the cluster. 

The new lockdown is part of the prime minister’s coronavirus ‘resurgence plan’, but could wreak havoc on the already struggling economy.

More than 1.6million people won't be allowed to leave their homes unless for essential reasons as four new cases of community transmission were identified on Tuesday

More than 1.6million people won’t be allowed to leave their homes unless for essential reasons as four new cases of community transmission were identified on Tuesday

Countdown supermarkets are experiencing unprecedented demand after the lockdown announcements were made

Countdown supermarkets are experiencing unprecedented demand after the lockdown announcements were made

The Reserve Bank indicated back in May that just four weeks of strict stage four lockdowns had wiped an estimated $10billion from the economy. 

New Zealand’s jobless rate in the second quarter of 2020 fell to about four per cent, from 4.2 per cent in the previous reporting period.

That figure was well below market expectations, which indicated the figure could be upwards of 5.8 per cent.

Some 111,000 Kiwis are currently unemployed, but a second lockdown could cause that number to soar.  

The latest lockdown could ‘send chills down the backs of businesses,’ Infometrics economist Brad Olsen said after the announcement.

‘Initial Infometrics estimates are that 28 per cent of Auckland’s workforce [or 250,000 people] could be unable to work at level three,’ he revealed.

‘Our immediate estimates suggest that spending Auckland could be $60 million to $69m lower throughout the three days of level three announced.’

The short lockdown could knock 0.2 percentage points off the GDP for the September quarter alone, his colleague Gareth Kiernan revealed.  

‘You are asked to stay home in your bubble unless you are an essential worker,’ she said.  

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scheduled a last minute press conference for about 9.15pm on Tuesday night as word spread of the lockdown

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scheduled a last minute press conference for about 9.15pm on Tuesday night as word spread of the lockdown

All bars, restaurants and public services must close by midday on Wednesday, as gatherings of more than 10 are prohibited.

Schools will also close to all students other than children of essential workers. 

‘If you are in Auckland, we ask that you wear a mask when accessing essential services,’ Ms Ardern added.

‘While this initial three day lockdown will primarily effect the Auckland region, I am asking our team of five million to stay alert as well. We have defeated this virus before and can do it again.’ 

The rest of the nation will enter a three day level two lockdown.

Level two lockdown involves social distancing, mindful hand-washing regimes, staying home and seeking testing if unwell, and wearing a mask in areas where distancing isn’t possible. 

Ms Ardern would not indicate whether the lockdown would be extended if contact tracing and widespread testing do not identify the source of the current outbreak.

Police stop vehicles in Auckland during the initial stage four lockdown in March

Police stop vehicles in Auckland during the initial stage four lockdown in March 

Auckland will reenter a stage three lockdown from midday Wednesday. Pictured: Police performing checks during the last lockdown

Auckland will reenter a stage three lockdown from midday Wednesday. Pictured: Police performing checks during the last lockdown

‘If we are not able to identify the source, we should be able to identify whether we have wider geographic spread,’ NZ’s Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. 

‘We have been saying for some weeks that it was inevitable that New Zealand would get another case of community transmission.’ 

Authorities hope their swift action will help to manage the potential spread of the virus following the latest outbreak. 

‘We’ve had 102 days, and it was very easy to feel like New Zealand was out of the woods,’ Ms Ardern said on Tuesday night.

‘No country has gone as far as we did to not have a resurgence. But because we were the only ones, we knew we had to have a plan.

‘My request is to not be dispirited or disheartened… This is something we have prepared for.’ 

New Zealand first went into level four lockdown on March 25, acting swiftly once the threat of COVID-19 was present.

By April 27, the virus appeared somewhat under control and the lockdown was eased to level three. 

Passengers wear protective masks and gloves at Auckland International Airport following an initial outbreak in April

Passengers wear protective masks and gloves at Auckland International Airport following an initial outbreak in April

Queen Street in the Auckland CBD was deserted durung the last COVID-19 virus lockdown in March

Queen Street in the Auckland CBD was deserted durung the last COVID-19 virus lockdown in March

May 13 signalled the beginning of level two lockdown while most restrictions were entirely eased on June 9. 

Ms Ardern said she has no doubt New Zealand will defeat the virus for a second time. 

Following the announcement, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff called for calm within the community. 

‘I understand that people are probably feeling a little bit scared, a little angry and a little confused right now. None of us wanted to go back into a lockdown, but we always knew this was a very real possibility,’ he said.

‘I am urging Aucklanders to come together like we did last time to stamp out community transmission. Please remain calm, please do not panic buy and please follow the lockdown rules.’

New Zealand records first cases of community transmission of COVID-19 for 102 days 


* Four members of a south Auckland family have tested positive to COVID-19.

* The ‘index case’ is a person in their 50s who has been symptomatic for five days and has no overseas travel history.

* Six family members received a rapid test on Tuesday evening; three tests came back positive and three are negative.

* Health officials are moving to isolate and test contacts of the family, including two Auckland workplaces.


* Auckland returns to a ‘level three’ lockdown from noon on Wednesday until midnight on Friday. Aucklanders are being asked to stay home except for essential work or essential needs.

* The rest of New Zealand returns to ‘level two’ for the same timeframe, with caps on gatherings and the return of social distancing.

* These measures have been enacted to buy health officials time time to test and isolate contacts, and to locate the source of the outbreak.

* Every worker at NZ’s border regime and managed isolation facility will also be tested in the next few days.

Ms Ardern assured the public supermarkets would remain open and fully stocked during any lockdown, and urged people not to flock to stores. 

Despite her plea, supermarket stores across Auckland were inundated with panicked residents by the time the press conference finished. 

About 50 people queued out the front of Countdown in Westgate, northwest Auckland, by about 10pm on Tuesday night.

The store normally closes about 11pm, but shut its doors at 10.30pm following the influx of people.  

Countdown at Manukau and Johnsonville in Wellington are experiencing similar crowds of shoppers hoping to stock up on essentials. 

The cases bring into question New Zealand’s election day scheduled for September 19.

New Zealand First, the party of Deputy PM Winston Peters, suspended its campaign in the wake of the announcement. 

Ms Ardern discouraged panic buyers following the announcement of new lockdown orders. Pictured: Shoppers queuing into the distance outside a Costco in Melbourne to stock up ahead of Stage Four restrictions and a curfew

Ms Ardern discouraged panic buyers following the announcement of new lockdown orders. Pictured: Shoppers queuing into the distance outside a Costco in Melbourne to stock up ahead of Stage Four restrictions and a curfew

Auckland motorways are seen empty of traffic as the initial COVID-19 lockdown took effect. Auckland will re-enter stage three lockdown

Auckland motorways are seen empty of traffic as the initial COVID-19 lockdown took effect. Auckland will re-enter stage three lockdown

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Is infrastructure an economic saviour or a white elephant? What COVID-19 can teach us about delivering big projects

Governments are banking on infrastructure projects to help the Australian economy recover from the coronavirus recession.

With almost $300 billion already committed to infrastructure before the COVID crisis, state and federal governments have announced an additional $15 billion for projects since the beginning of the pandemic.

But not everyone is convinced it will be worthwhile.

Michael Keating was secretary of prime minister and cabinet during the last recession, in 1991.

He thinks the money can be better spent.

“I’ve got very strong reservations about an infrastructure or major infrastructure response to a recession,” he told 7.30.

“Most people won’t say they’re white elephants.

Former NSW Premier Nick Greiner thinks infrastructure can be an effective part of the response when it is done properly.

“I don’t think there is a perfect answer to getting it right,” he told 7.30.

“And we don’t have a good track record in Australia on major projects, frankly.”

But Mr Greiner thinks the response to the COVID-19 outbreak can provide a lesson for the delivery of infrastructure projects.

“If you trust the experts, you get a better answer,” he said.

“I think listening to the experts doesn’t just work in a pandemic, I think it works in infrastructure.”

‘Keeps us employed’

WA Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti says the Metronet project will keep people employed in vital industries.(ABC News: Richard Glover)

The West Australian Government promises Perth’s new Metronet project will “change how people live and travel”.

“Metronet is the biggest rail infrastructure program ever undertaken in Western Australia,” WA Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti told 7.30.

“It is a comprehensive package of new rail lines and new stations.”

It was planned well before coronavirus pushed the economy into recession, but Ms Saffioti said it was the right time to push ahead with the project.

“What we’ve seen through the COVID pandemic is a loss of jobs in many industries,” she said.

“But with the construction industry, we’ve been able to keep those jobs going and keep employment in those vital industries.”

The WA Government is pushing for local companies to get a high percentage of the work.

One of the beneficiaries is Eilbeck Cranes.

“Metronet allows us to basically retain the employment base that we have,” Operations Manager John Rasmussen told 7.30.

“It is important for governments to focus on local supply.

“For one thing, that keeps us employed, but we also have the capability.

“The know-how and the quality is already here in Australia.”

Super funds are long-term investors

MCU of Greg Combet wearing open necked white shirt with thin blue checks
Greg Combet says super funds will become more involved in infrastructure projects from the beginning.(ABC News)

Traditionally it has been government that has funded big infrastructure projects, but times are changing and the superannuation industry has a big bucket of money to invest and is keen to get involved in new projects rather than just purchase existing infrastructure.

Former Labor minister Greg Combet heads IFM Investments, an investment company owned by Australia’s industry super funds.

“The industry funds over the next three years, we’ve got plans to invest about $19.5 billion, and we think that’ll create 200,000 jobs over that period,” he told 7.30.

“So that’s a demonstration of what can be achieved.”

IFM owns the Port of Brisbane and Brisbane Airport, and it put up the $1.3 billion needed for the project.

Mr Combet insisted the industry funds were in for the long haul.

“Super funds are long-term investors,” he said.

“So we’re natural partners with governments for that reason.”

But he said the Government needed to get the setting right.

“The missing ingredient — particularly at a time like this in the midst of the pandemic where we’re needing to invest to achieve economic recovery, and not just government investment, but mobilising private investment — it requires national leadership to identify the projects and to bring them to market,” Mr Combet said.

‘Delays and overruns’

MCU of Michael Keating with white hair and beard, almost rimless glasses and wearing dark blue jacket and light blue shirt.
Michael Keating is doubtful of the economic benefit of many infrastructure projects.(ABC News)

Mr Keating is not convinced the industry super funds’ strategy is sound.

“If I was a director, I’d rather buy an existing project where there’s no cost overrun,” he said.

“I’d pay the price consistent with getting a return on my money.”

And with governments also ramping up infrastructure spending to provide stimulus, he offered this word of caution.

“Back in the 1991 recession — when I was head of the prime minister’s department and prime minister [Paul] Keating was putting together an infrastructure response to that recession, and premiers swore on stacks of Bibles that every project was shovel ready — some of them didn’t start for another three years,” he said.

He doesn’t expect this time round to be much different.

“The most likely thing is there’ll be budget overruns and there will be delays.”

A federal government spokesman said its package would “support jobs and businesses by delivering priority projects focused on infrastructure upgrades and maintenance”.

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How Hyatt’s CEO is leading with empathy through COVID-19 and a corporate reckoning with racism

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Hyatt Hotels CEO Mark Hoplamazian likes to lead with empathy for his workers and his customers. But on Aug. 11 episode of “Leadership Next,” the Fortune podcast about the changing role of business leadership, host Alan Murray asks, “How do you lead with empathy when your business is falling apart?” 

The company’s bookings were down 94% year over year in April, Hoplamazian said, and the business environment was unrecognizable. So to lead his company through the pandemic the right way, he said his leadership team had to take a step back to get acclimated to the new and ever-changing coronavirus business landscape. 

“It’s been the most challenging time in our industry in the history of the industry,” he said. 

The company laid off around 1,300 people at the corporate level, amounting to 35% of staff. And at the hotel level, which usually keeps 130,000 people on payroll, the layoffs, furloughs, and work leaves are still unfolding as government assistance dwindles and demand builds back up slowly. 

These layoffs took a serious toll on Hoplamazian, who called it “the most difficult and challenging time that I’ve ever experienced as a person.” 

To deliver these decisions with as much empathy as possible, he and his leadership team made decisions promptly to avoid uncertainty and set up a care fund to enhance the financial safety net laid off employees would be getting from the government. The company also created a platform on which people could keep in touch with and support those that no longer have access to company email. 

On top of the coronavirus pandemic, Hoplamazian has also been focusing on the corporate reckoning with systemic racism spurred by George Floyd’s death and the resulting protests across the world. Around the 19:45 mark, he and Murray discuss Hyatt’s response and the personal effect the push for equity and inclusion has had on him.

Hoplamazian said he believes that the vulnerability that COVID-19 has created allowed the movement for equity and inclusion to prosper in a way that will have long-term effects on the business world and society at large. 

“My own personal journey in this has been now—and I’m embarrassed to say this—to really understand, probably for the first time, how deep systemic racism is and also how much of an ecosystem it requires in order to rectify,” Hoplamazian said. “I think we’re seeing the whole forest now, not just the individual trees of representation or minority content in our supply chain, but seeing how this extends to our communities. And that to me is the major difference.”

To hear Hoplamazian’s views on mask requirements at his hotels, executive compensation, why testing is so important for the hospitality industry, and how the pandemic will change travel for good, listen to the full episode. 

More must-read careers coverage from Fortune:

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Queensland confirms no new COVID-19 cases

The two teenage girls who allegedly dodged a train station border checkpoint have tested negative to COVID-19, as Queensland recorded no new cases on Tuesday.

It comes after hysteria swept through the Sunshine Coast yesterday afternoon after police cornered the girls, aged 15 and 16, who they had been looking for for 24 hours. It’s believed they entered the state on Friday from Sydney and did not comply with the chief health officer’s directive to quarantine.

Shops were closed and deep cleaning undergone as a precaution, but premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed on social media on Tuesday morning that there were only 11 active cases in the state.

More to come.

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