Samara Heisz/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.1 million people worldwide.Over 41.7 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has varied from country to country. Still, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica.The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 8.4 million diagnosed cases and at least 223,051 deaths.California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 893,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 871,000 cases and over 768,000 cases, respectively.Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:Oct 23, 6:54 amUS reports over 70,000 new cases for first time since JulyThere were 71,671 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Thursday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.It’s the highest daily tally the country has reported since mid-July, almost surpassing the national record of more than 77,000 new cases in a single day. The latest case count was also nearly 9,000 more than the previous day.An additional 856 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide Thursday, down by from a peak of 2,666 new deaths in mid-April.A total of 8,409,312 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 223,051 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July.The daily tally of new cases has gradually come down since then but has started to climb again in recent weeks and is now averaging around 60,000 per day.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
After a bone chilling November, Georgia saw warmer and wetter weather in December. The rain eliminated drought across the state, although some patches of abnormally dry conditions were still present at the end of the month. The highest monthly total precipitation from National Weather Service reporting stations in the state was 7.73 inches in Albany—3.98 inches above normal—and the lowest was in Brunswick at 1.32 inches—1.32 inches below normal. Atlanta received 5.51 inches, 1.61 inches above normal; Augusta received 4.21 inches, 0.82 inches above normal; Athens received 4.69 inches, 0.96 inches above normal; Macon received 5.89 inches, 1.85 inches above normal; Columbus received 4.62 inches, 0.35 inches above normal; and Valdosta received 4.10 inches, 0.93 inches above normal. New daily rainfall records were reported in December for two towns—Macon and Alma. Observers in Macon reported 2.68 inches on Dec. 24, surpassing the old record of 2.04 inches set in 1924. Alma observers reported 2.54 inches on Dec. 23, beating the old record of 1.35 inches set in 1986. The highest single-day rainfall, according to a Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network volunteer, was 6.97 inches in Thomas County, east of Thomasville, on Dec. 24. Another Thomas County observer, just north of Boston, Georgia, recorded 5.75 inches on the same day, and a Grady County observer, near Cairo, GA, recorded 5.72 inches of rain. The highest monthly total rainfall was 11.79 inches, recorded by the Cairo observer in Grady County, followed by 9.77 inches recorded by the Thomasville observer. Severe weather occurred in Georgia on four out of 31 days in December. Tornadoes struck on Dec. 23 and Dec. 29 in Lowndes County, including a strong EF2 storm (the F-scale ratings run from EF0 to EF5) that injured nine people two miles south of Valdosta on Dec. 29. An EF1 tornado was also reported in Pierce and Appling counties on Dec. 24, causing damage to roofs, power lines and trees.The relatively wet conditions across the state improved soil moisture in many areas, aiding small grain crops and pastures and ending the moderate drought in southwest Georgia. For the state as a whole, temperatures were well above normal. While final statistics are not yet available, December 2014 should be one of the warmest Georgia has experienced in 30 years. The monthly average temperature in Atlanta was 50 degrees Fahrenheit, 4.7 degrees above normal; Athens, 48.5 F, 3.1 degrees above normal; Columbus, 52.1 F, three degrees above normal; Macon, 51 F, three degrees above normal; Savannah, 55.8 F, 4.1 degrees above normal; Brunswick, 56.7 F, 2.6 degrees above normal; Alma, 54.5 F, 1.9 degrees above normal; Augusta, 49.8 F, 2.6 degrees above normal; Albany, 54 F, three degrees above normal; and Valdosta, 56.3 F, 3.2 degrees above normal. Alma broke its daily high temperature record on Dec. 28 with a new reading of 80 F, surpassing the old record of 79 F from 2008. Savannah tied its record of 80 F on the same date, matching the record from 1982. The National Weather Service cooperative observer in Washington, GA, reported that December’s average temperature was the sixth warmest in that area in 107 years of record. The outlook for January shows a slightly increased chance of warmer than normal temperatures for south Georgia and a slightly increased chance of wet conditions in northwest Georgia. Continued swings in temperature, including the potential for some cold outbreaks, should be expected this month.El Niño-like conditions are still present in the eastern Pacific Ocean, but have not reached the threshold for declaration of an official El Niño and are not expected to be the major driver of conditions this winter. However, the predicted climate for January, February and March still reflects the likelihood of below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation that are usually associated with an El Niño. For more information, please see the “Climate and Agriculture” blog at blog.extension.uga.edu/climate/. Email your weather and climate impacts on agriculture, for sharing on the blog, to [email protected] .
George Tziallas from Greece pointed out that during the last four years, that country had 16 billion in revenues. “We are also promoting new destinations on land, thus extending the season until the end of November, even during the winter”, He said. By the way, Greece is participating in the Forum this year as a destination partner, which proves that it is seriously returning to the tourism scene. The first panel of the two-day conference analyzed the role of data in the tourism sector. To the participants and guests of the Adria Hotel Forum on the panel “Comparison of results vs. tourist trends vs. investments ”of the hotel sector in Europe during 2018, the results were presented by Charlie Ballard from TripaAdvisor, Thomas Emanuel from STR and Jules van Gaalen from Colliers International. The data collected by their companies show that Eastern Europe is a growing market, and that this trend will continue, but also that the interest of tourists is changing. “People today are much less brand oriented”, Said Ballard and stated as an example that the well-known hotel chain” Ritz Carlton “is actually the biggest competitor on Tripadvisor hotels that do not belong to large hotel chains. The data presented by Jules van Gaalen also shows growth in this part of Europe, and estimates predict that it will continue up to 2,5 percent, compared to 1,4 as it will be in Western Europe. The seventh Adria Hotel Forum, the largest investment conference in Southeast Europe, gathered the most important names of the hotel industry, investment funds, as well as a large number of regional experts in the field of tourism at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belgrade on Wednesday. And on the next panel, there was talk of money. Andrej Erjavec from InterCapital moderated the panel “Money talk” which discussed the risks of investing in tourism. As a logical sequence of the program, it was the turn of a panel of investors at which large international investment funds such as Morgan Stanley, KSL Capital and Principal Real Estate Europe expressed their interest in the region. As everyone stated, they still focus exclusively on operating real estate (hotels) since the project development process is too long for their funds. Interestingly, there were no representatives from Croatia. The last panel of the first day of the Adria Hotel Forum gathered representatives of regional ministries – Deputy Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of Serbia, Ms. Renata Pinjo, Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro, Pavle Radulovic, Minister of Tourism and Environment of Albania, Blendi Klosi and State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism of Greece, George Tziallas. Dirk Bakker from Colliers International was the moderator of this panel, opening the discussion by asking about the different ways in which Greece, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro are trying to attract tourists. The topic of the next panel was “Economic forecasts – are we expecting a new crisis in 2020?”. Sergei Guriev, the chief economist of EDBR, during talks with Slavko Caric, CEO of Erste Bank, warned that the greatest danger to the world economy is to ignite a trade war between the United States and China. Forecasts for the Eastern and Central European region are more optimistic, as a possible trade war will not affect countries such as Serbia or Poland to such an extent. “We can never say for sure whether there will be crises or not, but from what we know now, I would say no”, Said Guriev. “People want to feel the essence of the country they are coming to. It’s no longer just a matter of bed and breakfast. We have to give each guest something. If you want development, you need a flow of fresh money. We talked to investors, asked them what they needed to come to Montenegro and then we did it. For example, tax cuts”, Said Pavle Radulović from Montenegro.
There has been a 60% increase in the number of defined benefit (DB) pension members looking to ascertain the value of their benefits as new freedoms are applied to defined contribution (DC) schemes.Data from consultancy Mercer showed that, during each month of 2014, around 1,500 people made enquiries into the value of their benefits.However, in March 2015, some 2,500 people contacted the consultancy looking for a cash-equivalent transfer value (CETV) in the run-up to freedoms that came into force on April 6.The UK government has consulted on whether to ban DB-to-DC transfers but decided to allow them to continue as long as members obtain independent financial advice. It banned transfers from funded and unfunded public sector pension schemes.Many consultants raised concerns over an influx of DB members leaving their schemes to DC options to access their pension entitlements as cash following the scrapping of rules to buy an annuity.Matthew Demwell, partner at Mercer, said the current rate would lead to around 4% of DB members being administered by the firm seeking a CETV quote.“It’s clear these changes have appealed to a number of people,” he said.“However, these are just quotations. It remains to be seen how many people will actually accept the quotation and transfer out of their defined benefit scheme.“This certainly represents an opportunity for employers and trustees to reduce the sometimes crippling burden of pension costs, but, clearly, to ensure people have enough in their retirement, the process must be carefully managed.”In other news, JLT Employee Benefits has predicted the level of deficit contributions from FTSE 100 schemes will spike in 2015, given the number of triennial valuations being finalised and the continued low interest rate environment.Around 30 firms in the FTSE 100 are set to have the valuations this year, and, with low interest rates pushing up liabilities, many companies could see trustees demand higher cash contributions, the consultancy said.Companies contributed £14.1bn (€19.1bn) in the last accounting year.Approximately £6.9bn of that was purely for deficit recovery, but the figure was lower than the £9bn reported the year previous.However, total IAS 19 deficits in FTSE 100 companies came to roughly £80bn at the end of 2014, £26bn higher than at the end of 2013.Charles Cowling, director at JLT Employee Benefits, said: “We expect to see some difficult negotiations between trustees and employers, and, inevitably, there are going to be demands for increases – potentially significant increases – in employers’ funding contributions.”