- There were 11 new virus cases reported on Wednesday, an increasing Australia’s total to 7139. There are 470 active cases.
- The death toll rose by one to 103 on Wednesday.
- Globally, more than 5.65 million people have tested positive and 353,200 have died.
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- Track the latest data in our blog, How the infection is spreading, here.
Pizza litmus test
For those looking for a way to gauge virus concerns in the US, pizza takeaway and delivery may offer a glimpse into consumers’ psyche.
Domino’s and Papa John’s are still logging accelerated sales growth, according to mid-quarter business updates, as Americans wary of the novel coronavirus remain hesitant to venture into public places.
Papa John’s said Wednesday that its North American restaurants’ preliminary comparable sales growth was almost 34 per cent from April 27 through May 24 and that it will continue to provide monthly sales updates.
Domino’s said Tuesday that US comparable store sales were up 21 per cent from April 20 through May 17, though the company said it is unsure how long the trend will last.
Slowing sales would likely be an early signal that consumers are warming up to other dining options as states lift measures to contain the virus, said Bloomberg Intelligence restaurant analyst Michael Halen.
“Some of these gains in May should subside in June because dining rooms are reopening and people are starting to venture out a little more,” Halen said.
More-robust pizza sales may continue for a while, he added, depending on conditions of the pandemic.
A second surge of the virus could extend pizza’s success, which is aided by the entrenched delivery model and the ease of contact-free transactions. At some point, however, they’ll inevitably decline from the quarantine numbers.
“We could see another outbreak in the fall and winter, and that would obviously be a boon for sales again,” Halen said.
‘They just don’t like each other’
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian failed to renew a cross-border agreement when it expired last year – a sign of a further deterioration of the relationship between the two leaders.
The agreement was established in 2011 by former premiers Anna Bligh and Barry O’Farrell to resolve cross-border issues including regional economic development and delivery of services for people on either side of the border.
The coronavirus and the closure of Queensland’s borders has caused economic havoc for businesses either side of the border – some of whose employees live in one state, but work in the other.
Ms Palaszczuk and Ms Berejiklian have been involved in a battle of words in recent weeks over the opening of Queensland’s borders, but political insiders revealed the frosty relationship has been brewing for years.
“They just don’t like each other,” a former Queensland political insider told The Australian Financial Review.
Read the full story here.
NRL returns tonight
When the Parramatta Eels and Brisbane Broncos run out at The Cauldron on Thursday night it will represent a moment when the NRL defied the odds and give many an important nod that Australia is indeed the lucky country amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Eels and Broncos were both undefeated in the first two matches before the season was halted amid a range of state and federal government lockdown restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, and both hold ambitions of a strong post-season run.
While crowds won’t be allowed to attend matches until July 1 at the earliest, Brisbane will be out for revenge on home turf at Suncorp Stadium and Parramatta will want to show they belong at the top of the table.
Read the full story here.
US death toll passes 100,000
The United States’ death toll has passed 100,000.
As of 8am AEST, there are 100,047 fatalities in the country which has been worst-hit by the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
New York remains the epicentre of the virus in the US, where 29,370 people have died from COVID-19.
The US has the highest death toll in the world, as well as the highest number of confirmed cases.
To date, almost 1.7 million people in the US have tested positive for the virus.
Pay rise freeze for nurses, police was a tough call, says NSW Treasurer
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says it was a tough decision to decide to freeze the pay of public service workers, including nurses, police officers and firefighters, for the next 12 months.
Mr Perrottet said the pay rise freeze, which also applies to himself and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, will create elbow room for job creation as the state economy recovers from the coronavirus crisis.
The pay rise freeze is expected to save the NSW government $3 billion.
“It was a hard decision to make,” Mr Perrottet said on ABC’s RN this morning.
“With a choice between giving public servants a pay rise and creating new jobs, I think the right think to do is make new jobs.”
Mr Perrottet also said he believed all states, including Queensland, would benefit economically from opening their borders as soon as is safe.
“I think it is great for the country to have as much interstate trade and tourism as possible, and if Queensland goes well – and that’s been in the media recently a fair bit – that’s good for the nation and good for Queensland, particularly regional Queensland which relies on tourism,” he said.
“So the quicker the borders can open, the better. I accept that’s got to be done in a way that is safe but if states can work together to be open as quickly and safely as possible, that’s going to be good for the economy.”
Mr Perrottet also said he believed there should be a review of the overlap between federal and state services for health and education.
“I don’t think that mix looks to better public policy outcomes.”
Investigation into 30-year-old’s death
The death of a 30-year-old man from coronavirus in an outback town with no previous cases is worrying health authorities.
He is the youngest person to die from the virus in Australia.
The Queensland coroner is investigating the death of the man from mining town Blackwater amid suspicions an aged care nurse with the virus may have visited from Rockhampton, nearly 200km away.
A fever clinic will be established in Blackwater this morning and residents are being urged to get tested if they show any symptoms.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says the man’s death is a reminder that no one is immune to the serious disease.
The man had shown symptoms for several weeks but didn’t get tested, apparently in part because of a serious underlying health condition.
“It is another very strong reminder to all of us at this point if anyone has any symptoms that are of a respiratory virus, a cold – it might feel like a cold – it could be COVID and we really want to get that test done,” Professor Kelly said.
What’s screen time doing to your skin?
Our laptops, phones, tablets, TVs and even LED light bulbs are all sources of blue light.
And now that we’re tethered to those devices, are we getting drenched? Should we be more worried about damage to our skin?
This is what we know: Compared with the well-understood dangers of ultraviolet light (skin ageing and cancer), science isn’t settled on the effects of indoor sources of blue light on skin.
It can cause hyperpigmentation and premature ageing, but the rest — what dose of it causes trouble, for instance — was debated well before we were confined to our homes.
While ultraviolet light damages cells’ DNA directly, blue light destroys collagen through oxidative stress.
A chemical in skin called flavin absorbs blue light. The reaction that takes place during that absorption produces unstable oxygen molecules (free radicals) that damage the skin.
The simplest intervention is to limit the amount of blue light emitted from your devices. Apple products have “night shift” that creates a warmer screen tone. Swap out your standard LED bulbs for versions that emit less blue light.
Read the full story here.
The ACTU faces pressure from the broader labour movement to safeguard the legislated 12 per cent superannuation guarantee ahead of negotiations with business, industry and government on industrial relations reform.
Senior Labor figures said compulsory super, which originated under the Hawke government’s accord process in the 1980s, should be protected as the Morrison government forged a new compact with unions and business to negotiate workplace reforms.
The calls came as the government said it would proceed with industrial relations changes of its own design should the negotiation process agreed to on Tuesday between key stakeholders fail to reach agreed solutions by the September deadline.
Read the full story here.
Welcome to The Australian Financial Review’s live coronavirus blog, where we’ll be bringing you breaking news all day.
Here’s what you need to know this morning:
There were 11 new virus cases reported on Wednesday, an increase of 0.2 per cent to Australia’s total of 7139. Active cases fell by three to 470.
The death toll rose by one to 103, following the death of a 30-year-old Queensland man. He is the youngest person in Australia to die from the virus.
Globally, more than 5.65 million people have tested positive and 353,200 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In the US, the death toll is inching towards 100,000. This morning, the death toll stands at 99,983, according to Johns Hopkins University.
To catch up on what happened overseas while you were sleeping, head over to our overnight blog here.
For a daily update straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter, Need to know, here.