Live updates, November 9: New Covid-19 cluster announced; Trump refuses to concede

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 9, covering all the latest from the US election along with New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. See the latest results on an interactive US map here. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

7pm: The day in sum

Four new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation were announced.

There were no new community cases, but there’s now a “November quarantine cluster” in reference to the Auckland quarantine worker who tested positive for Covid-19.

Jacinda Ardern announced government officials would be visiting the Cook Islands from November 14 with the goal of confirming a safe travel bubble.

Around 100 more rooms at managed isolation facilities will be made available ahead of Christmas Day.

Members of Trump’s inner circle have reportedly urged Trump to concede, including wife and US first lady Melania Trump, and son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.

5.30pm: 100 managed isolation rooms to be added for December

The high demand over the Christmas period has led to around 100 more rooms at managed isolation facilities being made available. TVNZ reports the new rooms will be available from December 13 to December 23 with new vouchers available on a first come, first serve basis starting now.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb, head of managed isolation and quarantine, said the system was designed to be “dynamic” in case of spikes in demand. Webb is also encouraging people to cancel their vouchers if their travel plans fall through, so others can take their place.

“If a flight is cancelled, for example, if people do not cancel their vouchers we are unable to allocate their space in managed isolation to someone else – so it goes to waste,” he said.

According to Webb, 36,537 people have booked into a managed isolation facility since October 5.

4.50pm: Bloomfield out of the running for TV Personality of the Year

Last week, Dr Ashley Bloomfield was announced as one of the finalists for the 2020 NZTV Awards in the Personality of the Year category, alongside the likes of Kimberly Crossman, Hilary Barry and Patrick Gower. But today, a statement from Bloomfield’s office confirmed that he would no longer be a nominee.

“Dr Bloomfield is humbled to be nominated for this year’s TV awards. Given his primary role as a public servant and not a TV personality, he would like to step aside from being considered for the award. He wishes the candidates well and says he will be watching with interest on the night,” the statement read.

The awards acknowledge Bloomfield and the “impact he has had on New Zealand television in 2020”. The TV Personality of the Year category is voted on by the public. Organisers promise every vote cast will be counted.

4.30pm: Small business lending scheme expanded; further moves towards Cook Islands bubble

The government has agreed to expand the small business lending scheme, RNZ reports. Due to end on December 31, the scheme has now been extended a further three years and the interest-free period from one year to two years, with existing borrowers to be migrated to the new arrangements.

“The scheme opened in May, and to date close to 100,000 businesses have received the loan, with a total lending of $1.6 billion,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

“The average value of each loan is modest, at around $17,000, with smaller businesses being the target. It is much-needed working capital to help businesses who have been in a tight spot. A small number of borrowers have already repaid their loan.”

Cook Islands travel bubble

Jacinda Ardern also announced today that officials are set to visit the Cook Islands from November 14 with the goal of confirming a safe travel bubble.

“While I don’t wish to put any time-frames on a potential travel bubble, it is my aim and hope that this can resume as soon as is safely possible, and this on-the-ground visit by officials to the Cook Islands is the next step in that process,” she said.

“We, of course, have also said to counterparts in the Cook Islands we welcome any visits that they may wish to do in the other direction to equally assure themselves of the practices that we would have in place at the border too.”

2.25pm: Trump to keep hosting rallies despite losing presidency – report

An Axios report suggests Donald Trump plans to continue hosting rallies over the coming weeks, rather than conceding the presidency to Joe Biden.

It’s also being touted that Trump will reveal the obituaries of people who supposedly voted but are dead as part of an effort to demonstrate the election was “stolen” from him.

The results now show that Trump didn’t exactly have the election pulled out from beneath him, but rather was clearly beaten by Joe Biden. Counting continues in some key states but early indications are that Biden’s numbers will continue to rise.

According to Axios, Team Trump is ready to announce specific recount teams in key states, and it plans to hold a series of Trump rallies focused on the litigation.

1.00pm: Four new Covid-19 cases, all in managed isolation; new cluster announced

Updated

There are no new community cases of Covid-19, but New Zealand has a new “cluster” of Covid-19 cases, Ashley Bloomfield has announced at today’s 1pm press conference. Four new cases have been detected in recent returnees, in managed isolation.

Of the imported cases, one arrived from Austria via Qatar and Australia and tested positive around day 12. The second and third cases travelled together, arriving from Dubai on November 5 and testing positive around day three, and the fourth arrived from Qatar on November 5, testing positive around day three.

The new series of community cases involving a quarantine worker is now being referred to as the “November quarantine cluster”.

Genome sequencing of the first Covid-19 case from this cluster – a Defence Force quarantine worker now being referred to as “Case A” – has revealed a direct link to two recent returnees in managed isolation, Bloomfield said.

The source of the exposure is not yet known, but Bloomfield said it is now known the virus was contracted in the course of the person’s work and not from the wider community.

The Defence Force quarantine worker is housed in a facility with 242 occupants, and 239 have returned negative tests with three pending, said Bloomfield. Of their 25 close contacts, 23 have returned negative results. One is pending, and the other, as was reported over the weekend, tested positive.

That person has 55 close contacts, 32 of whom have returned negative test results. The others haven’t been tested yet. Some are self-isolating at home, and other are in the quarantine facility.

Case B – a civilian Defence Force worker who does not work at the facility but had a work-related meeting with Case A on Wednesday – has three household contacts who have tested negative but will remain in isolation. This includes two students who attend Boulcott Primary and Hutt Intermediate in Lower Hutt. The students haven’t been at school since Friday.

Of the nine close contacts identified on the flight that case B travelled on from Auckland to Wellington on Thursday night, seven have tested negative, with the remaining pending.

A casual contact, who wasn’t seated near the person, is now feeling unwell and attended a recent meeting with members of the Ōtorohanga College community. The advice to those who attended the meeting is to monitor their health and get tested if they feel unwell.

Bloomfield said “an enormous amount” was being done to prevent quarantine workers from getting infected. “With each of these cases, we do a very thorough cause analysis and go back and find out where this breach possibly occurred, and what does this mean for our overall protocols,” he said.

In response to the latest cases, Bloomfield said the ministry was having a “rapid look” at whether quarantine workers who had regular interactions with Covid-positive patients should be wearing N95 masks, rather than regular surgical masks.

Those who take public transport or are flying should wear a mask or face covering, said Bloomfield, even if it’s not a legal requirement.

12.30pm: Watch – Ashley Bloomfield to reveal latest details on new Covid-19 case

The director general of health will be fronting a 1pm press conference today after new details were revealed about the movements of a new confirmed Covid-19 case.

As the Herald reports, a Waikato school hostel and hotel have now closed after a positive Covid-19 case potentially exposed members of the community on a flight.

Earlier, a confirmed Covid-19 case, visited Avis Car Rental at Auckland Airport, Orleans Chicken & Waffles, The Gypsy Moth and coffee shop Hudsons before flying to the capital on Thursday.

We’ll have all the latest from 1pm.

Watch below:

11.35am: ‘Strong relationship’ with US matters to us – Ardern

Jacinda Ardern has given her thoughts on the election of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.

The prime minister has erred on the diplomatic side during recent media appearances, refusing to comment on who her preference for president was.

Today, Ardern told RNZ she’ll be pursuing a strong relationship with the US “because it matters to us”.

“It’s important for us to have the ability on big issues to really have those tight connections when we need them,” Ardern said.

Trade issues will be high on the agenda, she said, and New Zealand will be encouraging the US to take leadership on the international commitment to climate change.

Meanwhile, on Newshub this morning, Ardern refused to give her thoughts on Trump’s personality. “My job isn’t to get into the personality of it – so I don’t,” she said. However, the PM admitted some people may miss the “theatre” of Donald Trump.

9.35am: Four Seasons landscaping – not the hotel

One of the most fascinating and frankly hilarious parts of the weekend involved a press conference held by Donald Trump’s legal team at a small landscaping firm in northeast Philadelphia. The press conference, fronted by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, was hosted in the parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping – not the far more luxurious Four Seasons hotel.

The New York Times has written a detailed explainer of just what went down, and how the US presidential election came to a head in the grim setting of a carpark next to a porn shop and a crematorium.

Read more here

8.10am: Details on possible new Covid-19 cluster to be revealed today

The Ministry of Health will today be providing details about how many people may have been exposed to Covid-19 from an infected person that travelled from Auckland to Wellington last week.

The newest case, a close contact of a quarantine worker, visited Avis Car Rental at Auckland Airport, Orleans Chicken & Waffles, The Gypsy Moth and coffee shop Hudsons before flying to the capital on Thursday. They then visited Malaysian eatery Little Penang the following afternoon.

Once again, the importance of the government’s Covid tracer app has been highlighted; notifications have been sent out to people who logged on with the app at any of the above businesses.

“[The app] allows our contact tracing team to quickly notify you if you may have been exposed to this virus, and allows you to take immediate action to protect yourself, your whanau, and your community,” a ministry spokesperson said.

7.45am: Trump urged to concede by Melania, Kushner – report

While Donald Trump is refusing to accept he has lost the US presidency, those within his inner circle are urging him to accept defeat and concede to president-elect Joe Biden.

A new report from CNN has claimed Trump’s wife and US first lady Melania is one of those telling the president to publicly admit he’s lost.

“She has offered [her opinion], as she often does,” the source told CNN.

Meanwhile, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner has also approached the president about conceding, according to CNN.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

Not an awful lot of attention has been paid to them since the election defeat, but National is about to be back in the spotlight this week. As Radio NZ reports, there has already been one casualty of the defeat – deputy leader Gerry Brownlee has announced that he does not intend to contest the position again. National MPs will be meeting on Tuesday, and the caucus lineup will be discussed, along with a confidence vote being held on the leadership of Judith Collins. Collins is expecting to stay on, but if a challenger comes out into the open the balance could shift very quickly. Stuff’s Thomas Coughlan reports Michael Woodhouse is considering putting his hand up for the deputy role, and health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti could also end up in the mix.

For the party as a whole, there are plenty of issues to thrash out around future directions. That was covered in this excellent and well-researched piece from Politik last week, which canvassed the views of a range of people connected to the party willing to write on the record about what’s next. Among the big issues is the status of members, and the influence they hold over the wider direction of the party. In recent decades it has been reduced significantly, along with the actual numbers, moving National from a more widely representative mass-membership party to something more corporatised and professional – arguably at the expense of the grassroots. And it’s fair to say some in the grassroots aren’t at all happy, if this Stuff story is anything to go by.  Later in the month the party presidency of Peter Goodfellow will also come up for a vote.

When caucus meets tomorrow, there will be several MPs departing after the special votes went against them. Justin Giovannetti reports no fewer than three electorates flipped – all of them traditionally pretty blue – and as a result Northland MP Matt King and Maungakiekie MP Denise Lee will be leaving parliament. Maureen Pugh, who traditionally loses her list seat on the special votes, will survive as a result of the electorates falling. Questions will also swirl around the future of several grandees, including Brownlee and veteran Nick Smith. The caucus as a whole is down to just 33 MPs, the smallest the party has been since 2002-05.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

Yesterday’s headlines

Joe Biden was declared the next president of the United States after clinching the key state of Pennsylvania. In his first speech as president-elect, Biden called for unity, healing and an end to the “grim era of demonisation in America”.

Biden’s win means Kamala Harris will be vice president. Harris will be the first woman, the first African American and the first Asian American to take on the role.

Donald Trump has refused to concede the election citing unfounded claims of election fraud.

Celebrations broke out across the US following Biden’s win, including a spontaneous gathering of thousands of people across the White House in Washington DC.

In New Zealand, a new community case of Covid-19 was announced – a close contact of the Auckland quarantine worker who was reported on Friday.

Fives cases of Covid-19 from managed isolation were also announced. All five are now in quarantine in Auckland.

Read yesterday’s live updates here.




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