Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Jan. 13: Trump Endorses Booster Shots, France Relaxes Entry Requirements for Some

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Girl from North Country’ Latest Broadway Shows to Press Pause

By Jonathan Spira on 13 January 2022
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Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 13th day of 2022.

Former President Donald Trump gave coronavirus vaccine booster shots a strong endorsement Tuesday night and said that politicians who refused to disclose their vaccine status were “gutless.”

The move appeared to be a thinly-veiled shot at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is among the many Republican lawmakers who have offered vague responses when asked if they have had a third, or booster, shot of coronavirus vaccine.

UNITED STATES

On the heels of the announcement that the federal government will distribute 500 million free coronavirus testing kits, the Biden administration said it plans to distribute millions of free test kits to schools around the country in an effort to keep schools open amidst the surge in coronavirus cases.

Meanwhile, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, Jeffrey Zients, said that the administration is considering a program that would provide “high-quality” face masks to Americans as it makes further attempts to manage the surge caused by the highly-transmissible omicron variant.

While the idea of trying to catch omicron to get it over with may be in vogue in some circles, it’s an especially bad idea because it is still a life-threatening disease and some patients who contract Covid via the omicron variant end up with “long Covid,” symptoms that include extreme fatigue, dizziness, brain fog, and heart palpitations.

“Don’t mess with Mother Nature,” Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN. “She’s been trying to kill us ever since we crawled out of the ocean onto the land.”

GLOBAL

The Ständige Impfkommission am Robert-Koch-Institut, or Standing Committee on Vaccination, known as STIKO, recommended Covid-19 booster shots for all children and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17. The action came as the country recorded its highest single daily surge in infections on Thursday.

In France, Ministre des Solidarités et de la Santé Olivier Veran announced in a tweet that he had tested positive for Covid.  “As a result, I will isolate and continue to perform my duties remotely,” he said.

England will change the minimum self-isolation period for individual testing positive for the coronavirus from seven to five days starting Monday, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Thursday.

“Around two thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five,” the minister told the House of Commons, citing data from the UK Health Security Agency.

The number of coronavirus cases on the African continent has begun to plateau over the course of the last two weeks, Dr. Abdou Salam Gueye, the World Health Organization’s director of regional services for Africa, said on Thursday in a virtual news conference.

TRAVEL

France said it will relax entry requirements for vaccinated travelers from the United Kingdom starting Friday.  Such individuals will no longer be required to isolate upon arrival nor will they be required to provide a compelling reason for travel, the secretaire d’État chargé du Tourisme, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, announced on Twitter Thursday morning.  They will, however, have to produce a negative PCR test taken within 24 hours of departure.

Meanwhile, non-vaccinated travelers from the United Kingdom must continue to register planned visits via the country’s online platform and, upon arrival, must observe a strict ten-day quarantine period, the office of French Premierminister Jean Castex said in a news release.

Officials in Hong Kong announced a one-month ban on most transit passengers amidst the worldwide surge in omicron cases.  Travelers from countries the special administrative region deems “high risk.” That list includes all countries except for China and Taiwan at the present time.  Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, has told travelers that passengers starting their journey from outside China or Taiwan will not be allowed to use Hong Kong as a transit point during the period in which the ban is in place.

ENTERTAINMENT

Two Broadway plays will end their runs within the next ten days and reopen in late spring.  “Girl from the North Country,” currently at the Belasco Theatre, will close on January 23, while “To Kill a Mockingbird” will end its run at the Shubert Theatre on Sunday and move to the Belasco Theatre on June 1 with Greg Kinnear returning as Atticus Finch.

The musical “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which is based on the film of the same name, began a nine-week hiatus this week after the producer opted to temporarily pause the show in order to set it up for a longer run.

Finally, the play “Skeleton Crew” resumed preview performances and announced that its opening night would be on January 26.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, January 13.

As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 317.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 3.4 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and over 5.5 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 263.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.3 million.

Worldwide, the number of active cases as of Thursday is 47,291,967.  Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 49,196,039, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 95,928, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical was largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 851,910 new cases on Thursday, compared with 769,928 new cases on Wednesday, and 1.4 million new cases reported on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  On Tuesday, there had been 767,547 new cases,

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 781,230, a 159% increase, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,827, an increase of 51% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded 64.4 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 866,891. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 36.3 million, and a reported death toll of 485,035.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 620,491, and has over 22.7 million cases.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 247.7 million people in the United States – or 74.6% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 62.7%, or 208.2 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 522.5 million. Breaking this down further, 86.6% of the population over the age of 18 – or 223.7 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 73.4% of the same group – or 189.4 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 40% of that population, or 76 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 59.5% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Thursday, a figure that is up 0.1 percentage point in the past 24 hours, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 9.56 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 9.5% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 65% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine. In countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

Figures from the World Health Organization show that well-off countries are vaccinating people at the rate of one person per second, while the majority of poor countries have yet to give a single dose to its citizens.

It is critical that the world do a better job of sharing vaccines with poorer nations.

Sharing vaccines is not merely a form of charity.  Rather, the equitable distribution of vaccines is in every country’s health and economic interest and no country will be able to move past the pandemic until other countries have recovered as well.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

 

Accura News

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