Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Jan. 16: New York Sees Significant Drop in New Cases, Djokovic Forced to Leave Australia

McDonald’s, Starbucks Cut Hours and Staff Amidst Increase in Absenteeism

By Jonathan Spira on 16 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 16th day of 2022

New York State, one of the earliest hotspots for the omicron-fueled surge in the United States, is seeing that surge trend downward since its peak on January 9.

Officials in the Empire State reported a nearly 47% decline in new daily coronavirus cases on Saturday from the approximately 90,000 reported one week earlier.  Governor Kathy Hochul said that there had been around 48,000 new infections on Friday.  The state’s positivity rate – 14.6% – was down significantly from the 23% it saw on the second day of the year.

UNITED STATES

The Biden administration said it would appeal a federal court’s block on the healthcare worker vaccine mandate in Texas. All other states in the union are required to comply with the rule after the U.S. Supreme Court gave it the green light last week.

You may find yourself waiting longer for your Big Mac or iced white chocolate mocha latte.  Chain restaurants ranging from McDonald’s, Starbucks to Bonchon are temporarily limiting operations at individual stores or in regions as they face staff shortages amidst a rise in omicron fueled infections and exposures.

GLOBAL

Officials in Canada said they plan to start requiring U.S. truckers to present  proof of vaccination at border crossings. By turning away unvaccinated truckers, the action could disrupt the flow of goods including food between the two nations.

Some coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands were eased starting on Saturday, despite a new wave of omicron-fueled infections. While restaurants, bars, theaters, museums, and other public venues will remain closed, non-essential shops, hair salons, and fitness centers will be allowed to reopen to a limited number of people at a time, and universities will reopen to their students.

Just weeks before the start of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, officials in the city of Beijing reported their first omicron variant-based coronavirus case.  That case concerned an individual who had visited multiple malls and restaurants over the prior 14 days but had not left the city since the start of 2022.   Visitors will now have to present a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, state media announced on Sunday.

TRAVEL

Passengers on the Norwegian Cruise Line ship Gem are stuck on board the ship until it returns to New York City after an unspecified coronavirus issue resulted in the cancellation of the voyage midway. Passengers will receive a full refund.

Meanwhile, despite the surge in cases due to the omicron variant, the CDC’s conditional sail order mandating face masks on cruise ships expired Saturday without being renewed.  Most cruise lines will opt to continue to require passengers and crew to don face masks, however.

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Tennis player Novak Djokovic lost his appeal to stay in Australia for the Australian Open after a panel of judges ruled Sunday that the country’s immigration minister was within his rights to cancel the non-vaccinated tennis star’s visa for the second time on the grounds of “public health and order.”

The decision cannot be appealed and Djokovic left the country shortly thereafter.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Sunday, January 15.

As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 327.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 2.5 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and almost 5.6 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 266.7 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.1 million.

Worldwide, the number of active cases as of Sunday is 54,978,868.  Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 54,883,106, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 95,762, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical was largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 818,418 new cases on Sunday for the previous day, compared with 924,342 reported on Saturday, and 889,613 on Friday, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 805,069, a 108% 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 1,984, an increase of 60% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 66.7 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 873,179. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 37.1 million, and a reported death toll of 486,984.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 621,007, and has seen over 22.9 million cases.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Sunday, 248.7 million people in the United States – or 74.9% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 62.9%, or 208.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 526.9 million. Breaking this down further, 86.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 224.3million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 73.5% of the same group – or 189.9 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 41.3% of that population, or 78.4 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 59.9% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sunday, a figure that is up 02  percentage point in the past 24 hours, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 9.36 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.

Paul Riegler contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the...

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