Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Feb. 22: Russia Prepares for Ukraine Invasion as Covid Cases Surge, England Ends Legal Restrictions

Today’s Palindromic Date Won’t Occur Again Until the Year 2422

By Jonathan Spira on 22 February 2022
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Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 53rd day of 2022.

The coronavirus pandemic has consistently been at the top of the news cycle for over two years but today, two events have somewhat overtaken it, although one is just temporary.

The first is the palindromic date.  Today, if you haven’t looked at a calendar, is the 22nd of February in the year 2022, or 22.2.22 in the standard international date notation used seemingly everywhere except, notably, the United States, where today is 2/22/22. Even if written in the format used in China, Hungary, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan, where the year is written before the month and day, today is still a palindrome if only the last two digits of the year are used.

The full palindromic date won’t reoccur until the year 2422.

The second may be of far greater consequence.  Russian troops are pouring into Ukraine as President Vladimir Putin continues his efforts to unravel the post-Cold War agreements and treaties that he sees as humiliating to Russia as the Versailles Treaty was viewed by Germany.

Only time will tell how this will reshape the globe and the balance of power, even if the military incursions create Covid surges of their own.  Russia recorded a pandemic high of new daily infections of over 200,000 just days ago, while cases in Ukraine have been steadily declining since reaching a pandemic high of 42,000 on February 11.

In other news we cover today, Hong Kong makes virus testing mandatory and England announces plan to end coronavirus legal restrictions.

Here’s a look at what has taken place over the past 24 hours.

UNITED STATES

Hawaii and the territory of Puerto Rico remain steadfast in not ending mask mandates, while all states on the mainland have either announced plans to let them expire or have actively ended them.

Cases in Hawaii have plummeted from a pandemic high seven-day average of 4,956 to 340 on Monday.  Similarly, cases in Puerto Rico have dropped from a pandemic high of 10,001 new cases in early January to 181 new infections on Monday.

A Fox Business host, Neil Cavuto, returned to the airwaves after he was in an intensive-care unit “for quite a while,” crediting coronavirus vaccines with saving his life.  He told viewers that his one-month absence had been occasioned by Covid-19 induced pneumonia and said that it had been a “touch and go” situation.  “Doctors say had I not been vaccinated at all, I wouldn’t be here,” he said on the air.

GLOBAL

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to end self-isolation rules and the provision of free coronavirus tests in England, but said he was not declaring victory over Covid.  Johnson, speaking in Parliament on Monday, laid forth England’s plans to end all legal restrictions and start “living with Covid.”  The move does not impact the three other nations of the United Kingdom, namely Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Johnson’s announcement came one day after Buckingham Palace officials said that Queen Elizabeth had tested positive with the virus.  She continues to experience mild symptoms and remains in isolation.

“Today is not the day we can declare victory over Covid, because this virus is not going away,” the prime minister said.  “But it is the day when all the efforts of the last two years finally enabled us to protect ourselves while restoring our liberties in full”

Meanwhile, residents in downtown Ottawa awoke to a heavier police presence, police fencing, and checkpoints throughout the city as authorities worked to end protests in the capital that had begun as protests by truckers against vaccine mandates and grew to include demonstrations against other Covid restrictions including masking.  The protestors illegally interfered with daily life in the capital and some protestors who were detained were found to have weapons or to be wearing body armor.

Just as coronavirus cases in Hong Kong hit new pandemic highs including 3,570 on Monday, officials there announced a mandatory testing program for all residents in the special administrative region.  Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said that residents would be required to take three coronavirus tests over a short period of time next month.  The city will expand its testing capability from 200,000 per day to over one million.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, February 22.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 427.1 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 1.6 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 5.91 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 354.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 3 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday is 66,795,595.  Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 66,714,217, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 81,376, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 55,659 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to26,167 on Monday, 46,210 on Sunday, and 109,223 on Saturday, according to data from 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 89,024, a 65% decrease, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 2,096, a decrease of 19% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded over 80.1 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 960,157. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 42.9 million, and a reported death toll of 512,371. Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 644,695, and has seen 28.3 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position, with 22.3 million cases, and the United Kingdom is in the number five slot with 18.7 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Tuesday, 252.8 million people in the United States – or 76.1% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 64.7%, or 214.7 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 549.9 million. Breaking this down further, 87.7% of the population over the age of 18 – or 226.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 74.8% of the same group – or 193.1 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 46.5% of that population, or 89.9 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Due to the Monday bank holiday in the United States, the public health agency has not updated its vaccination figures since Saturday evening.

Over 62.3% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Tuesday, a figure that is largely unchanged in the past 24 hours, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 10.57 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 11.4% 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 75% 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.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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