Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Feb. 25: As Russian Troops Close In, Covid Testing in Ukraine Stops, CDC Issues New Mask Guidance

Canada Approves New Vaccine Made Without mRNA Technology

By Jonathan Spira on 26 February 2022
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A flight attendant with face mask and eye shield

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 57th day of 2022.

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

Perhaps not surprisingly, there were no updates in coronavirus case figures as Russian troops closed in on three major cities including the capital, Kyiv, and testing came to a halt.  Across the country, Covid testing sites were closed while people huddled in air raid shelters, attempted to stock up on essentials, and lined up to withdraw money from bank ATMs.

Meanwhile, non-Ukrainian citizens fleeing the country may need a recent coronavirus test in order to enter certain European countries bordering Ukraine.  Currently, Poland and Romania do not require proof of vaccination or a test result, while Hungary requires one or the other.  Slovakia will waive the requirement on humanitarian grounds but non-vaccinated individuals may need to undergo testing and quarantine.

In Russia, testing went on as normal and officials reported almost 121,920 new cases, as cases continued to decline from a pandemic high on February 11 of 202,211.  New infections had fallen to a 7-day average of approximately 15,000 in mid-January before the omicron variant-fueled surge took hold.

UNITED STATES

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection issued long-awaited new guidance on when people should consider wearing masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus. The set of recommendations, intended to help people live with Covid and get back to a normal life, suggests that 70% of Americans could stop wearing masks and not have to practice social distancing.

The guidance directs counties to no longer rely solely on the number of new infections in a community when setting restrictions.  Instead, three factors should be considered, namely 1.) new coronavirus-related hospitalizations over the prior week, 2.) the percentage of hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, and 3.) the number of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 members of the population over the course of the prior week.

Some lucky Covid patients in New York City who quarantined at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel received parting gifts, namely Coach handbags and purses.  Guests at the fairly spartan hotel told the New York Post that they were allowed to select a Coach leather bag from a selection of bags on a roped-off table after being discharged.

A study released by the New York City Department of Education showed a wide disparity in vaccination rates in schools in wealthier parts of the city, where in some cases 80% of the student body had received at least one dose and more impoverished areas, where the rate was 38%.

A Maryland legislature committee gave approval to the State Board of Education’s plan to allow individual school districts to determine whether to mandate masks be worn inside schools.  The move ends an emergency order requiring masks that had been in effect since September.

GLOBAL

In the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth is reportedly still isolating after having been diagnosed with the coronavirus last Sunday, suffering from “mild coldlike [sic] symptoms,” Buckingham Palace said.  The queen is continuing with “light duties” such as paperwork, the palace reported.

Health Canada, the country’s drug regulator, approved a plant-based non-mRNA vaccine that proved to be 71% effective against infection.  Officials there hope that the new vaccine, drugmaker Medicago’s Covifenz, will be acceptable to people who are concerned, despite strong evidence to the contrary, over the safety of the mRNA vaccines.

TRAVEL

The change in mask guidance in the United States does not impact the federal mandate requiring people to don face masks on public transit, on airplanes, and in airports and rail terminals. 

“The mask requirement remains in place and we will continue to assess the duration of the requirement in consultation with CDC,”, said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Robert Langston said in a statement on Friday.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, February 26.

As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 433.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 1.1 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 5.96 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 363.8 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.9 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Saturday is 64,183,427.  Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 64,106,027, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 77,400, are listed as critical.  The p4ercentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 85,853 new coronavirus infections on Saturday for the previous day, compared to 73, 302  on Friday, 84,408  on Thursday, and 123,182  on Wednesday, 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 68,642, a 63% 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 1,896, a decrease of 23% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded over 80.5 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 972,200. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 42.9 million, and a reported death toll of 513,512. Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 648,267, and has seen 28.7 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position, with 22.6 million cases, and the United Kingdom is in the number five slot with over 18.8 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Saturday, 253.2 million people in the United States – or 76.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 64.8%, or 215.3 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 552 million. Breaking this down further, 87.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 226.8 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 74.9% of the same group – or 193.4 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 46.9% of that population, or 90.8 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 62.6% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Saturday, 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, 10.68 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 12.3% 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.

Paul Riegler contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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