Coronavirus Morning News Brief – March 9: Austria Ends Sweeping Vaccine Mandate, Hawaii to End Masking Requirement

The World Crosses the 450 Million Mark in Total Cases

By Jonathan Spira on 9 March 2022
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The town of Melk, in Niederösterreich

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 68th day of 2022.

Austria is abandoning its sweeping coronavirus vaccine mandate, citing the “relatively mild” symptoms that the omicron variant causes.

Bundesminsterin Karoline Edtstadtler said that the move came following the recommendation of an expert commission that found that there were many arguments that held that the mandate was an encroachment on fundamental rights that was not justified.

“Just as the virus is very agile, we need to be flexible and adaptable,” she said.

The Alpine nation was the first Western democracy to enact such a law, which was to be in place until January 2024.

The move comes despite the fact that the country hit a pandemic high for new cases on March 2, reporting 39,493 new infections.

Enforcement of the measure had been slated to start next week and warnings were being issued at the current time. Anyone refusing to get inoculated faced fines from €600 ($685) to €3,600.

Currently, over 76% of Austrians are fully vaccinated and almost 74% are considered fully vaccinated.

In other news we cover today, Austria also hit a pandemic high for new infections, Hawaii will end its indoor mask mandate at month’s end, and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tested positive for the virus.

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

UNITED STATES

Hawaii will soon become the 50th and final state to end a universal indoor mask mandate.

The news was announced by Governor David Ige on Tuesday, who said that the mandate will end on March 26.

“We have reduced Covid-19 in a way to the point where most of us will be safe without masks indoors,” he said.

The state reported a pandemic high of 4,617 new cases on January 17 of this year.  On Tuesday, it reported 63.

The Biden administration’s plan to offer U.S. residents an additional set of four rapid coronavirus test kits per residential address via a dedicated website, covidtests.gov, went into effect on Wednesday. Orders will be fulfilled and delivered by the United States Postal Service.

GLOBAL

Some newspapers in Austria are asking the question in headlines, whether the country’s reopening came too soon given a new pandemic high reached Wednesday both for new infections and deaths.  Almost 50,000 people tested positive and there were 42 deaths from the virus.

In Israel, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, a statement from the Likud party said.

A spokesman for the party said that the former prime minister “feels well” and that he was following the country’s coronavirus guidelines for isolation.

Israel is now witnessing the end of a fifth wave of virus, at the height of which over 100,000 new infections per day were being reported.  The country reported 7,464 cases on Tuesday.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, March 9.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 450.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 1.9 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and over 6 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 384.6 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.7million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Wednesday is 59,827,009.  Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 59,757,698, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 69,311, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 31,820 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the previous day, compared to 69,459 on Tuesday 6,753 on Monday, 16,496 on Sunday, and 50,139 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 40,133, a 51% 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 1,451, a decrease of 26% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 81 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 987,615. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 42.9 million, and a reported death toll of 515,386. Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 652,936, and has seen over 29.1 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position, with 23.2 million cases, and the United Kingdom is in the number five slot with over 19.3 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Wednesday, 254.2 million people in the United States – or 76.6% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 65.1%, or 216.3million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 555.6 million. Breaking this down further, 88% of the population over the age of 18 – or 227.3 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 75.1% of the same group – or 194 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 47.5% of that population, or 92.1 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 63.4% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sunday, 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, 10.91 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 13.6% 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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