Coronavirus Morning News Brief – The World Hits the 6 Million Mark in Covid Deaths, Cases Surge in Hong Kong

Los Angeles Ends Most Indoor Mask Mandates

By Jonathan Spira on 4 March 2022
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Three of New York’s finest on a deserted Park Avenue in the middle of the day in the early days of the pandemic

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 63rd day of 2022.

At some point over the past 24 hours, the sixth millionth person to die from the coronavirus did just that, without any fanfare or knowledge that he was hitting a grim milestone of sorts in the two-year-old pandemic.

It was only a little over four months ago that the world recorded the 5th millionth death, and the United States, the country with the highest death toll in the world,  is now perhaps two weeks away from crossing the 1 million mark in deaths.

In many countries including the United States, Russia, much of Europe, and India, among others, Covid-19 is now a leading cause of death alongside heart disease cancer, and stroke, despite a significant decline in new cases in many areas.

Meanwhile, many experts believe the actual death toll is far higher than what has been reported.

The world’s death toll from Covid covers only confirmed cases and reporting standards vary greatly with the figures not including collateral deaths, such as those people who were too sick to go to hospital and died at home from Covid as well as those who died from other illnesses because they were unable to seek care at hospitals overloaded with Covid patients.

Meanwhile, the pandemic marches on.

In other news we cover today, Los Angeles will end most indoor mask mandates and the surge in Hong Kong is causing significant delays in ambulance response times.

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

UNITED STATES

In Los Angeles, health officials announced the end of most indoor mask and vaccine verification requirements.  The change, which goes into effect on Friday, drops mask mandates for restaurants, bars, and grocery stores.  It also ends the requirement for people to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result in order to enter indoor bars, wineries, or most other businesses.

The change does not end the federal mask mandate on public transit or in airport and railroad terminals and in healthcare settings, nor the requirement to provide proof of vaccination in order to attend large indoor events.

The United States will offer low- and middle-income countries access to some of the technologies that government scientists developed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s medical advisor, told reporters Thursday that the government had “offered to license several NIH-owned technologies” to the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool.  This could include the Moderna mRNA vaccine should the government prevail in its patent dispute with the drugmaker.

Apple said it was planning to end face mask requirements for retail and corporate employees in the United States following the substantial drop in coronavirus cases as well as an easing of local mask mandates.

GLOBAL

The surge in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong is causing the wait for an ambulance to be as long as one day.  Over one-third of the special administrative region’s ambulance workers has either tested positive for the virus or been exposed to someone who was positive and hence in isolation.

On Friday, health authorities in Hong Kong reported 56,827 new infections, a pandemic high.  The surge started in early February.  The number of new infections on February 3 was 131.

A new strain of the coronavirus found in deer is showing signs of deer-to-human transmission.  Researchers in Canada found the strain in a population of white-tailed deer in Ontario and later a similar strand was found in a human who had had contact with the deer.  The scientists involved in the study believe it is at least theoretically possible that the deer transmitted the virus to the human in question.

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

The National Football League in the United States said it would end all coronavirus protocols with immediate effect. The move ends mask requirements, social-distancing measures, and restrictions to team facilities based on vaccination status.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, March 4.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 442.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 1.7 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 6 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 375.7 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.8 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Friday is 60,962,540.  Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 60,889,675, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 72,905, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 51,708 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 58,023 on Thursday, 41,935 on Wednesday, and 107,607 on Tuesday, 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 51,599, a 55% 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 1,706, a decrease of 21% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded over 80.8 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 981,729. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 42.9 million, and a reported death toll of 514,820. Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 650,646, and has seen 28.9 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position, with 22.9 million cases, and the United Kingdom is in the number five slot with 19 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Friday, 253.8 million people in the United States – or 76.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 65%, or 215.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 554.2 million. Breaking this down further, 87.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 227.1million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 75% of the same group – or 193.8 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 47.3% of that population, or 91.6 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 63.1% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday, 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, 10.83 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 13% 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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