Coronavirus Morning News Brief – April 29: Mask Mandates Return to Bay Area, Lockdowns in China Adversely Impact Apple

South Africa Entering Fifth Wave of Covid Earlier Than Expected

By Jonathan Spira on 29 April 2022
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Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 750th day of the pandemic.

The calendar will soon turn from April to May and with it comes May Day, an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival that celebrates the season. May Day, which is on Saturday, is also a public holiday in many countries, in most cases referred to as Labour Day or International Workers’ Day, and intended to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket riot in Chicago.

May Day is one of the busiest travel period in China. But not this year.

More than half of the country’s largest 100 cities are currently seeing some form of pandemic restrictions, including the lockdowns in Shanghai.

The lockdowns are impacting travel for the country’s annual May Day holiday.  Travel over the five-day period from April 30 through May 4 is expected to fall by 62%, an official at the Ministry of Travel said.  Many hotels are slashing prices over the period in an attempt to attract guests.

In other news we cover today, mask mandates are returning to the Bay Area, South Africa is entering a fifth wave of Covid earlier than had been anticipated, and the situation in China is impacting Apple’s growth and ability to manufacture its products.

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

UNITED STATES

A mask mandate returned to San Francisco’s largest transit system after the board of directors of Bay Area Rapid Transit, known locally as BART, approved the move, which will remain in effect until at least July 18.  The agency said it will continue to offer riders free masks if they require one.

In the nation’s capital, Kate Bedingfield, the White House communications director, reported that she had tested positive for Covid.  Bedingfield is the latest high-level official in the White House to test positive.  In a statement, she said that President Joseph Biden had not been a close contact.

The news comes on the heels of a positive test report by Vice President Kamala Harris several days ago.

GLOBAL

Health officials in South Africa believe that the country entered a fifth wave of coronavirus infections earlier than had been expected.  Some experts believe the rise in case numbers appears to be driven at least in part by the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages of omicron. The country’s health minister, Joe Phaala, told reporters at a news conference that while hospitalizations were increasing, there was so far no dramatic change in admissions to intensive care units or deaths.

Beijing ordered schools to close across the city and dozens of buildings remained in lockdown as officials there tried to contain several outbreaks of the coronavirus.  Health officials are currently carrying out three rounds of mass testing within a five-day period for almost all of the capital city’s 22 million residents.

Meanwhile, the lockdown in Shanghai has effectively imprisoned over 20,000 bankers inside their offices for the past month.  Despite the ongoing pandemic, banks still require a certain number of workers to be on site in order to keep the country’s financial hub running.  Reuters reported that the Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association asked local authorities to let banks rotate their staff, who have been sleeping at the office since March 28.

ENTERTAINMENT

The pandemic continues to wreak havoc on Broadway.  Ramin Karimloo, who plays the lead male role, Nick Arnstein, in “Funny Girl” will be out of the show through at least May 4 after testing positive for Covid just four days after the revival’s opening night performance.

Broadway theaters will continue to require that all actors and actresses as well as stage managers be fully vaccinated at all 41 Broadway houses.

The Broadway League, the group that represents theater owners, said that the policy would remain in force until at least May 31, 2022.

TECH

Apple reported strong earnings for its second quarter but warned that supply shortages and coronavirus shutdowns in China will deepen its current growth slowdown.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, April 29.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 512.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and almost 6.3 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 466.2 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.7 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Friday is 39,913,979, a decrease of 26,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 39,872,543, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 41,436, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 71,390 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 84,570  reported on Thursday, 54,447  on Wednesday, and 74,612 on Tuesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is 55,127.  Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 55,125, a 50% 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 346, a decrease of 24% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded over 82.9 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, almost 43.1 million, and a reported death toll of 523,753. Meanwhile, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 663,280, and has over 30.4 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position with over 28.5 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 24.7 million.  The United Kingdom, with over 22 million cases, is now number six and is the only other country in the world with a total number of cases over the 20 million mark.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Friday, 257.5 million people in the United States – or 77.6% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.1%, or 219.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 574.7 million. Breaking this down further, 89% of the population over the age of 18 – or 229.8 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76% of the same group – or 196.4 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 49.3% of that population, or 96.7 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 65.2% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 11.57 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 11.74 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 15.3% 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.

Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries –  Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal –  have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

In addition, North Korea and Eritrea are now the only two countries in the world that have not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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