Coronavirus Morning News Briefing – June 12: Amazon Employee Sues for Home Office Costs, Cruise Industry Wants Changes to CDC Rules

Honolulu, Miami, and San Juan Have Become Covid Hotspots

By Jonathan Spira on 12 June 2022
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“Avenue Q” original cast members Ann Harada (Christmas Eve) and Jordan Gelber (Brian)

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 794th day of the pandemic.

Companies and most employees have always considered the elimination of the commute along with fuel costs and wear and tear on an automobile to be a fair exchange for the opportunity to work at home.  Personal attire costs also typically drop as do dry-cleaning expenses.

That wasn’t enough for one employee of Amazon.

David Williams contends in his suit that the company is flouting a state law requiring reimbursement business-related expenses.

Williams is suing the company for the additional cost of Internet service and electricity that he uses because he works from home.  California law requires companies to pay for all business expenses incurred by an employee.

Amazon tried to get the suit dismissed, saying it wasn’t responsible for the move to telecommuting given state requirements to do so.  The California law requiring business-expense reimbursement, however, does not have any such exceptions.

Of course, should Williams and others be recalled to the office, the return to paying for gas and tolls – especially given the rise in fuel costs – will likely make his reimbursement claim look miniscule.

In other news we cover today, Honolulu, Miami, and San Juan are the latest Covid hotspots, the cruise industry wants changes in CDC policy, and China reported a dramatic increase in cases.

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

UNITED STATES

Three major metropolitan areas and tourist destinations, namely Honolulu, Miami-Dade, and San Juan, have become virus hotspots.  The three have high positivity rates with an average daily number of new cases per 100,000 members of the population that is approaching 100.

Puerto Rico currently has seen an average of 104 new cases per 100,000 members of the population, while the figure for Miami-Dade is 93 and for Honolulu County, 85.

Honolulu County Mayor Rick Blangiardi called on residents and visitors to take precautions such as masking.

“Coronavirus is not going away,” he said in a statement earlier in the week. “I encourage everyone to continue to demonstrate personal responsibility and wear your masks when around others, get tested if you are not feeling well and please make sure to get your booster.”

The cruise industry is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to review the rules under which cruise ships are, now voluntarily, operating under in partnership with the federal agency, namely the rule requiring pre-embarkation coronavirus testing for those traveling via cruise ship.

“As the CDC monitors the improving health landscape and works with airlines to support a smooth transition with the lifting of the pre-arrival testing requirement, we believe a review of pre-embarkation testing requirements for cruise travelers is also in order,” the Cruise Line Industry Association said in a statement after the CDC ended the pre-departure testing requirement for air travelers to the United States.

The group represents most major cruise lines including Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

GLOBAL

Although the numbers sound small, China reported a dramatic increase in cases as the nationwide tally for Sunday rose to 196 from 138 on Saturday, the National Health Commission said.

What officials termed the “ferocious” Beijing cluster of cases has spread to all but two districts in the capital city and, along with a cluster of cases in a border prefecture in Inner Mongolia, have become the new epicenters of the current wave.

ENTERTAINMENT

The Vineyard Theatre, the off-Broadway theater company perhaps best known for its production of the Tony Award-winning musical “Avenue Q,” announced that performances of the play “Lessons in Survival: 1971” would not take place through June 12 due to a Covid outbreak within the company.

AUTOMOTIVE

The global supply chain crisis and Shanghai lockdowns kept China’s unit production numbers for new cars down by almost 18%, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said.  The automotive industry there built 400,000 fewer cars than in the same period in 2019, before the beginning of the pandemic, when 2.24 million cars were manufactured.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Sunday, June 12.

As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 540.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.4 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 6.33 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 515.6 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 2.5 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Sunday is 18,447,837, a decrease of 2.5 million. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 18,411,655, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 36,184, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 35,173 new coronavirus infections on Sunday for the previous day, compared to 135,999 on Saturday, 117,665 on Friday, 175,140 on Thursday, 142,800 on Wednesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate continues to remain over 100,000 and is now 109,244.  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 108,520, a decrease of 1%, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 332, a decrease of 11% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 29,615, an 11% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 87.3 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.04 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 43.2 million, and a reported death toll of 524,761.

New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of April that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now over 803,000, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States.  Rosstat reported that 35,584 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in the month of March, compared to 43,543 in February.

Meanwhile, Brazil now has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 668,134, and has over 31.4 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with 29.8 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 26.8 million.  The United Kingdom, with 22.4 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 Sunday, 258.9 million people in the United States – or 78% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.8%, or 221.7 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 590.8 million. Breaking this down further, 89.4% of the population over the age of 18 – or 230.8 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76.7% of the same group – or 198.1 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 50.5% of that population, or 99.9 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 66.3% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sunday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 11.93 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 5.88 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 17.8% 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.

Paul Riegler contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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