Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Aug. 12: CDC to Continue Current Masking Policy, BA 2.75 Variant Now in 20 Countries

Cruise Ships Return to New Zealand After Over Two Years

By Jonathan Spira on 12 August 2022
  • Share

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 855th day of the pandemic.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made numerous changes to its coronavirus pandemic guidelines, noting that the “virus is here to stay.”

Notably among the changes is that people who are exposed to Covid no longer have to quarantine at home, regardless of vaccination status.  However, they should don a face mask for ten days and get tested for the virus on Day 5.

“We know that Covid-19 is here to stay,” said Greta Massetti, a CDC epidemiologist, at a news briefing Thursday.

“High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection, and the many tools that we have available to protect people from severe illness and death, have put us in a different place,” she added.

There are no changes, however, for people who test positive or present symptoms of Covid, and additionally there are no changes in the area of masking. The guidelines recommend that people wear masks indoors in areas where community levels of the virus are high.

However, headlines that currently scream “CDC Drops Quarantine Recommendations” are bound to mislead those who test positive for the virus that they need not isolate.  After close to three years, people apparently don’t know the difference between quarantine and isolation (hint: “isolation” separates sick people from others who are not afflicted).

There are a few other changes: The CDC no longer recommends contact tracing and routine surveillance testing of people without symptoms.

The updated guidelines come after over two and a half years of a pandemic during which almost 1.1 million Americans have died and close to 95 million have contracted the virus.

The virus itself remains a serious affair: One in four people end up with Long Covid, which could range from lingering symptoms to severe neurological issues.  This ultimately means that avoiding the virus, especially for those who are older or who have underlying conditions, is the smartest approach.

In other news we cover today, the first cruise ship since the start of the pandemic returned to New Zealand and the omicron BA 2.75 is gaining traction.

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

UNITED STATES

New York City and State health officials said they had found evidence in the city’s wastewater of the virus that causes paralytic polio.  The finding suggests “likely local circulation of the virus,”which has already been found in two counties north of the city, Rockland and Orange.  One non-vaccinated individual was confirmed to have contracted the virus in June and suffered weakness and paralysis.  That individual is no longer considered to be contagious.

GLOBAL

An Omicron subvariant called BA 2.75 that carries the nickname “Centaurus” by is rising fast in India.  The variant has been detected in at least 20 countries and is the one that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor in the White House, had contracted.  Studies suggest that BA 2.75 has roughly the same abilities as BA.5 to dodge immunity in people, be it by virtue of vaccination or prior infection.

Several cities in Hainan, China’s southernmost province, extended lockdowns on Friday. Some of the measures are expected to last through the weekend.

Officials in Lhasa, the second most populous city in Tibet, tightened existing coronavirus after a trickle of Covid cases emerged for the first time in the pandemic.

TRAVEL

Cruise ships made their return to New Zealand since the start of the pandemic when the country closed its borders in March 2020. Carnival Australia’s Pacific Explorer arrived in Auckland carrying 2,000 passengers and crew members according to a statement from Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, August 12.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 593.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.9 million cases, and almost 6.45 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 565.5 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Friday is 21,529,328, a decrease of 200,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,483,505, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 45,823, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the pat 24 hours.

The United States reported 137,589 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 175,162 on Thursday, 128,656 on Wednesday, 135,412 on Tuesday, and 10,081 on Monday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate continues to be over 100,000 and is now 105,660.  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 105,818, a 17% 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 474, an increase of 4% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 42,886, a 3% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded just under 94.5 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1.06 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.2 million, and a reported death toll of 526,926.

New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of May that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 812,890, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States.  Rosstat reported that 11,583 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in April, down from 35,584 in March and from 43,543 in February.

Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, 34.17 million, although Brazil has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 681,025, and has recorded 34.12 million cases, placing it in the number four slot.

Germany is in the number five slot with over 31.4 million cases.

The other three countries with total case figures over the 20,000 mark are the United Kingdom, with 23.4 million cases, in sixth position, Italy, with 21.4 million, in the number seven slot, and South Korea, with 21.1 million cases, as number eight.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Friday, over 261.9 million people in the United States – or 78.9% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.3%, or 223.5 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 606.2 million. Breaking this down further, 90% of the population over the age of 18 – or 232.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77.2% of the same group – or 199.3 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.4% of that population, or 102.5 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Fridays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 67.4% 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, 12.44 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 6.69 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 20.7% 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 reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

Read previous post:
Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Aug. 11: North Korea Claims Victory Over Covid, China Hits 3-Month High in New Cases

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

Close