Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Oct. 5: People Are Starting to Don Masks… For the Flu, SNL Tackles Anti-Vaxxers

Multiple Colleges in Massachusetts to Continue Mask Mandates Indefinitely

By Anna Breuer on 5 October 2022
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Good morning. This is Anna Breuer sitting in for Jonathan Spira. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 909th day of the pandemic.

It may take the flu to get some Americans to don face masks again.

A study by the National Foundation for Infectious Disease found that 58% of those surveyed plan to mask at least sometimes during the upcoming flu season, a figure higher than those who intend to get vaccinated, which the study found was 49%.

In some parts of Asia, surgical masks have been rather commonplace since the SARS epidemic of 2002-2003.

Be it Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, or China, you were very likely to see a number of people wearing face masks over the years prior to the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Do they perhaps know something we don’t know?

Apparently, it will take the threat of a severe flu season to get people to ditch the political nonsense some have ascribed to masks and simply protect themselves and others from disease.

In other news we cover today, multiple colleges have extended their mask mandates indefinitely, California has a new law forbidding doctors from giving out false information about the coronavirus pandemic, and SNL newcomer Michael Longfellow tackled anti-vaxxers in his first appearance on the show.

UNITED STATES

California will soon become the first state with a law that will penalize physicians who give patients false information about the coronavirus.  The law, perhaps not surprisingly, was challenged in court Tuesday by two physicians, Mark McDonald, a psychiatrist in the Los Angeles area, and Jeff Barke, a family physician in Newport Beach, who question the effectiveness of vaccines for the virus.  Both promote unproven treatments and oppose mask mandates.

Amherst College in Massachusetts introduced a new masking policy under which each student would be provided an anonymous survey to indicate a preference for wearing a face mask or going maskless in a particular class.  It will take just one student or professor to voice an opinion in favor of wearing a mask to mandate the mask requirement for the class.

Meanwhile, three other schools in Massachusetts, namely Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Hampshire College announced indefinite extensions of their respective mask mandates.

Dr.  Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical advisor, said at a seminar on Tuesday he should have been “much more careful” in his messaging on SARS-CoV-2 early on in the pandemic.  He also said they could have done a better job of conveying the uncertainty present at that time.

GLOBAL

Health officials in Xinjiang reported 91 asymptomatic Covid cases on Wednesday, the city has 54 high-risk areas and 25 medium-risk ones.  All travel out of the city was halted and all passenger train services leaving the region were suspended as officials try to stop the spread of the virus.

“This is a major public health emergency with the fastest spread, the broadest scope, the largest number of infections, and it is the most difficult in terms of prevention and control in the history of Xinjiang,” Liu Sushe, vice-chairman of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Tuesday evening, said to reporters.

ENTERTAINMENT

The 48th season of Saturday Night Live premiered over the weekend and new cast member Michael Longfellow, who portrayed himself on Weekend Update, took aim at anti-vaxxers.  Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost introduced Longfellow, asking him to comment on the recent uproar over Sydney Sweeney’s Instagram posts that “suggested her parents might be Trump supporters.”

“Well, my family’s from Arizona,” Longfellow said to start off his commentary. “So, if you can get in trouble for what your parents think? It’s been a good run.”

He then mentioned that his father doesn’t believe the coronavirus is real.

“You shouldn’t cut anti-vax people out of your life,” Longfellow said. “They could be dead tomorrow. Spend time with them. Call them. Get in the will.”

TRAVEL

The American Hotel and Lodging Association reported that 87% of hotels in the United States are experiencing staffing shortages, an improvement of May of this year, when that figure was ten percentage points higher at 97%.

Despite the improvement, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, as of August, hotel employment was down by close to 400,000 jobs compared with February 2020, the month prior to the start of the pandemic.  Currently, there are over 115,000 hotel jobs open across the country, and hotels are reporting that their most acute need is for people for housekeeping positions.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, October 5.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 624.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.6 million cases, and almost 6.6 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 604.5 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.4 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Wednesday is 13,420,495, an increase of 133,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 13,380,609, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 39,886, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 35,981 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the previous day, compared to 47,898 on Tuesday, 4,755 on Monday, 6,403 on Sunday, 40,184 on Saturday, 84,801 on Friday, and 100,524 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 45,965.  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 44,484, a 22% 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 393, a decrease of 8% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 27,334, a 12% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded 98.3 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of just under 1.09 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.6 million, and a reported death toll of 528,733.

The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States.  Rosstat reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.

Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with 35.6 million, although Brazil has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 686,531, and has recorded just under 34.8 million cases, placing it in the number four slot.

Germany is in the number five slot with 33.4 million cases.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with 24.9 million cases, the United Kingdom, with 23.7 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 22.6 million, as number eight, as well as Japan, with 21.4 million, and Russia, with 21.1 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, over 264.1 million people in the United States – or 79.5% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.9%, or 225.3 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 619.8 million. Breaking this down further, 90.5% of the population over the age of 18 – or 233.6 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77.6% of the same group – or 200.8 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.9% of that population, or 104 million people, has already received a first 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 Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 68% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Wednesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 12.75 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 3.23 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 22.7% 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, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.

Jonathan Spira contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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