Coronavirus News Briefing – Dec. 13: Indoor Mask Mandate Returns to New York State

By Anna Breuer on 13 December 2021
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A newly-placed face mask notice at a Ford dealership in Suffolk County

Residents of New York State woke up to the start of a new mask mandate on Monday when Governor Kathy Hochul’s order went into effect.  The mandate calls for people to wear masks in all indoor spaces including restaurants, shops, lobbies in residential buildings, showrooms, and offices where full vaccination is not checked and required.

The governor first announced the move Friday.  Businesses face fines of up to $1,000 per violation and local health departments will be responsible for compliance.

On Sunday, the governor termed the mandate “common sense” when speaking at a briefing in western New York about storm damage that occurred the night before, saying it will “save lives” and “drive down the number of infections.”

In New York City, the rules for entering a restaurant, theater, cinema, or fitness center will tighten on Tuesday for children ages 5 to 11, a move that will be followed on December 27 with a requirement that adults entering such establishments must be fully vaccinated.

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the British government would attempt to offer booster doses of the coronavirus vaccine to all eligible adults by year’s end in order to counter what he termed a “tidal wave” of cases precipitated by the omicron variant.

“No one should be in any doubt: There is a tidal wave of Omicron coming,” the prime minister said in a videotaped address to the nation, “and I’m afraid it is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need.”

Finally, the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, said he had tested positive for the coronavirus saying, in a statement released by his office, he had felt unwell after leaving a memorial service for former President F.W. de Klerk.  The statement said that Ramaphosa was only suffering from “mild” Covid symptoms.

As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 270.6 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.4 million new cases, and 5.3 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 243.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5 million.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 119,301, a 43% increase.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,298, an increase of 32% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded over 50.8 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 817,956. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just shy of 34.7 million, and a reported death toll of 475,636.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 616,941, and has almost 22.2 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Monday, 239 million people in the United States – or 72% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 60.8%, or 201.9 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 484.2 million. Breaking this down further, 84.3% of the population over the age of 18 – or 217.8 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 72.1% of the same group – or 186.1 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 28.9% of that population has already received a booster shot.

Some 56% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, a figure that largely unchanged from the prior day, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 8.47 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 7.1% 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 65% 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.

Figures from the World Health Organization show that well-off countries are vaccinating people at the rate of one person per second, while the majority of poor countries have yet to give a single dose to its citizens.

It is critical that the world do a better job of sharing vaccines with poorer nations.

Sharing vaccines is not merely a form of charity.  Rather, the equitable distribution of vaccines is in every country’s health and economic interest and no country will be able to move past the pandemic until other countries have recovered as well.

Jonathan Spira contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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