Coronavirus Morning New Brief – Jan. 4: U.S. Sees Record 1 Million New Cases, Virus Impacts Essential Municipal Services

International Travelers Face Long Lines at Covid Testing Stations

By Jonathan Spira on 4 January 2022
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The new LaGuardia Central Terminal building

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the fourth day of 2022.

Over one million people were diagnosed on Monday with the coronavirus in the United States alone, a figure higher by an order of magnitude than what any country has reported since the start of the pandemic.

The 1.08 million figure is almost double the record set just four days earlier, namely 590,000 cases, which was twice the figure reported in the previous week.  The Monday record is also more than twice the highest figure to have been reported outside the United States during the course of the pandemic, when India reported 414,000 new cases on May 7, 2021 in the midst of the delta surge.

UNITED STATES

The staggering figures are wreaking havoc in cities large and small across the country.  In New York City, essential workers including those in transportation, schools, and emergency services are calling in sick by the thousands, including 30% of EMS workers and 14% of the city’s police department.

“There’s hardly a sector that’s not impacted,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine told reporters Monday.

A public school teacher in New York State, Laura Parker Russo, was arrested after being accused of administering the coronavirus vaccine to a minor without parental consent.  She has since been reassigned from classroom duties.  The 17-year-old boy had wanted to get vaccinated but his mother refused to give permission.

The seven-day positivity rate at the U.S. Capitol has risen from 1% to over 13% and the top medical official there is urging lawmakers and staff to work remotely. Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician of the Capitol, in a letter to lawmakers viewed by the Coronavirus Morning News Brief, said that there had been an “unprecedented number of cases” at the Capitol.

The letter stated that almost two-thirds of those tested were symptomatic while the remainder were asymptomatic. Sixty-one percent of recent cases were attributed to the omicron variant, while 35% were due to the delta variant.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations due to Covid are rising sharply in New York State nearing the numbers seen during the peak of last winter’s surge, Governor Kathy Hochul said, while hospitalizations in New York City have surpassed that peak.

TRAVEL

A major winter storm further snarled air traffic, exacerbating crew staffing issues currently being experienced by all major carriers. 

Over 3,200 flights within, flying into, or departing from the United States were cancelled Monday as a result of the storm that hit mid-Atlantic states with heavy snow and nice, and 1,309 flights have been cancelled on Tuesday as of 11:45 a.m. EST.

People traveling to international destinations are running into long lines for the mandatory coronavirus tests required to board flights.  At New York’s LaGuardia Airport, long lines were reported, not for checking in or the security checkpoint but for the Covid testing center located in the parking garage at the airport’s Central Terminal, also known as Terminal B.   Some flyers report missing their flights after delays in receiving test results.

Travelers arriving in Hong Kong already face up to three weeks of mandatory quarantine and now the special administrative region will require residents and visitors to have at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine in order to enter restaurants starting February 24.  The vaccine passport was originally slated to go into effect earlier but officials are waiting until Lunar New Year celebrations have ended.

GLOBAL NEWS

Officials in the Philippines announced the expansion of a lockdown for non-vaccinated individuals in the region around the capital, Manila. The move comes after a spike in Covid cases after the holidays.  Health officials there reported 4,984 new cases on Monday and 5,434 on Tuesday, the third day where cases were over 4,000 and record highs for the winter season.

The regulations are “just temporary,” said Benhur Abalos, the head of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

Police in Spain reported multiple major thefts of coronavirus tests.  Authorities there, in the final days of 2021, seized 300,000 unauthorized antigen tests from a warehouse, and on New Year’s Eve, 208,000 antigen tests were stolen from a warehouse near Barcelona.

French television presenter Igor Bogdanoff died, reportedly from Covid, at the age of 72, just six days after the death of his twin brother, Gregoire.  The brothers became well-known in the 1980s through hosting a series of science and science fiction television shows.  According to a report in Le Monde, neither brother had been inoculated against the coronavirus.  A friend, Luc Perry, a former minister of education, said that the brothers believed that the vaccine was “more dangerous” than the virus.

Finally, dog owners in Québec are protesting new Covid curfew rules that forbid dog walking between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.  A spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Social Services said that the rules would be adjusted to accommodate canine needs although a timeframe wasn’t given.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, January 4.

Please note that reporting delays while most states and government agencies paused pandemic reporting during the New Year’s holiday weekend continue.  The delays will likely lead to spikes in reports in the coming days as officials catch up.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 293.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 2.4 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 5.47 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 255.6 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.9 million.

Worldwide, the current number of infections as of Tuesday is 32,229,276.  Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 32,136,841, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 92,435, are listed as critical.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 486,658, a 239% increase, based on data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,276, a decrease of 3% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded 56.1 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 847,408. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 34.9 million, and a reported death toll of 481,893.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 619,171, and has almost 22.3 million cases.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of last Friday, 243.5 million people in the United States – or 73.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 62%, or 205.8 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 507.7 million. Breaking this down further, 85.5% of the population over the age of 18 – or 220.7 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 72.8% of the same group – or 188 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 36.3% of that population, or 68.3 million people, has already received a booster shot.

Please note that interruptions in testing and data reporting have affected vaccination data that the CDC made available during the New Year’s holiday period.

Over 58.5% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Tuesday, a figure that is largely unchanged from the prior day, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 9.25 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 8.5% 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.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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