Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Jan. 5: CDC Updates Isolation Guidance, ‘No Excuse for Anyone Being Unvaccinated,’ Says Biden

Macron Argues France Should Make Life ‘Miserable’ for the Unvaccinated

By Jonathan Spira on 5 January 2022
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A man sits on the phone in a Paris courtyard

U.S. President Joseph Biden again urged Americans to get vaccinated.  “There’s no excuse for being unvaccinated,” he said in remarks broadcast from the White House.  “This continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he added. He asked parents to “look out” for their kids’ interests by getting them vaccinated as well, saying “it’s the best way to protect them.”

UNITED STATES

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for individuals infected by the virus who plan to return to work or resume social activities. The agency stopped short of requiring testing but said that, if an infected person has access to testing and wants to get tested, then he should use an antigen test, also known as a rapid test, towards the end of the five-day isolation period. If the test is positive, he should remain in isolation, but if it provides a negative result, he can end isolation but must don a well-fitting face mask when around others.

The update comes as the CDC said that the omicron variant was responsible for 95.4% of all new coronavirus infections in the United States last week, a figure significantly higher than in previous weeks.

President Biden said that the U.S. government is doubling its order for Paxlovid, Pfizer’s new Covid anti-viral pill, from ten million to 20.  In remarks on Wednesday, Biden acknowledged that the shortage of adequate Covid testing “remains frustrating.” He said that the government is adding more federal testing sites on a daily basis.  He added that details on free at-home testing kits for Americans will be available “soon.”

GLOBAL

French President Emmanuel Macron came under fire after saying the government should make life miserable for the non-vaccinated, as new infection rates in the country continue to soar. “I really want to piss off the unvaccinated,” he said in an interview with the newspaper Le Parisien. “And we are going to continue to do that until the end.”

A new variant, B.1.640.2, has been identified in France but little is known about it at the present time. Its presence was revealed in a study – not yet peer reviewed – that was released via the pre-print repository medRXiv.  Twelve cases were identified in southern France after one patient returned from Cameroon. Testing found what scientists there called an “atypical” combination of spike genome mutations that did not correspond to the pattern seen in the Delta variant that was prevalent at the time.

In Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia tested positive for the coronavirus, the palace said in a statement on Wednesday.  The number of infections in the Nordic nation continues to rise, driven by the omicron variant.

TRAVEL

The cruise ship Norwegian Pearl, which was heading towards the Panama Canal, is returning to Port Miami. The voyage, the cruise line said, is being cancelled due to “Covid-related circumstances.”

Italian media reported that dozens of passengers were taken off the cruise liner MSC Grandiosa in Genoa after testing positive for the coronavirus. “As per protocol, the COVID-positive passengers and their relatives were immediately isolated in balcony cabins and received medical attention,” MSC said in a statement.

ENTERTAINMENT

The show “Flying Over Sunset” at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center will end its Broadway run earlier than expected, its producers announced.  The final performance will be on January 16; originally, the show was scheduled to run through February 6.  While the producers of the show did not specify a reason for the change, five Broadway shows have already closed due to current Covid situation as theatergoers stay away from the Great White Way.

Broadway in Chicago announced that it has discontinued the sale of snacks and drinks in its theaters and that neither eating nor drinking is permitted.  Owned by the Nederlander Organization, Broadway in Chicago offers a variety of musicals and plays at five historic Chicagoland theaters.

The 79th Golden Globe Awards will take place Sunday at the Beverly Hilton sans red carpet, celebrities, non-Hollywood Foreign Press Association members of the press, and general audience, a gathering that reflects the current situation amidst the omicron variant outbreak as well as that the group has been the subject of great controversy in the past few years.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

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

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 Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 295.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 2.6 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 5.48 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 256.3 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.9 million.

Worldwide, the current number of infections as of Wednesday is 34,113,289.  Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 34,022,148, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 91,141, are listed as critical.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 547,613, a 254% 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 1,323, a decrease of 3% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded 58 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 851,475. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 35 million, and a reported death toll of 482,551.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 619,426, and has 22.3 million cases.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Wednesday, 244.9 million people in the United States – or 73.8% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 62.2%, or 206.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 512.7 million. Breaking this down further, 85.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 221.7 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 73% of the same group – or 188.5 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 37.7% of that population, or 71 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.  The CDC started publishing vaccination data again late Wednesday.

Over 58.6% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Wednesday, 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, 9.28 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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