Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Feb. 4: Major Employers Tell Workers It’s Time to Return, Broadway Audiences Slow to Return

Austria’s Vaccine Mandate Signed Into Law

By Jonathan Spira on 4 February 2022
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The cast of “Jagged Little Pill”

Despite a feeling in many cities across the globe, the pandemic is far from over.  The death toll in India hit the 500,000 mark early Friday and the United States could hit the one million mark within 30 to 45 days if death toll figures continue close to current figures.

In other news we cover, Austria’s Bundespräsident signed a bill into law mandating vaccines for all adults and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 89 million people have received a third, or booster dose of vaccine there.

UNITED STATES

Two major employers in the New York area, American Express and BNY Mellon, plan to call employees back to the office amidst rapidly dropping positivity rates in the city.

At BNY Mellon, managers will be able to individually determine which workers should be required to return to the office, starting March 7.  American Express adopted a hybrid model last year allowing workers greater flexibility in choosing where they physically work from.

Medicare will provide free at-home coronavirus tests under a new policy announced by the Biden administration.

The policy would “allow Medicare beneficiaries to pick up tests at no cost at the point of sale and without needing to be reimbursed,” officials in the administration said.

GLOBAL

Austria’s sweeping vaccine mandate became law on Friday as Bundespräsident Alexander Van der Bellen signed the measure after it was passed by the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament, on Thursday.

Anyone refusing to get inoculated faces fines from €600 ($685) to €3,600.  The only exceptions to the mandate are for those either pregnant or who cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds.

Currently 72% of Austrians are fully vaccinated.

ENTERTAINMENT

Although Broadway has reopened, only 19 of the 41 Broadway houses currently are home to either a play or musical. Compared to the week ending February 2, 2020, right before Broadway shut down, attendance at productions was 232,832 and theaters reported a gross of $26 million.  For the week ending January 30, 2022, attendance was 139,584, and theaters only grossed $15 million. 

The rise of the omicron variant resulted in the closing of five Broadway shows in December, namely “Ain’t Too Proud, “Diana,” Jagged Little Pill, “Thoughts of a Colored Man,” and “Waitress.”  Meanwhile, “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” pressed pause for a number of weeks, with plans to reopen in the spring.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, February 4.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 389.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 3.3 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 5.73 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 308.6 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 2.7 million.

Worldwide, the number of active cases as of Friday is 75,171,922.  Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 75,050,513, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 92,209, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical fell is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 312,238 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 324,907 new cases  on Thursday, 295,374 on Wednesday, and 660,923 on Tuesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 356,256, a 52% 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 2,632, an increase of 30% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded 77.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 920,829. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 41.9 million, and a reported death toll of 500,087. Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 630,001, and has seen 26.1 million cases.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Friday, 250.6 million people in the United States – or 75.5% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 64%, or 212.3 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 541.4 million. Breaking this down further, 87.1% of the population over the age of 18 – or 224.9million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 74.2% of the same group – or 191.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 45.1% of that population, or 86.5 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 61.3% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday, a figure that is largely unchanged in the past 24 hours, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 10.16 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 10% 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. In countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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