Coronavirus Morning News Brief – March 7: N.Y.C. Vaccine Mandate for Restaurants Ends, Cases Surge in China

Covid Disinformation Drops as Russia Blocks Twitter and Facebook

By Jonathan Spira on 7 March 2022
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Carnegie Hall in New York City

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 66th day of 2022.

Today marks the end of the vaccine passport requirement for diners at restaurants in New York City as well as the mask mandate in schools, but some public health experts are concerned that the move is premature and sends the message that Covid is no longer a threat.

Three million people have been infected by the coronavirus has in just the past two days.

Indeed, the United States has become largely mask free except when traveling by public transit, railroad, or airplane, or visiting a hospital or physician’s office.

Only time will tell whether we threw the baby out with the bathwater.

In other news we cover today, China is experiencing a surge in new cases, South Korea apologizes to coronavirus patients who faced long lines to vote.

Here’s a look at what has taken place over the past 24 hours.

UNITED STATES

New York City’s vaccine passport program, Key to NYC, is partially coming to an end Monday.  Restaurants, cafés, and fitness centers will no longer have to check a patron’s vaccine credentials to permit entry, although some may still choose to do so.

Masks will still be required in a number of settings including on public transit and in black cars and taxis.  A vaccine passport and face mask will still be required at all Broadway shows through at least April 30 and some cultural venues such as the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Center require patrons to have had a third, or booster, dose of vaccine as well.

The city’s vaccine mandates for municipal workers and employees of private companies remains in effect.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s plan to provide free antiviral medication to individuals testing positive for Covid may be in jeopardy.  A group of Republican senators is seeking a detailed accounting of how existing funds were spent and whether any money was left over in the budget.

GLOBAL

The amount of coronavirus disinformation is markedly down since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The change is likely due to Russia’s information war with western nations. On Saturday, Russia blocked access to Twitter in the country, only hours after blocking Facebook.  In addition, western countries have levied sanctions on individuals who are likely financing bot farms and disinformation sites.

This phenomenon has been observed by numerous social media users.

“There has been a steep drop in Russian bot and troll activity, so this is making it easier to identify them and deal with them,” said Cheri Jacobus, a political commentator on CNBC, last week.

A surge in new coronavirus cases is disrupting China’s “zero Covid” approach to the pandemic.  The country, which was the world’s first epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, is now facing the biggest increase in cases since the earliest days of the pandemic.  Health officials reported over 800 new cases over the weekend, a figure that was almost as many as were reported during the previous week in total.

New cases were reported in 17 of the country’s 31 provinces.

Since the initial surge in early 2020, when as many as 15,000 new cases were reported in a single day, the number of new cases in the country of 1.4 billion people has been averaging 25 to 35 per day.

Meanwhile, officials in South Korea, which is experiencing a surge in Covid cases, were forced to apologize to coronavirus patients who faced long lines during special voting hours for such individuals during a recent special election.

Some patients reportedly fainted during the wait.

“We are very sorry for causing an inconvenience to the Covid-19 patients during the early-voting period,” the National Election Commission said in a statement.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, March 7.

As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 447.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 1.4 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and over 6 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 380.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.5 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Monday is 60,841,920.  Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 60,767,366, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 70,884, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 6,753 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 16,496 on Sunday, 50,139 on Saturday, and 51,708 on Friday, 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 44,386, a 57% 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 1,510, a decrease of 31% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded over 80.9 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 984,280. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 42.9 million, and a reported death toll of 515,133. Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 652,207, and has seen 29.1 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position, with 23.1 million cases, and the United Kingdom is in the number five slot with over 19.1 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Monday, 254.1 million people in the United States – or 76.5% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 65.1%, or 216.1 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 554.9 million. Breaking this down further, 88% of the population over the age of 18 – or 227.3 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 75.1% of the same group – or 193.9 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 47.4% of that population, or 91.9 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 63.2% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sunday, 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, 10.88 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 13.6% 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)

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