Coronavirus Morning News Brief – April 15: New York Sees Record Number of New Cases, Shanghai’s Isolation Centers Are Falling Down

U.S. to Continue Mask Mandate on Planes and Trains

By Jonathan Spira on 15 April 2022
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Masked theatergoers at a recent performance of Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man”

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 766th day of the pandemic.

Every time we as a society decide that the pandemic is behind us, it roars back to assert its authority and power over us.

Over the past four weeks, the weekly average number of the coronavirus cases in New York City, the first major epicenter of the pandemic in the country, has more than tripled.  After several months of virtually no Covid-related closures, Broadway and off-Broadway have seen a spate of outbreaks within shows’ respective companies, causing performances to be paused, in some cases for over a week.

Cases in New York State hit a two month high on Friday, with 7,424 new infections, and other states, especially in the Northeast, are seeing similar increases.

Masking is making a return in the United States.  Philadelphians will have an indoor mask mandate starting Monday, and the country will continue its mask mandate for all public transit, be it buses, trolleys, subways, trains, or planes.

Notably, South Korea, which is ending virtually all restrictions (see details under Global), will retain its mask mandate as well.

Given how contagious the omicron subvariant BA.2 and its own subvariants are, masking continues to be of great importance, but it’s critical that people wear either an N95 or a KN95, KF94, or FFP2 mask, which is far more effective at blocking out the aerosols that carry infection versus a porous cloth mask.

In other news we cover today,  the FDA authorized the first breathalyzer test for Covid, the lockdown in Shanghai isn’t going as planned, and the United States will continue the federal mask mandate for all forms of transit.

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

UNITED STATES

The Food and Drug Administration said it had granted emergency use authorization to the InspectIR Covid-19 Breathalyzer.  The device is the first coronavirus test that can detect the virus in a breath sample in just a few minutes. The suitcase-size device provides results with a high degree of accuracy, the agency said in a statement.

GLOBAL

Officials in South Korea announced plans to eliminate virtually all coronavirus restrictions save the mask mandate.

Starting Monday, restaurants and bars will be permitted to remain open 24 hours a day as opposed to having to close at midnight, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Friday. Capacity restrictions on celebrations such as weddings and private gatherings will end and, one week later, restrictions on eating and drinking at movie theaters, religious and cultural institutions, and indoor sports facilities will come to an end.

Already under heavy criticism for the construction quality of its hastily built isolation facilities, known as fangcange,  the Chinese government is facing additional issues including videos on social media showing leaking and collapsing roofs and people in Shanghai screaming from their apartments over a lack of access to food due to the lockdown.

China’s “Zero Covid” policy calls for anyone testing positive, be he asymptomatic or ill with the coronavirus, to be sent to a quarantine facility or, in the case of serious illness, to hospital.

TRAVEL

The United States on Wednesday said it will once again extend its mask mandate for all forms of public transportation including airplanes, trains, buses, light rail, subways, and streetcars as well as for airports and rail terminals, a Biden administration official said.  The mandate will be in effect through at least May 3, 2022.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, April 15.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 503.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 1 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and over 6.2 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 453.6 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Friday is 43,310,606, a decrease of 96,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 43,267,791 are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 42,815 are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 57,563 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 53,911 on Thursday, 23,034 on Wednesday, and 49,391 on Tuesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 36,830, a 32% increase, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 500, a decrease of 28% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded 82.3 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just over 43 million, and a reported death toll of 521,722. Meanwhile, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 661,855, and has 30.2 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position with 27.4 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 23.3 million.  The United Kingdom, with over 21.7 million cases, is now number six and is the only other country in the world with a total number of cases over the 20 million mark.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Friday, over 256.6 million people in the United States – or 77.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 65.8%, or 218.7 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 567.8 million. Breaking this down further, 88.7% of the population over the age of 18 – or 229 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 75.8% of the same group – or 195.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 48.8% of that population, or 95.6  million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 65 % of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 11.45 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 11.79 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 15.2% 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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