Coronavirus Morning News Brief – April 18: Mask Mandates Make a Comeback, Some Churches Remain Closed Over Holiday Weekend

White House Covid Coordinator Recommends Fourth Dose for Those Over 60

By Jonathan Spira on 18 April 2022
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A former castle in the Cotswolds

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 769th day of the pandemic.

All across the globe, people traveled to celebrate Passover, Easter, and Ramadan with friends and family, despite the ongoing pandemic. Services were held in thousands of churches and synagogues but some took a dim view of gathering the faithful in poorly vented buildings for holiday services.

The Church of England issued an edict that all churches there must remain closed, even to their own clergy.  This led to the odd oops moment including a suggestion by the bishop of London, Sarah Mullaly, that vicars could live-stream services from their churches, until she recognized her error and corrected herself on Twitter.

The church must “set an example,” said Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury.

It bears mention that a church service in the city of Daegu in South Korea was among the first major superspreader events of the pandemic.  In mid-February 2020, in what can only be described as a religious institution placing its right to worship in public above the rights of individuals to remain healthy, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus worshipped in a crowded, windowless basement.  Among them was a 61-year-old woman with a fever and sore throat.

Three days later, that woman was the 31st person in the country to test positive for Covid-19.  By March 1, 2,200 cases had stemmed from that those services, over 60% of the country’s total infection count at the time.

In other news we cover today, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator recommended a fourth dose of vaccine for those over 60,

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

UNITED STATES

The city of Philadelphia reinstituted its indoor mask mandate on Monday, the first major American city to do so. The move came as the number of new coronavirus infections continued to rise sharply there, and had been announced last week and comes a little over one month after the mandate had been lifted there.

Businesses in the City of Brotherly Love have the option of choosing instead to require proof of vaccination from their employees and customers.

“Starting today, I’m asking all businesses and institutions in Philadelphia to dig up those old masks-required signs and start hanging them in your windows,” the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, said last week in announcing the move.

Some three million workers who stopped working and effectively dropped out of the U.S. workforce during the Covid-19 pandemic don’t plan to return due to pandemic-related fears or physical impairment after the pandemic ends, a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University found.  The result could exacerbate the U.S. labor shortage well into the middle of the decade, according to the study.

The researchers, led by Nicholas Bloom, an economist at the university, refer to the phenomenon as “long social distancing.”

The new White House Covid-19 response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, said on Sunday that Americans over the age of 60 should get a second booster dose of coronavirus vaccine.  Citing what he termed “pretty compelling” new data from Israel about the fourth shot’s efficacy, Jha said he would encourage his “elderly parents” to do so and also tell those over 50 but not yet 60 to consult with their physicians.

GLOBAL

Major manufacturers in Shanghai will request authority to reopen under so-called “closed loop” conditions where workers live and sleep at the factory.  Companies in the automobile, semiconductor, and biomedicine fields are set to submit detailed plans to local authorities for review after pressure from multinational companies, diplomats, and business groups.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, April 18.

As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 504.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.5 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, 456.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.8 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Monday is 42,559,334, a decrease of 425,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 42,517,204, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 42,130, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 10,662 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 11,251 on Sunday, 46,708 on Saturday, 57,563 on Friday, and 53,911 on Thursday, 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 37,619, a 39% 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 511, a decrease of 21% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, 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 521,965. Meanwhile, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 662,011, and has almost 30.3 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position with 27.8 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 23.5 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 Monday, over 256.8 million people in the United States – or 77.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 65.9%, or 218.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 569.4 million. Breaking this down further, 88.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 229.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 75.8% of the same group – or 195.9 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 48.9% of that population, or 95.8 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 Monday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 11.47 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 11.02 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)

 

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