Coronavirus Morning News Brief – April 20: Covid Cases Climb in U.S., Milwaukee Reinstates School Mask Mandate

High Number of New Infections Continue in Shanghai Despite Lockdown

By Jonathan Spira on 20 April 2022
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Epcot Theme Park at Walt Disney World

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 771st day of the pandemic.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine took hold of the news cycle starting at the end of February but the coronavirus pandemic is now vying for equal space above the fold.

Coronavirus cases continue to climb in the United States thanks to the highly infectious BA.2.12.1 subvariant of the omicron subvariant BA.2.  The 14-day incidence rate is now 42,000 daily infections. At the end of March and start of April, it hovered in the 27,000 range.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that the new subvariant now comprises one-fifth of all coronavirus cases.

But the big news is the U.S. mask mandate for train and plane travel, or possible lack thereof.

The Biden administration said late Tuesday that it is now up to the CDC to determine whether the mandate is necessary for public health.  If so, the administration will appeal a federal judge’s decision to strike it down on Monday.

In other news we cover today, Milwaukee reinstated its school mask mandate, Disney dropped its mask mandate for Disney World, and China continues to report a high number of new infections in Shanghai, despite the lockdown.

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


The most recent data on new cases shows that Champaign, Illinois, and Burlington, Vermont, top the list of metropolitan areas with the highest number of new coronavirus cases.  Last week, four out of the five top metropolitan areas for new cases were in New York State, a list led by Syracuse and Ithaca.  Still, the majority of counties with the highest number of Covid cases are in New York State.

In Florida, the Walt Disney Company said that face masks would no longer be required at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

A new report from the CDC shows that non-vaccinated children in the age group 5 to 11 were hospitalized with Covid at twice the rate of those who had been inoculated against the virus.  The study was reported in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.

The researchers concluded that vaccination “can prevent Covid-19–associated hospitalization and severe outcomes.”

Meanwhile, public schools in Milwaukee reinstated mandatory mask-wearing for all students and teachers just one day after it was made optional. City officials said that the decision to return to the mask mandate was “after determining a significant transmission of the virus within the city of Milwaukee.”


Health officials in Shanghai reported 2,494 new symptomatic Covid cases on Wednesday, after reporting 3,084 on Tuesday, only the second time that symptomatic case numbers were over 3,000.  There were 16,407 new local asymptomatic cases on Wednesday, a slight decline from 17,332 on the previous day.

In addition, seven people died from Covid on Tuesday, it was reported.

With the exception of several months in early 2020, officials there have consistently reported zero daily deaths, leading multiple health experts to believe that there has been a significant undercount of Covid-related deaths in the country.


Royal Caribbean International, previously known as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, will require as part of the new protocols, all passengers departing from Southampton who are 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated and, if the second dose of vaccine was more than 270 days prior to departure, boosted with a third dose as well.

The cruise line sails to a variety of locations from Southampton, including Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the Norwegian Fjords, and other Scandinavian destinations.


Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, April 20.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 506.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.8 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, 458.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.1 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Wednesday is 41,542,462, a decrease of 353,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 41,500,660, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 41,802, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 50,453 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the previous day, compared to 60,075 on Tuesday, 10,662 on Monday, 11,251 on Sunday, and 46,708 on Saturday, 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 41,989, a 47% 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 410, a decrease of 32% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded over 82.4 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 522,006. Meanwhile, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 662,266, 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 23.6 million.  The United Kingdom, with 21.8 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.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Wednesday, over 256.8 million people in the United States – or 77.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66%, 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 570.1 million. Breaking this down further, 88.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 229.3 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 75.9% of the same group – or 195.9 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 49% of that population, or 95.9 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 Wednesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 11.48 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 10.76 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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