Coronavirus Morning News Brief – April 23: ‘Do I Have Covid?’, Virus Was Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

By Jonathan Spira on 23 April 2022
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A coronavirus testing center in New York City

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 774th day of the pandemic.

Cases across the globe continue to rise.  The United States reported almost 70,000 new cases on Friday, the highest since 107,000 were reported on February 28.

On Friday, I woke up with a scratchy throat and runny nose.  Not surprisingly given these figures, my first thought was Covid.  Of course, the coronavirus isn’t ever far from my thoughts given my position as of January 2020 as an armchair epidemiologist.  (While I am a researcher by degree, my studies were in history so this has been a learning experience.)

Uncharacteristically, before getting out of bed, I turned on the bedroom television and navigated to the Haystack News app, a news aggregator on Apple TV.  The local weatherman cheerily told me that, “If you’re waking up with a scratchy throat and runny nose, there’s a lot of pollen in the air today.”

I sighed with relief.

The cause of my scratchy throat and runny nose was simple, yet, for a few moments, I felt the terror that the possible presence of SARS-CoV-2 causes.  My immune system was mistakenly seeing the pollen as a danger and hence released antibodies that would attack the allergens. That leads to the release of histamines into the blood.

Histamines will trigger the runny nose, scratchy throat, itchy eyes, and other symptoms that are all too familiar to allergy sufferers.  Luckily, I don’t have many allergies, just chronic sinusitis.

Just to be sure, I performed a home Covid test and it was negative.   I also took an antihistamine to stop the runny nose and scratchy throat.  Problem solved yet Covid still looms over all of us like a mosquito, or to some, a terrorist, that never exits the scene.

In other news we cover today, New York City suspended almost 100 teachers for submitting forged vaccination cards, a patient died after setting a 505-day record for having Covid, and it’s now permissible to hug Mickey Mouse and other characters at Disneyland.

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

UNITED STATES

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that SARS-CoV-2 was, for the second year in a row, the third leading cause of death in the country in 2021 , after heart disease and cancer.

In New York City, the Department of Education suspended almost 100 teachers for having submitted forged or fake vaccination cards.  Proof of fully vaccinated status has been required by the department since September.

“Fraudulent vaccination cards are not only illegal, they also undermine the best line of protection our schools have against Covid-19: universal adult vaccination,” said Nathaniel Styr, a spokesman for the department. Law enforcement officials and the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District are investigating the matter, he told reporters.

At Disneyland, located in Anaheim, California, hugs are officially back after a period of over two years.  Walt Disney is allowing visitors to the theme park – children and adults alike – to hug their favorite characters, including Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, and Snow White.

While both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, were closed for over a year in the earliest months of the pandemic, both reopened in 2021, but kept their cast members far away from adoring fans.

Officials in Philadelphia, who last week announced an indoor mask mandate that went into effect this past Monday, ended the mandate on Friday amid improving conditions.  In making the announcement, the Department of Public Health said it would encourage but not require residents and visitors to wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

Masks will continue to be required in healthcare settings such as hospitals and doctors’ offices and congregate settings such as nursing homes and homeless shelters.

GLOBAL

A British coronavirus patient died after what his physicians termed “one continuous infection,” which lasted 505 days.  The patient consistently tested positive for the virus for a period of almost 17 months, before succumbing to the disease.

The patient, who had a severely compromised immune system prior to contracting Covid, had been one of nine individuals enrolled in a study of people with weakened immune systems who were being followed by researchers in London.

The throat swab tests this patient had, Dr. Luke Blagdon Snell, of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, told the BBC “were positive each time. The patient never had a negative test. And we can tell it was one continuous infection because the genetic signature of it, the information we got from sequencing the viral genome, was unique and constant in that patient.”

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, April 23.

As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 508.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.9 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, 461.2 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.8 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Saturday is 41,325,777, an increase of 16,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 41,283,050, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 42,727, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 69,827 new coronavirus infections on Saturday for the previous day, compared to 59,094 on Friday, 62,898 on Thursday, and 50,453 on Wednesday,, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is 46,372.  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 46,490, a 52% 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 369, a decrease of 33% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded over 82.6 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 522,149. Meanwhile, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 662,618, and has 30.3 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position with 28.2 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 24 million.  The United Kingdom, with over 21.9 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 Saturday, over 257.1 million people in the United States – or 77.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66%, or 219.2 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 571.6 million. Breaking this down further, 88.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 229.5 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 75.9% of the same group – or 196.1 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 49.1% of that population, or 96.2 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 Saturday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 11.5 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 10.77 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.

Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries –  Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal –  have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many are under 20 percent and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, 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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