Coronavirus Morning News Brief – May 17: New Yorkers May Soon Have to Mask Up, North Korea Reports 1.5 Million Cases

U.S. to Distribute Additional Free At-Home Covid Test Kits

By Jonathan Spira on 17 May 2022
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An at-home coronavirus test

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 768th day of the pandemic.

As a result of higher community transmission of the coronavirus (see additional coverage under United States), New York City is inching towards the point of an indoor mask mandate, although it won’t be the first major city in the United States to do so this spring as Philadelphia issued such a mandate last month.

Although guidelines call for Mayor Eric Adams to issue a mask mandate when the city hits Level 3, hizzoner said that New York was not quite at that point.

“We are not at the point of mandating masks,” Mayor Adams said on Monday, adding that city hospitals were not overwhelmed and that there were new tools, like antivirals, to deal with the virus.

“We are not at the point of mandating masks,” Mayor Adams said on Monday, adding that city hospitals were not overwhelmed and that there were new tools, such as antivirals, to deal with the virus.

In other news we cover today, North Korea now has 1.5 million cases, U.S. residents can receive more free at-home Covid test kits, and the 7-day incidence in the United States is approaching 100,000.

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

UNITED STATES

New York City’s health commissioner issued a strong recommendation that all individuals don medical-grade masks when indoors in offices, shops, grocery stores, and other public settings.

The move came as the Big Apple approached Level 3 of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s alert system, which means there is high community spread and “substantial pressure” on the health care system.

The U.S. government, which launched its free online Covid test kit offer in January of this year, is now offering Americans an additional eight at-home test kits to each residential address that places a request.

Each of the prior offers for free test kits was for four for each address.

GLOBAL

The latest figures coming out of North Korea indicate that there are at least 1.5 million coronavirus infections there, following an outbreak that began officially last week.  The virus was likely present in the country for at least several months.

The official death toll now stands at 56.

Pyongyang, the capital of the hermit nation, remains under lockdown as of Monday under a “maximum emergency epidemic prevention system,” according to the state-run Korea Central News Agency,

Meanwhile, EV maker Tesla said it was delaying its plan to restore production at its Shanghai plant to levels it had before the city’s series of lockdowns.

Companies are only allowed to reopen if they maintain so-called “closed-loop” operations, which means that Tesla needs to double the number of workers living and sleeping near its production lines.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, May 17.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 523.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 2 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and almost 6.3 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 493.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 2.5 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday is 23,719,500, an increase of 591,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 23,680,568 , are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 38,932, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 147,834 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 14,107 on Monday 25,065 on Sunday, 107,010 on Saturday, and 115,357 on Friday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate continues to climb and is now 96,742.  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 95,813, a 57%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 301, a decrease of 9% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 22,075, a 26% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded 84.2 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, over 43.1 million, and a reported death toll of 524,260.

New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of April that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now over 803,000, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States.  Rosstat reported that 35,584 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in the month of March, compared to 43,543 in February.

Meanwhile, Brazil now has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 665,056, and has seen 30.7 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with 29.2 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 25.8 million.  The United Kingdom, with 22.2 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 Tuesday, 257.9 million people in the United States – or 77.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.4%, or 220.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 581.8 million. Breaking this down further, 89.1% of the population over the age of 18 – or 230 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76.4% of the same group – or 197.3 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 49.9% of that population, or 98.5 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 65.7% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Tuesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 11.73 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 6.77 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 15.9% 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 countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

In addition, North Korea and Eritrea are now the only two countries in the world that have not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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