Coronavirus Morning News Brief – May 2: New York City Raises Covid Alert Level, Italy Sheds Most Restrictions

The Situation in Shanghai Remains Dire

By Jonathan Spira on 2 May 2022
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Three of New York’s finest on a deserted Park Avenue in the middle of the day in the early days of the pandemic

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 753rd day of the pandemic.

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 753rd day of the pandemic.

New York City, one of the earliest epicenters of the pandemic in the United States, officially moved on Monday into a higher risk level for the coronavirus, although it’s almost a foregone conclusion that this occurred a week or ten days earlier, given the number of individuals using at-home Covid tests. Such tests are generally not included in official tallies.

The increase in cases was led by test data from Manhattan, the first time one of the city’s boroughs had a disproportionately higher number of new infections.

Manhattan and Staten Island are also now classified as “medium” Covid alert counties by the CDC.

The news is a stern reminder that the pandemic is far from over, no matter what some health officials and politicians proclaim.

The move into the yellow risk category for virus transmission could – but does not have to – trigger the return of pandemic restrictions that have been discarded over the past few months.

Health officials there said that New Yorkers should exercise greater caution than they have in the last few weeks.

The Big Apple is seeing almost 2,400 new daily cases on average, a significant increase from the 600 that were reported on average in early March.  The increase, driven largely by the highly transmissible omicron subvariant BA.2 and, to some extent, its own subvariants, has put the number of new infections at the same level as they were when the Delta variant struck the region in 2021.

It’s up to Mayor Eric Adams, who has just recovered from his first case of Covid, and Governor Kathy Hochul to determine what measures, if any, to bring back to contain the spread.  While masks and social distancing could somewhat constrain the city’s recovery, if they cause the city avoid a greater catastrophe, the damage to its economic recovery will be minimized.

In other news we cover today, Italy dropped many of its pandemic-related restrictions, South Africa is seeing a surge in new cases, and the situation in Shanghai remains dire.

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

GLOBAL

Italy relaxed many of its coronavirus restrictions Sunday, including the requirement for a vaccine passport in order to enter restaurants, theaters, and fitness centers.  Most mask requirements were also dropped but FFP2 masks are still mandated in crowded indoor venues including cinemas, theaters, and sports arenas, as well as on mass transit.

Health officials in South Africa have seen Covid cases rise dramatically since the last days of March.  The new increase comes after a decline in cases following an omicron-fueled surge that peaked in December of last year, and is fueled by two omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5.  The number of new daily cases over the past week has tripled, positivity rates are noticeably up, and hospitalizations have also increased.

In Shanghai, residents are protesting the lockdown, which began at the beginning of March, as food distribution continues to be a problem.  The Shanghainese are venting their anger with public acts of disobedience that include marches and art projects; one group of residents found a warehouse of rotting vegetables that were never delivered to people’s homes and smashed them in protest.

In addition, the protests are marked by occasional evening “concerts” where residents bang pots and pans together.

To make matters worse, health officials there reported 58 new coronavirus cases in unguarded, low-risk zones after there had been no new cases for two days.

There was however, some good news: New cases in the city declined for the ninth day, dropping 6.8% to 7,333 on Monday and symptomatic cases fell 7.7% to 727.

Finally, one resident at a senior care center was reportedly mistaken for dead by staff there. A video on social media shows two mortuary workers unzipping a body bag in front of an employee of the care center, while insisting the person was alive.

The Putuo district acknowledged the incident Monday morning and announced an immediate investigation.  A government official later said that a director of the care home and a physician there had either been sacked or reprimanded.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, May 2.

As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 513.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.4 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, 467.9 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Monday is 39,475,768, a decrease of 247,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 39,434,860, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 40,908, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 15,369 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 22,767  on Sunday, 81,673 on Saturday, 71,390 on Friday, and 84,570 reported on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate continues to climb and is now58,144.  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 56,700, a 51% 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 329, a decrease of 29% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded 83.1 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, 43.1 million, and a reported death toll of 523,869.

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, 663,567, and has 30.5 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with over 28.7 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 24.8 million.  The United Kingdom, with over 22 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, 257.7 million people in the United States – or 77.6% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.2%, or 219.7 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 576.1 million. Breaking this down further, 89% of the population over the age of 18 – or 229.9 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76.1% of the same group – or 196.5 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 49.3% of that population, or 96.9 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 65.4% 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, 11.6 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 9.82 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 15.7% 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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