Coronavirus Morning News Brief – July 21: Why My Crystal Ball Was Wrong About Covid, U.S. Creates New Agency for Pandemic Preparedness

Pandemic Causes Significant Shortfall at Agency That Operates New York’s Buses and Subways

By Jonathan Spira on 21 July 2022
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Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 833rd day of the pandemic.

The United States recorded over 200,000 new coronavirus infections on Thursday for the first time since February 8 of this year, when that figure was 228,349 and new cases were on the decline as the omicron surge waned.

My crystal ball has clearly been off.

What’s remarkable is that half of the world’s total coronavirus cases have been reported in 2022 and we are barely halfway through the year.  At the current rate, 2022 could well see more than 75% of the total, if not more.

While the number of cases is significant, the delta between that figure and severe outcomes has dramatically increased to the point where we see but a fraction, perhaps one-tenth, of the deaths earlier Covid waves had wrought.

Given the dramatic increase of at-home testing, which has resulted in the overwhelming majority of new cases going unreported and brought the estimate of actual new daily infections to be closer to 1 million, we are seeing the virus spread just as most mitigation policies such as mandatory masking and social distancing have all but disappeared and vaccination figures have stalled.

Yes, far fewer people are dying from Covid than since the earliest days of the pandemic before the virus began to spread, but 765 people died on Wednesday, reportedly from Covid, the highest figure since April 6, when 1,116 people died.

Meantime, in case you thought we might soon be out of the woods, there’s always the BA.275 variant – the one that infected Dr. Anthony Fauci – to think about.

I’ve unplugged my crystal ball at this point.  It was clearly faulty (as most generally are) and its predictions of an end to the virus were simply wrong.  That, of course, doesn’t explain the tens of thousands of five-star reviews it got on Amazon, however.

Now that is something to ponder.

In news we cover today, New York’s buses and trains are failing to recover from the early days of the pandemic, Macau is reopening its casinos, and the United States is creating the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response.

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

UNITED STATES

The Biden administration will elevate the office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to its own operating division, the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response.   The new division within the Department of Health and Human Services will coordinate the country’s response to pandemic threats and other health emergencies, a move that recognizes the ill-preparedness of the federal government at the present time.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has caused and continues to cause a major shortfall at the agency that operates buses, trains, and subways, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Prior to the start of the pandemic, over five million people used the city’s public transit system on a daily basis and the fares they paid accounted for 51.1% of the MTA’s operating costs.

As many New Yorkers continue to stay away from buses and subways, that figure was just 31.9% of May 2022, the state’s comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, said Tuesday.

In an unrelated move, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Wednesday that she plans to continue the face mask mandate on public transit in the state.

GLOBAL

Officials in Macau announced that casinos there will be permitted to reopen Saturday following a nearly two-week coronavirus-induced shutdown.

The city-wide lockdown began on July 11 was the first closure of casinos there since the earliest days of the pandemic in 2020.

Government officials will also allow most non-essential businesses to reopen over a period starting this Saturday through the end of the month.

TRAVEL

The Caribbean island of Anguilla will end its pre-departure testing requirement in August, officials there announced.

Anguilla requires visitors to be fully vaccinated, a requirement that will remain in effect.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, July 21.

As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 573.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 1.4 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 6.39 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 541.9 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.9 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Thursday is 23,493,792, an increase of 1 million. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 23,453,209, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 40,583, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the pat 24 hours.

The United States reported 203,255 new coronavirus infections on Thursday for the previous day, compared to 160,871 on Wednesday, 169,796 on Tuesday, and 21,971 on Monday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate continues to be over 100,000 and is now 127,288.  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 127,758, an 18% 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 426, an increase of 32% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 41,852, a 19% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded almost 91.8 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.05 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 43.8 million, and a reported death toll of 525,870.

New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of May that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 812,890, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States.  Rosstat reported that 11,583 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in April, down from 35,584 in March and from 43,543 in February.

Meanwhile, Brazil now has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 676,820, and has recorded almost 33.5 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with over 33.2 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 30.1 million.  has 20.4 million cases.

The other two countries with total case figures over the 20,000 mark are currently United Kingdom, with 23.2 million cases, in sixth position, and Italy, with 20.4 million, in the number seven slot.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, over 260.7 million people in the United States – or 78.5% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.1%, or 222.7 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 596.2 million. Breaking this down further, 89.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 231.8 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77% of the same group – or 198.8 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.3% of that population, or 102 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish it on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Over 66.8% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Thursday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 12.25 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 4.94 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 19.4% 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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