Coronavirus Morning News Brief – July 22: Biden’s Positive Covid Test, Mask Mandate to Return to Los Angeles

Australia Sees Near Record Hospitalizations from Covid

By Jonathan Spira on 22 July 2022
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The White House in Washington, D.C.

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 834th day of the pandemic.

As the coronavirus pummels the world for the third summer in a row, bringing case figures and hospitalizations to their highest levels in months, President Joseph Biden tested positive for Covid on Thursday, a stark reminder that the pandemic isn’t quite done with us yet.

Biden wasn’t the first president to test positive, of course; that dubious honor goes to Donald Trump, who contracted the virus in the fall of 2020.

The experience of the two presidents couldn’t be more different, however.  Trump eschewed masks and gleefully ignored social distancing measures in a time when vaccines had yet to become available, while Biden, whom aides had virtually isolated in the first months of his term, gradually – along with most of the country – stopped donning a face mask in most instances and began to mingle in large unmasked gatherings.

The news – along with the significantly higher case numbers – raises the question of whether we have unmasked too soon.  Unlike the mantra that masking is a personal decision, it’s clear that it isn’t given that the “personal decision” of someone who may be positive to not socially distance and don a mask recklessly puts others at risk.

However, it’s hard to stop a runaway train… and only time will tell where the train comes to rest.

In news we cover today, the chairman of the January 6 committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol tested positive for Covid, Australia is seeing near-record hospitalizations from the virus, and masking will return to Los Angeles.

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

UNITED STATES

A new indoor face mask mandate will go into effect in Los Angeles County on July 29 unless the hospitalization rate drops significantly.  The mask requirement would apply to anyone over the age of 2 at a plethora of establishments ranging from shops to offices, schools, fitness centers, restaurants, and bars, among other venues.

Congressman Bennie Thompson of  Mississippi, the chairman of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2020 attack on the U.S. Capitol, reported on Thursday that he had tested positive for Covid.  As a result, at the televised committee hearing Thursday night, he appeared briefly as chairman and handed the gavel over to the committee’s vice chair, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

GLOBAL

In Australia, officials are holding off on new pandemic restrictions even after the country recorded a 5,357 number of hospitalizations on Thursday.  That figure is one of the country’s highest since the start of the pandemic although the daily average of hospitalizations is still 20% below the figures seen during the country’s biggest Covid wave in January 2022.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, July 22.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 573 million Covid-19 cases, an a decrease of 0.3 million cases reflecting a small adjustment in reporting in the preceding 24 hour period, and 6.39 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 542.9 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Friday is 23,627,142, an increase of 133,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 23,586,331, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 40,811, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the pat 24 hours.

The United States reported 153,030 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 203,255  on Thursday, 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 128,770.  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 128,513, a 19% 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 437, an increase of 34% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 42,449, a 19% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded almost 91.9 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 525,930.

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, 676,551, and has recorded almost 33.5 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with over 33.3 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 30.2 million.

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 20.5 million, in the number seven slot.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Friday, over 261.2 million people in the United States – or 78.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.2%, or 222.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 601.5 million. Breaking this down further, 89.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 232.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77% of the same group – or 198.9 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.4% of that population, or 102.3 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 Fridays 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 Friday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 12.26 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 5.21 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 19.3% 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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