Coronavirus Morning News Brief – June 19: N.Y.C. to Replace Health Data Collection System, West Virginia’s Covid Lottery Under Scrutiny

U.K. Conservative Party Faces Outrage Over Lockdown Party Video

By Jonathan Spira on 20 June 2023
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Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,194th day of the pandemic.

In news we cover today, the U.K. Conservative Party is facing public outrage over a lockdown party video

UNITED STATES

The New York City Department of Health said that its health data collection system was so overloaded during the pandemic that it will replace it.

“The current state [Electronic Data Reporting Infrastructure]  was not able to process the overwhelming reporting of Covid-19,” the department’s Fund for Public Health said in its solicitation for bids on a $5 million, three-year contract to upgrade its data system.

In North Carolina, UNC Health announced it will ease its mask mandate starting next week.  Masks will continue to be required for patients with respiratory issues; anyone treating such patients; and staff, patients, and visitors in ICUs and transplant units.  Patients who prefer to don a face mask may also tell their healthcare practitioner to do the same.

Duke Health, the parent of the Duke University Health System and the School of Medicine, also announced similar changes.  Masks are now optional at Duke Health’s campuses as well, barring a few exceptions, such as when a patient or visitor has respiratory symptoms or if a staff member is within 10 days of having had a coronavirus-19 infection.

Over the course of the first two years of the pandemic, multiple states used taxpayer money to fund and operate lotteries designed to encourage people to get the jab.  West Virginia, which had one of the country’s largest, is now under investigation for it.

CBS News reported that federal investigators subpoenaed Governor Jim Justice’s office about the sweepstakes. The focus, according to the governor’s staff, is on car dealers who supplied trucks that were given to lottery winners and questions about how much they cost taxpayers in income tax.

GLOBAL

In the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party is facing fresh criticism after the release of a party held on December 14, 2020 to support the mayoralty campaign of Shaun Bailey at Tory headquarters.  At the time London was under Tier-2 restrictions, which banned indoor socializing.

The Metropolitan Police said it is reviewing the footage of the event, first published by the Mirror.

In the footage, one person is heard saying that it is OK to film “as long as we don’t stream that we’re, like, bending the rules.”

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, June 19.

As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 690.6 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.2 million from the previous day, and 6.89 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, just over 663 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.1 million from the previous day.

The reader should note that infrequent reporting from some sources may appear as spikes in new case figures or death tolls.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Monday at press time is 20,650,400, a decrease of 46,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,612,933, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,467, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past eight months.

The United States reported 72,136 new cases in the period May 4 through May 10, a figure that is down 26% over the same period one week earlier, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The test positivity rate for the week ending June 10 was 7.04%, down from 8.07%, in the prior week, according to data from the CDC Respiratory Virus Laboratory Emergency Department Network Surveillance, or RESP-LENS. By comparison, the test positive rate for influenza was 1.47% and, for RSV, that figure was 0.41%.

The death toll from Covid was 1.5% in the week ending May 27, 2023, and the trend in Covid-19 deaths is up 7.1% over the same period.

Finally, the number of hospital admissions from Covid for the week ending May 30 was 7,643, a figure that is down 8.4% over the preceding 7-day period.

Starting on March 25, 2023, the Morning News Brief began to update case data as well as death tolls on a weekly basis.  In addition, starting on May 15, 2023, the Morning News Brief has pressed pause on certain data sets as we assess the update of changes in reporting by U.S. health authorities at the CDC.

Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has, as of Monday, recorded over 107.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1.16 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 45 million, and a reported death toll of 531,896.

The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July 2022, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the Monday of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States.  Rosstat last reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July 2022, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.

Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with 40.1 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 38.4 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 703,399, has recorded 37.6 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are Japan, with 33.8 million cases, South Korea, with 32 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.9 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.6 million, and Russia, with 22.9 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of May 11, over 270.2 million people in the United States – or 81.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.5%, or 230.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now over 676.7 million. Breaking this down further, 92.23% of the population over the age of 18 – or 238.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 79.1% of the same group – or 204.3 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 20.5% of the same population, or 53 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine, while 23.7 million people over the age of 65, or 43.3% of that population have also received the bivalent booster.

Monday on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Monday by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.  Monday on May 11, 2023, the CDC pressed pause on reporting new vaccine data, a hiatus it said would end on June 15 of this year.

Some 70.1% 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, 13.42 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 139,555 doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 30.2% 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 countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain at or below 10%.

In addition, with the Monday of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.

Paul Riegler contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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