Coronavirus Morning News Brief – June 6: ‘Ghost Students’ Apply for and Steal Financial Aid, D-Day Was 79 Years Ago Today, and Today’s Statistics

Milestone in Japan: 100 Years Behind the Mask

By Jonathan Spira on 6 June 2023
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Students on campus, known as the grounds, of the University of Virginia

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,182nd day of the pandemic and the 79th anniversary of D-Day.

D-Day, the invasion by the Allies – primarily the U.S., Great Britain and Canada – of German-held western Europe took place on June 6, 1944. Code-named Operation Overlord, the plan had been in the works for years but advanced in December 1943 when General Dwight Eisenhower was installed as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force.  The massive offensive strained an already weakened Germany and helped bring about the end of the Second World War 11 months later.


Milestone in Japan: 100 Years Behind the Mask

On Monday, in our Global News coverage, we noted that many Japanese continue to don face masks even though the mandate to do so ended many months ago.

Indeed, the numbers show that just as many Japanese are donning them now as they were two months earlier, 55%, according to a poll by public broadcaster NHK at the end of May.  Only 8% said that they had stopped wearing face masks altogether.

Although the use of face masks in Japan can be traced back to the nineteenth century, it was the Spanish flu pandemic, also known as the Great Influenza, which took place between 1918 and 1920, that significantly altered the citizens’ attitude towards masking and they have remained a weapon of choice against disease since then.  At the time, Japanese health officials searched for effective ways to contain the pandemic in  the land of the rising Sun and learnt about the success city fathers in San Francisco had achieved containing the virus in that city using face masks.

During the Hong Kong flu in the 1960s, children took masks to school and there was little need to impose fines on adults to get them to wear face coverings.

Local authorities across Japan encouraged people to don face masks in hospitals, on trains and trams, and in crowded areas.  Theaters, cinemas, and buses were later added to the list of venues where masking was mandatory.

It’s worth noting that the Hong Kong flu was the third influenza pandemic to break out in the twentieth century.

Moving into the twenty-first century, Japanese authorities began to use public health campaigns to encourage the use of masks as a general preventative measure. There was a growing push to make the populace understand that their individual actions mattered, not only for their own health but also for the health of others including the community at large as well as the entire country.

Given that Japan is a collectivistic society that puts group harmony above the expression of the individual, this was not a difficult task.

In other news we cover today, “ghost students” are stealing financial aid funds, the deer tick problem is growing in some parts of the United States, and the FDA is warning against drinking “poppers.”


So-called “ghost students” are stealing thousands in financial aid by stealing identities and enrolling in schools.  There have been thousands of fraudulent attempts to enroll in community colleges since the pandemic forced higher education online.  Some 20% of applications to California community colleges – some 460,000 out of 2.3 million – are in some way scams, the state Chancellor’s Office said in a statement.  The state’s 116 community colleges are required to accept any student in the state with a high school diploma. A social security number is not required to apply.


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a $100 million plan to address tick-borne diseases.  The move comes as healthcare experts say that 2023 will see a significant number of deer, dog, and lone star ticks after a mild winter on Long Island.

“Due to climate change, as well as Long Island being overrun by deer, the tick population has skyrocketed,” the, president of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference, David Reisfield, told CBS News.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about amyl nitrate, commonly known as “poppers,” an inhalant that is sniffed and gives a short term head rush high.  Popular in gay circles, the FDA said that poppers “can prove fatal” if someone mistakes them for energy shots and drinks them.

In a tweet, the agency said that “[W]e continue to receive reports of people dying or being severely injured after consuming poppers that resemble, and [are] often mistaken for, popular energy shots. Drinking or inhaling poppers seriously jeopardizes your health.”


Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, June 6.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded just under 690 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of less than 0.1 million from the previous day, and 6.89 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 662.4 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 Tuesday at press time is 20,662,806, a decrease of 25,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,625,060, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,746, 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 May 27 was 6.79%, down from 7.96% 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 1.77% and, for RSV, that figure was 0.48%.

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 Tuesday, recorded over 107.1 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 531,884.

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 start 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, 702,907, 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 31.8 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with just under 25.9 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.6 million, and Russia, with 22.9 million.


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.

Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.  Starting 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 Tuesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 13.41 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 96,164 doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 30.1% 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 start of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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