Coronavirus Morning News Brief – July 21: Ponzi Scammer Freed by Trump Fleeced Covid Investors, Long Covid Symptom ‘Ages’ Patient by 10 Years

By Jonathan Spira on 21 July 2023
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Tower Bridge in London

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,227th day of the pandemic.


Masks Are Back – ‘Facekinis’ Are the Hot New Fashion Trend

It was bound to happen.  Masks are making a return, but not in the way you might imagine.

In China, as temperatures soar above 95° F (35° C), people are starting to buy and wear “facekinis,” full-face masks with holes for the wearer’s eyes and nose – and are wearing hats with built-in fans for cooling.  Most are made out of UV resistant material and the masks have fans that are built-in as well, according to several media reports but the Morning News Brief could not verify the existence of that feature.

To counter the effects of the heat, some people are buying UV-resistant sleeves to cover their arms as well as wide-brimmed hats and lightweight jackets also made out of UV resistant material and these fashion accessories have become increasingly popular.  Some even wear the facekinis when swimming at the beach.

In other news we cover today, a convicted Ponzi scammer defrauded at least 35 people over Covid supplies and Long Covid’s “brain fog” effectively ages an individual by ten years in some cases.


A study by King’s College London found that the “brain fog” associated with Long Covid is comparable to ageing 10 years.

The study, published on Friday in a clinical journal published by The Lancet, also found the symptoms in individuals with Long Covid stretched to almost two years since initial infection.

“The fact remains that two years on from their first infection, some people don’t feel fully recovered and their lives continue to be impacted by the long-term effects of the coronavirus,” said Claire Steves, a professor of ageing and health at King’s College London and co-author of the study.


Eliyahu Weinstein, a convicted Ponzi schemer whose 24-year sentence was commuted by President Donald J. Trump, is now facing a series of federal fraud charges relating to bilking over 100 investors in a series of phony deals.

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey charged Weinstein, along with four other men, with defrauding at least 150 people out of $35 million. The men are said to have convinced people into putting money into supposedly lucrative investments in scarce Covid-19 supplies and baby formula early in the pandemic.

More recently, the scams included investments in first-aid kits destined for war-torn Ukraine.

“These were brazen and sophisticated crimes that involved multiple conspirators and drew right from Weinstein’s playbook of fraud,” said Philip R. Sellinger, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, at a news conference.

After receiving clemency from then President Trump, Weinstein publicly promised to turn over a new leaf.

“My goal is to make everybody proud of me and to live my life in the proper fashion,” he told a local paper in New Jersey.


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

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 691.78 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0. 03 million from the previous day, and 6.9 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 664.18 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.02 million from the prior 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 Friday at press time is 20,696,419, an increase of 8,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,659,251, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,168, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past eight months.

The United States no longer reports daily or weekly new Covid cases.  It last 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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The test positivity rate for Covid for the week ending July 15 was 9.71, down from 9.8% 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 2.26%, up from 2.145% and, for RSV, that figure was 0.25%, down from 0.55%.

The percentage of deaths due to Covid was 0.9% in the week ending July 15, 2023, a figure that is down 0.1% over the week.

Finally, the number of hospital admissions from Covid for seven days ending June 24 was 6,228, a figure that is down 8% over the preceding 30-day period.

As of March 25, 2023, the Morning News Brief began to update case data as well as death tolls on a weekly basis.  In addition, as of 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.  Where appropriate, the Morning News Brief has reintroduced data sets are they have become available.

Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has, as of Friday, recorded 107.43 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.17 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 45 million, and a reported death toll of 531,915.

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, 704,448, has recorded 37.7 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 32.6 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.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of June 15, the total number of updated bivalent doses given in the United States was 144.2 million, an increase of 4 million doses over the past month.

Older – and no longer updated – data from the CDC shows that over 270.2 million people in the United States – or 81.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of May 11, 2023. 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.

Some 70.3% 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, 13.48 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 182,468 doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 32.2% 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 beginning 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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