It’s Time to Mask Up at Award Shows, China Detains Young ProtestorsFrequent Business Traveler

January 17, 2023


Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,011th day of the pandemic.

It would appear the Golden Globes handed out more than just awards this week.

It’s been months if not longer since the term “superspreader event” was mentioned in these pages but that is apparently what the Golden Globe Awards program was.  The first to report a case of Covid was the actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who said she wouldn’t be able to attend the Critics Choice Awards, where she’s nominated for an award.

“F*ck Covid,” she said in a social media post, adding that “I’m glad that there are all these home tests available so that I didn’t go to the [American Film Institute] lunch and spread my germs.”

Next to fall were actors Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, the later who won a “best actor” award at the Golden Globes.  The Hollywood Reporter wrote that they, too, would miss the Critics Choice Awards due to Covid, and writer and comedienne Jen Statsky, who also attended the Golden Globes, reported on social media that she was “riddled with the novel coronavirus.”

Presuming Farrell was already contagious at the Golden Globes, which is highly likely given the timing of when he revealed his positive test result, he could conceivably also infected Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Coolidge, Ke Huy Quan, Julia Garner, and Ana de Armas, among others, based on close contact during the awards program.  This does not even begin to take into account others who were likely contagious at the time.

Last year, The British Academy Film Awards, commonly referred to as the BAFTA Film Awards, turned out to be just that, a superspreader.  A number of people who attended the awards including “Belfast” director Kenneth Branagh tested positive shortly after the crowded indoor event.

One attendee told the Hollywood Reporter at the time, referring to BAFTA and related events, “It seems the weekend may have been a super-spreader event.”

In other news we cover today, China is rounding up some students and teenagers who had protested the strict and now-discontinued “zero-Covid” restrictions and parents of pupils in Los Angeles schools want a return to masking.

UNITED STATES

A lower-court judge in New York struck down the state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, saying that Governor Kathy Hochul and the state Department of Health had overstepped their authority by mandating a vaccine that’s not included in state public health law. The mandate, the judge said in his ruling, is “null, void, and of no effect.”  The state is exploring possible options, which could include an appeal.

“The State Health Department strongly disagrees with the judge’s decision and is exploring its options,” the agency said in a statement.

Meanwhile, many parents of children in the Los Angeles Unified School District are pleading for a return to masking as the tripledemic of Covid, influenza, and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, cause high absenteeism rates.

“As parents who advocate for an equitable quality public education and safe school campuses, we’re concerned about a return to school without any clear preventative health protocols in place by L.A. Unified to protect our children from acquiring a respiratory virus infection,” wrote one group, comprising largely Spanish-speaking parents from East and South Los Angeles.

Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that people in 23 counties in South Carolina should wear masks in public. The list includes Cherokee, Chester, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Pickens, and Spartanburg, among others.

GLOBAL

The World Health Organization thanked China for sharing its Covid-19 data after officials there reported some 60,000 Covid-related deaths over the past month.  The figures comprised the first major accounting of the country’s death toll since the country lifted its draconian “zero-Covid” restrictions without any guardrails in place.

Prior to that, the Beijing government had logged daily deaths in single digits since the start of December.

Bloomberg News is reporting that, behind the scenes, China has been rounding up protesters that officials view as instigators of social unrest. Weiquanwang, a human rights website, said that said more than 100 demonstrators may have been detained.  This comes after Chinese leader Xi Jingping publicly appeared to be empathetic to the “students and teenagers” who were frustrated with the pandemic and protesting in the streets, saying their feelings were “only natural.”

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

China is now welcoming entertainers from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan for conerts and events, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism said Monday marking another step towards a return to normal life there.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, January 16.

As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 671.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.2 million cases, and 6.73 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 642.8 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.4 million.

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 21,939,486, a decrease of 244,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,893,961, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 45,525, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 3,735 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 3,904 on Sunday, 30,115  on Saturday, 97,230  on Friday, 44,472 on Thursday, and 34,774 on Wednesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 54,400.  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 60,863, an increase of 4% averaged over the past 14 days, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 564, an increase of 78% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 43,307, a decrease of 3%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 5,302, a decrease of 1% and the test positivity rate is now 13%, a 13% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded 103.6 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of just over 1.12 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,726.

The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, 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 reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, 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 just over 39.4 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 37.6 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 695,380, has recorded just over 36.6 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 just under 31.5 million cases, South Korea, with 29.8 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.4 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.2 million, and Russia, with 21.9 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 268.6 million people in the United States – or 80.9% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.1%, or 229.4 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 666.5 million. Breaking this down further, 91.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.8% of the same group – or 203.5 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 18.2% of the same population, or over 46.9 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine.

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.

Some 69.1% 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, 13.21 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.79 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 25.9% 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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