U.S. Had First Covid Case 3 Years Ago Today, Japan and South Korea Look to End Masking MandatesFrequent Business Traveler

January 21, 2023


A nurse at a Covid testing center at LaGuardia Airport

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,015th day of the pandemic.

Today marks the three-year point since the United States had its first confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2.  It was publicly announced the following day, something covered in these pages three years ago tomorrow.

On January 20, 2020, the first case of Covid-19 in the country was diagnosed in Snohomish County, Washington, near Seattle.

The patient was a man in his 30s who had recently returned from Wuhan, China, where the virus first appeared in late 2019.  The patient was never publicly been identified.  Of course, the virus had already been in the States for weeks, we simply didn’t know it.

At the time, I was reporting hundreds of new daily cases instead of hundreds of thousands, and the death toll stood at six, and only in Asia.

Information about the virus as well as testing procedures were all extremely limited.

As of today, we’ve recorded 673 million cases and just under 6.8 million deaths from or with SARS-CoV-2.  The United States alone has seen over 1.1 million Covid-related deaths.

I never imagined I’d still be writing about this three months later, let alone going into a fourth year.  Meanwhile, stay tuned for more developments.

In other news we cover today, more details are emerging about the Utah plastic surgeon who sold fake vaccinations.

UNITED STATES

Additional details concerning the case of Utah plastic surgeon Michael K. Moore show that he, a neighbor, and two employees, gave people fake vaccination cards and destroyed government-provided COVID-19 vaccinations.  The four also stand accused of giving children fake coronavirus shots.

Moore and his neighbor, Kristin Jackson Andersen, 59, were members of a private organization seeking to “liberate the medical profession from government and industry conflicts of interest,” according to court documents.

The pair, along with Moore’s office manager Kari Dee Burgoyne and receptionist Sandra Flores, are accused of destroying at least $28,000 worth of coronavirus vaccine doses and distributing at least 1,900 doses’ of fake completed vaccination record cards.  In addition, they administered saline shots to children at the behest of their parents but told the children it was the coronavirus vaccine.

“By allegedly falsifying vaccine cards and administering saline shots to children instead of Covid-19 vaccines, not only did this provider endanger the health and well-being of a vulnerable population but also undermined public trust and the integrity of federal health care programs,” said Curt L. Muller, Special Agent in Charge with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 community level transmission rates in Los Angeles County are now “low” according to figures from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. The new figures demonstrate that the pandemic is currently not exerting undue stress on the local healthcare system.

GLOBAL

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation Thursday.   Ardern struggled to get beyond her association with pandemic policy but never quite succeeded.  She told reporters that she finally had a good night’s sleep after announcing her departure from office.

Officials in Tokyo and Seoul are calling for the relaxation of mask mandates.  Three years into the pandemic, virtually everyone continues to don a face mask while in South Korea, it is mandated to wear a face mask indoors when not at home.  This stands in contrast to the United States and much of Europe, where masks had become politicized and most mask mandates are in the rearview mirror.

The hoped-for boom in Chinese tourism over next week’s Lunar New Year holiday looks to be more of a blip. Most travelers are opting to travel domestically in China if they travel at all.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, January 20.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 672.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.4 million cases, and 6.74 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 644.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.3 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 Friday at press time is 21,797,601, a decrease of 834. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,752,746, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 44,855, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 67,629 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 144,535 on Thursday, 58,311 on Wednesday, 8,408 on Tuesday, and 3,735 on Monday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 45,411.  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 50,839, a figure down 20% 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 498, an increase of 9% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 39,272, a decrease of 18%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 5,027, a decrease of 11% and the test positivity rate is now 12%, a 21% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded 103.8 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of close to 1.13 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,728.

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 39.5 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with just over 37.6 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 696,148, has recorded just over 36.7 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 31.9 million cases, South Korea, with over 29.9 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, 268.8 million people in the United States – or 81% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.1%, or 229.5 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 667.8 million. Breaking this down further, 91.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.3 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.9% of the same group – or 203.6 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 18.5% of the same population, or over 47.9 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 69.3% 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, 13.22 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.85 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 26% 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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