Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 777th day of the pandemic.
Many readers have asked, just how safe is it to return to the gym and if exercising indoors is a higher-risk activity than exercising outside. A small study about respiration and exercise coming out of Munich confirms many people’s suspicions that there indoor workouts pose a significantly higher risk of Covid transmissibility.
Just as the latest and highly transmissible omicron variants are creating a surge, the new study, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and conducted by a professor at the Technische Universität in Munich, provides excellent guidance.
It turns out that, if you’re concerned about working out indoors, you have good reason to be.
The study, which looked at the number of aerosol particles 16 exercisers (the term the study used to those exercising) exhaled at rest and during workouts, found that, at rest, both men and women breathed out approximately 500 particles per minute. However, during moments of highly strenuous exercise, that figure soared 132-fold, reaching over 76,000 particles per minute.
It wasn’t that those exercising expelled more particles when doing so than when at rest, it was the extent of the increase when working out that surprised them.
A combination of exercise scientists and fluid dynamics researchers in Munich devised a new method of measuring aerosol emissions from those working out. The method used a solitary stationary bicycle placed inside an airtight tent. Once inside the tent, a cyclist donned a silicon mask that captured his exhaled breath, which was then analyzed by a machine that counted each particle.
While there was variation from person to person, on average a cyclist exhaled ten times as much air when riding compared to when at rest, while the number of particles per minute increased by over 100 fold as riders neared the point of exhaustion.
In other news we cover today, over 500 million people worldwide have had and recovered from Covid,
Here’s a look at what has taken place over the past 24 hours.
Multiple universities and schools are reinstating indoor mask mandates. The latest is the University of Hawaii, which now requires students, faculty, and other employees on ten campuses to don face masks when indoors except when working alone or when social distancing if possible. The action came after almost the entire Aloha State found itself in the Level 3, or high risk of transmission, category, under CDC guidelines.
The University of Delaware made a similar move on Tuesday. Meanwhile, multiple public school systems including the entire Philadelphia school district and two school systems in Rhode Island have mandated masks for pupils, teachers, and other staff members.
In Washington, D.C., Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming said she had tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, becoming the latest lawmaker in the nation’s capital to contract the virus.
In a statement, Cheney said that she is fully vaccinated and boosted and is experiencing “mild symptoms.”
Cheney is one of the two Republican lawmakers sitting on the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021insurrection at the Capitol.
In what may be a first, both the governor and the lieutenant governor of Washington said that they had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Governor Jay Inslee and Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck both said they are experiencing mild symptoms.
“I am experiencing very mild symptoms and am most glad I’m vaccinated and boosted,” Governor Inslee said in a statement. “I hope others consider getting their booster because it’s very effective in preventing serious illness.”
Meanwhile, anti-vaxxer Christopher Key, leader of the so-called “Vaccine Police,” is now wanted for arrest in the state of Florida on the charge of trespassing in the course of a disturbance at the far-right Take Action for Freedom Tour meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, in April.
Finally, new research relating to Long Covid shows evidence that the condition can manifest itself even after a breakthrough infection in a vaccinated patient. The study, published in Nature Medicine, also found that older adults face a higher risk for Long Covid’s effects.
China’s cabinet held an emergency online meeting with more than 100,000 provincial-, city-, and council-level officials where high-ranking officials including Premier Li Keqiang urged them to take substantive action to revive the country’s Covid-battered economy.
Beijing is reportedly at a critical juncture in its fight for “zero Covid.” The Chinese capital is having more districts implement work-from-home rules and companies that flout such requirements are being punished, officials said.
However, the city cannot completely shut down as it needs to keep its economy going, Zhong Dongbo, a senior health official in Beijing, told reporters Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the two-month lockdown in Shanghai will end according to plan, the city’s commissar, Lee Qiang, said Thursday.
The number of symptomatic cases remained below 50 for the second day on Thursday and the daily number of new infections was below 500 for the fourth consecutive day. Overall, new cases fell 12.7%.
The Chinese government said on Thursday that it will offer Chinese airlines subsidies to compensate for lost business and higher fuel prices from May 21 through July 20.
The move, announced by the finance ministry, will provide 24,000 yuan ($3,265) per hour to an airline when the average number of daily domestic flights per week is lower than or equal to 4,500 and when an airline’s average load factor is lower than 75%.
Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, May 26.
As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 529.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 6.3 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 500.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.6 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Thursday is 23,199,798, an increase of 81,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 23,162,098, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,700, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 187,530 new coronavirus infections on Thursday for the previous day, compared to 132,365 on Wednesday, 133,346 on Tuesday, 21,982 on Monday, and 37,307 on Sunday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate continues to remain over 100,000 and is now 110,446. 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 110,614, a 31% increase, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources. The average daily death toll over the same period is 361, an increase of 10% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 25,755, a 25% increase.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded 85.4 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 43.1 million, and a reported death toll of 524,525.
New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of April that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now over 803,000, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States. Rosstat reported that 35,584 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in the month of March, compared to 43,543 in February.
Meanwhile, Brazil now has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 666,112, and has seen over 30.8 million cases.
France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with 29.4 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 26.2 million. The United Kingdom, with 22.3 million cases, is now number six and is the only other country in the world with a total number of cases over the 20 million mark.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 258.3 million people in the United States – or 77.8% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.6%, or 221.1 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 585.4 million. Breaking this down further, 89.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 230.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76.5% of the same group – or 197.6 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 50.1% of that population, or 99.1 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.
Over 65.8% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Thursday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 11.8 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 6.648 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 16.2% 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 in the single digits, if not lower.
In addition, North Korea and Eritrea are now the only two countries in the world that have not administered vaccines.
Anna Breuer contributed to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)