Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,140th day of the pandemic and National Telephone Day. It’s worthy of note that the phone – in many cases a landline – was also a lifeline to millions of people across the globe during the lockdowns at the start of the pandemic.
Currently, there are an estimated 9.82 billion mobile phones and the landline is far from extinct: there are approximately 931 million in service across the globe.
The pandemic brought about a revolution in telecommuting, although some managers are trying to mud wrestle their workers back into their cubicles.
Now a study shows that remote workers may be paying a hidden professional penalty for having the flexibility that remote work brings. This according to a new working paper from economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the University of Iowa, and Harvard. “The Power of Proximity to Coworkers” asks the question, “how does sitting near coworkers affect col- laboration, on-the-job training, and output?” and is one of the first major studies to look at the potential professional downsides of telecommuting.
The researchers – Natalia Emanuel, Emma Harrington and Amanda Pallais – studied software engineers at aFortune 500 company. Their findings were telling.
Specifically, they found that remote work both enhanced the productivity of senior engineers at the company, but it also reduced the amount of feedback that junior engineers received. In this realm, in the form feedback would take was comments on their code. In addition, they found that some of the junior engineers were more likely to quit their jobs.
The effects of telecommuting with specific reference to a decline in feedback, were especially pronounced for female engineers, the economists found.
Not surprisingly, proximity, i.e., sitting in the same office, reduced the productivity of senior programmers, who would be the ones to provide the feedback to the junior programmers, but it did increase feedback.
This creates a paradox, namely that there is a significant trade-off between short-term productivity and long-term human-capital development, and this will have to be evaluated carefully when considering whether to maintain a telecommuting environment or return to the office.
In other news we cover today, the Florida surgeon general altered vaccination data to show that the vaccines posed a health risk that didn’t exist and Mexico’s president is self-isolating after contracting SARS-CoV-2.
Florida’s controversial and apparently unqualified surgeon general, Joseph Lapado, altered an analysis that had been released by the Florida Department of Health in order to suggest that mRNA coronavirus vaccines posed a significant health risk to men ages 18 to 39.
The news was reported by Politico, which said it had obtained a document as part of a public records request that clearly shows Ladapo’s changes to an eight-page analysis, indicating deleted comments that said a link with slightly increased risk of cardiac-related deaths after inoculation was “no longer significant” for multidose vaccines and another comment that “there is little suggestion of any effect immediately following vaccination.”
The document has a sentence added to it by Ladapo that says that mRNA vaccines may be driving an increased risk of cardiac-related death in males, especially those ages 18-39.
In October 2022, Ladapo released a statement with the altered findings:
“This analysis found that there is an 84% increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death among males 18-39 years old within 28 days following mRNA vaccination. With a high level of global immunity to COVID-19, the benefit of vaccination is likely outweighed by this abnormally high risk of cardiac-related death among men in this age group. Non-mRNA vaccines were not found to have these increased risk,” Ladapo said in the statement.
Meanwhile, the state of Washington will sunset its coronavirus exposure notification app on May 11 of this year. WA Notify was launched by state health officials in 2020 to inform people of they had been exposed to someone who recently tested positive for the then novel coronavirus.
In China, the foreign ministry announced on Tuesday that all inbound travelers will no longer need to provide a negative PCR test. Instead, a traveler will only need to show a negative coronavirus antigen test result that was taken within 48 hours before boarding his flight. The change in test requirements is slated to start starting on April 29.
Mexico’s health minister, Jorge Alcocer, said on Tuesday that the country’s president, Andrés Manual Lopez Obradór, is in good health after testing for SARS-CoV-2 earlier in the week. Lopez Obradór is self-isolating and only experiencing “mild symptoms.”
Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, April 25.
As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 686.6 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of less than 0.1 million from the previous day, and 6.86 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 659.2 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 20,586,846, a decrease of 6,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,547,381, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 39,465, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past five months.
The United States reported 94,140 new cases in the period April 13 through April 19, a figure that is down 23% over the same period one week earlier, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death toll for the same period is 1,160, a figure that is down 34%. The average number of hospital admissions from Covid was 4,569 on April 24, a figure that is down 13% over the preceding 14 days. Finally, the test positivity rate is 5.4%, down 12% over the 14 days preceding April 21.
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, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded just under 106.6 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.16 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.9 million, and a reported death toll of 531,369.
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 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 over 39.9 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, 701,215, has recorded 37.4 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 over 33.6 million cases, South Korea, with 31.1 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with over 25.7 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with over 24.5 million, and Russia, with 22.8 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, 269.9 million people in the United States – or 81.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.4%, or 230.5 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 675 million. Breaking this down further, 92.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 238 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 79.1% of the same group – or 204.2 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 20.2% of the same population, or 52.1 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine, while 23.3 million people over the age of 65, or 42.4% of that population have also received the bivalent booster.
For the week ending April 20, 2023, the CDC made slight adjustments downward in several of the data points we include here, although the total number of doses increased by 0.3 million.
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 69.9% 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, 13.37 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 329,157 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 29.5% 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)