Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,199th day of the pandemic as well as Take Your Dog to Work Day, a day not to merely take man’s best friend to work but to support animal shelters, animal rescue organizations, and allow those who don’t yet have a dog to consider adopting a senior dog at a nearby shelter who is in need of a forever home.
Snickers the Wonderdog, incidentally, has been at work with me since the start of the Morning News Brief and also kept me sane during the darkest days of the first two years of the pandemic.
Before diving in, the editorial staff of the Morning News Brief would like to take a moment to think of those lost on the Titan submersible this past week as well as their families and friends who survive them.
The five people aboard the submersible that went missing on Sunday were presumed dead on Thursday, following an international search that gripped much of the world. On Thursday, searchers found debris from the vessel near the wreckage of the Titanic. A U.S. Coast Guard official said the debris was “consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel.”
In other news we cover today, a court uphold pandemic-related restrictions in an appeal filed by seven churches, New York City extended its pandemic state of emergency, and Moderna filed for approval with the FDA for its XBB-focused Covid vaccine.
New York City extended its state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Eric Adams said.
The move comes one day after the previous state of emergency expired on June 19. This city’s order is being extended even though state and federal emergency orders ended earlier in the year.
“The order is given because certain emergency measures continue to be necessary for the City’s recovery from the economic, housing, transportation, and other effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the executive order reads in part.
Meanwhile, drugmaker Moderna submitted on Thursday an application to the Food and Drug Administration for approval of the biotech company’s updated coronavirus vaccine for the fall. Moderna said the submission is based on the FDA’s recommendation last week that vaccine makers update their shots to target omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, currently the dominant strain of the virus in the country.
Finally, in Pennsylvania, Westmoreland county commissioners are using $8.8 million of the $105.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds the county received from the federal government in the immediate aftermath of the start of the pandemic to bring municipal water and sewage service to almost 50 farms and properties there.
In Canada, The Manitoba Court of Appeal has quashed an appeal from seven churches that were seeking to have some of the province’s former coronavirus restrictions declared invalid.
The Appeal Court said that a Court of King’s Bench judge did not err in his analysis that the restrictions were necessary to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and were therefore allowable under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
A rise in deadly fungal infections is confounding doctors, who aren’t used to considering such infections in the differential diagnosis. No longer unusual, fungi that are resistant to standard drugs now threaten millions of vulnerable patients, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, June 23.
As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 690.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of under 0.1 million from the previous day, and 6.89 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 663.2 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of less than 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 Friday at press time is 20,592,268, a decrease of 19,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,554,882, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,386, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past eight months.
The United States 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 the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The test positivity rate for the week ending June 17 was 7.8%, up from 7.04%, in 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 2.21% and, for RSV, that figure was 0.28%.
The death toll from Covid was 1.2% in the week ending June 10, 2023, and the trend in Covid-19 deaths is down 7.7% over the same period.
Finally, the number of hospital admissions from Covid for seven days ending June 13 was 6,649, a figure that is down 7.6% over the preceding 7-day period.
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, starting on 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 over 107.2 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, just under 45 million, and a reported death toll of 531,902.
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, 703,719, has recorded over 37.6 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 33.8 million cases, South Korea, with 32 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 14, the total number of updated bivalent doses given in the United States was 139.5 million.
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, 13.47 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 331,652 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 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)