Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,341st day of the pandemic.
OP-ED ON SUNDAY
Winter is Back. Covid Cases Are Rising. Is Indoor Dining Safe?
Several days ago, I took care of a little extra time due to the Veterans Day holiday and went out to eat. For me, as regular readers of this space know, my approach to dining out is still the mid-2020 kind: Outdoor tables, dining sheds protected from other diners in New York City and San Francisco, and my all-time favorite, the Great American Drive-In.
Drive-in Restaurants are far and few between in the New York City metropolitan area. The closest one is in Bethel, Connecticut, which is not where Woodstock took place.
Whether you dine indoors today is a matter of your personal risk tolerance calculus but, for me, given that science does not know what happens when a Long Covid patient gets reinfected, I’d rather not chance it.
My meal was essentially the same as one I had had in late 2020 there: A Dagwood burger (hold the onions and tomatoes, please), fries well done, and a root beer float. My dining companion had the same, albeit with a vanilla milkshake and onion rings.
When I first went to the Sycamore Drive-In in 2020, we had a deadly novel virus circulating for which we had no immunity, no vaccine, and no therapies. It was easy to make sweeping recommendations, such as “no indoor dining.” Now the calculus is far more nuanced.
If you are going to be with older or more vulnerable people during Thanksgiving or other upcoming holidays, that may influence your decision as is making sure you have your shots.
In addition, you can minimize the risk of indoor dining to some extent by going during slower times of the day and by selecting establishments where the seating is fairly spread out. Some people even carry a carbon dioxide detector with them to determine if the restaurant is well-ventilated. I use a non-dispersive infrared CO2 monitor which is typically spot on, although it is not a complete shield from SARS-CoV-2 of course. The Aranet professional model is considered by multiple reviewers to be the best for this purpose and I concur.
Regardless, once you enter a dining establishment that isn’t outdoors, your mileage may vary, significantly.
In news we report today, multiple former New York City police officers are suing the police department over their dismissal under the vaccine mandate and a man stole $8 million in pandemic relief funds and bought an island.
In New York, five former members of the Police Department’s Bomb Squad are suing the city for $75 million. The former police officers contend that their careers were ended by the coronavirus vaccine mandate.
The officers said in the filing that they’ve lost out on a “full pension, with annual interest, and health benefits” after they were fired in 2022 for refusing to get the jab.
Once the mandate was lifted at the start of 2023, they could have reapplied to regain their positions. The vaccine mandate has been the subject of numerous suits.
A North-Central Florida blimp company executive was sentenced to over five years in federal prison for pandemic relief fraud earlier in the year. The case first came to the notice of the Morning News Brief this week.
Patrick Parker Walsh is currently serving 66 months in the clink after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering after defrauding the U.S. government of nearly $8 million.
Unlike most fraudsters who committed similar crimes, Walsh’s use of some of the funds was unique: He purchased Sweetheart Island, a 2.12 acre (0.9 hectare), buildable island off the coast of Yankeetown, Florida. Yankeetown is a small, hidden hamlet on the Gulf of Mexico.
Walsh was ordered to pay restitution to the Small Business Administration in the amount of $7,818,167, and the court entered an order of forfeiture in the same amount.
Now here are the daily statistics for Sunday, November 12.
As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 697.65 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of .01 million from the previous day, and 6.94 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, just over 669.36 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.01 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 Sunday at press time is 21,346,488, a decrease of 8,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,308,610, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,878, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 12 months.
Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 109.29 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.18 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 45 million, and a reported death toll of 533,295.
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 40.14 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 38.58 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 706,986, has recorded 38 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.
The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with 34.57 million cases, as number six; Japan, with 33.8 million cases placing it in the number seven slot; and Italy, with 26.26 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.8 million, and Russia, with 23.16 million, as nine and ten respectively.
CURRENT U.S. COVID STATISTICS AT A GLANCE
In the United States, in the week ending October 28, 2023, the test positivity rate was – based on data released on November 2 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – 9%, a figure that is essentially unchanged from the previous 7-day period, while the percentage of emergency department visits that were diagnosed as SARS-CoV-2 was 1.2%, a figure that is down 5.7%.
The number of people admitted to hospital in the United States due to SARS-CoV-2 in the same 7-day period was 14,745, a figure that is up 0.01%. Meanwhile, the percentage of deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 was 2.5%, a figure that is unchanged over the same period.
The CDC did not update the above data on November 10 due to the observed Veterans Day holiday in the United States.
Some 70.6% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sunday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.53 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 17,078 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 32.8% 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 beginning of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines in any significant number.
Paul Riegler contributed reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)