Coronavirus Morning Information Temporary – Dec. 9: Los Angeles Masks Mandate Looms, China Prepares to Finish Extra Zero-Covid Restrictions
Good Morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 974th day of the pandemic.
Some medical experts in China believe that the country should change the official name for Covid-19 to reflect how the virus has mutated.
Gu Xiaohong, a leading authority on traditional Chinese medicine, was quoted in the state-run Beijing Daily newspaper that the coronavirus’ name in Chinese, which identifies it as a pneumonia-causing disease, should simply refer to it as an infectious disease.
In some respects, Gu is not wrong that the name is outdated but changing the name of a major infectious disease is akin to changing horses midstream. But what are the possible motives behind the change? They could be political or simply a desire for greater accuracy given the great mutations the original virus has undergone.
Just as some advocated that the monkeypox virus name be changed – apparently it’s offensive to monkeys, one might presume – it turns out that it isn’t as simple as renaming a product or even a person.
It turns out renaming viruses and the diseases they cause is not an easy thing to do. It raises concerns about the continuity of the scientific literature. In addition, it can be difficult to find an alternative that doesn’t offend or simply connote something other than what was intended. And something that works in one language or culture may not work in another: General Motors’ failure with the Nova in Spanish-speaking countries comes to mind.
Moreover, changing the name of a disease doesn’t automatically extend to the virus behind it, either. While the World Health Organization is now recommending the use of mpox alongside monkeypox, it would require action by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses to change the latter.
The WHO says the ICTV has been engaged in a process of considering renaming “all orthopoxvirus species, including monkeypox virus,” noting that the process is ongoing.
Regardless, it will take many years to replace a term that has been used for decades. The first human monkeypox case was recorded in 1970. The virus was initially detected years earlier, in captive monkeys.
In other news we cover today, Texas marked a state-wide public health disaster for 1,000 days, Angelenos may have to once again don masks, and Chinese companies are preparing for the unintended consequences of the end of “zero Covid.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that coronavirus transmission in Los Angeles County is now at a “high” level. If hospitalization rates continue to rise there, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, is likely to renew a universal indoor mask mandate.
The State of Texas hit the 1,000-day mark under a state-wide public-health disaster proclamation for the coronavirus pandemic earlier this week. The Lone Star State is one of fewer than 12 under a state-wide disaster or public health emergency proclamation.
The move, which went into effect in March 2020, has given the state’s governor, Greg Abbott, unprecedented gubernatorial authority. As of that date, only 80 people in the state had tested positive for Covid and no deaths there had been reported as an outcome of the virus.
At first, Abbott used it to extend the early voting period prior to Election Day in order to create social distancing for voters, enacted mask mandates, moved to offer state workers telecommuting options, closed multiple public venues such as bars and gyms, capped venue occupancy , limited long-term care home visits, and banned elective surgeries.
The latter used the authority vested in the proclamation, which he extended 32 times, to bar local jurisdictions from taking similar measures after he relaxed them on a state-wide basis.
Chinese companies are preparing for the possible and very likely unintended consequences of the relaxation of the country’s so-called “zero-Covid” policies.
Chinese regulators and state-owned banks said they would take steps to split up their workforces, as they brace for a possible spike in new infections as a result of the change.
China reported 16,797 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, of which 3,637 were symptomatic and 13,160 asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Friday.
Despite the loosened policies, Friday was quiet in Beijing, the Chinese capital, according to local media reports. Some businesses were reluctant to drop their own coronavirus restrictions, fearing outbreaks among staff.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
Scarlet fever infections are soaring in the United Kingdom after a pandemic-induced lull. The invasion infections have killed at least eight there. The unusual spike in cases is yet another anomalous disease transmission cycle rippling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, December 9.
As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 652.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million cases, and 6.65 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 628.3 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.4 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Friday at press time is 17,490,645, an increase of 298,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 17,453,210, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,435, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 149,322 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 149,996 on Thursday, 49,408 on Wednesday, 53,999 on Tuesday, and 4,606 on Monday, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 69,231. 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 66,179, an increase of 53% averaged 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 460, an increase of 35% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 37,066, an increase of 30%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 4,214, an increase of 22%.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded 101.2 million cases, a figure higher than any other country, and a death toll of just over 1.1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, almost 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,653.
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 38.3 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 36.7 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 690,739, has recorded over 35.5 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 27.6 million cases, Japan, with 25.8 million, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 24.5 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24 million, and Russia, with over 21.6 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 267.7 million people in the United States – or 80.6% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 68.9%, or 228.8 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 657.9 million. Breaking this down further, 91.6% of the population over the age of 18 – or 236.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.6% of the same group – or 202.9 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 15.5% of the same population, or 40 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 pm EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.
Some 68.6% 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, 13.04 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2.32 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 24.9% 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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