Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Sept. 19: Biden Gets It Wrong, The Pandemic Isn’t Over, Mandatory Masking in Australia
“I can’t believe it. Are you sure the war is over,” a puzzled and skeptical sounding Major Hochstetter (portrayed by Howard Caine) says to someone he believes is a German general but is really Corporal Peter Newkirk (Richard Dawson), in episode 83 of “Hogan’s Heroes,” “War Takes a Holiday.” Newkirk is a prisoner in Stalag 13 who regularly intercepts the camp’s inbound and outbound calls. “Sure, I’m sure,” he says in an exaggerated German accent. “Don’t you think I know when the war is over?”
In a prerecorded interview with the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” U.S. President Joseph Biden essentially said the same thing about the pandemic.
“The pandemic is over,” he said, noting that “[W]e still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. It’s – but the pandemic is over.”
There’s only one small problem, aside from the fact that Biden isn’t an epidemiologist or even a physician: It’s not over.
The comment stands in stark contrast against what real experts – scientists, physicians, epidemiologists – are saying.
“Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from Covid-19 was the lowest since March 2020,” the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said. “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We’re not there yet, but the end is in sight.”
Just to be clear, a pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease such as SARS-Cov-2 that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents, or worldwide, impacting a substantial number of individuals.
While the number of new cases has decreased dramatically, there are still thousands of cases being reported across the world daily with no end in sight.
Indeed, the number of new cases worldwide on Sunday was 252,818 and the 7-day incidence is 484,294.
Meanwhile, the prisoners of Stalag 13 even printed a fake edition of a fake newspaper, der Angriff, with the headline “Der Krieg ist zu Ende” (“The War is Over”), and handed it to Sergeant Hans Schulz, the camp’s first sergeant who runs into the office of Colonel Wilhelm Klink, the camp Kommandant, excitedly shouting out the headline.
In other news we cover today, Australian officials are cracking down on unmasked passengers on public transit and the Netherlands is moving to allow non-vaccinated visitors into the country.
Here’s a look at what has taken place over the past 24 hours.
Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin reported on Sunday that she tested positive for Covid and will work remotely from quarantine. Baldwin, who is vaccinated and boosted, said in a statement that she is “only experiencing minor symptoms.”
A thief stole a coronavirus vaccine clinic’s tent from Scalzi Park in Stamford, Connecticut. The tent, which belonged to the Community Health Centers vaccine clinic. The clinic opted to remain open, sans tent. The tent, which reportedly cost $7,000, was on loan from the city.
Officials in Victoria, Australia’s second smallest state, are cracking down on people who travel on public transit without donning a properly fitted face mask. The penalty for not being masked is 100 Australian dollars ($67.02).
Recorded announcements reminding passengers to use a mask have been in place since December 2020 and masks are available free to individuals in need of one.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton cited the number of deaths nationwide, which continues to be higher than in the spring, as well as the problems associated with Long Covid as the reasons behind the continued mask mandate, which has been in place since March 2020.
Officials in the Netherlands announced the end of a ban on allowing the entry of unvaccinated visitors into the country. It was one of the few remaining EU member states to enforce such a ban.
Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, September 19.
As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 617.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.3 million cases, and over 6.5 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 597.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.4 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Monday is 13,777,021, a decrease of 177,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 13,736,968, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 40,053, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 5,259 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 6,723 on Sunday, 58,549 on Saturday, 94,168 on Friday, and 115,402 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 61,405. 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 61,712, a 29% decrease, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources. The average daily death toll over the same period is 464, a decrease of 6% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 30,057, a 12% decrease.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded 97.5 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.08 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.5 million, and a reported death toll of 528,355.
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 34.9 million, although Brazil has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 685,422, and has recorded over 34.6 million cases, placing it in the number four slot.
Germany is in the number five slot with 32.7 million cases.
The other four countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with 24.4 million cases, the United Kingdom, with 23.6 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 22.2 million, as number eight, as well as Japan, with 20.7 million, and Russia, with 20.5 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, over 263.4 million people in the United States – or 79.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.6%, or 224.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now just under 613 million. Breaking this down further, 90.3% of the population over the age of 18 – or 233.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77.4% of the same group – or 199.9 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 51.7% of that population, or 103.4 million people, has already received a third, or 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 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.
Some 67.9% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Monday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 12.69 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 4.04 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 22.5% 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 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 reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)