Coronavirus Morning News Brief – June 20: How Pandemics Influence City Planning, Macau Closes Shops and Businesses

A street in Paris


Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 802nd day of the pandemic


At the onset of the Spanish Flu on the television program Downton Abbey, Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, commented: “Wasn’t there a masked ball in Paris when cholera broke out? Half the guests were dead before they left the ballroom.”


Her son, Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, replied rather sarcastically: “Thank you, Mama. That’s cheered us up no end.”


In truth, the cholera pandemic of 1826-1837, which hit France in 1832, brought about many changes in urban planning.  Many believed it was contagious, although it was spread through feces-contaminated water.


Not only did the disease bring about the development of the intravenous saline drip, which saved many lives given that cholera caused severe dehydration, but the mistaken belief that it was spread from one person to another brought about multiple changes in city planning, including wider streets and sidewalks as well as open green spaces in many cities including Paris, better ventilation in buildings, as well as the creation of a proper sewage system.


This was not because public health officials understood the spread of the disease; rather, they adhered to an idea that dated back to the Middle Ages that held that infectious diseases were primarily caused by “miasma,” noxious vapors that were being emitted from rotting organic matter.


Combating miasma by building better sanitation systems as well as sources of clean drinking water – New York City’s 41-mile (66-kilometer) aqueduct system came about due to this belief –  did combat cholera although it was not due to the banishment of miasma from a city’s borders.


In other news we cover today, North Korea stopped importing face masks and ventilators from China, Macan is closing shops and businesses amid a surge of cases, and Vanuatu is reopening its borders to tourists.


Here’s a look at what has taken place over the past 24 hours.


UNITED STATES


One of the nation’s leading tourist hotspots, Miami-Dade County, is experiencing its worst surge of coronavirus infections since the omicron variant in January. As of June 13, the county’s positivity rate jumped to 21%, up from 5% in early April.


GLOBAL


Macau, considered the world’s biggest gambling hub, shuttered most shops and businesses amid a surge in new Covid cases.  The city began day two of mass coronavirus testing on Monday after dozens of locally transmitted cases were discovered over the weekend.  Casinos, however, continue to remain open.


Vanuatu, an island in the South Pacific off the coast of Australia, is reopening its borders to visitors for the first time since the start of the pandemic.  All visitors will be required to show certified proof of a negative rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of their departure, regardless of their vaccination status.


Meanwhile, North Korea apparently, and rather abruptly, stopped importing coronavirus prevention and control products from China in May, according to data from the Chinese customs agency released on Monday.  The hermit kingdom had previously imported face masks and ventilators among other Covid-related products in March and April.


TODAY’S STATISTICS


Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, June 20.


As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 544.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.3 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 6.34 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 519.8 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5 million.


Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Monday is 18,302,376, a decrease of 140,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 18,266,523, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 35,853, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the past 24 hours.


The United States reported 14,607 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 14,212 on Sunday, 116,485 on Saturday, and 104,135 on Friday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 97,553.  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 100,775, a figure that is virtually unchanged based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 313, an increase of 18% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 30,210, a 5% increase.


In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded 88 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.04 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 43.3 million, and a reported death toll of 524,873.


New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of May that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 812,827, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States.  Rosstat reported that 11,583 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in April, down from 35,584 in March and from 43,543 in February.


Meanwhile, Brazil now has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 669,109, and has recorded 31.7 million cases.


France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with 30.1 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 27.2 million.  The United Kingdom, with 22.5 million cases, is now number six and is the only other country in the world with a total number of cases over the 20 million mark.


VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Monday, over 259.2 million people in the United States – or 78.1% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.8%, or 221.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 592.3 million. Breaking this down further, 89.5% of the population over the age of 18 – or 231 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76.8% of the same group – or 198.2 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 50.6% of that population, or 100.2 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.


Because of the bank holiday on Monday, the CDC is not publishing updates of vaccination or other data until Tuesday, June 21.


Over 66.3% 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, 11.99 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 7.25 million doses are now administered each day.


Meanwhile, only 17.8% 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 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 to this story.


(Photo: Accura Media Group)