Coronavirus Morning News Brief – May 22: New York City Now a ‘High’ Risk Area, North Korea Says Outbreak is Slowing

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 772nd day of the pandemic.


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


UNITED STATES


The latest data from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention shows that New York State has only one county – out of 62 total – that is still at Level 1, or a “low” level of community transmission of the coronavirus.  All five boroughs of New York City are now at Level 3, the highest level for community transmission, after the Bronx had remained at Level 1 for weeks.


New York City only moved to Level 2, medium risk, on April 17.


Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new Covid-19 cases in an area, according to the CDC’s website.


Only Orange County in the state’s Hudson River Valley is at Level 1 at the time of publication.


More than 87% of the state’s counties – some 54 out of 62 – are high risk.


Meanwhile, neighboring New Jersey has seen a 140% rise in coronavirus cases over the past month, officials there said. The 7-day incidence was 3,960 as of Saturday.


The BA.2 omicron subvariant was responsible for over 91% of all new cases in the Garden State for the week ending April 30, the last date for which such data is available.


Ten New Jersey counties now have “high” transmission rates, namely Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Gloucester, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Salem, and Sussex.


Finally, the Biden administration’s chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he would not continue to serve in his current role if Donald Trump were elected to a second term as president in 2024.


“Well, no,” Fauci said with a chuckle  in an interview on CNN with Jim Costa, when asked if he would remain in his post in such circumstances.


GLOBAL


North Korea said on Sunday that its coronavirus outbreak is “slowing.”


The country reported via state-run media on Sunday that the number of new “fever cases” has fallen below 200,000.  The hermit kingdom, which lacks widespread Covid testing capabilities, reported 186,090 new cases on Saturday for the prior day as well as 299,180 recoveries and one death.


The outbreak stems from a massive military parade on April 25 that turned out to be a superspreader event.  The parade had over 20,000 soldiers and a large weapons display and included many who had been stationed in the city of Sinuiju, which borders China.  Several guards stationed there began to show Covid symptoms earlier this month and a number of soldiers who participated in the parade reportedly tested positive for the virus,


The total number of cases in North Korea had topped two million as of Thursday.


TODAY’S STATISTICS


Now here are the daily statistics for Sunday, May 22.


As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 527.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.6 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 6.3 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 497.3 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.7 million.


Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Sunday is 23,742,842,   decrease of 162,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 23,704,781, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 38,061, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the past 24 hours.


The United States reported 37,307 new coronavirus infections on Sunday for the previous day, compared to 139,427  on Saturday, 112,599  on Friday, 171,191 and on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate continues to climb and is now 110,023.  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 108,610, a 54% increase, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 312, a decrease of 15% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 24,681, a 31% increase.


In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded over 84.9 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 43.1 million, and a reported death toll of 524,413.


New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of April that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now over 803,000, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States.  Rosstat reported that 35,584 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in the month of March, compared to 43,543 in February.


Meanwhile, Brazil now has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 665,657, and has seen 30.8 million cases.


France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with 29.3 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 26.1 million.  The United Kingdom, with 22.2 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 Sunday, 258.1 million people in the United States – or 77.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.5%, or 220.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 583.9 million. Breaking this down further, 89.1% of the population over the age of 18 – or 230.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76.5% of the same group – or 197.5 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 50.1% of that population, or 98.8 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.


Over 65.7% 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, 11.76 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 6.83 million doses are now administered each day.


Meanwhile, only 15.9% 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 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.


Paul Riegler contributed to this story.


(Photo: Accura Media Group)