Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Nov. 21: Temperatures Are Rising as Sick Kids Flood Schools, China Locks Down Key Transit Hub

A man sweeping at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding


Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 956th day of the pandemic.


School nurses are up in arms as more sick kids show up to class because parents don’t want to stay home to take care of them.


The presence of sick kids at school yields just one thing: More sick kids and temperatures are rising on both sides.


The Wall Street Journal today reported that tensions are rising between the two factions.


It’s no secret to readers of the Morning News Brief that levels of RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus are rising alone with influenza and other respiratory viruses.   The number of elementary and high school pupils with a virus is putting an increased strain on school nurses.  Schools have specific guidelines about sick children attending class (the guidelines, simply put, say “no”) but parents are concerned about their children missing more lessons.


In addition, as more people return to the office, parents may find themselves having to take an unpaid day off in order to stay home to tend to their child.


Schools have clear guidelines about who can attend class.


“Our schools work hard to avoid the spread of illnesses at school,” the New York City Department of Education says on its website.  Its guidelines are quite clear and in boldface type on the website: “Stay Home When Sick.”


In other news we cover today, “verified” anti-vax accounts are proliferating on Twitter as its guardrails fail, China locked down a major transit hub, and Beijing is facing the highest number of Covid cases since the start of the pandemic.


TECH


The number of “verified” anti-vax accounts on Twitter is proliferating according to a report in the Guardian as the number of employees in the company, which first fired half of its workforce and then saw hundreds more resign from the beleaguered social media company following a Thursday deadline from owner Elon Musk requiring that workers sign up for “long hours at high intensity,” or leave, dwindled.


The platform’s paid verification system is giving a false sense of validity to accounts that are currently pushing health misinformation.


GLOBAL


China reported its first coronavirus death in six months, an 87-year-old man who lived in Beijing. The news comes as cases across the country rise.


Meanwhile, Hong Kong officials said that the city’s chief executive, John Lee, had tested positive for Covid after returning from the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, known as APEC, which was held in Bangkok over the past few days.


Local authorities issued lockdown orders in the Baiyun District of the southern city of Guangzhou.  The lockdown will be in effect for five days starting Monday as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb.  Guangzhou is a major transportation hub in the region.


Meanwhile, Beijing reported 316 new local coronavirus cases in just 15 hours on Monday, a city official said during a briefing.   The capital city began to enforce inbound travel rules.


The city once known as Peking is facing its most complex and severe coronavirus pandemic control situation since the start of the pandemic, Liu Xiaofeng, the deputy director of the city’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said.


Meanwhile, pupils in schools across several Beijing districts moved to online classes on Monday after officials called for residents in some of its hardest-hit areas to stay home.


TODAY’S STATISTICS


Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, November 21.


As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 643.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.2 million cases, and over 6.62 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 622.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.2 million.


Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Monday at press time is 14,151,526, a decrease of 64,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 14,115,410, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 36,116, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.


The United States reported 3,329 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 3,497 on Sunday, 52,365 on Saturday, 71,311 on Friday, and 85,283 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 44,424.  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 40,588, an increase of 1% 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 286, a decrease of 10% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 27,781, an increase of 1%.


In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded 100.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 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 530,586.


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 over 37.3 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 36.2 million total cases.


Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 689,003, has recorded 35.1 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 26.6 million cases, Italy with 24 million, placing it in the number seven slot, and the United Kingdom, with just under 24 million cases, as number eight, as well as Japan, with 23.8 million, and Russia, with 21.5 million.


VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of last Thursday, 267.5 million people in the United States – or 80.6% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 68.7%, or 228.1 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 650.8 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 78.5% of the same group – or 202.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 13.1% of the same population, or 33.8 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 Thursday by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.


Some 68.4% 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, 12.97 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2.14 million doses are now administered each day.


Meanwhile, only 24.4% 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)