One year of COVID-19: recalling sights and sounds of pandemic
The nation has endured agonizing moments during the coronavirus pandemic but also witnessed instances to restore our faith in humanity.
Staff Video, USA TODAY
Kentucky reported 1,054 new COVID-19 cases and three additional coronavirus-related deaths Tuesday.
The state’s test positivity rate was again above 5%, at 5.71%.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 2,250,973 Kentuckians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
There have been 471,669 total coronavirus cases and 7,304 related deaths in Kentucky since the start of the pandemic.
There were 347 Kentuckians hospitalized with the virus Tuesday, including 112 in intensive care units and 44 on ventilators.
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The number of new coronavirus cases today dropped by more than 800 from yesterday to 1 445 but deaths remained high at 68 only four less than yesterday’s 72 after deducting the 30 that were included in yesterday’s figure but were for July 12 to 14.
Mashonaland West still had the highest number of new cases, 339, but it also recorded the highest number of recoveries, 518 out of 784, resulting in the number of active cases dropping to 4 177.
Harare had the second highest number of recoveries, 120 against 107 new cases. Active cases dropped to 4 130.
Active cases in Mashonaland East went up to 3 745 after the province recorded the second highest number of new cases today, 247.
In Bulawayo, active cases went up to 2 115 after it recorded 150 new cases and only 41 recoveries.
Harare accounted for 18 deaths followed by Mashonaland West with 14 and the Midlands 11.
There have been 32 749 cases and 799 deaths in July with 14 days to go to the end of the month.
Cumulative cases have risen to 82 613, deaths to 2 588 and recoveries to 51 923. There are still 28 102 active cases.
A total of 35 997 cases and 1 426 deaths were recorded in the six months to June this year.
Vaccination slowed down today with 36 043 getting the first jab and 3 651 the second. More than 1.7 million doses have so far been dispensed.
U.S. officials said on Friday that the delta change of COVID-19 is reflected in the major strains of the world and is driving a surge in deaths across the United States, almost entirely among unvaccinated people.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in the news that COVID-19 cases have increased by 70% from the previous week, and the number of deaths has increased by 26%. Most of the surge occurred in vaccines. Bulletin for counties with below average vaccination rates.
“This is becoming an unvaccinated epidemic,” Varensky said, adding that 97% of COVID-19 patients in the United States are not vaccinated.
According to officials, four states accounted for 40% of the increase in cases, and Florida alone accounted for one-fifth of the country’s new cases in the past week.
Along with Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Nevada are listed as states with a significant increase in cases.
Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said that “if and when” deployment is needed, the United States has enough to strengthen the supply of needles, but the focus now is to persuade those who are still hesitant to protect themselves and their families. On the positive side, Zients stated that approximately 5 million people in the country have been vaccinated in the past 10 days, many of whom are from states with low vaccination rates so far.
Currently, according to CDC statistics, 65.2% of the eligible population over the age of 12 have been vaccinated at least once, and 56.5% have been vaccinated, but there are big differences among the 50 states.
US officials emphasized young people in targeted vaccination messages, saying they were hospitalized more frequently than at the beginning of the pandemic. Earlier this week, the White House brought teen pop star Olivia Rodrigo (Olivia Rodrigo) into the White House to serve some public service establishments.
In contrast, 79.3% of Americans over 65 were vaccinated, and the proportion of one-time vaccinations was 9% higher.
Los Angeles County restores indoor mask regulations
State and local officials are reconsidering the use of masks, most notably in Los Angeles County’s announcement late Thursday.
As cases in many parts of the United States have risen to worrying levels, the county has a population of 10 million and Los Angeles, the second largest city in the United States, is among the jurisdictions that have recommended or mandated the wearing of masks or other epidemic restrictions in recent days. One.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said on Twitter on Thursday: “We require everyone in public places and indoors in businesses to wear masks, regardless of vaccination, so that we can stop the increase in the level of transmission that we are seeing.”
The agency said the authorization will take effect one minute before midnight on Saturday night.
Before the announcement, Los Angeles County had reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for six consecutive days. As of Wednesday, nearly 400 people had been hospitalized for COVID-19, an increase of 275 from the previous week. Nine new COVID-19 deaths were reported on Wednesday.
More than 1,500 new infections were reported on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, California’s Sacramento and Fresno counties recommended that people who are vaccinated wear masks indoors. Officials in Austin, Texas, on Thursday urged unvaccinated or other high-risk groups to avoid travel, indoor gatherings, eating out and shopping, and to wear masks.
Earlier this week, Yolo County, California, also recommended wearing masks indoors. In Springfield, Missouri, children and teachers were required to wear masks during summer school.
Masks still need to be worn on public transport: CDC officials
Despite these trends, this week a group of Republican lawmakers introduced legislation to ban the wearing of masks on public transportation, arguing that as more and more Americans are vaccinated, these regulations no longer make sense. Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs stated that the transit mask regulations “only those who like to control our daily lives will comply.”
In mid-May, the CDC stated that in most places, fully vaccinated people can avoid wearing masks indoors—but there are some exceptions, such as border crossings.
A senior US health official signed a comprehensive order requiring masks to be worn on almost all forms of public transportation. He said masks are a key tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Marty Cetron, director of the Global Immigration and Quarantine Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told Reuters on Thursday that the agency’s “current position” is that the authorization should not be revoked.
“Masks are really powerful, and we should make sure they are part of our arsenal,” Cetron said in an interview. “We wear masks not just to protect ourselves-we wear masks because it is our way of caring for and expressing concern for each other.”
Regulations that have been implemented since January require all passengers to wear masks when in planes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis and carpooling, as well as in transportation hubs such as airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations, and ports.
Watch | Delta Air Lines is looking for unvaccinated Americans:
Even with the increase in the number of cases, the COVID-19 vaccination rate in the United States has begun to decline, mainly in areas with low vaccination rates. Officials are trying to incentivize vaccines, but they say they may need to take more drastic measures. 1:58
The requirement to wear masks has always been a huge source of friction on American aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday that since January 1, it has received 3,420 reports of unruly passengers, of which 2,559 were due to refusing to wear masks.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) stated that July 11 was the busiest day since February 2020, with nearly 2.2 million passengers.
“I know we are all just over emotionally, but I do think that if we realize that the virus is the enemy, not your compatriot or the person sitting next to you or the person sitting next to you or a piece of cloth, we will be together Success must be on the face,” Cetron said.
There is no expiration date for CDC transit mask orders. In April, TSA extended its mask requirements to September 13.
During Donald Trump’s administration, efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote the mandatory use of masks during transportation were blocked.
Overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States government reported on Wednesday.
That estimate far eclipses the high of about 72,000 drug overdose deaths reached the previous year and amounts to a 29 percent increase.
“This is a staggering loss of human life,” Brandon Marshall, a Brown University public health researcher who tracks overdose trends, told the Associated Press.
The nation was already struggling with its worst overdose epidemic but clearly “COVID has greatly exacerbated the crisis,” he added.
Lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions isolated those with drug addictions and made treatment harder to get, experts have said.
“Just like all the other behavioural healthcare companies, we had to heed what the governor was saying and shut live treatment down and go to Zoom,” Kate Judd, programme director at the Shoreline Recovery Center in San Diego, California, told the Reuters news agency.
“We did the best that we could. We tried to make lemonade out of lemons, but it’s not as effective as in-person, face to face, human to human connection is.”
Jordan McGlashen died of a drug overdose in his Ypsilanti, Michigan, apartment last year. He was pronounced dead on May 6, the day before his 39th birthday.
“It was really difficult for me to think about the way in which Jordan died. He was alone, and suffering emotionally and felt like he had to use again,” said his younger brother, Collin McGlashen, who wrote openly about his brother’s addiction in an obituary.
Jordan McGlashen’s death was attributed to heroin and fentanyl.
‘Poisoned drug supply’
While prescription painkillers once drove the nation’s overdose epidemic, they were supplanted first by heroin and then by fentanyl, a dangerously powerful opioid, in recent years. Fentanyl was developed to treat intense pain from ailments like cancer but has increasing been sold illicitly and mixed with other drugs.
“What’s really driving the surge in overdoses is this increasingly poisoned drug supply,” said Shannon Monnat, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University who researches geographic patterns in overdoses.
“Nearly all of this increase is fentanyl contamination in some way. Heroin is contaminated. Cocaine is contaminated. Methamphetamine is contaminated.”
There is no current evidence that more Americans started using drugs last year, Monnat said. Rather, the increased deaths most likely were people who had already been struggling with addiction. Some have told her research team that suspensions of evictions and extended unemployment benefits left them with more money than usual. And they said “when I have money, I stock up on my (drug) supply,” she said.
Part of US’s deadliest year
Overdose deaths are just one facet of what was overall the deadliest year in US history. With about 378,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19, the nation saw more than 3.3 million deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed death certificates to come up with the estimate for 2020 drug overdose deaths. The estimate of more than 93,000 translates to an average of more than 250 deaths each day, or roughly 11 every hour.
The 21,000 increase is the biggest year-to-year jump since the count rose by 11,000 in 2016.
More historical context: According to the CDC, there were fewer than 7,200 total US overdose deaths reported in 1970, when a heroin epidemic was raging in US cities. There were about 9,000 in 1988, around the height of the crack epidemic.
The proliferation of fentanyl is one reason some experts do not expect any substantial decline in drug overdose deaths this year. Though national figures are not yet available, data is emerging from some states that seems to support their pessimism. Rhode Island, for example, reported 34 overdose deaths in January and 37 in February – the most for those months in at least five years.
For Collin McGlashen, last year was “an incredibly dark time” that began in January with the cancer death of the family’s beloved patriarch.
Their father’s death sent his musician brother Jordan into a tailspin, McGlashen said.
“Someone can be doing really well for so long and then, in a flash, deteriorate,” he said.
Then came the pandemic. Jordan lost his job. “It was kind of a final descent.”
“We were doing so well until the rigged election happened to come along,” Trump said, voicing the lie at the center of the conference that he has made the entry point for GOP candidates in 2022, potentially poisoning US elections for years.
There is an argument that a former President who is out of power but still desperate for attention should just be ignored. Certainly, a rambling, vain and lie-filled speech by Trump lacked coherence and any kind of aspirational appeal, instead highlighting his characteristic cocktail of racial demagoguery, personal swipes at enemies, mountainous falsehoods and desperate trawling for personal adulation. To an outsider, it may have come across as tedious and a pale imitation of the rollicking and sometimes even humorous appearances that paved Trump’s path to power in 2016. But in hitting every sensitive hot spot in the conservative media canon — from law and order to “cancel culture” to immigration, to complaints that all the media speaks about is “race, race, race,” Trump demonstrated his still unmatched capacity to sell outrage politics. But more than that, he demonstrated his ability to conjure an alternative belief system that is divorced from reality but that his supporters immediately adopt — the hallmark of strongmen leaders throughout history.
He for instance launched into a searing attack against former Attorney General William Barr, who for most of his time in office acted as a political shield for Trump’s crushing of political norms but drew the line at his election lies.
“I said, ‘Bill, you got to move your ass. Our country is under attack,’ ” the former President said, thus confirming his own unprecedented assault on US democratic institutions while complaining that Barr had not authorized investigations into false claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania. His admission underscored yet again that even the most zealous enablers who fail to buy into his abuses of power are sooner or later branded by the ex-President as heretics.
Trumpism is on the march in red America
Trump is not just popular at CPAC where the crowd greeted his speech with glee. That his populist extremism is now being implemented by GOP governors across states he won shows his enduring power. So do the countrywide efforts by Republican state lawmakers to restrict voting based on his lies about a stolen election. Trump’s capacity to orchestrate the behavior of Republicans is almost as intact as it was when he was sitting in the Oval Office — his derailing of a bipartisan, independent probe of the January 6 outrage is proof of that. All these are reasons why Trump cannot be just disregarded.
Six months after his supporters ransacked the US Capitol — amid an effort by top GOP officials to reinvent the history of that moment, the former President’s threat to American democracy remains extreme. And even if Trump never runs for President again — and he gives every impression of already being launched on a four-year campaign — the brand of grievance politics he invented and maintains will be on the ballot — as his list of possible heirs, from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, shows.
So while much of Trump’s speech was backward looking, providing a rosy and untrue picture of an administration that left his country deeply divided, the false belief system that has captured the hearts and minds of millions of voters is real.
The crucial question is whether the message that is so electric to Trump’s supporters will still cause the kind of revulsion among suburban and more moderate voters who deserted Trump’s GOP and saw him lose the House, the Senate and the White House over a single four-year term.
And could another messenger like DeSantis or Noem, or Texas Gov. Greg Abbott make it quite so bewitching to the conservative base?
The former President is relentless on targeting issues like undocumented migration, the calls by some liberals to defund the police and the rising crime wave to paint the country as out of control and under the sway of far left wingers — as a possible route to broadening his appeal.
But his continued torching of truth comes at a time when President Joe Biden is noticeably all but ignoring his predecessor, positioning himself as a moderate, traditional commander-in-chief. This week, Biden will discuss gun violence and crime in the cities that has spiked as the pandemic eases its grip. He will likely plead with Americans again to get vaccinated to finally defeat Covid-19 — even as Trump acolytes like Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado claim the government vaccine effort is akin to Nazism.
But even as Biden tries to carry out his vow to unite the country and to work across the aisle with Republicans on infrastructure reform for instance, it’s clear that ultimately the biggest impediment he faces is from Trump’s undiminished power. CPAC was for instance an example in microcosm of the fact that much of America’s voting public now lives in an alternative reality in which Trump won the election and Biden lost. Speaker after speaker alluded to election fraud — despite the lack of any evidence that stood up in any of Trump’s failed legal and political attempts to overturn a free and fair elections.
His behavior underscored yet again that the regular battle between conservatism and liberalism over the meaning of America itself has been superseded. One political party is still deep in thrall of a leader who never stops lying and is dedicated to overturning the US democratic political system itself.
Cheering against the vaccine
At one moment on Saturday, which exemplified the grip of ideology on the right, the CPAC crowd cheered the fact that Biden missed his vaccine goal, with more than 30% of adults — most of them in conservative states being hit by the Delta variant of Covid-19, still yet to get at least one dose.
That reaction shocked the government’s top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been made a scapegoat by conservatives keen to cover up Trump’s own disastrous handling of the pandemic.
It was noticeable that while Trump demanded rightful recognition for the vaccine that was developed under his administration — as he claimed to have saved 100 million lives — he made no call for people to get vaccinated.
The ex-President’s reluctance to spend his political capital on a matter that conflicts with the orthodoxy of many conservatives and that could save thousands of lives remains striking, even after he spent months during the early stages of the pandemic trashing science-based public health guidance. And Trump had the power to change minds at the CPAC gathering since 70% of attendees who took part in an unscientific straw poll chose him as their preferred candidate for 2024.
The worst public health crisis in 100 years has now fallen prey to the same relentless churn of misinformation and lies which has stifled the truth of what happened last November in conservative circles. Trump bills his multiple failures in a crisis which he promised would simply “go away” as a massive triumph.
“We’ve got Republican governors across this country pretending they didn’t shut down their states; that they didn’t close their regions; that they didn’t mandate masks,” Noem said at CPAC.
She appeared to be drawing a contrast with DeSantis and Abbott — who took a more restrictive but still lax approach — with a future Republican primary debate in mind.
“Now I’m not picking fights with Republican governors. All I’m saying is that we need leaders with grit.”
The fact that her largely rural state, with few of the big cities that helped Covid spread quickly, had 230 deaths per 100,000 people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — ranking it 10th in that metric among the 50 states — raises serious questions about Noem’s record. As does the reality that South Dakota also had 14,090 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people, giving it the third highest rate in the nation.
But as Trump has shown, an ability to reinvent the truth and to ignore reality might be the most important asset in a potential presidential candidate, in the Republican Party, three years before the next election.
Authorities said Sunday they are making progress in the painstaking search for the victims of a deadly building collapse in Florida last month, Trend reports citing Time.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday that 90 deaths have now been confirmed in the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside, up from 86 a day before.
Among them are 71 bodies that have been identified, and their families have been notified, she said. Some 31 people remain listed as missing.
Levine Cava also said the unrelenting search amid the rubble has resulted in the recovery of over 14 million pounds of concrete and debris.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett stressed not only the speed of the recovery work but also the care that rescue workers are taking in peeling back layers of rubble in hopes of recovering not only those whose lives were lost but also possessions that might be meaningful to the loved ones they left behind.
“The work is so delicate that we’re even finding unbroken wine bottles,” said Burkett.
In recognition of rescuers from abroad, Levine Cava said she gave the keys to the county to the Israeli commander and colonel — her first two handed out as mayor. An Israeli search and rescue team arrived in South Florida shortly after the building collapsed on June 24. The team was heading home Sunday after an emotion sendoff in Surfside.
During a brief ceremony on Saturday evening, Levine Cava thanked the battalion for their “unrelenting dedication.” Members of the task forces that have been searching the site 24 hours a day since the collapse lined both sides of the street, shaking hands and bidding farewell to the Israeli team.
While authorities have concluded that there was “no chance of life” in the remaining rubble, the pressure remains for search crews to find victims so families can lay their loved ones to rest. Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said it was not possible to pinpoint the date that the search and recovery effort would end.
“It’s a slow process,” he said.
The Israeli team joined other task forces from around the United States to assist the teams from Miami and Miami-Dade County, working in 12-hour shifts. They have searched through South Florida’s intense summer heat, and in pouring rain, pausing only when lightning was spotted nearby. They also paused operations as officials made plans to implode the still-standing portion of the condo tower on July 4.
The Israeli team used blueprints of the building to create detailed 3D images of the disaster site to aid in the search. They also gathered information from families of the missing, many of who were Jewish, to build a room-by-room model laying out where people would have been sleeping during the pre-dawn collapse.
New coronavirus cases dropped from 2 683 yesterday to 1 787 and deaths from 55 to 42 but they are still too high as in March Zimbabwe had only 793 cases, in April 1 375, and in May 704.
Cases have already risen to 16 989 this month and deaths to 337, second only to January when there were 854 deaths.
Total deaths now stand at 2 126 and cases at 66 853 but only 20 147 are still active.
Mashonaland West had 584 new cases today pushing the number of active cases in the province to 4 246. Harare is in second place with 2 884 active cases. It had 326 new cases today. Mashonaland East had 191 new cases and now has 2 521 active cases. Bulawayo has 1 539.
Recoveries slowed down to 559 with 164 in Matebeleland North followed by Masvingo with 98 and Harare with 91.
Vaccination also slowed down to 13 000 with 11 437 getting the first jab and 1 688 the second.
The government is aiming to achieve herd immunity in Harare and Bulawayo first to stop the spread of the pandemic and has given the two metropolitan provinces double the doses it allocated to each of seven provinces, excluding Mashonaland West. Each province was allocated 50 000. Mashonaland West will get 90 000.
After a historic win yesterday, Gareth Southgate’s team will now play Italy in the Euro 2020 finals on Sunday. But following their victory, Danish media hit out at refereeing decisions and claimed “cowardly tricks” made them lose the game.
One of country’s biggest newspapers, Berlingske, had the headline, “There was no penalty”, referring to the extra-time spot-kick that was won by Raheem Sterling.
This allowed Harry Kane to secure that second goal, pushing England to the win.
Journalist Poul Hoi went on to attack Britain’s “poor” leadership when it came to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the UK’s death toll was evidence that readers are “lucky” to live in Denmark.
His headline read: “Let the English party.
“They have nothing else.
“And rejoice in one thing instead.”
Describing some of the celebration scenes in London following the win, the journalist wrote: “It is no coincidence that the third wave began in the British Isles and that it is so much more dramatic than elsewhere.
The eruption of violence in the Kingdom of Eswatini in recent days is “deeply concerning”, amid reports that dozens of people have been killed or injured during protests calling for democratic reforms, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Tuesday.
Unrest first began in the last absolute monarchy in Africa, in May, when students took to the streets to call for accountability for the death of a 25-year-old law student, allegedly at the hands of the police.
In late June, these protests grew into daily pro-democracy marches in several locations around the Kingdom, with protesters voicing deep-seated political and economic grievances, said OHCHR, in the regular briefing for reporters at the UN in Geneva.
Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, gained independence 53 years ago, and is ruled by King Mswati III. He chooses the prime minister and cabinet, and has the power to dissolve Parliament.
‘Unnecessary’ use of force
OHCHR Spokesperson Liz Throssell, said her office had received allegations of “disproportionate and unnecessary use of force”, harassment and intimidation by security forces, including the use of live ammunition by police.
She urged the authorities in Eswatini to “fully adhere to human rights principles in restoring calm and the rule of law, in particular the obligation to minimise any use of force.
“We also call on the Government to ensure that there are prompt, transparent, effective, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations”, she added, “including those by law enforcement personnel in the context of the demonstrations, and that those responsible are held to account.”
The OHCHR Spokesperson also expressed concern at reports that Internet services were disrupted last week and called on authorities “to take all steps to ensure that Internet access is not blocked.”
Ms. Throssell urged the Government of the Kingdom “to open up a longer-term dialogue to air and address the underlying public concerns that have given rise to these recent protests.
“We remain committed to working with the Government of Eswatini to strengthen human rights promotion and protection, including support and guidance in implementing recommendations by UN human rights mechanisms, including guaranteeing the rights to freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association, as well as the right of people to participate in the conduct of public affairs.” Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN News.
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