Coast to coast: California now has the most cumulative coronavirus infections, surpassing New York this week, Luke Money reported for the Los Angeles Times. As of today, The New York Times tracker showed the state has more than 433,000 cases, with over 68,000 infections recorded in the past seven days alone. In contrast, New York, the original epicenter, has seen fewer than 5,000 cases over the past seven days. California has suffered a far lower Covid-19 mortality toll, with about 8,200 deaths compared to more than 32,000 in New York, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. California officials cited the state’s population, the largest by far, as a key reason for having the most cases. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said, “We have a lot more people here. We’re also a bigger state and a more geographically diverse state.” Florida still trails New York by more than 24,000 cases, but since that state has also seen tens of thousands of new cases in the past week (more than 74,000 new cases in seven days, to be specific), it seems likely to pass New York in total case numbers very soon.
- Also: The number of confirmed U.S. cases has passed 4 million, and there have been more than 144,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Rising hospitalizations: The number of people hospitalized because of Covid-19 is nearly as high as during the first peak in mid-April. “We’ve rolled back essentially two months’ worth of progress with what we’re seeing in number of cases,” Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health, told CNN’s Christina Maxouris and Jason Hanna. Parts of Texas and Florida are seeing hospitalization rates like what New York and New Jersey saw earlier this year, according to The New York Times. “Any spike in cases or increase in hospitalizations is going to put our ER system and hospital systems in peril,” Dr. Damian Caraballo, an emergency room physician in Tampa, told CNN. More than 150 doctors and public health experts have signed a letter urging political leaders to shut the country back down to curb the pandemic. “Hit the reset button,” they write. “The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible. And reopening before suppressing the virus isn’t going to help the economy. Economists have gone on record saying that the only way to ‘restore the economy is to address the pandemic itself,’ pointing out that until we find a way to boost testing and develop and distribute a vaccine, open or not, people will not be in the mood to participate.”
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Global outlook: The director general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said this week that nearly half of all cases worldwide came from just three countries: Brazil, India and the United States, The New York Times reports. But recent outbreaks have also plagued cities in countries that seemed to have the virus under control, including Melbourne, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. “Once you loosen the restrictions too much,” said David Hui, the director of the Stanley Ho Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, “you face a rebound.”
- Also: The number of confirmed cases globally has passed 15.5 million, and there have been more than 634,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. The Americas are the leading hotspot for coronavirus deaths. The 10 countries with the highest death toll include the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Peru.
Hazardous duty: Three meatpacking workers have filed a lawsuit accusing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of failing to protect workers from hazardous conditions during the coronavirus pandemic, Eli Rosenberg reports for The Washington Post. The lawsuit says that OSHA failed to respond to complaints about safety practices at the Maid-Rite Specialty Foods factory, including failure to provide adequate protective gear and allow for social distancing in the factory. The workers say the company offered incentives to workers who might be feeling sick with coronavirus symptoms to come into work anyway by giving bonuses for not missing days, and did not separate sick employees from healthy ones. “We hope that the lawsuit spurs OSHA into action for these workers,” said David Seligman, executive director of the worker legal group Towards Justice. “Every day they go to work, they’re in imminent danger. If the virus were to enter the facility, there’s every reason to believe that it could cause death.”
Calling it quits: Data from the online review site Yelp shows that 55 percent of pandemic-related business closures are now permanent, leading The Washington Post’s Andrew Van Dam to conclude that if a business is still closed at this point in the crisis, it’s probably for keeps. As leases come up for renewal, business owners will have a big decision on whether to gamble on the future. “It is really hard to make a one-year commitment to paying rent when businesses are closing down for the second time and there’s no end in sight to this virus,” said Harvard University researcher Michael Stepner, who has been tracking business performance during the pandemic. “The longer these temporary closings go on, the more of them will turn permanent.”
Season opener: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and an avid Washington Nationals fan, had the honor Thursday night of throwing out the first pitch of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, which had been delayed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Gabe Lacques writes for USA Today. Nationals Park was empty of spectators, but you could still hear pre-recorded sounds of crowds cheering over the speaker system, Melissa Block reports for NPR. In a much abbreviated season, each team will play 60 regular season games, instead of the usual 162. Oh, and the New York Yankees beat the Nationals 4-1 in a rain-shortened game.
- Also: The NBA is scheduled to resume play next Thursday, from within the pandemic “bubble” at Disney World in Orlando, Marc Stein reports for The New York Times. Up to 10 sports reporters can pay $550 per day to live and work from within the bubble.
FairWarning contributor Jessica McKenzie is an independent journalist. Find more of her work at jessicastarmckenzie.com.
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