The global death toll from the coronavirus hit 4 million Wednesday, as the surge in variant cases threatens to overtake progress from the vaccines.
The number of cases topped 185 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Both are widely believed to be an undercount because of overlooked cases or deliberate concealment.
The U.S. has the world’s highest reported death toll, at over 600,000, or nearly 1 in 7 deaths, followed by Brazil at more than 520,000. But vaccines, 3 trillion doses of which have been administered, have led to the plummeting of cases and deaths throughout the world.
And the numbers are startling: the United States’ vaccination program has prevented approximately 279,000 additional deaths and up to 1.25 million additional hospitalizations, according to a new study released by Yale University and the Commonwealth Fund. Nearly 50% of all Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
“If there had been no vaccination program, daily deaths from COVID-19 potentially would have jumped to nearly 4,500 deaths per day,” the study said.
But the CDC now projects the highly transmissible delta variant, first identified in India, is now the dominant strain in the U.S. The variant makes up 51.7% of all new infections, according to CDC data.
Also in the news:
►Health officials in Maine say more than half the eligible population is now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in every county in the state.
►New York City, once the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., threw a ticker tape parade in lower Manhattan on Wednesday to honor the “hometown heroes” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
►The Food and Drug Administration could fully approve the Pfizer vaccine this month, former White House senior advisor Andy Slavitt said on CNN Wednesday.
►The nation’s third-largest school district announced plans Wednesday to open three school-based vaccination sites to students and families next week and establish standing sites at schools across Chicago starting in September, prioritizing neighborhoods with low vaccination rates.
►It’s going to be a “Tubby hot summer.” The popular children’s TV program “Teletubbies” tweeted images of fictional COVID-19 vaccine cards in efforts to promote vaccinations. “We’re all vaxxed! Just in time for a Tubby hot summer,” the account tweeted. “Who’s ready to come out & play”
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 606,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 185 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. More than 157.9 million Americans have been fully vaccinated — 47.6% of the population, according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading: The pandemic upended parents’ relationships with school, but when learning moved online, parents also got a front-row seat to daily classroom life, providing many an unprecedented opportunity to partake in their children’s education. According to a new survey, close to 2 in 3 parents of school-aged children became more engaged than ever before in their kids’ learning, and roughly 8 in 10 respondents said the pandemic opened their eyes to the inner workings of America’s schools. Read more here.
Millions of newly minted college graduates are looking for work after a year virtual classes and the loss of an on-campus experience. And while U.S. businesses, coping with the direst labor shortages on record, need millions of workers, college students who graduated in May are struggling to find jobs.
Part of the struggle is driven by competition with both 2020 grads who deferred their job searches during the pandemic and the millions of Americans laid off in the health crisis, experts say. And although employers are scrambling to fill a record number of job openings, many are lower-wage positions college grads aren’t seeking.
Other higher-skill, white-collar openings are also going begging but chiefly in certain industries, like technology and health care, college and staffing officials say.
More than half of college seniors and recent graduates — 55.6% — described their career outlook as pessimistic, according to a survey of about 1,000 recent and soon-to-be grads in February and March. The vast majority were looking for entry-level positions, and three out of four said they were struggling to find them.
– Paul Davidson
With the Olympics opening in two weeks, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihde Suga announced a state of emergency for Tokyo that goes into effect Monday through Aug. 22. This means the Olympics, opening July 23 and running through Aug. 8, will be held entirely under emergency measures.
Suga said the state of emergency was needed to “prevent the resurgence of the future spread on cases across the country.”
The main focus of the emergency is a request for bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors serving alcohol to close. A ban on serving alcohol is a key step to tone down Olympic-related festivities and keep people from drinking and partying. Tokyo residents are expected to face stay-home requests and watch the games on TV from home.
Fans from abroad were months ago banned from attending the Olympics. But just two weeks ago, organizers and the International Olympic Committee decided to allow venues to be filled to 50% of capacity but crowds not to exceed 10,000. The state-of-emergency will force them to change plans again with a decision probably coming later Thursday.
– Associated Press
The U.K. has recorded more than 30,000 daily coronavirus infections for the first time since January, just as the British government prepares to lift all remaining lockdown restrictions in England.
Government figures showed another 32,548 confirmed cases on Wednesday, the highest level since Jan. 23.
For much of the spring, infections were below the 5,000 mark. But the arrival of the more contagious delta variant, first identified in India, has likely caused cases to spike.
Despite the increase, the British government says it is still aiming to lift all remaining lockdown restrictions in England on July 19, a move that many scientists say is dangerous.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid says cases could hit a daily high of 100,000 this summer, a level of infection not reached during previous waves of the virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is hoping the rapid rollout of vaccines has created a wall of immunity.
The Biden administration will send a COVID-19 surge response team to provide public health support in southwest Missouri, CNN reported Wednesday.
The “surge response teams,” announced in a White House press conference last week, will be dispatched to emerging COVID-19 hotspots around the country, where vaccination rates remain low. They’ll aim to boost testing and vaccination rates, as well as track down and treat those who have fallen ill from the virus.
Hospital leaders said Tuesday the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Springfield, Missouri, has tripled in the last month.
“99.5% of COVID deaths over a 6 month period are unvaccinated,” wrote Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer of Mercy Springfield, on Twitter. “So if you’re vaccinated there is a light at the end of a tunnel. If you’re unvaccinated that’s probably a train.”
With low vaccination rates in southwest Missouri and the highly infectious delta variant of the virus taking hold, the situation is expected to get worse before it gets better.
Ashley Casad, CoxHealth’s vice president of clinical services, said CoxHealth’s facilities in the Springfield area are seeing roughly 18 new patients a day that need to be admitted because of COVID-19. Next week, that number is expected to grow to 24 a day. Then 27 the week after that.
– Galen Bacharier and Harrison Keegan, Springfield News-Leader
Contributing: The Associated Press.