Fri, 07 May 2021

Pandemic Worsens in US

Voice of America
11 Jul 2020, 16:05 GMT+10

The coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen in the United States. On Friday, the country reported more than 65,000 new infections, the latest in a number of record-breaking days.

Georgia, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Utah set records for daily reports of new infections.

The World Health Organization's emergencies program chief said Friday that the new coronavirus may be here to stay.

"In the current situation, it is unlikely we can eradicate the virus," Dr. Mike Ryan said Friday at the WHO's regular coronavirus briefing in Geneva.

The world could "potentially avoid the worst of having second peaks and having to move backwards in terms of a lockdown" if surges in infections can be extinguished, he added.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus offered a word of optimism, saying examples around the world have shown that even if the COVID-19 pandemic is "very intense," it can still be brought back under control."

But Tedros noted that global cases of infections worldwide have more than doubled in the last six weeks alone.

The WHO formally acknowledged Thursday that the coronavirus could be spread through the air in crowded, closed or poorly ventilated environments, after initially dismissing the possibility.

Australian and U.S. scientists, backed by more than 200 others, wrote this week that studies show "beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air."

More than 12.4 million people have contracted the virus worldwide, according to statistics published Friday by Johns Hopkins University.

Many public health experts believe, however, that the number of infections is higher, but many cases go unreported due to a variety of factors, including testing shortages, the lack of transparency among some governments, and COVID-19 deaths attributed to related complications.

The U.S. remains the hardest-hit country, with about a quarter of all confirmed infections and fatalities worldwide. As of Friday, 3.1 million people in the U.S. had contracted the coronavirus and more than 134,000 had died from the disease, according to the Johns Hopkins data.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who announced earlier this week that she has contracted the coronavirus, has made mask-wearing mandatory in her city.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement that Bottoms' order is "nonbinding and legally unenforceable."

Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease expert, has warned the pandemic is worsening in the U.S. because the country lacks a coherent strategy to contain the virus.

"As a country, when we compare ourselves to other countries, I don't think you can say we are doing great - I mean, we're just not," Fauci said in a recent interview with FiveThirtyEight.

Fauci suggested earlier this week that states struggling to combat the virus "should seriously look at shutting down," despite state efforts to reopen in order to revive their economies.

Despite the surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S., President Donald Trump continues to push for the country's schools to open in the coming weeks. Questions remain about how safe that will be for the children and school personnel.

While it is generally believed that the virus does not affect children as adversely as it does adults, children have contracted the virus, and some have died.

In Hong Kong, schools will close Monday, beginning the system's summer vacation period a week sooner than planned. Schools had been closed earlier in the year because of the coronavirus outbreak but were gradually reopened in May. The latest closing follows a spike in new COVID-19 cases, 34 on Thursday and 38 on Friday.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday called the situation in Lebanon "rapidly getting out of control." The pandemic has exacerbated the worst economic crisis in Lebanon's history, she said, and the country's most vulnerable citizens "risk starvation as a result of this crisis."

Bachelet called on the Lebanese government to implement "urgent reforms" to meet "the basic needs of the population."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted Friday the decision to allow bars and other businesses to reopen may have been "too soon." His admission was made as the country's health ministry reported 1,500 new cases, a record single-day high.

A bus driver died in France on Friday. He was beaten earlier this week in Bayonne by passengers who refused his request that they wear face masks, which are mandatory in France on public transportation.

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