- 108 million under lockdown in NE China
- Beaches, parks reopen across US, Europe
- New Zealand reopens schools Monday
- Italy plans to reopen most restaurants & businesses by week’s end.
- New cases in Brazil, Russia slow as deaths accelerate
- In US, all but 4 states have “partially reopened”
- WHO annual meeting begins with keynote from President Xi
- South Africa reports largest single-day spike in cases
* * *
With two weeks left in May, the pace of deaths across the US has slowed substantially, a reflection of the progress made by the worst-impacted states like New York, Michigan, New Jersey, California and Washington State, and – importantly – a repudiation of the alarmist forecasts published by the NYT earlier this month calling for the rate of US COVID-19-linked deaths to hit 3,000/day. Yesterday, the US reported just 808 deaths (remember, these data are reported with a 24-hour lag) according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University.
As of Monday morning, the US had confirmed 1,486,742 cases (with thousands of patients likely going undiagnosed) and 89,564 deaths, placing it on track to surpass 90k deaths by the end of today.
Reported US coronavirus deaths on date:
Feb. 17: 0 deaths
Mar. 17: 111 deaths
Apr. 17: 37,054 deaths
May 17: 89,562 deaths
— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) May 18, 2020
Meanwhile, as outbreaks in Russia and Brazil continue to rage, both countries have officially counted hundreds of thousands of additional cases over the last 2 weeks. The two countries, which boast the No. 2 (Russia) and No. 4 (Brazil) highest ‘official’ case counts in the world, are approaching the problem from different angles: In Russia, President Putin is ratcheting up lockdown and social distancing measures, while Brazil – under President Jair Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the virus as “a little flu” – continues to reopen its economy to the consternation of its neighbors.
The death toll has ballooned in the South American nation to 16,118 as of Monday morning in the US, the 6th-highest rally in the world. Two weeks ago the death count was 7,025. On Sunday, Brazil reported 485 additional deaths and 7,938 more cases. That was after Brazil on Saturday reported 816 more deaths, second only to the US with 1,218, and more than 14k additional cases. The numbers pushed Brazil past Italy and Spain on the ranking of hardest-hit countries. Brazil’s “official” tally was 241,080, though with testing rates that lag far behind Europe, many suspect the accurate number is much higher.
While most of the US and Europe have continued to reopen, Chile’s capital city Santiago was locked down on Sunday following a resurgence of new cases and deaths linked to the virus.
VIDEO: With near-deserted streets and police checks, the seven million people of Chile’s capital, Santiago, began a strict quarantine Saturday after a sharp resurgence of coronavirus cases pic.twitter.com/4XMd8abl5C
— AFP news agency (@AFP) May 18, 2020
Russia said Monday that it recorded 9,000 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, the lowest level since early May (the country was reporting more than 10k cases a day). Health officials reported 8,926 new infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to 290,678, the second-highest in the world after the US. It was the lowest number of new virus cases since May 1, when Russia announced 7,933 cases, according to the Japanese Times.
A little further south in New Zealand, hundreds of thousands of children were preparing to return to school on Monday after a 2-month ‘home education’ break.
Hundreds of thousands of New Zealand children returned to school Monday after two months of home education as part of a COVID-19 lockdown, according to the AFP. With a population of 5 million, NZ recorded just 1,149 cases of the virus and 21 deaths, attributed to a strict lockdown adopted in March. Most of NZ’s lockdown measures ended on Thursday.
Back in the US, as more states start the process of reopening, Apple is planning to reopen more than 25 of its branded stores in the US, according to a Reuters report. The company said on Sunday that by the end of the week, 1/5th of its retail stores worldwide will have reopened.
Yesterday, we reported that tens of millions of Chinese in the northeastern part of the country had been placed under lockdown again following a new outbreak near the border with Russia. Apparently, that number was way off: Right now, some 100 million Chinese are back under lockdown.
Some 108 million people in China’s northeast region are being thrown back under lockdown as a new cluster of #coronavirus infections emerges.
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) May 18, 2020
Some 108 million people in China’s northeast region of Jilin are back under lockdown conditions, BBG reports, in “an abrupt reversal of the re-opening taking place across the nation, cities in Jilin province have cut off trains and buses, shut schools and quarantined tens of thousands of people.” The strict measures have dismayed many residents who had thought the worst of the nation’s epidemic was over.
People “are feeling more cautious again,” said Fan Pai, a worker in Jilin. “Children playing outside are wearing masks again” and health care workers are walking around in protective gear, she said. “It’s frustrating because you don’t know when it will end.”
Meanwhile, according to another Reuters report, beautiful summer weather across the northern hemisphere is enticing millions of people in virus ‘hot spots’ from NYC to the mediterranean coasts of Italy and Spain to visit public parks and beaches, making them the primary centers of recreation in the COVID era.
Most cities and towns have adopted new precautions to prevent the virus from spreading. Many individuals are choosing to keep their distance and wear masks. Greeks flocked to beaches on Saturday as more than 500 beaches reopened, coinciding with temperatures of 34 Celsius (93.2 Fahrenheit).
As the number of new cases accelerates rapidly across Africa, stoking fears about new ‘hot spots’, South Africa reported its highest single-day jump in reported coronavirus cases on Sunday, with an increase of 1,160 infections, according to the country’s National Department of Health. That brings the total number of cases to 15,515, with the Western Cape province accounting for ~60% of that total.
In Brooklyn’s Domino Park, white circles were painted on the lawn to help sunbathers and picnickers keep a safe distance. About half the people in the park appeared to be wearing some form of face covering as they congregated in small groups on a warm Saturday afternoon, as cops in masks kept watch.
In Italy, many restaurants, bars and cafes have reopened now that Italy has seen daily deaths drop to levels not seen since the early days of the pandemic.
Italy’s restaurants, bars and cafes among businesses allowed to reopen as country records lowest single-day Covid-19 death toll since its two-month lockdown began pic.twitter.com/IeEIGFEUSn
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) May 18, 2020
After releasing consumer-goods pricing data that hinted at a wave of destabilizing deflation headed China’s way, the mainland press has been searching far and wide for “foreign” experts to reassure the Chinese people that China’s economy will hit its pre-COVID growth benchmarks, just like President Xi said.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) May 18, 2020
As we reported last night, the WHO is holding a two-day annual meeting starting Monday. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered the keynote address on Monday while members battle over whether to authorized an investigation into the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan, as well as pushing for Taiwan to be made a full member of the organization over the rapid resistance of the CCP.