What you need to know about coronavirus on Friday, August 7

What you need to know about coronavirus on Friday, August 7

More than 19 million people around the world have now been infected with the coronavirus, and 715,024 have died. The number of new daily cases has topped 200,000 — a level not seen before July — for 23 days in row.

In India, the number of infections surpassed 2 million today. The speed at which the virus has spread around the country of 1.3 billion people is stunning. India reported its first case on January 30. It took almost six months to reach 1 million cases, then only three more weeks to add another million.

Meanwhile, there are now 1 million reported cases in Africa — more than half of them in South Africa — although the World Health Organization said the actual number of infections in the region might be much higher because testing remains a challenge.

And Brazil, the world’s second worst-hit country, is fast approaching 3 million cases and 100,000 deaths.

But it is the United States that is seeing the highest numbers of infections and deaths. More than 4.8 million Americans have been infected — approximately one in 75 — and more than 160,000 have died.

The numbers could get much worse. Several US states are seeing an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive, and Dr. Anthony Fauci said this was a predictor of trouble ahead. “It’s a clear indication that you are getting an uptick in cases, which inevitably, as we’ve seen in the southern states, leads to surges, and then you get hospitalizations and then you get deaths,” Fauci told CNN yesterday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now projecting more than 181,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by August 29. That means the CDC expects almost 1,000 Americans to die on average every day in the next three weeks.

Looking further ahead, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine foresees nearly 300,000 US deaths by December 1. It doesn’t have to be that way. The institute said 70,000 lives can be saved between now and December, if only more people started wearing masks.

“Starting today, if 95% of the people in the US were to wear masks when leaving their homes, that total number would decrease to 228,271 deaths, a drop of 49%,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED

Q: Should I get a mask with a vent?

A: No. The CDC does not recommend people use masks with valves or vents during the pandemic. The one-way valves may provide more comfort, since the valves allow air to escape from the mask and keep the face cooler, but they also allow the virus to escape.

The CDC encourages people to wear masks so they don’t infect others. Covid-19 spreads mainly through respiratory droplets when a person talks, sneezes, sings or coughs. Masks can help stop those respiratory droplets.

Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

It’s ok not to be ok

“The idea that what this country is going through shouldn’t have any effect on us—that we all should just feel OK all the time—that just doesn’t feel real to me. So I hope you all are allowing yourselves to feel whatever it is you’re feeling.”

The words of former First Lady Michelle Obama rang true to many across America and around the world. Obama said she was suffering from a “low-grade depression” caused by worries about the pandemic, race relations in the US and the political strife surrounding it all.

A new report from the Commonwealth Fund into the impact of the pandemic on mental health found that many adults reported experiencing stress, anxiety, or great sadness that was difficult to cope with alone since the outbreak started. But while there were people who were suffering in every one of the 10 developed countries the researchers looked at, the report found that Americans were impacted much more: 33% of Americans have said they felt anxious, stressed or sad. The countries with the next highest levels were Canada and the UK, both of which reported 26% of people feeling anxious or stressed.

The country with the lowest levels of stress, anxiety and sadness was Norway, where 10% of adults reported these mental health concerns.

Some teachers wrote their own obituaries as part of their back-to-school prep

In addition to all her usual back-to-school preparations this summer, veteran teacher Sarah Backstrom wrote her own obituary and sent it to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ office. Backstrom said she was scared about returning to the classroom after Reynolds released guidance that said at least half of schools’ instruction must be conducted in person — and that schools couldn’t request online-only education unless their county’s positivity rate was 15% or higher.

She is one of scores of educators across America dreading the start of the school year. Teachers in Gwinnett County, Georgia are protesting the district’s plan for students to return to school even as hundreds of district employees have tested positive for Covid-19 or are in quarantine because of potential exposure. The teachers and their families gathered — in their cars — in Suwanee yesterday, honking horns and displaying signs to express their displeasure with the district’s recent decision to phase in face-to-face instruction.

And when a high school student in Dallas, Georgia shared a photo of a hallway packed with maskless students at her school, she got suspended. “I was concerned for the safety of everyone in that building and everyone in the county because precautions that the CDC and guidelines that the CDC has been telling us for months now, weren’t being followed,” Hannah Watters said.

What’s new on the vaccine front

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged any nation that eventually produces a viable coronavirus vaccine to share it with the world. “Any country that was to find this vaccine and not make it available around the world without restraint… will be judged terribly by history,” Morrison said at a news conference today.

Meanwhile in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro said that the experimental vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca may be available to Brazilians from “December or January” — and that once that happens, the pandemic “would be overcome” in a matter of weeks. The vaccine is currently under phase three testing in Brazil.

In the US, President Trump said yesterday that he was “optimistic” a vaccine would be ready around election day on November 3, even as his own experts urged caution.

As of this week, 26 vaccines are in human trials around the world and a further 139 are in pre-clinical trials.

US lifts ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory. But where can Americans go?

After more than four months, the US State Department lifted yesterday its advisory warning US citizens against traveling abroad. The department issued the Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory — the highest level — on March 19, urging US citizens not to travel overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But even though the advisory has been lifted, American travelers continue to face severe restrictions in countries worldwide due to the severity of the crisis in the US.

The European Union has blocked entry to US tourists, and the UK requires travelers from the US to quarantine for 14 days.

There are also restrictions on non-essential travel between the US and its neighbors to the north and south — Canada and Mexico — until at least late August.

ON OUR RADAR

  • The latest US jobs report will be released today. Economists predict the US added 1.6 million jobs in July, a sharp slowdown from the 4.8 million added in June. Data released yesterday showed another 1.2 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week.
  • Facebook will let employees work from home until July 2021. The company joins Google, Twitter and others in offering workers that option.
  • Working parents are struggling right now. One company is trying to help by opening a daycare.
  • A seven-year-old boy with no underlying health conditions died of Covid-19 in Georgia, the youngest victim in the state.
  • Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps told CNN’s coronavirus town hall that keeping a normal routine has helped him cope with the pandemic.
  • Authorities in Los Angeles can soon request a shutoff of water and power from homes and businesses that host parties and other egregiously large gatherings.
  • NFL players had until yesterday to decide whether they would opt out of the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic. 66 have taken the step.
  • Ohio Governor Mike DeWine tested positive for coronavirus shortly before he was meant to meet President Donald Trump. He then tested negative in a second test.
  • Three CNN Heroes are navigating pandemic barriers to offer a lifeline to those who are behind bars and returning home.
  • 147 inmates in Mississippi prison test positive for Covid-19

TOP TIPS

During this extended period of evolving schedules and dissolving plans, in which many of us no longer “go” to work or school or much of anywhere, time feels increasingly fluid.

CNN’s David Allan shares a simple hack he has been using to wrest control of his days in the service of certain activities and projects he wants to accomplish.

TODAY’S PODCAST

“The schools were incredibly good at communicating… I got an aerial map of the school with entry and exit points with all of the wash stations marked, with all of the guidelines for the children, with all of the numbers of children that were allowed to be together, the distancing rules.” — Susanne Gargiulo, a journalist in Denmark

School life in Denmark during a pandemic looks a little different. CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks to Susanne Gargiulo, a journalist in Denmark, about how her country has reopened schools successfully. Listen Now.

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