- WHO says asymptomatic carriers actually not that infectious
- Cali reports statewide decline in cases while LA County cases near 64k
- NY State reports 0.2% jump in new cases as NYC reopens
- Cuomo says central NY region ready to enter 'Phase 2'
- India reports another record jump in new cases with ~10k
- Pakistan hospitals running out of beds as cases pass 100k
- Cuomo holds briefing at 1130amET
- Florida reports slowdown following last week's spike in new cases
- NYC enters 'Phase 1' reopening
- New Zealand declared 'coronavirus free' by PM
- Global coronavirus infections passes 7mil; US outbreak nears 2 mil
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Update (1436ET): Following a report in today's WSJ noting new data showing SARS-CoV-2 spreads more quickly in sparsely populated areas where homes are more crowded (perhaps because more extended family members live together) than densely populated but affluent areas like Manhattan and North Brooklyn, the World Health Organization has just announced another epic flip flop.
In an announcement that highlights once again how little scientists understand about the new coronavirus (as the NYT's Nick Kristoff once noted, viruses are "full of puzzles"), the WHO announced that asymptomatic carriers of the virus apparently don't infect nearly as many others as we once thought.
Early evidence indicated that the virus could spread via person-to-person contact, even if the carrier didn’t have symptoms. But WHO officials now say that while asymptomatic spread is certainly possible, it's not the main route of transmission.
"From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual," Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said during a Monday briefing from the WHO's Geneva headquarters. "It’s very rare.”
Of course, if scientists continue to see data showing asymptomatic spread isn't a main factor in transmission, it could have dramatic implications for containment policy, including diminishing the need for social distancing, and allowing students and workers to return to the workplace in much larger numbers.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
The data cited by the WHO was apparently gleaned from early contact tracing work. If it's true that asymptomatic spread isn't a major factor, than the importance of contact tracing has been vastly overstated. To be sure, more research and data are needed to “truly answer” the question, Van Kerkhove added.
"We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing," she said. "They’re following asymptomatic cases. They’re following contacts. And they’re not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare."
Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, insisted that the US is heading in a "positive direction" when it comes to the coronavirus. Shortly afterward, California reported a statewide decline in new infections on Monday, though the number of new cases in LA County neared 64k, as the economic reopening has caused new cases to spike - a spike that experts who spoke to the LATimes say likely predated the anti-police brutality demonstrations.
Meanwhile, the number of global cases passed 7 million on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins, which counted 7,085,894 as of Monday evening in New York.
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Update (1145ET): Cuomo has released the daily coronavirus data for Monday, claiming that the number of deaths reported in the state was fewer than 100 once again, and that much of central NY state is will soon enter 'Phase 2' of the reopening plan. Cases climbed just 0.2%, compared with a 7-day average of 0.3%.
With central NY ready to enter Phase 2, Cuomo also shared 15 sites around the state for protesters to get tested, while claiming that "we don't know" whether the demonstrations will cause a resurgence of new cases.
Cuomo laid out the data in a series of slides shared during his daily briefing:
Regarding his earlier ride on the 7 train (which we mentioned below), Cuomo says he wouldn't ask New Yorkers to ride the trains if he didn't feel comfortable riding them.
Finally, Cuomo warned NYers to "stay smart" after the reopening "because if you don't, you can see a spike...and that is the last thing we want to see".
"Stay smart...stay smart...look at facts around us - other states, the spike is going up, California, the numbers are going up, Florida, the numebrs are going up, Texas the numbers are going up...look at the reopening date and look at what happened after they reopened...that is the cautionary tale my friends," Cuomo said.
Ask if he expected a spike in the coming weeks, Cuomo replied "are you a cynic, my friend?" before adding that subways have been opened this entire time, and that a rebound isn't guaranteed "if we stay as smart and disciplined as we have for the past 100 days".
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Update (1120ET): After crossing the 200k-case threshold over the weekend, India has reported yet another record jump in new cases on Monday as it continues to ease its restrictive lockdown conditions in preparation for it to finally expire later this monht.
Monday marked the biggest unwind of lockdown restrictions so far, as malls, restaurants, hotels and places of worship were allowed to reopen, most for the first time since March 25, when India's lockdown began.
However, the easing has been marred by a surge in infections, leading India to overtake Italy and Spain to become the fifth worst-hit nation in the pandemic, as we noted a few days back. But on Monday, nearly 10k new cases were reported, about even with the number of new cases being reported in Russia, where the outbreak continues to spread uncontrolled.
India has a total of 256,611 confirmed cases following the latest daily spike of 9,983. The country has recorded 7,135 deaths, according to India’s Health Ministry, although some suspect the true number could be much higher. Domestic flights and trains were allowed to restart in May, along with manufacturing activity, which re-started soon after.
Some restrictions will remain in New Delhi and Mumbai, among India’s worst-hit cities. In Delhi, local authorities have allowed private offices, restaurants and shopping complexes to reopen (though social distancing guidelines must be followed). But hotels and metro lines remain shuttered.
In Florida, Monday’s reported coronavirus cases and deaths declined slightly after a week where the most positive cases yet were reported.
The update from the state Department of Health showed 966 new positive cases of the virus, bringing Fla's total to 64,904 cases to date, along with 12 new deaths, bringing the statewide total to 2,712.
In NY, Gov Cuomo will begin his daily press briefing at 1130amET, as per usual.
During the opening minutes of the briefing, Cuomo declared "we're back, baby" while reporters mocked an earlier "socially distant" subway ride for a governor whose loathing for the subway is well known.
Circling back to India's outbreak, the country isn't alone in West Asia: Across its heavily militarized border (where sectarian violence has flared again in recent days), Pakistan warns that hospitals are running out of beds to treat coronavirus patients as the number of confirmed cases passes 100,000, with ~2k deaths.
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Following nearly 2 weeks of peaceful protests pockmarked by violence and looting - killings and shootings skyrocketed across NYC last week as the summer 'killing season' begins - America's biggest "hot zone" kicked off "Phase 1" of its plan to reopen its economy on Monday, exactly 100 days after the first case of the virus was confirmed.
Since the outbreak began, more than 205,000 New Yorkers who have tested positive for the virus, while another 22,000 succumbed to the virus.
Exactly 100 days since its first case of coronavirus was confirmed, New York City, which weathered extensive hardship as an epicenter of the worldwide outbreak, is set to take the first tentative steps toward reopening its doors on Monday.
According to the NYT, as many as 400,000 workers will return to construction jobs, manufacturing sites and retail stores in the city’s first phase of reopening as the number of COVID-19 deaths recorded across the US continues to fall, with fewer than 1,000 deaths reported each day (remember when the NYT claimed that deaths would be north of 3,000/day by June 1?).
It's a far cry from the 'peak' of the outbreak, when 800 NYC residents were dying from the virus every day.
The city ran more than 60k tests a day over the weekend, Gov Cuomo claimed.
NYC enters Phase 1 of reopening tomorrow.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 7, 2020
New Yorkers bent the curve by being smart.
Let’s keep being smart. #NYTough
That is low enough for New York City’s corps of contract tracers, who began work last week, to try to track every close interaction and, officials hope, stop a resurgence of the virus.
“You want to talk about a turnaround — this one, my friends, is going to go in the history books,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Saturday.
Of course, it could be months before office workers return en masse, as the world waits to see how the city's public transit will handle social distancing concerns. And for many retailers in the city, the conditions in 'Phase 1' are still too restrictive. Simply reopening doesn't mean customers will return, and curbside pickup doesn't make a lot of sense for many retailers either, according to the NYT. Business groups in the city say many retailers are waiting for the next phase to venture out, when outdoor dining is allowed, office workers are permitted to return and shoppers are allowed to take their time and browse. The earliest these shops might be able to reopen would be later this month.
Some employers have developed new technological solutions to this problem. When more than 100 workers return to Newlab, a "technology hub" in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, they will be offered a device that buzzes whenever they get too close to another worker. The essential workers that have remained in the office this entire time have already been wearing the devices.
The city's army of thousands of contact tracers officially started their work last week, and will continue aiding in efforts to quash a rebound in infections. Meanwhile, city officials will be closely monitoring a suite of metrics, from emergency room admission data to new case numbers, for signs of a potentially crippling resurgence.
On the other side of the world, New Zealand lifted all social and economic restrictions except for its border controls on Monday after declaring that the small island nation is "coronavirus free", making it one of the first nations to return to normalcy after the outbreak. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she "danced for joy". Restaurants, retailers, transit and virtually everywhere else reopened without mandatory social distancing. It has been 17 days since the country recorded a new case of the virus.
"While the job is not done, there is no denying this is a milestone ... Thank you, New Zealand,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference, saying she had danced for joy at the news.
"We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort.”
Globally, the total case count topped 7 million late last night, while the number of deaths passed 400k over the weekend, as Brazil, Mexico, Russia and possibly India struggle to bring the outbreak to heel. In the US, the number of confirmed cases have surpassed 1.9 million, and the 2 million mark draws ever-nearer, with ~1.94 million as of Monday morning. At the current rate of ~20k cases a day, the US is on track to pass its next grim pandemic milestone by Thursday.