COVID-19 By The Numbers
Monday, May 9
America’s employers added 428,000 jobs in April, extending a streak of solid hiring that has defied punishing inflation, chronic supply shortages, the Russian war against Ukraine and much higher borrowing costs.
According to the Associated Press, last month’s hiring kept the unemployment rate at 3.6%, just above the lowest level in a half-century.
Employers have added at least 400,000 jobs for 12 straight months. Still, the job growth, along with steady wage gains, will help fuel consumer spending and likely keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise borrowing rates sharply to fight inflation.
That would lead to increasingly heavy borrowing costs for consumers and businesses. Higher loan rates could also weigh down corporate profits.
As New York City forges ahead with its recovery, the pandemic is leaving lasting imprints, especially on city roadways — less room and for cars and more space for people, as reported by the Associated Press.
As the COVID-19 outbreak ravaged New York City two years ago, the bustling metropolis found itself transformed into grids of mostly deserted streets and sidewalks as businesses shuttered and virus-wary denizens shut themselves in.
Now the city is drafting new rules that would allow eateries to make outdoor dining permanent, although the policy is being challenged in court. The city is also announcing plans to close off even more streets to vehicles on Sundays, so pedestrians have more room to roam in warmer months.
For travelers going to southern Europe, summer vacations just got a lot easier.
According to the Associated Press, Italy and Greece have relaxed some COVID-19 restrictions before Europe’s peak summer tourist season as life increasingly returns to normal after the pandemic.
Greece’s civil aviation authority announced Sunday it was lifting all COVID-19 rules for international and domestic flights except for wearing face masks during flights and at airports.
Air travelers were previously required to show proof of vaccination, a negative test, or a recent recovery. Italy did away with the health pass that had been required to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms and other venues.
Visitors to Italy also no longer have to fill out the EU passenger locator form, a complicated ordeal.
Sunday, May 8
U.S. regulators strictly limit who can receive Johnson & Johnson’s OVID-19 vaccine due to a rare but serious risk of blood clots.
According to the Associated Press, the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday the shot should only be given to adults who cannot receive a different vaccine or specifically request J&J’s vaccine.
The decision is the latest restriction to hit the company’s vaccine, which has long been overshadowed in the U.S. by the more effective shots from Pfizer and Moderna.
In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended using the Moderna and Pfizer shots over J&J’s because of its safety issues.
Saturday, May 7
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak says that in two weeks, he’ll lift the state of emergency he declared during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic more than two years ago, according to the Associated Press.
In a statement on Friday, the Democrat who is running for a second term credited the declaration with giving the state flexibility to respond to challenges as they arose.
He put a May 20 end date to the statewide emergency he declared on March 12, 2020. Most measures, including business restrictions and mask mandates, have already been lifted.
As of the end of this week, state health officials have reported just over 665,000 known cases of COVID-10 and almost 10,800 deaths.
Friday, May 6
A California measure that would allow children age 12 and up to be vaccinated without their parents’ consent, including against the coronavirus, has cleared its first legislative committee.
According to the Associated Press, if the proposal that advanced Thursday becomes law, California would allow the young people of any state to be vaccinated without parental permission.
Minors aged 12 to 17 in California currently cannot be vaccinated without permission from their parents or guardians unless the vaccine is to prevent a sexually transmitted disease.
Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener’s proposal is perhaps the most continuous measure remaining from lawmakers’ once-ambitious agenda after several other proposals lost momentum as the winter pandemic wave eased.
The count of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 is nearly 1 million, and there’s a wealth of data that clarifies which groups have been hit the hardest.
According to the Associated Press, more than 700,000 people 65 and older died. Men died at higher rates than women, and white people made up most of the deaths overall.
Despite this, an unequal burden fell on Black, Hispanic and Native American people considering the younger average age of minority communities.
Racial gaps narrowed between surges and then widened again with each new wave. Most deaths happened in urban counties, but rural areas also paid a high price.
The Asian Games in China are being postponed because of concerns about the spreading omicron variant of COVID-19, as reported by the Associated Press.
The decision comes less than three months after the country hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
The World University Games have also been postponed. The Asian Games were to take place from Sept. 10-25 in the eastern city of Hangzhou and would involve more than 11,000 athletes — that’s more than the Summer Olympics.
The World University Games had been scheduled for June 26 - July 7 in the western city of Chengdu.
Thursday, May 5
The World Health Organization is estimating that nearly 15 million people were killed either by the coronavirus or by its impact on overwhelmed health systems in the first two years of the pandemic.
According to the Associated Press, that’s more than double the current official death toll.
In a report released on Thursday, the U.N. health agency said that most of the fatalities were in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
Accurately counting COVID-19 deaths have been problematic as reports of confirmed cases represent only a fraction of the devastation wrought by the virus. This could be attributed to limited testing and global differences in how countries count COVID-19 deaths.
Pfizer now hopes to tell U.S. regulators how well its COVID-19 vaccine works in children under 5 by early June, according to the Associated Press.
Currently, only children ages 5 or older can be vaccinated in the U.S. using Pfizer's vaccine.
Rival Moderna hopes to be the first to offer vaccinations to the youngest children and began filling its own data with the Food and Drug Administration last week.
The FDA has set tentative meetings in June to review data from one or both companies.
For the first time, the U.S. came close to providing health care for alll for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, but just for one condition — COVID-19.
Now, things are reverting to how they were as federal money for the uninsured dries up, as reported by the Associated Press.
Lack of an insurance card could become a barrier to timely care for COVID. A $20 billion government program that paid the pandemic bills of uninsured people has been shut down.
Special Medicaid COVID coverage likely faces its last months, even though the virus is not yet contained. To exacerbate matters, safety-net hospitals and clinics are seeing sharply higher operating costs. They fear they won’t be prepared if there’s another surge.
Wednesday, May 4
The Shasta County Board of Supervisors voted to terminate county Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom by a 3-2 vote during its closed session on Tuesday, and the announcement was made public soon after.
In a letter addressed to the community and published in A News Cafe on Friday, Ramstrom wrote that she believed the board would consider her termination during this week’s meeting but that she had been given no notice that her performance was unsatisfactory.
“My performance review did not mention anything suggesting that my job was in jeopardy, and I have no specific information from the Board that my job performance was unsatisfactory in any way,” she wrote.
Ramstrom has frequently come under fire by some members of the community during board meetings for upholding COVID-19 safety measures and mandates. In her letter, she wrote that she and her colleagues had been no more restrictive than the state required.
Despite a court ruling last month that struck down a national mask mandate on public transportation, U.S. health officials are restarting their recommendation that Americans wear masks on planes, trains, and buses.
As reported by the Associated Press, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a statement saying people age 2 and older should wear a well-fitting mask when traveling in public spaces, like buses.
Last month, a federal judge in Florida struck down a government requirement for masking in public transportation. The Justice Department is appealing the decision.
As mask mandates and vaccination rules kept falling across the U.S., infections from the latest COVID variants have quietly taken hold in some places, sparking concern among public health officials.
According to the Associated Press, more cities are now in a new high-risk category that is supposed to trigger indoor mask-wearing, but there’s been little appetite to do so.
Nationally, hospitalizations are up slightly but still as low as at any point in the pandemic. Deaths have steadily decreased to nearly the lowest numbers in the last three months.
The muted response reflects the country's exhaustion after two years of restrictions and the new challenges that health leaders are facing at this phase of the pandemic.
An abundance of at-home virus test kits has led to a steep undercount of COVID-19 cases, which is an important benchmark.
Tuesday, May 3
Vice President Kamala Harris tested negative on Monday for COVID-19, six days after she tested positive for the virus, according to the Associated Press.
She has been cleared to return to the White House on Tuesday. Harris press secretary Kirsten Allen said Harris, who was prescribed the antiviral treatment Paxlovid last week, was negative on a rapid antigen test.
Allen said Harris would continue to wear a “well-fitting mask while around others” in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines until her tenth day after her positive test.
Officials have announced that California’s population shrank in 2021 for the second year in a row, according to a new estimate from the California Department of Finance.
As reported by the Associated Press, state officials say California lost 117,552 people in 2021, giving it a population of just over 39 million residents.
California is still far ahead of Texas, which is No. 2 for population size in the U.S.
State officials blame the loss on a declining birth rate and more deaths because of the pandemic. Also, fewer people are moving from other states to California.
Restaurants in Beijing have been ordered to close dine-in services over the May holidays as the Chinese capital grapples with a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities said at a recent news conference that dining in restaurants has become an infection risk, cting virus transmissions between diners and staff.
Restaurants have been ordered to only provide takeout services from Sunday to Wednesday, during China’s Labor Day holidays.
Beijing began mass testing millions of residents earlier this week. Parks and entertainment venue are allowed to operate only at half capacity.
The stakes are high as the ruling Communist Party prepares for a major congress this fall at which President XI Jinping is seeking a third five-year term as the country’s leader.
Monday, May 2
Most people in the U.S., including most children, have now been infected with COVID-19 during the omicron surge, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NPR reports that at a briefing for reporters last Tuesday, the CDC’s Dr. Kristie Clarke said so many people caught omicron over the winter that almost 60% of everyone in the country now has antibodies to the virus in their blood.
That number is even higher for children — almost 75% of kids 11 and younger have antibodies to the virus.
Clarke said the finding means many people have at least some immunity to the virus but stresses that people should still get vaccinated since it still provides the strongest, broadest protection against getting seriously ill.
Immunity provided solely by a previous infection may or may not be as protective against severe disease.
COVID-19 rules for travelers will vary depending on the destination, but testing positive for the virus could result in an unexpected change in plans, such as being required to stay isolated in a hotel.
As reported by the Associated Press, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that travelers going overseas should make contingency plans since they may have to stay longer than planned if they test positive.
Travel companies suggest getting insurance that covers the cost of recovery or isolation.
Those who do end up needing medical treatment are advised to check with their embassy for suggested health care providers.
8:55 a.m.: COVID-19 pandemic has changed office fashion
After working remotely in sweats and yoga pants for two years, many Americans are rethinking their wardrobes to balance comfort and professionalism as some offices reopen.
According to the Associated Press, they’re dropping structured suits, zip-front pants and pencil skirts worn before the pandemic and are experimenting with new looks.
Retailers and brands are rushing to meet workers’ fashion needs for the future of work with blazers in knit fabrics, pants with drawstrings or elastic bands, and casual twists on the button-down dress shirt.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.