Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today
Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today
This is the Coronavirus Briefing, an informed guide to the pandemic. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.
Credit…The New York Times
The C.D.C. director warned of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Canada could welcome vaccinated travelers in September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
The spreading Delta variant is hampering Europe’s economic recovery.
Africa’s Covid crisis is here
Africa is now in the deadliest stage of its pandemic as the Delta variant sweeps across the continent. Hospitals are filling up, oxygen supplies and medical workers are being stretched thin. Recorded deaths jumped 40 percent last week alone.
There is little prospect of relief in sight: Only about 1 percent of Africans have been fully vaccinated, and even the African Union’s goal of vaccinating 20 percent of the continent by the end of this year seems unlikely.
Rich nations have bought up most of the world’s doses long into the future, often far more than they could conceivably need.
Unable to strike early deals for vaccines, African countries relied on Covax, a global partnership, to deliver free doses to countries that needed them. But hundreds of millions of doses never arrived after India restricted the exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine as it dealt with its own resurgence this year.
“The blame squarely lies with the rich countries,” said Dr. Githinji Gitahi, a commissioner with Africa Covid-19 Response, a continental task force. “A vaccine delayed is a vaccine denied.”
Back to masks in L.A.
A month after California’s “grand reopening,” Los Angeles County announced that face masks would once again be required indoors starting Saturday night to get ahead of the surging Delta variant.
New coronavirus cases have nearly tripled statewide, and California isn’t an outlier: Every state in the nation has reported increases in the number of cases in recent days. California, which is recording 3,000 new cases a day (a blip compared with the winter peak of 44,000), is actually doing slightly better than the national per capita average.
Credit…The New York Times
“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late, given what we’re seeing now,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, the county’s health officer.
The move puts the county at odds with the state’s health department and the C.D.C., which both say that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors. As The Los Angeles Times notes, it also “puts officials in the precarious position of asking the inoculated to forfeit one of the benefits recently enjoyed.”
While jarring, such reversals should not be entirely surprising. The situation in L.A. reminded us of a widely read essay from the early days of the pandemic called “The Hammer and the Dance,” by Tomas Pueyo, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
Pueyo argued that, in order to successfully manage the virus, the “hammer,” or strict initial lockdown measures, would need to be followed by the “dance,” made up of shifting containment measures like social distancing and mask wearing that would wax and wane in tandem with the virus.
Pandemic silver linings
After we asked readers for their stories of pandemic silver linings, they wrote in telling us about extra time with loved ones, Covid romances and a host of hobbies. We also noticed an unexpected trend among some of our readers: While the pandemic caused untold economic hardship, for some people it actually improved their financial situation.
“I’ve been working from home, so I’ve saved some extra money because I don’t spend it on public transportation or restaurants,” wrote Felix Forero from Zipaquira, Colombia. “Now, I could afford postgraduate studies abroad.”
Ivan Edwards, from Seattle, went into the pandemic with poor credit and a high interest rate on a used car he had recently purchased. He said the stimulus checks helped keep him afloat as he moved to Utah and found a new job. A year later, he said he’s paid off his car and saved thousands of dollars.
Stories like these have been relatively common during the pandemic, said Ron Lieber, The Times’s “Your Money” columnist.
“The data tells us all we need to know,” Ron said. “The savings rate is higher than it’s been in a really long time. And when you think about it, the reasons are obvious. Whole categories of spending were essentially shut down — travel, any spending that involved leaving the house, clothing, commuting expenses for people who didn’t have to leave home to do their jobs.”
In March 2020, the personal savings rate was about 13 percent, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last March, it was 27.6 percent. In a survey from the Pew Research Center released in March, 30 percent of Americans said their family’s financial situation had improved.
That added stability, Ron said, is about much more than a safety net.
“Savings is about power,” he said. “It’s the ability to remove yourself from a harmful situation, whether psychologically of physically, like a harmful relationship, or neighborhood, or job.”
Of course, not everyone fared so well during the pandemic, especially lower-income and Black adults, who, according to the Pew study, are more likely to “have taken on debt or put off paying their bills in order to cover lost wages or salary.” Overall, more than 20 percent of Americans said their financial situation had gotten worse; nearly half said it was about the same.
“I think it behooves us to think about how hard these last 18 months were for those of us who lost our jobs, and are dealing with a ragged governmental safety net, or how difficult things may become if some disaster interferes with our financial situations,” Ron said.
If you’re looking for help getting your financial house in order, you might want to try The Times’s 20-day money challenge. Ron, along with Tara Siegel Bernard, The Times’s personal finance reporter, picked 20 essential lessons — on topics like debt reduction, savings and investment — and paired them with simple tasks that can help improve your financial situation, one day at a time.
Canada nixed a mayor’s plan to vaccinate people inside a U.S. border tunnel.
Some areas of China are barring unvaccinated residents from entering hospitals, schools, parks and nursing homes, CNN reports.
An F.D.A. official said a vaccine for U.S. children under 12 could be given emergency authorization as early as midwinter, NBC reports.
Some Hollywood events are requiring even vaccinated attendees to show proof of a negative virus test, Variety reports.
What else we’re following
A week before the Tokyo Olympics, a Covid bubble comes under strain as several competitors and others have tested positive.
An Olympic weight lifter from Uganda is missing after not showing up for a Covid test.
In France, the Eiffel Tower reopened to the public, nearly nine months after it shut down because of the pandemic, France 24 reports.
A Yankees-Red Sox baseball game was postponed after positive coronavirus tests by Yankees players.
What you’re doing
After waiting since January 2020 to see my boyfriend again (he left my home in California for his home in New Jersey), he just sent me a text that he is on the plane in Philadelphia and will see me in six hours! We are both fully vaccinated. I am 80 and he, 73. We will be like the couple bounding through the meadow to violins, arms outstretched toward one another at the airport.
— Ardyth Shaw, San Diego
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