A succinct summation of the good, the bad, and the ugly in the global pandemic news this week. This brief pandemic update is featured every week at the End of History. Click on the links for deeper dives into the stories that tell what happened this week in the historic global pandemic of our generation.
This week ended with more than 206 million confirmed cases worldwide to date and over 4.3 million confirmed coronavirus-related deaths. The US remains at the top of the list for confirmed cases and deaths.
The US Moving Toward Catastrophe, Again
The US opened the week recording a daily average of 100,000 new cases as new cases surge across the country. Compare that number to early June, when it was around 11,000 per day. The spread of the delta variant has triggered the rapid escalation of new cases and hospitalizations across the country. Hospitalizations were up to four times the number in early June and 30% higher than last week in the US. Nursing homes throughout the country are encountering new COVID outbreaks. Cases among children are surging in the US, nearly doubling in the last week of July. Coronavirus cases among children now account for 20% of US cases. Texas and Alabama reported a spike in pediatric coronavirus cases. In Louisiana, nearly 3,500 children tested positive in five days. The delta variant is driving the surge among American children.
Florida has become the epicenter of the latest surge of the pandemic in the US. The federal government announced that hundreds of ventilators would be sent to the state after new records in coronavirus hospitalizations were set this week. Hospitalizations in Florida are 145% higher than at the same time last year. Florida averaged 20,000 new cases per day this week.
Texas experienced 10,000 new cases or more per day this week, double the amount at the end of July. Officials within the healthcare system warned the state is experiencing a surge, unlike anything Texas has seen in months, with more than 10,000 Texans hospitalized this week. Two hospitals in Houston set up tents to house overflow patients. At least 53 intensive care units in Texas now stand at maximum capacity.
Mississippi saw a 54% spike in newly reported cases over the last week. The number of people in intensive care unit beds in the state surpassed the peak of the winter surge. A parking garage floor at the Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson was converted to a hospital to treat the influx of COVID patients.
China announced its plans to provide 2 billion vaccines to the world. That announcement came even as many nations in South Asia are shifting away from the Chinese vaccines after that region became the new epicenter of the pandemic despite the widespread usage of the China vaccines.
The US announced plans to send 8.5 million vaccine doses to Mexico. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a third booster shop for immunocompromised Americans. The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommended vaccines for pregnant women after studies showed the vaccines did not present an increased risk of miscarriage. The Biden administration encouraged antibody treatments in states where vaccination rates have stalled, and the mortality rates are surging, the Biden administration encouraged antibody treatments.
As the United Nations backed COVAX program has fallen dismally short of its goals to vaccinate the world, the Pan American Health Organization announced plans to distribute millions of vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean this fall.
Mandates and Divisions
The march toward mandatory vaccines continued this week. More companies, including United Airlines, announced they would now require vaccinations for their employees. The Pentagon has ordered a vaccine mandate for all US troops. The Department of Health and Human Services is mandating the vaccine for 25,000 health workers. The Department of Veterans Affairs announced vaccine mandates for every contractor, worker, and volunteer over the next eight weeks.
Oregon, Hawaii, and Louisiana ordered indoor facemask mandates regardless of vaccine status. California has mandated public school employees undergo vaccinations or face weekly testing.
Along with the vaccine mandates comes an increase in division and polarization. As students return to schools, many school districts in the south where the delta variant is raging are defying state orders that disallow mask mandates. More than 10,000 students and teachers across 14 states were quarantined in the first week of school due to exposure to the virus. Protests and sidewalk confrontations between those who oppose facemask and vaccine mandates and those who support them occurred frequently in these states throughout the week.
Headlines From Around the World
- Tunisia now has the highest mortality rate in the Middle East and North Africa.
- Positive infection rates are declining in the United Kingdom, and the peak of the recent surge appears past. The UK has lifted all but a handful of its pandemic restrictions as the average daily new cases there dropped to half the levels they were running at one month ago.
- Israel reimposed a host of restrictions as the national coronavirus cases has begun to surge again.
- Japan reported its first confirmed case of the lambda variant.
- Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister said the country saw a 17.9% spike in mortality in July 2021 compared to 2020 due to the coronavirus. The country set new records for daily coronavirus deaths on Thursday and Friday. Russia now has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe at more than 168,000.
- On Sunday, Iran recorded its highest number of single-day confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths since the start of the pandemic. Doctors are triaging patients in their cars as they report the nation’s healthcare system is on the verge of collapse.
- Canada reopened its border to US travelers for the first time in more than a year.
- Bangladesh began a vaccination drive in the Rohingya refugee camps. The country, although still experiencing a surge of new cases, ended its strict lockdown.
- Senegal said the vast majority of ambulance calls in that country are now related to the coronavirus.
- Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on foreign pilgrims to Mecca.
- Protesters in Thailand clashed with government forces. While protesters demanded the Prime Minister’s resignation for the government’s handling of the pandemic, security forces fired on the protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas.
- China temporarily shut the world’s third busiest container port after a worker tested positive for the virus.
- Vandals in France have hit vaccination locations with graphics that compare the vaccine to genocide.
- A Carnival Cruise Ship that departed Galveston, Texas, now has 27 confirmed cases aboard the ship.