Japan Lifts Emergency Order, Australia Reopens Pubs & Georgia, Texas Claim Vindication As China Battles 2nd Wave: Live Updates
Fri, 05/15/2020 – 07:59
Now that the first movers in the US have compiled three weeks of data on the spread of the virus, public health officials in Georgia along with Gov. Brian Kemp – who pushed ahead with plans to start reopening the state despite warnings from Dr Fauci and President Trump – can cautiously claim vindication.
Enough time has passed to suggest that the resurgence in new cases and deaths that experts – including Dr. Fauci and others at the CDC, as well as outside the federal government – had touted as a virtual certainty haven’t come to pass. Once again, projections for the mayhem caused by the virus seriously overshot the reality, and the earliest states, including Texas, which reported a record single-day jump in deaths yesterday. In reality, the new “record” was just 8 deaths (out of a state of 30 million) higher than the prior record, reported in late April.
In Wisconsin, the site of the first-ever US court decision to strike down a ‘stay at home’ order, Gov. Tony Evers – a Democrat – expressed his frustration and deep concern about the safety of Wisconsin residents.
Asked for his comment on the decision, Evers offered a response weighted with melodrama: “We are in a new chaotic time,” he warned…My advice is this: Be safer at home. Keep on doing what you have been doing.”
As it turns out, the American people didn’t need Evers to tell them that staying at home and taking precautions during a hyperinfectious pandemic might be a good idea. A few weeks ago, a team of analysts at Goldman Sachs argued that Sweden’s approach to battling the virus, which led to a modestly higher mortality rate but avoided economy-hamstringing shutdowns, likely wouldn’t work in the US because Americans don’t follow proper precautions like Swedes do.
We’re still unsure how they arrived at this conclusion. Some polls suggest that as many as 2/3rds of Americans would stay home anyway even if lockdowns were lifted in their respective states. As far as viral suppression is concerned, that’s probably a positive thing.
Even though the number of new cases jumped across the US yesterday, the trend over the last two weeks has been unmistakably lower.
Outside the US, Australia – which wasn’t nearly as badly hit by the virus as the US – is taking another major step on the path to “normalization”: they’re allowing pubs to reopen.
In Australia, the hospitality industry has welcomed the lifting of closure orders in several states after just 14 new coronavirus cases were reported nationwide on Thursday. However, many pubs warned they wouldn’t be able to reopen because the social distancing restrictions would make it impossible to operate profitably.
In China, meanwhile, the National Health Commission reported just 4 new cases of the virus on Friday, all local cross-infections in the north-eastern province of Jilin where a cluster of uncertain origin has been detected in recent days, prompted the government to reimpose a ‘partial lockdown’ while health workers in Wuhan scramble to test as many of the city’s residents as possible over the next 2 weeks.
As western Europe moves ahead with its reopening, Spain has begun imposing a 14-day quarantine on travelers arriving into the country a day after France adopted similar measures.
Cross-border workers, travel crew, goods carriers, and medical workers are exempted. The French measure applies to those arriving from Spain and any other country that imposes a quarantine on anyone coming from France. Spain extended to June 15 its strict entry restrictions, even for EU travellers from within the Schengen zone, and limited the airports that can accept passenger flights to Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, Mallorca and Gran Canaria. Meanwhile, on Friday, the Ministry of Health reported 138 coronavirus deaths, down from 217 the day before, and the second-lowest number in almost two months. The official death toll to date is 27,459, though many suspect many deaths in nursing homes and at home have been left out. Weekly deaths in Catalonia, the new center of Spain’s outbreak (though, to be sure, it’s far less intense as what was happening in Madrid until very recently), remained almost level compared with the previous week.
The scandal surrounding deaths in care homes in the UK continued to intensify as new data from England and Wales suggested that the number of deaths in long-term homes for retirees could be double the official number of roughly 12k.
A day after Japan lifted its ‘state of emergency’ order as the outbreak as once again appeared to subside in Japan (many have joked that Japanese culture is a de facto form of social distancing), Softbank Corp. and McDonald’s Japan said they would start returning to normal operations in 39 of Japan’s 47 prefectures that are now exempt from the emergency declaration. The 39 prefectures account for about 55 percent of Japan’s 126 million people, Nikkei reported.
PM Abe lifted the state of emergency for most prefectures on Thursday, but said hot spots like Tokyo and Osaka and six other prefectures would remain under restrictions until there is convincing containment of the coronavirus.
“Even in areas where the emergency has been lifted, we would like to see people refrain from moving between prefectures as much as possible, at least during this month,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Friday. “We hope that people will be able to return to their daily lives in stages.”
Kyodo News reported the other day that antibody tests of 500 Tokyo residents found that 0.6% had been exposed to the virus. That would correlate to about 55,000 cases, based on the 9.2 million population of Tokyo’s 23 central wards – more than 10x the official figure. That mirrors antibody surveillance findings in Madrid and NYC.
Nationwide, Japan has reported 16,203 cases of the coronavirus and 713 death.
Finally, the IOC said Thursday it expects the cost of delaying the summer games in Tokyo will cost more than $800 million.
Around the world, the number of new cases confirmed yesterday climbed modestly vs. the prior day, according to JHU:
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