Biden mourns one million US lives lost to the pandemic and orders flags to be flown at half-mast to honor the dead

President Joe Biden mourned the one million Americans killed by the pandemic on Thursday and said the flags at the White House and all public buildings, grounds, military posts and naval vessels would be dead by sundown on April 16.

“As a nation, we must not numb such heartache,” Biden said in a proclamation. “In order to heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant in the face of this pandemic and do what we can to save as many lives as possible. “

The death toll compiled by Johns Hopkins University has not quite reached one million but is expected to reach it on Thursday or Friday, and experts, including the World Health Organization, have said the global death toll is likely too low.

Just last week, the WHO’s new estimates show that the total death toll linked either directly or indirectly to the COVID-19 pandemic between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 is about 15 million, or more than double the 6.24 million figure then aggregated by Johns Hopkins.

Separately, in a statement ahead of the start of the second COVID-19 summit, Biden called on Congress to provide the resources needed for the next phase of the pandemic, including for tests, vaccines and therapies.

“We must remain vigilant about this pandemic and do what we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have done with more tests, vaccines and treatments than ever before. It is critical that Congress sustains these resources in the coming months,” he said.

COVID cases are on the rise in the US, again due to Omicron’s BA.2 variant and two other subvariants that appear to be even more contagious. The two, named BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1, were recently highlighted by health officials in the state of New York.

The US is averaging 84,329 cases per day, up 58% from two weeks ago. according to a New York Times tracker. Cases are rising in all but seven states and territories and have doubled in more than 10 states from two weeks ago. Hawaii, Maine and Puerto Rico are seeing case numbers at or above numbers recorded during last year’s delta wave. The real case count is expected to be even higher as many people are now testing at home and the data is not being collected.

The country is seeing an average of 19,694 hospital admissions per day, up 20% from two weeks ago, driven by cases on the east coast. The daily death toll has fallen below 400 to an average of 327.

The WHO said COVID-19 deaths in Europe passed the two million mark on Thursday, AFP reported.

“A devastating milestone has been reached as reported confirmed COVID-19 deaths from countries in the WHO European Region surpassed two million people,” the UN health agency said in a statement.

In its weekly epidemiological update, the WHO said cases and deaths fell overall in the week ending May 8 but were higher in the Americas and Africa. He warned again that the trend could be obscured by the fact that many countries have changed their testing strategies, meaning fewer infections are being detected.

Coronavirus update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting on the latest developments every weekday since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

• North Korea imposed a nationwide lockdown on Thursday to control its first recognized COVID-19 outbreak after more than two years of clinging to a widely-disputed claim that a perfect balance sheet keeps the virus out, which is found in almost every place has spread around the world, The Associated Press reports. The extent of the outbreak wasn’t immediately known, but it could have serious consequences given the country’s poor health care system and its 26 million people believed to be largely unvaccinated. Some experts say its rare admission of an outbreak means the North may be seeking outside help.

• The European Union drops the recommendation to make medical masks compulsory at airports and on board flights, but notes that a face mask is still one of the best protective measures against the transmission of COVID-19. The news has been announced in a joint statement by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the European Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The update “takes into account recent developments in the pandemic, particularly vaccination levels and naturally acquired immunity and the concomitant lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries,” the statement said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared on state TV wearing a mask as Pyongyang reported its first local case of Covid-19. The country, which had previously claimed to be Covid-free, has poor health infrastructure to combat outbreaks. Photo: Associated Press

• Lucira Health LHDX,
has applied for Food and Drug Administration approval for its first at-home COVID-19 and flu molecular test. The medical technology company, which went public in February 2021, specializes in single-use test kits for respiratory diseases. “The request relates to the prescribing of the home PCR quality test for people suspected of having COVID-19 or influenza,” the company said in a statement. The company hopes to be approved before fall and winter, when COVID and flu viruses are expected to circulate concurrently. The company became the first company to receive FDA approval for an at-home COVID test in November 2020. The new test uses the same platform and palm-sized device design and can test for COVID-19, influenza A and influenza B independently from a one-time nasal swab with result within 30 minutes.

• American Laura Hudson finally managed to leave the city of Changchun in China after being trapped in a city-wide lockdown for 65 days, the South China Morning Post reported. The city went into lockdown on March 11 following a spike in COVID cases, leaving residents little insight into how long it would last. After several airline ticket cancellations, Hudson finally flew out of Changchun on May 11, 2022.

Here’s what the numbers say

The global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 surpassed 519.5 million on Wednesday, while the death toll rose to over 6.25 million. based on data from Johns Hopkins University.

The US leads the world with 82.2 million cases and 999,009 deaths.

That Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows that 220.3 million people in the US are fully vaccinated, which is 66.3% of the total population. But only 101.4 million are vaccinated, which is 46.1% of the vaccinated population. Biden mourns one million US lives lost to the pandemic and orders flags to be flown at half-mast to honor the dead

Brian Lowry

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