August 15, 2020 08:14
Canada announced Friday that the border it shares with the U.S. will remain closed to non-essential travel for another month as the U.S. continues to lead the world in COVID-19 deaths and coronavirus infections. Many Canadians remain concerned about reopening the border after Canada successfully flattened its epidemic curve.
Canada has more than 123,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 9,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. In contrast, the U.S. has more than 5.2 million cases, one-fourth of all the cases worldwide, and more than 167,000 deaths, according to Hopkins.
Canada, which first announced the border restrictions in March, made the announcement one day after Mexico announced similar restrictions for its border with the U.S.
In Spain, the health minister announced Friday a new set of restrictions to contain a surge in coronavirus cases. Minister Salvador Illa said all discos and night clubs will be closed across the country. He also said smoking in public areas would be banned if smokers are unable to stay at least two meters from other people. Spanish authorities have recorded nearly 50,000 cases over the past two weeks, an average of about 3,500 new cases a day.
Meanwhile, a glitch in California's COVID-19 reporting system undercounted the state's cases by as many as 300,000 cases, state officials say. According to a New York Times database Friday, California is the first U.S. state to reach more than 600,000 COVID-19 cases, with almost 11,000 deaths. On Thursday, California reported 7,911 new cases and 187 deaths.
The nation's top infectious disease expert said he had hoped the U.S. would be in a better place by now with the coronavirus. "We certainly are not where I hoped we would be, we are in the middle of very serious, historic pandemic," Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a National Geographic panel discussion Thursday.
Even though President Donald Trump said this week he expects the outbreak to be in "good shape... in a very short period of time," Fauci said the number of cases will continue to rise unless federal and state governments can work together. "That's the thing that I’m concerned about because I believe we can, we have within our power to be able to get that down," he said.
There has been no single coordinated strategy between Washington and the states on how to fight the outbreak. Some states have mask mandates and are continuing restrictions, while others do not require masks in public places and have eased the rules on social gatherings. Some states are seeing the number of cases rise while such hot spots as Arizona, California and Florida are improving and are "having now, less deaths, less hospitalizations, less cases," Fauci said. Fauci has said that the coronavirus will likely never go away but that health officials can work to bring it down to "low levels."
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said governments must "do it all" -- test, isolate and treat patients, and trace and quarantine all the people with whom they had contact. Other experts are warning that unless world leaders take more action to contain it, the coronavirus could be just as or even deadlier than the 1918 flu pandemic, which is believed to have killed 50 million people worldwide.
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open looked at New York City. It says even when doctors take into account the technology, life-saving drugs and information that did not exist 100 years ago, the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases during the first two months of the outbreak was "substantially greater" than the peak of the 1918 epidemic.
◆ New Apps
Three more states -- Alabama, North Dakota and Wyoming -- are launching apps to warn people about potential exposure to COVID-19, Reuters reports. Virginia is the first state to implement the technology, and other states are testing apps and plan to introduce them in the coming weeks. Users who download the apps on their smartphones get a map of the state and dots where the most cases are clustered, so travelers and others can avoid those areas.
◆ In Germany
The premier of Germany's Bavaria state is apologizing for problems with a data entry system that meant about 900 people who tested positive for COVID-19 were never told about it. Nearly 44,000 people who traveled to Bavaria about two weeks ago have been waiting for their test results. Officials believe about 900 tests were positive.
"It is really extremely galling. We can only apologize," Bavarian leader Markus Soeder told reporters. He promised to fix the problems by adding more staff to the testing centers. The Bavarian state health minister has offered to resign. Soeder has been touted as a possible successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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