19 July

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,091,249 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 190 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 34 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 609,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Covid cases are increasing in every state in the United States, while millions remain unvaccinated against the highly contagious Delta variant, the US surgeon general warned.

US hospital admissions for Covid-19 rose 33.7% in the week ending 16 July, compared with the previous seven days, according to the latest data released by the Department of Health and Human Services. The region with the largest increase is the eight states comprising the agency’s southeastern district, which includes Florida, now reporting the most new cases in the nation. New admissions in that area rose 52.8% in that same period, the data show. Even with the recent rise, driven by the spread of the delta variant, hospitalizations nationally and regionally are a fraction of the peak reached around the New Year.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy pushed back on criticism that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acted too soon in relaxing mask rules for the fully vaccinated, helping drive the recent surge in US. infections. “What’s driving the rise of infections actually is the delta variant,” Murthy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This is the most highly transmissible…variant of Covid-19 that we have seen to date, and it is spreading quickly.” The CDC has been criticized, including by Murthy’s predecessor Jerome Adams, for making a decision prematurely that ended up discouraging mask wearing more broadly. Murthy said the decision, in May, was meant to provide more “flexibility” for vaccinated people and local governments to set Covid-19 guidelines specific to their area.

Tennis player Coco Gauff, aged 17 and ranked 25th in the world, tested positive for Covid-19, ruling her out of joining the women’s US Olympic team in Tokyo. She was set to become the youngest tennis player to take part in the Olympics since 2000. Jennifer Capriati, aged 16, won the gold medal at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

UK: Boris Johnson’s plan to get the UK back to normal is in disarray, with infection cases soaring and a public outcry over the prime minister’s perceived attempt to dodge coronavirus isolation rules. Pandemic restrictions are ending in England on Monday, a moment that was meant to herald the full reopening of an economy battered by its deepest recession in 300 years. Johnson is fighting to regain his credibility after a furious backlash forced him and finance minister Rishi Sunak to drop their initial intention to not isolate. They held meetings with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who Saturday announced he had tested positive for Covid-19.

Six British athletes and two staff members from the athletics squad were forced to self-isolate after coming into close contact with a member of the public who had Covid-19 on their flight to Tokyo.

Questions are growing over the UK’s workplace pilot scheme, which allows certain government departments and other public bodies to avoid isolating after exposure to Covid.

France: The Delta variant is continuing to spread rapidly in France, as the nation registered more than 12,500 new Covid cases on Sunday. It was the third day in a row that the daily case figure has exceeded 10,000, the Reuters news agency reported.

Spain: Hospitals in the Spanish region of Catalonia could face “severe pressure” as Covid infections peak while some staff are off on holiday.

Australia: Coronavirus cases in Australia’s most populous city remain stubbornly high, topping 100 for several days in a row, as construction sites across Sydney are forced to pause work in a bid to curb an outbreak of the delta variant. New South Wales state recorded 98 new locally-transmitted coronavirus cases in the 24 hours through 8 pm Sunday, underscoring challenges to contain the latest outbreak of the delta variant, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Monday. The majority of new cases were recorded in Sydney’s south west, while about one third of new cases weren’t isolating for a period before being detected despite being told to stay at home, she said.

South Africa: Three members of South Africa’s Under-23 soccer team tested positive for Covid-19 at the team’s base in Tokyo ahead of the Oympic Games, the South African Football Association said.

Thailand: Thailand reported 11,784 new infections on Monday, the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began, taking the nation’s cumulative cases to 415,170, according to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The country reported 81 fatalities, and 5,741 recoveries on Monday.

Vaccine news

US: US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said misinformation about vaccines and health practices is harming the fight against Covid-19 and called on social-media companies to help turn the tide. “While it often appears innocuous on social media apps, on retail sites or search engines, the truth is that misinformation takes away our freedom to make informed decisions about our health and the health of our loved ones,” Murthy said at a White House news briefing.

Lockdown updates

US: One of Los Angeles’s top county officials defended the indoor mask order that starts Sunday, saying it’s not a “punishment” for the vaccinated but a prevention for the unvaccinated, including young children who aren’t eligible to get their shots. “I am not pleased that we have to get back to using the masks,” Hilda L. Solis, chair of the county’s board of supervisors, told ABC News. “But nonetheless it’s going to save lives,” The order led to criticism from another county supervisor, as well as the sheriff, who said he won’t enforce it because it contradicts CDC guidelines. Solis said she’s not concerned about that and the enforcement will be done through health department inspectors. “I don’t see where the sheriff has to come in and weigh in on the matter,” she said. “The public overall is smart enough to understand what is being said and how to protect themselves.”

Germany: Peter Altmaier, Germany’s economy minister, ruled out further lockdowns and wants to allow major events exclusively for the vaccinated and those who have recovered from Covid-19.