Coronavirus update: New cases aren’t increasing deaths

Photo (c) Andriy Onufriyenko - Getty Images

The CDC recommends wearing masks on planes

COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 81,630,729 (81,514,062)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 996,746 (994,781)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 515,733,220 (515,017,808)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,245,723 (6,241,347)‌

U.S. cases are rising, but hospitalizations and deaths aren’t

By the early days of March, new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. were sharply lower than their peak in January. Now, cases of the virus are rising again thanks to the more transmissible subvariants of Omicron.

But an analysis of data compiled by the COVID-19 Tracking Project at Johns Hopkins University suggests that most of the new cases are not producing symptoms that are as severe as in earlier strains. Hospitalizations and deaths attributed to the virus are stable or falling in some areas.

The U.S. is closing in on 1 million COVID-19 deaths, but it's adding fewer deaths each day. The seven-day average of deaths on Wednesday was 568. On May 4, 2021, the seven-day average of deaths was 723.

CDC ‘recommends’ masks on planes

A federal judge ended the requirement that passengers on planes and other networks wear masks at all times to protect against COVID-19. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week renewed its recommendation that everyone mask up.

In an update, the CDC said it recommends a mask for everyone age two and older “in indoor areas of public transportation (such as airplanes, trains, etc.) and transportation hubs (such as airports, stations, etc.).” 

The agency said it also encourages everyone to wear a mask “in crowded or poorly ventilated locations, such as airport jetways.”

CDC reportedly bought access to data to track people’s movement

In the early days of the pandemic, the CDC reportedly purchased access to cell phone data that would allow it to track members of the Navajo Nation’s compliance with curfews and lockdown orders. Documents obtained by the technology publisher Motherboard reportedly show that the purchase would have provided data from millions of devices.

According to the report, the data can show where a person lives, works, and goes. While the data the CDC purchased was more general in nature and not linked to an individual person, Motherboard’s report raised the concern that the data could be “deanonymized” and used to track individuals.

The report cites documents showing that the CDC planned to use location data from a “highly controversial” data broker called SafeGraph. The CDC reportedly paid $420,000 for access to one year of data.

Around the nation

  • New York: A wave of new COVID-19 cases continues to build across the state. Gov. Kathy Hochul reports that 2,119 New Yorkers are hospitalized with the virus across the state's 10 regions. That’s a 153% increase since April 3 but well below the 13,000 hospitalized in January.

  • Washington: Even though federal money has run out to pay for COVID-19 tests for people without insurance, the state health department says it still has plenty of tests and is making them available to the public. “We have about 3.3 million tests on hand and more on the way,” said Department of Health spokesman Frank Ameduri.

  • Minnesota: Public health officials report that the CDC has identified a new Omicron subvariant, BA.2.12, in Minnesota. A local website, Bring Me The News, quotes state officials who say 20 cases of the new subvariant have been identified so far. The BA.2.12 is believed to be an even more contagious version than BA.2.

  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma County commissioners rejected a proposal this week to divert up to $25 million in COVID-19 relief funds to build a new search and rescue dog training facility. Dissenting commissioners said it would be premature to use the relief funds for other purposes.

  • Virginia: The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) this week released its latest set of COVID-19 guidelines for overnight summer camps. Topping the list is guidance stating that all campers and staff should be up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters if eligible. Wearing a mask indoors is also encouraged.

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