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Showing posts with label Covid-19.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Covid-19.. Show all posts

Feb 7, 2022

Health Report on Monday, February 7, 2022:


U.S. Covid Deaths Get Even Redder

David Leonhardt

The Morning Newsletter

The partisan gap in Covid’s death toll has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.

A nurse in Rexburg, Idaho monitors a covid patient.
Credit...Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

As 2020 wound down, there were good reasons to believe that the death toll during the pandemic’s first year might have been worse in red America. There were also good reasons to think it might have been worse in blue America.

Conservative areas tend to be older, less prosperous and more hostile to mask wearing, all of which can exacerbate the spread or severity of Covid-19. Liberal areas, for their part, are home both to more busy international airports and more Americans who suffer the health consequences of racial discrimination.

But it turned out that these differences largely offset each other in 2020 — or maybe they didn’t matter as much as some people assumed. Either way, the per capita death toll in blue America and red America was similar by the final weeks of 2020.

It was only a few percentage points higher in counties where Donald Trump had won at least 60 percent of the vote than in counties where Joe Biden crossed that threshold. In counties where neither candidate won 60 percent, the death toll was higher than in either Trump or Biden counties. There simply was not a strong partisan pattern to Covid during the first year that it was circulating in the U.S.

Then the vaccines arrived.

They proved so powerful, and the partisan attitudes toward them so different, that a gap in Covid’s death toll quickly emerged. I have covered that gap in two newsletters — one this summer, one last month — and today’s newsletter offers an update.

The brief version: The gap in Covid’s death toll between red and blue America has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.

In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from Covid, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.


Data unavailable for Alaska and Washington, D.C.
Credit...Source: New York Times database, Edison Research

Some conservative writers have tried to claim that the gap may stem from regional differences in weather or age, but those arguments fall apart under scrutiny. (If weather or age were a major reason, the pattern would have begun to appear last year.) The true explanation is straightforward: The vaccines are remarkably effective at preventing severe Covid, and almost 40 percent of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, compared with about 10 percent of Democratic adults.

Charles Gaba, a Democratic health care analyst, has pointed out that the gap is also evident at finer gradations of political analysis: Counties where Trump received at least 70 percent of the vote have an even higher average Covid death toll than counties where Trump won at least 60 percent. (Look up your county.)

As a result, Covid deaths have been concentrated in counties outside of major metropolitan areas. Many of these are in red states, while others are in red parts of blue or purple states, like Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Virginia and even California.

Data as of Nov. 3.


Credit...Source: New York Times database

This situation is a tragedy, in which irrational fears about vaccine side effects have overwhelmed rational fears about a deadly virus. It stems from disinformation — promoted by right-wing media, like Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, the Sinclair Broadcast Group and online sources — that preys on the distrust that results from stagnant living standards.

The future of Covid is uncertain, but I do think it’s possible that the partisan gap in Covid deaths reached its peak last month. There are two main reasons to expect the gap may soon shrink.

One, the new antiviral treatments from Pfizer and Merck seem likely to reduce Covid deaths everywhere, and especially in the places where they are most common. These treatments, along with the vaccines, may eventually turn this coronavirus into just another manageable virus.

Two, red America has probably built up more natural immunity to Covid — from prior infections — than blue America, because the hostility to vaccination and social distancing has caused the virus to spread more widely. A buildup in natural immunity may be one reason that the partisan gap in new Covid cases has shrunk recently.

Data unavailable for Alaska and Washington, D.C.


Data unavailable for Alaska and Washington, D.C.
Credit...Source: New York Times database, Edison Research

Death trends tend to lag case trends by a few weeks, which suggests the gap in deaths will shrink in November.

Still, nobody knows what will happen next. Much of the recent decline in caseloads is mysterious, which means it may not last. And the immunity from vaccination appears to be much stronger than the immunity from infection, which means that conservative Americans will probably continue to suffer an outsized amount of unnecessary illness and death.

More on the virus:

  • Starting today, international travelers may enter the U.S. with proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test.

  • Housing advocates expected an eviction crisis to hit the U.S. like a tsunami. Instead, it is unfolding slowly, especially in places with few tenant protections.

  • Romania, where religious figures have pushed anti-vaccine disinformation, has the world’s highest Covid death rate.

  • After a woman died with long Covid, her family feared her organs were unsafe to donate. It points to gaps in protocols for organ donation in the pandemic.

  • Covid is worse for men on average than for women, and vaccination rates don’t explain the difference. What could?


Capt. Geoff Ball and Capt. Andres Rodriguez were in Kabul when a suicide bomber struck.
Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times
  • After Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, the Marines guarding Kabul’s airport had to decide who could leave. Those frantic days still weigh on them.

  • Afghan military pilots who worked with the U.S. are on the run, while others are hiding from the Taliban. They say they’re feeling abandoned.

  • Eric Adams was the center of Somos, a nonstop tropical party that hundreds of New York’s elected officials, lobbyists and labor leaders attend every year.


Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya crossing the finish line.
Credit...Uli Seit for The New York Times


Meryl Streep as President Orlean in “Don’t Look Up.”
Credit...Niko Tavernise/Netflix


Marian Anderson and the pianist Franz Rupp.
Credit...Bettmann/Getty Images

Marian Anderson etched her place in American history when she performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. A new box set of her recordings, stretching from 1924 to 1966, offers a view of her career beyond her most well-known performance, Anthony Tommasini writes in The Times.

The Lincoln Memorial concert was an important moment for civil rights. After the Daughters of the American Revolution had barred Anderson from performing at Constitution Hall because she was Black, federal officials offered her the new venue. In her contralto — the lowest range for a female voice — she sang to a crowd of 75,000 people, and millions more over the radio.

Anderson performed across Europe, earning adoration from crowds — and from the famed conductor Arturo Toscanini, who said she possessed a voice heard “once in a hundred years.” After returning to the U.S., her recordings and tours made her wealthy, though segregation forced her to live as a second-class citizen.

In The New Yorker, Alex Ross highlights a standout track from the new collection: the Easter hymn “Crucifixion,” which in 1935 left an audience in Salzburg in “a silence instinctive, natural and intense, so that you were afraid to breathe.”— Claire Moses, a Morning writer


Credit...Christopher Testani for The New York Times


The pangram from Friday’s Spelling Bee was excavated. Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online.

Oct 12, 2020

News | Chinese Coronavirus | Covid-19: China to test entire city for Covid-19 in five days


QINGDAO, CHINA - FEBRUARY 03 2020: A government worker checks the temperature of a woman in home quarantine in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province Monday, Feb. 03, 2020. Image copyright Barcroft Media
Image caption The coastal city of Qingdao confirmed a small number of cases on Sunday

The Chinese city of Qingdao is testing its entire population of nine million people for Covid-19 over a period of five days.

The mass testing comes after a dozen cases were found linked back to a hospital treating coronavirus patients arriving from overseas.

In May, China tested the entire city of Wuhan - home to 11 million people and the epicentre of the global pandemic.

The country has largely brought the virus under control.

That's in stark contrast to other parts of the world where there are still high case numbers and lockdown restrictions of varying severity.

In a statement posted to Chinese social media site Weibo, Qingdao's Municipal Health Commission said six new cases and six asymptomatic cases had been discovered.

All the cases were linked to the same hospital, said the Global Times.

The Chinese authorities now have a strategy of mass testing even when a new coronavirus cluster appears to be relatively minor, correspondents said.

City-wide testing

The commission added that a citywide testing program had been launched, with five districts to be tested within three days - and the whole city to be tested within five days.

Some 114,862 people - including medical staff and newly hospitalised patients in the city's hospitals - have already tested negative for the coronavirus, it said.

Videos circulating online showed local residents lining up late on Sunday to get tested, said the Global Times, adding that some of these test points were open from 07:00 to 23:00.

The new cases come a week after China's Golden Week holiday - which saw millions travel across the country.

A Global Times report quoting the Qingdao Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism said the city had received 4.47 million passenger trips over this period.

The nearby city of Jinan, which is also in the same province as Qingdao, called for anyone who had visited the city since 23 September to get tested for the virus, according to a report by The Paper.

Earlier last month, Qingdao announced that two port workers in the city who handled imported seafood had tested positive for the virus. However, they were not known to have infected anyone else.

Daily coronavirus infections have fallen drastically in China, and for the most part the country appears to have recovered from the worst of the virus.

China currently has 85,578 virus cases and the death toll stands at 4,634.

Earlier this year, China completed a mass testing programme in Wuhan saying 11 million people had been tested in 10 days.

However, the BBC's Reality Check later estimated that the figure was closer to 9 million over 10 days - still a significant number of people.

Hundreds of testing centres were opened, with thousands of testing staff involved.

Sep 9, 2020

News | Business | Coronavirus i UK Fraud Payments: Up to £3.5bn of furlough payments 'errors or fraud'

5-6 minutes - Source: BBC

A woman walks past the HM Revenue and Customs building Image copyright SOPA Images
Image caption HMRC is now reviewing 27,000 "high risk" cases where abuse or fraud is suspected
Up to £3.5bn in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments may have been claimed fraudulently or paid out in error, the government has said.
HM Revenue and Customs told MPs on the Public Accounts Committee it estimates that 5-10% of furlough cash has been wrongly awarded.
Latest data shows the programme has cost the government £35.4bn so far.
The scheme has paid 80% of the wages of workers placed on leave since March, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
Speaking to MPs on Monday, HMRC's permanent secretary, Jim Harra, said: "We have made an assumption for the purposes of our planning that the error and fraud rate in this scheme could be between 5% and 10%.
"That will range from deliberate fraud through to error."
The Public Accounts Committee estimates that a total of £30bn in tax was lost in 2019 due to taxpayer error and fraud.
Both HM Treasury and HMRC were ordered to appear in front of MPs to explain how they were intending to reduce the problem.
"What we have said in our risk assessment is we are not going to set out to try to find employers who have made legitimate mistakes in compiling their claims, because this is obviously something new that everybody had to get to grips with in a very difficult time," said Mr Harra.
"Although we will expect employers to check their claims and repay any excess amount, what we will be focusing on is tackling abuse and fraud."
So far, 8,000 calls have been received to HMRC's fraud telephone hotline. HMRC is now looking into 27,000 "high risk" cases where they believe a serious error has been made in the amount an employer has claimed, he added.
Mr Harra advised that any employee who feels that their employer may have been fraudulently claiming furlough money can report it to HMRC by filling in a form on its website.
"While we can't get involved in any relationship between the employee and employer, we can certainly reclaim any grant that the employer is not entitled to, which includes grants they have not passed on in wages to their employees."

This is the first time that HMRC has spoken publicly about potential fraud affecting the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Swetha Ramachandran, investment manager at GAM Investments, told the BBC: "The speed with which they wanted to expedite this programme in order to ensure that this was available to employers, to minimise the damage that could have been caused, means there was always a likelihood that this was going to happen.
"So I don't think it's that surprising."
She said other government programmes, such as the Bounce Back Loans scheme or the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans scheme, might suffer from similar problems.
"That won't probably emerge for a few months," she added.

In July, centre-right think tank Policy Exchange warned that fraud and error could cost the government between £1.3bn and £7.9bn.
The think tank said the government's financial rescue scheme were vulnerable to scams because of the size of the packages and the speed at which measures were rushed through to save people and businesses from economic ruin.
The calculation is based on expected fraud rates for government expenditure from the Cabinet Office and the Department for Work and Pensions.
The report said the true value lost to fraud may be closer to the higher end of the estimate "due to the higher than usual levels of fraud that accompany disaster management".
It said: "This is a serious squandering of public finances and properly resourced post event assurance will be required to reassure the public that every possible step has been taken to reduce this level of fraud."
At the time, a government spokesman said it was committed to "extensive post payment reviews of stimulus and support payments, to find fraud and recover money for the taxpayer".

Jun 10, 2020

Coronavirus | Covid-19: Covid-19 fall-out 'will hit young workers hardest'

John Campbell

Jobs and benefits sign Image copyright Liam McBurney/PA
The economic damage of the coronavirus crisis will hit young workers hardest, an Ulster University study has suggested.
It estimated that youth (ages 16-24) unemployment in Northern Ireland could jump from 8% to 26% in 2020.
That compares to an estimated unemployment rate of about 10% for workers aged 25-49 this year.
The study uses official labour market data to estimate which groups are most at risk of unemployment.
It was produced by Ulster University Economic Policy Centre researchers Mark Magill and Marguerite McPeake.
The study showed that young people are disproportionately employed in hospitality, which is likely to be the last sector to emerge from lockdown.

'Unemployment rate could spike'

Just over 10% of all employees in Northern Ireland are under 25, but that age group accounts for 36% of hospitality employees.
The study said the impact of the lockdown on hospitality has been "intensively felt by young people".
It also estimated that 45% of under-25s have been furloughed or laid off since the start of the crisis, compared to 25%-30% for older age groups.
A large proportion of furloughed workers will hopefully get their jobs back, but the study said "jobs within sectors significantly impacted by the restrictions are at a higher risk of being permanently lost".
It also warned that the youth unemployment rate could spike in the autumn when students leaving school, colleges and universities will be seeking to begin their careers.
In a typical year, about 25,000 young people enter the Northern Ireland labour market.
"With the number of vacancies collapsing and high numbers of jobs in the existing labour market at risk, such a large number of young people entering the search for work will put upward pressure on the youth unemployment rate," the study said.
"It risks long-term scarring effects on the labour market prospects of an entire cohort of education leavers."
The study recommended that a set of measures be targeted at young people.
These include uncapping undergraduate numbers to keep more young people in education and offering a job or training guarantee for all young people unemployed for three months.
It said these policies would be expensive but "given the extent of the risk to young people being trapped in a period of worklessness and the associated scarring effect over the course of a person's working life, the long-term benefits may well outweigh the costs".

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