Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

While coronavirus cases have been stabilizing or declining in many areas of the United States, deaths are on the rise. At least 1,470 deaths were reported on Wednesday, making it the deadliest day for the virus since May — aside from a few irregular days where large backlogs were reported.

The new wave of deaths is largely a result of the early summer surge in cases across the Sun Belt states; patients sometimes die a few weeks after they become infected.

The U.S. has now recorded more than 166,000 deaths from the virus, more than any other country. But even that stark statistic doesn’t tell the whole story.

According to a Times analysis, the total number of U.S. residents who have died since March is now more than 200,000 higher than it would be in a normal year. These excess deaths suggest that the official death count may be a substantial undercount, failing to count some people who die from Covid-19 as well as those who die from secondary causes that are also linked to the pandemic.

The data suggests that many of the recent coronavirus cases and deaths in the South and the West were driven largely by reopenings and relaxed social distancing restrictions.

As deadly as 1918? The 1918 influenza pandemic is the deadliest in modern history, claiming an estimated 50 million lives worldwide. But by some measures, the death rate at the height of the Covid-19 surge in New York City was nearly as bad. As one doctor put it: “What 1918 looked like is basically this.”

How did an outbreak of 17 cases emerge in Auckland this week, after New Zealand went more than 100 days without a single local transmission?

As officials race to find out, they have locked down the city and rolled out a huge testing, contact tracing and quarantine blitz to quash Covid-19 for the second time.

Some of the infected New Zealanders work at a warehouse that stored imported food, so one theory is that the virus arrived via cargo shipments. But epidemiologists believe human-to-human transmission is more likely. Another focus is quarantine facilities for returning travelers, which seeded a raging outbreak in Melbourne, Australia.

The situation unfolding in New Zealand closely mirrors what happened last month in Vietnam, another nation heralded for its initial response to the virus. After 99 days of no locally transmitted cases, the virus arrived in the port city of Da Nang, which quickly sealed itself off and went into lockdown. Weeks later, epidemiologists still aren’t sure what happened.

Danger lurking in food? Reports that the virus was detected in frozen chicken wings shipped to China from Brazil have prompted concern, but experts say that catching the virus from food is highly unlikely. Though an infected person probably handled the chicken, an extraordinarily unusual series of events would need to occur for the virus to be transmitted, they said.

  • India has now reported 47,033 coronavirus-related deaths, surpassing Britain for the fourth-most in the world.

  • Germany reported 1,445 new cases today — a level not seen since the country tamped down the virus in May.

  • The first virus case has been reported in one of Greece’s migrant camps on the Aegean Islands, which are more overcrowded than those on the mainland.

As a resident physician deep in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been kept emotionally afloat by a monthly Zoom book club with my close college friends and parents (a stellar combination). We’re all hundreds of miles apart, and it’s been a welcome reprieve to have my favorite people virtually sharing literary reflections and laughter in these strange times.

— Katy Markland, Miami

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