Where We Stand
It's been nearly six months since the coronavirus was first reported, and countries have resorted to their own tactics.
Today, the US is putting up a 'not welcome' sign for foreign travelers from Brazil.
It now has the second-worst COVID-19 outbreak after...the United States. In case you're wondering, the travel restrictions on people from Europe, China, and the UK are still in effect. Now, Brazil is joining the list just as its daily death toll surpassed the US's for the first time. Here's how different parts of the world are dealing with the outbreak in:
Asia…things seem to be returning to some kind of normal. Last month, China lifted its lockdown in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged. In South Korea, high school students are back in the classroom after three months, and museums have reopened. But as Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr gatherings in some countries raised concerns that the coronavirus could spread further. In India, the number of reported COVID-19 cases grew to over 100,000 as parts of the country began reopening.
Europe…countries have eased restrictions and reopened some businesses including in France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. However, countries like Ireland and the UK are still taking extra precautions and having visitors quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. And while Italy has opened the doors to churches, it's getting ready to open the country to European tourists.
The US…the death toll is nearing 100,000. And all 50 states have started easing restrictions. Some have opened small businesses like hair salons and barbershops. And others are expected to do so this week. Florida, New Jersey, and California have re-opened their beaches. And New York saw less than 100 deaths per day for the first time since March.
South America…the World Health Organization has called it the pandemic's new epicenter. That's because the number of cases there continues to rise, especially in Brazil. It has the second-worst outbreak in the world after the US. And the highest number of confirmed infections (over 360,000). But the country's president isn't fazed – he's still calling it a "little flu."
Africa...the WHO says COVID-19 has made "soft landfall" in the region – with nearly 100,000 cases throughout but a lower number of deaths. But the WHO worries cases are going undetected, because testing rates there are low. South Africa is warning it could run out of ICU beds by early next month. Meanwhile, a dozen gov officials have reportedly died in Tanzania. This comes amid criticism over how it's handled the virus and that the gov may be covering up the country's death toll.
For half of the world, summer is around the corner and many are tired of staying cooped up. But health experts are warning everyone that 'sun's out' doesn't mean 'masks off' and also 'forget we're still in a global pandemic.' And that carelessness could bring us back to square one.
What the WHO is talking about…
A "second peak." Yesterday, the org warned that countries could see a spike in the number of COVID-19 infections if they ease restrictions too soon. Unlike a second wave that may take months to happen, the WHO said a second peak could be "immediate" in countries where cases are on the decline. And reminded the world that we're still in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak...so there's that.
Hydroxychloroquine. Yesterday, the WHO said it's hitting pause on a trial using the antimalarial drug to treat COVID-19 out of safety concerns. A recent study found the drug led to a greater risk of heart problems and death. The WHO had been using hydroxychloroquine (among other drugs) in a study involving 3,500 patients in at least 17 countries since March. Now, it's on hold for at least a week while the WHO decides whether it's safe to continue testing.
...Oh and speaking of hydroxychloroquine, President Trump said he "just finished" taking it and is doing just fine.
Who's saying 'voting don't cost a thing'…
Florida. Earlier this week, a federal judge there ruled that a law requiring felons to pay all court fines and fees before being able to vote is unconstitutional. In 2018, an amendment gave some felons in Florida the right to vote as long as they had completed their sentence – overturning a 150-year law that restricted felons' voting rights. But the state's Republican legislature limited the change to people who had paid all their court fees. Cue civil rights groups arguing the law was a "poll tax." Now, a judge agrees and says 'everyone has a right to vote, even if they can't pay up.' This could open the door for more than 1 million people with felony convictions to submit a ballot this election year, but Florida is expected to appeal.
Who's issued an apology...
Former VP Joe Biden. Last week, the presumptive Democratic nominee claimed that black voters who are torn between electing him and President Trump "ain't black" on a morning radio show. He apologized hours later, saying he shouldn't have been so "cavalier." And his campaign said the remarks were a joke. But many are saying, 'interesting. I thought jokes were funny?' and saw this as taking the black vote for granted. Worth noting: It's not the first time Biden's in trouble for comments on race.
What's Out with a first…
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