US Approaches 4.9 Million Coronavirus Cases

 US Approaches 4.9 Million Coronavirus Cases

By VOA News

The number of COVID-19 cases around the world continues its steady climb with more than 19.1 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.  The U.S. continues to have more cases than any place else with nearly 4.9 million, followed by Brazil with 2.9 million and India with two million.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there were more than 2,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States over the past 24 hours as of Thursday night – the highest one-day number since early May.

Vaccine prospects

The top U.S. infectious disease expert says the world will never be able to eradicate the coronavirus, but he is hopeful hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine could be available by the end of this year. 

“There will be, I think, enough vaccine if everything turns out to be successful,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told VOA contributor Greta Van Susteren. “To get vaccine not only to the countries that are the classical rich countries but those who are low and middle income that would not be able to readily have access to a vaccine. That’s what we’re hoping to do.” 

But Fauci has said in the past that there’s no guarantee a vaccine will give long-term protection against COVID-19 since it is a new coronavirus and scientists are still learning about it. 

In a separate interview with Reuters, Fauci said the reason the virus will never go away is because of its “highly transmissible” nature. But he said with “the combination of a good vaccine and attention to public health measures … then I think we can get behind this.”

Student suspended for posting mask-less gathering online

At least one student was suspended at a high school in the southern U.S. state of Georgia for posting a photograph online of a crowded hallway, showing most of the students not wearing masks. 

Dr. Harry Heiman, a clinical associate professor at Georgia State University’s School of Public Health told the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper after seeing the photograph that ”It’s not a question of if that’s going to cause spread of the pandemic. It’s only a question of how quickly and to how many people.”

Superintendent Brian Otott said the school staff had worked hard to create a safe return for the students.  He said most of the school’s hallways were one way, but the one in the photograph had students moving in both directions to cut down on student travel time between classes.  

Students and staff are not required to wear masks at the school, a proven way to curb the spreading of the virus. 

FILE - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks during an interview at the Governor's Residence in Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 13, 2019.
FILE – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks during an interview at the Governor’s Residence in Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 13, 2019.

Ohio governor tests positive, then negative

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, canceled plans to meet with President Donald Trump in Cleveland on Thursday when he got word that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and immediately went into quarantine.  

In a second more sensitive COVID-19 test administered later Thursday in Columbus, DeWine tested negative for the coronavirus, according to the governor’s office.

International travel restrictions lifted

The U.S. State Department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted the recommendation to Americans to avoid all global travel and replaced it with a number of high-level warnings against heading to individual nations. 

“With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice,” the State Department said. 

Thirty countries are on the Level Four “Do Not Travel” list, including India, Russia, Egypt, Libya, Honduras and Kazakhstan.

Vietnam, Liberia, Armenia, the Philippines and the entire European Union are in the Level 3: Reconsider Travel category, even though the E.U. is currently closed to Americans. 

Travel Safely Ambassador Carlos Hernandez hands out a face masks to an airline passenger at LAX airport.
Travel Safely Ambassador Carlos Hernandez hands out face masks to an airline passenger at LAX airport, as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Los Angeles, California.

Discussions about European travel

The U.S. and E.U. are in talks to allow Americans to once again visit Europe.  

In Europe, Britain has added Andorra, the Bahamas and Belgium to the list of countries whose visitors must enter a 14-day quarantine when arriving in the U.K.

And Norwegian Prime Minister Ern Solberg said the country is canceling plans to ease coronavirus restrictions because of a slight rise in the number of cases.

“We need to slow down now to avoid a full stop down the road,” Solberg told reporters Thursday.

Among the measures that are now suspended was a plan to allow some travel from several non-European countries, which has been banned since March.