.@PeterAlexander to @POTUS just now: On covid disinformation, what’s your message to platforms like Facebook? Pres Biden: They’re killing people... The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s – they’re killing people.
.@CDCDirector on recent rise in COVID-19 cases/deaths: "This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated."
"This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated," @CDCDirector Walensky tells reporters on the White House #COVID19 briefing.
On COVID misinformation what’s your message to social media platforms like Facebook? @POTUS: “They’re killing people. Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. They’re killing people.”
In a news briefing Friday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the most recent seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases was roughly 26,300 — a nearly 70 percent jump over the previous average. New hospital admissions went up 36 percent to about 2,790 per day. Daily deaths edged up 26 percent to 211 per day — a sobering figure given that deaths appeared to be declining in recent weeks, Walensky said.
"There is a message that is crystal clear: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Walensky said. "We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk."
Pfizer-BioNTech announced earlier Friday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted priority review designation to its application for full approval of its Covid-19 vaccine. The companies said the target date for a decision from the FDA is January 2022.
Although the state of the pandemic is not as dire as it was in January, when the U.S. was averaging nearly 200,000 cases per day and the entire country was facing a high level of transmission, Walensky warned that the highly contagious delta variant will continue to spread in counties and states with low vaccination rates.
"If you are not vaccinated, you remain at risk," she said.
People who are fully vaccinated are protected against severe Covid-19, including the delta variant, Walensky said.
She added that federal public health officials are concerned that "we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated."
More than 160 million people across the U.S. were fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to data compiled by NBC News.
(Bloomberg) -- Bitcoin’s slide accelerated Thursday, with the coin drifting toward $31,000 once again while strategists eye a potential break lower.The world’s largest digital asset fell as much as 4.1% to $31,472, its lowest level in about three weeks. Other cryptocurrencies also retreated -- Ether dropped more than 5% at one point while Litecoin lost a similar amount. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto index, which tracks some of the largest cryptos, fell 4.6% at one point.The moves come as cryptocur
Jamie Dimon's optimism about the economy is costing JPMorgan Chase & Co money, the bank's latest financials show. The CEO said this week the country's largest lender continues to stockpile cash instead of investing it in securities, such as U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed bonds, which pay more than cash deposits. How the country's largest lenders manage an unprecedented glut of cash weighing down their balance sheets will be important in separating winners from losers in coming quarters as uncertainty grows over the inflation and interest rate outlook, according to analysts.
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A U.S. federal judge in Texas on Friday blocked new applications to a program that protects immigrants who were brought to the United States as children from deportation, but said the hundreds of thousands of people already enrolled would not be affected until further court rulings. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with a group of states suing to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, arguing that it was illegally created by former President Barack Obama in 2012. Hanen found the program violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when it was created but said that since there were so many people currently enrolled in the program - nearly 650,000 - his ruling would be temporarily stayed for their cases and their renewal applications.
Nearly five years after walking away from the Octagon, Miesha Tate is back and feeling better than ever after making changes in her personal life.
Some are concerned with the move to mix protectionist trade policy and climate policy.
Immigrants and advocates are urging Democrats and President Joe Biden to quickly act on legislation to protect young immigrants after a federal judge in Texas on Friday ruled illegal an Obama-era program that prevents the deportation of thousands of them brought into the U.S. as children. Plaintiffs have vowed to appeal the decision by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program illegal, barring the government from approving any new applications, but leaving the program intact for existing recipients. Calling the ruling a “blaring siren” for Democrats, United We Dream Executive Director Greisa Martinez Rosas said they would be solely to blame if legislative reform doesn't happen.
The popularity of Apple's AirPods seems to have caused a boom in counterfeit audio gear.
A bipartisan infrastructure bill may fail because Republicans don't want rich people to pay the taxes they owe.
Nine days after billionaire Richard Branson made history by becoming the first person to launch himself into space on his own Virgin Galactic plane, fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos is hoping to do the same.
Shailene Woodley opens up about a serious health condition she has faced that caused her to say "no to a lot of projects ... because I physically couldn't participate in them"
Everyone kept telling me it was probably stress or hormones, but I knew something was wrong.
Because of the patient’s recent travel history, Dallas Love Field officials are working with public health officials.
In a sign of Florida’s resurgent COVID cases, the Florida Department of Health on Friday announced 45,449 new resident cases of COVID-19 since July 9, nearly double the level of new statewide cases from last week and more than four times the levels of mid-June.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The worst of the pandemic seemed behind Mercy Hospital, those weeks last winter when the coronavirus wards were full of people struggling to breathe. But after months of reprieve, the virus has come roaring back, sending unvaccinated young adults and middle-aged patients from across southwest Missouri there in droves as the highly transmissible delta variant tears through the region. The hospital has been treating more than 130 covid-19 patients each day since Sunday - more th
We boiled down the benefits of the best kinds.
Who hasn’t gazed upon a seemingly ageless person and thought to themselves, “Wow, she’s got great genes.” (Vera Wang, anyone?) Well, you, too, can drink from the fountain of youth...but first you’re going to...
Has the delta variant or the coronavirus vaccine changed how patients feel or how sick they're getting? Here's what to know.
The vaccinated could be flashing their cards to move about the world freely right now. Instead, in L.A. County, everyone's back to wearing masks.
Read full article at Yahoo News
Covid News: Britain Will Require Fully Vaccinated Travelers From France to Quarantine Over Beta Variant Concerns
16 July, 2021 - 03:59am
Travelers arriving from France must quarantine for five to 10 days, at home or elsewhere, the British health ministry said.
On Monday, vaccinated travelers from other European nations that Britain had flagged on its medium-risk amber list no longer have to quarantine. Most virus-related restrictions in England will be lifted, including allowing pubs and restaurants to operate at full capacity and nightclubs to open their doors. Curbs on the number of people who can meet indoors, generally limited to six, will also be lifted.
“With restrictions lifting on Monday across the country, we will do everything we can to ensure international travel is conducted as safely as possible, and protect our borders from the threat of variants,” said Health Minister Sajid Javid in a statement.
While attention has been focused on the threat from the Delta variant, which is now dominant in Britain and France as well as the United States, scientists are also concerned about the Beta variant because clinical trials of vaccines are showing that they offer less protection against it than other variants. The Beta variant was first identified in South Africa in December.
The presence of Beta in France remains relatively low, according to GISAID, an international open source database: It accounts for 3.4 percent of new cases over the past four weeks.
Some research has shown that the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, the backbone of Britain’s inoculation campaign, has been less effective in preventing mild and moderate Beta cases. In February, South Africa halted use of the vaccine over those concerns.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced new vaccination requirements, including mandatory inoculation for health care workers and proof of immunization or a recent negative test to enter restaurants and cultural venues.
But it was highly uncertain whether the measures would be enough to avoid a fourth wave of the virus powered by the fast-spreading Delta variant, which already accounts for about half of new cases in France.
Mr. Macron’s announcement came just three days after nightclubs reopened for the first time in 16 months, which many believed had symbolically signaled the completion of France’s protracted efforts to emerge from the pandemic. But the new measures dashed hopes of a return to a prepandemic normal and of a smooth summer vacation season.
British travelers, after enduring a miserable winter and a four-month national lockdown, are finding it difficult to visit some of their favorite summer destinations. In June, British tourists had to scramble to leave Portugal ahead of a quarantine deadline, after London changed travel rules for the country over concerns about the Delta variant.
“The UK is entrenching itself as an outlier in its confused approach to travel. This, in turn, is destroying its own travel sector and the thousands of jobs that rely on it,” said Willie Walsh, director-general of the International Air Transport Association, in an interview with Reuters.
Graham McLeod, from Bolton in northwest England, is staying at his vacation home in on France’s Atlantic coast. “In terms of government messaging, we’d say it’s inconsistent, irregular, unclear and frankly unworkable,” said Mr. McLeod in an interview with the AP. “We struggle to understand the sudden desire to introduce quarantine for returnees from France and cannot help feel this has far more to do with politics and much less to do with science.”
There is a clear message that is coming through. This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk and communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well. The good news is that if you’re fully vaccinated, you are protected against severe Covid hospitalization and death. And are even protected against the known variants, including the Delta variant, circulating in this country. If you are not vaccinated, you remain at risk. And our biggest concern is that we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and sadly deaths among the unvaccinated. As we have said, this is very heterogeneous across the country. And these decisions have to be made at the local level. If you have areas of low vaccination and high case rates, then I would say local policymakers might consider whether masking at that point would be something that would be helpful for their community until they scale up their vaccination rates because more people than not in the community are unvaccinated.
As the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus fuels outbreaks in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Friday that “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain far below last winter’s peak, and vaccines are effective against Delta, but the C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, urged people to get fully vaccinated to receive robust protection, pleading: “Do it for yourself, your family and for your community. And please do it to protect your young children who right now can’t get vaccinated themselves.”
The number of new virus cases is likely to increase in the coming weeks, and those cases are likely to be concentrated in areas with low vaccine coverage, officials said at a White House briefing on the pandemic.
“Our biggest concern is that we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated,” Dr. Walensky said. The nation surpassed 34 million cumulative cases on Friday, according to a New York Times database.
Delta now accounts for more than half of new infections across the country, and case numbers have been rising in every state. Roughly 28,000 new cases are reported each day, up from just 11,000 a day less than a month ago.
So far, data suggests that many of the vaccines — including the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots — provide good protection against Delta, especially against the worst outcomes, including hospitalization and death. (Receiving a single dose of a two-shot regimen provides only weak protection against the variant, however.) Nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated, but fewer than 50 percent of all Americans have been; only those 12 and older are eligible.
“We have come a long way in our fight against this virus,” Jeffrey D. Zients, the administration’s Covid-19 response coordinator, said at the briefing.
The pace of vaccination has slowed considerably since the spring, and vaccine coverage remains highly uneven. Delta is already driving case numbers up in undervaccinated areas, including in parts of Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana.
One week before the Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin in Tokyo, organizers, participants and officials in Japan face ever-growing challenges as they try to pull off the world’s biggest sporting event in the middle of a pandemic.
Organizers have instituted strict Covid rules, barring spectators from most events, mass-testing Olympics personnel, and creating bubbles aimed at separating the public from the thousands of athletes, coaches and guests flying in from around the world. On Thursday, the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, insisted that there was no risk that the Games would spread infections, saying that organizers would do everything they could to ensure “that we do not bring any risk to the Japanese people.”
But concerns have grown after several coronavirus cases emerged in recent days among competitors and others involved with the Games.
On Friday, the organizing committee reported four new infections among Olympics-related personnel, bringing to 30 the total confirmed cases this month. One of the cases is of a Nigerian official who tested positive upon arrival and was hospitalized, according to Japanese news outlets, the fifth case detected among delegations from overseas.
This week, 21 South African rugby players went into isolation after being identified as close contacts of an infected person on their flight. Several staff members at a hotel where Brazilian athletes are staying also tested positive for the virus, sending the competitors into isolation.
Bradley Beal, a guard who had been expected to be one of the primary scorers for the U.S. men’s basketball team, will miss the Tokyo Olympics after being placed in health and safety protocols.
Team USA also canceled Friday’s scheduled exhibition against Australia and placed forward Jerami Grant in health and safety protocols as the team faces hurdles in anticipation of the Olympics. Gregg Popovich, Team USA’s coach, told reporters that he expected Grant would still participate in the Olympics.
Australian player Liz Cambage said she had been suffering panic attacks about the prospect of entering an Olympic Covid-19 bubble.
“Every athlete competing in the Olympic Games should be at their mental and physical peak, and at the moment, I’m a long way from where I want and need to be,” she said.
Cases are climbing in Tokyo, which recorded 1,271 new infections on Friday, continuing its biggest surge in six months. Across Japan, despite social distancing restrictions in much of the country, the daily average of cases has risen 63 percent in the past two weeks, according to New York Times data. About 20 percent of Japan’s 126 million people are fully vaccinated, far lower than in many Western countries.
The developments prompted one of Japan’s leading newspapers, The Asahi Shimbun, to declare that the Olympics’ Covid bubble “has already burst.” In an article published on Thursday, the newspaper described confusion at airports, where some arriving athletes took selfies and exchanged fist-bumps with other passengers, and at hotels, where staff members said they sometimes could not determine which guests were part of Olympics delegations and subject to stricter rules.
“It has become clear that organizers’ plans to separate Olympic-related people and the general public are failing miserably,” the newspaper wrote.
Organizers say that their protocols are working and that infections have occurred among only a handful of the tens of thousands of people involved in the Games. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, said on Friday that the Games would “draw attention from the world, where they can be a light of hope under the predicament of Covid.”
During a meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday, Mr. Bach said that 85 percent of residents of the Olympic Village would be vaccinated against Covid-19, and that nearly all I.O.C. members and staff would arrive in Japan fully immunized.
From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily.
Despite the fact that fewer than 10 percent of its population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Japan says that the Olympic games will be played this summer in Tokyo. Kevin Roose spoke to our colleague, Motoko Rich, about why the Japanese people remain so ambivalent about the idea.
Good to see you. So we’ve all been watching and waiting to see whether the Olympics are actually going to happen. And now, it’s a month out and it seems like they’re on.
It does. It’s sort of hard to believe. They were postponed last year, and now we’re at this point where we’re kind of amazed that it’s going to happen in about a month.
And I guess on one hand, that makes sense because we are in a moment of recovery. More and more people are getting vaccinated. But on the other hand, my impression is that Japan and many parts of the world, in fact, are not nearly as vaccinated as we are here in the United States. And it also occurs to me that, like, the Olympics is kind of the perfect superspreader event. Like, you’ve got all these people coming from all different parts of the world, bringing with them all kinds of regional and local diseases, possibly. And so I wonder if actually having the Olympics now is a good idea.
You and the Japanese public both are wondering that exact same thing. I mean, I think there’s a lot of anxiety. Japan’s borders have been closed for well over a year. And so all of a sudden, you’re going to have thousands of people, tens of thousands of people from over 200 countries descending on Japan all at once.
And of course, a lot of them will be vaccinated, but as we’re already seeing, some of them may have had the Sino vaccine that has led to some outbreaks in some countries. We’ve already had two Ugandan athletes test positive since landing in Japan. Japan itself doesn’t have the virus completely under control, and as you say, it’s not nearly as vaccinated as the United States or Europe. So there are all kinds of reasons to worry about the public health implications of this event. You’re absolutely right.
They’re absolutely still doing it. It seems bound and determined. It feels like a runaway train. There’s no stopping it.
And on a very broad level, like, why is that? Why are they so determined to hold the Olympics?
Well, I think there are two reasons and two kind of main parties here. We’ve got the International Olympic Committee that really wants the games to go ahead. They really don’t want to cancel them. They’ve already postponed them for a year. They make a lot of money off the broadcast rights, so they need to have the games go ahead. They need the athletes to compete so they can put them on television.
And for Japan, there’s many reasons, in fact, to want to hold the Olympics. They’ve waited for a whole year. They’ve invested over $15 billion in preparing for this event. 3 billion of that came in the last year alone, during the postponement. And they also see this symbolically as a very important event that will sort of showcase Japan to the world that they have recovered.
And say more about that symbolic recovery. What do you mean?
2011 was probably the worst disaster that Japan has experienced in about a century.
The ground began to shake. 32 million people here in Tokyo braced themselves for the worst.
It was a huge magnitude nine earthquake.
An earthquake so strong it literally shifted the Earth’s axis by about 25 centimeters.
And then, round two, as the tsunami sirens wailed.
Which led to a devastating tsunami that killed more than 19,000 people.
The walls of water crash ashore with astonishing power, swallowing everything in the way.
And then it also caused a massive nuclear meltdown.
An explosion shortly after the quake at this power plant damaged a building housing a reactor, causing a radioactive leak and the evacuation of a 12-mile radius.
150,000 people who lived near the plant were forced to evacuate. So when they bid for the Olympics, it was just a couple of years after that disaster. It was 2013. And as then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, this would be a symbol to show the world that Japan had recovered, and also something to kind of inspire and revitalize the Japanese public themselves.
Right. So it sort of feels like every time the Olympics are held, the host country basically uses it as a kind of signal, a way to, like, send a message to the world. I’m thinking about, like, Beijing, and that opening ceremony they had with all the amazing, like, synchronized marching. And it was sort of an announcement that, like, China is a global superpower. And so it seems like you’re saying, this time for Japan, the message they were hoping to send was not so much, like, “We have arrived on the global stage,” as “We are back. We have recovered from this terrible catastrophe. We are ready to assume our former position.”
Exactly. And it’s kind of a glorious propaganda opportunity, right? You have weeks in which your country is showcased on international television. And I think a lot of what Japan wanted to get out of this was, hey, come and visit us. I mean, all Olympic host cities want that, right? They would have lots and lots of kind of propaganda-type advertisements that run during the Olympics and, you know, soft features that run on the government-friendly TV stations and what have you, like, look at our beautiful country, come visit.
So that’s what Japan hosting the Olympics was supposed to symbolize to the rest of the world, but what did this plan to host the Olympics mean to the Japanese people?
I think, overwhelmingly, they were just excited about it. This was a very popular event before things kind of went south.
Say more about that. What do you mean by going south?
So I mean, the first thing was that the bid itself came under a cloud.
There were questions about corruption involved in Tokyo winning as host city.
Last month, the French investigating magistrate indicted Tsunekazu Takeda for allegedly making two payments of over 200 million U.S. dollars
And then there was this question about the new national stadium.
Reports say it could cost more than — get this — $2 billion.
And then there was this new logo that they designed.
Now, Olympics organizers are scrapping the logo after allegations of plagiarism.
So there were all these sort of little nips at the heels of the glow of the Olympics. And then Covid hit.
So by early 2020, Covid is breaking out across the world. And at that point, the Olympics were supposed to happen that summer, just a few months away. What did Japan and the Olympic Committee decide to do?
Well, for a little while, the Tokyo organizers and the Japanese government seemed to believe that they could pull it off, partly because Japan was, frankly, just not suffering as much as the rest of the world. So I don’t think they quite had their heads around how disastrous the pandemic had become. And they had put in all kinds of measures with the Japanese public that seemed to be working. You know, everyone was wearing masks and doing social distancing and working from home and what have you. But as things started to really go bad and get worse across Europe and the United States, it became clear that even if Japan was doing OK, there was no way that the whole world could come together in four months. And so on March 24, 2020 —
— in partnership with the International Olympic and Paralympic Committee, they decided to postpone for a year.
And this was unprecedented. It’s never been postponed before. It’s been canceled. And in fact, Tokyo was supposed to host one of those canceled Olympics during World War II, 1940, but this is the first time that an Olympics has been postponed for a year.
And Japan did relatively well compared to the rest of the world, in terms of managing the virus itself. So I think there was this sense in 2020 that things were under control, and so for the organizers and the government, it was this feeling like, OK, we’ve managed it, and then we’re going to turn to kind of the albeit logistical nightmare of restaging an event a year later and inviting the world, but we sort of feel like we have it under control. But then after the break of the new year in 2021, things really started to change in Japan.
So basically, the success that Japan had had managing the virus in 2020 started to deteriorate in 2021. I mean, think partly because people were starting to get a little bit complacent about it, but also they weren’t getting vaccinated. And so those two forces conspired to drive the infection rate up. Various cities, including Tokyo, were setting records of case loads and record deaths. And so all of a sudden, the government had to initiate some clampdowns, putting various cities, including Tokyo, into a state of emergency.
And people were starting to get a little bit scared. And at the same time, they were seeing around the world on their TV or their Instagram feeds that people in the United States and the UK and Europe were starting to get vaccinated, and it wasn’t really happening in Japan. It was taking so long to get the vaccination rollout going. And so people were starting to get worried. And now, the scenario where Japan was sort of under control was no longer true.
I guess I would have assumed that Japan would be very proactive about getting vaccines for its citizens. Like, it’s a rich country, has good access to global markets, and has a lot riding on the success of these Olympics. They must have known that vaccines and access to vaccines would be kind of the difference between having a successful Olympics and not. So why aren’t more Japanese people getting vaccinated?
I mean, it is a true puzzle because when you put it that way, and many people have, it just doesn’t make sense that they wouldn’t have done everything they could to get everybody vaccinated as fast as they could. But there were a number of factors in play. One is that there is quite a lot of vaccine hesitancy in the Japanese public. There has been previously, and specifically for vaccines developed outside of Japan.
So there was a concern within the kind of health ministry and the health establishment that if we rush this out, that everyone will refuse to get it and that will be counterproductive. And so one of the things that the Japanese health ministry said that they need to do, and the kind of regulatory authorities, was that they needed to approve the drugs themselves. And that part of the process is they needed to conduct clinical trials. So that was going to take some time.
Then on top of that, when they negotiated their contracts with Pfizer and Moderna and AstraZeneca, the people who negotiated these contracts were not hard-charging trade negotiators, they were health ministry bureaucrats. And so they probably didn’t negotiate very good contracts. So when I talked to Pfizer, for example, they said, yes, we will fulfill our contracts to get them our vaccines by the end of 2021.
So I think there was a supply issue at the beginning. Also, Japan is very, very cautious in matters of health care. And because of the vaccine hesitancy, the only people who are authorized to give vaccines are doctors and nurses. So whereas in the United States you can walk into any Walgreens or Walmart or CVS and a pharmacist can give you a jab, that is not the case in Japan. And so that kind of throttles things.
And so there were just so many factors that were slowing it down at the beginning. And so when it came to the Olympics, I think people were starting to get genuinely angry. There was this feeling that there was this focus, almost a monomaniacal focus, because the central government, the Tokyo government and the organizing committee kept talking about — we are going to hold this successful Olympics. But instead of talking about it as a symbol of recovery from the Fukushima disaster of 2011, they’re now talking about it being a triumph over the pandemic. And the public was saying, we don’t see a triumph over the pandemic. We’re seeing, actually, the opposite. And why are you spending all this energy on holding this Olympics, and why are you inviting a potential superspreader event to our country?
You know, as the days moved forward, the torch relay started, people were starting to get more and more angry.
They’re chanting for the Olympics to be canceled. They are scared and angry.
There were people gathering signatures on petitions to have them canceled.
Certainly on social media, there was a lot of outcry. And so it got to the point where, in March of this year, close to 80 percent of those polled were saying the games should either be postponed again or just canceled all together. So people were definitely angry about that notion that there was so much energy being expended on holding the Olympics that they thought could genuinely be dangerous.
So the Japanese people are basically saying, like, something’s got to give. Like, we can’t host the Olympics, this potential global superspreader event, and also not have access to vaccines, which seems pretty reasonable. And I guess I’m wondering what the Japanese government’s case is for pushing forward with this. Obviously, they have a huge interest in having the Olympics happen — financial, national pride, et cetera — but they also have a huge interest in not having a massive Covid spike that could result in a bunch of infections and deaths.
Correct. I mean, it is interesting that they have these reasons to want to push ahead, and yet you would think that the desire to avoid a true disaster — you don’t want to be known as the Olympics with the asterisk by it, this is the Olympics that caused a rebound of Covid after a year and a half of everyone going through this devastating, traumatic pandemic. But I think there’s a combination of a lot of factors.
I mean, I think there’s a little bit — part of that national pride is this sense that we can manage it, we can handle it. We’ve got all these precautions in place and we’re going to pull this off. And I certainly think that politically for the current government, and certainly for the current prime minister, that he sort of knows that his career is dead in the water if he cancels the event. So I think that’s partly it.
I think that there is also this concern that they don’t want to be overtaken by China. The whole point of hosting the Olympics is to show that Japan is back and is still a global power. And Beijing is the next host of the Winter Olympics. And those will be happening in 2022. So if China becomes the first post-pandemic Olympics — and make no mistake, they will certainly market it that way if they end up being so — Japan does not want that to happen. And so there’s a certain sense of, kind of in a geopolitical stakes, that they want to make sure that they have this marker here.
And the third reason is something that’s external to Japan, which is that they have a contract with the International Olympic Committee which states that they can’t cancel this. And if they do, they would be financially on the hook for quite a lot of money. They’ve already put in $15 billion. And then if they’re on the hook for sort of fines for canceling it, that would just be beyond the pale, I think, for them. So they really feel like they’re caught and under pressure by the contract, that they really can’t pull out.
Hm. So they’re kind of damned if they don’t and maybe damned if they do.
Yeah, there’s a good chance they’re damned if they do. I mean, even though people seem to have become a little more resigned to the fact that they’re going ahead, that the polls are not quite as dramatic about that they should be canceled or they should be postponed, but still, over 85 percent of people are genuinely concerned that the Olympics will cause a rebound in the coronavirus in Japan.
And the truly scary part of it is it’s not just about Japan, right? It’s about the whole world, because this is an asymptomatically transmitted disease, and everybody’s going to leave the country and be on planes. So there could be outbreaks that affect the Japanese public, but there could also be outbreaks that affect people after they go home.
So Motoko, what is Japan actually doing to try to pull this off? I’m thinking about the NBA bubble, which seems like it was pretty successful, the Major League Baseball non-bubble — which didn’t turn out so well. Like, what have the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics learned from watching these other sports leagues try to contain the pandemic while still holding their events, and what can we expect these Olympics to look like?
I mean, I think a lot of what they’ve learned, both through managing the pandemic internally in Japan, where, by the way, they are holding sports events, and by watching the events that you reference, is that you’ve got to reduce human-to-human contact as much as possible. That’s kind of counter to what the Olympics are about. I mean, the whole notion of the Olympics is bringing the world together, and everything about the rules about these Olympics are about keeping them as far apart as possible.
So the athletes cannot arrive four or five days before their competition, and they must leave two days after they finish competing. So they won’t get to hang out in the village. And as a kind of marker of that, this will be the first Olympics since 1988 when condoms will not be handed out in the village.
So there’s no partying, there’s no going to the local bars and restaurants. Everybody has to get tested every day. And when the spectators are in the stands, they’re not even allowed to shout. They have to just clap. I went to a soccer match last year that were conducted under the rules that will be imposed on the Olympics. And we all had to sit two seats in between us, masks on, no drinking, no cheering. I mean, it was so quiet in the stands that I could hear every call on the field, and I could even hear the guy who was, like, crinkling a wrapper three rows in front of me. So everything about this Olympics suggests not fun.
Wow, that’s amazing. I mean, sounds like it will be so different from any Olympics we’ve ever seen, where we expect these huge cheering crowds decked out in their country’s colors cheering on their country’s athletes, you know, fist bumping, high fiving, celebratory drinking. Like, none of that is going to happen.
And so I guess I just wonder if, instead of showing the world that Japan is back and the pandemic is over and this is this triumphal moment of return, these Olympics — even if they’re successful at containing the spread of Covid — could shine the brightest of lights on the fact that Japan is not back and the pandemic is not over. If you’re one of us sitting on your couch watching this all happen, the picture that you get might be not how normal things are, but how abnormal.
I think that’s 100 percent correct, that you will be thinking how abnormal it is. And I think there is going to be a certain proportion of the public, both in Japan and outside, who will definitely think that this was a colossal waste of energy and money. But in fairness, I don’t think we should discount what the Olympics mean to a certain component of the public that loves them and does feel this sort of sense of international coming together, and then the national pride of any country for the medals that it wins, and for the athletes themselves to be able to put themselves in this competition that they’ve worked all their lives for. All of that will still be present, but I think it will have been tainted by all that has come before.
Right. We will still be able to cheer for Simone Biles, for example. And unlike the people who are actually in Tokyo watching the Olympics live, those of us at home will be allowed to cheer with our mouths, and not just our hands.
That is correct, yes. You will not have to repress your joy.
Thank you so much for having me.
Here’s what else you need to know today.
What are you telling families who are still hoping to find their loved ones?
One thing I’m telling them that we are working 24 hours a day nonstop, nothing else on our mind, with the only objective of pulling their family members out of that rubble safely.
The mayor of the Florida town where a condominium tower collapsed on Thursday, killing at least nine residents, said that workers are undertaking a major search and rescue operation in the hope of finding more than 150 people who remain unaccounted for.
Listen, buildings don’t fall down in America. That is a third-world phenomenon.
In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, the mayor, Charles Burkett, said that the cause of the collapse is still unknown.
It’s very disturbing. There was something obviously very, very wrong in this building, and we need to get to the bottom of it.
But a consultant hired by the condo’s board three years ago had discovered that the columns and walls of the parking garage beneath the building were cracking and crumbling, and urgently recommended repairs that were never completed.
Today’s episode was produced by Soraya Shockley, Jessica Cheung, Rob Szypko and Michael Simon Johnson. It was edited by Paige Cowett and Lisa Chow, and engineered by Corey Schreppel.
That’s it for The Daily. I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.
Last week, officials said that they would bar spectators from most events, after Tokyo’s decision to extend a state of emergency for the duration of the Games. On Thursday, the I.O.C. announced changes to the medal ceremonies, saying that medals would be laid out on trays for the athletes to pick up themselves and that podiums would be larger than usual to ensure social distancing.
Still, public opposition to the Games, which were postponed from last year, has remained intense. Protesters have picketed outside Mr. Bach’s hotel and circulated petitions demanding that the event be called off. Kenji Utsunomiya, a former chairman of Japan’s bar association, submitted a petition with more than 450,000 signatures to the Tokyo metropolitan government on Thursday, arguing that the Games should not be held under a state of emergency.
“We won’t be able to save lives if the infection spreads further and the medical system collapses,” he told reporters. “Now is the time to cancel the Games with courage.”
From protests and Covid-related bans on fans, join Times journalists for an exclusive virtual event as we discuss what this moment means for Tokyo 2020. Plus learn about the sports new to the Olympics through interviews with U.S. surfer Carissa Moore and Czech climber Adam Ondra. Click the button above to R.S.V.P.
“What’s your message to platforms like Facebook?” “They’re killing people. I mean, really. Well, look, the only pandemic, we have is among the unvaccinated and that, and they’re killing people.”
President Biden unleashed his growing frustration with social media on Friday, saying that platforms like Facebook were “killing people” by allowing disinformation about the coronavirus vaccine to spread online.
Mr. Biden’s forceful statement capped weeks of grievance in the White House over the dissemination of vaccine disinformation online, even as the pace of inoculations slows and health officials warn of the rising danger of the Delta variant.
Just before boarding Marine One for a weekend in Camp David in Maryland, Mr. Biden was asked what his message was to social media platforms when it came to Covid-19 disinformation.
“They’re killing people,” he said. “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that — and they’re killing people.”
Mr. Biden spoke a day after the surgeon general of the United States used his first formal advisory to criticize tech and social media companies to stop dangerous health information that presents “an urgent threat to public health.”
The Biden administration has warned of the spread of misinformation about vaccines and the coronavirus from a range of sources, including politicians and news outlets. But this week, White House officials went further and singled out social media companies for allowing false information to proliferate. That came after weeks of failed attempts to get Facebook to turn over information detailing what mechanisms were in place to combat misinformation about the vaccine, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The spread of false information has become the latest flash point for social media companies. Facebook and other social media sites have struggled with their role as platforms for speech while protecting their users from disinformation campaigns, like Russian efforts to influence presidential elections or false statements about the pandemic.
But the rapid spread of the more contagious Delta variant has made the path of the recovery much more unpredictable and uneven.
In Britain, the final lifting of restrictions on Monday is expected to add fresh momentum to the economic recovery. But the surge in infections presents a new hurdle to businesses trying to operate at full capacity. Sectors like hospitality, theater and trucking are having to temporarily shut as workers go into self-isolation because they have either caught the virus or have been told they have come into contact with someone who has.
In Spain, which once again has one of the highest infection rates in Europe, some regional governments have reintroduced restrictions. Portugal has reintroduced a curfew in Lisbon, Porto and other popular tourism spots, dampening a second summer travel season. The Netherlands also announced new measures this week.
The German economy has been bouncing back quickly, and the country’s unemployment rate, at 5.9 percent, is almost back to the pre-crisis level.
But Germany’s recovery has also been bumpy. The number of new cases has doubled in the last week, and three-quarters of those were attributed to the variant. Although there is no talk of renewed lockdowns in Germany so far, quarantine rules for returning travelers may discourage tourism.
That is bad news for the rest of Europe: Germans are among the continent’s most avid travelers.
The more contagious Delta variant is sweeping across the continent. Namibia and Tunisia are reporting more deaths per capita than any other country. Hospitals across the continent are filling up, oxygen supplies and medical workers are stretched thin, and recorded deaths jumped 40 percent last week alone.
But only about 1 percent of Africans have been fully vaccinated. And even the African Union’s modest goal of inoculating 20 percent of the population by the end of this year seems out of reach.
Rich nations have bought up most doses long into the future, often far more than they could conceivably need. Hundreds of millions of shots from a global vaccine-sharing effort have failed to materialize.
Supplies to African countries are unlikely to increase much in the next few months, rendering vaccines, the most effective tool against Covid, of little use in the current wave. Instead, many countries are resorting to lockdowns and curfews.
On Friday, Gavi, the vaccine alliance that co-lead the vaccine sharing program Covax, said the United States would deliver 25 millions doses of the vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson to African countries in the coming weeks.
Yet even a year from now, supplies may not be enough to meet demand from Africa’s 1.3 billion people unless richer countries share their stockpiles and rethink how the distribution system should work.
“The blame squarely lies with the rich countries,” said Dr. Githinji Gitahi, a commissioner with Africa Covid-19 Response, a continental task force. “A vaccine delayed is a vaccine denied.”
Rich nations have bought up most doses long into the future, and there is little hope of a rescue in sight.
The proclamation — along with a warning from the University of California that most unvaccinated faculty, staff and students would be barred from its campuses this fall — underscored the gathering concern that the coronavirus may be poised for a resurgence, although not one nearly as concerning as previous spikes.
Every U.S. state has reported an increase in new virus cases in recent days. California’s figures have nearly tripled over the past month, largely because of cases in San Bernardino and Los Angeles. Still, the current rate of 3,000 new cases a day is a blip compared with the winter peak, when there were more than 44,000.
Scientists say that the about 160 million people across the country who are fully vaccinated are largely protected from the virus, including against the highly contagious Delta variant. Fifty-one percent of Californians are fully vaccinated, well below the levels in some Northeastern states but above the national rate.
“If we want to extinguish this pandemic, this disease, we’ve got to get vaccinated. Period. Full stop,” Mr. Newsom said this week.
Los Angeles County, where public health officials had been recommending masks indoors but not requiring them, has reported more than 1,000 daily cases, a tripling in the past two weeks. The reinstated masking mandate is set to take effect on Saturday.
At the 10-campus University of California system, which serves more than 285,000 students, the university president, Michael V. Drake, said in a letter to chancellors that the current research, both from medical studies and the university’s own infectious-disease experts, pointed to the need for a vaccine mandate for anyone who was going to be on campus.
The requirement will apply to students and employees alike, and to participants in athletic and study-abroad programs, Dr. Drake said.
Under the policy, students without approved vaccine exemptions will be barred from campus housing, events, facilities and classrooms. While there will be “limited exceptions, accommodations and deferrals,” not all classes will be offered remotely.
The weight lifter, Julius Ssekitoleko, 20, is one of nine Ugandans who had been staying in Izumisano, a city in Osaka Prefecture in western Japan, since mid-June.
Olympic organizers have tried to keep all Games participants in a “bubble” and under strict rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus while they are in the country. Athletes training outside Japan have been restricted to hotels and training venues.
Last month, two people traveling with the Ugandan Olympic delegation tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in Japan. It is not clear whether Mr. Ssekitoleko was one of them.
The police are conducting a search, said Katsunobu Kato, the chief cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Mr. Kato said the police and city officials were making an “all-out effort” to find the weight lifter.
Yuji Fukuoka, a spokesman for the city of Izumisano, said that an official who had traveled with the Ugandan delegation checked Mr. Ssekitoleko’s hotel room on Friday, only to find that he was not there.
“All we want is that he’s found as soon as possible,” Mr. Fukuoka said. “He might be having a tough time.”
It was an ambitious idea: Since Canadian officials wouldn’t allow U.S. vaccines into the country, American pharmacists would come to the edge of the U.S. border inside the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which connects the two cities, and jab the vaccine into the arms of Canadians on the other side.
The plan, which was reported by The Detroit Free Press, was the brainchild of Drew Dilkens, the mayor of Windsor. He said in an interview on Thursday that medical professionals in Detroit had told him they were tossing extra vaccines as the demand for the shots in the United States slowed.
Michigan has scrapped nearly 150,000 unused vaccine doses since December, said Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to looming expiration dates, she said, doses were also discarded because of broken syringes or vials.
The Canadian government has not allowed those surplus vaccines to enter the country, so Mr. Dilkens figured that his tunnel plan would keep the doses in Michigan and his residents in Canada. He even arranged for a white line to be painted along the border in the tunnel.
“When the Canadians go down, their feet would stay on the right side of the line,” he said, “and the United States folks, their feet stand on the left.”
But the Canada Border Services Agency denied the request, saying in a letter last month that closing the tunnel for the proposed vaccination effort could disrupt trade and would have “significant security implications.”
Canada had lagged behind the United States in distributing vaccines but has recently caught up. According to the government’s health database, nearly 68 percent of Canadians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and nearly 36 percent have been fully vaccinated. In the United States, where demand for vaccines has cooled in recent weeks, nearly 56 percent of Americans have received at least one dose and just over 43 percent are fully vaccinated, according to a Times database.