Taiwan and the United States will hold talks on political and military cooperation in a move certain to draw protest from Beijing two weeks before the change of government in Washington.In a rare move, the US State Department made public the schedule of the closed-door talks, to be held online at 6.30pm on Wednesday in Washington (7.30am Thursday in Taipei) with Clarke Cooper, the US assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, among those taking part.The sensitive round of…
Millions of jobs and drastic cuts to already struggling services on the line as health and economic crisis worsens
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep across the country state and local governments across the US are bracing for severe economic impacts in 2021 that could force layoffs of government employees and swingeing cuts to services.
The last few months have offered a more detailed picture of what the pandemic’s economic recession will look like for state and local governments. While some have been spared the doomsday scenarios predicted at the outset of the pandemic, others have been “savaged”. On the line are millions of jobs and drastic cuts to already struggling services in the midst of a national health and economic crisis that is only getting worse.
Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who will leave office in less than a week. stated that he 'cannot wait to leave this job," according to a transcript released by the Department of Defense.
In wake of bird flu in severe states, airlines like IndiGo and Vistara have stopped serving chicken and egg dishes on some of their flights. A Vistara official said the airline has “already removed chicken and egg items from the onboard menu on both domestic and international flights originating from Delhi.”
Yigal Rambam, a protest leader, has been charged with leading an ‘unlawful procession’ on two occasions — despite state prosecutor's instructions not to charge protesters to protect freedom of expression
Editor’s Note:The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here.
In the first week of 2021, the United States reported more cases of COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic so far, and the second-highest number of deaths. Holiday data-reporting slowdowns from Christmas and New Year’s are likely still affecting most metrics—most notably reported tests, which are still well below pre-holiday levels. Hospitalizations, our most stable metric through the holidays, continue to march upward.
Even as the holidays disrupted the reporting of case and death data, the numbers we saw from nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities were grim. By our most recent long-term-care-data compilation, on New Year’s Eve, U.S. states had reported more than 1 million COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities. Although long-term-care residents and staff account for only 5 percent of the nation’s COVID-19 cases, they made up 38 percent of the nation’s COVID-19 deaths on the last day of 2020. U.S. states reported 5,963 COVID-19 deaths among LTC residents and staff in the final week of December—the deadliest month in long-term-care facilities since we began tracking the data in May.
There are now more than 132,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States—more than were hospitalized at the peak of the spring and summer surges combined. These record hospitalization levels are not evenly distributed: As hospitalizations in the Midwest and Mountain West have continued to fall, they have risen in California and across the entire South.
With case numbers still wobbly after the recent holidays, hospitalizations are our best indicator of the movement of the pandemic, and they suggest a major resurgence of the virus in the South. Every single southern state has seen hospitalizations rise significantly since the middle of last month, and 13 states in the South set new records for COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past seven days.
In Alabama, December’s case spikes have translated into a higher per capita hospitalization rate than any U.S. state saw during the summer surge. Alabama now has the third-highest per capita hospitalizations in the country, trailing only Arizona and Nevada. Staffing shortages in Alabama hospitals, coupled with very low availability of ICU beds, have public-health officials in the state bracing for a coming crisis, as holiday exposures send more COVID-19 patients to the hospital. In Tennessee, one of the first southern states to see a major case spike in the current surge, hospitalizations are still rising, and one in every 1,000 Tennesseans has died due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. The Tennessee Tribune has chronicled ongoing failures to reduce test turnaround times in the state, with one-third of labs still taking longer than two days to provide test results.
As the national media converged on Georgia before the state’s Senate runoffs on Tuesday, COVID-19 hospitalizations there continued to rise sharply and are now the fifth worst in the country, adjusted for population. According to Vox, more than 40 hospitals in the state are no longer able to accept new patients into ICUs or emergency rooms for any reason.
Racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 hospitalizations are not limited to California. Although only 22 states currently report race and ethnicity data for hospitalizations, in every state that does, Black people are more likely than white people to have been hospitalized with COVID-19. Latino people are also more likely to be hospitalized than white people in 21 of the 22 states that report these data.
Mapping the strain on local hospital systems
Yesterday, the COVID Tracking Project launched a new, hospital-level interactive explorer powered by data from the Department of Health and Human Services and a generous donation of software from Mapbox. A brief look through the HHS hospital data for the most worrying states in the South and West reveals the local contours of each state’s health-care systems as they encounter worsening outbreaks.
A snapshot of southern states shows the strain on hospitals in Dallas; San Antonio; Birmingham, Alabama; and Atlanta, where the counts of COVID-19 patients in ICUs (represented by circle size) are high and where the percentages of ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (indicated by circle color) suggest substantial capacity challenges.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrapped up his latest trip to Southeast Asia on Saturday, during which he sought to stabilise relations in the region ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as US president. But of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Wang has visited in recent months, one was conspicuously missing: Vietnam.It is hardly a coincidence, according to diplomatic observers, as China has moved Asean up in its foreign policy priorities in recent…
Russia said on Friday it will withdraw from an international treaty allowing observation flights over military facilities following the US exit from the pact. Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement that the US withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty last year "significantly upended the balance of interests of signatory states."
The Chinese Communist Party has unveiled new plans to overhaul the country’s legal system in the next five years, emphasising the importance of the party’s leadership.The 15,000-word document, published by state news agency Xinhua on Sunday, outlined how the leadership wanted a country with “a system of distinctively Chinese socialist rule of law”.“By 2035, the state, government, and a society governed by the rule of law will be basically completed, a socialist rule of law system with Chinese…
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was denied bail on Wednesday because a judge said there is a risk he may abscond while the United States tries to secure his extradition from Britain.Assange has spent more than eight years either holed up in the London’s Ecuadorean embassy or in jail.But Assange on Monday won an attempt to stop his extradition to the US to face 18 criminal charges of breaking an espionage law and conspiring to hack government computers. He had then asked to be bailed.“I am…
Laura Rosenberger, a US foreign policy veteran and vocal critic of China’s propaganda on the coronavirus, has been named as senior director for China at the National Security Council in the next US administration.Rosenberger, a senior fellow at the think tank the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said on Twitter on Thursday that she was humbled by the magnitude of the task and “privileged to once again serve the American people alongside an incredible team”.Rosenberger previously…
Environmental groups blast state government for failure to penalise Chevron’s Gorgon plant for increased greenhouse gas emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions from Chevron’s Gorgon LNG facility have increased because the company’s carbon capture system is not working properly, meaning more carbon dioxide is being vented into the atmosphere.
Environment groups have blasted the Western Australian government for not imposing penalties on the energy company after documents revealed sand was clogging the injection system designed to bury up to 4m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year under Barrow Island.
Editor’s Note:The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here.
In November, The Covid Tracking Project stopped reporting recovery figures for the United States as a whole, and yesterday we also removed many, though not all, of the state-level “recovered” values from our website. We want, above all, to provide accurate and meaningful information. Unfortunately, when it comes to recovery data at both the national and state levels, accurate and meaningful information is hard to come by.
There are several reasons to remove these data from our website. First, several states and territories, including large states like California and Florida, don’t report any kind of recovery data, and it doesn’t make sense to report a national total that excludes so much of the country. A second and crucial reason is that “recovered” has no standard definition, and states report it in many different ways. Just as important, many people who have had COVID-19 and have lived to tell the tale—and many of whom are categorized as “recovered”—don’t consider themselves to have actually recovered.
COVID-19 can have many long-term health consequences, and none of the definitions for counting people who have “recovered” from COVID-19 accounts for latent or ongoing health issues that can be caused by COVID-19. Children who develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome because of COVID-19 and “long-haulers,” who continue to suffer worrying symptoms months after first falling ill with COVID-19, are often wrongfully included in recovery statistics, since not all pandemic-burdened public-health departments have the resources to do the individual follow-up investigations that they would ordinarily do for an infectious disease. Moreover, when public-health offices do conduct individual case investigations, many COVID-19 patients do not respond to inquiries, leaving case investigators in the dark about the process of convalescence—the sometimes slow and always individual voyage back to health. Determining how many people have recovered from COVID-19, then, is currently more like trawling with a net than fishing with a pole: Every attempt dredges up a lot of scaly things we don’t want.
The CDC has not provided an official definition of what it means for a COVID-19 patient to recover, in the sense of returning to a pre-COVID-19 state of health, but it does provide some guidance on when COVID-19 patients no longer need to be isolated. In its guidance for “discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions” for persons with COVID-19, the CDC recommends using a “symptom-based strategy,” which calls for releasing people with mild cases of COVID-19 from isolation 10 days after their illness began, if and only if their symptoms have improved without the need of medication. Those who are asymptomatic or immunocompromised should still be tested to see if they have any remaining virus in their system, but they should consult with local health experts instead of relying only on negative test results.
A key aspect of these CDC guidelines is that they are aimed at controlling infection, not at judging health. This is an important distinction, especially given the demonstrable long-term health effects of COVID-19 that extend beyond the respiratory symptoms stated in the guideline. Many states use these CDC definitions to inform their own reported data of how many people have “recovered” from COVID-19, which means that states are really reporting the number of people who are no longer infectious, not the number of people who have returned to a pre-COVID state of health.
In the absence of federal guidance, and as with many other COVID-19 metrics, different U.S. jurisdictions rely ondifferent definitions for reporting recoveries. Some states and territories have still not adopted the CDC’s mid-July recommendation to primarily take symptom improvement into consideration when estimating how many people are no longer infectious, some states have begun tracking recovery data for “probable” cases of COVID-19 identified by rapid antigen tests, and several states that once reported recovery data have recently stopped.
Among the 48 jurisdictions that have reported a version of a “recovered” value, available definitions generally fall into one of four categories: days since diagnosis/onset; symptom improvement; hospital discharged; or definitions that are unclear. The first category bases “recovery” on a certain number of days—generally between 14 and 30—after a positive test result or symptom onset where the patient has not died. This is the most common type of recovery definition among U.S. states and territories; 18 jurisdictions have provided definitions that include similar criteria. Definitions in the second resemble the CDC’s multilevel guidance for releasing patients from isolation and include information about whether a patient’s COVID-19 symptoms have improved. The third category simply refers to people diagnosed with COVID-19, hospitalized, and then discharged from the hospital; it does not include the majority of people who contract COVID-19, because most people with COVID-19 are never hospitalized. States in the final category report a “recovery” figure but do not provide any publicly available definitions. Unfortunately, all of these definitions still do not capture the complete spectrum of health issues experienced by COVID-19 patients.
Six states that once reported recovery statistics have stopped, many citing their difficulties with collecting complete or reliable data. And eight jurisdictions have never provided any recovery statistics. This could be due to many factors, including a lack of understanding of the disease or the difficulty of collecting relevant data, as many cases experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Washington, for example, has never reported recovery data, and according to The Seattle Times, the Washington Department of Health “doesn’t track how many people have recovered … because so little is known about what recovery looks like.” Similarly, Rhode Island estimates recovery figures but does not publish them, due to the lack of a standard definition. The state also attributes difficulties in reporting this figure to the fact that many of those who were infected were not tested.
It became clear to us months ago that reporting this incomplete patchwork of unlike statistics at the national level would be a distortion. We believe that under the current lack of standardization and complete reporting, the total number of people in the U.S. who have actually recovered from COVID-19 cannot reasonably be inferred.
While we collect thousands of data points about COVID-19, these numbers cannot capture the varied experiences of the more than 22 million people who have tested positive in the U.S. to date. Since March, more than 371,000 people have died, and different individuals who are said to have “recovered” based on states’ definitions may be in dramatically different states of health. One study found that people with severe cases of COVID-19 continued to suffer related health problems three months after being discharged from the hospital. Most or even all such cases would likely be considered recovered by CDC and U.S. state definitions.
Similarly, the impressive group of researchers born out of the Body Politic support group for “long COVID” patients points out in a summary of its patient-led research that “recovery is volatile, includes relapses, and can take six or more weeks.” The group asked people who had tested positive for COVID-19 to define “recovery” for themselves—partly because of the lack of a clinical definition, and partly as a way to honor the lived experience of people who actually got the disease. In their report, “What Does COVID-19 Recovery Actually Look Like?,” the researchers wrote that in the future, they hope to create a standardized definition of recovery based on the types of symptoms and the severity of the illness.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 diagnoses in the United States, few public-health departments have had the capacity to follow up on each case and assemble an accurate picture of how many people in a given jurisdiction have genuinely recovered. Good recovery data for the first year of the U.S. pandemic are—and will likely remain—impossible to produce.
Many people at The COVID Tracking Project contributed research and data-compilation for this story, including Jennifer Clyde, Elizabeth Eads, Rebecca Glassman, Kate Hurley, Nicole King, Daniel Lin, Michal Mart, Barb Mattscheck, Daria Orlowska, Kara Schechtman, and Erika Thomson.
As the United States reports record COVID-19 deaths, Florida broke the record for the highest single-day increase in new cases Thursday. Across the state, long lines to get vaccinations against COVID-19 left senior citizens camping in their cars overnight in cold weather, after Governor Ron DeSantis lowered the priority age to 65, 10 years below the CDC recommended age of 75. Those aged 79 and older are reportedly four times as likely to die from COVID. We speak with John and Maria Luisa Schoch, aged 79 and 80, as they enter their second day in line waiting for shots.
Analysts say Origin’s plan for 700MW battery at Lake Macquarie Eraring power station and Neoen’s proposal for a 500MW storage project near Lithgow will accelerate the state’s energy transition
Two new large-scale batteries that would be Australia’s biggest battery storage projects are proposed in New South Wales in a bid energy analysts say will accelerate the state’s energy transition.
Origin Energy is moving forward with its plans for a 700MW battery at its Lake Macquarie Eraring power station, which the company said would be the largest battery project currently under consideration in Australia.
Law enforcement and state officials are on high alert for potentially violent protests this weekend in the lead-up to Inauguration Day, with some state capitols boarded up and others temporarily closed ahead of Wednesday's ceremony.
French and German wine, cognac and aircraft parts have been hit with new tariffs by the United States, as part of a long-running dispute with the European Union over subsidies to plane makers. The new tariffs are expanding a list of products which have been subject to US import levies since 2019. The French wine exporters' association estimates the new tariffs will cost the sector €300 million in lost sales. Also today, dozens of major American companies have suspended political donations after last week's riot in Washington.
Senate Control Within Democrats' Reach as Rev. Warnock Beats Loeffler, Jon Ossoff Leads Over Perdue, Congress to Certify Biden's Win as GOP Plans Challenges, Delay to Proceedings, U.S. Records Record Death Toll as States Ramp Up Vaccination Plans, Nebraska Gov. Ricketts Under Fire for Racist Exclusion of Undocumented Workers in Vaccine Rollout, Up to 1 in 50 U.K. Residents Likely Have the Coronavirus, U.K. Judge Denies Bail for Julian Assange, Days After Rejecting U.S. Extradition Bid, Officials Will Not Charge White Officer Who Shot Jacob Blake in Back, Leaving Him Paralyzed, Iran Issues Interpol Arrest Warrant Request for Trump Amid Mounting Tensions, Hong Kong Arrests 50+ Pro-Democracy Figures in Massive Sweep, Qatar Reestablishes Ties with Saudi Arabia and Other Arab Nations, Ending 3-Year Embargo, EPA Limits Science That Can Be Used in Public Health Policies as Interior Dept. Weakens Bird Protections, Trump Admin Starts Selling Drilling Rights in Pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, DOJ Seeks to Roll Back Protections Against Civil Rights Discrimination, PA GOP State Senators Create Chaos as They Refuse to Seat Elected Democratic Lawmaker, 140 ICE Prisoners on Hunger Strike in NJ, Activists Demand Joe Biden Cancel Student Debt: "We Will No Longer Be Shackled"
Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC emerged as the most active state-owned investor in the world last year, outranking larger state funds from China, Norway and Japan, as other investors downshifted amid the volatility brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.According to a report by independent data and analysis platform Global SWF comparing the activities of 438 state-owned investors, GIC, the 10th-largest state fund worldwide, deployed US$17.7 billion into 65 deals – down slightly from US$24…
In another action against China days before he leaves office, US President Donald Trump on Friday directed government departments to look at ways to minimise procurement of Chinese goods and services to reduce the risks from espionage, his national security adviser said.In a statement, Robert O’Brien accused China of targeting the information systems of the US government for personnel records, military plans, and other data through cyber and other means.“For this reason, the United States must…
The United States announced sanctions on officials of Chinese state-owned enterprises and military on Thursday and added Chinese oil giant CNOOC to an economic blacklist, accusing them using coercion against states with rival claims in the South China Sea.The moves by the Trump administration will further increase tensions with China, days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20.The US has long opposed China’s extensive territorial claims on the South China Sea, a…
In another blow to French wine producers, the United States has expanded the list of products it's hitting with tariffs to include all French and German wines – except for champagne – as well as cognacs. It's part of a long-running dispute between the European Union and the US over subsidies to planemakers. We speak to French winemaker Bérénice Lurton, the owner of Chateau Climens in the Bordeaux region.
As North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to build up a nuclear arsenal and railed against Washington at a rare party congress this week, Park Won-gon, a professor of international relations at Seoul’s Handong Global University was struck most by what was missing.Bihaekhwa (“denuclearisation”) – a foreign policy priority for global powers in relations with North Korea – was not mentioned once, casting a dark cloud over prospects for progress, even if talks between the United States and North…