Amid promises this week from the president and pharmaceutical companies that there may be a COVID-19 vaccine within months, the head of the World Health Organization said Friday that the agency won’t recommend any vaccine before it is proven safe and effective.
A WHO spokesperson told Reuters Friday that the agency does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year.
And this Labor Day weekend, health experts worry that gatherings — of all sizes — could push another coronavirus surge. With temperatures forecast to reach triple digits in California, the beaches are expected to be crowded. Families and friends will gather for cookouts across the country. And, in South Dakota, the annual state fair will bring together thousands for cotton candy and amusement rides.
On Friday, President Donald Trump addressed the holiday weekend, urging “everybody to be careful.” He encouraged “social distancing, wearing a mask whenever the distancing is not possible.” The comments come hours after Trump mocked Democratic opponent Joe Biden for wearing a mask.
Some significant developments:
- Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden confirmed Friday that he has been tested for COVID-19 and said that he will continue to be tested “on a regular basis.”
- The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine is predicting more than 410,000 deaths by January if mask usage stays at current rates. If governments continue relaxing social distancing requirements, that number could increase.
- Thousands of Black and Hispanic Americans could go uncounted in the nation’s census this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and other disruptions.
- The U.S. economy added 1.4 million jobs in August as businesses shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic continued to reopen and bring back workers.
- At least 7,000 health workers worldwide have died after contracting COVID-19, according to human rights organization Amnesty International.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has about 6.2 million confirmed cases and over 187,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there are 26 million cases and more than 872,000 people have died. New case records were set in Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Arkansas.
📰 What we’re reading: The coronavirus pandemic and social unrest have increased the demand for therapists of color. “COVID made it explicit, some of the needs that communities of color always had to struggle with: unemployment, health conditions, lack of insurance, lack of coverage for mental health,” said Lucy Takagi, a clinical specialist at Montclair State University.
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Hilton is closing its 478-room hotel in Times Square effective Oct. 1, according to a document it filed with state regulators this week. Two hundred employees will lose their jobs, the filing says, due to “unforeseeable business circumstances prompted by COVID-19.”
The pandemic has wiped out hotel occupancy in urban areas, including the heart of New York City. According to a report this week from the American Hotel and Lodging Association, an industry group, hotel occupancy in urban markets was 38% in August, well below the 50% it takes for most properties to break even.
As an early epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, New York has experienced a dramatic drop in tourism. While the city has recovered since the spring, restaurants remain closed to indoor dining and Broadway is closed until next year.
– Curtis Tate
Russian scientists have belatedly published first results from early trials into the experimental Sputnik V vaccine, which received government approval last month but drew considerable criticism from experts, as the shots had only been tested on several dozen people before being more widely administered.
In a report published in the journal Lancet on Friday, developers of the vaccine said it appeared to be safe and to prompt an antibody response in all 40 people tested in the second phase of the study within three weeks. However, the authors noted that participants were only followed for 42 days, the study sample was small and there was no placebo or control vaccine used.
One part of the safety trial included only men and the study mostly involved people in their 20s and 30s, so it is unclear how the vaccine might work in older populations most at risk of the more severe complications of COVID-19.
— The Associated Press
Google gives employees extra holiday amid pandemic
Many months into the pandemic, Google is making Friday a one-time paid holiday for “collective wellbeing” and encouraging employees to enjoy a four-day…