By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 rose to 6.03 million on Tuesday, with new cases increasing in much of the Midwest and falling from their July peaks in the South and West.
The U.S. added more than 36,000 new cases on Monday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, while more than 480 deaths were counted.
Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota counted more cases in a recent seven-day stretch than any other seen since the start of the outbreak, the New York Times reported.
The U.S. accounts for about a quarter of the 25.5 million confirmed cases globally and almost a fifth of the 851,781 deaths counted by Johns Hopkins, or 183,733. On a per capita basis, the U.S. is fourth in the world with 55.95 deaths per 100,000 people, the data shows, after Peru, Chile and Brazil.
Twitter removed a post that was retweeted by President Donald Trump at the weekend, claiming the U.S. death toll is greatly exaggerated. The post was sent by “Mel Q,” an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory. It claimed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had updated its COVID-19 numbers and found only 9,000 of reported deaths were from the virus, while the rest were people with two or three other serious illnesses.
Twitter said the post violated its coronavirus misinformation policy.
The social-media site did not remove another post retweeted by Trump from a conservative website that criticized key members of Trump’s own White House task force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the task force.
Fauci told ABC in an interview Tuesday that the CDC numbers did not mean that people died of causes other than COVID-19.
“That does not mean that someone who has hypertension or diabetes who dies of Covid didn’t die of Covid-19. They did,” Fauci said on “Good Morning America.” “So the numbers you’ve been hearing -- there are 180,000-plus deaths -- are real deaths from Covid-19. Let (there) not be any confusion about that.”
The head of the World Health Organization said the idea that high death rates from the virus are not a concern if it’s mainly older people who are dying is “moral bankruptcy.”
“Accepting someone to die because of age is moral bankruptcy at its highest, and we shouldn’t allow our society to behave this way,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the agency’s latest press briefing.
In other news:
• Russia has more than 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, the English-language Moscow Times reported, the fourth highest in the world, after the U.S., Brazil and India. Russia will start its first mass deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccine this month, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Monday. The governor of a remote Siberian region, the republic of Tyva on the border with Mongolia, is reported to have contracted the virus for a second time in Russia’s first such case, the paper reported.
Hong Kong researchers last week confirmed a case of a patient who had been reinfected with COVID-19. That same week, two European patients were reported to have suffered that fate, the Guardian reported, citing regional public broadcasters in the Netherlands and Belgium.
• Poland has banned direct flights from 44 countries, including Spain and the U.S., to contain the spread of the virus, the Guardian reported, citing government officials. India, Brazil, Argentina, Malta, Montenegro, Mexico, Israel and Romania are also on the list, the paper reported, but China and Russia have been removed, local media reported. The ban will become effective on Wednesday. Poland has 67,922 confirmed cases of the virus, according to the Johns Hopkins data, and 2,058 people have died.
• Tourism traffic to Spain fell 75% in July from the year-earlier period, according to Spain’s National Statistics Institute, costing the country billions of euros in lost revenue. Spain is currently grappling with a fresh spike in cases, after recording almost 24,000 new infections over the weekend. In the past two weeks, Spain has seen more than 96,000 new infections, according to its health ministry, making it a hot spot for the outbreak for the second time. Madrid is the epicenter, with about 16% of area hospital beds currently occupied by COVID-19 patients.
• Hong Kong launched a mass testing program on Tuesday, amid heightened tensions with mainland China following its efforts to crack down on the city’s democracy movement. The free scheme has had a shaky start, amid concerns that the involvement of doctors and testing companies from the mainland will lead to harvesting of DNA and other data, the Washington Post reported.
“I’m postulating that in the most optimistic case, perhaps a million people will turn up, but if I say that, I will be announced as unpatriotic,” said Gabriel Choi Kin, head of the Hong Kong Medical Association, the paper reported. “Ultimately, this will be a display of whether citizens trust the government.”
• More than a million students returned to schools in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Tuesday, the original source of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to media reports. Wuhan was locked down for more than two months starting in late January and has reopened gradually since April. About 3,869 inhabitants of the city died from the virus, according to official Chinese data, accounting for more than 80% of China’s total official death toll of 4,724. Students had their temperatures taken at the school gates and were given lessons on hand washing, according to the New York Times.
At least 16.9 million people have tested positive and then recovered from COVID-19, the Johns Hopkins data show. Brazil is second to the U.S. with 3.9 million cases and 121,381 deaths.
India is next with 3.7 million cases and 65,228 deaths.