By Tara Law
Staff Writer
Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Virus Is Spreading Among Young Americans

One of the most frustratingly persistent (yet flawed) narratives around COVID-19 is that it that mostly affects only the elderly and people who were already sick. Since such people are more likely to become severely ill or die from the disease, some have argued, restrictions meant to curb viral spread should be focused on them, while the rest of us should be allowed to live our lives more or less as normal.

In reality, while younger, otherwise healthy people tend not to have severe cases of the disease, they’re not immune entirely—and they can play a big role in spreading it to others.

Indeed, as my colleague Emily Barone reports, the virus is becoming more widespread among young Americans. People under 30 accounted for over a third of U.S. cases reported in July and August, up 16% from January through April. People in their 20s, specifically, made up more than 20% of U.S. cases reported in June, July and August.

Even if many of these younger people only have mild cases, they're transmitting the virus to older, more vulnerable people, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published yesterday.

At least part of the viral surge among young people is attributable to increased testing at college campuses and workplaces. However, the rise can't be attributed to more testing alone, suggesting there’s a very real spike among younger Americans.

Given these findings, it may be tempting to blame young people for spreading the virus—especially as photos and videos of packed frat houses and bars circulate around social media and outbreaks strike campus after campus. However, it’s important to remember that young people are often more likely to work frontline jobs in industries like retail and childcare, where social distancing is more difficult. And if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that blaming viral spread on others doesn’t actually fix anything. Instead, it’s up to all of us to take precautions—like wearing a mask and keeping our distance—if we want to reclaim our normal lives.

Read more here.


The Global Situation

More than 31.7 million people around the world had been sickened by COVID-19 as of 1 a.m. E.T. today, and more than 975,000 people have died.

On Sept. 23, there were 262,748 new cases and 5,563 new deaths confirmed globally. Here's how the world as a whole is currently trending:

Here is every country with over 350,000 confirmed cases to date ("per cap" is number per 100,000 people):

Israel, which is facing an alarming spike in cases, announced today that it’s making its ongoing national lockdown even stricter starting Friday, the New York Times reports. Most workplaces and businesses will be forced to close, while gatherings will be limited to 20 people (and outdoors only). The new rules will be in place until at least mid-October, well after the Jewish High Holidays. After remaining relatively flat at an average of about 1,470 new daily cases in August, Israel has seen a tremendous spike in September, with an average of 3,830 new cases a day—a 160% increase.

Indonesia on Thursday reported its highest-ever number of new daily cases—4,465—and passed 10,000 deaths overall. The country, home to about 268 million people, has low rates of testing and contact tracing, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, some government officials have touted unproven methods for fighting the virus, like drinking mangosteen juice.

North Korean troops shot and killed a South Korean official near the countries’ heavily-guarded border and then burned his body in an apparent attempt to contain the virus, the BBC reports, citing South Korea’s defense ministry. South Korean officials believe the man was attempting to defect to North Korea—a rare event. South Korea saw a steep relative increase in August after a quiet summer, peaking at 441 new cases on Aug. 26 before rapidly declining to an average of under 100 daily new cases in the past week. While it’s believed the virus is present in North Korea, the country, which has moved aggressively to prevent spread, has not officially confirmed any cases.

As airlines around the world grapple with a pandemic-related travel slump, some airlines are rolling out an innovative way to get people on board again: offering COVID-19 tests. United Airlines and Lufthansa are both planning to roll out testing programs for certain passengers starting in October, according to CBS News and Reuters. The outbreak could cost the world's airlines anywhere from $63 billion to $113 billion in lost passenger revenue this year, according to an estimate from the International Air Transport Association, a trade group.

The Situation in the U.S.

The U.S. had recorded more than 6.9 million coronavirus cases as of 1 a.m. E.T. today. More than 201,800 people have died. Here's where daily cases have risen or fallen over the last 14 days, shown in confirmed cases per 100,000 residents:

On Sept. 23, there were 37,330 new cases and 1,098 new deaths confirmed in the U.S. Here's how the country as a whole is currently trending:

U.S. jobless claims rose to 870,000 last week, up from 866,000 the previous week, the Department of Labor said today. On top of slow job growth, unemployment payments are being disrupted in states like California and Pennsylvania amid a spike in fraudulent jobless claims. Pandemic-related fraud has also been a big problem for individual Americans, who have lost $145 million through schemes involving spam telephone calls and identity theft, the New York Times reports.

New York State is forming a panel to review coronavirus vaccines authorized by the federal government to ensure their safety, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today, according to WWNY. The announcement came amid concerns that the vaccine approval process is being tainted by politics—just yesterday, U.S. President Donald Trump said that the White House “may or may not” approve stricter vaccine guidelines proposed by the Food and Drug Administration, describing them as political.

Google Maps will soon display the number of virus cases per 100,000 people in a given area of interest. The update, which will begin rolling out this week, aims to help users “make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do,” writes project manager Sujoy Banerjee in a blog post published yesterday.

All numbers unless otherwise specified are from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and are accurate as of September 24, 1 a.m. E.T. To see larger, interactive versions of these maps and charts, click here.


The Tortoises Could Win the Vaccine Race

The pharmaceutical firms that appear to be closest to getting their vaccines approved have dominated the news coverage in recent months. But other companies that appear to be taking longer, like Sanofi and Merck, are working on versions that are more familiar to regulators, STAT reports, potentially accelerating their approval once ready. Read more here.

How to Cope With an Uncertain Future

The pandemic has made life very uncertain for many—and uncertainty often means stress. While there’s no crystal ball for the coming months, there are things we can do to care for ourselves and get us through this challenging time, as this piece in The Atlantic shows. Read more here.

How 4 European Countries Are Trying to Stop a COVID-19 Wave

As Europe battles a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, some of the hardest-hit regions are adding new local restrictions that go beyond national requirements to slow the virus' spread. For instance, the German state of Bavaria, which has the worst outbreak in the country, has implemented a curfew on restaurants and a five-person limit on gatherings. Read more here.

Thanks for reading. We hope you find the Coronavirus Brief newsletter to be a helpful tool to navigate this very complex situation, and welcome feedback at coronavirus.brief@time.com.

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Today's newsletter was written by Tara Law and edited by Alex Fitzpatrick.

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