Coronavirus Update


China extends lockdown in Chengdu as New York scraps face masks on public transport

New boosters that specifically target omicron subvariants are available now.

joseph prezioso/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s COVID remarks were canceled on Thursday following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, according to a statement from the White House.

Biden was expected to highlight the arrival of updated boosters that target the newer, more infectious variants and their subvariants.

Republican leaders are showing reluctance to vote for the $22 billion in funds that the White House is seeking to finance the next stage of the pandemic.

 Republicans made clear on Wednesday that their position is that federal spending on the virus needs to be wound down and not ramped up,  as the Associated Press reported .

The funds are part of a $47 billion package the administration is seeking to support Ukraine, and tackle COVID and monkeypox, and natural disasters. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that while Ukraine aid “is obviously a priority,” he downplayed the need for other funding — even in his Kentucky home state, hit hard by devastating floods.

 GOP lawmakers are sticking with the view that dedicating more money to the country’s COVID response should be paid for by cutting spending elsewhere, or by allowing Americans to pay for vaccines and therapies themselves.

The news comes as U.S. known cases of COVID are continuing to ease, although the true tally is likely higher given how many people are testing at home, where the data are not being collected.

The daily average for new cases stood at 71,906 on Wednesday, according to  a New York Times tracker , down 21% from two weeks ago. Cases are now climbing in just five states, namely Rhode Island, South Carolina, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Ohio. They are flat in Colorado and falling everywhere else, the tracker shows.

The daily average for hospitalizations was down 13% at 34,444 while the daily average for deaths is down 13% to 397.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that Covid-19 shots are likely to be offered on an annual basis, similar to flu shots. He said the shots would likely be matched to the circulating strain of a given year. Photo: Amir Hamja for The Wall Street Journal

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Other Covid-19 news you should know about:

• The Chinese city of Chengdu extended a lockdown for a majority of its more than 21 million residents on Thursday to prevent further transmission of COVID, while millions more in other parts of China were told to avoid travel in coming holidays, Reuters reported. Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan province, was locked down on Sept. 1 after COVID cases were detected, becoming the largest Chinese metropolis hit with curbs since Shanghai’s lockdown in April and May. The extension puts a further strain on the city, which recently has also endured heat waves, power cuts and an earthquake.

• A new study from researchers at Harvard has found that people suffering from anxiety or depression had a 1.3-fold to 1.5-fold greater risk of suffering from post-COVID conditions, or symptoms that lasted four weeks or longer. The study was published in Jama Psychiatry and involved 54,960 participants. “Participants with 2 or more types of distress prior to infection were at nearly 50% increased risk for post–COVID-19 conditions,” the authors wrote. Other types of distress included loneliness and worry about COVID.

• New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has lifted the face-mask mandate on public transport, the New York Times and other outlets reported. State officials are getting rid of mask requirements in homeless shelters, but they will remain in healthcare facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes, she added. “We are seeing major declines in hospitalizations,” Ms. Hochul said. “We have to restore some normalcy to our lives.”

• Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved a recommendation to end the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors across the country more than two years after it was imposed at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the AP reported. The Philippines and Myanmar are the last countries in Southeast Asia still requiring the compulsory wearing of masks outdoors, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said, adding the change in the country’s masking policy will take effect after Marcos Jr. issues an executive order.

Here’s what the numbers say

The global tally of confirmed cases of Covid-19 topped 607 million on Thursday, while the death toll rose above 6.5 million,  according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University .

The U.S. leads the world with 95 million cases and 1,049,028 fatalities.

The  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker  shows that 224.1 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 67.5% of the total population. But just 108.8 million have had a booster, equal to 48.5% of the vaccinated population, and just 22 million of the people 50 and over who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 34% of those who had a first booster.