U.S. COVID-19 cases top 1.25 million

UNTV News   •   May 8, 2020   •   202

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States reached 1,254,750 as of late Thursday Eastern Daylight Time, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the disease in the country hit 75,649.

As a result of the pandemic which continues to sweep the nation, the number of initial jobless claims in the U.S. totaled 3.169 million last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Thursday.

That number has been above three million for seven consecutive weeks.

In the week ending May 2, the number of Americans filing for U.S. unemployment benefits decreased by 677,000 from the number of 3,846,000 in the prior week, the fifth weekly decline in a row.

So far, the seven-week total has surpassed a staggering 33.5 million, indicating the scope of COVID-19’s damage to the U.S. labor market.

As COVID-19 shutdowns rippled through the workforce, initial jobless claims spiked by three million to reach a record 3.3 million in the week ending March 21, then doubled to reach a record 6.87 million in the week ending March 28.

After that, figures have been declining, though still at historical highs.

Initial jobless claims totaled 6.62 million in the week ending April 4, fell to 5.2 million in the week ending April 11, dropped to 4.4 million in the week ending April 18, and then declined to 3.8 million in the week ending April 25.

The new BLS report also showed that the four-week moving average, a method to iron out data volatility, decreased by 861,500 to reach 4.2 million.

The newly released weekly jobless claim data came one day after payroll data company Automatic Data Processing, Inc. reported that private companies in the United States shed around 20.2 million jobs in April amid COVID-19 fallout. (Reuters)

Palace admits shortcomings in building more COVID-19 testing laboratories

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 9, 2020

Malacañang admitted the government had shortcomings in building more coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing laboratories to boost the country’s response against the pandemic.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the country only began having more testing laboratories last March, adding that the country should have already boosted its testing capacity when the first COVID-19 case was reported.

Inaamin po natin na medyo naging mabagal ang proseso sa lumipas po na dalawang buwan (We admit the process has been slow in the past two months),” he said.

“If I were to look back, what could have we done better? Siguro po noong nagkaroon tayo ng unang kaso imported case ng COVID, dapat pinalawak na natin ang testing capacity natin agad (When we had the first imported case of COVID-19, we could have already boosted our testing capacity), Roque added.

The country only had one COVID-19 laboratory in January. As of July 7, licensed RT-PCR laboratories across the country have reached 78. The Palace official said the government is improving its COVID-19 testing, treatment, and contact tracing to better the response against the virus.

The Duterte Administration also called on the public, local government, and business establishments to be more responsible in following minimum health standards including social distancing, wearing face masks, and hand washing.

Roque also announced the government will further boost its targeted testing.

Bukod po sa 10 million na naorder natin at 1 million na na-deliver na PCR testing, magkakaroon ng mas malawak na targeted testing na iaanunsyo po natin sa mga darating na panahon (Aside from the 10 million we ordered and the 1 million PCR testing that has been delivered, there will be wider targeted testing which we will announce soon), he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

QC to conduct contact tracing after mayor tests positive for COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2020

The Quezon City’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (QCESU) on Thursday said it will conduct a contact tracing on those who recently had direct contact with Mayor Joy Belmonte and two other employees who tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

QCESU head Dr. Rolly Cruz said employees who had contact with Belmonte and the two other staff will undergo swab testing, especially those working on the third and 14th floors of the city hall.

“Other people who had direct contact with the Mayor and the two other employees, including visitors, will also undergo swab testing,” Cruz said.

“Employees who will be tested need to undergo home quarantine until results are released as part of protocol,” said Cruz, adding that results will be out in three days.

Belmonte earlier said she is not manifesting symptoms of COVID-19 and that her office have already been closed for disinfection.

Other parts of the city hall will also undergo sanitation but operations will remain normal as not all employees came in direct contact with the mayor in the past few days.

Belmonte also assured she will continue to discharge her duties and functions as mayor even under quarantine through various alternative work arrangements.

Duterte on reopening the economy: ‘We cannot afford to gamble’

Marje Pelayo   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The country is not yet ready to fully reopen its economy, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Chief Executive said the government is doing the process gradually, otherwise the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections would spike that could lead to a bigger problem.

He said he cannot follow the example of other countries because the Philippines does not have as much resources if the situation gets worse.

“Tayong pobre we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. Mahirap tayo. Hindi tayo puwedeng sumugal (As a poor country, we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. We are poor. We cannot afford to gamble),” the President said during his public address on Tuesday evening (July 7).

President Duterte cited situations in the United States and Brazil where despite being powerful and wealthy, are not spared from the impact of the pandemic.

“Although they opened their economy for money to come into the government coffers, there was a spike. They were having a problem of almost a relapse — in the totality of the number,” he added.

Meanwhile, the President expressed doubts that the country has entered the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.

“Now we do not even know if the number of 34, 178 of active cases is still a part of the first wave or have we arrived at the second wave. I don’t think so. We are still grappling with the first wave,” he argued.

He urged Filipinos to obey strict health protocols and have more patience as the government works to combat the pandemic.

Mga kababayan ko, ako mismo gusto ko nang lumabas. Ayoko nang magpapigil. Kung gusto ko nga makipag-away na ako. Ang problema iyon ang gusto ko, pero ang gusto ko ay hindi makakabuti sa ating lahat,” he said.

(My fellow countrymen, I personally I want to go out. I don’t want to be barred from doing so. I am even ready to fight over this. The problem is, what I want is not good for everyone.)

“We have to be very circumspect in reopening the economy. Dahan-dahan lang (Let’s do it gradually), because if you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases would happen, then we are in deep s***. Talagang mahirapan tayo (We will seriously struggle),” he said. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

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