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How The First And Second Waves Of Covid-19 In The UK Compare So Far

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When Boris Johnson took to our screens on Saturday to tell us that, for the second time this year, England was going into lockdown, the sense of déjà vu was crushing.

The tactics taken by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19 might be similar – but is the UK’s second wave of coronavirus any more under control than the first when it comes to case numbers or messaging from ministers? To put it another way: are we in an even slightly better position this time round?

Here’s what you need to know.

Lockdowns

March 23 is a date many of us will remember for a long time – the day the prime minister told us that the UK was going into lockdown, with an unprecedented set of restrictions placed on Brits’ freedoms.

“Stay at home,” the public were told, with all but non-essential travel banned and all but the most key shops and services closed.

The rules stated that everyone should work at home if they could and restricted exercise outdoors to once a day.

Mixing with anyone outside of your own household was banned, while people with conditions that could make them more vulnerable to coronavirus were told to “shield” at home.

The PM said that the restrictions would be reviewed after three weeks – but in reality, most stayed in place until July.

In some parts of England, local restrictions mean residents have had very little respite from lockdown since March.

Amid the second wave of infections, the government’s strategy has not been so straightforward.

Despite being told by its own board of scientific advisers in late September that a “circuit-breaker” lockdown was needed across the UK to curb the spread of the virus, Boris Johnson and his ministers pressed on with their three-tier system of rules:

Tier 1: Rule of six in place, bars and restaurants open to groups of different households, but 10pm curfew in place 

Tier 2: Rule of six in place outside, but no household mixing inside, including in restaurants and bars. 10pm curfew in place. 

Tier 3: No household mixing inside or outside. Pubs and bars must close unless they serve “substantial” meals. 

However, even though millions and millions of people in England were under tier 2 and tier 3 restrictions, Covid-19 infections continued to rise.

It was only on October 31 that Johnson took the plunge and announced a second national lockdown for England, starting on November 5 and finishing December 2.

Michael Gove, who is part of Johnson’s cabinet, has already admitted that restriction could be extended past the start of December.

He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “With a virus this malignant, and with its capacity to move so quickly, it would be foolish to predict with absolute certainty what will happen in four weeks’ time, when over the course of the last two weeks its rate, its infectiousness and its malignancy have grown.”

Cases



Daily Covid-19 cases in the UK

According to official government data, the highest number of Covid-19 cases recorded on a single day during the first wave was 6,201.

However, the real peak in cases is likely to have been much, much higher, with the UK racing to increase its testing capacity in the early weeks and months of the pandemic.

In short – lots of people who had the virus were not tested.

In mid-April, when coronavirus deaths were at their highest, fewer than 30,000 tests were being processed each day.

It wasn’t until the middle of May that the government announced that anyone with coronavirus symptoms – not just key workers – could get a coronavirus test.

By the end of October, as many as 347,000 tests were being processed daily – a huge increase from the first wave.

Accordingly, the number of positive tests has also soared during the second surge in infections.

Since October 3, daily cases have not dipped below 12,500 and have exceed 20,000 on 15 separate days.

On October 21, 26,688 new cases were reported in the UK – the highest on record.

To date, more than one million people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK, the ninth-highest figure for any country in the world.

However, this ranking is likely to be skewed by countries that have invested less in expanding their testing capacity.

Test and Trace

Back in May, Boris Johnson promised that England would have a “world-beating” test, track and trace system that would “change people’s lives”.

Under the new system, people who tested positive for coronavirus would be called by a contact tracer, who would ask for details about everyone they had been in close contact with in the previous days.

These people would then be told to self-isolate for two weeks, eliminating their chance of accidentally passing on the virus.

Baroness Dido Harding, who heads up NHS Test and Trace 



Baroness Dido Harding, who heads up NHS Test and Trace 

The “world-beating” NHS Test and Trace system promised by Johnson has yet to appear.

According to the latest statistics, in the week ending October 28, just 59.9% of cases in England were reached and told to self-isolate to stop the spread of the virus – down from 60.6% the week before.

It means that two-fifths of people who have been in contact with someone with Covid-19 have not been reached – and therefore not told to self-isolate for 14 days.

A total of 131,136 known people were not reached in that week, meaning they were potentially spreading the virus asymptomatically.

Since the service began, some 598,930 close contacts have not been reached, compared to 1.2m who have.

On Thursday, justice secretary Robert Buckland defended the service, saying the month-long lockdown would be used to “redouble our efforts” to expand the NHS Test and Trace programme.

Covid-19 patients in hospital

Covid-19 patients in hospital in the UK



Covid-19 patients in hospital in the UK

During the first wave of Covid-19, the number of people with the virus in hospital in the UK peaked at 19,849 on April 12.

On this day, there were 3,301 people on ventilators – the highest number recorded during the pandemic.

The earliest figure available is for March 27, when there were 7,043 Covid patients in hospital. It took seven days for that to more than double to 14,729.

Neither the number of people with Covid-19 in hospital, nor the number on ventilators, has reached the worrying highs recorded during the first surge of the pandemic.

On November 4, there were 12,999 coronavirus patients in UK hospitals and 1,191 of these were in mechanical ventilation beds.

What’s more, the first figure is not quite double what it was on October 18 and the latter is approximately double what it was on October 16. That means hospital occupation has doubled in about 17 days.

However, with a four-week lockdown looming in England amid spiralling Covid-19 infections, the numbers of patients in the country’s hospitals at the start of the first and second lockdowns make for an interesting comparison.

The government has not published data about how many people with coronavirus were in hospital in England when Johnson announced the first lockdown on March 23.

However, four days later on March 27, the country’s hospitals were occupied by 3,097 Covid-19 patients.

On October 31, when the PM made another address to the nation to tell them they would locking down for four weeks over November, there were already 9,213 people with the virus in hospital in England.

On Wednesday, Professor Stephen Powis – who is NHS England’s national medical director – warned that the north-west was “particularly under pressure”.

“That translates into the highest number of admissions [being] in the north-west,” he said.

“But […] infection rates are now rising and rising faster in the south, [and] hospital admissions are beginning to rise in the south of the country too.”

Deaths

Daily Covid-19 deaths in the UK



Daily Covid-19 deaths in the UK

In the immediate aftermath of the UK’s first lockdown being announced, coronavirus deaths rose rapidly.

On March 23, the day of lockdown, the deaths of 76 people suffering with Covid-19 were recorded.

Just 15 days later, the daily death toll had surged above the 1,000 mark.

Then, on April 21, the deaths of 1,224 people with coronavirus were recorded by the government – the highest on any day during the first wave of the virus.

But the daily death toll remained high throughout April, exceeding 1,000 on nine separate occasions.

If those figures seem higher than you remember, that’s because they are. Deaths in care homes and the community, recorded separately for most of April, were backdated and added to the daily totals at the end of that month. The public daily deaths announcements had only covered hospitals up to that point.

Deaths have yet to reach the tragic daily highs recorded in the spring – but fatalities are on the increase.

With deaths beginning to rise once more from the middle of September, daily fatalities once again began to breach the 100 mark in October.

On November 4, the daily death toll reached 492 – the highest number of deaths recorded since May.

What has changed, though, is the rate at which deaths have gone up. In the run-up to the first lockdown, daily recorded deaths passed 50 for the first time on March 21. Just 11 days later they breached 500, hitting 672.

It is now more than a month since they passed 50 during the second wave (71 recorded on September 29), and they have yet to hit 500, 38 days on.

Unfortunately, that might not mean much. Speaking to MPs on Tuesday, the prime minister warned that scientific models showed that coronavirus deaths over the winter could be “twice as bad or more” compared to the first wave unless the government took action.

To date, nearly 48,500 people have died within 28 days of testing positive from Covid-19 in the UK, meaning the country has the fifth-highest death toll in the world, behind the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.

As with hospital numbers, whether the slower growth in death count means the second wave is less severe than the first or simply taking longer to unleash can’t be known because the graph has yet to level out. It’s worth noting that these figures are in line with the R rate, which is now at 1,1 to 1.3 and has never gone above 1.6 during the second wave.

It was estimated to be above 2 during the first wave, which is consistent with a more rapid virus spread.

Public messaging

Remember how simple the crucial “stay at home” message from the government was during the first lockdown? It did what it said on the tin.

However, with changing rules came changing messaging – and far more confusion.

As the UK began opening up again, “stay alert and control the virus” became the government’s new key catchphrase – but many were left asking what that actually meant.

“Control the virus” is still a central pillar in public messaging – and has been joined by the ”hands, face, space” slogan.

But with the three tier system of coronavirus restrictions in place until Thursday, the various set of restrictions in different areas of the country left many confused – especially about travel restrictions between areas.

Another significant change between the first and second waves of the virus is the lack of daily press conferences from the government and its key scientific and medical advisers.

During the first lockdown in the spring, the public got used to hearing from the likes of Boris Johnson, the chancellor Rishi Sunak, health secretary Matt Hancock, as well as chief medical officer Chris Whitty and his scientific counterpart Patrick Vallance.

But while there have been impromptu press conferences from Downing Street in recent months, there has been little discussion about whether these daily briefings could return over November.

Infographics by Statista





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Sex Toy Company Receives Award From Queen For ‘Outstanding Continuous Growth’

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British sex toy company Lovehoney has received a royal seal of approval.

The adult retailer was this week honored with The Queen’s Award for Enterprise “for outstanding continuous growth in overseas sales over the last six years,” per a press release on its website.

The accolade, announced by the official journal of record The London Gazette, allows the company in Bath, southwest England, to fly The Queen’s Awards flag at their office and use its emblem on marketing and packaging materials for five years. It also won the award in 2016.

“We are thrilled to have received official recognition from the Queen,” said Debbie Bond, Lovehoney’s chief commercial officer. “Her Majesty has been a wonderful supporter of Lovehoney as we have grown into being the world’s leading sexual wellness brand.”

“Royal patronage will help us to create more jobs at our Bath headquarters and in our international offices and spread the sexual happiness message globally,” added Bond, who said royal approval shows how shoppers “are embracing sexual wellness products as never before and appreciating their importance in improving overall well-being ― a particularly important message as we come out of lockdown after a stressful year living with the pandemic.”

The first Queen’s Awards — described on the United Kingdom government’s website as “the most prestigious awards for UK business” — were issued in 1966. This year, some 205 companies were honored for their work in innovation, international trade, sustainable development and promotion of opportunity through social mobility.





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Joe Rogan Admits He’s A ‘F**king Moron’ After Offering Selfish COVID-19 Vaccine Advice

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Wildly popular podcast host Joe Rogan admitted he’s a “f**king moron” and “not a respected source of information, even for me” when he addressed his selfish comments about young, healthy people not needing to get vaccinated from COVID-19.

Rogan, whose audience is in the hundreds of millions, drew backlash — and a rebuke from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert — when he said on an episode of his “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast released on Spotify last week that “if you’re a healthy person and you’re exercising all the time and you’re young and you’re eating well, I don’t think you need to worry about this.”

On Thursday, Rogan clarified in a video shared on YouTube that he was “not an anti-vaxx person.” “In fact, I said I believe they’re safe and I encourage many people to take them. My parents were vaccinated,” he explained. “I just said, ‘I don’t think that if you’re a young, healthy person that you need it.’ Their argument was, you need it for other people.”

“So you don’t transmit the other virus,” said his cohost.

“That makes more sense,” agreed Rogan. “But that’s a different argument. That’s a different conversation.”

Rogan, whose show was snapped up by Spotify in a $100 million deal last year, later attempted to explain away the comments by saying how he doesn’t plan what he says on air.

He’s often high or drinking alcohol during the shows, he said, before accusing “clickbaity” journalists of blowing his comments out of proportion.

“I’m not a doctor, I’m a fucking moron and I’m a cage fighting commentator who’s a dirty standup comedian who just told you I’m drunk most of the time and I do testosterone and I smoke a lot of weed but I’m not a respected source of information, even for me,” he said.

“If I say things, I’m always going ‘check on that Jamie, I don’t know if that’s true,’” Rogan added. “But I at least try to be honest about what I’m saying.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus



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Dozens Killed In Stampede At Jewish Religious Festival In Israel

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JERUSALEM (AP) — The director of an Israeli ambulance service has confirmed that nearly 40 people died in a stampede at a religious festival in northern Israel.

Eli Beer, director of Hatzalah, said he was shocked by the size of the crowd at the Lag BaOmer celebrations at Mount Meron. Police were quoted as saying some 100,000 people were there.

He told Army Radio that there were four to five times the number of people that should have entered a location like this. “Close to 40 people died as a result of this tragedy,” he said.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS EVENT. AP’s earlier story is below.

A stampede broke out early Friday at a Jewish religious gathering attended by tens of thousands of people in northern Israel, leaving 150 hospitalized, authorities said. Israeli media reported that as many as 44 people were killed and published photos of rows of bodies.

The disaster occurred at Mount Meron at the main celebrations of Lag BaOmer, a holiday when tens of thousands of people, mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews, gather to honor Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd century sage and mystic who is buried there. Large crowds traditionally light bonfires, pray and dance as part of the celebrations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “great tragedy,” and said everyone was praying for the victims.

 The incident happened after midnight, and the cause of the stampede was not immediately clear. Videos circulating on social media showed large numbers of ultra-Orthodox Jews packed together in tight spaces.

A 24-year-old witness, identified only by his first name Dvir, told the Army Radio station that “masses of people were pushed into the same corner and a vortex was created.” He said a first row of people fell down, and then a second row, where he was standing, also began to fall down from the pressure of the stampede.

“I felt like I was about to die,” he said.

Zaki Heller, spokesman for the Magen David Adom rescue service, said 150 people had been hospitalized and confirmed there had been some deaths. Army Radio, citing anonymous medical officials, said the death toll had risen to 44.

Heller told the station “no one had ever dreamed” something like this could happen. “In one moment, we went from a happy event to an immense tragedy,” he said.

Photos from the scene showed rows of wrapped bodies.

The Israeli military said it had dispatched medics and search and rescue teams along with helicopters to assist with a “mass casualty incident” in the area. It did not provide details on the nature of the disaster.

It was the first huge religious gathering to be held legally since Israel lifted nearly all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. The country has seen cases plummet since launching one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns late last year.

Health authorities had nevertheless warned against holding such a large gathering.

But when the celebrations started, the Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, police chief Yaakov Shabtai and other top officials visited the event and met with police, who had deployed 5,000 extra forces to maintain order.

Ohana, a close ally of Netanyahu, thanked police for their hard work and dedication “for protecting the well-being and security for the many participants” as he wished the country a happy holiday.

Netanyahu is struggling to form a governing coalition ahead of a Tuesday deadline, and the national tragedy is sure to complicate those efforts.





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Gabrielle Union Talks Baby Kaavia’s Free Spirit: ‘Shade Is Her Super Power’

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Gabrielle Union recently talked about her daughter, Kaavia James, and her funny “shady” moments, characterizing those times as her 2-year-old’s “super power.”

“Shade is her super power because when Kaavia gives you a look, it’s either you’re not respecting her boundaries or something is happening that she doesn’t like,” the actor told People in an interview published Wednesday.

Union and her retired NBA star husband, Dwyane Wade, welcomed Kaavia in November 2018.

The couple has since poked fun at the toddler’s occasional adorably shady facial expressions — and hilarious side-eyes — like when a photo of Kaavia seated on a couch looking pensive and slightly unbothered became a meme last year.

Or when the little one looked less than pleased with the outcome of her face paint design at her second birthday party:

Inspired by Kaavia’s witty personality, Wade and Union created an Instagram account for the little girl, often using the hashtag ”#Shadybaby” in the posts’ captions. The couple also collaborated to write a Kaavia-influenced children’s book titled “Shady Baby” due for release next month.

Union explained in Wednesday’s People interview that she celebrates Kaavia’s freedom to be her authentic self amid a long history of harmful ways Black women and girls have been treated in society.

“The main takeaway is that she’s free to be this amazing, dynamic, shady at times, loving at times Black little girl when the world has not been so kind to Black girls and women,” she added.

In addition to Kaavia, Wade is father to Zaya, Zaire and Xavier. Union and Wade also parent his nephew Dahveon Morris.

Wade told People that he and Union make a point to encourage their children to be their true selves.

“If we allow our kids to be their true selves we don’t have to worry about them conforming with anything or anyone,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we push our kids to be their authentic selves?”

Last month, Kaavia took a side-eyeing break to enjoy a sweet play date with 2-year-old Cairo, the daughter of actors Tia Mowry and Cory Hardrict.

After some hugs, Kaavia generously took Cairo for a spin in her toddler-sized electric car:





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Anne Heche Says Ellen DeGeneres Didn’t Want Her To ‘Dress Sexy’

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Anne Heche took an unexpected swipe at former girlfriend Ellen DeGeneres this week during an online fashion retrospective.

In a short TikTok video Tuesday, Heche looked back at some of her favorite looks from years past, including the 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards and a memorable “Dancing with the Stars” routine from last fall.

The actor’s enthusiasm for nostalgia, however, notably dipped when she came upon a photo of her and DeGeneres from the 1998 Golden Globe Awards. The pair appear to have color-coordinated their outfits, with DeGeneres in a navy suit and Heche in a blue velvet gown and matching coat.

“Why do I look like a hippie? It’s because Ellen didn’t want me to dress sexy,” Heche, who has starred in films like “Donnie Brasco” and “Six Days, Seven Nights,” declared. After giving the look a zero out of 10 and a thumbs down, she added, “Bye, no!”

Heche and DeGeneres dated from 1997 to 2000. During their time together, the women were among Hollywood’s most-buzzed-about same-sex couples.

The former couple has remained mostly tight-lipped about the specifics of their relationship in the media. Heche, however, touched on her ex in a number of interviews timed to her appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” last year.

Chatting with Mr. Warburton magazine last year, she recalled angering Hollywood executives when she brought DeGeneres as her date to the premiere of 1997’s “Volcano.”

“I was told by Fox Studio executives that if I brought Ellen to the premiere, my contract would be terminated,” she told the publication. “I brought Ellen despite those threats, and we were escorted out of the theater before the lights came on by security and not allowed to attend the premiere party because they did not want any photos of us together.”



Ellen DeGeneres (left) and Anne Heche at the 1998 Golden Globe Awards.

“I was a part of a revolution that created social change,” she added, “and I could not have done that without falling in love with her.”

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight last October, Heche noted that she hadn’t spoken to DeGeneres “in years,” but would be open to a reunion under the right circumstances.

“With relationships, I think many of us have [been there], you come to a fork in the road, ‘What do you want and what do I want?’” she said. “Those goals, that intent in life, is determined by the individual. Her intent and my intent were different and that’s why we separated.”



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Elliot Page Emotionally Shares What’s Given Him The Most Joy Since Coming Out As Trans

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Elliot Page is sharing the moment that has brought him the most joy since he announced he was a transgender man in December 2020.

In a peek at an interview with Oprah Winfrey slated for release on her Apple TV+ series “The Oprah Conversation” on Friday, the 34-year-old said that he’s found “the most joy.”

“Getting out of the shower and the towel’s around your waist and you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you’re just like, ‘There I am.’ And I’m not having the moment where I’m panicked,” he said, before breaking down in tears. “It’s being able to touch my chest and feel comfortable in my body for the — probably the first time.”

The actor added his tears were “tears of joy.”

Earlier this year, Page talked to Time magazine about his decision to get top surgery and described the experience as something that allowed for him to recognize himself. Page recalled puberty as “total hell” and told the publication that the surgery “has completely transformed my life.”

He also told the publication that he spent much of his energy being uncomfortable with his body and the surgery has helped bring that energy back.

Page notably came out to fans last year with a heartfelt Instagram post, sharing that he would be using the pronouns “he” and “they” and said: “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.”

He went on to say: “I love that I am trans,” Page wrote. “And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive.”  



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India Adds Another 379,257 Virus Cases As Vaccines Open To All Adults

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India set another global record in new virus cases Thursday, as millions of people in one state cast votes despite rising infections and the country geared up to open its vaccination rollout to all adults amid snags.

With 379,257 new infections, India now has reported more than 18.3 million cases, second only to the United States. The Health Ministry also reported 3,645 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 204,832. Experts believe both figures are an undercount, but it’s unclear by how much.

India has set a daily global record for seven of the past eight days, with a seven-day moving average of nearly 350,000 infections. Daily deaths have nearly tripled in the past three weeks, reflecting the intensity of the latest surge. And the country’s already teetering health system is under immense strain, prompting multiple allies to send help.

A country of nearly 1.4 billion people, India had thought the worst was over when cases ebbed in September. But mass public gatherings such as political rallies and religious events that were allowed to continue, and relaxed attitudes on the risks fed by leaders touting victory over the virus led to what now has become a major humanitarian crisis, health experts say. New variants of the coronavirus have also partly led the surge.

Amid the crisis, voting for the eighth and final phase of the West Bengal state elections began Thursday, even as the devastating surge of infections continues to barrel across the country with a ferocious speed, filling crematoriums and graveyards.



A coronavirus patient is shifted to a ward after admission at GTB hospital in New Delhi on April 29, 2021. 

More than 8 million people are expected to vote in at least 11,860 polling stations across the state. Election Commission has said social distancing measures would be in place.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have faced criticism over the last few weeks for holding huge election rallies in the state, which health experts suggest might have driven the surge there too. Other political parties also participated in rallies.

The state recorded more than 17,000 cases in the last 24 hours — its highest spike since the pandemic began.

Starting Wednesday, all Indians 18 and older were allowed to register on a government app for vaccinations, but social media were flooded with complaints the app had crashed due to high use, and once it was working again, no appointments were available.

The vaccinations are supposed to start Saturday, but India, one of the world’s biggest producers of vaccines, does not yet have enough doses for everyone. Even the ongoing effort to inoculate people above 45 is stuttering.

One state, Maharashtra, has already said it won’t be able to start on Saturday.

Since January, nearly 10% of Indians have received one jab, but only around 1.5% have received both required doses.

Amid the acute shortage of oxygen and other hospital supplies, the White House said the U.S. will send more than $100 million worth of items, including 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests. It said they will begin arriving Thursday, just days after President Joe Biden promised to step up assistance.

The U.S. and Britain have already sent a shipment of medical items. France, Germany, Russia, Ireland and Australia have also promised help.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has advised its citizens to leave India. An alert on the U.S. Embassy’s website warned that “access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus



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