• Russia cases top 1 million, 4th country to do so
  • New hotspots emerge in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Alabama
  • India new cases slow after week of record gains
  • Sweden considers new local restrictions
  • WHO warns countries can’t just abandon COVID protections
  • Obese people at much higher risk of death, study shows
  • Hong Kong pressures residents to submit to testing scheme

* * *

Russia has finally surpassed 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, becoming the fourth country on earth to pass the 1 million milestone, even as the number of new cases reported daily continues to slow. Public health officials reported 4,729 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 1,000,048. The death toll increased by 123 to 17,299, a strikingly low mortality rate, even as many experts suspect that Russia has dramatically undercounted deaths.

Russia is now behind only the US, Brazil and India for largest outbreak in the world.

Nearly 25.5 million cases of the virus have been confirmed around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Overnight, the global death toll topped 850k, as the global death toll as of Tuesday morning was 850,535 people. Some 16.8 million people have recovered.

Epidemiologists and viral disease experts like Dr. Scott Gottlieb have criticized the Trump Administration for shifting toward a “herd immunity” approach that many have said could lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths. On Tuesday, the WHO’s Dr. Tedros warned that “no country can simply pretend the pandemic is over,” an oblique insult to the US.

Despite fears about the CCP collecting and storing DNA from Hong Kong dissidents, Chief Executive Carrie Lam encouraged the city’s 7 million-plus citizens to get tested for COVID-19 via a new mass testing drive organized by the city, with the help of the mainland.

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On the mainland, Chinese students began to return to their classrooms following 2 weeks without a single locally transmitted case.

The large-scale testing would help people understand that the screening “isn’t as painful or as difficult as they imagine,” Lam insisted.

After reporting a string of global single-day records for new cases, India’s tally is nearing 3.7 million, as millions of masked students sat for college admission exams after the government refused to delay them. Meanwhile India, which has the third-highest case count and third-worst death toll, reported 69,921 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, its lowest in six days.

Finally, Obese and overweight people are at high risk of suffering severe cases of the virus, according to a new French study that effectively confirmed what we already knew. Research presented at a conference this week shows how carrying extra pounds can put patients at a higher risk of COVID-induced death.

While it’s tempting to declare victory over the US outbreak as the number of new cases continues to slow along the Sun Belt, it looks like more hot spots are emerging in the Midwest and parts of the deep south, as Alabama, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa see record numbers of new cases.

A team of Bank of America analysts pointed out that although the nationwide 7-day average positivity ratio has fallen from 6.2% to 5.8%, state-level data clearly point to outbreaks in Alabama, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. These four states have the most new cases per capita over the last week, as well as the largest seven-day change in new cases per capita – not to mention the highest positivity ratios, north of 18%, which have risen sharply in all four states.

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As we head into flu season, if these cases do not drop significantly below current levels, the probability of a large surge increases.

Circling back to Europe, Sweden is ready to impose stricter rules on local communities in the event of sudden Covid-19 outbreaks, but said it remains committed to its broader national strategy of limited restrictions on movement.

As case numbers in France and Spain continue to climb, Sweden has jumped on a European bandwagon favoring locally targeted measures over sweeping national efforts to try and stamp out new infections.

“To deal with the local outbreaks that we fear may happen, regional authorities could issue stricter recommendations if needed,” Johan Carlson, the director-general of Sweden’s Public Health Agency, said on Tuesday.

Guidelines to tackle local outbreaks could include more restrictive work-from-home rules and a return to online education for Sweden’s schoolchildren. Limitations on public gatherings, and closures of public transport, could also factor in.

Via Zerohedge