Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: Global COVID-19 deaths hit 4 million amid rush to vaccinate

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Thursday, July 8, 2021
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NEW YORK (WABC) -- The global death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed 4 million Wednesday as the crisis increasingly becomes a race between the vaccine and the highly contagious delta variant.

The tally of lives lost over the past year and a half, as compiled from official sources by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the number of people killed in battle in all of the world's wars since 1982, according to estimates from the Peace Research Institute Oslo.

With the advent of the vaccine, deaths per day have plummeted to around 7,900, after topping out at over 18,000 a day in January.

But in recent weeks, the mutant delta version of the virus first identified in India has set off alarms around the world, spreading rapidly even in vaccination success stories like the U.S., Britain and Israel.

The U.S. and other wealthy countries have agreed to share at least 1 billion doses with struggling countries.

Here are more of today's headlines:

Weekly deaths at lowest level since October

The World Health Organization says the number of coronavirus cases ticked up worldwide last week even as the weekly count of COVID-19 deaths dropped to the lowest level since October. The U.N. health agency, in its latest weekly epidemiological report on the pandemic, also said on Wednesday that its 53-country European region reported a "sharp increase" - 30% - in infection incidence, while Africa registered a 23% rise in mortality from COVID-19 during the period. All WHO regions except the Americas -- one of the hardest-hit regions -- and southeast Asia posted an increase in deaths over the last week, the agency said in a statement. More than 2.6 million new COVID-19 cases were reported between June 28 and July 4, a slight increase on the previous week, while the tally of deaths registered over the week declined 7% to 54,000, WHO said. That was the lowest such weekly figure since October.

NY extends outdoor dining statewide

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation extending outdoor dining permissions for restaurants statewide.

Javits Center, 2 other mass vaccination sites to close on July 9

Javits Center and two other mass vaccination sites in New York are set to close this week. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that three mass vaccination sites will close on Friday, July 9, as part of an ongoing downscaling that will allow the state to focus on local vaccination efforts. As a result, mass vaccination sites at the Javits Center, Suffolk County Community College - Brentwood and SUNY Ulster will all close at the end of the week.

Disney on Broadway announces 4-show benefit

Disney on Broadway has announced a four-show "Live for the New Am" benefit concert for The Actors Fund to help entertainers who have been left out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tickets are now on sale for the shows, which will feature Disney on Broadway's most beloved songs performed by the stars of the hit musicals. It celebrates the reopening of Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre and honors the remarkable support that The Actors Fund has provided to members of the industry.

NJ has zero death day

For the first time since March 2020, New Jersey on Tuesday reported zero new COVID deaths. There was one death reported Wednesday, and eight over the past week to bring the state total to 2,709.

'Summer Rising' school program kicks off in NYC

Tuesday marked the start of New York City's "Summer Rising" program, a new alternative to summer school for students. It is a brand new program combining aspects of summer camp and summer school under one roof. The idea is to give more city school kids something to do this summer, but it is already running into some problems. Principals say many of their schools are already overcrowded and understaffed, after the city guaranteed enrollment without a plan to properly place everyone.

Party all night? NYC's Office of Nightlife wants 24-hour districts

The city that never sleeps could live up to its name under a New York City agency's proposal for 24-hour entertainment districts where revelers can party all night. The city's Office of Nightlife is recommending that officials identify areas with low residential density "where a limited 24-hour program might be tested." The recommendation is contained in a 160-page report issued this month by the nightlife office.

"Cities around the world are expanding the way institutions and businesses can operate at night, as limitations on closing hours have pushed latenight activity to unlicensed venues, sometimes coming into conflict with residential uses," the report says. "Uniform closing hours for nightlife businesses can result in groups of people congregating in the street, elevating tensions between patrons and residents."

Shakespeare in the Park back on stage in Central Park

The iconic Shakespeare in the Park is back in New York City with new guidelines. The theatrical program will limit capacity to 1,000 audience members at the Delacorte Theater beginning Tuesday. The outdoor theater normally seats 1,800. This season, theatergoers will enjoy "Merry Wives," a fresh and joyous adaptation by Jocelyn Bioh of Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor." The show will run from July 6 to Sept. 18, three weeks longer than originally scheduled.

Poll among unvaccinated Americans

The CDC reports 67% of adults in the United States have had one dose and 58% are fully vaccinated. A new ABC News-Washington Post poll finds that among those unvaccinated, 74% say they're unlikely to get a shot. President Joe Biden called Americans to action and asked them to get the vaccine.

"My fellow Americans, it's the most patriotic thing you can do," he said. "So please, if you haven't gotten vaccinated, do it. Do it now."

The call to action is all the more urgent with the highly contagious Delta variant now identified in all 50 states and accounting for more than 26% of new COVID cases nationwide.

Staten Island communities among highest COVID positivity rates in NYC

New York City may be starting to celebrate the end of the pandemic, but some communities on Staten Island are proving it's not over yet. There are 145 zip codes in New York City, and the one with the highest rate of COVID positivity is 10308 on Staten Island, a stretch of strip malls and single-family homes in the Great Kills section, where the positivity rate is above 5%. So why is COVID surging here? Well, that's COVID.

"It's an opportunist," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi said. "It goes to places where it has a chance to spread."

NYC vaccination rates by zip code

There are about a dozen communities in the New York City area where three out of four people have not been vaccinated yet. 7 On Your Side Investigates created a map where the darkest colored zip codes have the most vaccinated New Yorkers and the lightest, the least.

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