“The government is saying the pandemic is not over, but they’re acting increasingly like the pandemic is over,” Benjamin Mueller, a reporter in the London bureau, told us.
More than 500,000 people were “pinged” by the National Health Service’s test-and-trace app in the first week of July, informing them that they had a close contact who tested positive. The “pingdemic” has caused staff shortages in workplaces, and most employers are keeping a return to office voluntary.
“They’ve just put a lot on ordinary people to try to protect themselves and figure out their risk level,” Ben said. “It’s a sort of new phase of things where the legal restrictions are largely gone. The government is talking a lot about personal responsibility.”
Though cases fueled by the Delta variant are skyrocketing, deaths are not. More than two-thirds of adults are fully vaccinated, with significantly higher rates among older and more vulnerable people.
“Even as cases have soared, hospitalizations are a much smaller proportion of those cases than they used to be, which is reassuring and means that the vaccines are working really effectively,” Ben said.
Unlike the U.S., England slowly opened up vaccines to younger age groups as more doses became available. Young adults only recently became eligible.
“What it’s meant is that young people have waited longer to be vaccinated, but the country has been more successful than the U.S. at protecting vulnerable people,” Ben said.
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, now has the world’s highest count of new infections, with nearly 57,000 new cases reported on Friday. The true count is probably three to six times that figure, experts say.
The highly contagious Delta variant is causing a meteoric rise in infections on the islands of Java and Bali. Hospitals are overwhelmed, with thousands of people sleeping in hallways, tents and cars as they wait for an open bed. Officials estimate that 10 percent of health care workers are in isolation after exposure.
“If we go to the hospital, we have to bring our own oxygen,” said Nyimas Siti Nadia, 28, who is trying to help her aunt’s family get treatment. At one hospital in the city of Yogyakarta, 33 patients died this month after the central oxygen supply ran out.
Only about 15 percent of Indonesia’s 270 million people have received a vaccine dose, and only 6 percent are fully vaccinated. Indonesia has also relied heavily on the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, which has proved less effective than other shots. At least 20 Indonesian doctors who were fully vaccinated with Sinovac have died from the virus. Meanwhile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand are also facing their largest outbreaks to date.
After lagging for months in vaccination rates, Canada surpassed the U.S.
Some local governments in China have begun requiring that entire families be vaccinated before their children can return to school.
South Korea began vaccinating high school seniors and staff members.
The Olympic Games
A coronavirus cluster has overshadowed the run-up to the Games, as a U.S. gymnast tested positive.
The beds at the Tokyo Olympics are cardboard. Counter to rumors, that’s not a Covid precaution against sex.
What else we’re following
President Biden backed off a claim that Facebook was “killing people” by allowing the spread of misinformation.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York rejected an indoor mask mandate despite a rise in cases.
Five Texas Democrats who fled their state to stall a voting bill tested positive in Washington.
Australia will deport a British commentator for flouting quarantine.
As New York City reopens, it’s looking to the arts to help lead its recovery.
What you’re doing
On a Saturday night a couple of weeks ago, driving with another couple into N.Y.C. to have dinner, we found ourselves in a slow crawl on the helix to the Lincoln Tunnel, and major traffic after that: An hour-and-fifteen-minute drive turned into a two-and-a-half-hour drive. With memories of a deserted Times Square and city streets seared into my brain, the traffic and the crowds never looked so good.
—Bonnie Schultz, Princeton, N.J.
Let us know how you’re dealing with the pandemic. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.
Email your thoughts to email@example.com.