That is the highest single-day increase in cases since the beginning of Utah’s pandemic, but no new deaths were reported Thursday.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert called Thursday’s numbers a “red flag warning.” State leaders will be meeting in the coming days to formulate a plan of action moving forward, the governor said.
“Today is not one of those good news days,” he said Thursday during the state’s weekly COVID-19 news conference.
Herbert had just left an emergency meeting of the state’s unified command for COVID-19 response, during which state officials discussed plans to address Utah’s recent surge in cases.
COVID-19 testing has lagged in recent weeks, so in an effort to increase testing, state leaders are looking to make testing available for anyone who wants one, regardless of if they have a symptom of the disease, Herbert said. The state will be making an announcement about that process in the next few days, he added.
The state has received several requests from counties across Utah who are seeking to change their color-coded restriction status, Herbert said. Due to Thursday’s record-breaking number of new cases, the state is suspending that process, and those change requests will be put on hold until at least next week, he said.
State leaders want to make sure they are considering all the data and not making a premature decision regarding county restriction changes, so they will avoid having to roll back restrictions in the future, Herbert added.
State leaders will be considering other possible restrictions in the coming days to stop the spread of COVID-19 and slow down the state’s current spike, the governor added.
“Everything is on the table,” Herbert said.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn provided a COVID-19 update at a news conference Thursday. Watch the replay of the event below.
Thursday’s increase of 911 cases is the state’s highest single-day increase of the pandemic, followed by an increase of 867 cases on July 10. The state reported 954 more cases on July 16, but some of those cases were actually from tests conducted weeks before.
There are currently an estimated 10,113 active cases of COVID-19 in Utah — the first time that number has been in quintuple digits since Aug. 7. The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 661, according to the health department. That is the second-highest seven-day rolling average reported in Utah so far, according to Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.
“What makes this so alarming is that we have gotten to this peak of a seven-day rolling average of 661 new cases in one week,” she said.
During Utah’s first summer COVID-19 spike shortly after Memorial Day, it took nearly six weeks for the state to see a rolling-average at a similar level, Dunn added.
The rolling seven-day average for positive test rate per day is now 11.9%, which is the highest positivity rate reported in Utah’s pandemic so far, Dunn said.
The new numbers indicate a 1.5% increase in positive cases since Wednesday. Of the 735,138 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 8.3% have tested positive for COVID-19. The state reported an increase of 5,447 tests conducted as of Thursday.
There are currently 120 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Utah, including 54 in intensive care unit, or ICU, beds in the state. About 69% of ICU beds in the state are occupied as of Thursday, while about 56% of non-ICU hospital beds are filled.
Thursday’s totals give Utah 60,658 total confirmed cases, with 3,401 total hospitalizations and 437 total deaths from the disease. A total of 50,108 Utah COVID-19 cases are now considered recovered, according to the health department.
About 40% of all COVID-19 cases in Utah over the past week have been from Utah County, despite that county containing only about 20% of the total population of the state, according to Dunn.
Some parts of Utah County have COVID-19 infection rates of 1,400 cases per 100,000 people, which is six times the state’s overall infection rate, she added. The state is on pace to match or exceed infection rates that were previously recorded in New York City and the Navajo Nation — two of the hardest-hit places in the continental United States during the pandemic, Dunn said.
Dunn noted that in Utah’s earlier COVID-19 spike that took place shortly after Memorial Day, there were initial increases of cases among the 15-24 age group. But cases quickly spread to other age groups and more vulnerable populations, leading to more hospitalizations and deaths, she said.
The current spike appears to be following a similar pattern so far, Dunn added. The first part of the surge was mostly among the 15-24 age group, but over the past few days, there have been increases across all the age groups in Utah, she said.
“We need to take immediate action to prevent unnecessary illnesses and deaths in this state,” Dunn said.
Herbert said the increased infections among younger age groups should act as a “canary in the coal mine” warning that things could get worse.
Some college students in Utah County tend to have a “you can’t tell me what to do” attitude, Herbert said. While that is the attitude of just a few and not the majority of the students, it’s not the right way to behave, the governor said.
“This battle is not going to be over anytime soon,” he said.
Herbert on Thursday reiterated his commitment to avoiding a “one size fits all” approach for COVID-19 response in Utah.
Leaders at the state level will look to local elected officials and health districts to lead the response in their areas moving forward, he said. They should make the best decisions for their specific areas based on the best science and data available to them, the governor added.
“We don’t want to overreact, we don’t want to underreact,” he said.
State and local leaders can make policy changes or recommend safety guidelines, but if people don’t modify their behavior now, “the pandemic will just run wild,” Herbert said.
The governor thanked those Utahns who have been doing their part by wearing masks while in public and socially distancing. He said that if people out there haven’t been doing their part, now is the time to start.
“We are taking this very seriously and we want you out there to take this seriously too,” Herbert said.
Test results now include data from PCR tests and antigen tests. Positive COVID-19 test results are reported to the health department immediately after they are confirmed, but negative test results may not be reported for 24 to 72 hours.
The total number of cases reported by the Utah Department of Health each day includes all cases of COVID-19 since Utah’s outbreak began, including those who are currently infected, those who have recovered from the disease, and those who have died.
Recovered cases are defined as anyone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 three or more weeks ago and has not died.
Deaths reported by the state typically occurred two to seven days prior to when they are reported, according to the health department. Some deaths may be from even further back, especially if the person is from Utah but has died in another state.
The health department reports both confirmed and probable COVID-19 case deaths per the case definition outlined by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. The death counts are subject to change as case investigations are completed.
Data included in this story primarily reflects the state of Utah as a whole. For more localized data, visit your local health district’s website.
Information is from the Utah Department of Health and coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts. For more information on how the Utah Department of Health compiles and reports COVID-19 data, visit coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts and scroll down to the “Data Notes” section at the bottom of the page.
As I reported on June 23, Apple has fixed a serious problem in iOS 14, due in the fall, where apps can secretly access the clipboard on users’ devices. Once the new OS is released, users will be warned whenever an app reads the last thing copied to the clipboard. As I warned earlier this year, this is more than a theoretical risk for users, with countless apps already caught abusing their privacy in this way.
Worryingly, one of the apps caught snooping by security researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk was China’s TikTok. Given other security concerns raised about the app, as well as broader worries given its Chinese origins, this became a headline issue. At the time, TikTok owner Bytedance told me the problem related to the use of an outdated Google advertising SDK that was being replaced.
Well, maybe not. With the release of the new clipboard warning in the beta version of iOS 14, now with developers, TikTok seems to have been caught abusing the clipboard in a quite extraordinary way. So it seems that TikTok didn’t stop this invasive practice back in April as promised after all.
Worse, the excuse has now changed.
According to the Telegraph, TikTok now says the issue its caused by “a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior,” and has assured that it has “already submitted an updated version of the app to the App Store removing the anti-spam feature to eliminate any potential confusion.” Let me translate that for you: We’ve been caught doing something we shouldn’t, we’ve rushed out a patch.
TikTok also said that the platform “is committed to protecting users’ privacy and being transparent about how our app works.” No comment on that one.
When I covered the original TikTok clipboard issue, the company was adamant it was not their problem and related to an outdated library in their app. “The clipboard access issues,” a spokesperson told me, “showed up due to third-party SDKs, in our case an older version Google Ads SDK, so we do not get access to the information through this (presumably they do but we cannot speak to that). We are in the processes of updating so that the third-party SDK will no longer have access.”
TikTok assured me it was being fixed and questioned coverage that suggested this was an issue. “It’s a Google Ads SDK issue,” they assured again in a later email, “so we need to make the change in which version of that SDK we use. TikTok does not get access to the data, but we are updating regardless to resolve it.”
Now Apple’s welcome iOS 14 security and privacy changes have caught them red-handed still doing something they shouldn’t. Something they said was fixed. TikTok isn’t alone—other apps will now need to change deliberate or inadvertent clipboard access. But TikTok is the highest profile and most totemic of the apps caught out, given its prior coverage and wider issues.
The most acute issue with this vulnerability is Apple’s universal clipboard functionality, which means that anything I copy on my Mac or iPad can be read by my iPhone, and vice versa. So, if TikTok is active on your phone while you work, the app can basically read anything and everything you copy on another device: Passwords, work documents, sensitive emails, financial information. Anything.
Earlier in the year, when TikTok was first exposed, the security researchers acknowledged that there was no way to tell what the app might be doing with user data, and its abuse was lost in the mix of many others. Now it’s feeling different. iOS users can relax, knowing that Apple’s latest safeguard will force TikTok to make the change, which in itself shows how critical a fix this has been. For Android users, though, there is no word yet as to whether this is an issue for them as well.
“Apple dismissed the risks that we highlighted and explained that iOS already had mechanisms to counter all of the risks,” the researchers told me earlier this week. “But the mechanisms that Apple provided were not effective to protect user privacy.” Following their initial report, they explained, “there was a tremendous public interaction with the topic—not only iOS users, but also Android users demand more restriction and transparency about the apps that use the system-wide clipboard.”
Apple originally dismissed the clipboard vulnerability as an issue, and only provided a fix after significant media coverage of the security research. This latest news shows just how important a fix that will be.
All iPhone users should update to the latest version of TikTok as soon as it’s released—and given it is actively reading your clipboard, you might want to bear that in mind while using the app ahead of that update.
TikTok has been approached for any comments on this story.
The World Health Organization has warned of the risks of an “immediate second peak” as countries ease up on lockdowns, urging governments in Europe and the US to step up surveillance, testing and tracking measures to keep the disease under control.
Spain has revised its death toll downwards by nearly 2,000 people after checking data from the regions and discovering some deaths had been recorded twice while others had not been the result of the coronavirus.
Nearly 5.5 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 346,000 people have died, while more than 2.2 million have recovered.
Here are the latest updates:
I’m handing over the blog to my colleagues in Doha. Before I go, an update of developments so far this morning. As more countries ease their lockdowns (Saudi Arabia is the latest to announce a relaxation), the WHO is warning again of the dangers of a ‘second peak’. On the medical front Japan’s tests of Avigen as a coronavirus treatment have been delayed while US firm Novavax has started phase one trials for its vaccine in Australia. Meanwhile, a study has found some 8,000 more people died in Mexico city in the first months of 2020 than the average of the same period over the previous four years.
US biotech firm Novavax has started trials of the novel coronavirus vaccine it’s developing.
It expects preliminary results from the phase one trial of NVX-CoV2373 by July.
The phase one trial is taking place in Australia. The second phase will include more countries.
Research into Fujifilm’s Avigen drug as a potential treatment for COVID-19 will continue into June.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had said he hoped the drug would be approved in May if its efficacy and safety could be confirmed.
“The company will continue research into next month or so, and if an application for approval is received from the company, it will be promptly reviewed,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regular briefing when asked about Avigan.
Suga said trials of a coronavirus vaccine could begin as early as July, raising expectations about a candidate developed by Osaka University and biopharmaceutical firm AnGes Inc .
Avigan is the subject of at least 16 trials worldwide, though there is concern the drug has been shown to cause birth defects in animal studies.
Japan has given up on approving Fujifilm Holdings Corp’s anti-influenza drug #Avigan this month for the treatment of patients infected with the new coronavirus, health minister Katsunobu Kato says.https://t.co/katTFchGxm
— Kyodo News | Japan (@kyodo_english) May 26, 2020
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the country won’t open its borders “anytime soon” but the government was continuing to discuss a travel corridor with New Zealand.
“I was speaking with Prime Minister (Jacinda) Ardern this morning and we’ll continue to have our discussions about the trans-Tasman safe travel zone,” Morrison told the National Press Club in Canberra.
Children under the age of two shouldn’t wear masks because they can make breathing difficult and increase the risk of choking, the Japan Pediatric Association has warned.
“Masks can make breathing difficult because infants have narrow air passages,” which increases the burden on their hearts, the association said, adding that masks also raise the risk of heat stroke.
“Let’s stop the use of masks for children under 2-years-old,” the association said in a notice on its website.
It added that there had been very few serious coronavirus cases among children and that most kids became infected from family members, with almost no outbreaks at schools or day care facilities.
Mexico’s capital registered 8,072 more deaths in the first five months this year than the average from the same period over the previous four years, an analysis by independent researchers showed on Monday, suggesting a possible surge in fatalities to the coronavirus pandemic.
Health officials have reported 1,655 deaths from the virus in Mexico City, out of 7,394 deaths nationwide. They have also acknowledged that the true death toll is higher, but difficult to estimate because of the low testing rate.
Read more on the study here.
Mexico has been hard hit by the coronavirus [File: Gustavo Graf/Reuters]
Hong Kong International Airport will open for some transit services from June 1, chief executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia will loosen its curfew for everywhere but Mecca from Thursday, according to the state news agency.
The curfew will be in force from 3pm (12:00 GMT) to 6am (03:00 GMT) local time.
From May 31 to June 20, it will also allow prayers in mosques with the exception of Mecca. The curfew and restrictions on prayer there will be relaxed from June 21, it said.
You can read more on that story here.
South Koreans now have to wear masks whenever they use public transport or take taxis.
Health Ministry official Yoon Taeho says masks will also be required on all domestic and international flights from Wednesday.
South Korea was reporting 500 new cases every in early March before it largely stabilised its outbreak with aggressive tracking and testing. But infections have been rising slightly since early May, with more people going out during warmer weather and eased social distancing guidelines.
“Until treatments and vaccines are developed, we will never know when the COVID-19 crisis could end, and until then we will have to learn how to live with COVID-19,” Yoon said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that countries in which coronavirus appears to be in retreat could still face an “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak.
WHO emergencies head Dr Mike Ryan told an online briefing that, while cases were declining in many countries, they were still increasing in Central and South America, South Asia and Africa.
Ryan said there was a chance infection rates could rise again more quickly if measures to halt the first wave were lifted too soon.
“We need to be cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time,” he said. “We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down and we are get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave.”
He said countries in Europe and North America should “continue to put in place the public health and social measures, the surveillance measures, the testing measures and a comprehensive strategy to ensure that we continue on a downwards trajectory and we don’t have an immediate second peak.”
Reopened shops in Europe eagerly await the return of tourism
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
Read the updates from yesterday (May 25) here.