Brazil, US reach grim milestones, New Zealand a hopeful one; UK job cuts in view


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In top stories today:

  • The United States and Brazil reached grim milestones on coronavirus deaths and infections, while New Zealand marked one hundred days with no local cases detected. Employers plan job cuts in the United Kingdom, where a poll indicates many are leery of receiving a future vaccine.
  • Coronavirus infections and deaths reached grim milestones in Brazil and the United States, with both countries struggling to get outbreaks under control, the BBC reported. Brazil has surpassed three million infections and 100,000 deaths, compared with five million US infections and 162,000 deaths, the broadcaster added. Brazil’s outbreak is the worst in the world after the United States, Reuters said.
  • The Associated Press puts it like this in a headline: “US tops 5 million confirmed virus cases, to Europe’s alarm.” The United States and Europe are trading places, Bloomberg Businessweek said on August 7, as European economies are rebounding from the coronavirus recession more quickly, reversing a decades-long trend that saw the euro area’s economy largely underperform its US counterpart.
  • The statistics say… In excess of 97,000 US children tested positive in the last two weeks of July, The Washington Post reported, citing data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
  • There’s a series of reports about education. There’s little evidence of the virus being transmitted in schools, UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said, as the government steps up plans for all pupils to return to classes next month, the BBC reported.
  • “Schools mull outdoor classes amid virus, ventilation worries” runs an Associated Press headline. An estimated 41 percent of US school districts need to upgrade or replace heating, ventilation, and cooling systems in at least half their schools, the news service said. No parties, no trips: those are among the promises US colleges are getting students to make to help contain the spread of the virus, The Associated Press reported separately.
  • The statistics say… The United Kingdom marked 1,062 new infections on August 9, the highest daily tally since late June, Reuters reported. That comes amid new lockdowns in some areas and concerns about a second wave of coronavirus cases, the newswire added.
  • It’s “mind-blowing” that the US government hasn’t improved testing, billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates said, describing the current state of testing as slow and lacking fair access, Bloomberg reported. US officials have regularly cited delays in test results as a bar to speedy tracking and isolation of those infected, the newswire added.
  • QUOTE: “You’re paying billions of dollars in this very inequitable way to get the most worthless test results of any country in the world,” Gates said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on August 9, Bloomberg reported. “No other country has this testing insanity.”
  • Face masks are compulsory in busy outdoor areas of Paris from August 10 to help curb a spread in coronavirus infections in the French capital, France 24 reported on August 9.
  • Australia had its most deadly day on August 10, with a further nineteen people dying from coronavirus in the state of Victoria, of which fourteen were in care homes, ITV News reported. But new infections were at their lowest daily tally since July, the broadcaster said. The slowdown in new cases gives hope that a second wave in Victoria may have peaked, Reuters said. Even so, that may mean more deaths in the short term, The Sydney Morning Herald said.
  • QUOTE: “We’re still in the midst of an accelerating, intense, and very serious pandemic,” said Dr. Margaret Harris, spokeswoman at the World Health Organization, the BBC reported. “It’s there in every community in the world.”
  • Encouraging news arose from neighboring New Zealand, which marked one hundred days with no locally transmitted cases of coronavirus detected, The Washington Post reported, citing a Newshub report.
  • US Health Secretary Alex Azar offered Taiwan US President Donald J. Trump’s strong support on August 10, commending them for their anti-pandemic measures, CNBC reported. Azar, the highest-level US official to visit the island in four decades, told President Tsai Ing-wen that her government’s response to coronavirus had been among the world’s best, CNBC added.
  • Chinese air force jets briefly crossed the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait on August 10 and were tracked by Taiwanese missiles, Reuters cited Taiwan’s government as saying. China, which claims the island as its own, condemned Azar’s visit, the newswire added.
  • READ MORE: The Atlantic Council community reacts to the passing of Brent Scowcroft, chairman emeritus of the Atlantic Council, and reflects on his legacy as a statesman, strategist, and public servant. Read more here.


  • One out of three UK employers plans to cut workers in the current quarter, rising to almost 40 percent in private companies, flagging up the risk of a crisis in the labor market scuppering the post-lockdown economic rebound, Bloomberg reported. The newswire cited a survey of two thousand employers by Adecco Group and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
  • A quarter of the products companies source could come from new countries within five years, highlighting how the pandemic has forced a rethink of just-in-time supply chains on which the global economy depends, the Financial Times reported, citing a report by the McKinsey Global Institute. Increasing threats to those supply arrangements are taking a heavy toll on company profits, the research said, the newspaper added.
  • Open to restarting talks on economic stimulus: that was the stance of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on August 9, Reuters reported. Weeks of fruitless talks prompted US President Donald J. Trump to take executive actions the previous day aimed to address issues including unemployment benefits, evictions, and student loans, the newswire said.
  • CNBC published five charts on August 9 that illustrate economic trends in the United States amid the pandemic, from requests for driving and walking directions to restaurant and hotel bookings, airline travel, and home-buying.
  • QUOTE: “I think November, December, January, February are going to be tough months in this country without a vaccine,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, news service Stat reported.
  • “Banks braced as pandemic poses biggest test since financial crisis” That’s the headline to a long-form article in the Financial Times. Lenders are preparing for company bankruptcies on a large scale, as provisions for loan losses are at their highest level in a decade, the newspaper reported.
  • Net income at Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, plunged by 50 percent to $23.2 billion in the first half of the year as coronavirus hit demand and the price of oil declined, The Associated Press reported on August 9.


  • Just 30 percent of the UK population would definitely take a coronavirus vaccine if one becomes available, Bloomberg reported, citing a survey by King’s College London and Ipsos Mori released on August 9. Those who are skeptical about science and authority are more likely to refuse; meanwhile, those aged fifty-five to seventy-five were twice as likely to say they’d opt for a vaccine compared with those between sixteen and thirty-four, the newswire reported.
  • QUOTE: “If and hopefully when a vaccine becomes available, this means a simple communications approach is not going to be enough on its own—we’ll need tailored messages for different groups, and to engage social media platforms to contain and remove blatant conspiracy theories,” Bloomberg cited Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College, as saying by email.
  • China will start to issue tourist visas again to Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, paving the way for punters from the mainland to return following months of losses, Bloomberg reported. Zhuhai city in neighboring Guangdong province will issue tourist visas for mainland residents on August 12, and that could gradually be expanded to the whole of the mainland, Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong U told reporters on August 10, the newswire reported.
  • EVENT: The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center hosts Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning, to discuss Pakistan’s shifting national security objectives and how the country plans to navigate regional challenges. Monday, August 10 at 11:00 a.m. EDT or 8:00 p.m. PKT. Details are here


  • “Kenya’s famed wildebeest migration begins without foreign tourist crowds” runs a headline on Metro US, citing a Reuters report. Kenyans had the magnificent plains of Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, usually jammed with international travelers hoping to see a lion hunt, to themselves this year because coronavirus kept tourists away, the newswire said.
  • The pandemic has forced more children out of school and into work on farms and in factories in India, making a child-labor problem that’s among the direst in the world even worse, the South China Morning Post reported. Indonesia will also see more vulnerable children drop out of school and enter the workforce, the newspaper said.
  • A fear of hospitals is prompting many Mexicans to put off treatment for coronavirus until it’s too late for healthcare workers to help them, The New York Times reported. It’s a problem that’s long beset countries that become overwhelmed by unfamiliar diseases, the Times said, citing the case of Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic of 2014.
  • On August 3, Latin America and the Caribbean surpassed five million coronavirus cases. Mexico exceeded the United Kingdom as the country with the third-highest death toll, remaining behind the United States and Brazil. Following the announcement, nine Mexican governors called for the resignation of Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López Gatell.
  • Small and medium-sized businesses in Argentina are shutting down by the tens of thousands, while businesses in Colombia and Costa Rica struggle amid rising infections. On August 5, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), along with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released a joint report highlighting the pandemic’s long-term economic and public health repercussions. 
  • A snip at $1.5 million. For that, the eighteen-karat white gold mask will be decorated with 3,600 white and black diamonds and fitted with top-rated N99 filters, if that’s what the buyer wishes, The Associated Press cited designer Isaac Levy, who owns the Yvel jewelry company in Israel, as saying. The unidentified buyer, a Chinese businessman living in the United States, asked that it be ready before the end of the year and that it be the most expensive mask in the world, the news service added.