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Africa Is Polio-Free, After Nigeria Reports No New Cases

Source: The World Health Organization

The WHO has declared Nigeria to be polio-free after the country reached its three-year mark of reporting no new cases. Just eight years ago, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all cases worldwide. This means that Africa is reportedly finally free of the wild poliovirus, although the continent awaits official certification from the Africa Regional Certification Commission, which is expected in August

Although the region is free of endemic transmission of the virus, it continues to struggle with some transmission via vaccine, with Niger recently reporting a vaccine-derived outbreak. The WHO warns that immunization and surveillance activities must continue to prevent the risk of the virus re-emerging.

As the region struggles with coronavirus, “mass immunizations … have been postponed,” according to the WHO, but countries in the region are “planning the resumption of immunization and outbreak response in compliance with the guidance to stop COVID-19 transmission.”

Now, only Pakistan and Afghanistan are left in the fight to end endemic transmission of polio.

COVID-19 Testing in the US Compared to Other Countries

Source: John Hopkins University of Medicine

Despite conducting the second-highest percentage of daily tests, the United States still has the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any country in the world. The size of the circles in the graph above display how large the epidemic is in each location — ideally countries should have small circles and a low percentage of positive tests. 

Research by Johns Hopkins recently found that the amount of COVID-19 testing needs to be based on the size of a country’s epidemic rather than the size of its population. Johns Hopkins recommended that governments should look at the country’s COVID-19 positivity rate to determine if they are testing enough. A poll conducted at the end of July by NPR/Ipsos shows that the majority of the American public believes that the U.S. is handling the crisis worse than any other country and want the federal government to take extreme actions to slow the spread. Testing will continue to ramp up as the U.S. debates whether to open schools and lift further restrictions.

Where Are Businesses Closing in the US?

Source: Yelp

The number of total business closures in the United States dropped in July 2020 — but the figure remains high, with more than 132,500 closures so far this year. Of that amount, 15,742 businesses permanently closed since mid-June. Data from Yelp shows that the restaurant industry had the highest number of closures in July, surpassing the retail industry. 

Most of these closures are occurring in large cities — Los Angeles and New York City had the largest amounts of business closures. Similarly, large U.S. states such as California (29,351 closed businesses), Texas (11,118 closed businesses) and New York (8,731 closed businesses) all experienced a large number of closures since the start of the pandemic. Many of these cities and states have been major hot spots during the pandemic.

As businesses start to reopen, and consumers test their comfort levels, recreational activity is expected to grow and help bounce back struggling industries. However, cases continue to rise in certain parts of the U.S., causing consumer interest and business closures to continue to move at an unpredictable pace.

Support for Black-Owned Businesses Surges in 2020

Source: Yelp

Yelp recorded a 7,043% increase in searches for Black-owned businesses this year. There were more than 2,500,000 searches for the term “Black-owned” from May 25 to July 10, 2020, compared to approximately 35,000 searches during the same time period in 2019, according to an analysis by Yelp

A variety of industries are experiencing this surge in consumer interest in Black-owned businesses, but restaurants and bookstores have seen the highest uptick in searches on Yelp at an increase of 2,508% and 1,437%, respectively. This interest is largely due to the Black Lives Matter protests, which continue to erupt across the United States.

The movement has sparked a global conversation and prompted many to participate in #BlackOutDay, which encouraged consumers to shop exclusively at Black-owned stores. Most consumers say they want to see organizations speak out against racial injustice and use their resources to support the Black community.

China Complicates Debt Payment Deferral Plans in Sub-Saharan Africa

Source: Natixis

Actual relief for low-income countries impacted by coronavirus will be lower than originally expected, according to a report by Natixis. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa have steadily accrued debt to China over the last decade, but now, a lack of clarity around China’s involvement as a creditor is complicating efforts to address relief plans. 

The Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), recently proposed by G-20 finance heads, defers low-income countries’ debt service payments — 38 of the 73 eligible countries are from sub-Saharan Africa. But confusion around which Chinese creditors are participating in the DSSI and “the evolving nature of the private sector in cross-border credit” are both cited by Natixis as issues with China’s role as a creditor. 

As coronavirus cases are still escalating in sub-Saharan Africa, the economy will likely continue to deteriorate, potentially increasing the need from countries in this region to seek credit. The report warns that the EU should continue to deliver liquidity relief to eligible countries at the rate that was originally promised.

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