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Brazil’s president has the coronavirus

by Seth Johnson
Posted 7/07/20, 03:00 pm

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday that an X-ray showed his lungs were clean. The next day, the 65-year-old leader told reporters in Brasília he had COVID-19. “I’m well, normal,” said Bolsonaro, adding he wanted to walk around but couldn’t because of medical restrictions. Bolsonaro waited to impose lockdowns in Brazil and has shaken hands with supporters, often without a mask. The U.S. Embassy in Brasília said Ambassador Todd Chapman will undergo testing after celebrating the Fourth of July with Bolsanaro.

How is Brazil handling the coronavirus pandemic? The country has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with nearly 65,500 deaths and more than 1 million recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University. That’s just a little more than 763 infections per 100,000 people. However, the true numbers could be higher: Alexandre Naime Barbosa, a medical professor at São Paulo State University, told Reuters underreporting could make the official number too small by a factor of five to 10.

Dig deeper: Read Mindy Belz’s report about how Belgium responded to COVID-19.

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Seth Johnson

Seth is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute student course.

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  • Nanamiro
    Posted: Tue, 07/07/2020 11:08 pm

    Atlanta's mayor, whom I assume is faithfully wearing a mask and avoiding human contact, also tested positive for Covid along with her whole family. Apparently mask-wearing and social distancing is no guarantee.

  • Bob Burger
    Posted: Wed, 07/08/2020 10:21 am

    We'd like to believe that the extreme measures helped the United States do better than Brazil, but the statistics give a different story. The United States has more COVID-19 cases per capita (936 in 100,000), and a higher death rate (40.5 in 100,000 vs. 31.5). See for details.

    Scientific studies on the effectiveness of face masks at preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses through aerosols were done 10 years ago (see, e.g., The masks most people wear today are less than 30% effective at preventing the spread of aerosols and give a false sense of safety. If someone has a respiratory illness, the mask won't adequately protect others.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Thu, 07/09/2020 03:55 am

    Bob, I believe Brazil's covid statistics are quite a bit less reliable than ours, for political, economic, and other reasons. 

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Wed, 07/08/2020 11:58 am

    Why does the press continue to rejoice in karmic retribution for people who don't wear masks?  Masks may help reduce the spread of the virus, but Bolsonaro didn't have it.  Wearing a mask probably would not have prevented him from getting it.  So why the public shaming?    

  • OldMike
    Posted: Thu, 07/09/2020 03:56 am

    There are no guarantees. But if you consistently wear a mask, wash your hands often, maintain some distance from others, avoid places with crowds, and stay isolated when you're sick or think you might have been exposed, you improve everyone's odds of avoiding infection. 

    Obeying all traffic laws will not guarantee you avoid all accidents. But we all realize that doing reckless things, like passing on a hill, turn the odds against you. We have to make a lot of life decisions where there are no guarantees of of the outcome we want. I'm really having a hard time understanding why so many people think Covid should be different.