Six passengers aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Adventure of the Seas have tested positive for COVID-19, USA Today reported on Friday. The ship department from Nassau Saturday. Four of the passengers were vaccinated adults and two of them were unvaccinated children. The tests were the results of routine, end-of-cruise testing, since many need negative tests in order to return home. "These guests were quarantined and then retested with a PCR test to confirm their diagnosis," said spokesperson Lyan Sierra-Caro. Not all passengers have been notified of the cases, but close contacts of the passengers have been alerted and given a PCR test. The rest of the ship will be notified Friday.
Australia’s military is set to enforce a lockdown in Sydney after the city reported a record-breaking rise in daily COVID-19 cases, Reuters reported Thursday. State authorities said the outbreak will likely worsen. Despite an extended lockdown in Sydney due to an outbreak of the delta variant, the city reported 239 new locally acquired cases over a 24-hour period -- the highest daily rise since the start of the pandemic. "We can only assume that things are likely to get worse before they get better given the quantity of people infectious in the community," said Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of New South Wales state.
With little indication that restrictions are reducing infections, Berejiklian said that new limits would be imposed in the western and southwestern areas of Sydney where most of the cases are being reported. Residents in those regions will be required to wear masks outdoors and to stay within three miles of their homes. The tighter restrictions are set to begin Friday; New South Wales Police said it has asked 300 military personnel to help enforce the lockdown.
An outbreak of the delta variant that originated in the city of Nanjing, China has spread to five other provinces across the country, NBC News reported. The outbreak, which started when nine cleaners at the Nanjing Lukou International Airport tested positive for the virus, has spread to Beijing. Chinese officials plan to test every resident of Nanjing, with more than 1.9 million people tested on Tuesday alone. China has largely contained the coronavirus since its initial outbreak in Wuhan, recording just 0.04 infections for every million people – the same figure in the United States is 202.4. This outbreak, along with outbreaks in other countries, has led some to question China’s coronavirus vaccines, though breakthrough infections are possible after two doses of any vaccine.
Despite surging cases of coronavirus in the state and the nation, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday he will issue an executive order banning school districts from issuing mask mandates, according to NBC News. DeSantis said he disagreed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance which recommended all K-12 students wear masks in the fall, saying that parents should decide what is best for their kids."I have young kids. My wife and I are not going to do the masks with the kids. We never have," he said. "I want to see my kids smiling. I want them having fun." The Florida Education Association, a union representing more than 150,000 public school employees, slammed DeSantis’ statement. The union argued DeSantis' proposed executive order will not allow local officials to do what is best for their communities.
Experts say that breakthrough infections are not a sign that vaccines are failing, but a warning of how unvaccinated people can endanger vaccinated people, PBS reported. The quantity of reported breakthrough cases suggests that the vaccines are working, but too much is being asked of them, said Dr. Drew Weissman, who spent decades researching the development of mRNA vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. With only about half of the U.S. population fully vaccinated against COVID, the vaccine’s advantages wear down, Weissman explained. “You can’t control a pandemic when 30 percent or even half the people are immunized,” Weissman said. In addition, it’s important to remember that occasional breakthroughs are expected with any vaccine, said Dr. Alex Huffman, aerosol scientist and professor at the University of Denver.
Some immunocompromised patients in Tennessee are receiving a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at their physician’s recommendation, according to local ABC affiliate News Channel 9. The effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine drops months after the second dose, so some are pointing to a third shot as an answer, according to the news outlet. Still, top health officials haven’t recommended a third dose, but some are still getting a booster shot. Hamilton County’s health department said they were aware of private physicians urging a third dose. “[W]e are aware that some private physicians do order a third dose on occasion for immunocompromised patients. We do not function as the primary physician for persons with these diagnosis and leave these decisions to their personal physicians,” the health department said in a statement.
In an internal federal health document, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the delta variant may cause more severe infections and that it spreads as easily as chickenpox, The Washington Post reported. The internal document, which was obtained by The Washington Post, makes the variant out to be essentially a new novel virus that is more contagious than the common cold. While the data the documents cite are unpublished, the preliminary findings show that vaccinated individuals can transmit the delta virus just as effectively as the unvaccinated. “I finished reading it significantly more concerned than when I began,” Robert Wachter, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, wrote in an email to The Washington Post.
One slide in the presentation estimated that there are approximately 35,000 symptomatic infections per week among 162 million vaccinated Americans. One risk communication expert, Matthew Seeger of Wayne State University, said that public health officials have done a poor job of explaining breakthrough infections. “We’ve done a great job of telling the public these are miracle vaccines,” Seeger said. “We have probably fallen a little into the trap of over-reassurance, which is one of the challenges of any crisis communication circumstance.” Earlier this week, the CDC recommended that the fully vaccinated wear masks indoors in areas of “high” or “substantial” transmission. The internal CDC report recommends the reinstatement of universal masking guidelines regardless of vaccination status across the United States.
Healthcare workers are protesting COVID-19 vaccine requirements and mask mandates outside of Duke University Hospital Friday morning, local outlet WRAL reported. Duke Health is among several major healthcare systems to mandate the vaccine as the delta variant spreads. Similar protests are set to happen outside hospitals across North Carolina over the next couple of weeks, according to WRAL. Thomas Owens, president of the hospital and senior vice president of Duke University Health System, responded to the protest in a statement. “It’s imperative that our patients, their loved ones, our colleagues and community know we are committed to advancing and protecting their health. A fully vaccinated staff provides that assurance,” Owens wrote.
More than 700,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered Thursday, according to the latest numbers update from Johns Hopkins University. California administered more than 100,000 vaccines Thursday, which is the highest of any state, according to the data. Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania were also among top vaccinators in the U.S. Thursday. The U.S. is also leading the world in new cases, with more 78,000 new reported infections.
In an interview on CNBC, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said it is currently unclear whether those who received an AstraZeneca shot will need a booster shot. Soriot says his company’s vaccines produce lots of T-cells, which can help make vaccines more protective over time. Antibodies also prevent viruses from infecting cells, but T-cells last longer. “We know that [our vaccine] has a decline of antibodies [over time] — we haven’t seen yet a decline of efficacy but it’s a bit early to judge, only time will tell, and I hope the T-cells will provide this durable, long-term protection,” Soriot said. In a separate interview on CNBC, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that his company is “very, very confident” that a third dose of their coronavirus vaccine will provide ample protection against the delta variant.
The coronavirus-caused recession from February to April 2020 was the worst ever, with the United States’ economy contracting a record 19.2%,Reuters reported. Mandatory closures of nonessential businesses in March put more than 22 million people out of work and dramatically altered consumer spending. The economy’s recovery since the pandemic downturn has been equally record-shattering, with gross domestic product rebounding at a historic average rate of 18.3%. Vaccinations, massive stimulus packages and low interest rates from the Federal Reserve helped the U.S. economy recoup its pandemic-related losses.
Fearing backlash from friends and family, some people in Missouri are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in secret, CNN reported. In a video produced by Ozarks Health Care in Missouri, hospitalist and chief medical information officer Dr. Priscilla Frase said that one pharmacist at the hospital told her that multiple people disguised their appearances when they went in to get vaccinated. Frase told CNN that if patients ask for privacy to get vaccinated, the hospital tries to accommodate the request -- whether it’s at a drive-thru window or at their cars. "Anything we can do to get people in a place that they're comfortable receiving the vaccine," Frase said. "It's not a large number, but every single person that we can reach who wants to get vaccinated and we can provide that for them, that's a win."
After cash prizes and vaccine lotteries have not raised vaccination uptake as much as experts hoped, public health officials are now taking a more personal approach, ABC News reported. Vaccinations, which peaked at over four million a day in early April, have dipped to around 470,000 a day. Officials, who saw limited bumps using incentives, are now leveraging community partnerships and close connections. Studies have shown that hearing from someone who has lost someone to the coronavirus or who have caught the disease is helpful in helping the vaccine skeptical understand the potential consequences of catching or spreading COVID-19.
Other researchers think that pop-up clinics could be “the critical missing link.” Dr. Stacy Wood, a professor of marketing at North Carolina State University, believes having vaccines available at places people frequently go, such as subway stations, museums, barbershop or sport stadiums, would help increase vaccine uptake. “If you aren’t sure of its importance,” Wood said, “then it’s got to be made very convenient to you in the same moment that someone’s encouraging you to do it.”
A variant discovered in Colombia is infecting individuals in South Florida and now accounts for 10% of all cases that are being sequenced at the University of Miami’s pathology lab. The variant has yet to be given a Greek letter name by the World Health Organization, such as other prominent variants like Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma, Local 10 News reported. According to The Washington Post, the variant is leading to an increase in infections and causing concern for health officials. The first cases of the variant, which is called B.1.621, were reported in January. The variant has not been labeled a variant of concern in the U.S. yet as it only makes up 2.1% of cases as of July 17.
Whistleblowers allege that the Department of Health and Human services told them to downplay hundreds of coronavirus infections at a migrant shelter in Fort Bliss, Texas, NBC News reported. In a federal whistleblower complaint, whistleblowers Arthur Pearlstein and Lauren Reinhold said that the virus spread among children and employees. “Hundreds of children contracted Covid in the overcrowded conditions. Adequate masks were not consistently provided to children, nor was their use consistently enforced,” they said in the complaint. At the end of their service, federal detailees were instructed by HHS public affairs “to make everything sound positive about the Fort Bliss experience and to play down anything negative” when asked, Pearlstein and Reinhold allege.
Experts are questioning whether it’s time to start testing vaccinated people for the novel coronavirus, CNN reported. Although health officials have said that evidence shows vaccinated people are unlikely to spread the virus, testing could be important in determining whether the delta variant can evade the vaccine, according to Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fully vaccinated people can refrain from routine testing. "I think now we should revisit this policy with the [d]elta variant and determine if the current recommendations hold up," Hotez wrote in an email to CNN.
A game between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies was postponed Wednesday night after 12 people within the Nationals program tested positive for the coronavirus, ESPN reported. Among those 12 positive tests are four players and eight staffers. On Tuesday, Nationals star Trea Turner exited a game in the first inning after testing positive. According to the team’s manager Dave Martinez, just one of the 12 people who tested positive was unvaccinated. The vaccinated players, a number of whom received the Johnson & Johnson one-dose shot, are only experiencing minor symptoms. "I encourage people to get vaccinated,'' Martinez said. "It does help. I'm seeing it firsthand. It's basically a small head cold, but they're doing fine.''
American pole vaulter and reigning world champion Sam Kendricks will miss the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for the coronavirus, USA Today reported. In a statement, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said that Kendricks, 28, was transferred to a hotel and placed in isolation. "Sam is an incredible and accomplished member of Team USA and his presence will be missed," the USOPC said. The Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement that it asked 54 members of its track and field delegation, including 41 athletes, to isolate in their room for little over two hours Thursday while three individuals who had contact with Kendricks underwent COVID-19 testing. All three tests returned a negative result.
New York state is mandating all of its employees get vaccinated, or submit to routine testing, by Labor Day, Bloomberg reported. Patient-facing workers at state-run hospitals do not have the routine testing option and must get vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption. “I think we need dramatic action to get control of this situation,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Cuomo has asked local governments to adopt similar rules in their respective municipalities. Watch the video below for more.
Google and Facebook have announced that workers in their offices will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, Axios reported. Google had originally planned to bring people back to the office by Sept. 1, but will now allow people to work from home until at least Oct. 18. Meanwhile, Twitter has shut its offices in San Francisco and New York as coronavirus cases rise, KNTV reported. Twitter also halted plans to reopen its other offices across the country. According to a Twitter spokesperson, after considering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new masking guidelines and rising cases nationwide, Twitter opted to shutter its offices to “prioritize the health and safety of [its] Tweeps."
The United States reported more than 68,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, making it the daily world leader once again. More than 220,000 new cases have been tallied throughout the nation over the last three days, according to Johns Hopkins University data, as the delta variant has fueled the sharp increase that has sent the cumulative caseload above 34.6 million. Meanwhile, vaccinations are also up -- more than 750,000 doses were administered across the country on Wednesday and more than 151 million Americans are now fully vaccinated. For more on the spread of the coronavirus and the national and global vaccination effort, watch the video below.
Vaccinations in South Korea have been lagging, even though the country was once a model in fighting off COVID-19, The New York Times reported. The country is enduring one of its worst waves yet, but vaccine appointments come with lengthy wait times. When South Koreans logged on to a government website to book vaccine appointments, a pop-up window said there was “just a bit of a delay.” “There are 401,032 people waiting in front of you,” read one of the messages. “Your expected waiting time: 111 hours, 23 minutes and 52 seconds.” Most in the country are still waiting for shots. Only 34.9% of its population of 52 million have received at least one dose, according to the Times. The country reported 1,896 new cases Wednesday, which is the country's highest daily total.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partially reversed its mask guidance Tuesday, recommending that vaccinated individuals in areas of high or substantial coronavirus spread wear a mask when indoors, much to the relief of some experts, NBC News reported. The change in guidance comes as the delta variant fuels a surge in cases in every state. "We know masks work, and they work against every variant that this virus has produced," said Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health at the University of Washington. "If we use them, they will save lives, save livelihoods and prevent us from shutting down our economy."
CDC findings in recent days indicated that fully vaccinated people who get infected with the delta variant can spread the virus as effectively as the unvaccinated. "If that indeed means that vaccinated people can become a source of transmission, though not the majority of transmission, mask use is a good idea," said Ajay Sethi, an epidemiologist and associate professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Infections and hospitalizations are up in Alabama, which is only 34% fully vaccinated, NPR reported. Public health officials in the state are sounding the alarm, noting hospitalizations have increased five-fold since the start of July. "The slope of this increase, the rate of which the hospitalization numbers are going up, is unprecedented in Alabama," says Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer. Health officials in the state are trying hard to vaccinate younger Americans, who are generally more reluctant to get vaccinated. "If we aren't able to figure out a way to get more people vaccinated, then we're going to be in the throes of this for years and years," warned Merceria Ludgood, president of the Mobile County Commission. "It's terrifying because we can't help but see a spike in deaths."
In an interview with CNBC, Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the United States may see the worst of the delta surge in the next few weeks, The Hill reported. Gottlieb postulated that the country is further into the delta wave than it realizes and that the country will see cases decrease in the next two or three weeks. Gottlieb also argued that the new mask guidance from the CDC will have a “negligible impact” on public health."If you are vaccinated in a high-prevalence area, in contact with virus, you think you might have the virus because you have mild symptoms of it, be prudent, get tested, maybe wear a mask especially if you are around a vulnerable person," Gottlieb said on CNBC.
A third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine could “strongly” boost protection against the delta variant beyond the first two doses, according to new data released by the vaccine maker. The data suggests that antibody levels significantly increase in people ages 18 to 55 who receive a third dose. For those ages 65 to 85, a third dose yields an even greater increase in antibodies. There's "estimated potential for up to 100-fold increase in Delta neutralization post-dose three compared to pre-dose three," researchers wrote. The findings have not been peer reviewed or published.
With cases rising across the country, doctors across the United States are warning that the country is headed in the wrong direction, Yahoo Finance reported. In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Dr. Taison Bell, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia, warned that the country was in tough shape due to the delta variant. “Public health mitigation measures really are your way to break the back of a surge,” Bell said. “We need to take a strong look at mask mandates and bring them back.” Echoing statements from other health officials, Bell called the delta variant “one of the most transmissible respiratory viruses” that has ever been seen.
In a step that marks a greater return to normalcy, fully vaccinated U.S. and EU travelers will soon be allowed to visit England without needing to quarantine upon entry, CNBC reported. Travelers will still need to take a pre-departure test before arriving in the country. United Kingdom Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced over Twitter that the new policy will start Aug. 2. “We're helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK,” Shapps tweeted.
On the other side of the pond, the U.S. has strengthened its warnings against travel to the United Kingdom, with the State Department raising its travel warning to the highest level last week. The Biden administration also announced it will continue to ban travel from Britain for everyone but U.S. citizens.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department jointly warned against traveling to Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Kyrgyzstan as COVID-19 cases rise in all four countries, Reuters reported. Both organizations also raised their level of concern about traveling to Israel and Armenia due to surges of the coronavirus in each country, increasing their respective travel warnings to Level 3, which encourages Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to a country. The CDC eased travel recommendations for more than 110 countries and territories in June, but as cases rise globally due to the delta variant, new warnings have been issued.
Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, extended a lockdown by four weeks on Wednesday after a stay-at-home order failed to suppress a COVID-19 outbreak, Reuters reported. The state of New South Wales, which includes the capital city Sydney, reported 177 new cases Tuesday. The increase in cases marked the biggest rise since an unvaccinated, unmasked airport driver was said to have sparked the current outbreak, according to Reuters. At least 46 of the new cases were people active in the community before they were diagnosed, which authorities say raises the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission.
An interactive CDC map shows which counties are showing the highest levels of COVID-19 transmission. The map, which is based on data from July 19 - July 25, shows “high” levels of transmission in areas across Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Much of the Northeast shows “moderate” levels of COVID-19 transmission. Most counties in the West Coast are classified as at least “moderate” transmission, as well. The map shows that the center of the country is dotted with sparse areas of “low” transmission.
A map from the CDC showing where coronavirus transmission is highest around the U.S. as of July 25, 2021. (CDC)
New York City will pay $100 to any unvaccinated residents who go to a city-run vaccination site to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The announcement comes amid a surge in cases in the city, fueled by the highly-transmissible delta variant. According to the state health department, between 45% and 65% of New York City residents are fully vaccinated, depending on the borough. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that cities in areas with high transmission should “seriously consider” adopting the CDC’s new masking guideline.
Watch the video below for more.
In an interview with Good Morning America, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky elaborated on new science that led the agency to change its mask guidance. Walensky noted that while most transmission of the virus occurs among the unvaccinated, new data found that the vaccinated can still transmit the delta variant. “That’s new, when we were looking at the alpha variant, prior variants, we were not able to see that if you were vaccinated, a breakthrough case, that you could transmit the virus,” Walensky said. The guidance was updated because the CDC thought it was important to alert vaccinated people of this threat so that those living in substantial or high transmission areas can mask up and protect others, Walensky added. Watch the video below for more.
President Joe Biden is expected to announce that all federal workers and contractors must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to mandatory testing and other mitigation requirements, CNN reported. The president is also expected to lay out next steps, including incentives, to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated. Biden first alluded to the vaccine requirement for federal workers yesterday. “That’s under consideration right now, but if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were,” Biden said, adding that the unvaccinated are “sowing enormous confusion.” The vaccine requirement will not extend to the military, though Biden is expected to outline the Department of Defense’s approach on the issue of vaccinations.
Tokyo reported more than 3100 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, marking a pandemic high just days after Olympic Games opened, The Associated Press reported. Across the country, 7,630 cases were reported. The surge is attributed to the highly contagious delta variant, and there is no evidence that Olympians are transmitting the disease to the public. Japanese officials fear rising cases could overwhelm hospitals. Just 25.5% of Japan’s population is fully vaccinated, though 68.2% of the elderly have received a full course of vaccines.
All Mayo Clinic employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they opt to undergo training and observe social distancing and mask-wearing, according to the Post Bulletin. Employees have until Sept. 17 to either be vaccinated or to undergo a “declination” process, according to the Post Bulletin. There will be religious and other exemptions, according to a spokesperson. “We are proud of our staff's high vaccination rates and are grateful that the vast majority have embraced the opportunity to get vaccinated," said Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugia in a statement Monday, July 26.
With over 15,000 new infections and 247 reported fatalities from COVID-19, Bangladesh posted record highsfor both categories on Tuesday, marking its worst day of the pandemic yet. According to Al Jazeera, the record high tallies come amid a strict lockdown and warnings from health experts. The warnings followed an easing of restrictions on July 13 that allowed people to travel ahead of the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha festival, for which tens of thousands of people rode crowded public transportation. According to Health Minister Zahid Maleque, nearly 90% of the country’s hospital beds are occupied, while only 2.6% of the country’s 160 million people are fully vaccinated.
Researchers from the University of Washington recently published a study that suggests COVID-19 cases in the U.S. could be undercounted by as much as 60%, findings which could readjust vaccination targets. The team’s research relied on data from random samplings of residents in Indiana and Ohio, The Guardian reported. The random samplings provide strong evidence of actual COVID-19 prevalence due to the number of people that don’t seek out official tests. According to the publication, as many as 65 million Americans may have been infected, nearly double the the infection tally of 34.5 million reported by Johns Hopkins University researchers.
As the delta variant runs rampant across the U.S., consumer spending may be at risk. According to Yahoo Finance, more and more Americans may reconsider going to bars, parties or traveling now as the variant spreads across the country rapidly. "Survey data point to increased concern over being in physical locations because of the virus," said Bank of America economists Michelle Meyer and Stephen Juneau in new research. Data does not yet show consumers pulling back on spending, however some survey data reveals that concerns surrounding the state of the pandemic are rising. The share of respondents who are not concerned about being in a public space has fallen from 50% to 41% in the past two weeks, according to a weekly survey from Civic Science. If this trend continues, we are likely to see it in the hard data," according to Bank of America.
As Malaysia faces a surge in cases of COVID-19, healthcare workers have gone on strike. According to Al Jazeera, the country had record-high cases on Sunday, reporting 17,000 ink just one day. In January, the prime minister declared an emergency and said the nation was at its “breaking point” due to the number of cases. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin opened a special parliament session to discuss the COVID-19 emergency that is scheduled to expire on Aug. 1. As the special session took place, hundreds of junior doctors in the country left work over a dispute involving pay and work conditions during the pandemic.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced Tuesday that Americans should begin wearing masks indoors again, even those who are fully vaccinated, due to the rise of infections caused by the delta variant. She said the recommendations apply to people living "in areas with substantial and high transmission." Walensky also announced that the CDC is recommending "everyone in K to 12 schools wear a mask indoors including teachers, staff, students, and visitors -- regardless of vaccination status." The change in guidance, just two months after the agency said fully vaccinated Americans could stop wearing masks, came after new data suggests that even fully vaccinated people who become infected can carry a viral load that is "indistinguishable" from that carried by an unvaccinated person. Even fully vaccinated individuals "have the potential to spread that virus to others," Walensky said. According to The Associated Press, the data emerged in recent days and Walensky said "it is concerning enough that we feel like we have to act." For more, watch the video below.
Authorities in Melbourne, Australia will be lifting all coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Tuesday as the area has successfully contained the spread of the delta variant. The country’s second-largest city kept residents under stay-at-home orders for the past two weeks, marking the area’s fifth lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic, NDTV reported. Premier Dan Andrews said the Australian state has now “seen off two delta outbreaks” but urged residents to remain vigilant.
"It's not over, though, and we've got to be vigilant against this virus, the delta strain, in the days and weeks and months ahead until we get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can," he said.
One Tennessee pastor has threatened to kick out mask-wearers from his church, The Charlotte Observer reported. The pastor, Greg Locke, vowed to keep his service open without masks and social distancing regardless of the delta variant's spread. “A bunch of pastors talking about how much they want to see people heal and they’re afraid to baptize people because of a delta variant — I’m sick of it,” Locke said. “I am not playing these Democrat games up in this church.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged the unvaccinated to continue wearing masks.
The B.1.621 variant, colloquially known as the Columbian variant, is responsible for numerous hospitalizations across Florida, Newsweek reported. The state is already struggling to maintain a surge in cases caused by the delta variant. More than 10% of hospitalizations at Jackson Health in Miami are from the Columbian variant, with the hospital’s CEO calling the quick spread of the new variant a “real shocking thing” in an interview with WPLG Miami. It is unclear how transmissible the Columbian variant is; 26 different countries have reported cases of the variant, with an increase in reported cases in June and July.
Following calls from the Food and Drug Administration to expand pediatric trials of their coronavirus vaccine, Moderna said Monday it may indeed expand its trials, CBS News reported. The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer are both built on new platform technology, mRNA; there have been reports of rare cases of heart inflammation for those under 30 after being vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine. Moderna hopes to seek FDA emergency authorization for its vaccine for children as young as six months year old by the winter. “The objective is to enroll a larger safety database which increases the likelihood of detecting rarer events," a spokesperson for Moderna said in a statement to CBS News.
As the delta variant continues to spread, the United States could soon see more than 200,000 cases a day, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director told CNN. The delta variant is more transmissible than other strains of the coronavirus, and just 49.1% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, allowing the disease to continue to spread. "We're heading into a rough time. It's likely, if our trajectory is similar to that in the United Kingdom, that we could see as many as 200,000 cases a day," Dr. Tom Frieden said, adding that it is unlikely that the U.S. will see “horrific death tolls” because of vaccinations. Deaths are still likely to increase, though. “You will see a steady increase in deaths, and these are preventable deaths," Frieden added.
The CDC is expected to recommend Tuesday that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in certain circumstances, The New York Times reported. The shift in policy follows reports of a rise in infections of vaccinated people, as the highly-transmissible delta variant spreads. Just last week, a spokesperson for the CDC said there were no plans to change mask guidance unless there were significant changes in the science. Federal officials met Sunday to review new evidence. In May, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people could forgo wearing masks indoors, but unvaccinated people should still wear them.
Many American families shifted to homeschooling after the onset of pandemic restrictions, but even as schools are reopening, some parents are opting to continue, Bloomberg reported. The rate of households homeschooling their children more than doubled from March to September 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Some parents say that they found homeschooling to be more beneficial, according to Bloomberg. Black households saw the greatest increase in the rate of homeschooled students, growing from 3.3% in spring 2020 to 16.1% in the fall.
Just days after Olympic competition began, Tokyo reported 2,848 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, breaking the city’s previous record for most cases in a single day. The Summer Games are being held despite months of widespread pushback from residents throughout Japan, but Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has continued to say there is no need to suspend the competition, according to The Associated Press. The city is currently under its fourth coronavirus state of emergency and experts have warned that the Games could be a dangerous breeding ground for the spread of the contagious delta variant.
Pfizer and Moderna are expanding their COVID-19 vaccine studies to children ages five to 11, according to The New York Times. The FDA asked the companies to include 3,000 children in the age bracket, according to the Times. The addition of the younger children is a precautionary measure designed to identify any rare side effects, including heart inflammation problems that turned up in some vaccinated people who were under 30. A spokesperson for Moderna said that the company expects to seek emergency authorization in “winter 2021/early 2022.” Pfizer has previously said that it expects to have results for the 5-to-11-year old group in September.
The end of coronavirus restrictions opened the door for a return to normalcy in Irish pubs and restaurants, with a catch, the BBC reported. Many pubs have been closed since March 2020, but eager Irish drinkers will need to bring official identification and proof of vaccination to get in. Customers must be fully vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus in the last 180 days to enter. Many citizens will prove their vaccination status through the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate program, which provides proof of vaccination, COVID-19 recovery or a recent negative test result. Pub and restaurant guests will be limited to six adults per table, and bar service remains closed.
The White House has made the decision to uphold the current coronavirus travel restrictions in the U.S.,CNN reported. The decision came on Monday as the nation battles a surge in new cases related to the delta variant of the virus. "Given where we are today with the delta variant, the United States will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” a White House official told the news outlet. The decision comes despite growing pressure from the travel industry and allies to the U.S. to lift the restrictions instated during the pandemic. "The administration understands the importance of international travel and is united in wanting to reopen international travel in a safe and sustainable manner," the White House official said. "The reopening process is guided by the science and public health.”
More than 50 health care groups issued a joint statement calling for all health care and long term care employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for employees, CNN reported. The American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association are among those that issued the statement. The statement cited the highly-transmissible delta variant and the significant numbers of unvaccinated people, COVID-19 cases and deaths. “This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all health care workers to put patients as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being," the statement read.
Frank Reich, the coach for the Indianapolis Colts football team, has tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement, Reich said he is vaccinated and asymptomatic. "I'm feeling well and I'm looking forward to returning as soon as I'm medically cleared,” He said in the statement, according to ESPN. The earliest Reich can return to training camp is next Monday. ”I think Frank testing positive and showing no symptoms shows [vaccination] works," Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. "It's a shame in our country right now that we've politicized something good.”
Vietnam reported 7,882 coronavirus infections Monday, just shy of a record 7,968 cases set two days ago, Reuters reported. Most cases are concentrated in Ho Chi Minh City and its neighboring provinces, according to the country’s ministry of health. The country entered a15-day lockdown Saturday in the capital Hanoi, according to NPR. The country is experiencing the worst wave of the pandemic, after it had successfully contained the virus throughout 2020, Reuters reported. The country has recorded a total of 524 deaths and 106,000 infections. A fifth of those cases were reported in the last three days, according to Reuters.
The Department of Veterans Affairs will require 115,000 of its frontline health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the next two months, according to The New York Times. The VA is the first federal agency to instate a vaccination mandate, government officials said Monday. The requirement applies to the “the most patient-facing” workers, including doctors, dentists, registered nurses and physician assistants, said Denis McDonough, the secretary of veterans affairs. The measure comes as a large portion of the U.S. population remains unvaccinated. “I am doing this because it’s the best way to keep our veterans safe, full stop,” McDonough told the Times.
Orange County, Florida, which includes the city of Orlando, is in “crisis mode” as COVID-19 cases surge said county mayor Jerry Demings. According to a report from ABC News, the county is reporting about 1,000 new cases per day, which is what was recorded there during the highest peak in 2020, Demings said. The county’s COVID-19 positivity rate is 13.96%, according to Forbes. Hospitals in the area have reported “alarming numbers of critically ill individuals entering their hospitals,” Demings said. The area’s hospital system, AdventHealth, is now in “red status,” according to Forbes. AdventHealth chief medical officer Dr. Victor Herrera said Monday that the county’s COVID-19 spike is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” adding that the chances of fully vaccinated people being hospitalized are probably less than 1%.
Editor's note: This entry previously contained a typo in Dr. Herrera's quote of the "pandemic of the unvaccinated."
A new tool to aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic may be on the way — a vaccine in the form of an inhaler or a pill. The company Iconovo, in collaboration with an immunology research startup, is working on using manufactured COVID-19 proteins to create a powdered version of a COVID-19 vaccine that can be taken from home. The BBC reported. "It's easy and it's really cheap to produce," Johan Waborg, CEO of the firm, said. The company typically produces asthmas fore inhalers. "You just remove a little plastic slip and then the vaccine inhaler is activated and you just put it in your mouth, take a deep breath and inhale,” she said. The powdered vaccine can withstand temperatures up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, unlike the liquid vaccines that have been approved by the World Health Organization so far. The company believes the powder vaccine could be beneficial in African countries that do not have vaccine manufacturers locally and experience high temperatures regularly.
Trials have yet to reveal if the vaccine is as effective as the liquid ones that are already available for public use, but the medical community remains optimistic that a vaccine of this kind would change the global response to COVID-19 entirely, The BBC reported. "It would really open up opportunities for hard-to-reach areas and maybe save us having people carrying cool boxes on bicycles and camels," said Stefan Swartling Peterson, Unicef's global health chief from 2016 to 2020.
A nurse prepares to administer a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to an elderly woman in her house in rural Sabab Bernam, central Selangor state, Malaysia, Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Medical teams are going house to house in rural villages to reach out to elderly citizens as the government seeks to ramp up its vaccination program. Despite a strict lockdown, the pandemic has worsened with more than 844,000 confirmed cases nationwide and over 6,200 deaths. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
On Monday, July 26, President Joe Biden announced that Americans with disabilities from long-term COVID-19 effects will have access to the rights and resources of the Americans With Disabilities Act. “Many Americans still face lingering problems, like breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain or fatigue,” Biden said. “These conditions can sometimes, can sometimes, rise to the level of a disability.” This will include accommodations and services in the workplace, at school and in the health care system, “so they can live their lives with dignity and get the support they need to navigate these challenges.”
Watch Biden’s announcement here:
All municipal workers in New York City will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 13 or be tested weekly for the virus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday. The requirement for municipal workers to be vaccinated comes around the same time children will begin returning to school in-person. A vaccination mandate was also announced for healthcare workers in the city just a week prior, The New York Times reported. Teachers and police officers will be included in the new vaccination mandate de Blasio announced and in total, the mandate will apply to 340,000 workers in the city.
With less than half of the U.S. population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, experts urge unvaccinated people to stay out of bars and restaurants, CNN reported. In 48 states, the rate of new coronavirus cases jumped by at least 10% compared to the week prior, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said that the U.S. is left with two options: shut down businesses or return to wearing masks.“What I would say bluntly is: If you are not vaccinated right now in the United States, you should not go into a bar, you should probably not eat at a restaurant. You are at great risk of becoming infected," Reiner said.
Mount Fuji has been closed off to the public for a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the dormant volcano is now open, and hikers are flocking to get a glimpse of the view from its peak. The volcano was closed last summer amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it reopened this month, just in time for Olympic cycling events to take place around the volcano, AFP reported. “I have climbed other mountains, but Mount Fuji is special,” one traveler told AFP. “It is a volcano not connected to any other mountain range. It stands alone majestically on the landscape. I find it beautiful.”
Health officials in China revealed that 76 new coronavirus cases, 40 of which were blamed on local transmission, were reported on Monday, according to AFP, the largest number of daily cases counted since January. "Of the 40 domestic cases, 39 were from Jiangsu province and one from Liaoning," the national health commission said in a statement, AFP reported. Officials are planning to test millions of people in eastern Jiangsu province in response to the mini-outbreak. Elsewhere in the province, the capital city, Nanjing, has been under lockdown since last week as officials have been testing the population of 9.2 million after an outbreak believed to be the result of several infected travelers moving through the city's main airport. The original epicenter of the outbreak erupted in Wuhan in late 2019 leading to officials locking down the metropolis. Since that time, China has tallied 92,605 coronavirus cases and 4,636 fatalities.
Half of the entire U.S. population is now vaccinated, totaling to 163 million people, Johns Hopkins data revealed on Monday. Despite this, the nation is trailing behind others in vaccination efforts. On Sunday, 778,996 vaccine doses were administered in the U.S., compared to Japan, which had the highest number of doses administered on Sunday with 3.75 million. India had the second-highest number of vaccinations on Sunday with 2 million doses administered.
The delta variant now makes up 83% of sequenced samples of COVID-19 in the U.S. "This is a dramatic increase, up from 50% for the week of July 3," US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, according to CNN.According to experts, the delta variant is more transmissible than any other variants of the virus that have been discovered. As cases tick upwards in the country, vaccination rates have declined. Less than half of the population is fully vaccinated.
A snow leopard from the San Diego Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, and the zoo is administering vaccines to the other animals to protect them from getting infected as well. According to CNN, the zoo does not know how the leopard got infected. On Thursday, specialists noticed the leopard had a cough and nasal discharge, which was then confirmed to be a case of the virus through preliminary testing. The zoo has been vaccinating animals against the virus since January.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
The U.S. is “going in the wrong direction” in the coronavirus pandemic, according to the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday. Fauci called the nation’s current situation with COVID-19 an “unnecessary predicament” as cases continue to soar, according to The Associated Press. Fauci also said top health officials are now considering a new recommendation for vaccinated residents to wear masks. In addition, booster shots may soon be recommended for vaccinated individuals who have suppressed immune systems. “What I would really like to see is more and more of the leaders in those areas that are not vaccinating to get out and speak out and encourage people to get vaccinated,” Fauci said.
Confirmed cases: 193,927,751
Vaccine doses administered: 3,838,241,025
As COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States, health experts are concerned about what the next chapter in the pandemic could bring, CNN reported. Dr. Jeanne Marazzo, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said she is seeing young people in the ICU who are being intubated and or who are very sick. “That should be a gigantic wake-up call,” she said. Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Marazzo said that the state is “at the beginning of a wildfire” of COVID-19 spread. At the national level, 48.8% are the total population are fully vaccinated, but in Alabama, 33.9% are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. In Arkansas, that figure is even lower at 35.5%.
A Brazilian environmentalist and influencer went viral after he arrived to receive his coronavirus vaccine dressed as a snake to protest the Brazilian government’s COVID-19 pandemic response. “If the government had been quicker to acquire vaccines, many people would still be with us,” Klinger Duarte Rodrigues said, The Guardian reported. Rodrigues was not the only protester to dress as a reptile in protest of the government’s actions.Last year, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro refused to get vaccinated and made the sarcastic claim the Pfizer’s vaccine could turn those who receive it into alligators. As a response to that comment, many people in the country have dressed as various kinds of reptiles as they receive their vaccine. “My costume was a way of expressing my horror,” said Leila Fernandes, a 60-year-old educator who dressed as a crocodile. “I lost my mother-in-law, the husband of my niece and several close friends. You’ll struggle to find a family that hasn’t lost a loved one… So many Brazilians have been buried who could have escaped death but died because of the president’s impositions.”
An 18-year-old from California has started a website to help teens get vaccinated or convince their parents to let them get the jab,Time reported. The site, VaxTeen, was created by Kelly Danielpour, who began research for the project even before the coronavirus pandemic began. The website directs teens toward resources to help them talk to their parents about vaccines, debunking vaccine myths and guides on how to get a shot in states that don’t require parental consent for vaccination. Just ten states do not require parental consent for vaccination for kids under age 18. “In many cases, convincing a parent is a teen’s only option,” Danielpour said.
A study funding by the United Kingdom's government has found that a longer gap between doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine produces more antibodies,the BBC reported. Researchers from the U.K. found that an eight-week gap, rather than a three-week gap, is most effective in helping the body’s immune system produce antibodies. Both dosing schedules generated strong immune responses overall, though. "Our study provides reassuring evidence that both dosing schedules generate robust immune responses against Sars-CoV-2 after two doses,” said Dr. Rebecca Payne, one of the study’s authors.
Millions of children in the Philippines were sent into a lockdown on Friday as a result of a surge in COVID-19 cases. New lockdown restrictions in the county include capacity limits on indoor dining, beauty salons and religious gatherings and calls on children between the ages of five and 17 to stay home. The new lockdown restrictions come just two weeks after a ban on minors going outside that was put in place in March 2020 was lifted, Channel News Asia reported. "The Delta variant is more infectious and deadly," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said. During the last lockdown that prevented minors from going outside, the government said the measure was designed to prevent children from catching the virus and passing it along to their older relatives.
Just 43% of New York City police department staff are vaccinated against the coronavirus, roughly 23,000 of the agency’s 54,000 employees, The Associated Press reported. In comparison, 55% of New York City fire department staff are vaccinated, and at least 58.5% of New York City residents have received at least one vaccine dose, according to city data. The NYPD has so far refused to mandate the vaccine, citing a possible legal challenge. On Wednesday, July 21, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was looking into mandating vaccines for city employees.
The gamma variant of the coronavirus, which was first identified in Brazil, was detected in small amounts in Russia, according to the developer behind Russia’s EpiVacCorona vaccine, via the Interfax news agency. “The delta variant is widespread on the territory of the Russian Federation, with isolated cases of the Amma variant detected,” Interfax quoted the Vector Institute in Siberia, which developed the EpiVacCorona vaccine. The institute’s vaccine is one of four COVID-19 vaccines that have been registered in the nation. Russia is currently facing a surge in COVID-19 cases that authorities have blamed on the delta variant and a slow rate of vaccinations, Reuters reported. Like delta, gamma is considered a variant of concern since it is thought to spread more easily and could potentially reduce the effectiveness of antibodies, the institute added.
New Zealand will pause its quarantine-free travel arrangement with Australia for at least eight weeks beginning Friday, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Australia is currently battling a COVID-19 outbreak fueled by the delta variant. Ardern told reporters that the decision will “keep New Zealanders safe,” Reuters reported. The pandemic “travel bubble” has already been paused for those traveling to and from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. In the next week, there will be return flights for New Zealanders from all Australian states and territories that will require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before departure, the New Zealand government said. “We've always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly,” Ardern told reporters.
The Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins took to Twitter to question his future in the NFL following the release of a memo detailing the consequences for coronavirus outbreaks during the 2021 season, ESPN reported. According to the memo, teams with coronavirus outbreaks that lead to canceled games will be forced to take a forfeit, and players on both sides of the forfeit will lose their game checks. Soon after Hopkins tweeted that these rules had him “question[ing]” his future in the NFL, Hopkins deleted the tweet. Hopkins later tweeted "Freedom?" before adding that he plans on staying in the league for years. Other players, including running backs Leonard Fournette and Jalen Richard, both tweeted and deleted posts critical of the vaccination push. Teams across the NFL are generally well-vaccinated, with at least 16 teams reporting a vaccination rate of 85% or higher.
With spectators barred from attendance at the Tokyo Olympics, the competitions will sound a bit different than previous Olympic games. Unlike other sporting events during the pandemic, which have relied on fake crowd noise to enhance the broadcast, NBC has decided not to include fake crowd noise during the competitions in Tokyo. Michelle Solomon, NBC's executive producer for the Olympics told The Associated Press that fans will likely be able to hear the Games as they haven't before. The only time crowd noise might be heard is the ambient crowd noise some venues might incorporate as they create an atmosphere for athletes, the AP said. One of the challenges for NBC is the sheer size of the Olympics, as there are more than 300 events on the schedule for the next two-plus weeks. Different sports have different cadences, which would be challenging when trying to incorporate crowd noise into a broadcast, according to the AP.
While providing strong protection against severe disease and death, Israel’s health ministry found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is just 39% effective in preventing against infections caused by the contagious delta variant, Bloomberg reported. This data comes in staunch contrast to a paper published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine, which found the Pfizer vaccine 88% effective in preventing symptomatic disease from the delta variant. The Israeli study, which did find 88% effectiveness in preventing hospitalization and 91% against severe disease, is likely to further fuel debates about the need for a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Pfizer plans to make a request for emergency use authorization for a third dose in the United States in August.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey told reporters that “it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks” for the rise in COVID-19 cases, Axios reported. The state has reported nearly 8,000 new cases in the past week. Alabama is one of a handful of states with less than 40% of residents fully vaccinated. Nationally, the average number of new cases per day is up 55% over the past week. Unvaccinated people account for 97% of those hospitalized, the CDC said last week. Federal officials have said that about 99% of those who die from the virus are unvaccinated. “It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down. I’ve done all I know how to do. I can encourage you to do something but I can’t make you take care of yourself," Ivey said.
Newly formed Tropical Storm Nepartak could impact Tokyo Olympics
The formation of Tropical Storm Nepartak could throw another wrench into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The storm, which formed east of Japan, is forecast to move northward over the next few days before turning towards mainland Japan, with Tokyo in the AccuWeather Eye Path® of the storm. Nepartek is not expected to be any stronger than the equivalent of a tropical storm when it makes landfall – though the system strengthening into a typhoon is not out of the question. "The greatest impact to the games would obviously come from a direct hit on Tokyo, where the majority of venues and events are located," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda said. But with Olympic venues across the country, a landfall north or south of Tokyo could still be impactful. Just 67 events have been postponed in Olympic history, all during the Winter Olympics.
Prior to the start of Friday's opening ceremony of the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, the medical director of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee gave an update on the number of athletes who were vaccinated, The Associated Press reported. Of the 567 athletes who filed paperwork documenting their medical histories, an estimated 83% had replied they were vaccinated. “Eighty-three percent is actually a substantial number and we’re quite happy with it,” medical director Jonathan Finnoff said, according to the AP. There are 613 Americans in total competing in the games and two have already tested positive, the AP said. U.S. athletes competing in Tokyo won't be treated differently based on their vaccination status, he noted. “The best thing to do is to assume everyone’s at risk, and reduce risk by introducing COVID mitigation measures that we know work,” Finnoff said.
As for the Games themselves, the opening ceremony was held in a near-empty stadium, but that didn't stop organizers from setting off fireworks in what was really a made-for-tv event. “Today is a moment of hope. Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “But let us cherish this moment because finally we are all here together.” It was a different story outside the stadium, where angry protestors were making their voices heard about the decision to hold the Games. Watch the video below for more.
A relaxation in coronavirus restrictions has brought a return to the spread of colds and other respiratory viruses, The New York Times reported. There has been an unusual summer surge in cases in common respiratory illnesses in the United States and globally, including respiratory syncytial virus (R.S.V.), which is especially dangerous for the young and elderly. “Frequent exposure to various pathogens primes or jazzes up the immune system to be ready to respond to that pathogen,” said Dr. Paul Skolnik, an immunovirologist and chair of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. “If you’ve not had those exposures, your immune system may be a little slower to respond or doesn’t respond as fully.”
Philadelphia officials are recommending that people wear masks indoors once again, regardless of vaccination status. Despite the city reaching the 1 million mark in terms of vaccinations this week, Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said the city is seeing "a small but disturbing increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 among children," WPVI reported. "It's time for all of us to do what we need to do to protect our city's kids. That means getting fully vaccinated if you haven't yet, and it means all of us going back to wearing masks in public. Kids under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated. They need you to step up," she said. The city's newest recommendation comes as some bars and restaurants were just removing signs saying masks were optional, WPVI reported. "We thought that we were really moving forward, so it's a little surprising to hear we're taking a step back," said Maria Hughes, the assistant manager at McNally's Tavern told the news station.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said Thursday that the rapidly-spreading delta variant is "one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of and that I have seen in my 20-year career." She added that the delta variant, which was first identified in India last December, "is more aggressive and much more transmissible" than initial strains and mutations of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Despite cases spiking nationwide due to the spread of the delta variant, however, Walensky, when asked by a reporter whether the agency was considering revising its guidance on masks, said the "CDC recommendations haven't changed." But she added that communities should make decisions that are right for them based on how the virus is spreading in different localities and stressed that even those who are vaccinated may want to consider using masks as an "extra layer of protection."
More than 55,000 new coronavirus cases were counted across the U.S. on Thursday, the second consecutive day more than 50,000 new infections were reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. Another 315 fatalities were reported throughout the U.S., pushing the national death toll above 610,000. Globally, the U.S. counted the highest number of new cases of any nation in the world. Meanwhile, the U.S. administered more than 660,000 vaccine doses on Thursday and more than 162 million Americans are now fully vaccinated. For more on the vaccination effort and how the virus is spreading around the world, watch the video below.
Famed musician Eric Clapton said Wednesday that he will not perform in any venues that require audience members to be vaccinated against COVID-19, NPR reported. He wrote that he would not perform in the presence of a “discriminated audience,” following the announcement of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said that people will have to provide proof of vaccination in order to attend events at venues and nightclubs. In May, Clapton said he experienced a “severe” reaction to the AstraZeneca vaccine and was afraid that he would “never play again,” according to NPR.
Nine individuals among those working to contain the Bootleg Fire have tested positive for COVID-19, officials reported on Thursday via InciWeb. Due to the number of people who tested positive, this will be reported as a workplace outbreak to the Oregon Health Authority. The report noted that while this year’s fire season was slightly different from the previous year’s due to the availability of vaccines, many of last year’s COVID-19 exposure mitigation measures were still in use at fire camps statewide. Following those exposure mitigation measures, the individuals who tested positive are now quarantined away from the camp. The Bootleg Fire is one of Oregon’s largest wildfires at the moment, covering more than 399,000 acres in southern Oregon and fueling pyrocumulus clouds that are capable of generating their own weather.
On Thursday, the White House announced that it will invest $1.6 billion in COVID-19 testing and mitigation efforts in the nation’s most vulnerable communities, Axios reported. Coronavirus cases are up across the United States as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread, mostly among the unvaccinated. The $1.6 billion investment comes from the American Rescue Fund and is expected to go to high-risk settings like prisons and homeless shelters. Just last week, the White House announced it would distribute nearly $400 million to small rural hospitals to help them increase their testing capacity.
A surge in coronavirus cases in the Los Angeles area is making life difficult for local restaurants, CBS Los Angeles reported. Restaurants had struggled to hire enough staff to meet demand for dine-in service but are now being hit hard by new infections. Bottega Louie in West Hollywood and Village Idiot LA in the Melrose area both have temporarily closed due to COVID-19. “Out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our guests and staff, we have decided to close Bottega Louie West Hollywood for a few days,” the restaurant said on its Instagram. Village Idiot LA closed after one of its fully vaccinated staff members tested positive for the virus.
Weekly jobless claims moved higher than predicted, showing the pandemic economy may not yet be over, CNBC reported. Filings for unemployment insurance totaled 419,000, significantly higher than the 350,000 Dow Jones estimate. The surprising increase marked the highest weekly count in jobless claims since May 15. However, there were signs that the country’s economic recovery is continuing. The total number of those receiving benefits from government programs declined by 1.2 million to 12.57 million, down from a pandemic peak of 33 million.
New Orleans has become the latest U.S. city to announce a renewed public health advisory focus on indoor masking, Axios reported. This move comes two months after the Big Easy lifted its mask mandate amid the spread of the delta variant. “I am recommending that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask indoors when with people who are not in their immediate household,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. Louisiana has the third-lowest vaccination rate across the U.S., according to data from the CDC. However, the region around New Orleans has the highest vaccination rate across the state, with nearly half of the population vaccinated. This vaccination rate is nearly twice as high as other regions of the state, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
School may be a distant thought for millions of children across the U.S. that are on summer break, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is already planning for when schools open their doors in the coming weeks. During a town hall in Ohio, President Joe Biden said that the CDC is likely to announce that “everyone under the age of 12 should probably be wearing masks in school.” Additionally, children 12 or older will also have to wear masks unless they are fully vaccinated, Reuters reported. Current CDC guidelines pass the buck to school districts to make the decision on mask guidelines.
Last year’s NFL season will not soon be forgotten as COVID-19 forced games to be rescheduled, stadiums to sit empty and players to be tested on a daily basis. The upcoming season is shaping up much differently thanks to vaccinations, but teams could be facing bigger consequences if an outbreak does unfold. NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero broke the news on Thursday that if a game cannot be rescheduled due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the team with the outbreak will forfeit. Additionally, no players from either team will receive a game check.
Players are not required to get vaccinated, but their vaccination status will be a major factor if they test positive. According to Pelissero’s reporting, if a vaccinated player tests positive and is asymptomatic, they can return after two negative tests. However, if an unvaccinated individual tests positive, they will need to isolate for at least 10 days before being eligible to return. The league's commissioner may also take additional disciplinary actions, Pelissero said. The regular season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 9, with the Dallas Cowboys taking on the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
An official wears a face mask as he uses a starter pistol to signal the start a women's 100 meter heat at an athletics test event for Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games at National Stadium in Tokyo, Sunday, May 9, 2021.(AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Tokyo reported just under 2,000 new cases on Thursday, the highest number of cases reported in the metropolitan area since mid-January, Nikkei reported. Fears are growing in Japan that the Olympics could further the spread of the virus. The 1,979 cases reported Thursday marks an increase of 671 from last Thursday; new cases in Tokyo this week are up 55.7% compared to last. At least 75 people with Olympic credentials have tested positive for the coronavirus, The New York Times reported.
The African nation of Guinea has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics due to concerns over COVID-19, Yahoo Sports reported. The country was only sending five athletes to this year’s Olympic Games in what would have been its twelfth Olympic appearance. “Due to the resurgence of COVID variants, the government, concerned with preserving the health of Guinean athletes, has decided with regret to cancel Guinea’s participation in the 32nd Olympics scheduled for Tokyo,” Guinea Minister of Sports Sanoussy Bantama Sow said. Funding for the country’s athletes may have also been taken into consideration for the decision, Yahoo Sports reported.
A fourth wave of coronavirus infections is currently underway in France and that's caused the country's government to implement a controversial new policy rather than resort to another nationwide lockdown. According to AFP, a "health pass" will be required for people to attend events at places that hold more than 50 people such as museums, sports venues and cinemas. The health pass will require people to either show their proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. French Prime Minister Jean Castex defended the policy, as he noted that the bulk of new infections are from unvaccinated people, according to AFP. France's health minister, Olivier Veran, spoke critically about those who refuse the vaccine while addressing the country's parliament. "Freedom is not about dodging taxes, or driving the wrong way up the motorway, or smoking in a restaurant or refusing a vaccine that protects me as much as it protects others," Veran said, according to AFP.
More than 52,000 new cases of COVID-19 were tallied across the U.S. on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. This was the second-highest daily total in the world, following Brazil, which counted 54,517 new cases. As the delta variant spreads across the U.S., the positivity rate has hit the highest level in months with around 7% of all coronavirus tests coming back positive. Watch the video below for more information about how the virus is spreading.
Health officials in Florida are having “déjà vu” as new cases of COVID-19 rise at an alarming rate. “Our staff, they are frustrated,” said Chad Neilsen, according to a report from The Associated Press. Neilsen is the director of infection prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, where beds are filling up with COVID-19 patients. “They are tired. They are thinking this is déjà vu all over again, and there is some anger because we know that this is a largely preventable situation, and people are not taking advantage of the vaccine.”
New infections in the U.S. have nearly tripled in just two weeks as the delta variant spreads across the country. The seven-day rolling average has surpassed 37,000, up from 13,700 on July 6, according to the AP, citing data from Johns Hopkins University. An overwhelming majority of the recent infections are among the unvaccinated, the data showed. As of Wednesday, less than half of the entire U.S. population was fully vaccinated, the CDC said.
Gallup’s latest Negative Experiences Index, which tracks worldwide experiences in more than 100 countries and areas, shows that the world was feeling the worst it had in 15 years. Gallup asked adults about any negative experiences on the previous day, and found that four in 10 adults said they had experienced worry or stress, and about 29% experienced physical pain on the prior day, according to the poll. About one in four experienced sadness and 24% experienced anger. Ahead of 2020, 2019 had already neared or reached record highs in worry, stress, sadness, and anger, according to Gallup. The year "2020 officially became the most stressful year in recent history,” according to the report.
With COVID-19 rising throughout the U.S., one expert says it’s time to hit the “reset button” and for much of the country to put masks back on, CNN reported. Dr. Leana Wen told CNN that other areas should follow the reinstated mask mandate in Los Angeles County, California. In places where there is a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, Wen -- who is a CNN medical analyst -- said that the indoor mask mandate should still apply. "We are at a very different point in the pandemic than we were a month ago," Wen said.
More than half of the teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) have exceeded the 85% vaccination threshold,but the conference’s commissioner said there’s no decision on whether games impacted by COVID-19 will be rescheduled or forfeited, ESPN reported. The ACC’s medical advisory group is set to meet and will provide an update on the protocol, said ACC commissioner Jim Phillips. A handful of ACC schools have vaccine mandates campus wide, while other teams are still working to reach the 85% threshold. Once teams reach the threshold, they do not have to wear masks indoors or undergo regular testing for COVID-19. “There's no question that increasing the number of vaccinations will provide the best chance for our teams to compete," Phillips said.
An Indonesian man is reportedly facing arrest after disguising himself as his wife in order to board a flight, CNN reported. The man, publicly identified as “DW,” boarded a Citilink flight from Jakarta to Ternate while wearing a niqab that covered him from head to toe, according to CNN Indonesia. The man had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, but his wife had tested negative. A flight attendant told authorities that she saw the man enter a bathroom on the plane in the niqab before he exited wearing men’s clothing. She notified authorities who detained the man when he disembarked. Police say they intend to prosecute the man once he finishes self-isolating.
Chile’s Institute of Public Health approved emergency use of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine against COVID-19, adding to the country’s massive vaccination program, according to Reuters. One of the institute’s experts voted against the approval and two abstained, seeking more information on the vaccine’s efficacy. Institute President Heriberto Garcia said that no major adverse effects of the Sputnik-V vaccine had been observed. More than 13 million people of its population of 19 million have received at least one dose from an arsenal of vaccines, which includes Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac.
The U.S. extended its restrictions on non-essential travel at the land borders of Canada and Mexico on Wednesday through Aug. 21. The decision by the Department of Homeland Security follows Canada’s announcement on Monday that it will start allowing currently vaccinated U.S. visitors on Aug. 9 for non-essential travel, such as tourism. One thing the Biden administration is weighing is whether to follow Canada’s lead and require all visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering the country, sources told Reuters. The White House plans a new round of high-level meetings this week to further discuss travel restrictions and whether or not to implement a vaccine mandate for visitors. The decision comes amid concern around the delta variant and efforts to curb its transmission.
A study published by the Lancet medical journal found that more than 1.5 million children lost a caretaker during the first 14 months of the pandemic,UPI reported. More than one million kids lost one or both of their parents, while another 500,000 lost a grandparent or older relative caregiver. These figures are likely underestimates, the researchers say. "In the months ahead variants and the slow pace of vaccination globally threaten to accelerate the pandemic, even in already incredibly hard-hit countries, resulting in millions more children experiencing orphanhood," study co-author Dr. Juliette Unwin said.
The University of Illinois system announced on Wednesday that it will require all faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus for the fall 2021 semester. The school system posted an update on their website regarding the change, a month after it announced that it will require all students either have to be vaccinated for the fall 2021 semester or follow additional safety guidelines. The system includes three universities: Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The update also noted that for employees covered by a union contract, “guidance will be implemented through the applicable collective bargaining processes.”
The delta variant of the coronavirus is leading to an uptick in cases in many areas of the U.S., but a different strain is currently circulating around Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health has reported 403 cases of the delta variant, but the gamma variant is currently more common and is currently responsible for more than 2,600 infections, according to the Chicago-based news station CBS 2. “The Delta variant that we are hearing so much about doesn’t seem to be making, as of yet, as much inroads into Chicago as we would’ve otherwise expected,” said Dr. Stefan Green. “I don’t have a definitive answer of why delta hasn’t expanded more rapidly in Cook County.” This news comes one week before Lollapalooza, a popular music festival in Chicago that is expected to welcome 100,000 people.
As of late Wednesday morning, July 21, more than 5,300 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Louisiana since the previous day, amounting to one of the highest single-day increases in 2021, WWL reported. The Louisiana Department of Health reported 5,388 new cases of the virus on Wednesday — the third-highest daily case count since the beginning of the pandemic, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Numbers like this are avoidable, and we should be doing better,” Edwards said.
According to the news outlet, the last time the state had reported numbers of this proportion was on Jan. 6 when the LDH reported 6,882 cases amid the height of the third wave of the virus. Two counties with the largest share of Wednesday’s new cases are Baton Rouge at 24% and Northshore at 21%, according to Christina Stephens, a spokesperson for Edwards’ office. As of Wednesday, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized across the state had tripled compared to the number at the beginning of the month.
A growing number of Republicans are encouraging Americans to get vaccinated as the delta variant spreads, The Washington Post reported. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stressed the need for unvaccinated people to get vaccinated, warning that the country could reverse the progress it’s made. “These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for,” McConnell said. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican among House leadership, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and urged others to follow. Sean Hannity, a Fox News host, also urged people to get vaccinated on his broadcast.
How new COVID-19 infections are handled, not the total number of cases, are how the Tokyo Olympics should be judged, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week, according to The Associated Press. Tedros' comments came while he was speaking at an International Olympic Committee meeting in Tokyo. “The mark of success is making sure that any cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible and onward transmission is interrupted,” he said, according to the AP. Nearly 80 cases were linked to the Olympics as of Wednesday, the AP reported. Tedros also spoke critically about how richer countries are not adequately sharing their vaccine supplies. “The pandemic is a test and the world is failing,” Tedros said.
A black bear, ignoring rules prohibiting spectators, crashed the start of the first sports event of the Olympic Games. An Asian black bear was spotted just hours before the start of competition at Azuma Sports Park, which is hosting Olympic softball, early Wednesday morning,AFP reported. A guard spotted the bear, but the stadium guards were later unable to find or capture the creature. Asian black bears are dangerous, having been known to attack and kill local residents when they venture into residential areas. Despite the bear scare, the softball game was played, with host nation Japan forcing a mercy rule against Australia.
The COVID-19 isolation bubble system set up at the Olympic village is already broken ahead of opening ceremonies at the Tokyo Games, Reuters reported. Officials reported the first coronavirus cases among athletes in the village on Sunday, which is set to house 11,000 competitors. As of Tuesday, there have been 67 cases detected among those accredited for the Games since July 1, organizers said. Last week, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said that COVID-19 testing and quarantine protocols would yield “zero” risk of athletes infecting the residents in Japan. Kenji Shibuya, the former director of the Institute for Population Health at King's College London, said that the conditions on the ground were “totally opposite.” "It's obvious that the bubble system is kind of broken," Shibuya said. "My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people."
The lambda variant, first identified in Peru, was discovered at a Houston hospital on Tuesday, Axios reported. The lambda variant, which made up 81% of cases in Peru from April to June, has been classified as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization. "I don't think there's sufficient evidence at this point that we should be more concerned about lambda than delta, I still think delta is the primary concern for us," Wesley Long, medical director of Diagnostic Microbiology at Houston Methodist, said to ABC News. The delta variant accounts for 83% of cases in the United States, a number that continues to increase week to week.
Coronavirus infections in Tokyo surged to a six-month high as the city recorded over 1,800 cases two days before the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, The Associated Press reported. Japan’s vaccination campaign has lost a significant amount of steam, with just 23% of the population fully vaccinated. “The surge in cases has been expected whether we have the Olympics or not, and we are afraid that there will be an explosive increase in cases regardless of the Olympics,” Japan Medical Association President Toshio Nakagawa said. The city of Tokyo remains under a state of emergency, its fourth during the pandemic.
Multiple countries across Southeast Asia are now struggling as they battle new waves of the pandemic as a result of the delta variant. Vietnam, Laos and Thailand have been able to evade large outbreaks previously in the pandemic, NPR reported, but now the three nations are struggling to contain new cases as the delta variant surges. According to some experts, the healthcare systems in Indonesia and Myanmar are also on the brink of a collapse as oxygen supplies and vaccines run low and hospitals begin to overcrowd. "Our testing capacity is still low compared to the magnitude of the pandemic. And the second one is about the vaccination rate - not only low but slow," Indonesian Epidemiologist Dicky Budiman of Griffith University in Australia said. Many of these nations benefited from China’s Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19 when it was distributed earlier in the pandemic, but now healthcare workers who received the vaccine are contracting the virus anyway and the nations are struggling to import other vaccines.
Life expectancy in the United States dropped by a year and a half, a decrease largely attributed to the pandemic, NPR reported. Roughly 74% of the decline was attributable to the coronavirus. African Americans and Hispanics saw the largest drops in life expectancy, at 2.9 and 3.7 years, respectively. The 1.5-year drop in life expectancy was the worst decrease seen in the United States since WWII. Besides the coronavirus, an increase in drug overdoses, homicides and deaths from diabetes and chronic liver disease contributed to the life expectancy decline.
As cases rise in California, 17 counties, which together comprise half the state’s population, are asking fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks as a precaution, The Los Angeles Times reported. Most of these recommendations are voluntary, with Los Angeles County being the sole jurisdiction to issue an indoor mask mandate, a mandate the county sheriff said he would not enforce. The state is seeing an uptick in cases attributed to the delta variant; cases in California have increased by 255% in the last 14 days. “All community members should take action to protect themselves and others against this potentially deadly virus,” Ventura County Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin said. “While vaccines remain our best tool against COVID-19, masking in indoor and crowded outdoor settings will help us curb the spread of this latest wave of infection.”
Statins, drugs that can help lower cholesterol may offer protection against severe illness of COVID-19, according to a new study, HealthDay News reported. The study enrolled more than 10,500 patients at over 104 hospitals in the U.S. between January and September of 2020. The patients had been hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19, but according to HealthDay News about 42% had been taking statins prior to being taken to a hospital, while 7% were taking statins as well as blood pressure medications.
FILE - This Nov. 15, 2005 file photo shows 40 milligram tablets of Lipitor, one kind of statin used for lowering blood cholesterol. A team of researchers released a study in mid-July, 2021, showing that patients who were given statins prior to hospitalization for COVID-19 had substantially lower odds of death. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
Dr. Lori Daniels, the director of the cardiovascular intensive care unit at the University of California, San Diego, and the lead author of the study, said patients taking statins "prior to getting hospitalized due to COVID-19 had a 41% lower risk of dying during that hospitalization, even after adjusting for other factors like age, gender, other medical problems, and what type of medical insurance they had." Daniels and her fellow researchers analyzed data compiled by the American Heart Association and concluded that the use of statins was linked to a "25% lower risk for developing a "severe outcome" as a result of COVID-19 infection," HealthDay News reported. Daniels said statins were "stabilizing the underlying heart conditions for which they are prescribed, making patients more likely to recover from COVID-19." Click here to read the full study.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a staunch warning against travel to the United Kingdom, advising that Americans avoid all travel to the island nation. The CDC notes that the level of coronavirus spread in the country is "very high" and that even vaccinated travelers may be at risk of infection. The U.K. is dealing with a significant rise in cases tied to the highly contagious delta variant. More than 46,500 new cases and 96 deaths were reported on Tuesday, according to figures from The Guardian.
With the delta variant now accounting for 83% of all new coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to the CDC, the number of new cases tallied across the nation remained high on Tuesday. More than 42,000 new cases were reported along with 298 fatalities, according to statistics tracked by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Globally, the U.S. was behind only the U.K. in terms of reporting the most new infections on Tuesday. Meanwhile, vaccinations across the U.S. were down slightly from Monday, meaning the country is still teetering on the cusp of reaching full vaccination for 50% of the population. For more on the states that administered the most vaccinations on Tuesday, watch the video below.
With college football season around the corner, the Georgia Bulldogs are more than 85% vaccinated, head coach Kirby Smart said during a preseason press conference. Being past the 85% threshold allows the program to avoid wearing masks indoors and grants them an exemption from following stricter COVID-19 testing. Smart says he is still pushing for more vaccinations, ESPN reported. "What it's really about is being able to save our season. Being able to keep our players safe. We want to keep our players safe. We want to keep our coaches and staff safe.We want to keep our family members safe, and that comes through vaccinations." In the 2020 season, the Bulldogs had two games postponed.
Business owners in Scarborough, located on England's North Sea coast, say they’re struggling to keep up with the number of staff being forced to self-isolate, the BBC reported. Seven restaurants in the town have closed, according to the chair of Scarborough’s South Bay Traders Association. Most restrictions ended Monday, but people are advised to self-isolate if they receive an alert from the COVID-19 app. The Harbour Bar is among the businesses that have been affected. “It is pretty difficult because the sun's come out and we are a little bit short-staffed," said owner Guilian Alonzi.
A white, flowing wedding dress made entirely of face masks was revealed in London to celebrate the end of COVID-19 restrictions in England on ‘Freedom Day,’ Indy100 reported. The dress, which was commissioned by wedding supplier marketplace Hitched, comprises 1,500 upcycled face masks. England has removed all restrictions on weddings and Scotland increased maximum attendance at weddings to 200. The dress also highlights the waste that disposable plastic PPE generates, according to Indy100. Hitched claimed that 100 million disposable masks are thrown away in the UK each week. “With thousands of weddings set to take place this summer, couples can now look forward to dancefloors reopening, standing drinks receptions and photographs full of smiling faces with PPE restrictions lifting,” said Sarah Allard, editor of Hitched.
The British government decided not to vaccinate most children and teens against COVID-19 until there is more data available, The Associated Press reported. Children as young as 12 with severe neurological disabilities, Down syndrome, immunosuppression or severe learning disabilities, along with those who live with immunocompromised people, will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. The decision follows a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which said that the benefits of universal vaccination don’t outweigh the risks for most young people who typically suffer milder symptoms of the virus. “Until more safety data is available and has been evaluated, a precautionary approach is preferred,” the committee said in a statement.
The United States could see more COVID-19 vaccine mandates once the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to one or more of the vaccinations, public health experts predict. The three vaccines administered in the U.S. are authorized by the FDA for emergency use and have been proven safe and effective under the expedited review process, according to NBC News. Doctors and health officials have said that there’s no need to wait to get vaccinated. “I think once the vaccines go through full FDA approval, everything should be on the table, and I think that everything will be on the table at the level of municipalities, states, employers, venues, government agencies,” said Andy Slavitt, who stepped down as President Joe Biden’s Covid response coordinator last month.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Tuesday during a briefing that there have been several breakthrough coronavirus cases among White House staffers. The announcement follows Axios first reporting that a White House official and a staff member for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive for the virus after attending the same reception last week. Psaki didn’t disclose how many breakthrough cases have been in the White House, but she did note that all White House staff members are vaccinated and are tested regularly.
In regards to the Pelosi aide, Axios reported that the staffer had helped to usher a delegation of Democratic Texas lawmakers around the Capitol last week. Six of those lawmakers have since tested positive for the virus. Watch the full briefing in the tweet below.
The highly contagious delta variant continues to spread across the United States, comprising 83% of all cases, CNN reported. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the news in a Senate committee hearing Tuesday. On July 3, delta made up just 50% of all coronavirus cases in the country. Cases are rising across the U.S., with the average number of daily new cases this week up 66% from the week prior. Health experts are encouraging Americans to get vaccinated, as 99.5% of recent coronavirus deaths are among unvaccinated individuals. Less than half of all Americans are fully vaccinated, upsetting health experts who warn low levels of vaccination will prolong the pandemic. Watch the video below for more.
Due to a spike of COVID-19 cases in multiple countries around the world, Apple is now delaying its return to the office deadline until October, Bloomberg reported. The tech giant will reportedly give employees a month's notice before they are scheduled to return to the office. Apple was initially planning to bring employees back in September at a gradual pace. The rate of infections spurred on by the highly infectious delta variant has now delayed those plans. Some Apple employees had previously criticized the company, saying the September timeframe was too early for a return to office work, Bloomberg said.
With the Olympic opening ceremony just three days away, the cancellation of the Olympic Games remains a possibility, CNN reported. The CEO of the Games, Toshiro Muto, says that the parties in charge of the Olympics will continue monitoring the coronavirus situation. "We cannot predict what the epidemic will look like in the future. So as for what to do should there be any surge of positive cases, we'll discuss accordingly if that happens," Muto said. Cases in Japan are on the rise, and athletes arriving in Japan are seemingly bringing the coronavirus with them. More than 70 cases have been linked to the Olympic Games, while Tokyo reported 1,387 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. Tokyo remains under a coronavirus state of emergency that will extend through the Olympics.
Starting Aug. 9, Canada will open its borders to fully vaccinated Americans for the first time in more than 16 months, Reuters reported. "Thanks to the rising vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 cases, we are able to move forward with adjusted border measures," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. Entrants to Canada must be fully vaccinated for at least two weeks; those under the age of 12 will not be required to quarantine if they are traveling with their parents. Canada will open its doors to fully vaccinated visitors from all countries starting on Sept. 7.
The ban on U.S. travelers put a dent in the Canadian economy, with many businesses across the border lobbying for a quicker end to restrictions. "As Canada moves from recovery into growth, having workable border measures for fully vaccinated travelers is critical for Canadian businesses," said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
The coronavirus pandemic forced many people to adapt in different ways. For Olympic athletes, global lockdowns made it much more difficult to maintain their high levels of training. But like others, they found new and creative methods to stay in elite shape while trying to maintain their dreams of Olympic gold. According to the BBC, some athletes spent time lifting weights in a kitchen or breaking rocks on a hillside as a way to stay conditioned and focused on their lifelong goals. Watch the video below from the BBC to see other unique training methods.
Residents in Kentucky who have not been vaccinated should resume wearing masks while indoors, Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Monday. The new guidance allows for unvaccinated people to go maskless while in their homes, but calls for residents to mask up in all other indoor spaces. "We have the most aggressive variant that we have seen to date in our battle against COVID. It’s a serious, even deadly, threat to unvaccinated Kentuckians,” Beshear said in statement. The governor said more than 2.3 million Kentucky residents have received at least one vaccine dose. Dr. Steven Stack, the commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, urged people to get the shot. "It’s a choice that should you choose to get vaccinated," Stack said in the same statement. "You protect yourself and also all the others who are both vaccinated and unvaccinated because the more of us who are vaccinated, the less the virus is able to spread, to infect people and to hurt people." Beshear said the state has experienced three consecutive weeks of rising cases and that the seven-day rolling positivity rate was at 5.45%
New daily coronavirus cases across the U.S. topped the 50,000 mark for the second time in the last week on Monday, a plateau that hadn't previously been reached since late April. Some 52,111 cases were counted on Monday nationwide along with 212 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. Meanwhile, more than 161 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, which is just shy of half of the U.S. population. The total cases counted in the U.S. on Monday was second globally. For more on how the virus is spreading and how the vaccination effort is progressing, watch the video below.
England has lifted most of its domestic COVID-19 restrictions as of July 19, a day many have marked as a milestone in moving past the pandemic. There are no longer restrictions on the size of social gatherings or events, and social distancing is no longer required, although the government still encourages meeting outdoors when possible, NPR reported. It also has lifted requirements for people to wear face coverings, with the exception of crowded areas like public transportation. However, the lifting of restrictions comes as the U.K. sees one of its highest spikes of COVID-19 infections since January, and the infection rate is up 41% over the previous week, according to NPR. U.K. Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said Monday that the new phase brings an emphasis on personal and corporate responsibility in combating the virus. However, not all Britons are on board with the move. Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer was one of the voices to criticize the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government, calling their haste in lifting too many measures “a reckless free-for-all,” NPR reported. According to The Guardian, COVID vaccine certificates, essentially vaccine passports, will be required for people to enter nightclubs and other crowded indoor spaces by late September.
The U.S. is sending one million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to Gambia, Senegal, Zambia and Niger and three million doses to Guatemala,CNN reported. The news was announced by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday. President Joe Biden has pledged to donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to other nations around the world. “The United States continues its tremendous effort to donate Covid-19 vaccines from the US global supply,” Psaki said. “The shipments demonstrate the United States is fulfilling our promise to be an arsenal of vaccines for the world, and we're proud to be donating these doses to save lives and help those in need.”
In this April 13, 2021, file photo, kindergarten students participate in a classroom activity on the first day of in-person learning at Maurice Sendak Elementary School in Los Angeles. California will require that masks be worn at schools when classrooms open this fall. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said, Friday July 9, 2021, that not all schools can accommodate physical distancing of at least 3-feet or more, so the best preventative measure is indoor masking. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
With back-to-school season right around the corner, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a recommendation that everyone over the age of 2 returning to schools wear masks. The AAP also recommends in-person learning and getting vaccinated if eligible. “We need to prioritize getting children back into schools alongside their friends and their teachers -- and we all play a role in making sure it happens safely,” Dr. Sonja O’Leary, chair of the AAP Council on School Health said.
Green Day, the American rock band, is holding a surprise concert on Tuesday exclusively for Tulsa, Oklahoma residents that have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Tickets took just hours to be entirely sold out, with photo ID and proof of vaccination required for all attendees, according to KOCO. A news release from Cain’s Ballroom, where the show will be played, said the vaccination requirement was in light of a recent spike in coronavirus cases due to the delta variant. According to data from the Tulsa Health Department, the city has seen an increase of cases in recent weeks, including over 600 last week.
Rep. Vern Buchanan, who is fully vaccinated, has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing very mild symptoms, NBC News reported. Buchanan, who represents Florida’s 16th Congressional District, is currently quarantining at home. “This should serve as a reminder that although the vaccines provide a very high-degree of protection, we must remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19,” said Buchanan. Vaccines do not provide 100% protection against coronavirus infections, but strongly protect against hospitalization and death. “Although the vaccines provide a very high-degree of protection, we must remain vigilant in the fight against Covid-19,” Buchanan said.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships will remain in place after the issuance of a temporary stay, The Associated Press reported. A lawsuit, championed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, says the CDC’s rules are overly burdensome, a decision that a U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday concurred with. Judge Merryday ruled that the CDC’s rules cannot be enforced and should instead be considered non-binding recommendations.
However, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court temporarily blocked the ruling just ten minutes before it would have come into effect. “The undisputed evidence shows that unregulated cruise ship operations would exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, and that the harm to the public that would result from such operations cannot be undone,” the CDC said in a court filing.
Investors are “getting spooked” as the COVID-19 delta variant fuels a rise in cases across the globe, CNN reported. The Dow fell more than 750 points Monday morning, dropping 2.2%. The S&P 500 fell 1.7% and the Nasdaq sank 1.2%. Monday is shaping up to be the worst day for the Dow since a 943-point drop in late October, according to CNN. Shares of companies that were expected to benefit from the reopening of the economy are being hit hard. Airlines -- including United, Delta and American -- were all down more than 4%. Cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, each fell about 5%
After being identified as close contacts, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak will enter self-isolation, the BBC reported. Initially, it was reported that Johnson and Rishi, both of whom are fully vaccinated, would participate in a pilot scheme that would allow them to avoid isolation, despite working closely with Health Minister Sajid Javid, who tested positive earlier this week. Opposition party members criticized that plan, noting that is seemed there was “one rule for them and another for the rest of us.” Johnson later said that they “briefly” considered taking part in the pilot program. After the near-immediate criticism following the announcement that the pair would not isolate, it took just 157 minutes for Downing Street to change its tune.
Just one week after fleeing Texas in an effort to prevent a new voting law, five Texas Democrats tested positive for COVID-19 in Washington D.C., according to the Texas House Democratic Caucus. The New York Times reported that all five lawmakers have been fully vaccinated against the virus. The Democrats left Texas on July 12 and have vowed to stay in Washington until the end of a 30-day session to secure passage of the voting bill they are fighting against. State Representative Gene Wu, one of the lawmakers who fled the state, used the news of the infections to promote the importance of vaccinations.
“That is the beauty of being vaccinated,” he told MSNBC on Saturday. “Every single person who has tested positive so far have little to no symptoms, which is sort of the point of the vaccine. And if nothing else, we would want this to be a reminder to all Americans, get your stupid shots now. Don’t wait.”
A number of Olympic athletes in Tokyo have tested positive for the coronavirus, including an alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, NBC News reported. One other gymnast was identified as a close contact and is “on standby.” The athlete who tested positive did not spend time in Tokyo, but practiced and traveled with other team members. "In alignment with local rules and protocols, the athlete has been transferred to a hotel to quarantine. Out of respect for the individual’s privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time," the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement.
Coronavirus infections skyrocketed by more than 500% in the Netherlands over the course of a week, the Dutch public health institute reported on Tuesday, July 13. These numbers were reported after the government scrapped nearly all remaining lockdown restrictions and the night clubs reopening, according to The Associated Press. On Friday, July 9, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte reintroduced some restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread, including requiring bars to close at midnight and shuttering discotheques and clubs at least until Aug. 13. Of the infections, around 37% could be traced back to a hospitality venue such s a bar or club, according to the Dutch public health institute. COVID-19 infections among people ages 18 to 24 surged by 262%, and infections among ages 25 to 29 saw cases rise by 191%.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings issued a “strong recommendation” on Monday, July 12, that everyone in the county, including those who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, wear masks in crowded places indoors after seeing a new spike of COVID-19 infections in the county. He added that he will not reissue a new mask mandate. However, the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate has gone up from 4.28% in late June to 7.78% as of Monday, Demings said according to Forbes, and Orange County is “now considered by the CDC the high-risk category for community transmission.” The surge is primarily driven by unvaccinated people, according to Dr. Raul Pino of the Florida Department of Health, adding that the unvaccinated make up 100% of the cases and deaths the county reported Sunday, July 11. “This is a moment of truth for our county. But this is an unvaccinated issue,” Pino said Monday. “The vaccine is effective; the vaccine is working the vaccine is everywhere; the vaccine is free. It’s up to you to take it and make that decision.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is rethinking his country’s coronavirus strategy, hoping to adopt a tactic of "soft suppression,” Reuters reported. Israel had lifted most coronavirus restrictions until the arrival of the highly contagious delta variant, which led to the reimposition of indoor mask-wearing. “Soft suppression” involves helping Israelis learn to live with the virus, using minimal restrictions and avoiding a fourth national lockdown. Bennett is counting on fewer people to fall seriously ill, even as infections rise."Implementing the strategy will entail taking certain risks but in the overall consideration, including economic factors, this is the necessary balance," Bennett said last week.
New COVID-19 guidelines in South Korea require that gyms not play music with more than 120 beats per minute during group exercise classes to avoid fast breathing and splashing sweat, NBC News and Reuters reported. The restrictions also limit treadmill speeds to a maximum of 3.7 miles per hour and ban the use of gym showers. The near-lockdown limitations were in place in the capital, Seoul, along with neighboring regions. "When you run faster, you spit out more respiratory droplets, so that’s why we are trying to restrict heavy cardio exercises,” Son Young-rae, health ministry spokesperson, said in a radio interview Monday, according to South Korea's English-language daily The Korean Herald.
The World Health Organization’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke on the issue of vaccine availability globally and encouraged nations with better access to vaccines to share their doses with nations that are struggling. “While many countries haven’t even started vaccinating, and another country has already vaccinated majority of its population the two doses and now moving to a third dose which is the booster, it doesn’t even make any sense,” Tedros said. Tedros also said he believes the world has the ability to increase the production of the vaccines, and that the nations with the ability to produce them must work together to increase the production so there will be enough doses to share. “When we say share, it’s not like giving it for free,” Tedros said. “Majority of countries can pay, but they don’t have the vaccine.” Tedros warned that many high-income countries are now starting to look at the countries still struggling as if it is “not their problem,” and he said that is a “dangerous” mindset to hold. “If there is one word that can explain it, it's greed,” he said.
Watch the full message from Tedros here:
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that he will not enforce the county’s new mask mandate, which requires all citizens to mask up indoors, The New York Times reported. In a statement released on his department’s website, Villanueva explains that the department will not expend its limited resources on enforcing the measure. “Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science,” Villanueva said. L.A. County reimplemented its mask mandate following an uptick in coronavirus cases tied to the delta variant. The county is averaging over 1,870 new cases a day and COVID-19 hospitalizations are up more than 27 percent.
The sports card trading market has been booming during the pandemic, with the most expensive cards costing millions of dollars, AFP reported. Lockdowns helped to reinvigorate hobbyists and attract new collectors. “It’s like live stocks, basically,” Sharon Chiong, the co-owner of Trading Company, said. “There’s no other collecting that will give you that excitement.” At one recent card trading event, the most expensive card sold for $5.9 million. Watch the video below for more.
Over half of a polled Japanese audience remains in opposition of the Summer Games, responses from an Asahi newspaper show. According to CNBC, the data also shows that 68% of respondents expressed doubt that the Games' organizers could control COVID-19 outbreaks during the event processions. The ripple effect of such public backlash has affected the way corporations have considered advertising during the Games, as major sponsors such as Toyota have pulled support. "It is true that Toyota will not be attending the opening ceremony, and the decision was made considering various factors including no spectators," a company spokesperson said, according to CNBC. "We will not be airing any commercials related to the Games in Japan."
American tennis star Cori “Coco” Gauff announced that she tested positive for COVID-19 and will be forced to miss the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The 17-year-old has been one of the most popular players in the U.S. and is currently ranked 25th in the world heading into the Summer Games, where she was expected to lead Team USA in the country’s first Games without longtime star Serena Williams in 25 years. “The entire USA Tennis Olympic contingent is heartbroken for Coco,” the US Tennis Association said on Twitter. “We wish her the best as she deals with this unfortunate situation and hope to see her back on the courts very soon.”
The U.S. is “losing time” in the race to vaccinate the population, according to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in part due to the delta variant, Collins says getting vaccinated is key for the U.S. to beat the spread. "We're losing time here. The delta variant is spreading, people are dying, we can't actually just wait for things to get more rational,” he told CNN. According to the news outlet, 48.2% of the U.S. is now fully vaccinated and vaccinations in the nation are now on the decline. As vaccinations decline, 47 states have seen an increase of new cases by at least 10% compared to the week prior. Thirty-five of those states have seen an increase of over 50%. "I hope people will hear this, right now listening to this: If you are on the fence bout whether vaccination is going to help you, listen to those numbers," Collins said. "Why are we waiting folks? Let's roll up our sleeves if we haven't already done so.”
A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in San Juan Sacatepequez, Guatemala, Thursday, July 15, 2021. About 1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine have been donated by the United States. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
Coronavirus cases surged to a six-month high in Tokyo, just one week before the Olympics are set to start, ESPN reported. Tokyo is under a fourth state of emergency, which began Monday and requires that bars close early and not serve alcohol through the Olympics. The largest increase in serious cases and hospitalizations were among those in their 50s and younger, who are largely unvaccinated, according to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike. "We need to stay on alert," Koike said.
A doctor from Northern California was arrested Wednesday after running a fake COVID-19 vaccine card scheme, according to an announcement from the Department of Justice. Juli A. Mazi, 41, faces one charge of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health matters, CNN reported. Prosecutors say the woman tried to sell homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets and fake coronavirus vaccine cards. The charge marks the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to vaccinations and vaccine cards, prosecutors say. “This defendant allegedly defrauded and endangered the public by preying on fears and spreading misinformation about FDA-authorized vaccinations, while also peddling fake treatments that put people's lives at risk,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.
Despite new rules aimed at slowing the highly contagious delta variant, the Eiffel Tower reopened on Friday, The Associated Press reported. The Eiffel Tower had been closed since October, as France battled against a second wave of the coronavirus. Visitors to the attraction will need to show a pass proving they are fully vaccinated, show a negative test, or prove they recently recovered from the coronavirus. The Eiffel Tower will be limited to 10,000 guests a day, down from the pre-pandemic normal of 25,000.
Most vaccination experts believe that a booster shot for the coronavirus will not be needed for years,The Week reported. While Pfizer is seeking authorization for a booster shot from the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. experts largely believe there is no need for a third dose. "I haven't seen evidence that a booster would be indicated for anybody, including the immunocompromised," Helen Boucher, an infectious disease doctor at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, told The Washington Post. Global health officials have pushed back against those in vaccine-rich countries getting a third dose before many worldwide can receive their first, arguing the focus should be on getting doses to the most vulnerable, The Washington Post reported.
The government-backed COVID-19 Test and Trace app has told more than 500,000 Britons to isolate this week, with similar numbers expected in the coming weeks, CNBC reported. With coronavirus cases in the country soaring, more and more people are being told to isolate every day. One study found that for every infected person, an average of 36 close contacts will be told to isolate. A “close contact” is defined by the British government as an individual who has spent 15 or more minutes within two meters of an infected individual. Starting Aug. 16, the fully vaccinated and children under the age of 18 will not need to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive.
With less than two weeks until the start of training camp, two NFL teams are less than 50% vaccinated, The Associated Press reported. The two least vaccinated teams are the Washington Football Team and the Indianapolis Colts, a source told the Associated Press. Unvaccinated players will face significant restrictions, including but not limited to, mask wearing, daily testing, eating meals without teammates, and prohibitions on leaving the team hotel when traveling. The most vaccinated teams are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. More than 10 teams have more than 85% of players vaccinated; league-wide, 73% of players are vaccinated.
A woman who traveled from Australia to Britain to visit her dying father says she is stuck in the U.K., the BBC reported. Donna Lewis flew from Queensland to North Lincolnshire in February to assist her mother with her father’s care. After he died in May, flights to Australia were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Australia halved the number of international arrivals amid a coronavirus outbreak and is only allowing 3,000 citizens to return per week to reduce the stress on the quarantine system. "I haven't seen my husband for five months, haven't seen my children for five months and there's no real saying when I will get back there," Lewis told the BBC. About 37,000 Australians are stranded overseas, according to the BBC. Just 8% of the country’s population has been vaccinated.
Over 1,200 international experts have joined together to warn that England’s easing of pandemic restrictions is a threat to the world, The Guardian reported. In a letter published in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, the experts warned that loosening pandemic restrictions in the United Kingdom will provide fertile ground for vaccine-resistant variants. More than 51,000 new cases of the coronavirus were reported in the U.K. on Friday, approaching the country's pandemic high. “We cannot understand why this is happening in spite of the scientific knowledge that you have,” wrote Professor José Martin-Moreno of the University of Valencia, a senior adviser to the World Health Organization. Some scientists fear that other nations worldwide will follow Britain’s example, potentially prolonging the pandemic.
In addition to making vaccines mandatory for healthcare workers, Hungary will begin offering a third coronavirus vaccine dose beginning Aug. 1,Reuters reported. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the decision over state radio, saying that doctors will decide which vaccine should be taken as a third dose – a dose which should come at least four months after the second shot. Hungary has used a wide array of vaccines, including Russian- and Chinese-made vaccines, to vaccinate more than 5.5 million of its roughly 10 million people.
A study found that four in 10 adults between the ages of 19 and 49 developed organ-related complications while being treated for COVID-19, the BBC reported. The study, which was conducted by researchers at seven U.K. universities, the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, included 73,197 adults of all ages across 302 U.K. hospitals during the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020. "The message is that this is not just a disease of the elderly and frail," said professor Calum Semple, who led the study.
Americans who are fully vaccinated will be welcomed into Canada in mid-August, The Associated Press reported. The costs of closing the U.S.-Canada border have been steep, with the U.S. Travel Association estimating that each month the border is closed, Canada loses out on $1.5 billion. Fully vaccinated travelers from countries other than the United States will likely be allowed into Canada by early September. Canada leads G20 nations in vaccination rates, with 80% of eligible Canadians having received a first dose and more than 50% full vaccinated. Canada began easing travel restrictions for its citizens in early July, allowing them to forgo a 14-day quarantine after returning from abroad.
The Food and Drug Administration has granted priority review designation for Pfizer and BioNTech’s application for full approval of its COVID-19 vaccine, CNN reported. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, like the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson jabs, are currently authorized under emergency use. The FDA has set a goal date of January 2022 for the decision, both companies said. Approval may come before the goal date, though, with one former White House senior adviser telling CNN approval could happen in July.
Emergency use authorization for a coronavirus vaccine for kids under 12 could come in early to midwinter, NBC News reported, citing a Food and Drug Administration official. Three coronavirus vaccines have been approved for emergency use for those over the age of 12, though none have been fully approved. The FDA says that granting full approval of a vaccine for adults is its highest priority, knowing that for some individuals and families, full approval is a sticking point for getting vaccinated. The slower process in authorizing a vaccine for those under twelve can be attributed to the FDA taking extra precautions. The agency is asking for four to six months of follow-up safety data after vaccine trials on those under 12, compared to just two months of data for adults.
President Joe Biden said the United States is reviewing when it can lift travel restrictions that ban most non-U.S. citizens from traveling to the U.S. from much of Europe, Reuters reported Thursday. The statement comes after German Chancellor Angela raised the issue. Discussions about when restrictions could be lifted are in progress, Biden said. Airlines have also urged the White House to lift restrictions. Many countries not subject to travel restrictions have higher COVID-19 rates than many European countries, according to Reuters.
A lab at the University of Missouri found evidence of the delta variant in wastewater nearly a month before the first patient with the strain tested positive, according to local station FOX2Now. The lab, which is located inside the Bond Life Science Center at Mizzou, hasn’t found a sample without the strain since June 7. The lab receives about nine gallons of wastewater from treatment facilities across the state weekly, which amounts to 200 samples from 96 communities, including St. Louis and Kansas City. “It spread so fast it was hard to keep up but at least we gave the state a heads-up that this is really spreading fast,” said Marc Johnson, a professor leading the study.
Singapore announced Friday that new measures for the vaccinated and naturally immune will begin on July 19, CNBC reported. These groups will be able to dine in groups of five without taking a coronavirus test. Unvaccinated groups will still need to take a coronavirus test to dine in groups of more than two. Unvaccinated children who are less than 12 years old can dine in groups of five with members of their household. More than 70% of Singapore’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 45% of people are fully vaccinated.
The head of the World Health Organization said it was premature to rule out a potential tie between the COVID-19 pandemic and a lab leak, The Associated Press reported. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is asking China to be more transparent as scientists probe for the origins of the virus. Earlier this year, the international team that traveled to China to investigate the virus’ source struggled to get access to raw data, Tedros said. He told reporters that the U.N. health agency is “asking actually China to be transparent, open and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a noticeable uptick in new cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks and is predicting that trend to continue as the delta variant spreads. One month ago, on June 15, the U.S. was averaging around 13,000 new cases per day. That has since doubled, with the CDC reporting an average of more than 26,000 new cases per day. This is the highest seven-day average since mid-May, according to CDC data. The number of new infections on Thursday surpassed the seven-day average with over 28,000 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Watch the video below for more data on how the virus is spreading across the country:
Masks will once again be required indoors across Los Angeles County just one month after the city reopened its economy, NBC News reported. Public Health officials reported 1,537 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, marking the highest total recorded since early March. The rise in cases is fueled by the rapid spread of the delta variant, according to NBC News. The mask order begins later Saturday and applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. There will be some exceptions, but they were not immediately clear, according to NBC News. “We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late given what we’re seeing now,” county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said at a Thursday press conference. If cases continue to rise, Davis added that there could be a need for more drastic measures.
Vaccinated individuals are extremely unlikely to experience long-haul cases of COVID-19, NBC News reported. Even mild cases of coronavirus could result in long haul symptoms, leaving some to worry that a vaccine may not prevent a prolonged bout of coronavirus. But breakthrough infections resulting in long Covid-19 are "quite rare," according to Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, a sentiment echoed by others who work at post-Covid-19 clinics. Vanichkachorn is a specialist who works with post-Covid-19 syndrome patients at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "Of the people who get vaccinated and end up with a breakthrough infection, their risk of coming back to the clinic with some long Covid manifestation is very, very small," Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University said.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are on track to start in February despite the continuing threat of the coronavirus, The Associated Press reported. China has largely eliminated local spread of COVID-19, but has maintained strict quarantine rules. Jia Maoting, the general manager of the company overseeing construction of Olympic sites, says the situation is somewhat uncertain. “We have solid determination to face the changing world," Maoting said. “We built good venues in any case and then we wait and expect a good result.” Journalists were allowed to tour some of the venues, including the locations for ski jumping, snowboarding and Nordic events.
Cases of COVID-19 are surging in Louisiana. The state reported 1,341 new cases on Wednesday, the highest level in the state since mid-February when vaccines were not widely available, The Advocate reported. Louisiana State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter told the publication that this is a “statewide outbreak” with infections up everywhere, not just in certain regions or cities. The delta variant is believed to be one of the driving factors behind the spike as it is more transmissible than other strains. The Louisiana Department of Health has divided the state into nine regions, and of those, four have yet to achieve a vaccination rate of 30%. Region 1, which includes New Orleans, has the highest vaccination rate of 47%.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal has entered health and safety protocols days before the Olympics begin, ESPN reported. Beal played 30 minutes on Tuesday during their win against Argentina. Beal may be unable to play in Tokyo, in which case Team USA can replace him with a member from the USA Select Team. Last week, three members of the Select Team entered health and safety protocols, with one later testing positive for the coronavirus.
More than 100,000 people in Argentina have died from the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported. Cases in the country have diminished from their peak in early June, but the situation reminds dire. One nurse, Paola Almiròn, had her whole family fall ill with COVID-19 - her mother, sister, and aunt died from the virus. The country’s vaccination campaign is slowly picking up, with 45% of the population having received at least one dose, with 11% fully vaccinated. Gubby Auza, a doctor at Llavallol Hospital, says another wave of coronavirus is likely to come. “We are in the calm before the storm,” Auza said. Watch the video below for more.
More than 19,000 people across France took to the streets to protest the country’s new coronavirus restrictions, AFP reported. The demonstrators are protesting against rules that require a vaccine health pass or a negative coronavirus test to enter many establishments. In Paris, protests turned violent, and tear gas was fired into the crowd after protestors threw projectiles and lit fires. One protestor, Yann Fontaine, said the implementation of a health pass was equivalent to segregation. "Macron plays on fears, it's revolting. I know people who will now get vaccinated just so that they can take their children to the movies, not to protect others from serious forms of Covid," he said. The government struck back against accusations of dictator-like actions, noting that eleven vaccines are already mandated by the government, and that the government is not mandating a coronavirus vaccine. "There isn't any vaccine obligation, this is maximum inducement," government spokesman Gabriel Attal said. Watch the video below for more.
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