The U.S. averaged 19,455 new COVID-19 cases per day over the last seven days, a 47.5% increase from the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And 43 states saw an increase in cases last week from the week before, a sign that the pandemic endures in the United States.
Hospitalizations are rising again. Deaths, a lagging indicator, also appear ready to start climbing. More than 99% of deaths are now among people who have not been vaccinated, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says two-thirds of counties with sustained increases in new infections are in states with low vaccine coverage.
“But the fact that we are seeing case increases in counties even in higher vaccination states is worrisome,” she tweeted. “Anywhere there are pockets of low vax coverage is at risk!”
Also in the news:
►Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday ordered a COVID-19 state of emergency for Tokyo. The plan aims to contain a resurgence in coronavirus infections and curb the movement of people during the Olympics, which run July 23 to Aug 8.
►Jim Nobles, Minnesota’s independent legislative auditor, says he doesn’t have the resources to satisfy a request by lawmakers for a comprehensive study of the state’s COVID-19 response. Democrats have criticized the request as political.
►Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized Monday for what he called “an error of judgment” in relaxing the Netherlands’ coronavirus lockdown, a move that has led to a sharp surge in infections. Rutte has reintroduced some measures to rein in the virus’ spread.
►The chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission has tested positive for the coronavirus, about four months after he was fully vaccinated. Jose Diaz has been a frequent presence at the Surfside condo collapse site, raising questions about exposure at the site, reported the Miami Herald.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 33.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 607,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 186.9 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. Nearly 159.2 million Americans – 48% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: As many adolescents and young adults prepare to return to the classroom in the fall term amid the spread of the delta variant, the lagging vaccination rates among Generation Z are raising concerns among experts.
The Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is once again raising concerns.
There have been about 100 instances of the possible connection between the vaccine and the syndrome, mostly among men and in many cases among those age 50 and older, the newspaper said, adding that 12.8 million doses of the J&J shot have been administered.
The CDC says on its website that people who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome can be vaccinated against COVID, and that no cases of the disorder were reported in clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. One case was reported in J&J trials.
Use of the J&J vaccine, hailed for its single-shot convenience, was paused for 10 days in April while federal health agencies investigated reports of six women developing rare but severe blood clots within two weeks of receiving the jab. The agencies later determined the vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks.
Recent outbreaks of COVID-19 at summer camps in Texas, Illinois, Florida, Missouri and Kansas, some spreading into communities, have some wondering whether it could be a preview of what may happen in the upcoming school year as the U.S. grapples with another surge in coronavirus infections.
In the Houston area, more than 130 youth and adults tested positive for the virus in connection to a church camp. “In some cases, entire families are sick,” pastor Bruce Wesley of Clear Creek Community Church said on Facebook.
In Illinois, health officials said 85 teens and adults at a Christian youth camp in mid-June tested positive. In Kansas, about 50 people were infected in an outbreak linked to a church summer camp last month not far from Wichita.
JoAnn Martin, administrator of the public health agency in Pettis County, Missouri, near where another summer camp outbreak took place, lamented the difficulty in getting people to take the virus seriously and get vaccinated.
“It has been a challenge since the first case,” she said. “You have people who still say it is not real. You have people who say it is a cold. You have people who say what is the big deal. You have people who say it is all a government plot.”
Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, has opened its sixth COVID-19 ward as the delta variant rages in the state’s southwest region. Chief Administrative Officer Erik Frederick tweeted that the hospital needed at most five COVID-19 wards last year, when the coronavirus was peaking across the nation. The hospital was treating 133 virus patients as of Sunday.
“Many local rural communities don’t have high vaccination rates,” Frederick wrote. “They also don’t have a hospital. Get sick, come to Springfield. I think that’s getting left out of the narrative.”
Representatives from Pfizer and federal health officials, who sent out conflicting signals about the need for vaccine booster shots, are planning to meet as soon as today. Last week, the American pharmaceutical giant and its partner BioNTech said they would pursue U.S. and European regulatory approval for a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, given the spread of variants and data they said showed diminished vaccine potency six months after the initial shots. U.S. officials, however, say they want to see the data before recommending booster shots.
The issue is complicated by vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. – and the fact that much of the world hasn’t obtained access to first shots of vaccine.
“Right now, given the data that the CDC and the FDA has, they don’t feel that we need to tell people right now you need to be boosted,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top Biden administration adviser, said Sunday on CNN in response to the news.
California will require that masks be worn at schools when classrooms open this fall, despite new guidance issued Friday from the CDC that says vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear face coverings inside school buildings.
Ahead of new school guidelines expected next week, health officials in California said Friday that requiring face coverings will allow all schools to reopen this fall for full in-person instruction. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that not all schools can accommodate physical distancing of at least 3 feet or more, so the best preventive measure is wearing masks indoors.
“We believe that with masking and with testing, we can get kids back to in-person 100% in our schools,” Ghaly said.
Ghaly noted the CDC guidance released Friday says that when it is not possible to maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance, “it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.”
California’s decision around schools comes as districts across the state prepare to open next month for full-time learning and the state continues to encourage residents, including kids as young as 12 years old, to get vaccinated.
– Stockton Record
For putting their health on the line during the coronavirus pandemic, prison guards in Missouri got an extra $250 per paycheck. Teachers in Georgia received $1,000 bonuses. And in Vermont, nurses, janitors, retail workers and many others got as much as $2,000.
Over the past year, about one-third of U.S. states have used federal COVID-19 relief aid to reward workers considered essential who dutifully reported to jobs during the pandemic. But who qualified for those bonuses – and how much they received – varied widely, according to an Associated Press review. While some were paid thousands of dollars, others with similar jobs elsewhere received nothing.
As society reopens, momentum to provide pandemic hazard pay appears to be fading – even though the federal government has broadened the ability of state and local governments to provide retroactive pay under a $350 billion aid package enacted by President Joe Biden in March.
So far, only a few states have committed to paying workers extra with money from the American Rescue Plan.
Contributing: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.