For the first time in a month, COVID-19 deaths in the United States are once again over 2,000 per week, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data found.
New cases in the United States are also averaging more than 60,000 per day for the first time in more than three months, the analysis found.
The delta variant of the coronavirus has caused a concerning new wave of the pandemic as unvaccinated people bear the brunt of its effects. While breakthrough cases are possible in vaccinated individuals, the unvaccinated account for virtually all hospitalizations and deaths.
The worrying trend comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new mask guidance Tuesday recommending fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with high transmission.
In response, Nevada issued an emergency order requiring people — vaccinated or unvaccinated — in 12 of 17 counties to wear masks in public indoor spaces. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said a special session to revisit the state’s ban on mask mandates in schools is an option as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state surpassed 1,000. Michigan, meanwhile, will likely not issue a mask mandate or any other new COVID-19 pandemic orders any time soon, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.
Globally, the pandemic remains in a critical period. The World Health Organization said the number of COVID-19 deaths globally jumped by 21% in the last week. “If these trends continue, the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next two weeks,” the WHO said.
Also in the news:
►A study from AstraZeneca published Tuesday in the Lancet found its COVID-19 vaccine was associated with a small risk of rare blood clots after the first dose, but that risk did not increase after the second dose.
►Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston has seen several severe cases of COVID-19 in children, in some cases requiring ventilators, as the delta variant rapidly spreads, Dr. Jim Versalovic, the hospital’s interim Pediatrician-in-Chief told the Houston Press.
►The pandemic has pushed up prices for new and used vehicles, and many people with outstanding leases are cashing in or turning in their cars early with no penalty.
►Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, is facing criticism for “hate-mongering” after she suggested unvaccinated immigrants are contributing to rising COVID-19 cases. Public health officials have attributed the recent in cases to the spread of the delta variant in unvaccinated communities across the United States.
►Georgia’s largest school district has joined the growing ranks of those that will require students and employees to wear masks regardless of vaccination status as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the state.
►President Joe Biden said Tuesday his administration is weighing the possibility of requiring all federal workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as infections surge across the nation with the widespread transmission of the delta variant.
►The California State University system, the largest university system in the U.S., announced Tuesday it would mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students, faculty and staff who come to campus, citing the spread of the delta variant.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 34.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 611,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Nearly 195.2 million cases and 4.17 million deaths. More than 163.3 million Americans — 49.2% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading: The CDC’s decision Tuesday to reverse course and urge even fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in areas of high coronavirus transmission isn’t likely to crush community spread, experts say – but it might ratchet up pressure on the unvaccinated and encourage businesses and schools to implement mask mandates. Read the full story.
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A USA TODAY review of how states are starting to spend the $195 billion in direct aid included in a March coronavirus relief package found many are using large chunks of the help to avoid hiking taxes on businesses, drivers and others.
In addition, the massive amount of federal aid of various kinds since the pandemic started has boosted the economy and put many states in a strong enough budget position that they’ve been able to cut taxes.
“One of the sad lessons of the Great Recession was, we passed one stimulus bill and then all these state, local governments had all these problems still going on,” said Richard Auxier, a senior policy associate in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “They became an actual drag on the economy as they had to cut programs or raise taxes to get back out of the hole that they had dug. And we didn’t want to repeat that.”
– Maureen Groppe
Olympics organizers say an additional 16 people accredited for the Tokyo Games have tested positive for COVID, bringing the total to 174 since July 1.
The total includes 20 athletes, though there were no new positive tests among athletes in the cases announced Wednesday. Tens of thousands of people are accredited for the Games.
Tokyo also recorded a record daily high of 3,177 COVID-19 cases Wednesday, up from a previous high of 2,848 on Tuesday.
– Associated Press
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and the state Department of Health are urging residents to get vaccinated as the state experienced its largest one-day increase in hospitalizations since March 2020 this week.
As of Monday, 1,390 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Louisiana, an increase of 169 patients from just the day before. That is the state’s largest one-day jump in hospitalizations since the pandemic first reached Louisiana in March 2020. Only three days that March saw faster growth in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
“This surge is on us, and that means it is up to each of us to do our part to bring it to an end. It’s within our power. Getting vaccinated is the best way to stay safe and healthy during this pandemic. It is the best way to put it behind us,” Edwards said in a statement Tuesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with high transmission as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and vaccination rates wane.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said new data shows the delta variant, which accounts for more than 80% of the new infections in the U.S., behaves “uniquely differently” from its predecessors and could make vaccinated people infectious.
“Information on the delta variant from several states and other countries indicates that in rare occasions some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others,” Walensky said in announcing the new guidance. “This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendation.”
Parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week, which includes 60 percent of the nation’s counties, are subject to the guidance. New case rates are particularly high in the South and Southwest.
‘New science is worrisome’:CDC recommends wearing masks indoors, again. What that means for vaccinated Americans.
Contributing: The Associated Press.