(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.
More than 618,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 4.3 million people have died worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Just 58.8% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here’s how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:
Aug 12, 3:54 pm
Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi reporting most cases ever
As the delta variant surges throughout the U.S., states including Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana and Mississippi are now averaging more daily cases than at any point in the pandemic.
Overnight, the U.S. recorded its highest single-day total since January, with over 130,000 new cases, according to federal data.
About 91% of counties in the nation now have high or substantial community transmission.
Nearly 9,700 patients are being admitted to hospitals each day, up by 31.3% in the last week and marking the highest number of patients seeking care since February, federal data shows.
As of Aug. 7, Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 made up more than 40% of COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
Aug 12, 3:02 pm
San Francisco announces vaccine requirement for patrons, staff
Proof of vaccination will soon be required for patrons and staff at San Francisco’s bars, restaurants, clubs and gyms, Mayor London Breed announced. Patrons must be vaccinated as of Aug. 20 and staff by Oct. 13.
Vaccines will also be required for certain health care providers, including workers at adult day centers, residential care facilities, dental offices, home health aides and pharmacists. This goes into effect Oct. 13.
San Francisco already has a 71% vaccination rate, according to government data.
Aug 12, 2:29 pm
Biden says he stands with officials defying state mandates barring masks in schools
President Joe Biden said he stands with the local leaders in Texas and Florida who are implementing masks in classrooms despite orders from their governors banning mask mandates in schools.
“To the mayors, school superintendents, educators, local leaders, who are standing up to the governors politicizing mask protection for our kids, thank you,” he said Thursday. “Thank God that we have heroes like you. And I stand with you all, and America should as well.”
Pres. Biden: “To the mayors, school superintendents, educators, local leaders, who are standing up to the governors politicizing mask protection for our kids, thank you…I stand with you all, and America should as well.” https://t.co/Rzc3ULmjsn pic.twitter.com/6r0nkiE0Oh
— ABC News (@ABC) August 12, 2021
Biden said “there are a lot of people” trying to turn masks in schools into a “political dispute,” but that these protections are about “keeping children safe” and “isn’t about politics.”
Aug 12, 1:53 pm
Florida has more cases than 30 states combined
In the last week, “Florida has had more COVID-19 cases than all 30 states with the lowest case rates combined,” White House COVID coordinator Jeff Zients said at Thursday’s White House briefing.
He added, “Texas alone have accounted for nearly 40% of new hospitalizations across the country.”
But the surge is driving up vaccinations and he said the most significant vaccine progress is in states with the most COVID-19 cases.
“In the past month, we’ve nearly tripled the average number of shots each day in Arkansas and quadrupled in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi,” Zients said.
Aug 12, 12:16 pm
No evidence of superspreader event at Lollapalooza
Thursday marks 14 days since the start of Lollapalooza in Chicago and officials have found no evidence of a superspreader event stemming from the music festival, city health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.
There have been 203 cases of COVID-19 linked to the festival, Arwady said. No one was hospitalized or died, she said.
About 385,000 people attended Lollapalooza, most of whom were vaccinated, Arwady said.
The 203 COVID-19 cases were made up of: 58 Chicago residents; 138 Illinois residents outside Chicago; and seven out of state.
Aug 12, 11:56 am
Largest teacher’s union in US supports vaccine requirements for educators
The National Education Association, the largest teacher’s union in the U.S., has announced support for COVID-19 vaccine requirements or regular testing for teachers.
NEA President Becky Pringle said in a statement, “As we enter a new school year amidst a rapidly spreading Delta variant and lagging public vaccination rates, it is clear that the vaccination of those eligible is one of the most effective ways to keep schools safe, and they must be coupled with other proven mitigation strategies.”
Nearly 90% of NEA members say they’re fully vaccinated, the union said.
Aug 12, 10:54 am
LSU will mandate vaccines when FDA grants full approval
In hard-hit Louisiana, Louisiana State University will mandate the COVID-19 vaccine once the FDA grants full approval, LSU President William F. Tate IV said in a statement.
“We expect the FDA to fully authorize one or more of the COVID vaccines in the next few weeks,” Tate said. “In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to go ahead and get vaccinated now.”
LSU’s live mascot, a tiger, has already been vaccinated.
Aug 12, 10:00 am
Some HHS employees will be required to be vaccinated
Going a step beyond the general guidelines for the federal workforce — which is to get vaccinated or be subject to masking/testing — the Department of Health and Human Services is offering only one option for its patient-facing employees: get vaccinated.
The 25,000 HHS employees who will be required to get vaccinated are concentrated within the Indian Health Service and National Institute of Health, as well as the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
The deadline to get vaccinated is the end of September, according to an HHS official familiar with the plan. There will be exemptions for religious or medical reasons.
Aug 12, 7:59 am
Fauci talks booster shots
The Food and Drug Administration is poised to authorize a third COVID shot for the immunocompromised on Thursday, sources told ABC News.
About 3% of the population would qualify, Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”
He said the boosters would be “for example, people who have transplantation and are on immunosuppressive drugs for that; people on therapy for cancer — cancer chemotherapy; people with advanced HIV disease; and people who are receiving immune suppressive therapy for a variety of diseases.”
When asked if the boosters would be available to everyone, Fauci said, “You have to follow people, which we’re doing in real-time, mainly a non-immune compromised, either an elderly person or a younger person … to determine if their level of protection goes below a critical level.”
He added, “If and when it does, and it’s likely that it will because no vaccine is gonna last forever, we’re gonna be ready and have a plan to give those individuals the additional dose they might need.”
Aug 12, 1:55 am
University of Mississippi Medical Center opening field hospital in garage
The University of Mississippi Medical Center, overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients due to the delta variant, is opening a field hospital in one of the center’s garages.
The unit will have 50 beds and will likely be available to take in patients by Friday, Gov. Tate Reeves wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
The news comes as Mississippi recorded 3,163 positive COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Aug 11, 11:33 pm
4 Georgia school districts pause in-person learning
Four school districts in Georgia recently paused in-person learning as positive cases of the coronavirus among staff and students swelled in the first days of school this month.
The districts — Macon, Taliaferro, Glascock and Talbot — account together for less than 1% of Georgia’s 1.7 million students, but the need to shut down in-person learning so early in the school year worries district officials.
“The difference now in this outbreak that we see than the outbreak that happened last school year is that this seems to be more centered on kids rather than adults, so that scares me to death,” Jack Catrett, the superintendent of schools in Talbot County, told Columbus ABC affiliate WTVM.
Talbot County, which had 11 students test positive on Friday, shut its doors to students for one week, with kids returning Monday. The other three districts have planned for two-week pauses to in-person learning.
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