Protests against mandated COVID-19 vaccines pop up across US

(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.

More than 615,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 4.2 million people have died worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Just 58.4% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC last week, citing new science on the transmissibility of the delta variant, changed its mask guidance to now recommend everyone in areas with substantial or high levels of transmission — vaccinated or not — wear a face covering in public, indoor settings.

Here’s how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

Aug 08, 8:36 pm
Court rules cruise vaccine mandate does not violate Florida law

A federal judge ruled Sunday in favor of Norwegian Cruise Line and will allow the company to require proof of vaccination on cruises out of Florida despite a state law that bans cruise ships from enacting such an order.

Norwegian sued the state last month contending that the law prevented them “from safely and soundly resuming passenger cruise operations from Miami, Florida.”

Florida’s law threatens to fine companies $5,000 each time they ask a customer to provide proof that they’ve been vaccinated.

Florida has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the last couple of weeks, with most cases affecting unvaccinated residents.

Judge Kathleen M. Williams wrote in her decision that Norwegian “has demonstrated that public health will be jeopardized if it is required to suspend its vaccination requirement,” and the Florida Department of Health, “identifies no public benefit from the continued enforcement of the Statute Case.”

Neither the cruise line nor the Florida Department of Health issued immediate statements about the ruling as of Sunday evening.

Aug 08, 7:04 pm
Memphis school delays first day of school due to COVID cases

A Memphis area elementary school sent a message to parents Sunday, just hours before the new school year was about to begin, informing them that the first day of classes would be postponed for a week due to COVID-19 cases among the staff.

The letter from Donelson Elementary School administrators didn’t specify how many staff members contracted the virus but indicated they “are simply at a point where opening tomorrow would risk further exposure to students and staff.”

The first day of classes is tentatively rescheduled for Aug. 16, the letter said.

Aug 08, 3:50 pm
Austin hospitals down to 6 ICU beds

Hospitals in Austin, Texas are down to just six available intensive care unit beds as more COVID-19 patients are admitted, officials warned.

City officials said there are 591 COVID-19 patients that are hospitalized. The seven-day average of new coronavirus ICU admissions in Austin’s hospitals has jumped from 23.4 on July 4 to 184 on Aug. 6, the city’s health department data showed.

Over the weekend, the Warn Central Texas system sent out an alert to residents via text message that urged people to wear a mask, get vaccinated and stay home if possible.

Aug 08, 2:44 pm
WHO warns of phony COVID lottery scam

The World Health Organization issued a warning Sunday about online scams involving a phony COVID-19 lottery.

The scammers claim to be a financial management firm in London under the name “Capital Finance, Inc. London,” WHO said.

The fraudsters allege through emails that the “COVID-19 Lottery Compensation Prize” is brought to you by WHO, in association with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), according to WHO.

The emails also state that they come from a group appointed by the WHO to process payment of these prizes, and then solicit personal details and in some cases, money from their victims, WHO warned.

“WHO is not offering or conducting a lottery prize to compensate individuals, whose names or contact details are purportedly selected at random, for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the UN agency said in a statement.

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