One-third of all COVID cases reported in Florida and Texas; US reaches 70% of partially vaccinated adults: COVID-19 updates

Florida and Texas had one-third of all COVID cases reported last week, White House COVID-19 Response coordinator Jeff Zients said during a Monday news conference.

Florida broke two records — in cases and hospitalizations — this weekend. Texas now has more total statewide deaths than New York, the early epicenter of the pandemic in the United States

The U.S. reported 599,334 cases in the week ending Sunday. A week earlier, cases numbered 364,123. The nation is now reporting 2,500 deaths per day, according to USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. 

Alabama COVID-19 hospitalizations climbed to 1,583 on Monday. Though some “breakthrough” cases are occurring in people vaccinated against COVID-19, said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris last week, the numbers are a small percentage of overall cases, and the majority of breakthrough cases are mild. Breakthrough cases requiring hospitalization are even less likely.

“Those people are usually protected from getting really sick or dying,” Harris said in a Q&A video with Gov. Kay Ivey last week. “Right now, we’ve got about 1.6 million people in the state who are fully vaccinated. We wouldn’t be surprised to see 5% or 10% of those people, which is a lot of people, come down with infection anyway. But the vaccine does keep them from getting really sick in most cases.”

With only about half of Kentuckians vaccinated against COVID-19, hospital and other public health officials fear the rise in new cases — which have jumped to more than 1,000 a day — will lead to more hospitalizations.

Also in the news:

►The U.S. reported 468,000 doses administered Monday, including 320,000 newly vaccinated, said COVID-19 Data Director Cyrus Shahpar on Twitter. The 7-day average of newly vaccinated was the highest since July 4.

►The Biden administration has offered to send more federal assistance to governors, including deploying “surge teams” of experts, as states grapple with a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant. 

See also  9/11 brought a sense of national unity. Why has the pandemic been marred by division?

►The mayor of Maui County is calling on Hawaii officials to postpone students’ return to in-person learning amid rising COVID-19 cases throughout the islands. If officials do postpone in-person learning, Hawaii’s school district, which serves nearly 175,000 students across the state, would be the first major district to kick off the academic year remotely.

► McDonald’s says it will require employees and customers to resume wearing masks inside some U.S. restaurants regardless of vaccination status.

►Another of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ staffers has tested positive for COVID-19. The governor’s office said in a statement Monday that the staffer and five others who may have been exposed are in isolation and awaiting more test results.

►16 destinations — Andorra, Curaçao, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Iran, Ireland, Isle of Man, Kazakhstan, Lesotho, Libya, Malta, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin and US Virgin Islands — were added to the CDC’s “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High” travel list.  

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 35 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 613,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 198.8 million cases and 4.23 million deaths. More than 164.9 million Americans — 49.7% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘What we’re reading: After more than 18 months of a pandemic, with 1 of every 545 Americans killed by COVID-19, a substantial chunk of the population continues to assert their own individual liberties over the common good. Read the full story.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

New York Gov. Cuomo urges businesses to adopt ‘vaccine-only admission’

Pressure continues to increase from officials to get people vaccinated against the coronavirus as infections mount across the country, fueled by the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant.

See also  Masks are back, as Delta variant forces dramatic reversal in US

Days after President Joe Biden said federal workers and contractors would have to get vaccinated or face restrictions that include masking and testing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday workers in New York City’s airports and public transit system will be required to get the shots or weekly tests. That follows last week’s announcement by Cuomo that all state workers must get vaccinated or submit to weekly tests.

At a Manhattan news conference Monday, Cuomo also urged private enterprises to require vaccination of their employees and customers.

“Private business, bars, restaurants, go to a vaccine-only admission,” he said.

Also Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio “strongly” recommended that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors, but declined to make masking mandatory.

Mask opponents at risk after virus case at Missouri meeting

Many people were maskless as they expressed their displeasure with a mask mandate during a boisterous, four-hour St. Louis County Council meeting, and now contact tracers are trying to determine if anyone picked up the coronavirus after someone at the meeting tested positive for COVID-19.

The delta variant of the coronavirus that emerged in rural areas of Missouri has made its way to urban areas, prompting new mask mandates in St. Louis city and county last month and one that began Monday in Kansas City. The St. Louis County mandate was the subject of a turbulent meeting last Tuesday. Democratic County Executive Sam Page said Monday many of those who spoke and attended ignored the mandate that requires masks in indoor public places.

“Yes, it’s unfortunate that many of those Tuesday night ignored the law, but that’s what happened,” Page said during a live-streamed video from his home. “As a result, this is where we are, wondering how many people were exposed to the virus and how many will become sick from the virus.”

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US reaches 70% of at least partially vaccinated adults

On the day the Biden administration welcomed the news that 70% of American adults are now at least partially vaccinated, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said a nationwide vaccination mandate “is not on the table,” but noted that employers have the right to take that step as they see fit.

Biden said last week that federal workers and contractors would have to get vaccinated or face several restrictions that include testing and masking. His administration is also counting on vaccine requirements from private employers to convince holdouts to get inoculated.

Those efforts, along with perhaps fear of the delta variant’s impact, seem to be paying off. While the 70% mark was achieved about a month later than the original goal of July 4, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients noted a recent increase in vaccine uptake.

Zients said 3 million Americans got their first shot in the last week, the largest number for a seven-day stretch since July 4.

“There’s a strong sense of progress, and you see it in the number of shots we’re getting into people’s arms each day,” Zients said.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

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