Booming US cases account for one-fifth the world total; NIH to decide whether to offer booster shots this fall: Live COVID updates
Sun, August 15, 2021, 1:43 PM
The United States accounts for more than one-fifth of the world’s total COVID-19 cases for the first time since mid-February, before vaccines were widely available, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
The country reported more than 900,000 cases in a week for the first time since the week ending Feb. 4, while deaths surpassed 4,500 a week, nearly triple the count during the last lull.
Cases were rising in 46 states. Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana and Mississippi broke all-time case count highs last week, based on data reported Friday. Friday’s tallies broke community-level records, too, including those of 32 Florida counties, 32 Mississippi counties, 12 Louisiana parishes and 10 Oregon counties. They also broke records in four of five Hawaii counties. Hawaii’s other county is secluded and has about 100 residents.
Oregon has shattered its all-time COVID-19 case count high set in December. The state reported 11,564 cases in the week ending Friday, already more than 7.2% above the previous record. The state is deploying National Guard members to help fight the surge of the highly contagious delta variant.
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally wraps
-Mike Stucka, USA TODAY
Also in the news:
►The director of the National Institutes of Health says the U.S. could decide in the next couple weeks whether to offer coronavirus booster shots to Americans this fall. Dr. Francis Collins told “Fox News Sunday” that no decision has been made because so far vaccinated people remain highly protected from even the delta variant.
►Every county in the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts are the site of high or substantial transmission of the coronavirus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.
►Daily coronavirus deaths in Russia exceeded 800 for the fourth straight day on Sunday. The daily tally surpassed 800 for the first time Thursday and has remained at that level ever since. Russian authorities blame the delta variant.
►The 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that drew tens of thousands of bikers wraps up Sunday in South Dakota. Gov. Kristi Noem dismissed criticism about the rally being a COVID superspreader, insisting it was a “fantastic” event.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 36.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 621,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 206.6 million cases and 4.3 million deaths. More than 168 million Americans — 50.6% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: The travel landscape has changed dramatically in just a few short weeks. That leaves travelers, many of whom booked trips months ago when case counts were low, wondering whether or not to follow through with their plans. Should they cancel their trips? 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.
Concerts at risk as infections rise
Recent days have not been kind to live concerts. Stevie Nicks nixed her handful of 2021 festival dates. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was canceled for the second year in a row. Artists including Limp Bizkit and Lynyrd Skynyrd axed tours, shuffled dates or missed shows.
Concert promoters are scrambling to adjust to the ever-shifting coronavirus landscape, some requiring vaccinations or negative tests. Live Nation Entertainment venues and festivals will be requiring artists, fans and employees to be vaccinated starting in October.
Said Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino in a memo to employees: “We know people are eager to return to live events and we hope these measures encourage even more people to get vaccinated.”
– Melissa Ruggieri
Emotions, childhood infections on the rise as schools begin opening
Emotions are running high as school boards across the nation debate mask mandates.
Some parents are pressuring local officials to require masks in defiance of state laws, while others use debunked science to argue masks should not be required. But as schools begin opening nationwide, it’s clear that children are contracting COVID-19 at higher rates than earlier in the pandemic.
There were 93,824 child COVID-19 cases nationwide reported July 29 through Aug. 5, or 15% of the total weekly reported cases, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“After declining in early summer, child cases have steadily increased since the beginning of July,” the academy reports.
Some J&J vaccine recipients seek Pfizer or Moderna booster shots
A growing number of healthy J&J vaccine recipients are trying to decide whether they should get a “booster” dose from one of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, hoping to improve their chances against the delta variant. This is despite data the company presented to a federal advisory committee last month showing the protection lasts against all known variants for at least eight months.
As long as the J&J vaccine continues to protect against the severest forms of COVID-19 disease, healthy people don’t need a booster shot, said Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“We will cross the line where we know we need a booster dose when people who are fully vaccinated nonetheless are hospitalized with (J&J) or dying of COVID,” he said. “We’re not there, yet.”
– Adrianna Rodriguez
No vaccination, no fee waiver: The cost of getting COVID
People who choose not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus are more likely to become seriously ill and hospitalized, and some insurers are making the unvaccinated pay a larger share of their medical bills.
Major insurers such as Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and UnitedHealth Group discontinued some fee waivers for COVID treatments as vaccines became widely available, Kaiser Health News reports.
“Now you probably will have to pay a lot of money if you get hospitalized,” said Cynthia Cox, director for the Kaiser Family Foundation’s program on the Affordable Care Act. “That’s a very direct cost to people because of their lack of vaccination.”
– Ken Alltucker
Glitches, complex process slow relief to those facing eviction
Federal moratoriums on evictions — including a new targeted moratorium the Biden administration issued Aug. 3 — have protected many from losing their homes.
But millions of Americans have not received the emergency rental assistance that is available to them through a federal program administered by their state. A slow start, computer glitches and a thorny application process have kept emergency assistance from getting to many renters and landlords, experts say.
“It’s just been crickets. I’ve been waiting on a response — and nothing,” said Luis Caballero, a personal trainer in the Bronx.
– Joey Garrison and Michael Collins
Holland America chief: Cruises are safe, line ready to deal with COVID
Jan Swartz, president of Holland America Group, which includes Princess Cruises, had a front seat to the mayhem as COVID spread through ships and eventually across the world. Swartz has served as president of Princess Cruises since 2013 and was promoted to her group president role in December. Now, 16 months after the cruise industry was shuttered, the Carnival Corp. cruise line is back in service with a vaccine requirement in accordance with CDC guidance.
“We can expect that there will be cases of COVID on ships like there are on land, in schools, you name it. So we have many procedures in place should we have positive cases,” Swartz said referencing, isolation, contact tracing and onboard medical staff. “It’s a very dynamic situation, so I think we can all expect more change ahead.”
– Morgan Hines
Pharmacies start administering third shots for high-risk people
CVS and Walgreens pharmacies began administering the newly authorized third coronavirus vaccine shot to individuals with immunocompromising conditions on Saturday. People who completed their first two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines at least 28 days ago and have a qualifying condition can schedule their booster shots on the companies’ websites.
Food and Drug Administration determined on Thursday that people who take medications or have conditions that suppress their immune systems might not have gotten enough protection from the first two doses of the vaccine. The agency determined that applies to less than 3% of the U.S. population. The CDC gave its approval for a third shot less than a day later.
“People should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them,” Walgreens instructs its customers.
Contributing: The Associated Press