July 28, 2021 US coronavirus news

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 11:23 PM ET, Wed July 28, 2021
44 Posts
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8:06 p.m. ET, July 28, 2021

Atlanta issues executive order requiring masks in all indoor public places

From CNN's Kay Jones and Dave Alsup

The mayor of Atlanta issued an executive order today requiring masks or cloth face coverings while indoors in all public places.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued the order in response to the uptick of Covid-19 cases, the impact of the Delta variant and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a news release from her office. 

Fulton and DeKalb counties are designated as areas of substantial transmission, the latest data from the CDC shows. 

The order includes private businesses and establishments, the release said.

The order comes just hours after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted that he will not issue any mask mandates or lockdowns amid the surge of new cases, as CNN reported.

7:18 p.m. ET, July 28, 2021

New York state courts will require regular Covid-19 testing for unvaccinated staff 

From CNN’s Taylor Romine

The New York State Court system announced Wednesday that all employees will have to undergo regular Covid-19 testing if they are not already vaccinated, according to a statement. 

While no start date was specified, the courts said that the policy change will take effect "in the coming weeks."

"The new policy, to take effect in the coming weeks, will require Unified Court System judges and non-judicial employees who have not been vaccinated to undergo regular testing for Covid-19," Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Judge Lawrence K. Marks said in a joint statement. "This new program strongly encourages judges and court employees who have not yet done so, to get vaccinated, especially in light of the risks posed by the new Covid-19 variants."

This comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier on Wednesday that all patient-facing healthcare workers in state hospitals must get vaccinated with no testing option.

All other state employees will be required to do regular testing if they are not vaccinated by Sept. 6. 

6:13 p.m. ET, July 28, 2021

Kansas governor says state employees must wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status

From CNN’s Raja Razek

State employees will be required to wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status beginning next Monday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said during a news conference.

"For my authority under the state constitution, beginning next Monday, state employees, regardless of their vaccination status, will be required to wear masks indoors at work if they cannot socially distance," she said. "Additionally, anyone entering state buildings or facilities will also be required to mask up."

The governor also discussed guidance regarding counties that fall into high Covid-19 transmission zones saying the path forward in the fight against the virus has to start at the county level.

"The new guidance was clear. If your county's Covid transmission rate falls into the red or orange zone, which means high or substantial risks of transmission, you should wear a mask," Kelly said. 

6:07 p.m. ET, July 28, 2021

MLB game postponed due to Covid-19 issues within Washington Nationals team

From CNN's Homero DeLaFuente

The Washington Nationals game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday has been postponed due to a Covid-19 issue within the Nationals organization. 

Major League Baseball postponed tonight’s game in Philadelphia to allow for continued testing and contact tracing for members of the Nationals.

MLB would not reveal details on how many players were directly impacted by Covid-19. 

On Tuesday: Nationals manager Dave Martinez pulled shortstop Trea Turner from their game against the Phillies, after testing positive for Covid-19. Martinez told reporters after the game Turner was in isolation, but did not reveal if the shortstop had been vaccinated for Covid-19.

Martinez said the team did not have any concerns about being affected by the league’s close contacts protocol.

Some context: This is the second outbreak within the team this season.

In April, the Nationals season-opening series against the New York Mets was postponed due to the outbreak. At the time, Washington placed nine players on the teams Covid-19 injured list as a result, with four of those being from positive tests, while the others being deemed close contacts. 

MLB has rescheduled the game as part of a doubleheader on Thursday.  

5:35 p.m. ET, July 28, 2021

California health officials recommend masks indoors for all, regardless of immunization status

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

People shop at a grocery store enforcing the wearing of masks in Los Angeles on July 23.
People shop at a grocery store enforcing the wearing of masks in Los Angeles on July 23. (Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images)

California health officials are recommending face coverings in indoor public places for all residents, regardless of immunization status, in an effort to thwart the state’s steep surge in coronavirus cases, which are at levels not seen since February.

“The Delta variant has caused a sharp increase in hospitalizations and case rates across the state. We are recommending masking in indoor public places to slow the spread while we continue efforts to get more Californians vaccinated,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, California Department of Public Health sirector and state public health officer.

Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 have tripled within the last month, though deaths attributed to the virus remain low. California’s positivity rate has spiked to 5.9%, a dramatic increase since the low of 0.7% in early June.

“Under the CDC’s new guidance, more than 90% of California’s population is currently in areas designated as substantial or high transmission,” the California Department of Public Health said in a news release.

Health officials continue to urge those eligible to get vaccinated against Covid-19. More than 62% of Californians are fully vaccinated, and about 72% have received at least one dose.

To date, California has recorded more than 3.8 million Covid-19 infections, and close to 64,000 fatalities as the result of the virus.

NOTE: These numbers were released by the California Public Health Department, and may not line up exactly in real-time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project

4:15 p.m. ET, July 28, 2021

Georgia governor says he will not issue a mask mandate or lock the state down

From CNN's Kay Jones

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he will not issue any mask mandates or lockdown orders in the state as Covid-19 cases rise.

Kemp's series of tweets Wednesday afternoon said that Georgians know how to protect themselves and have proven so over the past year. He also said he and his family have been vaccinated against the virus.

"The biggest obstacle to getting more people vaccinated and the country returning to normal is the mixed messages from Washington D.C. and those with partisan agendas. In Georgia, we have been consistent," Kemp tweeted.

Kemp also said that nearly all of those hospitalized with Covid-19 were unvaccinated and encouraged residents to get vaccinated if they haven't already done so.

4:35 p.m. ET, July 28, 2021

Pfizer study suggests Covid-19 vaccine efficacy may eventually wane a bit

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images/FILE)
(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images/FILE)

Pfizer and its partner BioNtech released new safety and efficacy data for their coronavirus vaccine Wednesday, and said it shows protection holds up for at least six months, although it may start to wane slightly towards the end of that time.

The pre-print paper, posted Wednesday to the online server medrxiv.org, updates results from Pfizer’s trial involving 44,000 volunteers around the world.

It found the overall efficacy was about 91% during the six months. Vaccine efficacy against severe Covid-19 was about 97%, the data show. The paper has not yet been peer-reviewed nor published in a journal.

Some more details: The data show that the vaccine's efficacy peaked at more than 96% from a week to around two months after receiving a second dose of vaccine, and then appeared to gradually decline to 83.7% four to six months later, with an average decline of about 6% over the last two months.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine -- administered as two doses 21 days apart -- was authorized in December and at the time data were unavailable beyond two months after vaccinations. The data at the time -- which are now updated in the new pre-print paper -- were submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize the vaccine.

The data now show that, despite a "gradually declining trend in vaccine efficacy," the vaccine was still "highly efficacious" in preventing Covid-19 and had a favorable safety profile six months later.

It was not clear why efficacy seemed to drop off. The pandemic also changed over the course of six months, with the emergence of several variants.

3:34 p.m. ET, July 28, 2021

New York's new vaccination rules will affect nearly 130,000 workers

From CNN's Alyssa Kraus and Laura Dolan

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that patient-facing healthcare workers at state-run hospitals must get vaccinated against Covid-19. In addition, Cuomo mandated that other state workers either be vaccinated or regularly tested for the virus.

These new rules will affect approximately 130,000 employees in the state.

The mandate, which will take effect on Labor Day, will impact hospitals and facilities such as Stony Brook University, SUNY upstate, SUNY downstate and seven other state-run facilities.

"New Yorkers have displayed tremendous dedication and resilience to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic across the state, but vaccination rates aren't keeping pace with the Delta variant and we need to act now," Cuomo said in a statement. 

New York's new rules come after Cuomo reported 2,203 new cases of Covid-19. Only one month ago, the state reported 275 cases, according to the governor.

2:59 p.m. ET, July 28, 2021

Biden reiterates America is in a "pandemic of the unvaccinated" and encourages vaccinations as US cases rise

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden during remarks in Pennsylvania on Wednesday reiterated that the country is currently enduring a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”, a day before he is expected to require federal employees get vaccinated or face strict Covid-19 protocols including regular testing, masking and other mitigation measures.

“We still have a lot of people not vaccinated. The pandemic we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So please, please, please, please, if you're not vaccinated, protect yourself and the children out there. It's important,” Biden said at the top of remarks at the Mack Lehigh Valley Operations Manufacturing Facility set to focus on American manufacturing.

Biden was introduced at the Mack facility by Carlo Bet, a final/end-of-line technician and union member who works at the facility and whose mother passed away due to Covid-19 last year.

“Carlo, I'm sorry about your mom, I really am. So many, so many people, well over 630,000 Americans have lost their lives because of Covid,” Biden said.