Delta variant now accounts for 26% of coronavirus cases in US, CDC estimates
From CNN's Maggie Fox
The Delta variant of coronavirus now accounts for 26% of Covid-19 cases in the US, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
The CDC updated its estimates of which variants are circulating on Tuesday.
The B.1.1.7 or Alpha lineage of the virus, first spotted in the UK, was still the dominant variant in the US as of June 19, representing 47.8% of cases, the CDC estimated.
But it said the B.1.617.2 or Delta variant first seen in India was now the second most common lineage, making up 26.1% of cases. The CDC bases its estimates on genomic sequencing of samples taken from people and then models what that might mean for the whole country.
The P.1 or Gamma variant first seen in Brazil is the third most common variant in the US, accounting for 14.5% of cases as of June 19.
6:11 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021
US health officials keep eyes on Delta variant in case changes in guidance needed
But health officials are continuing to monitor the spread of the variant in the United States, Lori Tremmel Freeman, NACCHO's chief executive officer, wrote in an email.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued the voluntary, precautionary mask guidance Monday, saying it was necessary until health officials can "better understand how and to who the Delta variant is spreading."
Freeman said the L.A. decision was based on local data indicating that Delta comprised nearly half of all variants sequenced in the area. Based on those rising cases, the variant's increased transmissibility and vaccination rates in the county, "the county took the tactic of reissuing mask guidance for all to attempt to prevent the continue spread of this highly transmissible variant," Freeman wrote.
"We'll keep our eyes/ears open if we learn of other areas with emerging hotspots/outbreaks of the variant to see what these jurisdictions might do. The CDC is also monitoring this closely as to implications for guidance."
CNN has reached out to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for comment.
3:43 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021
Here's the latest on vaccination efforts in the US
From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips
The daily pace of Covid-19 vaccinations is about a third of what it was two months ago, according to data published Tuesday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here’s latest data on vaccination efforts in the US, according to the CDC:
46.4% of the US population is fully vaccinated (154,199,664 people)
16states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents: Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, as well as Washington, DC.
16states have reached President Biden’s goal to vaccinate 70% of adults with at least one dose: Virginia, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington, DC.
With less than a week until the July 4 benchmark, four states have reached less than half of adults with at least one dose: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Wyoming.
The current pace of vaccinations (a seven-day average) is 539,284 people fully vaccinated per day and 847,000 doses per day.
That’s about a third of what the pace was two months ago, when there were about 1.5 million new people fully vaccinated and more than 2.6 million new administered doses reported each day.
While the pace has increased slightly over the past couple of days, it’s still 19% slower than a week ago, when the seven-day average was about 665,000 new people fully vaccinated and more than 1 million doses administered each day.
3:11 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021
Weekly cases of Covid-19 in children drops to lowest since May 2020
From CNN's Sarah Braner
More than 8,400 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in children last week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ weekly report. This is the lowest weekly number of cases since May 2020.
Children represented about 10% of reported Covid-19 cases last week. More than 4.03 million children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Children represented about 6% to 20% of tests done, out of 11 states reporting testing numbers. About 5% to 35% of children tested were positive for Covid-19.
Out of 23 states and New York City reporting hospitalization numbers, between 0.1% and about 2% of cases of Covid-19 in children required hospitalization.
Children represented less than a quarter of a percent of all Covid-19 deaths in 43 states reporting death numbers. Eight of these states reported zero deaths in children. Out of all states reporting, children make up to 0.03% of all deaths from Covid-19.
“At this time, it still appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children,” the report says. “However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.”
1:24 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021
American consumer confidence jumps to highest level since the pandemic started
From CNN's Anneken Tappe
Americans feel more confident now than at any point during the pandemic, new data from The Conference Board showed Tuesday.
The consumer confidence index rose to 127.3 points in June, according to the data. That was its highest level since February 2020, right before the Covid-19 outbreak first swept across the United States.
Consumers' assessments of current business and labor market conditions also improved – rising to their best level since March last year – as did the short-term outlook for incomes, business and jobs. More than 50% of survey respondents said jobs were "plentiful", while only about 11% claimed jobs were hard to find.
These numbers are a strong indicator that "economic growth has strengthened further in Q2," said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "Consumers' short-term optimism rebounded, buoyed by expectations that business conditions and their own financial prospects will continue improving in the months ahead."
While Americans say they still expect higher inflation in the near-term, it's not weighing on their decisions to spend money or their optimism about future conditions, the survey found.
"In fact, the proportion of consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances all rose — a sign that consumer spending will continue to support economic growth in the short-term," Franco added. Spending on vacations also rose.
To be sure, "confidence is not a perfect indicator of plans to spend, but it is certainly a good thing to have highly confident consumers," said BMO senior economist Jennifer Lee, in a note to clients.
12:06 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021
White House asks its July 4 celebration attendees to get tested for Covid-19
From CNN's Kate Sullivan
The White House has asked everyone attending its July 4 celebration on Sunday on the South Lawn to get tested for Covid-19 before the event and wear masks if they are not fully vaccinated, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
“There is guidance that has been provided, which may be updated, but to all attendees, that include the guidance that they should be, they should get tested one to three days in advance of coming to the event. If they are vaccinated, of course, they can abide by the public health guidelines that does not require mask wearing. If they have not been vaccinated they should wear a mask,” Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One.
The White House is hosting a celebration for thousands of essential workers and military families on July Fourth on the South Lawn to mark the country’s progress in its fight against Covid-19. It will be the largest in-person White House event since Biden took office.
The Biden administration is racing to get more of the eligible population vaccinated to try to prevent the rise and spread of even more concerning new variants.
Federal officials are pointing to the emerging B.1.617.2, or Delta, variant, which was first identified in India, as yet another reason to get vaccinated.
2:30 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021
Many parents must act now to fully vaccinate children against Covid-19 by the time school starts
From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen
The school year is quickly approaching as many school systems across the country begin classes in the first two weeks of August.
To be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and its variants before schools open, many parents will need to act fast. This is becoming increasingly crucial as cases of the highly contagious Delta variant are on the rise.
The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine authorized in the US for children ages 12 to 17. According to the CDC, it takes five weeks to be fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. The two doses are given three weeks apart, but an additional two weeks are required after the final shot to be considered fully vaccinated.
Therefore, students starting school in early August must receive their first dose very soon to be fully protected. For example, students attending school in Atlanta must receive their first shot by July 1 to be fully immunized by the first day of school on August 5.
Other large school systems beginning in the first two weeks of August include Fort Myers, Florida, Flagstaff, Arizona and the entire state of Hawaii.
As of June 24, nearly 1 in 5 children ages 12 to 15 were fully vaccinated, and nearly 1 in 3 teens ages 16 and 17 were fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
FAA warns unruly passengers of potential $35,000 fines
From CNN's Pete Muntean & Greg Wallace
The Federal Aviation Administration is trying a new tactic to warn passengers against acting out on planes as air travel breaks new pandemic-era records ahead of the July 4th weekend.
The FAA is now posting a meme that reads “you could have spent $35,000 on a brand new truck, but instead you are paying a fine because you punched a flight attendant.”
The agency says it has now received 3,201 reports of unruly passengers on commercial flights since enacting a zero-tolerance policy at the beginning of this year. Of those, the FAA says the vast majority of those issues – 2,429 – have been over mask violations.
The FAA says violators of the rules could face fines up to $35,000. It has identified potential violations in 491 cases and begun enforcement actions in 61 cases.
United Airlines said Monday it has banned around 1,000 passengers for violating the federal transportation mask mandate, which now runs through September 13.
10:43 a.m. ET, June 29, 2021
New York City mayor issues new guidance for vaccinated city workers
From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia
Beginning Tuesday, vaccinated city workers can work without masks and will not be limited by physical distancing, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Unvaccinated workers and those interfacing with the public will still be required to wear masks, de Blasio said.
All city agencies must implement this protocol by July 6, he said.
“By September we’d like to see everyone in our offices back to normal,” he said but of course subject to and in accordance with CDC and state guidelines.
“We think we’re on that track right now.”
Over 9.2 million doses have been administered throughout the city since the beginning of its vaccination effort, he said.