July 9 coronavirus news

By Veronica Rocha, Fernando Alfonso III and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:02 PM ET, Fri July 9, 2021
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4:32 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Covid-19 outbreak linked to gymnastics facility infected 47 people, CDC says 

From CNN's Sarah Braner

A Covid-19 outbreak at an Oklahoma gymnastics facility infected 47 people and exposed a total of 194 people over a two-week period in April and May, according to a report released Friday in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 

Cases included 21 gymnasts, along with three staff members of the facility, and 21 household contacts who caught “secondary cases” of Covid-19 from the initial outbreak. Twenty-one of the 47 cases were available to sequence, and all 21 of them were identified as the more transmissible Delta variant.

The investigation found several potential risk factors at the facility that may have contributed to the outbreak. These include a failure to follow recommended quarantine and testing guidance, not recognizing symptomatic cases, inconsistent mask use, poor ventilation, using the same staff members to treat multiple groups of gymnasts, low vaccination rates, groups training at the same time, and inadequate cleaning of high-touch surfaces. 

Out of all 47 cases, four of them were in people who were fully vaccinated and were mildly symptomatic, while three were partially vaccinated. The remaining 40 were unvaccinated. Two unvaccinated adults were hospitalized, with one requiring intensive care.

Twenty-seven infected people, including one 5-year-old, weren’t eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine by the time the outbreak happened. 

After athletes, staff, and family members were alerted of the outbreak at the facility, on-site testing and vaccination was offered, which led to nine people being vaccinated. 

4:17 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Covid-19 vaccines are "highly effective" against hospitalization and death among risk groups, study says

From CNN’s Mia Alberti

A healthcare professional draws up a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at Thornton Little Theatre in Thornton-Cleveleys, England, on January 29.
A healthcare professional draws up a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at Thornton Little Theatre in Thornton-Cleveleys, England, on January 29. (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

The existing Covid-19 vaccines in England are “highly effective” in preventing hospitalization and death among risk groups, Public Health England (PHE) said Friday following a recent study. 

For people in risk groups age 16 to 64, the study showed that “overall vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease in risk groups is approximately 60% after one dose of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech” and 81% after the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with no data for Pfizer.

According to the study, vaccine effectiveness is even higher for those age 65 and over – the Pfizer vaccine was found to be 89% effective, while AstraZeneca was 80% effective. 

While PHE has said more data is needed, the study’s findings show “protection against hospitalization and death in risk groups is expected to be greater than protection against symptomatic disease, as has been seen in studies of the general population.” 

More context: The study – which has not yet been peer-reviewed – included more than one million people from risk groups, which may include people with “diabetes, severe asthma, chronic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, neurological disease, and diseases or therapies that weaken the immune system – such as blood cancer, HIV or chemotherapy.” 

3:12 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

In Virginia, at least 99% of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

At least 99% of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Virginia have been among people who were not fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.

On Friday, the Virginia Department of Health announced the addition of a new data dashboard on its website to track Covid-19 cases by vaccination status, as well as breakthrough cases.

A total of 1,063 breakthrough cases have been reported in Virginia – less than 0.1% of all fully vaccinated people. These cases resulted in 71 breakthrough hospitalizations and 17 breakthrough deaths.

The Virginia Department of Health defines breakthrough cases as those where people develop symptoms or test positive for Covid-19 14 days or more after they complete a vaccine series.

“I applaud those who have chosen to protect themselves and the community by getting vaccinated, and we appreciate the work of all who are helping to vaccinate Virginians,” State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver said in a statement. “I continue to encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated to do so.”

4:09 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Everyone who exhibits upper respiratory symptoms should be tested for Covid-19, CDC director says

From CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Ben Tinker

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies during hearing on May 19 in Washington, DC.
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies during hearing on May 19 in Washington, DC. (Greg Nash/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

All adults and children who exhibit upper respiratory symptoms should be tested for Covid-19, regardless of their vaccination status, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN on Friday.

While there has been an increase in the number of cases of the common cold as more people emerge from their Covid bubbles, ample coronavirus testing is now available and should be performed on people who exhibit symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, sore throat, cough or trouble breathing, Walensky said.

There is considerable overlap between symptoms of the common cold and Covid-19. Both are respiratory diseases. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms for either illness – and some people might not experience any symptoms at all.

 

4:09 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Catch up: Here's the latest on vaccination efforts in the US

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

EMT Quentin Scarborough administers a vaccine dose to Nathan Alex Perez during a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at James Jordan Middle School on July 6 in Winnetka, California.
EMT Quentin Scarborough administers a vaccine dose to Nathan Alex Perez during a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at James Jordan Middle School on July 6 in Winnetka, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Alabama is the only state in which less than a third of its residents are fully vaccinated, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s some additional data published Friday by the CDC on vaccination efforts in the US:

  • 47.8% of the US population is fully vaccinated
  • 20 states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as Washington, DC.
  • Fewer than than 35% of residents are fully vaccinated in Mississippi (33.3%) and Arkansas (34.8%).
  • 20 states have reached President Biden’s goal to vaccinate 70% of adults with at least one dose: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, as well as Washington, DC. 
  • The current pace of vaccinations (seven-day average) is at 339,076 people fully vaccinated per day; with 593,848 doses reported administered per day. 
4:09 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Missouri health officials urge public to get vaccinated to curb spread of Delta variant

From CNN’s Carma Hassan

A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination event on February 11 at the Jeff Vander Lou Senior living facility in St Louis, Missouri.
A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination event on February 11 at the Jeff Vander Lou Senior living facility in St Louis, Missouri. (Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

Missouri health officials on Friday urged the public to get vaccinated to curb the spread of the Delta variant in the state.

Robert Knodell, the acting director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said they have seen significant outbreaks of the Delta variant in north central Missouri and a similar surge in southwest Missouri.

“We believe here at the department, here at the state, that vaccination today is a tool that we did not have when we saw case increases last year, and it is now and remains the number one most effective mitigation step that every Missourian age 12 and over can take to protect themselves, to protect their families, and their neighbors,” Knodell said.

More than 5 million Covid-19 vaccinations have been recorded in Missouri so far, Knodell said.

The state epidemiologist, Dr. George Turabelidze, said the variant can cause problems in highly vaccinated countries, especially in areas with vulnerable spots.

“Unfortunately, Missouri turned out to be among those several states that do have those vulnerable spots, and those are spots where people are under vaccinated, people have low natural immunity level, and some communities that assumed that the pandemic was already behind us, and mitigation was dropped too quickly. All those factors made us vulnerable as a state,” he said.

Turabelidze said data showing communities with different levels of vaccination in Missouri means the state is “heading towards widespread infection with Delta.”

“We do see some stabilization in southwest, and even a little bit of improvement in north central Missouri, but at the same time, we are seeing trends of infection, moving from rural and small-town Missouri to more suburban and urban Missouri, such as metro areas,” he said.

Because Covid-19 is highly transmissible and has an incubation period of two weeks, Turabelidze said health officials don’t expect to see cases improve quickly.

“We expect a few more weeks of cases, continuing to rise or stabilizing at the high level before things start improving,” he said, adding that hospitalizations are a “lagging indicator” that will take a week or so before improving.

2:05 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Biden on Covid-19 economy recovery: "America's now on track"

President Biden said the US economy is "on track" in its economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We're in the midst of a historic economic recovery, and because our successful vaccination program strategy has been working, and the immediate relief through the American Rescue Plan has brought back our economy from the worst economic crisis in nearly a century, America's now on track," Biden said from the White House.

Earlier this week, Biden announced that the United States is projected to reach the mark of 160 million fully vaccinated Americans by the end of this week after the nation fell short of his initial July Fourth goals.

Just over 67% of American adults have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine and more than 157 million Americans are fully vaccinated as of Tuesday morning, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biden's goal was to have 70% of Americans with at least one shot and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July Fourth.

4:09 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Inflammatory heart conditions may occur as side effect of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, agency concludes

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

A health workers fills a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a vaccination center in Santiago, Chile, on July 3.
A health workers fills a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a vaccination center in Santiago, Chile, on July 3. (Javier Torres/AFP/Getty Images)

The inflammatory heart conditions of myocarditis and pericarditis may occur as side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded Friday, recommending that the two rare conditions be added as side effects to the product information for both vaccines, as well as a warning highlighting the risk to medical professionals and patients alike.

Myocarditis causes inflammation of the heart muscle whereas pericarditis involves the swelling and irritation of the thin, saclike tissue surrounding the heart. 

According to the EMA, while symptoms may vary, they "often include breathlessness, a forceful heartbeat that may be irregular (palpitations), and chest pain."

The EMA Safety Committee conducted an "in-depth review" of all available evidence, looking into the 145 cases of myocarditis reported in the European Economic Area (EEC) of people who received the Pfizer vaccine. They also examined the 19 cases reported among people in the EEC who received the Moderna vaccine.

The safety committee also reviewed reports of 138 cases of pericarditis following receipt of the Pfizer vaccine and 19 cases following receipt of the Moderna vaccine.

At present, no link between the two other EMA-authorized vaccines — Oxford/AstraZeneca and Janssen — and the heart conditions has been identified.  

The EMA concluded that the cases mainly occurred within 14 days of vaccination, were most frequently found among younger adult men and most often after the second vaccine dose. 

Of those examined, five died and all were "either of advanced age or had concomitant diseases." 

Despite the side effects, the EMA has affirmed that the "benefits of all authorized COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh their risks." 
11:13 a.m. ET, July 9, 2021

New CDC school guidance prioritizes in-person learning — even if all Covid-19 safety measures aren't in place

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

 In this Thursday, March 11, 2021 file photo, desks are arranged in a classroom at an elementary school in Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania.
 In this Thursday, March 11, 2021 file photo, desks are arranged in a classroom at an elementary school in Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania. Matt Slocum/AP

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday updated its Covid-19 schools guidance to emphasize in-person schooling is a priority in the fall, regardless of whether all mitigation measures can be implemented.

However, it remains important to layer safety strategies such as masking and physical distancing, and most importantly, vaccinations for everyone eligible.

Schools that are ready to transition away from pandemic precautions as community transmission reaches low levels should do so gradually, the agency said in a draft of the guidance obtained by CNN.

"If localities decide to remove prevention strategies in schools based on local conditions, they should remove them one at a time and monitor closely (with adequate testing) for any increases in COVID-19 cases before removing the next prevention strategy," the guidance says, adding that schools need to be transparent with families, staff and the community as they do so. 

The CDC suggests schools take steps to promote Covid-19 vaccination, including...

  • Offering vaccines on site
  • Providing paid sick leave for employees to get vaccinated
  • Excusing absences for students to get vaccinated.

Covid-19 vaccines are currently available for people ages 12 and older in the US.

In line with current CDC guidance, the agency recommends unvaccinated people over the age of 2 wear a mask when indoors, noting that in general, people don't need to wear masks outdoors. People who are fully vaccinated generally do not need to wear masks.

"Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained," the CDC notes.

The CDC says physical distancing should be practiced in schools where not everyone is vaccinated, but students should not be excluded from in-person learning to maintain physical distancing.

The agency is advising jurisdictions to closely monitor Covid-19 transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing and outbreaks when making decisions about the prevention strategies needed in their area.  

"Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe," the guidance says.

The CDC says the guidance is meant to supplement, not replace, local guidance and policies.