August 2, 2021 US coronavirus news

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:00 PM ET, Mon August 2, 2021
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10:14 a.m. ET, August 2, 2021

New York transit workers will be subject to vaccination or testing mandate, governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Port Authority transit employees will be subject to a vaccine or weekly testing mandate, beginning on Labor Day.

He also suggested school districts in impacted areas should take steps to mandate a vaccine or weekly testing as well.

“For public facing people who are in a high risk situation, I say there should be a mandatory vaccine policy," he said, reiterating how he is mandating vaccine for state hospital workers that are public facing. 

He believes that mandate should be extended to other hospitals and suggested NYC Health and Hospitals, which owns 11 in the city, put in place a mandatory vaccination policy.

Additionally, more vaccine sites will be opening in September for the MTA and state employees, he said. Earlier Cuomo said he was asking and suggesting private businesses go to vaccine only admission. 

“Bars, restaurants, go to a vaccine only admission, I believe it’s in your best business interest," he said.

It’s his opinion that “everything should be on the table.”

“If the numbers don’t come down I think you have to consider mandatory vaccines for nursing home workers,” as well as teachers, and all healthcare workers public facing, he said. 

“You know the nursing homes are the high risk populations, we learned that in a painful lesson. How did it get into the nursing homes? It came in with an aide,” he said.

10:13 a.m. ET, August 2, 2021

New York governor wants local governments to follow CDC mask guidance

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said local governments should follow CDC mask guidance, adding that the state can't mandate without a law allowing it to do so.

During the height of the pandemic, the state had control over all mandates, but the power to mandate now rests with local governments.

“It’s up to the local governments,” he said. “Local governments, you should adopt that CDC mask guidance. Learn a lesson from last year, don’t deny reality.”

“Show leadership and do it, and save lives,” he said. He also said it's important to enforce, and he called out New York City for allowing hundreds of people without masks in front of bars last year.

He said he doesn’t believe a “mask policy” will be enough. “I think we’re going to have to talk about a vaccination policy.”

9:53 a.m. ET, August 2, 2021

New York hospitalizations doubled and cases increased "four-fold" in past month, governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York has doubled its number of hospitalizations, as cases have increased “four-fold” over the last month, the governor said Monday.

For the week of July 19, the infection rate in the state reflected 4 per 100,000 among fully vaccinated people, and 17 per 100,000 among unvaccinated people, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. 

The hospitalization rate was .19 per 100,000 for fully vaccinated people, and 1.25 per 100,000 for unvaccinated people during the same time frame.

For those who have not gotten the shot, the Delta variant “should be a major concern,” Cuomo said.

He noted about 24% or 3.5 million adults have yet to be vaccinated in the state. 

“How bad could it get?” he beckoned “nobody knows,” but added “could get very bad.”

Using speculative data, the governor showed that if 75% of the unvaccinated got sick – it could lead to 5.37 million cases.

This he drew in comparison to the 990,000 cases last year – and 2.1 million to date. 

Cuomo called the CDC mask mandate a “sudden reversal” adding it was “so abrupt as to cause cynicism and confusion,” describing local governments as scrambling trying to decide whether to adopt recent CDC mask mandates.

10:01 a.m. ET, August 2, 2021

Here are the 5 US states that reported the most Covid-19 cases over the past week, according to JHU data 

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Five states account for nearly half – about 46% – of new Covid-19 cases reported over the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

The three states that reported the most cases over the past week – Florida, Texas and California – account for nearly 40% of new cases in the country. Nearly 1 in 5 cases were in Florida alone, according to JHU data. 

While Florida and Texas are some of the most populous in the country, their share of new Covid-19 cases over the past week is larger than their share of the United States population overall. Florida’s share of new cases is about three times its share of the population. 

Louisiana and Missouri are also overrepresented in new cases relative to their share of the overall population. 

Here are the five states that reported the most Covid-19 cases over the past week:

  1. Florida: 19.8% of total US cases, 6.5% of US population
  2. Texas: 10.5% of total US cases, 8.8% of US population
  3. California: 8.8% of total US cases, 12% of US population
  4. Louisiana: 3.8% of total US cases, 1.4% of US population
  5. Missouri: 3.1% of total US cases, 1.9% of US population

Each of these states, except California, have fully vaccinated less than half of their residents, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. California has fully vaccinated 53% of its population.


9:38 a.m. ET, August 2, 2021

Less than 1% of fully vaccinated people experience a breakthrough Covid-19 infection, analysis finds

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

Less than 1% of fully vaccinated people experienced a breakthrough infection, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of official state data.

The federal government only reports data on breakthrough infections that result in hospitalization or death.

According to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 0.004% of people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 experienced a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization, and less than 0.001% have died from the disease. That’s about 6,600 severe breakthrough cases out of more than 163 million fully vaccinated people.

But the KFF analysis shows that breakthrough infections of any kind are also extremely rare.

About half of states report data on Covid-19 breakthrough cases, and in each of those states, less than 1% of fully vaccinated people had a breakthrough infection, ranging from 0.01% in Connecticut to 0.9% in Oklahoma.

Also, more than 90% of cases – and more than 95% of hospitalizations and deaths – have been among unvaccinated people, according to the KFF analysis. In most states, more than 98% of cases were among the unvaccinated. 

9:20 a.m. ET, August 2, 2021

NYC mayor expected to encourage more mask wearing — but won't issue a mandate

From CNN's Sonia Moghe

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to issue guidance encouraging more mask wearing, but will stop short of issuing a mandate, according to a source familiar with the plan. 

The mayor has a regularly scheduled briefing today at 10 a.m. ET.

Asked by CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Friday why he was waiting until Monday to make an announcement determining whether NYC will adopt or recommend the new CDC indoor mask guidance, de Blasio said “first of all the whole ball game is vaccination.” He told CNN that any mask approach should not cause the city to lose focus on its vaccination effort.

All five boroughs in NYC fall within the threshold for updated CDC mask guidance. The agency updated its mask guidance to recommend vaccinated people wear masks indoors when they're in areas with "substantial" or "high" Covid-19 transmission to prevent further spread of that variant. 

9:36 a.m. ET, August 2, 2021

Covid-19 vaccinations continue to rise in the US. Here's a look at the latest numbers across the country. 

From CNN's Nadia Kounang and Dakin Andone,

The rate of Covid-19 vaccinations in the United States continues to rise, a positive sign amid skyrocketing cases and hospitalizations after weeks of lagging inoculations.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, hopes the recent surge in cases driven by the Delta variant is changing the minds of the vaccine hesitant, he told CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday. Collins noted that in the last two weeks, vaccination rates have increased 56% nationally.

"This may be a tipping point for those who have been hesitant to say, 'OK, it's time,'" Collins said. "I hope that's what's happening. That's what desperately needs to happen if we're going to get this Delta variant put back in its place."

Here a look at the latest US vaccination numbers, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • On Sunday, the US reported 816,203 more doses administered – the fifth straight day recording more than 700,000 shots in arms.
  • The current seven-day average of doses administered is 662,529 per day – the highest average since July 7.
  • According to the CDC, 49.6%, of the US population is fully vaccinated. The number is 58.1% among vaccine-eligible Americans, 12 and older.
  • Twenty states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents. They include: 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, D.C.
  • The two states with the lowest percentage of population vaccinated are Alabama, at 34% and Mississippi, at 35%.

You can track Covid-19 vaccinations in the US here.

8:59 a.m. ET, August 2, 2021

White House makes renewed push to make Covid-19 the focus of President Biden's schedule

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

The White House is making a concerted effort to return the focus of President Biden’s schedule to the Covid-19 pandemic this week, adding multiple events focused on the nationwide and global effort to vaccinate more people and combat the spread of variants.

When he returns from Camp David today, the President will meet with his coronavirus team in the Oval Office before that same team briefs reporters later today at 4:00 p.m. ET. Though these briefings used to be held three times a week, they had been scaled back dramatically in recent weeks.

Administration officials have defended the lack of Covid-19 briefings by pointing to public remarks by Biden and television appearances by his top public health officials. Those officials kept Biden updated on the latest numbers while he was away from Washington this weekend. 

Then on Tuesday, Biden is scheduled to give a speech on increasing vaccinations at home and abroad. The White House sees the global vaccination drive as more important than ever, one official said, given it is a way to tamp down on the spread of potential new variants that could reach the US. 

On Wednesday, Biden will meet with the Dr. Eric Lander, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to discuss his plan for preparing for future pandemics.

There’s a chance the White House could add another coronavirus-related event to Biden’s schedule, depending on how the week plays out.

8:35 a.m. ET, August 2, 2021

How Georgia schools are preparing for students' return to classrooms as Covid-19 cases rise

From CNN's Dakin Andone

As the Peach State resumes classes in the coming days and weeks, it could offer a glimpse at what back-to-school will look like for a country reeling from a summer surge of Covid-19 spurred by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

With 181 school districts, the first day of school varies throughout Georgia. But some of the state's largest districts go back this week, particularly in the Atlanta metro area.

DeKalb County, which includes part of Atlanta, begins Monday, as do Cobb and Clayton counties to the northwest and south. Atlanta Public Schools students begin the year Thursday, and Gwinnett County Schools — the state's largest district — will start Wednesday, but have grades alternating between in-person and remote learning Wednesday, Thursday and next Monday.

Like much of the country, Georgia is seeing Covid-19 infections climb. As of Friday, the seven-day moving average of new daily cases was more than 3,000 cases reported per day for the first time since early March, according to a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

Georgia's Department of Public Health said Friday the case rate had increased 204% over the prior 14-day period, while hospitalizations had jumped about 50% and deaths about 18% in the same period.

Here's a look at some measures Georgia schools are implementing as they prepare to welcome students again:

  • In Cobb County, there will be social distancing in classrooms when possible, per the district's website, but masks are optional for students and staff.
  • Masks are recommended but optional in Fulton County Schools, where students start August 9.
  • Atlanta Public Schools will require masks for all students and teachers, along with other prevention strategies like physical distancing when feasible, as will Dekalb County and Gwinnett County. The latter previously said masks would be optional, but the district shifted its stance last week, citing CDC guidance, the "rise in COVID-19 cases" in the county and young students' ineligibility for a vaccine.

Some Gwinnett County parents, however, opposed the decision and protested at the district's office on Friday, CNN affiliate WSB-TV reported. One participant held a sign that read, "Masks hurt children more than Covid ever will," video showed.

Read more about how Georgia schools are preparing here.