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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4:05 p.m. ET, August 2, 2021

CDC adds 16 destinations to "very high" Covid-19 travel risk list

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Travelers walk along the waterfront in Kokkari, on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece, on Tuesday, June 8.
Travelers walk along the waterfront in Kokkari, on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece, on Tuesday, June 8. Petros Giannakouris/AP

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added 16 destinations to its very high Covid-19 risk level on Monday, including Greece, Ireland, and the US Virgin Islands.

According to the CDC, a designation of “very high” means people should avoid travel, and those traveling to these destinations should be fully vaccinated first. 

Direct travel of non-citizens from both Ireland and Greece to the United States has been suspended since Jan. 25, 2021, under an executive order limiting travel from multiple countries.

Among other movements on the travel list, Puerto Rico, a US territory, was upgraded from moderate risk to high risk. The CDC currently designates the United States as high risk.

3:18 p.m. ET, August 2, 2021

Sen. Lindsey Graham says he has tested positive for Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated

From CNN's Clare Foran

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, July 30, 2021. 
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, July 30, 2021.  Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham has tested positive for Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated and has experienced “flu-like symptoms,” he announced Monday. 

“I was just informed by the House physician I have tested positive for #COVID19 even after being vaccinated. I started having flu-like symptoms Saturday night and went to the doctor this morning,” he tweeted.

He wrote in a follow-up tweet: “I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms. I will be quarantining for ten days. I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now. My symptoms would be far worse.” 

Read the tweets:

 

3:20 p.m. ET, August 2, 2021

California's Bay Area counties reinstate indoor mask requirement

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

A "Masks Required" sign posted at the entrance to the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, July 19, 2021. 
A "Masks Required" sign posted at the entrance to the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, July 19, 2021.  David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A mandate to wear face coverings in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status is back for millions of residents living in the San Francisco Bay Area as the highly contagious Delta variant causes a spike in new Covid-19 cases.

Health officers from San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo and Sonoma counties, and the city of Berkeley announced the decision in a joint briefing Monday, joining similar mandates in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Yolo counties that require masks indoors.

The reinstated order affects more than 7 million residents of the San Francisco Bay Area and will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. The new order means nearly half of California’s population will now be under a mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.

“Indoor masking is a temporary measure that will help us deal with the Delta variant, which is causing a sharp increase in cases, and we know increases in hospitalizations and deaths will follow,” said Dr. Naveena Bobba, San Francisco acting health officer.

San Francisco is seeing its fourth surge of Covid-19 cases, which are increasing at a faster rate than the previous three and infecting even those who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said Friday.

Additionally, the group of health officers is urging all residents 12 and over to get vaccinated as soon as possible. About 63% of California’s nearly 40 million residents have been fully vaccinated.

3:13 p.m. ET, August 2, 2021

One of the largest US law firms will deactivate ID cards of non-vaccinated staff in September

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

Neil Barr, the chairman of Davis Polk, one of the largest and most prestigious US law firms, sent a memo to staff Monday morning announcing that all the firm’s employees would need to be vaccinated to return to the office in September or no longer be allowed in the building.

According to the memo obtained by CNN, all employees must prove they are fully vaccinated by Sept. 13. If not, their ID card will be deactivated, and they will not be permitted to enter any of the firm's US offices. The memo adds that the law firm will make accommodations for medical reasons or religious beliefs.

Davis Polk employs approximately 1,000 lawyers around the world, with US offices in New York, California, and Washington, DC

3:15 p.m. ET, August 2, 2021

Denver requires city workers to be vaccinated by the end of September

From CNN's Jenn Selva

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock talks to reporters outside the West Wing at the White House on July 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. 
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock talks to reporters outside the West Wing at the White House on July 14, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

More than 10,000 Denver city workers will be required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30, according to a new public health order announced by the mayor today.

During a news conference, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called the mandate a “rational and science-based approach.”  

“No one wants to relive the horrors of last year, no one wants to see another stay-at-home order to stop a crisis that threatens to overwhelm our hospitals with the highly contagious Delta variant surging across much of the nation,” Hancock said.

The mandate will apply to city employees, as well as workers in nursing homes, homeless shelters, hospitals, and correctional facilities. Teachers and staff in schools and post-secondary institutions will also be required to be vaccinated.

About 70% of Denver’s eligible population is vaccinated, but Hancock said new vaccinations have stalled. 

In the past six months, 96% of the people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Colorado were not fully vaccinated. 

 

2:46 p.m. ET, August 2, 2021

The US has reached Biden's July 4 goal to vaccinate 70% of adults — about a month late

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

President Joe Biden speaks about Covid vaccinations in the East Room of the White House on Thursday, July 29.
President Joe Biden speaks about Covid vaccinations in the East Room of the White House on Thursday, July 29. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Seventy percent of US adults are vaccinated against Covid-19, reaching President Biden’s July 4 goal about one month late, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s the latest data on vaccination efforts in the, published Monday by the CDC:

  • Fully vaccinated: 49.7% of the total US population (all ages)
  • Not vaccinated: 32.4% of the eligible US population (12+)
  • Current pace of vaccinations (seven-day average): 441,329 people are initiating vaccination each day
  • This is the highest it’s been since July 4
  • It’s a 28% increase over last week’s pace
  • An average of 673,185 doses are being administered each day
  • 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.
  • Alabama and Mississippi are the only states to have fully vaccinated less than 35% of their residents.
  • 70% of adults have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, a goal that the Biden administration’s had aimed to reach by July 4.
  • 20 states have reached this threshold: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, as well as Washington, DC.
  • All states have vaccinated at least half of their adults with at least one dose; Mississippi is worst in the nation in this metric, with exactly 50% of adults with at least one dose.
2:48 p.m. ET, August 2, 2021

FDA will work towards full vaccine approval "as rapidly as possible," official says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

A health care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine after it was approved for use by the FDA in children 12 and over on May 14, in Los Angeles.
A health care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine after it was approved for use by the FDA in children 12 and over on May 14, in Los Angeles. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the US Food and Drug Administration, said in an interview with the Washington Post Friday that the center will work towards getting Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine full FDA approval as quickly as possible. 

“I can’t speak to a date when we intend to have this done. But what I can say is we are going to move with all due diligence to get the review done with our usual high quality, as rapidly as we can,” Marks told the Washington Post about when he thinks the FDA will give full approval to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. We know how important it is for people to be able to get vaccinated. We know that there are students going back to college who would like to see a licensed vaccine before they get vaccinated. And we understand that, and we will work toward getting this across the finish line as rapidly as possible.”

Marks also explained the difference between what is required for emergency use authorization, which all the vaccines currently have, and full approval, saying that “in terms of pages to review the change is an order of magnitude. It’s going from tens of thousands of pages, to hundreds of thousands of pages.” 

Manufacturing for a full approval also has to be “much more well-described and detailed” than for an EUA, he said, as well as additional inspections of facilities that have to be done. 

Marks said that what is normally done for biologic license applications is to have six months of follow-up data on those who received the vaccine in clinical trials. He said that the data from the millions of people who have gotten the vaccine but were not part of trials can’t be used because “we don’t follow all those millions of people in the same manner that we are able to follow people who are enrolled in clinical trials.”

When it comes to manufacturing issues being looked at by the FDA, Marks said “The whole process has to work, there have to be appropriate controls and the testing that has to be done,” adding that it isn’t just the vaccine drug substance, but also how it is made into a product and put into vials. The whole process is inspected and then the FDA has to make sure that the end product is ready to be released.

He said that each vaccine review is unique, but the FDA aims to complete priority reviews within eight months of receiving and application and standard reviews within 12 months. 

2:33 p.m. ET, August 2, 2021

Misinformation in part to blame for Covid-19 vaccine "reticence" among workforce, DHS secretary says 

From CNN's Geneva Sands

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during a press conference on Tuesday, July 6.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during a press conference on Tuesday, July 6. Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday misinformation is in part to blame for the Covid-19 vaccine reticence that exists among DHS employees.

"We have some reticence in certain quarters, but we're working through it. We're educating and informing people. You know, misinformation is one of the challenges that we are overcoming, and we are very focused on it," he said in a wide-ranging interview Monday with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. 

The department is working with tech companies to strengthen legitimate use of social media platforms and prevent harm from occurring, Mayorkas said, when pressed on combating disinformation. 

DHS, which has more than 240,000 employees, kicked off a program in January to vaccinate employees.

The effort started with 2% of the DHS workforce and has "made leaps and bounds and success," Mayorkas said, but did not provide an update. 

"We cannot overstate not only to our own workforce, but to the American public, the absolute imperative, of getting vaccinated," he said. 

As of last week, the department is requiring all federal employees, contractors, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask inside all DHS workspaces and federal buildings, according to a memo sent to the workforce.

The memo, sent late Tuesday night from DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Management Randolph “Tex" Alles, urged employees to get vaccinated and get tested for Covid-19 if they experience symptoms. 

1:46 p.m. ET, August 2, 2021

West Virginia launches first statewide antibody study to determine necessity of Covid-19 boosters

From CNN’s Camille Furst

Governor Justice
Governor Justice

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday that the nation's first statewide Covid-19 antibody study has launched last Thursday. 

The program, called the "Booster Battlefield Assessment," asks for volunteers who are fully vaccinated and age 60 or older to be tested for antibodies. 

The results will be sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with "the vaccine manufacturers," Justice said. He didn't confirm which vaccine manufacturers in the US would receive the data.

It will help "assist in determining if a third dose of vaccine is best for our citizens over 60 who have had their first vaccine (that) is six months old," Justice said.

Justice said, "We're going to move as quickly as we possibly can to go to our nursing homes, or on a voluntary basis, anybody that's aged 60 and above that absolutely wants to get their antibodies tested."

Justice said that it is the first statewide program to test and measure antibody levels. "West Virginia has led the way … Little old West Virginia," he said.

The state will work with West Virginia University, Marshall University and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to run the program. 

West Virginia Health Secretary Bill Crouch said those involved in the program are working "to get this started immediately. We should be drawing samples within the next couple of days."

Since it is a research project, the program will be funded mostly by the state, Crouch said. 

At the news conference, Justice said he wouldn't mandate vaccines or masks, but continued to urge people to get vaccinated. 

"Don't be too late. Get your vaccine. Not only will it make you feel better and put you at ease, but it'll put your family at ease, all your loved ones at ease, and it will absolutely make it to where you are really part of the solution," he said. "You're part of the solution to get this thing dead and killed and gone forever."