August 3, 2021 US coronavirus news

By Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 4:07 p.m. ET, August 9, 2021
25 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:47 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Biden administration to announce new efforts to limit evictions during pandemic

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak 

President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Tuesday, August 3.
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Tuesday, August 3. Evan Vucci/AP

The Biden administration is expected to announce new efforts aimed at limiting evictions, according to an administration official, though details of the effort – and what impact it would have — are still unclear.

The White House and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have continued to search for legal avenues to extend a now-expired nationwide ban on evictions during the pandemic as the issue drives a major wedge between President Biden and members of his party.

Administration lawyers had been unable to identify how Biden could use his administrative authority to continue the eviction freeze following a late-June decision by the Supreme Court.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki sought to further explain Biden's thinking on Tuesday, suggesting a challenge to the court could hamper the federal government's public health authorities going forward.

"There are concerns about what the impact would be on the long term abilities, authorities, of the CDC. Their team is looking closely, carefully, has been since the president asked them to on Sunday, at what our options are here," she said, responding to a question from CNN's Phil Mattingly.

She indicated the search process had not ended, even though White House and CDC lawyers have made clear they do not currently see a legal pathway to extending the moratorium.  

4:45 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

US on a path "strikingly similar" to Delta outbreak in UK, Fauci says

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

People sit in Piccadilly Circus as the light display reads 'Let's Open Up London' on the day of lifting of nearly all remaining coronavirus restrictions in London, on July 19.
People sit in Piccadilly Circus as the light display reads 'Let's Open Up London' on the day of lifting of nearly all remaining coronavirus restrictions in London, on July 19. Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The US is on a similar path to a Delta variant outbreak like the one seen earlier this year in the United Kingdom, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday. 

“Since an acceleration of vaccines doesn't give a result until several weeks after, we are already on a trajectory that looks strikingly similar to the sharp incline that the UK saw,” Fauci said during a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Fauci said this is what he “projects” will happen. “You never can guarantee it's going to be accurate, but I think this is what's going to happen,” he said.

“Remember, we went from an average of about 12 to 15,000 cases a day to 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 – we're up to 70 now. We are going to be between 100 and 200,000 cases before this thing starts to turn around.”

Fauci said this acceleration further enforces the importance of vaccines now. 

“In order to make sure that by the time we get into the fall we don't continue to accelerate but turn around and start coming down acutely, we've got to get those 93 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated, who are not getting vaccinated."

3:49 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Toyota reinstates mask mandate for workers in US facilities

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Toyota is the latest major manufacturer in the US to require workers to wear masks at the workplace as the Delta variant continues to spread.

"With the health and safety of our employees as a top priority, following CDC guidelines, effective August 4, we are reinstating the use of masks/face shields as a requirement in our U.S. facilities," a spokesperson told CNN via email. "We will continue to monitor and adjust as circumstances require."
4:48 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Fauci hints at coming changes to pandemic preparedness in the US

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

A woman walks past a sign calling for mask wearing at Penn Station in New York City, on August 2.
A woman walks past a sign calling for mask wearing at Penn Station in New York City, on August 2. Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday hinted at, but would not give specifics, on a “comprehensive” approach to pandemic response coming in the future. 

In a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, moderator J. Stephen Morrison asked Fauci if “we are going to see some time soon a kind of formal rollout of a pandemic preparedness strategy” that would include the development and stockpile of drug therapies. 

“The answer is yes, we are in active discussion right now,” Fauci said. He said there were “sometimes sensitive” discussions about resources. “So I would rather not give you granular details of that right now,” he said.

“To the extent that I can have any influence on it, there will be a broad, comprehensive approach to pandemic preparedness and response at every level,” Fauci said. 

4:41 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Politicians barring mask and vaccination mandates should "get out of the way," Psaki says 

From CNN's Allie Malloy

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attends a press briefing at the White House on Monday, August 2.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attends a press briefing at the White House on Monday, August 2. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that politicians and officials, including Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas – who are banning mask mandates and/or vaccine requirements – should “get out of the way” so lives can be saved from Covid-19, adding that they have a choice between saving lives and personal politics. 

“You’ll hear the President convey later, if you are not going to be a part of the solution, you’re not going to be a part of saving people’s lives, then get out of the way and let other people do the job,” Psaki said. 

Asked what she meant by “get out of the way,” Psaki said plainly, “That means don’t ban, don’t make it harder for people to put requirements on masks or asking for vaccination status into law.” 

“At a point in every leader’s life they have to make a decision about whether they’re going to abide by public health guidelines to save people’s lives or whether they’re going to be guided by politics and I will let you all people the judge of that,” Psaki said when asked specifically about the personal responsibility DeSantis and Abbott have after they banned mask and vaccination mandates in their states. 
4:51 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Arkansas governor wants to give local school districts flexibility to require masks for children under 12

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference in Little Rock, on Thursday, July 29.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference in Little Rock, on Thursday, July 29. Andrew DeMillo/AP

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today, that he has called a special session of the Arkansas Legislature to amend ACT 1002, a law passed to “end mandatory face covering requirements,” in order to give local school districts the flexibility to add protection for children under 12, who cannot be vaccinated. 

“The reasons for this is, they are required to go to school,” Hutchinson said. “Secondly, we understand the value of in-classroom instruction and we want those children to be as safe as possible. Local school districts are all different across the state, and they have different opinions on this. And they reflect different wishes of parents and their constituents.”

“The local school districts should make the call,” the governor said. “And they should have more options to make sure that their school is a safe environment during a very challenging time for education.”

When asked if he regretted signing the bill, Hutchinson said he signed it at the time because Arkansas’ cases were at a very low point and he knew that it would be overridden by the legislature if he didn't sign it. 

“I signed it for those reasons, that our cases were at a low point. Everything is changed now,” Hutchinson added. “And yes, in hindsight I wish that had not become law, but it is the law, and the only chance we have is either to amend it, or for the courts to say that it has an unconstitutional foundation.”

According to Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. José Romero, as of Aug. 1 of this year, nearly 19% of all active Covid-19 cases in Arkansas are in children under 18 years of age and at this point, those under 12 account for more than half of that percentage between April and July of this year.

3:12 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Covid-19 variants "very likely" to have emerged in immunosuppressed patients, Fauci says

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

Covid-19 variants are likely to have evolved in the bodies of people who are immunosuppressed, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday. 

It’s not a new theory — the idea that people with immune suppression may be unable to fight off Covid-19 infection for weeks or months, giving the virus plenty of time to evolve and change.

“Variants, we all know, have emerged because of the pressure that the human immune system has put on the virus, very likely from people who are immunosuppressed wound up getting infected, and had virus in them for days and days and days before they cleared it and/or died, and then essentially led to the emergence of a variant,” Fauci said in a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

“We feel that's very likely what happened with the B.1.1.7 and what happened now with the current Delta variant.” The B.1.1.7 or Alpha variant emerged last year and became dominant across the US this spring. The Delta or B.1.617.2 variant emerged in late 2020 and is now the dominant lineage across the US.

Fauci said the development of viral variants will affect any future drugs developed to treat Covid-19. 

“As soon as we start treating Covid-19 with new antivirals, we need to plan for and anticipate the emergence of drug resistance,” he said. 

“It isn't going to be where you have one pathogen and one drug that's the knockout, home-run drug. You always have to be ready to continue to develop alternatives that could keep up with the variants.”

4:54 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Union raises concerns about Tyson Foods vaccine mandate

From CNN's Matt Egan

In this photo, taken on February 2, a Tyson Foods team member receives a COVID-19 vaccine from health officials at the Wilkesboro, North Carolina facility.
In this photo, taken on February 2, a Tyson Foods team member receives a COVID-19 vaccine from health officials at the Wilkesboro, North Carolina facility. Melissa Melvin/AP

The union representing Tyson Foods meatpacking workers expressed concern Tuesday at the company’s vaccine mandate announced earlier that day.

The United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers across the United States, said it supports and encourages workers to get vaccinated. 

However, UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement that it is “concerning that Tyson is implementing this mandate before the FDA has fully approved the vaccine.” 

He added that the FDA must fully approve the vaccines and “help address some of the questions and concerns that workers have.”

All three Covid-19 vaccines currently have emergency use authorization from the FDA. An FDA official told CNN last week as part of the emergency use authorization granted last year, the vaccines have already undergone a "thorough scientific evaluation" in order to "meet FDA's rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality."

Another sticking point: the union stressed that employers should provide paid time off so essential workers don’t need to sacrifice pay to get vaccinated.

Paid time off would ensure workers “can rest as needed while their body adjusts to the vaccine and strengthens their immune system to fight off the virus,” Perrone said.

UFCW said it will be meeting with Tyson in the coming weeks to discuss the vaccine mandate, making sure the rights of workers are protected and the policy is fairly implemented. The union represents 24,000 Tyson meatpacking workers in the United States.

“UFCW has made clear that this vaccine mandate must be negotiated so that these workers have a voice in the new policy,” Perrone said.

Earlier Tuesday, Tyson Foods announced that employees at its US offices will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. The company behind Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean said all other workers will need to be vaccinated by Nov. 1, subject to negotiations with unions.

3:07 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Plans underway to expand Covid-19 testing, Fauci says

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

Efforts are underway to expand Covid-19 testing in the United States, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday. 

Asked at a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies whether there are plans right now to “massively expand” Covid-19 testing, Fauci replied, “Yes.”

“The [Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics] diagnostic program that the NIH has initiated is looking now at just that product profile,” Fauci said, “Of getting something that's flooding the system, easily administered, highly sensitive and highly accurate, so that if you wind up getting a symptomatology that's suggestive of SARS-CoV-2, you can get a test almost immediately.”

Fauci said Covid-19 testing is made more important by the impending flu season and the push for Covid-19 treatments. 

“If you get into the flu season, where people present with very similar symptomatology, then you're going to want to test that will tell you immediately, is this flu? Is this SARS-CoV-2? Or is this something else, whatever that might be. RSV, parainfluenza, rhinovirus, whatever,” he said.

“If you are going to effectively implement an antiviral program, you have to get accurate and ready-to-use, easily implementable diagnostics.”