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
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6:53 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Nearly 72,000 cases of Covid-19 reported in children and teens last week, pediatrician group says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Nearly 72,000 cases of Covid-19 were reported on children and teens last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday.

The group counted 71,726 new cases from July 22 to 29. That is a “substantial” increase from the week before and five times as many kids who were sick at the end of June. The definition of a child varies by state, but generally includes those up to age 17 or 18.

After decreases in reported cases over the past couple of months, the July numbers started trending upward again.

Nearly 4.2 million kids have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. Children and teens represent 19% of the reported cases.

At this time, it still appears that severe illness is rare among children, the academy, which represents pediatricians, said. The number of hospitalizations has remained steady through much of the pandemic. Children accounted for 1.3% to 3.5% of the hospitalizations, depending on the state.

Seven states have reported no child deaths from Covid-19 during the pandemic. As of Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 526 deaths among children ages 0-17.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of Covid-19 cases reported in children and teens last week. It was nearly 72,000.

2:34 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

US may be in the "worst surge we've faced so far," former surgeon general says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The United States currently may be facing the worst surge of Covid-19 the nation has seen so far, Dr. Jerome Adams, former US surgeon general under the Trump administration, said.

"We are not crying wolf here. This surge that we're going through right now has every potential to be – and already looks to be – the worst surge we've faced so far," Adams said during a live online interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday.

"We're at 50,000 hospitalizations today in this country, which is where we were in February of last year – February of last year, no vaccines, not enough testing, not enough masks to go around, we were at 50,000 hospitalizations," Adams said. "We are there and still rising in this country."
1:18 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

New York City will look at other areas to mandate vaccines

From CNN's Julian Cummings

Katrina Taormina draws the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at Lehman High School in New York on July 27.
Katrina Taormina draws the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at Lehman High School in New York on July 27. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

New York City is looking into and considering mandating vaccines at other places of business beyond restaurants, gyms, and performances, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference today.

“We will now look at other areas as well. Other types of business and absolutely consider if it makes sense to do something similar. This was the right place to begin,” de Blasio said. 

With the vaccine currently only available to people 12 and over, de Blasio said that how the mandate will affect people not yet eligible for the vaccine will be worked out when final details of the plan are announced the week of Aug. 16. 

“This is the kind of thing we will work through," de Blasio said. “The goal is not to exclude anyone.”

The mandate de Blasio announced today will require vaccines for indoor dining, gyms, entertainment and performances but will only require one dose for patrons to enter establishments.  

Proof of vaccine can be presented to establishments by showing a vaccine card, using the NYC safe app or the New York State Excelsior app, de Blasio said. 

The mandate is being implemented by a mayoral and health department executive order.

De Blasio also said that he got a clear message from the department of justice that it was appropriate to move forward with the mandate based on the current FDA emergency approval of vaccines. 

The move is similar to action taken in Europe, with France's parliament recently passing a law that requires a "health pass" showing proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test in order to enter restaurants, bars and for travel on long-distance trains and planes, starting in August.

Acknowledging that the move will get pushback, he said “for so many people this is going to be the life saving act.”

10:44 a.m. ET, August 3, 2021

US can reach a point where Covid-19 is just a nuisance, NIH director says 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN’s John Berman on New Day Tuesday that while it might not be possible to get to herd immunity with the Delta variant, it is still possible to get to a place where the coronavirus becomes just a nuisance.  

“The idea that we could get actually 80% of the public completely unable to harbor this virus, maybe that’s not going to be achievable with the Delta variant. But we could still get to a place where this becomes a nuisance instead of a threat to your life,” said Collins.

He emphasized that the path to more controlled transmission was vaccines. “if you are vaccinated, your likelihood of getting infected and spreading this virus is greatly reduced, so that does contribute to a certain degree to herd immunity,” he said and emphasized getting everybody vaccinated as quickly as possible. 

 

10:30 a.m. ET, August 3, 2021

New York City's plan to require proof of vaccination at some indoor venues will be enforced in September

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York on August 3.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York on August 3. NYC Media

New York City will require proof of vaccination at many indoor places of business, including restaurants and gyms, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today.

The program is called "The Key to NYC" pass, the mayor said. It will require proof of vaccination at indoor dining, fitness, entertainment and performance venues.

The mayor called it a "first in the nation approach."

“This is going to be a requirement,” he said. “Climbing this ladder is giving us more and more ability to fight back,” he said.

The program is set to launch on Aug. 16 and enforcement will begin on Sept. 13, the mayor said.

“If you are unvaccinated unfortunately you won’t be able to participate in anything,” de Blasio said.

Some context: The move is similar to action taken in Europe, with France's parliament recently passing a law that requires a "health pass" showing proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test in order to enter restaurants, bars and for travel on long-distance trains and planes, starting in August.

Acknowledging that the move will get pushback, de Blasio said “for so many people this is going to be the life-saving act.”

10:17 a.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Catch up: What to know about Covid-19 in the US today

The Delta variant is spreading rapidly across the country, leading to a drastic rise in Covid-19 cases in the US. As cases rise and hospitals overflow in areas with low vaccination rates, experts continue to urge citizens to get vaccinated.

Here's what you need to know about Covid-19 in the US today:

Covid cases: The seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases is up by more than 40% over the previous week, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. Furthermore, according to White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients, one-third of all US Covid cases reported in the last week were from two states: Florida and Texas. Cases are surging in areas of the two states with low vaccination rates, Zients added.

Hospitalizations: Covid-19 hospitalizations are now reaching wintertime levels. According to new data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 50,000 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized on Monday, a number that hasn't been reached since Feb. 27. The 50,625 hospitalizations are more than triple the amount of people hospitalized one month ago for Covid. Moreover, the ICU of Louisiana’s largest hospital is stretched to its limit with 23 people waiting for a bed as of Monday.

However, US vaccination rates are on the rise, according to the White House's coronavirus response coordinator.

Vaccinations: As the state battles a rapid increase in Covid cases, Louisiana's vaccination rate is increasing quickly, with a 302% increase in the average number of newly vaccinated people per day. Zients said vaccination rates have more than doubled in the states with the highest case rates. For example, Mississippi has increased vaccinations by 250%, Alabama by 215% and Arkansas by 206%. According to Dr. Francis Collins, "People are waking up to" the dangers of the Delta variant and getting vaccinated. In addition, it had been President Biden's plan to vaccinate 70% of Americans with at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by July 4. On Monday, nearly a month later than anticipated, the Biden administration reached its goal.

Schools: Some students are heading back to school this week, leaving many school districts wondering how best to protect their students. For example, South Florida's Broward County Public Schools announced last week that the district would require everyone in their buildings to wear masks. The decision came after the CDC issued new guidance recommending everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order preventing mask mandates in schools on Friday. The school district must now will withdraw its mask mandate after the governor threatened to withhold funding from districts that require face coverings. Other school districts are struggling with the same issue, such as those in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott banned mask mandates in schools, and some Texas teachers are calling for the governor to reverse his decision.

Travel: The CDC has added 16 destinations to its "very high" Covid-19 risk level. A risk designation of "Level 4: Covid-19 Very High" means people should avoid travel to these locations. This category also means the destinations have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC parameters. The following 16 locations have been added to the "Level 4" category: Andorra, Curaçao, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Iran, Ireland, Isle of Man, Kazakhstan, Lesotho, Libya, Malta, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin and US Virgin Islands.

CNN's Alyssa Kraus, Madeline Holcombe, Ralph Ellis, Theresa Waldrop, Holly Yan, Joe Sutton, Jason Hanna, Jacqueline Howard, Christina Maxouris and Elizabeth Stuart contributed to this post.

10:06 a.m. ET, August 3, 2021

McDonald’s will require masks for employees and customers in high-risk areas

From CNN’s Kwegyirba Croffie

A McDonald's store is shown on July 28 in Houston, Texas.
A McDonald's store is shown on July 28 in Houston, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

McDonald’s has updated its mask policy, joining the growing number of companies reinstating mask mandates for some of their employees, even if they are fully vaccinated.

McDonald’s told CNN on Tuesday that customers and staff inside restaurants in areas with high or substantial transmission will be required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. The chain added the policy change reflects guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

The fast-food giant also said masks were already required for staff and customers who are not vaccinated.

“McDonald's is closely monitoring the impact coronavirus is having on the communities in which we operate," McDonald's said in a statement on its website. "As always, our number one priority is protecting the well-being of employees and customers, and this principle guides each and every decision we make.”

The move from McDonald’s follows a similar updated mask mandate from Target.

9:46 a.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Fully vaccinated people should get Covid-19 tests if they have mild symptoms, health official says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

A registered nurse stirs a nasal swab in testing solution after administering a COVID-19 test at Sameday Testing on July 14 in Los Angeles.
A registered nurse stirs a nasal swab in testing solution after administering a COVID-19 test at Sameday Testing on July 14 in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on New Day Tuesday that people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 should get a test if they experience mild symptoms of the virus. 

“Let’s be clear, breakthroughs are extremely unusual, but they are happening,” Collins said in answer to a viewer question about when a vaccinated person should get a Covid test. “The people who have breakthroughs, for the vast majority of them, have mild symptoms like a cold, some nasal congestion, maybe a little bit of a cough, maybe a low grade fever. If that is happening to you and your fully vaccinated, that would be a good reason to go get a test, see whether you might in fact be carrying the virus and therefore should isolate yourself so that you’re not spreading it to other people.”

Collins emphasized that the vaccines do work. 

“They don’t completely prevent these mild symptoms,” he said. “But it is still so critical to get the vaccination because otherwise your likelihood of hospitalization or even death is substantial, as you’ve heard from the stories that are being told all over the place today.” 

According to the most recent guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully vaccinated people who’ve been exposed to a suspected or confirmed Covid-19 case need to be tested 3-5 days after exposure and should wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

9:30 a.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Pandemic is currently "the absolute worst that we have seen," Louisiana hospital official says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Catherine O’Neal
Dr. Catherine O’Neal (CNN)

Dr. Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said the Covid-19 pandemic right now “is the absolute worst that we have seen.”

“We are admitting more patients than we're able to discharge each day, so our numbers in the hospital are accumulating and that continues to put a crunch on our staff, because we don't have any more beds,” O’Neal said on CNN’s “New Day.”

She has called the current situation the "darkest days of the pandemic."  

O’Neal said patients are younger than earlier in the pandemic. 

“We continue to have about half of our admissions under the age of 50, knowing all are unvaccinated and all of those would have been preventible hospitalizations,” she said. 

She also said the number of children with Covid-19 is increasing.

“We were seeing about four to five kids in the emergency department each week in June with Covid-19 and admitting very few of those, if any. Now we're seeing 40 to 60 kids a week diagnosed with Covid-19 in the emergency department and admitting more and more of those,” she said.