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
20 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
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.”

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.”