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The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic in the US

'It feels like we're fighting an unwinnable war': Nurse on decision to resign
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Florida governor is "putting kids at real risk," former White House adviser says

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an event to give out bonuses to first responders held at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside on August 10 in Surfside, Florida. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is putting children in his state at risk by trying to prevent schools from requiring face masks, Andy Slavitt, former White House Covid-19 adviser, said Tuesday.

“When school districts try to do the right thing, and he overrules them, he’s both overruling conservative principles of local control, but more importantly, he’s putting kids at real risk,” Slavitt told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Slavitt noted that pediatric hospitals in Florida are filling up with Covid-19 patients.

“It’s time for Gov. DeSantis to decide what matters. Is it kids and families or is it politics?” he said.

Asked whether President Biden should play a role in intervening in states where governors are trying to ban mask mandates in schools, Slavitt said, “the President has no choice but to put every possible option on the table.”

Oregon governor will announce new indoor mask mandate tomorrow

Oregon Governor Kate Brown talks talks with media after announcing the end of the state's Covid-19 restrictions in Portland, Oregon on June 30.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown will announce new statewide indoor mask requirements at a news conference Wednesday, her office announced.

“After a year and a half of this pandemic, I know Oregonians are tired of health and safety restrictions,” Brown said in a written statement Tuesday. “This new mask requirement will not last forever, but it is a measure that can save lives right now.”

The governor also announced Tuesday that all executive branch employees in the state will be required to be vaccinated. The deadline is Oct.18, or six weeks after a vaccine receives final approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, whichever date is later.

“I am taking action to help ensure State of Oregon workplaces are safe for employees and customers alike, and I am strongly encouraging all public and private employers to follow suit by requiring vaccination for their employees,” Brown said in the written statement.

The governor does not have the power to enforce a mandate on workers in the legislative and judicial branches, but encouraged their leadership to consider one.

Employers going back to in-person work should have a vaccine mandate, expert says

Employers who are pulling employees back into in-person work should have a vaccine mandate in the office, Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, said Tuesday.

“I think it’s fine as long as you have a vaccine mandate. I think everybody who is going to get together in an enclosed space indoors should be vaccinated,” he said in a discussion hosted by Brown University.

Offit said, barring health reasons, there is “no good reason” to not go ahead and get vaccinated.

“You’re not asking them to get a heart transplant, you’re just asking them to get two shots of a vaccine, it’s not that, it doesn’t hurt. It provides excellent protection certainly against severe critical disease,” he said.

“There’s no good reason not to do it assuming you don’t have a medical condition that precludes you getting vaccinated. There’s no reason that you can get, there’s no reasonable way to make that choice that you shouldn’t get vaccinated. All the reasons people give are bad ones,” Offit said.

Vaccine expert says available data does not yet demonstrate a need for Covid-19 boosters

The data available does not yet show a need for Covid-19 booster doses in the US, and the focus should be more on initial vaccinations than booster doses, Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, said Tuesday.

“I think we will cross the line, where we know we need a booster dose, when people who are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, nonetheless, are hospitalized or in the ICU or dying,” Offit said in a conversation hosted by Brown University. “That’s where the line gets crossed for me. We’re not there yet. We’re not and I, hopefully the CDC is carefully looking at these data because that’s what you need to know.”

Offit said while San Francisco has moved forward on offering an additional dose to those who got a single Johnson & Johnson vaccine, “I don’t see any evidence that you need to do that.” 

“This discussion of boosters is just a little off the point. The problem is going to be is not boosting people who’ve already been vaccinated, the problem in this country is that the people who haven’t been vaccinated, that’s where we need to focus our efforts, all our efforts, I feel,” he said.

Offit also spoke briefly about the upcoming meeting of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices, of which he is a member. The committee is set to meet to discuss booster doses in the immunocompromised. 

Offit said Friday’s discussion will likely conclude that immunocompromised people are the ones dependent on the “herd” of vaccinated people. 

“I mean, the worst thing an anti-vaccine person says, is they say, ‘What do you care what I do? You’re vaccinated,’ which makes two incorrect assumptions. One, the vaccines are 100% effective, which is true of no vaccine, and two, that everybody can get vaccinated when they can’t.”

San Francisco school district to require Covid-19 vaccine for all staff

Plexiglass dividers are set up on tables in a first grade classroom at Bryant Elementary School on April 9, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) will require all staff to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus starting Sept. 7, the school district announced in a news release Tuesday.

The school district, the seventh-largest in the state, is giving its roughly 10,000 employees until the end of this month to submit proof of vaccination, according to the release. Unvaccinated employees will need to get tested at least once a week, the district said.

“As we move to a full return to in-person learning on August 16, we are doing so with all of the current health and safety requirements in place,” Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said in a statement. “Given that we are in the midst of rising cases and new variants in our community, a vaccine requirement is a necessary step to keeping our students, staff and families safe.” 

The vaccine requirement will not apply to students, the district said.

The move comes as the city sees a surge in Covid-19 infections that prompted health officials to reinstate a mask mandate in public indoor spaces.

In June, San Francisco officials announced all city employees will be required to get inoculated within 10 weeks of the US Food and Drug Administration giving final approval to a Covid-19 vaccine.

3 major airlines will not require employees to be vaccinated

The CEOs of Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines say they will not require employees to get vaccinated, breaking with United Airlines’ mandate that workers get vaccinated by Oct. 25 or face getting fired. 

In an internal memo obtained by CNN, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said the airline will “continue to strongly encourage” that workers get vaccinated, but the airline’s stance has not shifted. 

“Obviously, I am very concerned about the latest Delta variant, and the effect on the health and Safety of our Employees and our operation, but nothing has changed,” Kelly said. 

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told Good Day New York on Tuesday that that 75% of its workforce has already been vaccinated even without a mandate. In May, Delta became the first major carrier to mandate that all new hires be vaccinated

“I think we’re there’s some additional steps and measures we can take to get the vaccine rates even higher, but what we’re seeing is every day is those numbers continue to grow,” Bastian said.

Both announcements follow a New York Times podcast interview with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker who said the airline is incentivizing workers who get vaccinated by the end of this month with one extra day of vacation in 2022.

“We certainly encourage it everywhere we can, encourage it for our customers and our employees, but we’re not putting mandates in place,” said Parker.

Average pace of new vaccinations tops 500,000 people per day for first time since June, CDC data shows

A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at West Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia on August 4.

The average pace of new vaccinations topped 500,000 people per day for first time since June, according to data published Tuesday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s more data from the CDC on vaccination efforts in the United States:

  • Fully vaccinated: 50.3% of the total US population
  • Not vaccinated: 31.1% of the eligible population (ages 12 and older)
  • Current pace of vaccinations (seven-day average): 503,734 people are initiating vaccination each day.
  • The average daily pace was last over 500,000 in mid-June, about seven weeks ago. 
  • This is a 13% increase over last week’s pace.
  • An average of 739,114 doses are being administered each day.
  • 22 states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as Washington, DC.
  • All states have now fully vaccinated at least 35% of residents. 
  • Vermont leads the nation with 68% of residents fully vaccinated, while Alabama has fully vaccinated 35% of residents.

Florida governor says federal intervention in states' ban on school mask mandates would be "inappropriate"

When asked about President Biden’s comments on looking into the presidential authority to intervene in states like Florida and Texas where governors are attempting to prohibit mask mandates for schools, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said federal government intervention “would be very inappropriate.”

“I think that they really believe government should rule over the parents’ decisions and I think the parents’ decisions in this regard, should ultimately be what is done. The fact of the matter is that parents are in the best position to know what’s best for their kids,” DeSantis said.

“We believe in empowering the parents. They obviously want the government to force, and to use coercion. Our policy, based on the parents’ bill of rights, is this is the parents’ decision under Florida law at this point. Now this is a new law that was just signed, it wasn’t necessarily in effect last year, so we’re in a situation now, where we believe that the parents’ rights will be vindicated and we’ll work to make sure that that happens in any way we can,” the governor added.

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday sent letters to the superintendents of Leon and Alachua counties, which had enacted masking policies in violation of the governor’s new rules, informing them that investigations of non-compliance had been initiated.

“Depending on the facts presented, I may recommend to the State Board of Education that the Department withhold funds in an amount equal to the salaries for the Superintendent and all the members of the School Board,” Corcoran wrote. “There is no room for error or leniency when it comes to ensuring compliance with policies that allow parents and guardians to make health and educational choices for the children.”

After the Broward County School Board voted Tuesday to maintain the school district’s mask mandate originally approved on July 28, DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw told CNN, “It’s safe to assume that the decision by Broward school board members to violate parents’ rights to make decisions for their own children, will result in a similar response.”

L.A. County board votes to require Covid-19 vaccine for all county employees

A dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine is prepared at a mobile vaccination clinic in Los Angeles on August 7.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to require all county employees to be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination status or undergo weekly coronavirus testing.

“In order to increase our vaccination rates, it is important that Los Angeles County have a mandatory vaccination policy for its workforce of approximately 100,000 employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Supervisors Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl said in the motion. Exceptions will be made for medical or religious reasons. 

Contractors employed by the county may also be required to be fully vaccinated, according to the motion.

In July, the city of Los Angeles also announced it will require its employees to show proof of vaccination or get weekly Covid-19 testing. The move comes as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to cause a rise in new infections and hospitalizations in the state.

“Too many of our residents have already lost their lives to this virus, and we must do everything we can to protect their health,” the supervisors said.

Texas governor's office responds to Austin and Dallas schools defying his order on masks

Texas Governor Greg Abbott attends a security briefing with former President Donald Trump and state officials and law enforcement at the Weslaco Department of Public Safety DPS Headquarters on June 30 in Weslaco, Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office on Tuesday responded to the Austin and Dallas Independent School Districts’ decision to defy his executive order on masks and mandate face coverings in their schools.

“We are all working to protect Texas children and those most vulnerable among us, but violating the governor’s executive orders—and violating parental rights—is not the way to do it,” Abbott’s press secretary Renae Eze tells CNN in an email Tuesday.

“Governor Abbott has been clear that the time for mask mandates is over; now is the time for personal responsibility. Parents and guardians have the right to decide whether their child will wear a mask or not, just as with any other decision in their child’s life. Governor Abbott has spent his entire time in office fighting for the rights and freedoms of all Texans, and our office continues working with the Office of the Attorney General to do just that,” Eze said.

Some more context: Last month, Abbott issued an executive order that combined many of his earlier orders on Covid-19, which included language that no governmental entity, including school districts, could require masks.

“The best defense against this virus is the COVID vaccines, and we continue to strongly encourage all eligible Texans to get vaccinated,” the governor’s spokesperson added.

University of Colorado Boulder will require masks indoors on campus

In this file photo, an incoming freshman moves into a campus dorm at University of Colorado Boulder on August 18, 2020 in Boulder, Colorado.

The University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) on Tuesday announced an indoor mask mandate for all indoor public spaces on campus, the university said in a statement.

This requirement applies to all students, faculty and staff regardless of vaccination status, and it is described as “a temporary precaution” as the region continues to see surging Covid-19 numbers due to the delta variant, CU Boulder notes.

Masks must be worn in any publicly accessible indoor campus space, including classrooms, laboratories and academic advisory areas, according to CU Boulder.

“We recognize the renewed mask requirement will be welcome news to many who are worried by the surge of delta variant cases, while others will be less supportive of this change. We encourage everyone in our campus community to display compassion for each other as we get through this next phase of the pandemic together,” the school says in Tuesday’s press release.

The mask mandate goes into effect on Friday, and the first day of classes is slated for August 23, according to the school’s official website.

Arkansas governor says vaccination rate among Medicaid recipients "extremely, extremely low"

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson stands next to a chart displaying Covid-19 hospitalization data as he speaks at a news conference at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Arkansas, on July 29.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson highlighted the low rates of Covid-19 vaccination among Medicaid beneficiary in the state, saying only 27,000 traditional Medicaid clients, ages 12 and up, have been vaccinated. 

“That means that 4.3% of traditional Medicaid recipients are vaccinated, that is extremely, extremely low, and a very vulnerable, and at risk population, and it’s a challenge for us, we have to do better for this vulnerable population,” Hutchinson said.  

Hutchinson announced that Arkansas will be increasing the Covid-19 vaccine administration reimbursement rate for physicians from $40 to $100, for the two-dose of Pfizer and for Moderna and one-dose Johnson&Johnson vaccines.

The governor encouraged more physicians to engage with the beneficiaries on the vaccines, to answer questions, consult with them at length, and to encourage vaccinations as the beneficiaries go in to the physician or provider’s office.

Some background: On Monday Hutchinson announced “very startling numbers,” including the state’s largest single-day increase in hospitalizations, eclipsing its previous high of Covid-19 admissions.

In a tweet, he said there were only eight available intensive care unit beds in the state.

The Arkansas Department of Health is reporting 995 new Covid-19 cases Monday and 21 new Covid-19 related deaths.

Arkansas is one of a growing number of states, including Missouri, Texas and Florida, that are seeing Covid-19 cases explode, driven by the easily transmissible Delta variant and low vaccination rates, and hospitalization rates higher than anytime during the pandemic.

Florida's Lee County healthcare officials warn parents their children are not immune to Covid-19

Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of Lee Health speaks at a commemoration to remember the first Covid-19 death in Lee County on Friday, March 5.

Leaders of Lee County’s public healthcare system in Florida held a news conference today, coinciding with the first day of school, to stress vaccinations and masking as the system nears capacity. 

Lee Health’s President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Larry Antonucci said their Covid-19 numbers are increasing at unprecedented proportions. 

“This is a different disease. The Delta variant is different than what we faced last year, it is much more contagious, it is affecting children at a higher rate than the Alpha variant and the original Covid virus,” Antonucci said. “And we’re seeing those numbers in our hospital. This is affecting our children, we want to do everything we can to protect our children as school begins.”

Antonucci said it’s important to note there were 30 patients with Covid in the hospital in May but just yesterday, Lee Health hospitals admitted 80 patients with Covid-19 and discharged 44 Covid-19 patients. He said Lee Health’s hospitals are now 94% full and the intensive care units are 93% full. There are currently 455 patients hospitalized with Covid, 64 patients are in the ICU and 35 patients are on ventilators.

Dr. Salomon Abitbol, a pediatric hospitalist, said in the past two weeks he’s treated children as young as five weeks and as old as 17 for Covid-19. 

“So, basically anything goes, I’ve had some kids that do have some underlying conditions, asthma, obesity, but I’ve also had kids who’ve been completely and totally healthy,” Abitbol said. 

Abitbol said doctors are now concerned with children who have recovered from Covid-19 presenting with multi-systemic inflammatory syndrome, a disease which causes generalized inflammation. 

“That’s why I’m telling parents there is no age limit anymore,” Abitbol said. “At one point we thought it might be less in the pediatric world, but obviously, as I have experienced in these past few weeks, things are not looking that way.”

Lee Health’s Interim Chief Quality and Safety Officer Dr. Stephanie Stovall said this school year is the first in more than 20 years where more parents are afraid, than excited, for the start of the new school year. 

She said Lee Health is supportive of school districts requiring masking.

Vermont will mandate vaccines for state employees as hospitalizations rise

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced that the state will mandate Covid-19 vaccines for state employees in veterans’ homes, correctional facilities and psychiatric hospitals.

“I believe all hospitals, long-term care facilities and other places that come into frequent contact with high-risk populations should follow suit and require the vaccine – and to help set the example, I’m announcing today that my team is working to do the same,” he said at a news conference Tuesday.

Scott did not provide a deadline for employees to get vaccinated, but said his office would have more details “in the days to come.”

Vermont has the highest vaccination rate in the country, with about 85% of the eligible population having received at least one dose, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard

This leaves about 85,000 eligible Vermonters who have yet to be vaccinated, according to State Commissioner Michael Pieciak.

In hopes to increase the vaccination rate, Scott encouraged businesses to mandate vaccinations for employees, saying, “as a former business owner myself, I know how disruptive it can be when you find yourself short-staffed unexpectedly.”

Pieciak later offered hopeful news, saying that although case numbers in Vermont continue to rise, “the percent in which they are doing so has been declining over the last three weeks.”

He went on to say, “Vermont continues to be the best state (in) position to withstand this Delta variant rise.”

White House's message to Florida governor over masks in schools: "Get out of the way"

White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a message on Tuesday to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is threatening to withhold salaries of superintendents who impose mask mandate in schools.

“If you’re not interested in following the public health guidelines to protect the lives of people in your state, to give parents some comfort as they’re sending their kids to school,” Psaki said.

“Then get out of the way and let public officials, let local officials, do their job to keep students safe,” Psaki added when asked what the White House says directly to DeSantis.

Psaki told reporters that the White House and federal government are continuing to look for ways to support local school districts and educators, “as they try to follow the science do the right thing and save lives.”

She added that the funds made available to Florida had not yet been distributed on a state level.

“So, the question is, why not? And those can be used to cover expenses that come up in this period of time,” she said. “They’re under federal discretion, so they just need to be distributed to the schools — we’re looking into what’s possible.”

Psaki said later that paying for salaries could be a part of that, and the Department of Education is looking at options. Withholding funds is not the intention, she said.

And she thanked the leaders in the state working to impose guidelines, potentially against the will of the governor.

“I do want to call out the courage and the boldness of a number of leaders in Florida, including in Miami-Dade County — people who are stepping up to do the right thing to protect students and keep schools safe and open,” Psaki said.

“This is serious. And we’re talking about people’s lives, and we know based on public health guidelines that even though kids under a certain age are not yet eligible masks can have a huge impact,” she continued.

Florida governor says masking is "about parental choice, not government mandate"

As cases of Covid-19 continue surging in the state of Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis defended his ban on school mask mandates saying, for him, “it is about parental choice, not government mandate.” 

DeSantis said “a lot of parents” have come to him and complained that masking is hard on their children in a learning environment.

“Ultimately my view is, it’s a parent’s decision. If you believe in the masking during the school, you can do it. You are free to do it. No one is saying you can’t do it. But if you are somebody who is concerned about it, that thinks that may not be the right thing for your child, then I think you should have the right to make that ultimate decision. I don’t think government should override that,” DeSantis said during an event Tuesday honoring the first responders of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside, Florida.

DeSantis said “it is totally reasonable” for a parent to send their child to school without a mask.

DeSantis said when it comes to younger children in particular, they can’t be expected to wear their mask properly anyway.

“Do you honestly think these young kids are doing that? So I don’t think it’s really doing much. And so as a parent, I think parents should look to say it’s doing more harm than good,” DeSantis said.

3 in 4 adults in the UK have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine

A patient waits to receive a Covid-19 vaccine dose at Heaven night club in London on August 8.

More than three quarters of adults in the UK have now received two doses of a Covid-19 jab, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.  

A total of 86,780,455 vaccine doses have been administered in the UK, with 47,091,889 people receiving a first jab and 39,688,566 people receiving both, according to data released on Tuesday. 

Public Health England have said the vaccines are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and deaths, with an estimated 60,000 deaths avoided. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement, “Our incredible vaccine rollout has now provided vital protection against the virus to three quarters of all UK adults. This is a huge national achievement, which we should all be proud of.” 

The milestone moment in the vaccine program comes amid the government’s rollout of its “grab a jab” strategy, where people are able to get vaccinated at pop-up vaccine sites across the country including nightclubs, football stadiums and festivals across the UK. 

“Getting two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine is the key to enjoying a host of new freedoms safely – whether that be to enjoy a trip abroad with family or a night out with friends – as we continue to build our wall of protection,” Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement.

The minister also urged all those who have not already been jabbed to come forward and get one “as soon as possible.” 

US to donate 8.5 million Covid-19 vaccines to Mexico, official says

A health worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Mexico City on August 4.

The US will donate 8.5 million more vaccines to Mexico, according to Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Tuesday. 

Following a conversation between US Vice President Kamala Harris and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador late Monday afternoon, the US affirmed they would donate another 3.5 million Moderna vaccines and 5 million AstraZeneca vaccines, according to Ebrard, as Mexico faces a surge in cases amid a third wave of Covid-19.

Ebrard said he hoped for the vaccines “very soon, in August.” 

“We are in a good moment in the relationship with the United States, the issues that we have raised have been addressed, and this is how a relationship is built, with respect from both parties,” he added.

Ebrard also said they welcomed the Tuesday visit of White House Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and National Security Council Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere Juan Gonzalez to Mexico City, during which discussions on possibly reopening the border to nonessential travel would continue. 

Ebrard said, “we will talk to Secretary Mayorkas to determine when we can open the border for activities that they – the US – consider non-essential.”

"I have a time bomb in my neck": A cancer patient cannot get surgery as Covid-19 patients fill hospitals

Las Vegas resident Michael Kagan was recently diagnosed with stage-three cancer, and a surgery was scheduled on Aug. 4 to remove the cancerous lymph nodes in his neck. But the hospital pushed it back: With the recent rise in Covid-19 cases, the hospital would not have a recovery bed for him.

Mentally dealing with cancer was one thing, but the delay in his treatment has been hard to adjust with, Kagan said. Finding out that most hospital beds are taken up by mostly unvaccinated Covid-19 patients makes Kagan hope that more people hear his story and get vaccinated.

“I don’t want to shame anybody. I do not want to express any anger on anybody. I just want people to not get sick. I am already sick …. And the way to avoid that is to get vaccinated,” he said.

Now his surgery has been pushed to Aug. 18, but Kagan says he has been told there is no guarantee that will happen.

“I am on pins and needles this week, and I will be really until they check me into the hospital,” he said. “The reality is that we do not have a plan B …. You always hear that with cancer, early detection matters. That is because early treatment matters. I am not getting any treatment,” he added.

"Fighting an un-winnable war": ICU nurse quits her job as cases surge in Mississippi

Mississippi health officials say there are no more ICU beds available in several of the state’s top hospitals. The rise of Covid-19 patients and deaths in the community became overwhelming for Nichole Atherton, an ICU nurse at Singing River Ocean Springs Hospital.

After working through the pandemic, Atherton resigned from her job last week.

“We’ve had to watch a lot of people die,” she told CNN on Tuesday. “As a nurse, you’re called to save people and to help people get better and sometimes it feels like we’re fighting a losing battle.”

She said Mississippi has a high hospitalization rate and a low number of people getting vaccinated. This makes it feel like health care workers are “fighting an un-winnable war,” she said.

Atherton said of the 12 people in the 12-bed ICU she works in, all of them are sick with Covid-19 and all of them are unvaccinated.

She said one of the most heartbreaking stories she has seen recently was a new mother who had to meet her baby for the first time on a video call.

“We’re trained to deal with death, as a nurse, and to help people die with dignity when that time comes, but seeing this much death day in and day out for this extended period of time – it becomes unbearable and the trauma that it gives you, it’s not something that will easily go away,” she added.

Atherton said that she wants people to choose to wear masks and get the vaccine because veteran nurses won’t be able to cope with this level of trauma indefinitely. As a result, the nursing staff taking care of patients will become less and less experienced, something she said will be “extremely unsafe.”

“To call us heroes but not do what you can to protect yourself and to protect us, it’s just words and words don’t save lives, actions save lives,” she said.

“Those people that don’t believe it or choose not to get vaccinated, when they can’t breathe they still show up at the hospital and we still care for them and treat them with absolute respect and do not want them to feel judged for for the decisions they’ve made around their health. But I want them to understand they are jeopardizing our lives as well and we have children to go home to,” Atherton said.

Florida mother of son with Down syndrome says DeSantis' executive order is endangering students

Judi Hayes on CNN's New Day.

Judi Hayes is one of several parents in Florida suing Gov. Ron DeSantis over his executive order requiring the state’s health and education departments to create rules based on parents’ rights to make health care decisions for their children.

Her 10-year-old son has Down syndrome and is a part of general education classes, and she said that it “terrifies” her to send him to school right now with other students who may not be wearing masks.

“If we don’t have enough kids wearing masks, that effectively makes it unsafe for my child to go to school at all. And if he can’t go to school in person, he can’t just pivot to digital learning like most kids could, because he wouldn’t have access to the educational supports. So not having a mask mandate just completely deprives him of the opportunity to be educated along with his typical peers,” Hayes said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Her attorney and litigation director for the Disability Independence Group, Matthew Dietz, said that the Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees that “any child has the ability to go to school or to go to any place like any other person, and they are entitled to have reasonable accommodations, including to be in a safe place.”

Hayes said DeSantis is not keeping students’ safety in mind with his fight over mask mandates.

“I feel like this is yet another culture war that Gov. DeSantis is lodging against the people of Florida. Parents like me are terrified. School starts in an hour and a half and we have no options, we have no idea what we’re supposed to do, and it’s almost as though he’s actively trying to harm our children,” she said.

9-year-old who lost officer father to Covid-19 gets police escort on first day of school

After fourth-grader Noah Swanger’s dad died of complications from Covid-19 earlier this summer, his father’s colleagues at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department escorted him to his first day of school.

“It was overwhelming, and since I had a lot of nerves, it … calmed my nerves down,” Noah said on CNN’s “New Day.”

The 9-year-old said he wore a tie to school “because I’m the man of the house now.”

Noah’s mom, Christa Swanger, said the squad has shown incredible support for her son, including delivering a patrol car full of gifts to Noah on his birthday, which helps ease the pain they feel without her husband.

“It is a whole new life, you know, not having him here and not being able to share all of the special moments, like the first day of school, his birthday … a whole year of new firsts that we’ll have that he’s not going to be a part of,” she said.

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Nearly all Americans live in areas with "high" or "substantial" levels of Covid-19 spread

A total of 98.2% of the US population — around 325 million people — live in counties considered to have “high” or “substantial” Covid-19 transmission, according to CNN’s analysis of data published Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Three quarters of the population, or 250 million people, live in “high” transmission areas alone.

That means the latest CDC guidance, which advises even fully vaccinated people to mask up indoors in areas with substantial or high transmission, would apply to all but six million Americans.

Only 0.2% of the population — fewer than 600,000 people — live in areas with “low” transmission. Another 1.6% are in areas with “moderate” transmission

The CDC considers a county to have “high” transmission if there have been 100 or more cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 residents in the past week, or a test positivity rate of 10% or higher during the same time frame. For “low” transmission, those numbers must be fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 or a test positivity rate under 5%.

Fauci says Covid-19 vaccines should be mandated for teachers

Students make their way into Brentwood High School outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that he thinks vaccines for teachers should be mandated. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on MSNBC Tuesday that he thinks vaccines for teachers should be mandated. 

He continued: “We are in a critical situation now. We’ve had 615,000-plus deaths and we are in a major surge now as we’re going into the fall, into the school season. This is very serious business. You would wish that people would see why it’s so important to get vaccinated.”  

There won’t be central mandates from the federal government, he said. 

“But when you’re talking about local mandates, mandates for schools, for teachers, for universities, for colleges, I’m sorry, I mean I know people must like to have their individual freedom and not be told to do something,” he said. “But, I think we’re in such a serious situation now that under certain circumstances mandates should be done.” 

He said that these mandates could “absolutely” come from governors, and he believes that when full approval for the vaccines comes from the US Food and Drug Administration, “I think you’re going to see that local institutions, local enterprises are going to feel empowered and appropriately so, they’re not worried about any, you know, getting sued or anything, that they’re going to be saying if you want to go to this university or if you want to go to this college, you got to be vaccinated. If you want to work in our organization, you have to be vaccinated. I think we’re going to see a lot more of that.” 

Schools reopening without masks "is a formula for disaster," says Louisiana doctor 

more children are being hospitalized for Covid-19, Dr. Mark Kline, physician-in-chief of Children’s Hospital New Orleans in Louisiana, warned against reopening schools without mask mandates on Monday.

When asked what kind of protections are needed to keep kids safe as schools across the country reopen, Kline cited Louisiana’s mask mandate for schools. He told CNN’s Don Lemon that it would be wise for governors across the region to follow suit. 

“This virus that we’re dealing with now is a game changer, and it’s just so easily transmitted from person-to-person that this could truly catalyze an explosion of cases across the region,” he added.

Kline said he’s extremely concerned that students who are too young to be vaccinated will soon return to school, while huge numbers of eligible adults and adolescents in Louisiana remain unvaccinated. 

“It’s one thing not to care about your own health or to think that Covid is not a threat to you personally, but maybe if you learn that it’s a threat to your children, you’ll reconsider the idea of not being vaccinated.” 

Kline said 18 children are currently hospitalized with Covid-19 at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, six of whom are in the intensive care unit. He said the hospital has seen one child die during the current surge.

Kline said children and adolescents of all ages are being admitted for Covid-19 at the hospital. There are more of them than before — and now they’re getting sicker, he added.

“Half of the children that we’ve admitted have been under the age of two,” said Kline. “Currently, we have a seven-week-old and a 10-week-old in the hospital.”

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Florida governor's office says state could withhold salaries of officials who enact school mask mandates
2 Texas ERs temporarily shut down as US Covid-19 hospitalization and death rates double in 2 weeks
Covid-19 or the common cold? How to tell if your child contracted Covid-19 as school starts
CDC adds seven destinations to 'very high' Covid-19 travel risk list
Pentagon moves to mandate Covid-19 vaccine for active duty military members