The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic in the US

By Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, August 13, 2021
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6:55 p.m. ET, August 13, 2021

Live Nation will require Covid-19 vaccination or negative test for all artists and concertgoers

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Live Nation Entertainment, one of the country’s biggest live entertainment companies, will require all artists and concertgoers to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test starting Oct. 4, the company announced Friday.

All employees will also need to be vaccinated to visit any of the company’s events, venues, or offices.

The company said all ticket holders are being alerted directly with details pertaining to their show.

“Vaccines are going to be your ticket back to shows, and as of October 4th we will be following the model we developed for Lollapalooza and requiring this for artists, fans and employees at Live Nation venues and festivals everywhere possible in the US,” Live Nation Entertainment President and CEO Michael Rapino said in a statement.

The Los Angeles-based entertainment company hosts 40,000 shows and over 100 festivals every year, according to its website. With over 40,000 employees worldwide, Live Nation Entertainment sells 500 million tickets annually.

The announcement follows the decision by AEG Presents to require proof of vaccination for all concertgoers and staff members.

6:48 p.m. ET, August 13, 2021

More than 470 Covid-19 cases reported after first week of school in Florida's Brevard County

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart and Mallory Simon

There are 473 positive cases of Covid-19 among teachers and students in Brevard Public Schools in Florida after just four days of school.

According to the district's online dashboard, 385 students and 88 employees have currently tested positive. There are 1,060 people quarantined due to close contact or community contact with those individuals districtwide. School started in Brevard County on Tuesday.

The cases are distributed across more than 50 elementary, middle and high schools. The cases account for less than 1% of the district's total student population, which is around 73,000.

The Brevard County School Board voted 3-2 to keep masks optional during a meeting on Tuesday that lasted more than five hours. The board also chose not to follow in the path of some Florida districts which have implemented a mask mandate along with an “opt-out” option for parents who do not want their children wearing masks in school.

6:13 p.m. ET, August 13, 2021

50% of Florida residents are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

Maria Oramas gets the first dose of the Pzifer Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, August 9, in Miami.
Maria Oramas gets the first dose of the Pzifer Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, August 9, in Miami. (Marta Lavandier/AP)

Florida is the latest state to report 50% of its residents as fully vaccinated, according to the latest data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Here's the latest CDC data on vaccination efforts in the United States:

  • Fully vaccinated: 50.5% of the total US population (all ages)
  • 59.1% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated (12 and older)
  • 61.5% of adults are fully vaccinated (18 and older)
  • 80.6% of the senior population is fully vaccinated (65 and older)
  • Current pace of vaccinations (seven-day average): 473,859 people are initiating vaccination each day.
  • An average of 712,924 doses are being administered each day (seven day average).
  • 23 states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, 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.

5:41 p.m. ET, August 13, 2021

DHS is not considering mandating vaccines for domestic flights, secretary says 

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

People check in for departure flights at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport on August 5, 2021 in Houston. 
People check in for departure flights at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport on August 5, 2021 in Houston.  (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

There is currently no discussion inside the Department of Homeland Security about requiring passengers on domestic flights to be vaccinated, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday.

“There is not at this time,” said Mayorkas, when asked by CNN’s Pamela Brown if there is any discussion or consideration to mandate vaccines for airline passengers for domestic flights.

The secretary’s remarks come as CEOs of several major American airlines have indicated it is unlikely they would require vaccines for domestic travel.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said he does not anticipate a vaccination requirement for travel within the United States, but he said it is possible for some international travel. Delta Air Lines’ CEO Ed Bastian also does not foresee vaccinations as a requirement to fly in the US, according to a May interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow.

5:36 p.m. ET, August 13, 2021

Hawaii's Covid-19 case rate hits all-time high

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Hawaii reached a new single-day record for Covid-19 cases Friday, the state announced.

“The fact is, 1,167 more people are now battling Covid-19, and the overwhelming majority of them are unvaccinated,” Gov. David Ige said in a news conference.

Although Ige acknowledged that part of Friday’s large number was due to lags in reporting, he says the overall trend is still at a level they have not previously seen, with "an average of 729 new Covid infections each day over the last three days.”

“I didn't expect it to spike to this degree, this fast,” said state health director Dr. Libby Char.

The Department of Health is now ramping up contact tracing, although Char said their efforts to avoid spread are not always met with a favorable response.

“My guys get yelled at on the phone,” Char said. “Please don't yell and scream at us when we call you, and please share the information that we request.”

Hawaii avoided a Covid-19 surge at the outset of the pandemic by cutting off virtually all outside travel to and between the islands. However, Ige said he does not plan to reinstitute a travel ban right away since tourists currently account for a very small percent of cases.

“The overwhelming majority of the cases tied to travel is with residents traveling and getting infected and returning to the islands,” said Ige.

Still, the state's health director encouraged Hawaiians to think twice about traveling right now – or, for that matter, doing anything unnecessary that could potentially spread infection.

“If you can go back to thinking of what we did before we had vaccines... that would work really well right now, you know?” said Char.

5:42 p.m. ET, August 13, 2021

Florida reports record high number of new Covid-19 cases this week

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Cars line up for Covid-19 testing in Miami, on August 3.
Cars line up for Covid-19 testing in Miami, on August 3. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

Florida reported more Covid-19 cases over the past week than any other seven-day period during the pandemic.

Data published Friday by the state health department reported 151,415 new Covid-19 cases over the past week, for an average of 21,630 cases each day. 

The previous record high was on Aug. 6, 2021, with 134,711 total cases reported over seven days, for an average of 19,244 cases each day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

With this latest update, Florida has the second-highest rate of new cases per capita, with just over 100 new cases per 100,000 people each day over the past week, behind only Louisiana. The US overall is averaging more than 37 new cases per 100,000 people each day.

Over the past week, Florida reported 286 deaths and a new case positivity rate of 19.3%, according the state health department’s Covid-19 Weekly Situation Report.

5:24 p.m. ET, August 13, 2021

Alabama governor issues temporary state of emergency following surge in Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Devon Sayers

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a “limited, narrowly-focused state of emergency” based on the state’s surge of coronavirus cases, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

The statement from Ivey’s office stressed “there will be absolutely no statewide mandates, closures or the like.” 

According to the governor's office, the order was “targeted at removing bureaucracy and cutting red tape” to assist medical facilities and staff in the state.

"The proclamation will relax regulatory burdens to allow expanded capacity in healthcare facilities, additional liability protections, increased authority for frontline health care personnel and easier shipment of emergency equipment and supplies," the statement said.

5:19 p.m. ET, August 13, 2021

Education Department sends letters to Texas and Florida governors over school mask mandates

From CNN's Liz Stark

The Department of Education is sending letters to the governors of Texas and Florida, as well as Florida school district superintendents, amid an escalating battle between the White House and state officials over school mask guidance as the Delta variant surges.  

In a new letter Friday, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida that he is “deeply concerned” by the state’s executive order restricting the implementation of school mask mandates. Cardona also took aim at the recent threat from the governor’s office that the state board of education could move to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who disregard his executive order.

“The Department recognizes that several school districts in your State have already moved to adopt such policies in line with guidance from the CDC for the reopening and operation of school facilities despite the State level prohibitions. The Department stands with these dedicated educators who are working to safely reopen schools and maintain safe in-person instruction,” Cardona wrote in the letter, which was also addressed to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Cardona sent a similar warning to Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and the state’s education commissioner Mike Morath, underscoring how “Texas’s recent actions to block school districts from voluntarily adopting science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts these goals at risk and may infringe upon a school district’s authority to adopt policies to protect students and educators as they develop their safe return to in-person instruction plans required by Federal law.” 

This follows statements from White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier this week, who told reporters that the White House and federal government are continuing to look for ways to support local school districts and educators in Florida, “as they try to follow the science do the right thing and save lives.”

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.

Previously, Biden and members of his administration have specifically targeted the governors of Florida and Texas for standing in the way of mask and vaccine requirements, pointing to the extraordinary amount of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in their states. 

In Friday’s letter to DeSantis and Corcoran, Cardona pointed to how Florida school districts can use funds from federal Covid relief for educators’ salaries, noting that “any threat by Florida to withhold salaries from superintendents and school board members who are working to protect students and educators (or to levy other financial penalties) can be addressed using ESSER funds at the sole and complete discretion of Florida school districts.”

In the letter to Florida school district superintendents, Cardona further emphasized the administration’s support, saying, “I want you to know that the U.S. Department of Education stands with you. Your decisions are vital to safely reopen schools and maintain safe in-person instruction, and they are undoubtedly in the best interest of your students.”

5:06 p.m. ET, August 13, 2021

CDC endorses additional vaccine dose for immunocompromised people

From CNN's Maggie Fox

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed on Friday the use of a third dose of coronavirus vaccine in immunocompromised people.

Walensky signed off on recommendations the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved just hours before.

“This official CDC recommendation — which follows FDA’s decision to amend the emergency use authorizations of the vaccines — is an important step in ensuring everyone, including those most vulnerable to COVID-19, can get as much protection as possible from COVID-19 vaccination,” Walensky said in a statement.

“Emerging data suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people who are not immunocompromised. In addition, in small studies, fully vaccinated immunocompromised people have accounted for a large proportion of hospitalized breakthrough cases (40-44%). Immunocompromised people who are infected with SARS CoV-2 are also more likely to transmit the virus to household contacts,” Walensky added.

“While people who are immunocompromised make up about 3% of the U.S. adult population, they are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness. Included in CDC’s recommendation are people with a range of conditions, such as recipients of organ or stem cell transplants, people with advanced or untreated HIV infection, active recipients of treatment for cancer, people who are taking some medications that weaken the immune system, and others,” she said.

“A full list of conditions can be found on CDC’s website.”

The recommendation applies to mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The US Food and Drug Administration and the CDC said there is not yet enough information to support any recommendation regarding Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

“While vaccination is likely to increase protection in this population, even after vaccination, people who are immunocompromised should continue follow current prevention measures (including wearing a maskstaying 6 feet apart from others they do not live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) to protect themselves and those around them against COVID-19 until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider,” Walensky said.

“CDC does not recommend additional doses or booster shots for any other population at this time,” she added.

“At a time when the Delta variant is surging, an additional vaccine dose for some people with weakened immune systems could help prevent serious and possibly life-threatening COVID-19 cases within this population.”