The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic in the US

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:20 PM ET, Wed September 8, 2021
18 Posts
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4:30 p.m. ET, September 8, 2021

Nearly 19,000 students tested positive for Covid-19 since school began in Mississippi

From CNN’s Mallory Simon

According to Mississippi's department of health data,18,825 students and 3,616 employees have tested positive for Covid-19 since schools began in August.

At least 2,869 students and 476 employees tested positive for the virus between Aug. 30 and Sept. 3, according to the health department.

Quarantine numbers that had been skyrocketing have finally begun a slight downward trend. Health data from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3 shows there have been 15,398 students in Mississippi that have had to quarantine due to potential Covid-19 exposures. At least 23,450 students were quarantined from Aug. 23 to 27, though school reporting numbers and school openings were impacted due to Hurricane Ida. 

Note: The case data comes from 72 out of 82 Mississippi counties that submitted reporting. 

3:37 p.m. ET, September 8, 2021

The pace of new Covid-19 vaccinations in the US is ticking down, CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

The pace of new Covid-19 vaccinations in the US is ticking down, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The current pace of vaccinations (seven-day average) shows 356,662 people initiating vaccination each day, the latest data shows. This is an 18% drop from last week and a 26% drop from a month earlier.

An average of 810,715 doses are being administered each day.

Here’s more of the latest data on vaccination efforts in the United States, published Wednesday by the CDC:

  • Fully vaccinated: 53.3% of the total US population (all ages)
  • Not vaccinated: 26.7% of the eligible population (12+)
  • About 1.5 million people have received an additional dose – or booster – since Aug. 13
  • 25 states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as Washington, DC.

  

3:24 p.m. ET, September 8, 2021

Biden will "outline the next phase in the fight against the virus" in Thursday remarks, White House says

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

President Biden will “outline the next phase in the fight against the virus,” during his Covid-19 remarks on Thursday, the White House said Wednesday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who noted she was speaking as the President was meeting with his Covid-19 team “to talk about a range of steps,” said the President would “be specific about what we’re trying to accomplish.”

“He'll announce tomorrow six steps to stop the spread of Delta and increase vaccinations,” Psaki told reporters during an afternoon press briefing. She said Biden would detail, “what these six steps will do.”

“We know that increasing vaccinations will stop the spread of the pandemic, we'll get the pandemic under control. We'll return people to normal life. That's what our objective is, so we want to be specific about what we're trying to achieve,” she continued, adding she would “just note that what you're going to hear from the President tomorrow is going to build on some of the steps that the President announced over the course of last few months.”

Psaki said the country still has more work to do and is still at war with the virus and the Delta variant. She said Biden is “speaking to it now, because this issue, of course, is on front of mind, top of mind, to Americans across the country.” 

“He's going to outline the next phase in the fight against the virus and what that looks like, including measures to work with the public and private sector, building on the steps that we've already announced.”

Those steps, she said, include requiring more vaccinations, boosting testing measures, and “making it safer for kids to go to school.”

The steps will be implemented over the months ahead, she added.

3:13 p.m. ET, September 8, 2021

US can offer booster shots to Americans while sharing Covid-19 vaccines globally, White House reiterates

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated the White House’s view that the US can offer Covid-19 booster shots to Americans this fall while at the same time working to provide vaccines to people around the world who have not yet received a shot. 

“Our view is that this is a false choice,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing Wednesday. “And the United States has donated and shared about 140 million doses with over 90 countries – more than all other countries combined.”

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday asked wealthy nations to wait until the end of the year to provide booster vaccines to their populations in order to prioritize those who have not yet received their first dose. He had previously asked wealthy nations to wait until the end of September. 

White House officials, including White House Covid-19 response director Jeff Zients and US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, have stressed the importance of both offering booster shots and also donating vaccines in order to end the pandemic. 

#Boosters##

1:20 p.m. ET, September 8, 2021

72% of New York City teachers and 65% of students ages 12-17 are vaccinated ahead of school start, mayor says

From CNN's Taylor Romine

In anticipation of New York City schools starting their school year next Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 72% of teachers are vaccinated and 65% of students 12 through 17 have had a least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

He said that the city is still in negotiations with the teachers union regarding mandatory Covid-19 vaccination, but that it appears like there will be a very small percentage of employees who qualify for medical or religious exemptions. He wouldn't comment on what discussions look like for those who refuse to get vaccinated and don't qualify for an exemption. 

The mayor also emphasized that the school system has the "gold standard of cleaning" and that students will be very safe going back to school despite Covid-19. 

Several city officials went over the various layers of cleaning and ventilation that are currently in place for every school, including technology that can measure airflow in each space, disinfection tools and large-scale air purifiers for bigger spaces like cafeterias. There will also be personal protective equipment (PPE) available for anyone to use at the schools, including a 30 day supply of masks, they said. 

When asked about why the city is only testing people on a bi-weekly basis instead of weekly like other school districts, de Blasio said that they found during the last school year that this testing approach worked well and they are going to continue on that path.

He also emphasized earlier in the new conference that there were very low levels of Covid-19 in schools last year, hitting around a .03% positivity rate. 

12:38 p.m. ET, September 8, 2021

West Virginia has a record number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care and on ventilators

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said hospitals in the state "are still overwhelmingly inundated with [Covid-19] cases of people that are not vaccinated." 

"For the most part, our whole state is red and orange," Justice said on Wednesday referring to the state's Covid-19 county map. 

West Virginia currently has 813 people hospitalized. The state reached an all-time record of 252 Covid-19 patients in the ICU Wednesday as well as a record 132 patients on ventilators, Justice said.  

As of Wednesday, the state has "68 school outbreaks in 31 counties, [while] 10 schools and one entire county, Clay, are closed due to Covid," the governor said.

He added that 29 of the state's 55 county school systems have mandated face masks for students.

When asked why he's against a statewide mask mandate, Justice responded: "It's not that I am opposed to a mask mandate...I'm opposed to mandates." 

"The very second that we start to fragment, and we start to run in all kinds of different directions, it will get worse, it won't get better, it'll get worse," he said alluding to debates on mask mandates.  

"I've told you over and over and over that the only way in the world, the only weapon that we have to fight back with, is the vaccinations."  

"We just need to use good sense, and get ourselves vaccinated, and then we'll stop this," Justice said.

1:02 p.m. ET, September 8, 2021

Florida judge allows mask mandates to continue in schools after ruling against DeSantis

From CNN’s Mallory Simon

A teacher greets students outside iPrep Academy in Miami, Florida, on August 23.
A teacher greets students outside iPrep Academy in Miami, Florida, on August 23. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

Second Circuit Judge John Cooper has ruled against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appeal, allowing Florida schools to continue to have mask mandates while the case is appealed at a higher level.

Effective immediately, the state of Florida must stop their enforcement of a mask ban, which ends sanctions against several school districts who have implemented mask mandates.

DeSantis had appealed Cooper’s earlier ruling that that stated the governor overreached and did not have the authority to ban school districts from implementing mask mandates without a parent opt-out.

That appeal led to an immediate pause on mask mandates while a ruling was made. Thirteen Florida school districts have now implemented a mask mandate, without a parent opt out, defying an earlier executive order by the governor.

Cooper ruled he believed there was not enough irreparable harm to set aside the automatic stay triggered by the appeal.

“It’s undisputed that in Florida we are in the midst of a COVID pandemic. Based on the evidence I’ve heard, there’s no harm to the state if the stay is set aside,” Cooper said. 

Cooper added that based on expert witnesses it is clear the only way to protect children who are unable to be vaccinated is to keep children isolated home, which would cause additional harm. 

“It's undisputed that the Delta variant is far more infectious than the prior to their prior version of the virus, and that children are more susceptible to the Delta variant than to the form from a year ago,” Cooper said. “In particular for children under 12, they cannot be vaccinated. Therefore, there's really only one or two means to protect them against the virus as either stay at home, or mask.” 

Cooper added that based on the evidence young students “arguably have no way to avoid this, except to stay home and isolate themselves.”

“I think everybody agrees, that's not good for them,” Cooper said.

12:29 p.m. ET, September 8, 2021

Kentucky doctors "right at" the point where they may need to start rationing care, governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks about the increases in Covid-19 cases in the state on Tuesday, September 7, in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks about the increases in Covid-19 cases in the state on Tuesday, September 7, in Frankfort, Kentucky. (Timothy D. Easley/AP)

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear laid out the severity of the Covid-19 spread in his state on CNN Wednesday saying that while hospitals are not yet at the point of needing to make tough choices about rationing care, “we are right at” or “quickly approaching that point.”

“We are in a really tough place, Kate” he told CNN anchor Kate Bolduan.

“We’ve called in FEMA strike teams, the National Guard, we’ve deployed nursing students all over the state, we’ve taken over testing from hospitals just to free up additional people,” he said.

“But we’ve had more people test positive than ever before. We have more people in the hospital because of Covid than ever before. We are at record numbers or near record numbers we set just days ago of people in the ICU or on a ventilator,” the governor continued.

Asked whether doctors and hospitals were at a point where tough choices needed to be made about rationing care, Beshear said “At the moment we are still able to move patients from one hospital to another but we are right at, or quickly approaching that point.”

The governor said Saint Claire hospital in Moorehead has closed three operating rooms to expand ICU bed space.

A Danville, Kentucky hospital not used to treating really sick patients and has a morgue big enough for two people saw seven deaths over the weekend, he said.

Tents are set up outside of Pikeville Medical Center for patients to be triaged and health officials to determine “whether people really need to be in the hospital or not.”

More than two-thirds of hospitals have critical staffing shortages and ventilators had to be delivered to hospitals around the state that “almost never have to use” them.

“It’s not just big urban hospitals that that fill up, its regional hospitals that typically don’t treat incredibly sick patients who are filled with those sick patients,” he said.

“So we are at a very precarious situation,” he said.

1:48 p.m. ET, September 8, 2021

CDC forecast predicts Covid-19 hospitalizations will remain stable while deaths increase

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Healthcare workers attend to a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit of St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Idaho, on August 31.
Healthcare workers attend to a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit of St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Idaho, on August 31. (Kyle Green/AP)

A new forecast from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts Covid-19 hospitalizations in the United States will remain stable or have an uncertain trend for the next four weeks, marking the third week that this forecast is stable or uncertain.

The projection, released Wednesday, shows an estimated 6,400 to 19,500 new hospitalizations by Oct. 4. This is a slightly smaller upper range than was predicted last week for Sept. 27. 

Another forecast predicts deaths will increase over the next four weeks, with the nation’s total Covid-19 death count estimated to be between 683,000 and 710,000 by Oct. 2, 2021. 

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the US is currently reporting over 650,000 deaths from Covid-19, with an average of 1,239 new deaths per day. 

CDC again warned that its forecast for future cases “should be interpreted with caution,” as case numbers in previous weeks have diverged unexpectedly from forecast numbers. 

This newest forecast predicts between 430,000 and 1,520,000 new cases will be reported in the week ending October 2, 2021. In the last four weeks, the US has averaged 1,041,714 new cases per week.