Coronavirus update: Booster shots may be on the way, new cases back to pre-vaccination levels

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More vaccinated people are getting COVID-19

Coronavirus‌ ‌(COVID-19)‌ ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 36,902,721 (36,689,470)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 622,529 (621,688)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 208,109,987 (207,422,686)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,376,019 (4,366,259)‌

Booster shots could be coming soon

The Biden administration is reportedly planning an announcement about COVID-19 booster shots. Officials will reportedly recommend them for eight months after the second shot of an mRNA vaccine.

CNN cites two sources who say the plan is still being developed, but it could be launched next month, pending approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pfizer and BioNTech previously said they have submitted initial data to the FDA to support the use of booster doses for their COVID-19 vaccine.

The officials say the booster shot program will first target those who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Data for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine is still being gathered, but some health experts have suggested that those who received that vaccine may also need a booster at some point.

U.S. cases reach pre-vaccination levels

Thanks to the Delta variant, new cases of COVID-19 are surging in the U.S. More than 900,000 new cases of the virus were logged last week, the first time that’s happened since the early vaccine rollout in February.

According to an analysis by USA Today, the number of cases of the coronavirus is increasing in 46 states -- some with significant vaccination rates. The hot spots last week were in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon, Hawaii, and Mississippi. 

Vaccination efforts have largely stalled. Just 50.7% of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated against the virus, a number held down by the fact that children under 12 are not yet eligible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 72% of Americans over the age of 18 have received at least one dose. 

Infections increase among vaccinated people

New research shows that the Delta variant is able to infect fully vaccinated people at a higher rate than earlier variants, but the percentage of breakthrough cases is small and the effects are not as severe. A Wall Street Journal analysis of health data puts the percentage of infections of fully vaccinated people at 0.1%.

Health experts say the percentage may be slightly higher because many vaccinated people who get infected don’t have symptoms and are not tested. They say that’s yet another argument for being vaccinated since it prevents severe illness in most cases.

The analysis shows that most of the breakthrough cases occurred in late July and early August, coinciding with outbreaks of the Delta variant. In at least six states, a third of breakthrough cases occurred during that period.

Around the nation

  • Mississippi: Mississippi has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, and cases are surging. Of particular concern are cases among children. Another child has died from COVID-19 complications, bringing the total number of deaths among children to five.

  • Arizona: A University of Arizona researcher says COVID-19 conditions in the state are getting worse and could reach a peak by the end of the month. “No matter how I squeeze the lemon, this week's coronavirus update is sour,” said Dr. Joe Gerald, a researcher at the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona.

  • Florida: The state board of education has scheduled an emergency meeting for today to take up Gov. Ron DeSantis’ demand that funds be withheld from school districts that impose mask mandates during the school year. So far, at least 10 Florida school districts have imposed mask mandates.

  • New Jersey: The New Jersey Marathon has been canceled for a second straight year, a victim of the pandemic. “While we were hoping to return to you with more positive news, we have received official confirmation that the in-person 2021 Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon & Half Marathon (and RWJBarnabas Health 5K) will not take place this October,” organizers said in a statement.

  • Illinois: All counties in the state except one are seeing “substantial” or “high” rates of COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC. Stark County is the lone exception. Elsewhere in the state, residents are advised to mask up when in indoor public spaces.

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