Coronavirus update: British scientists warn of new ‘Delta Plus’ COVID-19 variant

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The FDA has cleared all vaccines for booster shots

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 45,234,901 (45,157,284)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 731,541 (728,826)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 242,288,846 (241,824,120)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,925,854 (4,917,467)‌

Scientists concerned about a variant of a variant

Health experts blame the Delta variant, a mutation of the original coronavirus, for the latest wave of COVID-19 cases. Scientists are now voicing concerns about a mutation of that mutation that they worry could spread even more easily.

The new variant, formally known as AY.4.2, is also being called “Delta Plus.” It has been identified by scientists in the U.K.

British health officials are watching the new variant closely but say that it is too early to tell whether it poses a greater risk to public health than the original Delta variant. So far, Delta Plus accounts for about 6% of infections in the U.K.

FDA clears Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters

As expected, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for COVID-19 booster shots. It previously gave the green light to Pfizer booster shots.

The agency said the Moderna booster should be administered at least six months after the second shot of the initial dose. The Johnson & Johnson booster should be given at least two months after the first shot.

The FDA also gave its approval for so-called “mix-and-match” boosters, saying someone vaccinated with one type of vaccine can receive a booster shot of another type. 

Indiana recruits disgruntled Chicago cops

Chicago requires its police officers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing. The state police force in neighboring Indiana has no such requirement and is making a bold move to recruit Chicago police officers who are unhappy with the policy.

“Hey Chicago Police Officers, we’re hiring!  No vaccine mandate,” Sgt. Glenn Fifield, an Indiana State police spokesman, posted on Twitter. “Apply today at Lower taxes, great schools, welcoming communities.”

Chicago police officers who don’t comply with the COVID-19 rules can face disciplinary action. At least 21 Chicago police officers have reportedly been suspended or punished in other ways.

Around the nation

  • Louisiana: Gov. John Bel Edwards says the coronavirus is in full retreat across the state, with fewer than 400 people with the virus being hospitalized this week. “Our positivity rates for tests currently in Louisiana is a little less than 3%, it had gotten over 16% at the peak. We had over 3,000 people in the hospital at one time,” Edwards said.

  • New Jersey: Virtua Health, which operates five hospitals in South New Jersey, has reported that another 100 employees have quit rather than comply with the network’s vaccine mandate. RWJBarnabas Health announced this week that it had fired 118 unvaccinated employees.

  • Maine: State health officials say unvaccinated patients and visitors are driving outbreaks of COVID-19 at hospitals within the state. A health department report shows there have been 13 outbreaks at Maine’s hospitals since March 1, resulting in 45 patients and 142 staff members testing positive.

  • Wyoming: Sublette County is experiencing its worst COVID-19 outbreak of the pandemic. The rural county has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state and has no hospital to treat people who get sick. "We literally don't know where to send those patients that just need hospital treatment because the hospitals are full of COVID patients," said Jason Ray, a physician’s assistant at a local health clinic.

  • Oregon: A federal judge has denied a motion filed by seven state employees who sought an exception to the state’s vaccination mandate. The employees said they didn’t need a vaccination because they had already had COVID-19 and recovered. The judge ruled that there is no constitutional right to refuse to be vaccinated.

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