Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 37,033,445 (36,902,721)
Total U.S. deaths: 623,418 (622,529)
Total global cases: 208,833,116 (208,109,987)
Total global deaths: 4,386,814 (4,376,019)
Troubling data pushes CDC toward recommending boosters
Administration officials were reportedly undecided about whether to recommend COVID-19 booster shots, but new and troubling data apparently helped them reach a consensus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded that, over time, there is a decline in vaccines’ ability to prevent infection.
“This is what moved the needle,” one senior administration official told Politico.
The CDC today said it recommended booster shots for people who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, with shots beginning next month. Health officials believe the third shot will prolong the vaccine’s durability against the virus.
Mask mandate for travelers extended into early 2022
If you plan on traveling by air, rail, or bus over the next few months, keep a mask handy. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has confirmed that travelers will be required to wear masks at least through Jan. 18.
Reuters reports that major airlines have been briefed on the extension and were told the rule is being extended to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Airlines, meanwhile, are debating whether to require all employees to be vaccinated against the virus. United has said that all 67,000 of its employees must be vaccinated, but other airlines have declined to take that step so far.
NFL cracks down on COVID-19
The National Football League is among the organizations that quickly took a strong position on COVID-19 prevention, and teams appear to be falling into line. The Las Vegas Raiders have announced that fans attending home games can watch the game without a mask if they can prove they have been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons have become the first NFL team to announce that 100% of its players have been vaccinated. That’s notable because several high-profile players on other teams have refused to get vaccinated.
The NFL has made it clear to teams that it’s in their best interest to have all players vaccinated. It says no games will be rescheduled because of an outbreak among unvaccinated players. Instead, that team will forfeit and players on both teams won’t get paid.
Around the nation
Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed an executive order barring cities and counties from imposing mask mandates, has tested positive for COVID-19. A statement from the governor’s office says Abbott has been isolated and is receiving the Regeneron treatment.
California: State health officials are cautiously optimistic that California may have blunted the spread of the Delta variant. They report that the number of positive tests and severe illnesses is lower this week. The good news comes as schools around the state get set to reopen.
Kentucky: By the end of this week, Gov. Andy Beshear says the state’s hospitals will be treating more COVID-19 patients than at any time during the pandemic. “We are seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients across our hospitals as the delta variant continues to spread,” said William Haugh, CEO of Georgetown Community Hospital.
Arkansas: Hospitals in Arkansas are adding intensive care units (ICU) and surge beds to deal with severe cases of COVID-19 caused by the fast-spreading Delta variant. Gov. Asa Hutchinson says half of all ICU patients in the state are being treated for the virus.
North Carolina: The number of severe cases of COVID-19 has risen sharply in the last six weeks. State health officials report that at least 2,828 people were hospitalized with the virus as of Tuesday. On July 9, hospitals were treating 409 patients.