Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 34,614,729 (34,542,716)
Total U.S. deaths: 611,351 (611,062)
Total global cases: 195,566,317 (194,945,610)
Total global deaths: 4,181,767 (4,172,379)
How to find out if you should wear a mask
As expected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its mask guidance late Tuesday, stating that even fully vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in areas of “substantial or high” risk of spreading the virus. But how do you know if that affects you?
To determine whether a particular state or county falls into that category, the CDC website offers this map. Users enter their local information and will be told that their area falls under one of the following categories: low, moderate, substantial, or high transmission.
The CDC further suggests that vaccinated people wear masks when interacting with children or vulnerable adults. It also recommends that children and teachers wear masks when they return to the classroom this fall.
Vaccination mandates are increasing
Suddenly, those who refuse to be vaccinated are facing pushback from businesses and the government. The Biden administration has leaked word that it plans to require all federal employees to show proof of vaccination or wear a mask on the job at all times. Several media outlets are citing administration sources as saying the order will be issued on Thursday.
NPR cites an administration source as saying the mandate is “under strong consideration.” Under the proposed policy, federal employees who are not confirmed as vaccinated would not only be required to wear masks at all times while at work but would be tested regularly for the virus.
More restaurants and bars are requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination in order to get service. In San Francisco, an organization representing 300 bars is recommending a policy of requiring a vaccination to be seated inside, with unvaccinated customers being seated outside.
Data shows cases rising in areas with high vaccination rates
Health officials in California are puzzled by some of the local data they are receiving around the state. Counties with higher-than-average vaccination rates are seeing increases in cases of COVID-19. Counties with lower vaccination rates are seeing reduced cases.
However, health experts say that doesn’t mean the vaccines aren’t working. They point out that the increase in cases is occurring in counties with higher population densities, while rural counties are seeing a decline.
“If there are a lot of people around you’re more likely to bump into one who has COVID,” said Dr. Phillip Norris of the University of California San Francisco.
Around the nation
Oklahoma: Some Democrats in the state legislature are putting pressure on Gov. Kevin Stitt to issue an emergency declaration to replace the one that expired last month. Rep. Melissa Provenzano, a Democrat from Tulsa, issued a statement declaring that needs across the state are different. “One thing is clear, we need local control returned and we need it now," Provenzana said.
Florida: The Broward County School Board abruptly postponed its meeting this week after some 20 anti-mask protesters gathered at its headquarters. The board had been scheduled to discuss mask requirements for the fall term, "Folks weren't wearing masks and refused to follow the rules,” one board member told CNN.
Minnesota: Shortly after the CDC updated its mask guidance, state health officials identified 14 counties in the state that fall into the category of “significant or high” virus transmission rates. The counties reportedly have high infection rates and low vaccination rates.
Oregon: State health officials have adopted mask guidance that’s even more strict than the CDC’s, saying everyone should wear a mask when in an indoor public space. On Tuesday, the state reported its highest daily case count in at least three months.
Illinois: Chicago officials say Lollapalooza will take place as scheduled this weekend despite the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. However, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city could reinstate its mask requirement and other additional COVID-19 safety precautions if the city continues to see a rise in cases.