Coronavirus update: FDA approves boosters for some, eight states account for most of the very sick

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A Florida county is seeking to limit 911 calls

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 36,326,952 (36,210,096)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 619,200 (618,572)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 205,752,476 (204,986,180)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,340,137 (4,329,089)‌

FDA clears boosters for immunocompromised

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved COVID-19 booster shots for one group of people: those who have chronic conditions that may compromise their immune systems.

“The country has entered yet another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the FDA is especially cognizant that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock. “After a thorough review of the available data, the FDA determined that this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines.” 

The approval applies to several million Americans who may be especially vulnerable because of organ transplants, battles with cancer, or other conditions. In allowing some to get booster shots, the U.S. is following the lead of some other nations, including Israel and France.

Analysis shows case surge centered in just eight states

The U.S. is in the grips of another wave of COVID-19 cases, but the surge is not uniformly spread across the country. By looking at a heat map of cases, it’s clear that the outbreak is centered in just eight states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, and Texas.

A CNN analysis of government health data shows that those states also happen to be at the bottom of the rankings for vaccinations. In the case of Nevada, its new cases are focused in the Las Vegas area, which has resumed drawing visitors from all corners of the country.

The analysis shows that the eight named states' combined total of new cases makes up approximately 51% of COVID-19 patients. That’s alarming because data shows that they account for only around 24% of the nation's population.

Florida county seeks to limit 911 calls

COVID-19, fueled by the Delta variant, is tearing through Florida. Hospitals are filling with virus patients, and emergency rooms are busy night and day -- so much so that Brevard County Fire and Rescue officials are asking citizens not to call 911 unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief Mark Schollmeyer says people with less than serious medical issues should look for alternatives. Ambulance trips, he says, should be reserved for those facing life and death situations.

"Just being COVID positive but asymptomatic does not always make it a life-threatening emergent condition requiring a trip to the ER," he said. "We ask people to take advantage of your primary care physician, telemedicine, or urgent care and leave emergency room and ambulance trips for those with life-threatening or serious emergencies."

Around the nation

  • Virginia: Amid a flare-up in COVID-19 cases, three Richmond concert venues have announced that they will only admit people who have been vaccinated. The National, The Broadberry, and The Camel said this week that they will require people to be vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to attend events.

  • Vermont: Vermont is proof that being vaccinated doesn’t provide 100% protection from the virus, though it greatly reduces bad outcomes. State health officials are reporting a surge in new cases this week despite the fact that the state has the highest vaccination rate in the nation.

  • Ohio: Although the state is experiencing a new wave of COVID-19, one state legislator wants to prevent local school officials from imposing mitigation measures. State Rep. Mike Loychik said this week that he will soon introduce a bill that prohibits schools from enforcing mask mandates.

  • Arkansas: Anti-mask sentiment runs high in the state, which is also experiencing a wave of new coronavirus cases. But that hasn’t stopped state colleges from announcing that students will be required to mask up this fall. An Arkansas judge has temporarily blocked the enforcement of a state law banning mask mandates.

  • Colorado: With schools prepared to reopen, Gov. Jared Polis has announced that the state will launch a school-based COVID-19 testing program and provide masks to K-12 schools and school districts that want them. The state is recommending masks for teachers and students this fall.

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