Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 37,171,724 (37,033,445)
Total U.S. deaths: 624,346 (623,418)
Total global cases: 209,561,882 (208,833,116)
Total global deaths: 4,397,871 (4,386,814)
Hospitalization rates for young people hit new highs
At the beginning of the pandemic, it was older people who suffered the most severe COVID-19 symptoms. But with most seniors now vaccinated, it’s children and adults under 50 who are being hospitalized at the highest rates so far in the pandemic.
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that every age demographic under 50 has exceeded previous hospitalization rates. The biggest increase is among adults aged 30 to 39 and children under 18.
The CDC said both groups’ hospitalization rates are 30% higher than their previous peaks. Health officials are concerned about all age groups, pointing out that the U.S. averaged 11,000 new hospitalizations last week.
New jobless claims dipped last week
More people are going back to work, especially at bars and restaurants, despite the summer surge in coronavirus cases. The Labor Department reports that initial claims for unemployment benefits totaled 348,000 last week, 29,000 fewer than the week before and fewer than economists expected.
Last week’s total is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020, when it was 256,000 -- just before the economy shut down. The four-week moving average of claims was 377,750, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week's revised average. That’s also the lowest level since just before the economic shutdown.
The number of people still drawing unemployment benefits also continues to fall. The total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs for the week ending July 31 was 11,743,515. That’s down 311,787 from the previous week.
Survey finds more parents plan to avoid school buses
In some areas of the country, school districts are struggling to find school bus drivers as schools reopen. A new survey from Cars.com suggests that they might not need that many drivers.
The survey found that 90% of parents have strong concerns about exposing their children to the Delta variant -- especially children under age 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. As a result, more parents plan to drive their kids to school each day.
"It's not surprising that parents are prioritizing health and safety, and by driving their kids themselves, parents feel they can better protect their family — even if it means longer drop-off lines or for many, a disruption to their family's daily routine," said Jenni Newman, editor-in-chief for Cars.com.
Around the nation
Florida: Two more school districts in the state have voted to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order by requiring teachers and students to wear masks this fall. The school boards in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties issued mask mandates Wednesday, citing health concerns.
Connecticut: Gov. Ned Lamont reports that 348 people in the state are being treated in hospitals, with about two-thirds of them in the state’s two largest counties. New Haven County reports 107 hospitalizations and Hartford County reports 106.
Oregon: In the midst of a surge in cases involving the Delta variant, Oregon hospitals are nearing capacity, particularly in critical care areas. Data from the Oregon Health Authority shows that 94% of the state’s adult ICU beds are occupied by mostly unvaccinated patients.
Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has yet to impose a statewide mask mandate for Michigan schools, a move advised by the state’s chief medical officer. "I have recommended that if a mask mandate were in place and it was followed, it would likely decrease the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive for the state health department.
Arkansas: The state is starting to feel some relief after becoming one of the early epicenters of the Delta variant outbreak this summer. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Arkansas fell for the second day in a row on Wednesday. Health officials say that decline suggests that the spread is slowing.