Coronavirus update: New drug blocks most symptoms, U.S. vaccination rates rise

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Three vaccinated lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 on the same day

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 37,309,040 (37,171,724)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 625,330 (624,346)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 210,224,392 (209,561,882)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,407,917 (4,397,871)‌

AstraZeneca drug reportedly blocks COVID-19 symptoms

For those who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccination, AstraZeneca has an alternative. The drugmaker has just completed clinical trials of an antibody drug that the company said showed it is effective at preventing COVID-19 symptoms.

It and other similar drugs in development are being advanced as vaccine alternatives. They might not prevent you from becoming infected but they may be tools to keep COVID-19 patients out of the hospital.

AstraZeneca said the drug, given the name AZD7442, showed 77% efficacy in reducing the risk of COVID-19 symptoms when compared with a placebo in a late-stage clinical trial.

Vaccinations increase, along with hospitalizations

As the Delta variant spreads across the U.S., ravaging states with a large number of unvaccinated people, something interesting has happened. The vaccination rate has increased.

The number of people suddenly deciding to get vaccinated has coincided with a sharp increase in the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in states like Florida, Texas, Missouri, and Louisiana.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 1 million people were vaccinated on Thursday, the biggest increase since June. The CDC says vaccinations are up 70% from this time in July.

Three senators test positive on the same day

Three members of the U.S. Senate have announced they tested positive for COVID-19 on the same day. All three have been fully vaccinated.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) have what is known as a “breakthrough case,” becoming infected in spite of a vaccination. In nearly all breakthrough cases, symptoms are not severe.

Hickenlooper said he is experiencing only mild symptoms and is at his home in Colorado. "I’m feeling much better and will continue to isolate at the direction of the Congressional Attending Physician," he said.

Around the nation

New York: New York City restaurants are going to court to try to block the city’s proof of vaccination mandate for bars and restaurants. The suit says there is no option for those who want to wear a mask and provide a negative recent COVID test. 

Tennessee: The Shelby County Health Department this week reinstituted a face mask requirement for indoor public places such as restaurants, bars, and other businesses. Health officials said they responded to a surge in COVID-19 cases that strains hospital resources and causes concern in schools.

Louisiana: A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by six state residents seeking to restore the $300 a week federal unemployment benefit. Louisiana is among several states that moved to terminate the benefit early, citing businesses’ difficulty in hiring people. The benefit established under the CARES Act is scheduled to expire early next month.

Georgia: Savannah Mayor Van Johnson is calling out Gov. Brian Kemp for telling businesses across the state that local mask or vaccine ordinances will not be enforced. “It is disappointing, but not surprising, that amid historic COVID-19 infections and abysmal vaccination rates, Governor Brian Kemp would again attempt to proactively preempt local governments like Savannah from protecting themselves by following the science,” Johnson said.

Utah: The U.S. Department of Education has signaled plans to get tough with states, like Utah, that have passed laws preventing local school officials from enacting mask rules in schools. In a letter to Gov. Spencer Cox, federal officials warn these states risk a federal investigation, as well as the loss of federal COVID-19 aid.

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