Coronavirus update: Norwegian Cruise Line wins in Florida, expert sees no early end to pandemic

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Boosters haven’t yet been approved, but people are getting them anyway

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 35,775,272 (35,647,582)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 616,864 (616,352)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 202,970,177 (202,485,291)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,298,791 (4,281,527)‌

Court allows cruise line to check for vaccination status in Florida

A U.S. District Court judge has sided with Norwegian Cruise Line in its legal challenge against Florida’s law barring vaccination mandates. Judge Kathleen Williams in Miami ruled the cruise line is within its rights to require proof of vaccination for passengers and crew in spite of the state law.

Norwegian Cruise Line said it needs to be able to verify vaccination status to ensure the health and safety of those on board. The law was a major obstacle because ports for Caribbean cruises are mostly in Florida.

Williams granted Norwegian’s request for a preliminary injunction overturning the law, saying she believed the company would likely prevail in its lawsuit.

Scientist: End isn’t in sight

Dr. Larry Brilliant is considered to be a leading expert among epidemiologists. He was part of the World Health Organization (WHO) team that eradicated smallpox. So when he ventures an opinion about the Delta variant, people pay attention.

In an interview with CNBC, Brilliant said the end of the pandemic is “nowhere in sight,” calling Delta one of the most contagious viruses he’s ever seen. As long as most of the world remains unvaccinated, he says the virus will continue to spread.

The good news, however, lies in the power of the vaccines. Brilliant says the three vaccines being used in the U.S. are holding up well against the Delta variant.

Boosters aren’t approved but some are getting them anyway

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not given its blessing to vaccinated people getting a “booster” shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Some preliminary data suggests that some vaccines, particularly the Johnson & Johnson variant, may need additional help in producing necessary antibodies. Johnson & Johnson disputes those findings, and medical opinions vary.

That’s not stopping people who are fully vaccinated from seeking and receiving a booster shot. NBC News interviewed a fully vaccinated person who walked into a retail pharmacy and got a booster shot.

The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are strongly discouraging people from getting a booster shot. "Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time," the agencies stated.

Around the nation

  • Texas: The City of Austin activated its Emergency Alert System to warn residents of a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city. In a message sent via text, city officials warned that "the COVID-19 situation in Austin is dire. Healthcare facilities are open but resources are limited due to a surge in cases."

  • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis faces two lawsuits challenging his order that bars school districts from requiring teachers and students to wear masks while at school. “The danger to Plaintiff and his children and all others they come into contact with is severe, unreasonable, and growing by the day," one of the suits states.

  • Massachusetts: Data from state health officials sheds light on why some people who are vaccinated not only contract the virus but also die. The report shows that 73% of the people who died from “breakthrough” cases in the state had underlying conditions. Their median age was 82.5.

  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma was one of 24 states to discontinue the federal $300 a week unemployment benefit, but a judge has ordered the state to resume paying the supplemental payment. The benefit, established under a COVID-19 relief law, expires next month.

  • North Carolina: State officials say they will begin verifying vaccination status for all state employees and urging local jurisdictions to do the same. “Until more people get the vaccine, we will continue living with the very real threat of serious disease, and we will continue to see more dangerous and contagious variants like Delta,” said Gov. Roy Cooper.

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