Coronavirus update: Pentagon to issue mandate for military personnel, more risky travel spots

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The pandemic has created a never-ending struggle for restaurants

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 35,983,375 (35,775,272)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 617,704 (616,864)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 203,708,052 (202,970,177)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,308,757 (4,298,791)‌

Pentagon to make vaccinations mandatory

Members of the U.S. armed services will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he plans to ask President Biden to approve a vaccine requirement by the middle of next month. Biden has already signaled his support for such a move.

"I have every confidence that Service leadership and your commanders will implement this new vaccination program with professionalism, skill, and compassion," Austin said in the memo to armed forces personnel. 

Military vaccinations are voluntary unless the vaccine has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That approval, for at least one vaccine, is expected by mid-September. If approval is not granted, the Defense Department has the option of seeking a waiver from the White House to make the vaccine mandatory.

CDC adds seven more destinations to risky travel list

People planning international travel need to pay close attention as the Delta variant spreads around the world. Risk levels seem to change daily and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added seven more countries to its list of risky destinations.

Aruba, Eswatini, France, French Polynesia, Iceland, Israel, and Thailand have risen to a Level 4 risk designation. People should avoid travel to locations carrying the "Level 4: Covid-19 very high" notice, according to CDC guidance.

"Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19,” the CDC said in a statement. “However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some Covid-19 variants." 

Restaurants struggle due to surge in Delta cases

Perhaps no industry has had it as tough during the COVID-19 pandemic as restaurants. Many of them were closed at the beginning of the pandemic or went out of business entirely. As things began to reopen in the spring, they couldn’t find enough employees.

Now, just as things began to seem almost normal, the Delta variant has caused a surge in new cases, primarily in areas with low vaccination rates. The Wall Street Journal reports that many restaurants in those areas began curtailing operations late last month.

“All the fears that were in the background are just coming out,” Chelsea Gross, an industry analyst at Gartner, told the Journal. “It’s not great to have to adjust your business this many times.”

Around the nation

  • Arkansas: Even as masks and vaccinations have become a highly-charged partisan issue, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is breaking with his fellow Republicans. Hutchinson, who signed a law earlier this year banning mask mandates, is asking the legislature to reverse the law. "In hindsight, I wish that had not become law,” said Hutchinson at a press conference. 

  • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis is doubling down on his fight with school districts that want to require school employees and students to wear masks. DeSantis now says he may withhold the pay of school board members who defy his order against mask mandates.

  • Wisconsin: Gov. Tony Evers says he has given Wisconsin hotels $70 million in federal coronavirus relief as the state continues to get back on its feet amid the Delta variant surge. Evers said grants of up to $2 million went out Friday to 888 lodging businesses around the state.

  • Illinois: The state is dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases among children. While the state’s vaccination rate is high, the rate among children is low. “Our 12 to 17-year-olds had an increase in their case counts of 704%,” said Dr. Sarah Patrick of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “And the 18 to 22-year-olds had a 1345% increase.”

  • Connecticut: More Connecticut towns and cities are requiring face masks in municipal buildings. The percentage of people testing positive Monday was 3.33%, and hospitalizations continued to increase, rising by 34.

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