Coronavirus update: The U.S. has a new COVID-19 hotspot

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AstraZeneca will start selling its vaccine at a profit

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 46,868,744 (46,798,462)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 759,791 (759,154)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 252,181,189 (251,672,962)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,084,129 (5,076,863)‌

Mountain West new U.S. hotspot

States in cold weather sections of the country, especially along the Canadian border and in the Mountain West, have seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases over the last six weeks. Health officials say most of the new cases are being caused by the Delta variant.

Colorado reinstated crisis guidelines for hospitals around the state this week to handle the influx of COVID-19 patients. Officials are now administering booster shots to anyone aged 18 or older.

A spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment estimates that one in 48 Colorado residents has been infected. At this rate, she says it’s likely the entire population will be exposed to the virus where they live and work.

AstraZeneca to start selling vaccine at a profit

When it initially rolled out its COVID-19 vaccine, drugmaker AstraZeneca pledged to make initial sales at cost. Now, the pharmaceutical giant says it will increase the price of the vaccine in 2022 to produce a profit.

Americans won’t be affected by the decision since the vaccine, produced in cooperation with Oxford University, is not used in the United States. It was the first vaccine to receive government approval and has been used widely in countries other than the U.S.

AstraZeneca’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, told reporters during a conference call that the company waited until cases of the virus began a worldwide decline before raising the price. He said the company will continue to sell the vaccine at cost to developing nations.

Some vaccinated people are trying to ‘undo’ their shots

A video circulating on social media tells people who reluctantly got vaccinated to avoid being fired that they can “detox the vaxx.” The video instructs people to soak in a bath of baking soda, borax, and Epsom salts. It claims that doing so will withdraw the vaccine from the body.

Health experts say it’s one of the more outrageous examples of vaccine misinformation that is circulating on the internet. Besides not doing what the video says it will do, dermatologists warn that a borax bath will irritate the skin.

“Once you’re injected, the lifesaving vaccination process has already begun,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist and adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan, told NBC News. “You can’t unring a bell. It’s just not physically possible.” 

Around the nation

  • New Jersey: How much immunity does a case of COVID-19 provide against future infections? State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, a Republican from Morris, believes it provides enough that it makes vaccinations less necessary. He’s introduced legislation to exempt former COVID-19 patients from vaccination mandates.

  • Vermont: Despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation, Vermont is still struggling to contain the spread of the virus. The number of positive test results is rising, with the Vermont Department of Health reporting 496 cases on Thursday. That number easily breaks the state’s previous one-day case record. 

  • Minnesota: Gov. Tim Walz is taking steps to try to blunt a sharp increase in coronavirus cases by increasing testing. Walz has announced the opening of three new COVID-19 rapid testing sites in the state. Some of the sites will receive assistance from the Minnesota National Guard.

  • Georgia: The City of Atlanta lifted its indoor mask mandate this week as cases declined sharply. Even though the spread of the virus is now categorized as “moderate” throughout the state, health experts are still concerned. “As soon as it looks like we’ve come down, you know, from these high case numbers, this is the worst possible time to sort of let up on mitigation strategies,” Georgia State University epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek told WSB-TV.

  • Tennessee: The state legislature has passed a sweeping COVID-19 bill that blocks local government agencies and school boards from imposing virus mitigation policies. It also provides unemployment benefits to workers who quit a job rather than be vaccinated. Gov. Bill Lee is expected to sign it into law.

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