New infections rising almost 50% across US; FDA issues new warning on J&J vaccine: Live COVID-19 updates
The U.S. averaged 19,455 new COVID-19 cases per day over the last seven days, a 47.5% increase from the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And 43 states saw an increase in cases last week from the week before, a sign that the pandemic endures in the United States.
Hospitalizations are rising again. Deaths, a lagging indicator, also appear ready to start climbing. More than 99% of deaths are now among people who have not been vaccinated, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says two-thirds of counties with sustained increases in new infections are in states with low vaccine coverage.
"But the fact that we are seeing case increases in counties even in higher vaccination states is worrisome," she tweeted. "Anywhere there are pockets of low vax coverage is at risk!"
Also in the news:
►Vice President Kamala Harris promoted COVID-19 vaccines and tried to dispel myths about them during a trip to Michigan on Monday, telling an audience in Detroit, “We are bringing the facts, not misinformation – the facts.”
►The governments of France and Greece have ordered all health care workers to get vaccinated against COVID, with suspensions threatened for those in Greece who refuse. “The country will not shut down again due to attitude adopted by certain people,'' Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
►Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday ordered a COVID-19 state of emergency for Tokyo. The plan aims to contain a resurgence in coronavirus infections and curb the movement of people during the Olympics, which run July 23 to Aug 8.
►The chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission has tested positive for the coronavirus, about four months after he was fully vaccinated. Jose Diaz has been a frequent presence at the Surfside condo collapse site, raising questions about exposure at the site, reported the Miami Herald.
📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has had more than 33.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 607,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 187.1 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. Nearly 159.2 million Americans – 48% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we're reading: As many adolescents and young adults prepare to return to the classroom in the fall term amid the spread of the delta variant, the lagging vaccination rates among Generation Z are raising concerns among experts.
The Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is once again raising concerns.
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday warned about a possible link between that vaccine and the autoimmune disorder known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. In a statement, the agency said the data "suggests an association” between the vaccine and a higher risk of the condition, but not enough "to establish a causal relationship.”
The Washington Post reported there have been about 100 instances of the possible connection, mostly among men and in many cases among those age 50 and older. Some 12.8 million doses of the J&J shot have been administered.
The CDC says on its website that people who have had Guillain-Barré syndrome can be vaccinated against COVID, and that no cases of the disorder were reported in clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. One case was reported in J&J trials.
Use of the J&J vaccine, hailed for its single-shot convenience, was paused for 10 days in April while federal health agencies investigated reports of six women developing rare but severe blood clots within two weeks of receiving the jab. The agencies later determined the vaccine's benefits outweigh its risks.
Federal health officials stuck to their position that Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 don't need a booster shot after meeting Monday with representatives from vaccine maker Pfizer.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services told The Hill that, after reviewing Pfizer's data regarding the possible need of a booster shot, nothing has changed from the Biden administration's position.
"The vaccines available now offer a very high degree of protection,'' the spokesperson said. "The administration is prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed, and any recommendation by CDC and FDA would come after their thorough review process.''
Last week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said they would pursue U.S. and European regulatory approval for a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, given the spread of variants and data they said showed diminished vaccine potency six months after the initial shots. U.S. officials, however, say they want to see the data before recommending booster shots.
The issue is complicated by vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. – and the fact that much of the world hasn't obtained access to first shots of vaccine.
"Right now, given the data that the CDC and the FDA has, they don't feel that we need to tell people right now you need to be boosted," Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top Biden administration adviser, said Sunday on CNN in response to the news.
While issuing warnings that the pandemic is not over and won't be in a week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Monday that England will lift most remaining lockdown restrictions July 19 as planned, despite a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
Johnson said that although COVID-19 risks remain, mandates will be replaced by a recommendation that people wear masks in crowded places and on public transport. Nightclubs and other venues with crowds should use vaccine passports for entry.
"This disease, coronavirus, continues to carry risks for you and your family,'' Johnson said. "We cannot simply revert instantly from Monday, July 19, to life as it was before COVID.”
As of Monday, 87% of the U.K.’s adult population has had a first vaccine dose, and 66% has had both doses. But infections have risen in recent weeks because of the delta variant. They've been running at more than 30,000 new cases daily and could soar to 100,000 later in the summer, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons.
Recent outbreaks of COVID-19 at summer camps in Texas, Illinois, Florida, Missouri and Kansas, some spreading into communities, have some wondering whether it could be a preview of what may happen in the upcoming school year as the U.S. grapples with another surge in coronavirus infections.
In the Houston area, more than 130 youth and adults tested positive for the virus in connection to a church camp. “In some cases, entire families are sick,” pastor Bruce Wesley of Clear Creek Community Church said on Facebook.
In Illinois, health officials said 85 teens and adults at a Christian youth camp in mid-June tested positive. In Kansas, about 50 people were infected in an outbreak linked to a church summer camp last month not far from Wichita.
JoAnn Martin, administrator of the public health agency in Pettis County, Missouri, near where another summer camp outbreak took place, lamented the difficulty in getting people to take the virus seriously and get vaccinated.
“It has been a challenge since the first case,” she said. “You have people who still say it is not real. You have people who say it is a cold. You have people who say what is the big deal. You have people who say it is all a government plot.”
Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, has opened its sixth COVID-19 ward as the delta variant rages in the state’s southwest region. Chief Administrative Officer Erik Frederick tweeted that the hospital needed at most five COVID-19 wards last year, when the coronavirus was peaking across the nation. The hospital was treating 133 virus patients as of Sunday.
“Many local rural communities don’t have high vaccination rates,” Frederick wrote. “They also don’t have a hospital. Get sick, come to Springfield. I think that’s getting left out of the narrative.”
For putting their health on the line during the coronavirus pandemic, prison guards in Missouri got an extra $250 per paycheck. Teachers in Georgia received $1,000 bonuses. And in Vermont, nurses, janitors, retail workers and many others got as much as $2,000.
Over the past year, about one-third of U.S. states have used federal COVID-19 relief aid to reward workers considered essential who dutifully reported to jobs during the pandemic. But who qualified for those bonuses – and how much they received – varied widely, according to an Associated Press review. While some were paid thousands of dollars, others with similar jobs elsewhere received nothing.
As society reopens, momentum to provide pandemic hazard pay appears to be fading – even though the federal government has broadened the ability of state and local governments to provide retroactive pay under a $350 billion aid package enacted by President Joe Biden in March.
So far, only a few states have committed to paying workers extra with money from the American Rescue Plan.
Contributing: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.