Forty-two states saw an increase in COVID-19 cases last week from the week before, a sign that the pandemic is not yet over in the United States.
Only Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and West Virginia saw a decline in cases from the previous week over the seven-day period that ended Saturday.
The rate of vaccinations has slowed, and less than half of all Americans, 47.9%, are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said more than 99% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. in June were among unvaccinated people. In addition, preliminary data indicates that over the past six months, nearly all of the COVID-19 deaths in various states have occurred in unvaccinated people, she said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top Biden administration adviser, said Sunday that it was “horrifying” to see people at the Conservative Political Action Conference cheering because the government has not been able to get more of the country vaccinated.
“They are cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives,” Fauci said. “It’s almost frightening.”
Also in the news:
►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 rate among Generation Z is raising concerns among experts.
►The bar scene is returning in full force to New York and other cities as partiers reemerge and ditch COVID precautions.
►The mayors of two Tokyo islands, Oshima and Hachijo, have asked the metropolitan government to take the planned Olympic torch relay off public roads amid a surge in coronavirus cases. The torch relay in Tokyo, which started Friday, was already taken off all public roads except for those on islands because of rising cases in the Japanese capital.
►The Navajo Nation’s largest casino is preparing to reopen Monday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. The Twin Arrows Resort Casino east of Flagstaff, Arizona, has been closed since March 2020.
►CONMEBOL said guests at the Copa America final on Saturday brought false COVID-19 tests to Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The South American soccer governing body said in a statement it detected “a considerable amount of fraudulent PCR tests” brought by accredited guests.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 33.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 607,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 186.6 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. Nearly 159 million Americans — 47.9 % of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading: The CDC has updated its mask guidelines for schools. Some states will listen, some won’t. Read more here.
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Representatives from Pfizer and federal health officials, who sent out conflicting signals about the need for vaccine booster shots Thursday, are planning to meet this week. Reuters reported that the gathering would take place Monday.
Last week, the American pharmaceutical giant 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.
In a joint statement late Thursday, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasized that people who have been fully vaccinated do not need booster shots yet.
Pfizer and BioNTech said a third dose, given six months after the second, increases neutralizing antibodies five to tenfold against the original virus and the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa.
For months, President Joe Biden’s administration refrained from criticizing Republican officials who played down the importance of coronavirus vaccinations or sought to make political hay of the federal government’s all-out effort to drive shots into arms. Not any longer. With the COVID-19 vaccination rate plateauing across the country, the White House is returning fire at those they see as spreading harmful misinformation or fear about the shots. When South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster tried this week to block door-to-door efforts to drive up the vaccination rate in his state, press secretary Jen Psaki did not mince words in her reaction.
“The failure to provide accurate public health information, including the efficacy of vaccines and the accessibility of them to people across the country, including South Carolina, is literally killing people, so maybe they should consider that,” she said.
India has already reported more than twice as many COVID-19 cases in 2021 as it had all of last year, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
India passed the mark early Sunday. Of the 30.8 million cases India has reported, two-thirds have come in the less than 6 1/2 months of 2021. India’s COVID deaths, widely believed to be drastically undercounted, have added up to 259,302 this year, compared with 148,738 in 2020.
Only the United States has reported more cases than India, by a margin of about 3 million. At the current rate, India would surpass the U.S. total in about 19 weeks. India’s pace has plummeted in the last two months after a massive spring surge, while infections in the U.S. have jumped in the last two weeks.
The U.S. also has the most recorded COVID deaths in the world with upward of 607,000, and Brazil ranks second at nearly 533,000. At recent rates, Brazil would pass the U.S. death toll in about 10 weeks, though the pace of reported deaths in the South American country has fallen by more than half in the last three months, while the pace of U.S. deaths has stopped declining.
— Mike Stucka
Thousands of couples are flocking to Las Vegas as the coronavirus pandemic wanes in a boom that has the local wedding industry in high demand. With COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings loosened, Las Vegas wedding chapels, venues and planners said they’re about as busy as ever.
After 30 years of marriage, Don and Cindy Couse made the cross-country trip from New York to renew their wedding vows at the Graceland Wedding Chapel. Friends and family back home watched and cheered through Zoom during the ceremony. The two met nearly five decades ago in Albany, New York, during kindergarten class and have had a bond ever since. The trip came at a good time for the couple, who are both 51 and work in IT. After over a year of quarantine, they were in need of a getaway. “Really, it was just great to be back out doing things,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Contributing: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press