U.S. Deaths Rise; Australia Rethinks Strategy: Virus Update
U.S. average daily fatalities ticked over 1,000 on Saturday, apparently for the first time since March, at the tail of last winter’s surge. Average weekly cases now surpass 1 million as the delta variant continues to spread, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
The expected full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of Covid-19 vaccines could allow more businesses and institutions to impose vaccine requirements, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said. Another Florida school district defied Governor Ron DeSantis’s ban on local mask mandates.
The delta variant has forced Australia and New Zealand to review their strategies of eliminating coronavirus infections. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it’s highly unlikely his country will ever return to zero cases.
- Global Tracker: Cases top 211.7 million; deaths pass 4.4 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 4.93 billion doses administered
- U.S. Spotlight: Delta wave in U.S. northeast may be nearing peak
- Beating back delta will take extra Covid shot for privileged few
- Science can’t keep up with virus, creating worry for vaccinated
Florida School District Defies Governor on Masks (4:06 p.m. NY)
A seventh Florida school district is defying Governor Ron DeSantis’s ban on local mask mandates. Rocky Hanna, superintendent of schools in Leon County, which includes the capital of Tallahassee, said 245 students were infected in the first week back at school. On Friday, more than 900 students were in quarantine, he said, in announcing the mask mandate for grades K-8.
“I do have an obligation to uphold the laws of the state of Florida,” Hanna said on Facebook. “I have a greater obligation, however, to protect the health, safety and welfare of the children of Tallahassee.”
Schools May Become Unsafe for Children, Ex-FDA Head Says (12:53 p.m. NY)
The U.S. is diagnosing “just a small fraction” of children with Covid-19, and schools now reopening around the nation could become centers for broader transmission, said Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration.
Tens of thousands of students are already in quarantine in states including Florida and Mississippi.
“It’s proving to be hard to control in schools,” Gottlieb, a Pfizer Inc. board member, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Delta is a very contagious variant. I think that this is a harbinger of the challenges that we’re going to face nationally as schools reopen. The schools could become focal points of community transmission and can become environments that aren’t safe for children.”
Texas Governor Recovers from Covid Bout (11:53 a.m. NY)
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Saturday he is now testing negative for Covid-19, after announcing last week he contracted a breakthrough infection.
“I am told that my infection was brief and mild because of the vaccination that I received,” the Republican governor said in a video posted on Twitter. “So I encourage others who have not yet received the vaccination to consider getting one.”
Abbott, along with fellow Republican governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, is embroiled in a legal battle over preventing localities from imposing mask mandates in schools.
Murthy Touts Benefits of Full Vaccine Approval (11:39 a.m. NY)
The expected full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of Covid-19 vaccines could help businesses and institutions impose more vaccine requirements, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said.
“For businesses and universities that have been thinking about putting vaccine requirements in place,” Murthy said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” full approval “will actually help them to move forward.” The FDA is expected to give full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as early as Monday.
Murthy also said that people who’ve been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose shot will “likely” need a booster. But, he said, “We are waiting on some data from the company about a second dose of J&J, so the FDA can fully evaluate the safety and efficacy of that dose.”
U.S. Daily Deaths Rise Above 1,000 (8:52 a.m. NY)
U.S. average daily fatalities ticked over 1,000 on Saturday, apparently for the first time since March, at the tail of last winter’s surge, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
Deaths are a lagging indicator, growing weeks after a surge in Covid-19 cases. While fatalities are accelerating as the U.S. is battered by the delta variant, they remain a fraction of the peak last winter. Average daily fatalities rose to more than 3,400 in January, the data show. Now 60% of those eligible in the U.S. are fully vaccinated.
Iran Reports Record Daily Deaths (6:36 a.m. NY)
Daily deaths in Iran hit a new record on Sunday of 684, surpassing 655 fatalities reported on Monday.
The number of new infections rose by 36,419 overnight, up from 24,179 a day earlier, taking the country’s total to 4,677,114, according to official health ministry data. Iran has a total of 102,038 deaths from the virus.
France to Accelerate Student Vaccination Rate (6:17 a.m. NY)
France will begin a campaign to increase vaccination rates of students 12 years old and above from the start of the new school year in September, French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
Health officials will either go to schools to vaccinate the students or provide transportation to take them to medical centers, the paper reported. Vaccinating younger students is not on the agenda, Blanquer said.
The decision follows a surge of infections across the country.
Saudi Arabia to Use Moderna Shot for Young (5:35 a.m. HK)
Saudi Arabia will start giving 12- to 17-year-olds the Moderna shot, the second vaccine to be authorized for young people in the kingdom, state-run Saudi Press Agency said Sunday.
In June, Saudi Arabia approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine for young people. Covid-19 shots from Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca Plc, Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson are the only inoculations considered valid in Saudi Arabia.
German Minister Says No More Lockdowns (4:28 p.m. HK)
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said he is convinced that there won’t be another lockdown in Germany despite the rapidly increasing number of infections.
“With everything we know today, we can avoid a new lockdown for those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered,” the CDU politician told Funke. “That also means that restaurants and shops can stay open during winter.”
Australia Should Focus on Hospitalizations: PM (9:03 a.m. HK)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the focus needs to move from Covid-19 case numbers to hospitalization rates. Fewer people in the country are getting seriously ill or dying even as cases have risen, he said.
“Rising cases need not impact our plan to reopen, and reopen as soon we can,” Morrison wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper. “I know it seems pretty dark now, but it’s always darkest before the dawn, and dawn’s coming. So please hang in there.”
Australia reported 894 new cases on Saturday, its highest daily number.
N.Z. Says Delta Raises Questions on Strategy (8:55 a.m. HK)
The delta variant of coronavirus is a big challenge for New Zealand’s elimination strategy and could force the government to rethink the way it responds to an outbreak, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.
“With a virus that can be infectious within 24 hours of someone getting it, that does change the game a bit,” Hipkins said in an interview on TVNZ’s Q+A program. “With our Level Four lockdown, we are very well placed to be able to run it to ground, but we have to be prepared for the fact that we can’t do that every time there is one of these.”
New Zealand has been at the highest level of lockdown since Tuesday after a community case of coronavirus was discovered in Auckland. On Sunday, the country reported a further 21 local cases, bringing the total to 72.
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