Concern in regards to the extremely transmissible delta COVID-19 variant and its unfold among the many unvaccinated continues to develop as U.S. cases rise, however constructive information about vaccines’ means to combat the virus retains coming.
Thursday, Johnson & Johnson said its one-dose shot protects against the delta variant, citing lab exams of vaccine recipients’ blood. And amid considerations their shot would possibly require a booster, the corporate stated its immune response lasts eight months and counting.
Public well being specialists say the variant poses probably the most hazard in areas the place vaccinations are sparse.
The variants “are able to find any gaps in our protection,” Dr. Hilary Babcock of Washington University at St. Louis stated, pointing to how hospital beds and intensive care items in Missouri’s least-vaccinated southwestern counties instantly are filling — principally with adults below 40 who by no means obtained the pictures.
“Any suffering or death from COVID-19 is tragic,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday in urging more Americans to roll up their sleeves ahead of the delta variant’s spread. “With vaccines available across the country, the suffering and loss we are now seeing is nearly entirely avoidable.”
Also in the news:
►A bipartisan proposal in the U.S. House would ban the farming of mink fur in the United States in an effort to stem possible mutations of the coronavirus, something researchers have said can be accelerated when the virus spreads among animals.
►Touting the life-saving benefits of the coronavirus vaccine, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Friday vetoed three Republican-sponsored bills striking at vaccine mandates in the state.
►India reported more than 400,000 deaths from COVID-19 Friday, half of them in the past two months, as the virulent delta variant infected hundreds of thousands daily.
►Even as Californians seek a return to normal, the specter of the coronavirus pandemic lingers. New cases of COVID-19 in the state and the Bay Area have jumped more than 20% since California’s June 15 reopening, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
►Preliminary data reviewed by the CDC suggests nearly all the people who died from COVID-19 over the past six months were unvaccinated, Walensky said during a Thursday White House briefing.
►Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a budget provision that would have refunded fines to state businesses cited for violating public health orders during the pandemic, saying that would send a “horrible” message.
►Thailand reopened its popular resort island, Phuket, to fully vaccinated foreigners from lower-risk countries Thursday, with hopes the move will breathe new life into a tourism industry devastated by the pandemic.
►Israel pushed back the reopening of its borders to vaccinated visitors to Aug. 1, after the country reported its highest daily infection rate in three months.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 605,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 182.8 million cases and more than 3.9 million deaths. More than 155.8 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 47% of the population, according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading: Florida schools lost migrant students at a rate nearly five times higher than the non-migrant population during the 2020-2021 school year. Virtual learning, economic trials and high COVID-19 rates in farmworker communities magnified inequities for students already prone to learning loss.
While COVID and entry restrictions are easing, travelers can still expect to see masks, closed venues and social distancing requirements in Europe. Rules vary across regions and are constantly in flux.
Kyle Potter, editor-in-chief of the Thrifty Traveler, has seen changes since he arrived in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday – his second time in the city, and his first post-pandemic trip to the country.
Some of the popular markets in the area, like Platea Madrid, remain closed. Group sizes are limited both indoors and outdoors, and social distancing rules are still in place. Potter found crowds sparse but masks abundant, even though Spain dropped its outdoor mask mandate last month.
For those who are planning a trip to Europe this summer, here are some of the COVID restrictions in place at some of the top destinations.
— Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes Thursday, outlining a lottery-style raffle officials hope will push the state’s vaccination rate above 70% for residents 16 and older.
The sweepstakes will run through Aug. 3, featuring a single drawing of $50,000 each day for 30 days, as well as a chance to win a single $1 million drawing and one $2 million drawing.
For vaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds, the sweepstakes also includes nine chances to win a four-year Michigan Education Trust (MET) Charitable Tuition Program contract valued at $55,000 each.
— Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press
Health officials working to boost lagging COVID-19 vaccination rates in Missouri are growing anxious as the Fourth of July weekend approaches, creating ripe conditions for the fast-spreading delta variant to send hospital numbers climbing.
“We are just kind of keeping an eye to see what is going to happen,” said Lisa Marshall, the health director for Taney County, which includes the tourist town of Branson. “We’ve seen that these numbers can jump pretty quickly.”
State officials requested aid from newly formed federal “surge response teams.” The push comes because the state’s seven-day rolling common of day by day new cases has risen over the previous two weeks from 576.14 new cases per day on June 15 to 891.71 new cases per day on Tuesday, in response to information from Johns Hopkins University.
Health officials in St. Louis County shifted their guidance Thursday, encouraging vaccinated people to wear face coverings when indoors with others whose vaccination status is unknown.
“This pandemic is not over,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, acting director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, told the Associated Press. “The virus and its variants present a real and imminent danger to the health of people in the St. Louis region. We must encourage vaccination and continued precautions.”
The World Health Organization said Thursday any COVID-19 vaccine it has approved for emergency use needs to be acknowledged by international locations as they open their borders to inoculated vacationers.
The move could challenge Western countries to broaden their acceptance of two apparently less effective Chinese vaccines made by Sinovac and Sinopharm, which the U.N. health agency has licensed but most European and North American countries have not.
In its reviews of the two Chinese vaccines, WHO said both were found to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalizations and deaths. The two Chinese shots are “inactivated” vaccines, made with killed coronavirus, whereas the Western-made shots are made with newer technologies that instead target the “spike” protein that coats the surface of the coronavirus.
Although Western international locations have largely relied on vaccines made within the U.S. and Europe, akin to Pfizer and AstraZeneca, many growing international locations have used the Chinese-made pictures.
Contributing: Associated Press