July 27, 2021 coronavirus news

By Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0202 GMT (1002 HKT) July 28, 2021
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7:24 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Los Angeles will require proof of Covid-19 vaccination or regular testing for all city employees

From CNN’s Sarah Moon

The city of Los Angeles will require all of its employees to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing, city officials announced Tuesday in a push toward mandating the vaccine for employees.

“The fourth wave is here, and the choice for Angelenos couldn’t be clearer — get vaccinated or get COVID-19,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “This urgent need means that if you’re a City employee, we’re now going to require you to either show that you’re vaccinated or take a weekly test, and we’re committed to pursuing a full vaccine mandate. I urge employers across Los Angeles to follow this example.” 

The move comes after the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus in Los Angeles County nearly doubled in the last two weeks. There are currently 745 people hospitalized with the virus compared to 372 people two weeks ago, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The health department said the increase in hospitalizations is being driven by “the more aggressive Delta variant, low vaccination rates in certain communities and more intermingling of unmasked individuals.”

According to the public health department, “almost everyone hospitalized with COVID-19 in L.A. County is unvaccinated.”

The new policy will require city workers to show proof of vaccination or produce proof of a negative Covid-19 test on a weekly basis.

“In addition to the new requirement, the Mayor and City Council will aggressively pursue a vaccine mandate for all City workers once the vaccines receive full approval by the FDA,” the statement said.

The announcement comes just one day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that all state employees and health care workers will have to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or be tested at least once a week. He also encouraged local government and businesses to adopt similar measures. 

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia also announced in a tweet Tuesday that city employees will need to be vaccinated or show a weekly negative Covid-19 test result. Garcia said that 72% of city employees are already vaccinated. 

“It’s important that public institutions model responsible leadership,” he added. 

In a meeting Tuesday, L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger expressed support for getting all county employees vaccinated.

“We are preaching, I think we need to practice,” Barger said in the meeting. 

7:11 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Vaccination remains the "bedrock" of ending the Covid-19 pandemic, US Surgeon General says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

While masking up will help reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the US, getting vaccinated is still key to ending the pandemic, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Tuesday.  

“The bottom line is the masks will help us reduce spread further, but the vaccinations remain the bedrock of ending this pandemic,” Murthy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on Tuesday to recommend fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with "substantial" or "high" transmission of Covid-19 – more than half of all US counties.

“What's really important, also, is to say what has not changed,” Murthy added. “And what has not changed is that vaccines still work. They still save lives. They still prevent hospitalizations at a remarkably high rate.”

6:54 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Doctors need to urgently help get more people vaccinated against Covid, CDC says in health alert

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Doctors and public health professionals need to act urgently to get more Americans vaccinated against coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. 

The CDC issued a health alert saying the Delta variant was driving new transmission and said doctors need to work harder to encourage vaccination.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issuing this Health Alert Network Health Advisory to notify public health practitioners and clinicians about the urgent need to increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage across the United States to prevent surges in new infections that could increase COVID-19 related morbidity and mortality, overwhelm healthcare capacity, and widen existing COVID-19-related health disparities,” the CDC said in its alert.

“Increasing vaccination coverage is especially urgent in areas where current coverage is low. Unvaccinated persons account for the majority of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, especially the highly infectious Delta variant (B.1.617.2), are accelerating spread of infection,” it added.

Earlier the CDC revised its guidance for fully vaccinated people, saying they should wear masks indoors in public in places with higher transmission of the virus.

“COVID-19 cases have increased over 300% nationally from June 19 to July 23, 2021, along with parallel increases in hospitalizations and deaths driven by the highly transmissible B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant,” the CDC said in Tuesday’s alert.

“While significant progress has been made to make COVID-19 vaccine widely available, disparities in vaccination coverage persist across population groups and geographic areas. As of July 23, 2021, 1,856 (63%) of the 2,945 counties with available vaccination data have particularly low vaccination coverage, defined here as less than 40% of the population being fully vaccinated.”

6:53 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

More than 100 unruly airplane passengers reported to FAA in the last week

From CNN's Greg Wallace

More than 100 unruly airplane passengers have been reported to federal authorities in the last week, according to new numbers from the Federal Aviation Administration.  

The FAA said it has now received 3,615 reports since Jan. 1, an increase of 106 since last Tuesday’s figure. Sixty-one of the newly-reported incidents involved a violation of the federal transportation mask mandate, which remains in effect.   

The agency opened 29 new investigations into possible violations of federal rules and began the process of fining passengers in eight additional incidents.  

In total, the FAA has opened 610 investigations this year into unruly passengers. Historically, the agency has opened an average of 180 cases annually.  

The FAA says it is pursuing a policy of zero tolerance for in-flight violence and rule-breaking. It has proposed more than $682,000 in fines against rowdy passengers.


6:21 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

More than 38,600 children and teens caught Covid-19 last week, pediatrician group finds

From CNN's Jen Christensen

More than 38,600 children and teenagers caught Covid-19 last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday.

After decreases in reported cases over the past couple of months, the July numbers started trending upward again.

The group counted 38,654 new cases from July 15-22. That is a slight rise in cases from the week before, but it’s more than triple what was being reported at the end of June. The definition of a child varies by state, but generally includes those up to age 17 or 18.

More than 4.13 million kids have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. Kids represent more than 14% of the weekly reported cases.

At this time, it still appears that severe illness is rare among children, according to the academy, which represents pediatricians. Children accounted for 1.3%-3.6% of the hospitalizations, depending on the state.

Eight states have reported no child deaths from Covid-19 during the pandemic. As of Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 517 Covid-19 deaths among children ages 0-17.


5:51 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

More school districts requiring masks following updated CDC guidance

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart

More major school districts are deciding to require masks in schools, following updated guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Tuesday, including Gwinnett County, the largest district in Georgia, which is now reversing its stance and will require masks.

Clark County Public Schools in Nevada, the fifth largest district in the country, also updated its mask guidance on Tuesday, following updated recommendations from the CDC, suggesting all K-12 students should wear masks in school.

"Once again, the District is committed to opening schools for all students for in-person learning, while promoting the health and safety of all students and staff,” a release said.

Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland will also require masks for all students, staff and visitors in schools, "regardless of vaccination status," according to a tweet Tuesday.

"Face coverings are not required outdoors, but strongly are recommended for unvaccinated individuals," the tweet went on to say.

In Gwinnett County, Georgia, where school starts next week, the district has reversed its stance and will now require students and staff to wear masks.

"Gwinnett County Public Schools has updated its back-to-school plans to require masks. As of July 28, 2021, masks will be required for students, staff, and visitors to all Gwinnett County Public Schools’ facilities and on school buses, regardless of vaccination status," the district said in a release Tuesday.

The district cited guidance from the CDC and current Covid-19 rates in Gwinnett County as its reason in reversing its decision.

“The facts and recommendations are clear… masks do make a difference and we must do all we can to keep students in school, in person,” said Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks.

Of the largest 20 school districts in the US, all are requiring masks for students when the school year begins, except for the districts in Florida and Texas, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Gov. Greg Abbott have banned mask mandates.

In Texas, "earlier this summer, Governor Abbott issued an executive order banning mask mandates on public school campuses so HISD cannot require them but those who want to wear mask may certainly do so," Dennis Spellman, spokesperson for Houston Independent School District, told CNN in an email on Tuesday.

5:39 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Fully vaccinated people exposed to Covid-19 should get tested 3-5 days after exposure, CDC says

From CNN’s Jessica Firger

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advises fully vaccinated people who have been exposed to someone who has Covid-19, or is suspected to have it, to get tested themselves three to five days after exposure.

Additionally, the CDC now recommends fully vaccinated people with possible or confirmed exposure to Covid-19 wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days, or until they have a confirmed negative test.

“Fully vaccinated people should be tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result, and isolate if they test positive,” according to the revised guidance.

“Fully vaccinated people who live in a household with someone who is immunosuppressed, at increased risk of severe disease, or unvaccinated (including children under 12 years of age) could also consider masking at home for 14 days following a known exposure or until they receive a negative test result. Most fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be restricted from work following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 if they wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or if they receive a negative test result from a test taken 3-5 days after exposure. They should isolate if they test positive.”

Previously, the CDC said anyone who has been fully vaccinated does not need to get tested, mask or quarantine if exposed to someone with Covid-19, but that testing should be considered if a person who is vaccinated develops symptoms. 

This is one of several changes the CDC made on Tuesday to recommendations for fully vaccinated people. The CDC now says fully vaccinated people should wear masks indoors when in areas with "substantial" and "high" transmission of Covid-19, which includes more than half of all US counties. 

5:32 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

White House reimposes mask requirements indoors

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jason Hoffman and Maegan Vazquez

White House staff and reporters covering the White House must now wear masks inside the complex at all times regardless of vaccination status after the newest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the District of Columbia in an area of “substantial” spread.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported a note went out to White House staff informing them of the change Tuesday afternoon. 

The White House Correspondents Association president Steven Portnoy sent an email to WHCA members informing them of the change. 

“With a 7-day moving average of 52 cases per 100,000 as of this afternoon, the CDC website now indicates that the District of Columbia is an area of 'substantial' spread. As a result, and in keeping with guidance being issued today to White House staff, the WHCA is reimposing its mask requirement for all indoor spaces at the White House,” Portnoy’s email read.

Earlier on Tuesday, the CDC updated its guidance to indicate that fully-vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in areas of “substantial” and “high” spread of Covid-19.

Asked during Tuesday’s briefing if the White House plans to reimpose a mask requirement for staff, press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration would follow the CDC’s guidance.

“First we will of course be abiding by every aspect of the CDC guidelines on masking that they will provide this afternoon. And that does mean, as you conveyed, that we will be looking at the rates in different areas where the President may visit, and also the rates as they, if they move in Washington, DC, and we will apply guidance accordingly,” Psaki said.

5:04 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Biden will announce vaccination requirement across federal government on Thursday

From CNN's Kyle Blaine

President Biden will announce on Thursday a requirement that all federal employees and contractors be vaccinated against the coronavirus, or be required to submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. 

The announcement will come in remarks where Biden is also expected to lay out a series of new steps, including incentives, in an attempt to spur new vaccinations as the Delta variant has rapidly spread throughout the country. It will also follow the decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to require its frontline health care workers to be vaccinated over the course of the next two months.

Biden alluded to the looming announcement on Tuesday.

“That’s under consideration right now,” Biden said, when asked if he would impose a vaccination mandate on federal workers.

While the specifics are still being finalized, the source said, federal workers would be required to attest to their vaccination status or submit to regular testing. The source said the proposal will be roughly similar to what is being implemented in New York City. Additional requirements for the unvaccinated could be added as agencies push to vaccinate their employees.

Biden will not impose the requirement on the US military, despite his authority to do so, for the time being. He is, however, likely to outline how the Department of Defense may seek to approach the issue going forward, the source said.