CDC ensemble forecasts project new Covid-19 deaths likely to increase over the next 4 weeks
From CNN's Naomi Thomas
Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths are likely to increase over the next four weeks, according to ensemble forecasts published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When it comes to Covid-19 cases, the agency says that its forecast should be interpreted with caution — since actual numbers have fallen outside the range of previous predictions. CDC’s latest forecast predicts 350,000 to 1,800,000 new cases during the week ending Aug. 28.
“Over the last several weeks, more reported cases have fallen outside of the forecasted prediction intervals than expected. This suggests that current forecast prediction intervals may not capture the full range of uncertainty,” said CDC. “Because of this, case forecasts for the coming weeks should be interpreted with caution.”
The forecast predicts a total of 624,000 to 642,000 deaths will be reported by Aug. 28.
The previous forecast, published July 28, projected up to 633,000 deaths by Aug. 21.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, there have been 614,342 coronavirus deaths in the United States.
The forecast predicts that there will be 6,700 to 24,000 new confirmed Covid-19 hospital admissions likely reported on Aug. 30.
2:49 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021
Florida governor's office holds strong on allowing parents to make masking choices for students
From CNN's Leyla Santiago, Sara Weisfeldt and Alyssa Kraus
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' office is now "finalizing health and education emergency rules this week that do not prohibit masks in schools but will require parents to have the right to opt their children out," his press secretary Christina Pushaw told CNN.
The order leaves Florida schools with a complicated balancing act: how to keep students and staff safe from the state's rapid Covid-19 surge while also avoiding retaliation from the governor.
After a heated school board meeting in Duval County in northeast Florida last night, where more than 70 parents and community members showed up with a range of passionate opinions about masking their children, the school board voted to recommend mask use at schools. It will also require parents to opt-out if they want their child to ditch the mask, a process which will require additional time and paperwork.
Alachua County's school district will require students to be masked in schools for two weeks. The board said it will re-evaluate the mask policy in mid-August.
Alachua County School Director of Communications Jackie Johnson said masks are required inside school buildings, but are optional outside.
The policy also includes exceptions. For example, parents can submit documentation from a doctor to exempt a child from the mask requirement. Johnson also said there will be some special needs situations like speech therapy where masks can be removed.
With the vaccination rate in Florida still under 50%, both Alachua and Duval County school districts said they plan to set up vaccination sites in schools with hopes of getting as many students, staff, and community members vaccinated.
2:14 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021
New York Auto Show canceled due to Delta variant
From CNN's Peter Valdes-Dapen
The New York International Auto show, set for later this month, was canceled by organizers on Wednesday due to an increasing number of cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant and the local measures used to combat them.
"It is with great disappointment that the upcoming 2021 New York International Automobile Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center has been cancelled due to the growing incidences of the Covid-19 Delta variant and the increased measures announced recently by State and local officials to stop its spread," the show organizers said in a statement.
The New York Auto Show was set to take place between Aug. 20 and 29 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. In a typical year, the 121-year-old New York Auto Show says 628,000 households attend.
New York City recently announced it will require proof of vaccination for people to enter indoor public events as well as restaurants, fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues. The policy will take effect over the next few weeks.
2:03 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021
White House convenes meeting of all living former US surgeon generals to discuss Covid-19
From CNN's Kate Sullivan and Jeremy Diamond
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and members of the White House Covid-19 response team convened a meeting of all living former US surgeon generals on Wednesday morning, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, as the White House ramps up efforts to get the rest of the population vaccinated.
“These esteemed public health leaders, who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, discussed the importance of ensuring that communities of color, those hardest hit by the virus have the information and access they need to get vaccinated. And they discussed how we can work together of course moving forward,” Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing on Wednesday.
Those attending the meeting included Dr. Antonia Novello, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Dr. David Satcher, Dr. Richard Carmona, Dr. Regina Benjamin and Dr. Jerome Adams.
In a Q&A session with reporters following the meeting, Murthy talked about the misinformation about the vaccine that is spreading in some communities of color and said he spoke with the former surgeons general about ways to ramp up partnerships with trusted messengers in those communities to counter that misinformation.
Asked by CNN why the administration only began to take more urgent action in response to the Delta variant last week even though it was identified as a variant of concern in June, Murthy said he believes the CDC moved quickly to act on new information about transmission among vaccinated individuals last week. He stressed that the CDC has to strike a balance between being confident in the data that is informing decisions and moving quickly enough.
He also stressed that vaccinated people “still have a high degree of protection” and stressed that “the majority of transmission is among unvaccinated individuals.”
Addressing a question about booster shots, Murthy said it is very possible booster shots will be needed but noted that the FDA and CDC are still studying that issue.
2:18 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021
All city employees in this Virginia city must get vaccinated and show proof, mayor says
From CNN's Melissa Alonso
Richmond, Virginia, Mayor Levar Stoney on Wednesday announced all city employees will be required to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and provide proof of vaccination.
"The vaccine protects those who cannot get the shot, because of their health status, or because of their age," Stoney said during a weekly press briefing.
"Going into a new school year, there is no better way, no better way to protect kids than for adults to get vaccinated," stressed Stoney.
City employees who are already vaccinated will need to submit documentation of their vaccination status by Aug. 18, according to Stoney.
"If you are currently unvaccinated, you will be expected to have at least one dose of the vaccine by Aug. 18 and fully vaccinated by Oct. 1," said Stoney.
Stoney said, "medical and religious exemptions will be granted with appropriate documentation."
"For the vast majority of employees, we know that the vaccine is safe, the vaccine is effective, and the vaccine is a vital lifesaving tool to protect ourselves and our community," said Stoney.
1:48 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021
Covid-19 case increases driven by US and Mexico, PAHO leader says
From CNN's Virginia Langmaid
Covid-19 case increases in the Americas are being caused in part by surges in cases in the United States, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, said on Wednesday.
“Over the last week, more than 1.2 million Covid-19 cases and 20,000 Covid-related deaths were reported in the Americas,” Etienne said in a media briefing from PAHO, a division of the World Health Organization.
“Covid infections are accelerating in North America, driven primarily by a surge in cases in the southern and eastern United States and in Central Mexico,” Etienne added.
According to the Weekly Epidemiological Report released Wednesday from the World Health Organization, the United States reported more new cases of Covid-19 in the last week than any other country. New cases in the Americas, a WHO region that includes North, South, and Central America, accounted for 30% of global new cases reported last week, according to WHO.
2:09 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021
Louisiana governor says he is not looking into a vaccine passport requirement for the state
From CNN’s Gregory Lemos
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday he is not looking into requiring a vaccine passport for the state.
“I think you’re starting to see some of that put in place around the country. We’re not entertaining that here in Louisiana, but we do want people to be vaccinated. It is incredibly important,” Edwards told Peter Kovacs, Editor of The Advocate and Times-Picayune, during a town hall.
Edwards said he is not considering requiring the vaccine for state employees “unless and until the FDA grants full licensure to one of more of the Covid vaccines.”
Edwards said, “the least onerous thing we can do in order to try and curb transmission and give some breathing room back to our hospitals is to reinstate the mask mandate.”
Edwards called the statewide mask mandate, which went into effect Wednesday and will remain in place until Sept. 1 “a very targeted and limited approach.”
“We do need compliance because we know that this works. This isn’t theoretical anymore,” Edwards said noting the state hit a 15.4% positivity rate Wednesday.
“That’s up from 13.2% previously and when you have increasing percent positivity, you have no reason to believe, in fact you have no reason not to believe, you are approaching your peak in terms of cases. And that’s going to mean continued hospitalizations and death as well.”
Edwards highlighted while the state was reporting around two deaths a day a month ago, there have been 103 in just the past two days.
“The capacity at our hospitals is just absolutely strained,” Edwards said.
1:36 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021
UK recommends first vaccine dose for children ages 16 and 17 "as soon as possible"
From CNN's Lauren Kent and Sharon Braithwaite
The UK government is recommending children ages 16 and 17 receive the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine "as soon as possible," according to a statement from Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Wednesday.
The recommendation comes after the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) updated their guidance to advise all 16- and 17-year olds to receive their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The updated guidance is a change from the UK's previous plan to only offer Covid-19 vaccines to children if they had underlying health conditions.
"In the last few weeks, there have been large changes in the way COVID-19 has been spreading in the UK, particularly in younger age groups. The adult vaccine programme has progressed very successfully and more safety data has become available, so it was important to review the advice for the vaccination of children and young people," the JCVI said in a statement.
The UK government plans to prioritize the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for young people, while delaying a recommendation for a second dose, according to the JCVI statement.
"The aim is for the second dose to be given later and this will extend protection for a longer period, for example when those young people start work or go to university, or if we begin to get another wave of cases in winter. It is important to keep young people well and in school in the Autumn term and to minimise disruption to education as far as possible. For now we recommend prioritising the first dose in younger age groups," JCVI said, adding that it is likely a second dose will eventually be offered from 12 weeks after the first dose.
"In the UK where there is good uptake of the vaccine amongst adults, we can take a more precautionary approach to vaccine rollout in younger people, who are at lower risk of serious harm from COVID-19," the JCVI continued, also noting that research shows young people respond better to the vaccine than older people and are expected to have around 80% protection against hospitalization following one dose.
“COVID-19 vaccines have saved more than 60,000 lives and prevented 22 million infections in England alone. They are building a wall of defence against the virus and are the best way to protect people from serious illness. I encourage everyone who is eligible to come forward for both their jabs as quickly as possible," Javid said.
“The JCVI have not recommended vaccinating under-16s without underlying health conditions but will keep its position under review based on the latest data," the health secretary added.
“Those aged 12 to 15 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities, as well as people in this age group who are household contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed, are already eligible for vaccination. JCVI will continue to review data and provide updates on at risk groups aged 12-15 and whether any additional groups will be added."
12:20 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021
Louisiana doctor encourages adult vaccinations to help prevent Covid-19 cases among children
From CNN’s Jeff Simon and Nadia Romero
A 3-week-old baby who spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit being treated for Covid-19 at a Baton Rouge children’s hospital has been released, the President of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital told CNN Wednesday morning. The 3-week-old baby was discharged last night and is not the first baby treated in this NICU for Covid.
Dr. Trey Dunbar reflected on how children are being victimized by a pandemic that has a simple solution: adult vaccination.
“Covid is a preventable disease,” he said. “It’s hard for us as pediatricians to see kids affected by a preventable disease. Children aren’t like adults. They don’t have the choice to get vaccinated. Parents are responsible for those choices. So yes, it makes a big difference when adults make decisions for kids and adults make decisions that could maybe prevent diseases that we see in children.”
Across the street at the largest hospital in the state of Louisiana, Our Lady of the Lakes Hospital, is still at 100 percent capacity.
“Where the increase really worries me is will that make an impact on our other hospital functions?” Dunbar said. “We’re dedicating a lot of time, especially on the adult campus, to taking care of people with Covid. I want to be able to make sure that we can take care of people that are in auto accidents, for example. We’re a pediatric trauma center. We’ve seen a lot more trauma over the last year. I don’t want to impact our care in trauma because we’re sort of inundated with Covid.”
For the first time in a long while, Dunbar said there was a line outside of the children's hospital pharmacy yesterday – mostly adolescence waiting to get vaccinated. He hopes that’s a positive sign that community outreach is working.
Dunbar said that nurses are working longer shifts and coming in on their days off. He said the hospital could use an additional five to six nurses to keep up with the influx of pediatric Covid cases and their normal needs as a pediatric trauma center.