August 4, 2021 US coronavirus news

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

Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT) August 5, 2021
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6:37 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021

Daily pace of new Covid-19 vaccinations tops 400,000 in the US, CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Roughly 49.8% of the total US population have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here is some more data from the CDC:

  • Not vaccinated: 32.1% of the eligible US population (ages 12 and older).
  • Current pace of vaccinations (seven-day average): 445,691 people are initiating vaccination each day.
  • This seven-day average of new vaccinations has topped 400,000 a day for nearly a week. 
  • This is a 17% increase over last week’s pace.
  • An average of 677,279 doses are being administered each day.
  • 20 states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as Washington, DC.
  • Alabama and Mississippi are the only states to have fully vaccinated less than 35% of residents. 

 

6:12 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021

USAID announces $720 million in funding to expand global fight against Covid-19

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The US Agency for International Development announced $720 million in new funding “to expand and intensify the fight against Covid-19 abroad, respond to humanitarian crises exacerbated by Covid-19, and support a global recovery while preparing for future pandemic threats,” according to an agency release.

“This funding will accelerate the US Covid-19 Global Response and Recovery Framework objectives to advance global vaccination, support health systems, and address acute impacts,” the release said. “Importantly, this funding will help countries deliver safe and effective vaccines, including programs to train health workers to deliver vaccines, keep vaccines at the right temperature, and educate people on the importance of getting vaccinated.” 

According to USAID, “approximately $445 million of the total funding is for sub-Saharan Africa to support Covid-19 response and vaccine readiness and urgent humanitarian needs consistent with the African Union’s continental Covid response strategy.”

The release added: “This funding will also help countries to reduce Covid-19 cases and deaths until vaccines are more widely available, including programs to expand Covid-19 testing, keep health workers safe with protective equipment such as masks and gloves, increase countries’ oxygen supply, fight misinformation, better equip laboratories, and strengthen disease surveillance."

 

5:51 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021

Chicago's Hyde Park Summer Fest canceled over Covid-19 concerns

From CNN’s Keith Allen

Just days after hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the four-day Lollapalooza festival in Chicago’s Grant Park, a September festival in nearby Hyde Park has been canceled due to concerns over Covid-19, organizers announced Wednesday.

“It is our obligation to prioritize our community’s health and safety over any other interests,” organizers of the South Side’s Hyde Park Summer Fest said in a statement posted on its official website and social media Wednesday. “With increasing Covid-19 cases and associated risks, we do not believe it is the right choice to move forward with the festival at this time."

The festival was to take place on Sept. 11 and 12 on Chicago’s Midway Plaisance Park.

CNN’s Natalie Andes contributed to this report.

5:45 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021

Nearly 500 Covid-19 cases connected to Milwaukee Bucks' Deer District crowds

From CNN’s Carma Hassan and Keith Allen

Fans make their way into the Deer District before Game 6 of the NBA basketball finals game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, July 20.
Fans make their way into the Deer District before Game 6 of the NBA basketball finals game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, July 20. (Jeffrey Phelps/AP/FILE)

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WDHS) has connected at least 491 positive cases of Covid-19 to people who gathered in Milwaukee’s Deer District to cheer on their hometown Bucks throughout their historic playoff run and NBA Finals victory.

The 491 cases were from people who “self-declared” that they had attended a Deer District gathering at some point during the month of July, according to Milwaukee Health Department spokesperson Emily Tau.

WDHS spokesperson Elizabeth Goodsitt cautioned that while the 491 confirmed cases were from people who either attended an NBA Finals game inside the arena or gathered in the Deer District while the games were being played, they cannot be certain that the virus was acquired in these specific settings.

“We don’t know if the Deer District was necessarily the point of contraction, but that they had attended these large gatherings,” Tau told CNN.

“Also, we are likely undercounting or underrepresenting cases who attended and then got sick but did not report, or interview was not completed, or information was not completely documented,” Goodsitt told CNN over email Wednesday.

The Deer District is the name of the entertainment district outside the Bucks’ home arena, which served as a gathering point for thousands of fans throughout the postseason. The Bucks NBA championship victory on July 20 brought roughly 100,000 people to the Deer District to party and watch the win on massive outdoor screens, according to an earlier statement from the Milwaukee Police Department.

WDHS contract tracers are still conducting interviews and are routinely asking people who have Covid-19 about any large events they may have attended.

“This question allows us to gather information on a wide variety of large gatherings, including the basketball victory celebrations,” Goodsitt said.

5:02 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021

The University of New Mexico will require proof of Covid-19 vaccination

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

(Matt Patterson/AP)
(Matt Patterson/AP)

The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque is reversing course and now requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination for faculty, staff and students before the start of the semester, according to updated information posted on the university’s website.

In an Aug. 2 letter to the university community, university president Garnett S. Stokes said that due to rising cases of Covid-19 throughout the country and across New Mexico due to the Delta variant, the university had to reconsider its announcement on July 8 that they would not mandate vaccinations and effective Aug. 5, faculty, staff and students must be vaccinated no later than Sept. 30. 

Stokes said the policy change was “not a decision that has been made lightly,” and that “In short, with cases of Covid and its variants slowly increasing, if we wish to return to a fully operational campus in a manner that protects the safety of our community, encouraging vaccination and mask wearing is not enough.” 

There will be accommodations made for disability, medical condition, or sincere religious belief, the letter said.

4:35 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021

Los Angeles council members propose proof of Covid-19 vaccination in indoor spaces

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

The Los Angeles City Council will consider a motion that would require proof of vaccination in order to enter indoor public spaces like retails stores, gyms and restaurants, expanding on a similar order in New York City.

A motion introduced Wednesday by two city council members calls for the Los Angeles City Attorney to develop an ordinance that will require people to show proof of having received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to access indoor public spaces for shopping, concerts, movies, and sporting events.

The legislation goes beyond the requirement announced Tuesday in New York, adding retail stores to the list of indoor public places where residents would need to present proof of vaccination. Los Angeles residents are also required to wear face masks while in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

Council President Nury Martinez and member Mitch O’Farrell introduced the legislation as Los Angeles County endures a surge in coronavirus cases, driven by the highly contagious delta variant.

“Enough is enough already,” said Martinez in a statement. “Hospital workers are exhausted, moms who have put aside their careers are tired, and our kids cannot afford the loss of another school year. We have three vaccines that work and are readily available, so what’s it going to take? Our kids are about to return to school and the unvaccinated are putting their lives at risk every day. Ask your questions, talk to your doctor, and get the vaccine. Let’s put this behind us.”

More context: Despite a relatively high vaccination rate, the number of people hospitalized in Los Angeles has tripled in the past month, and cases have increased twenty-fold, according to county health data.

“Hard-working Angelenos, their customers, and the general public deserve to be safe in public spaces. The vaccines are our most effective form of protection, and the time to act is now,” O’Farrell added in a statement.

4:10 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021

Global Covid-19 cases surpass 200 million

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

More than 200 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported globally, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Three countries account for more than 40% of cases:

  • United States: 35,292,721 cases (18% of total global cases)
  • India: 31,769,132 cases (16% of total global cases)
  • Brazil: 19,985,817 cases (10% of total global cases)

The World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

 Since then:

  • The first 50 million cases were reported by Nov. 7, 2020.
  • By Jan. 26, 80 days later, there were 100 million global cases.
  • By April 29, 93 days later, there were 150 million.

Now, 97 days after that, there are a total of 200,014,602 reported cases of Covid-19 worldwide and at least 4,252,873 deaths.

Globally, about 2.3 billion people have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and about 1.2 billion people are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

4:04 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021

Illinois governor announces statewide school mask mandate

From CNN’s Keith Allen

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (Pool)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday announced a statewide school mask mandate for students and staff returning to classrooms, saying the Delta variant made masks a necessity.

“I had hoped the state mask requirement in schools wouldn't be necessary, but it is. The Delta variant is highly transmissible, more so than any other previous forms of this virus,” the governor said.

Pritzker's school mask mandate applies to all schools throughout the state, both public and private, and for pre-K through grade 12 students, the state lawmaker said Wednesday.

“My goal has always been to safely bring all kids back into the classroom at the start of the school year and, crucially, to keep them there. Without these measures, we would likely see many more outbreaks,” he added.

Face coverings will also be required for all indoor school sports and recreation in pre-K through grade 12 schools, Pritzker said.

“Every time we think we know where this virus is headed, it changes, and it shifts,” the governor told reporters.

Chicago Public Schools last month announced their own districtwide mask mandate for the resumption of in-person classes on Aug. 30, CNN previously reported.

3:20 p.m. ET, August 4, 2021

As debate around school mask mandates heats up, local health officials fear for their safety

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

In cities and counties where there has been ongoing debate around mask mandates in public schools, several local health officials have reported again being intimidated by or receiving threats from anti-maskers, Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN on Wednesday.

This is something NACCHO is now monitoring closely.

As a return to school gets underway, "these are heated conversations sometimes that are turning nasty and out of control," Freeman said. "We are going to see more of this in communities that have these high transmission rates and are returning to some of these mitigation efforts. We're going to have to track it closely."

Throughout the pandemic, public health officers have reported receiving death threats and harassment in response to their recommendations to wear masks and follow certain Covid-19 mitigation measures. For instance, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has spoken openly about receiving death threats.

CNN previously reported that during a live public briefing on Facebook last year, "someone very casually suggested" Los Angeles County's public health director, Barbara Ferrer, should be shot. And in Washington state, Okanogan County community health director Lauri Jones installed a new security system and asked for police patrols around her home following repeated online threats.

"Just last week, we started seeing extremist groups come out again in opposition to their public health officers' orders in California," Freeman said on Wednesday. "Another example, in North Carolina, involved school board meetings where parents were picketing that there was no way they were sending their kids to school in masks. Really, this is going on in different places across the country." 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on masks last week, recommending that everyone older than age 2 wear masks in schools, whether vaccinated or not.

"We're hearing a lot of challenges on the ground, especially in states choosing not to take up the mask mandates that were recommended last week and opting to instead push decisions on masking down locally," Freeman said. "When the state doesn't want to take a hard line, it naturally falls to community-level decisions and so we're back to local health departments being front and center of controversy around the reintroduction of masks for vaccinated people."

These pressures of the pandemic seem to be taking a toll on the public health workforce.

Freeman previously told CNN in May that NACCHO has tracked more than 250 public health officials leaving the field since the beginning of the pandemic.