August 5, 2021 US coronavirus news

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT) August 6, 2021
26 Posts
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8:00 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

Fully vaccinated people who get a breakthrough infection can transmit the virus, CDC director says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky (CNN)

Fully vaccinated people who get a breakthrough infection can pass it on, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.  

“Our vaccines are working exceptionally well,” Walensky told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in reference to fully vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections. “They continue to work well for Delta, with regard to severe illness and death – they prevent it. But what they can't do anymore is prevent transmission.”

CDC provided data last week that showed how fully vaccinated people who get a breakthrough infection can carry essentially that same amount of virus as an unvaccinated person, allowing them to transmit the virus just like an unvaccinated person can.

That is why the CDC is recommending even vaccinated people wear masks indoors again, Walensky said.

“If you're going home to somebody who has not been vaccinated, to somebody who can't get vaccinated, somebody who might be immunosuppressed or a little bit frail, somebody who has comorbidities that put them at high risk, I would suggest you wear a mask in public indoor settings.”

Clarification: This post has been updated to specify that Walensky was referencing fully vaccinated people who get a breakthrough infection when saying that vaccines no longer prevent transmission of Covid-19.

6:33 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

FDA could lay out a national strategy for Covid-19 booster shots in early September

From CNN's Kaitlin Collins and John Bonifield

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine vial
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine vial Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images/FILE

Internal discussions at the US Food and Drug Administration have centered around an early September timeline for laying out a strategy on Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, a Biden administration official told CNN.

The strategy would apply for all vaccinated people. A decision for those who are immunocompromised and face greater risk from the virus is expected sooner.

FDA spokesperson Abby Capobianco said in a statement to CNN that the FDA, along with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, are evaluating potential solutions to questions on the use of booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

"The agencies are engaged in a science-based, rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster might be necessary. This process takes into account laboratory data, clinical trial data, and cohort data – which can include data from specific pharmaceutical companies, but does not rely on those data exclusively," Capobianco said. "We continue to review any new data as it becomes available and will keep the public informed. We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed."

Capobianco said "in the near future" the FDA will share information on potential options for immunocompromised people who face a greater risk from the virus than healthy people.

"The FDA is closely monitoring data as it becomes available from studies administering an additional dose of the authorized Covid-19 vaccines to immunocompromised individuals," Capobianco said.

5:38 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

Houston's Texas Medical Center campus surpassed 300 Covid-19 patients admitted in one day

From CNN's Kendall Lanier

The Texas Medical Center campus in Houston just passed more than 300 coronavirus patients admitted in their medical facilities in a single day, according to Mayor Sylvester Turner. 

Turner and Harris County Court Judge Lina Hidalgo spoke at a joint news conference on Thursday outlining the situation for the Houston-Harris County metro area.  

"Today we find ourselves retracing our steps towards the edge of a cliff. It is very conceivable that we could once again be heading toward a public health catastrophe. Once again our health care system is strained by Covid-19. It’s straining our staff, straining our hospitals, and it is imposing heartbreak and anxiety on so many families in Harris County," said Hidalgo.

The emergency rooms have become overwhelmed with large amounts of patients being admitted to the hospital, said Hidalgo, adding that this is no longer a disease of the old. The average age of admitted patients is now 20.

Harris County's Covid-19 threat rate has moved into the red zone, declared by Hidalgo in today's news conference, meaning outbreaks are present and getting worse. 

5:04 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

Novavax will seek US authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine in fourth quarter

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The biotechnology company Novavax has pushed back its plans to apply for emergency use authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine in the US to the fourth quarter of this year, according to the company's second-quarter financial results, released on Thursday. 

Previously, the American biotech firm had planned to apply in the third quarter.

"It looks like it could be the fourth quarter," Dr. Gregory Glenn, president of research and development for Novavax, told CNN on Thursday. 

"We're still moving along nicely," Glenn said.

3:59 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

Here's the latest on vaccination efforts in the US

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

The daily pace of Covid-19 vaccinations is the highest it’s been in nearly seven weeks, according to the latest data published from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s the latest data on vaccination efforts in the US, according to the CDC:

  • Fully vaccinated: 49.9% of the total US population (all ages)
  • Not vaccinated: 31.9% of the eligible US population (ages 12 and older)
  • Current pace of vaccinations (seven-day average): 464,778 people are initiating vaccination each day.
  • This is the highest average daily pace in nearly seven weeks since June 19. 
  • This is a 19% increase over last week’s pace.
  • An average of 699,261 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. 

White House data director Dr. Cyrus Shahpar tweeted earlier Thursday that more than 864,000 doses had been reported administered over the previous day’s total, including about 585,000 people who got their first shot. According to the White House, that is the highest number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered – and new vaccinations – reported in a single day in more than a month.

3:45 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

Miami-Dade County employees must show Covid-19 vaccination proof or submit to weekly testing

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced today that the county is taking a further step to ensure a safe and healthy workplace by requiring weekly Covid-19 testing of all Miami-Dade employees.

Those who wish to opt-out can provide proof of their vaccination status, Cava said.

The county will begin implementing this policy beginning the week of Aug. 16 for non-union employees and exceptions will be evaluated on a case by case basis, according to the mayor.

Cava said over the last week, the county polled its workforce with a voluntary anonymous survey to ask employees to self-report their vaccination status. Of those who took the survey, which is more than 5,000 employees, more than 83% of the respondents indicated that they had taken the shot, according to the mayor.

“We all know that getting vaccinated is the single best step that any of us can take to protect ourselves and our loved ones to reduce the spread of the virus. Truly it is the path forward and this policy that we are announcing today will help ensure we are doing our part to maintain a safe, healthy workplace and that county employees are doing our part to prevent the spread of Covid across this community,” Cava said.
4:50 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

Alaska town on lockdown after surge in Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Chris Boyette and Dave Alsup

This Wednesday, June 26, 2019 photo shows an aerial view of the Yup'ik village of Stebbins on the Norton Sound coast in Western Alaska. 
This Wednesday, June 26, 2019 photo shows an aerial view of the Yup'ik village of Stebbins on the Norton Sound coast in Western Alaska.  (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News/AP)

The Alaska village of Stebbins is in community lockdown after a surge in Covid-19 cases, according to the regional health organization.

Norton Sound Health Corp. announced the lockdown in a news release Monday, saying the lockdown would stay in place until no new cases are identified for 14 days. They said Thursday that there were three more positive Covid-19 cases in Stebbins, bringing the total of active cases to 45.

The lockdown began seven days ago, Norton Sound Health Corp. said.

Citing the Stebbins Community Association, Norton Sound Health Corp. said that during the lockdown, visiting between households or other communities is not allowed and everyone should wear a mask in public indoor spaces. 

“There is a 10-person limit at the store, and a five-person limit at the laundromat,” the release said. “There will be no bingo during this time, and there is a curfew of 10 p.m.” 

According to Norton Sound Health Corp, there are 51 active Covid-19 cases in the region, with the 45 in Stebbins, three in Nome and three in regional villages that “have requested that their village not be identified.”

As of the end of July, 42% of the 676 residents of Stebbins were fully vaccinated, and 45% have received a first dose.

“Stebbins experienced a Covid-19 outbreak last fall, which took nearly two months to recover from. The residents there know what it takes to overcome an outbreak, and now everyone 12 years and older has the added benefit of accessibility to Covid-19 vaccines,” Norton Sound Health Corp. said in the release.


3:37 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

Minneapolis Public Schools will require face coverings

From CNN's Kay Jones

Minneapolis Public Schools will be requiring masks starting Aug. 9, according to an update posted on the school system's website Thursday morning.

The school district's update said that all staff, students and visitors are required to wear face coverings indoors, regardless of vaccination status. They said the decision was made based on the recommendation from the state's health department. 

The district also said that face coverings will be mandated on school buses, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Additional details will be provided for families as students return to school in September, the district said. 

3:06 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

Amazon delaying office reopening to 2022

From CNN's Rishi Iyengar

The Amazon campus outside the company headquarters in Seattle sits nearly deserted due to the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
The Amazon campus outside the company headquarters in Seattle sits nearly deserted due to the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. Elaine Thompson/AP

Amazon on Thursday pushed back its office return date until early next year amid a surge in Covid-19 cases from the Delta variant, making it one of the most significant delays yet in the tech industry.

The online retail giant's corporate workers were originally slated to start coming back to the office by Sept. 7, but that date has now been moved back to Jan. 3, 2022, Amazon told CNN Business.

When they do return, employees will be required to wear masks inside the office unless they have shown proof that they are vaccinated, the company added.

Amazon's news follows similar announcements delaying a return to in-person work from financial firms like Wells Fargo, BlackRock and US Bank.