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
29 Posts
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7:17 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

California becomes first state to mandate all healthcare workers be fully vaccinated against Covid-19

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

California has become the first state to require all employees in healthcare settings to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread, the state announced Thursday.

California’s Department of Public Health issued two new health orders Thursday that mandate workers in healthcare settings be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and requires hospitals and nursing homes to verify that visitors are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for the virus. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month the state would require healthcare workers in the state to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, but Thursday’s order went a step further, requiring California’s approximately two million healthcare workers until the end of September to become fully vaccinated and promises paid time off to get immunized.

“By requiring health care workers to be fully vaccinated and visitors to acute care facilities to demonstrate they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19, California is protecting the most vulnerable individuals, while also protecting workers in these settings,” the state's public health department said in a news release.

The decision comes as the state sees a surge in new Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and the positivity rate, with all three metrics reaching their highest levels since February.

“As we continue to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, it’s important that we protect the vulnerable patients in these settings,” said California Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón. “Today’s action will also ensure that health care workers themselves are protected. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic.”

California’s public health department is expected to update guidance for visitors to other long-term care facilities in the near future.

6:53 p.m. ET, August 5, 2021

Quebec will implement vaccine passports

From CNN's Raja Razek

Quebec — Canada's second-most populous province — plans to implement vaccine passports, Premier Francois Legault said during a Thursday news conference. 

"So, unfortunately, like we said a couple of months ago, we’ll put in place the passport in order that people who made the effort to be vaccinated, that they are able to come back to a normal life. So it means that, some services will, nonessential services will be available only to vaccinated people,” Legault said in a news conference covered by CNN Canadian news partner, CBC News.  

On Thursday, the province recorded 305 new coronavirus cases; 72 of those cases are still under investigation. There are 16 people in intensive care units in the province. 

"In the last few days, we saw an increase in the number of cases. After discussion with public health, it looks like, unfortunately, in the next few days, few weeks, will see, still, an increase in cases and also an increase in hospitalization," Legault said.

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

Thousands of vaccinated Americans will get Covid-19, but most won't get very sick, CDC director says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The US should expect tens and thousands of vaccinated people to get Covid-19, but most won’t get very sick, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.

“I think we all have to recognize that with 164 million people who are vaccinated, we should expect tens of thousands, perhaps, of breakthrough infections,” Walensky told CNN.

The important thing is not the number of people who experience breakthrough infections, but the level of illness those people experience, Walensky said.

“Those breakthrough infections have mild illness. They are staying out of the hospital. They are not dying, and I think that that's the most important thing to understand,” Walensky said.

Walensky noted that vaccinated people who get infected with Covid-19 can transmit the virus.

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.