The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic in the US

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Doctor posts heartbreaking video of unvaccinated dad fighting for his life
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A top Florida school official says she won't "back down" in defying state's ban on mask mandates

Rosalind Osgood, the chair of Broward County School Board

Rosalind Osgood, the chair of the Broward County School Board, said she and other board members are prepared to risk their own salaries in defying Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order that effectively prohibits mask mandates in school districts.

“We are not looking to back down,” said Osgood, following an 8-1 board vote to make masks mandatory for students and staff on school property. “We are committed to protecting the lives of our students and our staff at any cost. We believe that their lives are invaluable.” 

Osgood then responded to the threat from DeSantis’ office that suggested the state’s Board of Education could withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who disregard the governor’s executive order.

“We did receive that letter,” Osgood told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “…I was very surprised that the punitive threats continue to come and be directed toward our school.”

“If it means that our salaries are taken away, we would rather have those salaries taken away than take a risk at having one of our kids or one of our staff people come down very ill,” she said.

Covid-19 vaccine could possibly be available for kids under 12 before end of 2021, US surgeon general says 

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek

It’s possible that a Covid-19 vaccine will be available for kids under the age of 12 before the end of 2021, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek  said Wednesday.

“If everything were to go well, and everything were to fall into place, I think it’s possible that we could see a vaccine before the end of the calendar year for kids under 12,” Murthy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“Make no mistake, the FDA will move quickly on this because they recognize what’s at stake. It’s the health of our children, and there’s really nothing more important than that,” he added.

Murthy said that the US Food and Drug Administration is prioritizing the evaluation of Covid-19 vaccines.

“This is the top priority for the FDA, but in order for the FDA to evaluate a vaccine for under 12’s, it has to get an application first from the companies – which means they have to complete their trials, put the data together and submit them to the FDA,” Murthy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Those trials of children under the age of 12 are still ongoing, Murthy noted.

“My hope is that they will come to a conclusion soon, and that we will get that application from the companies to the FDA, because I will tell you that they will move fast to evaluate that,” Murthy said.

Some more background: Currently, none of the three Covid-19 vaccines used in the US are available to children under the age of 12. With many schools across the country set to reopen soon for the fall semester, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still conducting clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the vaccines in children under 12.

CNN’s Betsy Klein and Naomi Thomas contributed reporting to this post. 

More than 2,500 medical personnel will be deployed to Texas hospitals due to Covid-19 surge, governor says

More than 2,500 medical personnel will be deployed to hospitals around Texas to care for the growing number of Covid-19 patients, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday.

The governor’s announcement comes days after he indicated the Texas Department of State Health Services (TSHS) would be utilizing staffing agencies to bring in out-of-state medical personnel to help counter the surge in Covid-19 cases.

“The State of Texas is taking action to ensure that our hospitals are properly staffed and supported in the fight against Covid-19,” Abbott said in Wednesday’s news release.

The governor did not offer details regarding where the additional medical staff would be coming from nor where they will be deployed.

“Texans can help bolster the state’s efforts to combat the virus by getting vaccinated. The Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and it is our best defense against the virus,” the governor added.

There are only 368 intensive care unit beds currently available throughout the state of Texas and at least 10,463 lab-confirmed Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the state, according to the most recent data from TSHS.

FDA expected to authorize booster shots for some immunocompromised people within the next 48 hours

The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce within the next 48 hours that it is authorizing Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for some people who are immunocompromised, according to a source familiar with the discussions. 

This would be a third shot of the current two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That announcement could slide, the source cautioned, but this is the current timing. 

“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,” an FDA spokesperson told CNN. “The agency, along with the CDC, is evaluating potential options on this issue, and will share information in the near future.”

NBC News was first to report on the expected announcement.

The FDA must give authorization for the vaccines to be used in new ways outside the existing authorization. All three Covid-19 vaccines being used in the US are given under emergency use authorization by the FDA, but full approval is pending for Pfizer’s vaccine. After FDA grants approval or authorization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then advises on whether to actually use a vaccine as authorized by the FDA.

Vaccine advisers for the CDC will meet on Friday to discuss booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines and additional doses for some immunocompromised people, according to a meeting agenda posted by the agency on Monday.

A recent study by Johns Hopkins University researchers found that vaccinated immunocompromised people are 485 times more likely to end up in the hospital or die from Covid-19 compared to the general population that is vaccinated.

Based on an estimate by the CDC, about 9 million Americans are immunocompromised, either because of diseases they have or medications they take.

It has been known for months that Covid-19 vaccines might not work well for this group. The hope was that vaccination rates overall would be so high so that the “herd” would protect them.

But it didn’t work out that way, because about a third of eligible people in the US have not received even one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Los Angeles proposal for proof of vaccination to enter indoor public places moves forward

A sign stating proof of a Covid-19 vaccination is required is displayed outside of Langer's Deli in Los Angeles on August 7.

A motion to require proof of vaccination to enter most indoor public spaces in Los Angeles has been pushed one step closer to reality by city council members.

In a unanimous vote Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a measure to have the city attorney draw up an ordinance that could require the public to show proof of receiving at least one Covid-19 vaccination to enter indoor spots like retail stores, restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and concert venues. 

The legislation goes beyond the requirement announced last week in New York, adding retail stores to the list of indoor public places where residents would need to present proof of vaccination. The draft ordinance will include information on the city’s vaccination campaign and solicit feedback from teachers, parents and pediatricians on how to best protect children.

“Instead of fighting science, we should be fighting the virus,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, co-author of the proposal. “The data is clear: vaccines are safe and effective. We have endured 18 months of mass illness and death, with the latest variant wreaking havoc across the globe. Free vaccinations are widely available for all who are eligible. This is a necessary and sensible step that will broadly protect the health and safety of Angelenos. It could very well ward off another economic shutdown, which would be devastating to our city and our nation.”

“Frankly, I’m tired of our politicization science and public health. And while people outside this building are protesting that this is a violation of their civil liberties, Angelenos are dying unnecessarily,” Councilmember Paul Koretz said.

In recent weeks, new Covid-19 cases in Los Angeles County have increased 20-fold, but local public health data in the past few days has shown promising signs of a slowdown of the surge.

“Not being vaccinated leads to death. It leads to a prolonged pandemic. It has an impact on others. It is not a personal choice. It is a public health issue,” insisted Councilmember Bob Blumenfield.

Councilmember Paul Krekorian urged the city attorney to work closely with the Los Angeles County supervisors in drafting the ordinance in an effort to ensure that the rules apply beyond city limits. The city of Los Angeles is home to about 4 million residents. Another 6 million reside outside of city limits and still within L.A. County.

“We need to stop fighting science and start fighting the virus,” said O’Farrell, as he advocated for protecting retail and other workers. “I think it’s high time to move this forward. We can do this.”

Global Covid-19 cases could surpass 300 million in early 2022, WHO director-general says 

Global Covid-19 cases could surpass 300 million in early 2022 if they continue at the current trajectory, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization. 

Although there are several effective vaccines available for Covid-19, deaths and cases continue to rise, Tedros said. 

“Last week, the 200 millionth case of Covid-19 was reported to WHO, just six months after the world passed 100 million reported cases,” Tedros said during a news briefing in Geneva Wednesday. “And we know that the real number of cases is much higher.” 

“Whether we reach 300 million, and how fast we get there, depends on all of us,” he continued. “At the current trajectory, we could pass 300 million reported cases early next year. But we can change that. We’re all in this together, but the world is not acting like it.” 

Oklahoma charter school district announces mask mandate in defiance of state law

Santa Fe South Schools has announced that they will require masks at school beginning Thursday, defying a state law the Oklahoma legislature passed a law last year which says they cannot do so unless the governor issues an emergency declaration for their area.

“Exemptions will be made only for those who have a physician’s documentation stating that wearing of a mask is not recommended for that individual,” Superintendent Chris Brewster said in a letter posted on the district website.

The requirement applies for any guests and all activities, according to the school district.

“We will strictly enforce this at all times. Again, this is a requirement, and should not be considered optional for anyone at any time, unless they have confirmation from their physician that mask-wearing is not required.”

Stewart said those who refuse to wear masks will have a virtual option for instruction.

Santa Fe South Schools is home to 3,500 charter school students who live in the Oklahoma City area.

On Monday, Democrats filed their own legislation to try and overturn the statewide mask mandate ban, saying it “cripples” the ability of localities to control Covid-19 spread.

“Needs across Oklahoma are different, and schools need to be able to make decisions about safety based on local data rather than waiting for the Governor to declare a state of emergency,” State Rep. Melissa Provenzano, a Democrat from Tulsa, said in a statement. “I’ve been contacted by more parents than I can count asking how to keep their kids safe at school when they return. So many of us have witnessed the awful reality of Covid up close and personal. Enough is enough. It is time to protect our children.”

Some school districts in Arizona, Texas and Florida are currently in the middle of battles with their governors with regards to their ability to mandate masks in schools.

United Airlines CEO says vaccine mandate unlikely for domestic travel

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on September 22, 2020, in Washington, DC.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says he does not anticipate a vaccination requirement for travel within the United States, but said it is possible for some international travel.

When asked by CNN’s Victor Blackwell if passengers will need to get vaccinated as a condition to fly Kirby said “it’s a government question, but I suspect that it won’t happen domestically.”

President Biden on Wednesday met with Kirby and other executives from companies that are mandating that workers get vaccinated. United announced Friday that all its 67,000 employees in the United States would need to get vaccinated by Oct. 25 or face getting fired. 

Kirby says through increased employer mandates, he thinks that the United States could see an 80% to 90% vaccination rate. Kirby said Biden “asked us to do everything we could with fellow CEOs or anyone we were in contact with to encourage others to do the same thing.”

US intelligence officials draft classified report as they near finish of 90-day Covid-19 investigation 

Intelligence officials are nearing the end of a 90-day investigation into the origins of Covid-19 that was ordered by President Biden, and have drafted a classified report that is now in the preliminary review process, according to three sources familiar with the probe. 

Sources familiar with the initial report say that after three months of poring over data and raw intelligence, the intelligence community is still divided over two theories — one suggesting the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China, and the other suggesting it jumped naturally to humans from animals, the sources said. The report as it stands now contains “nothing too earth shattering,” one source explained.

In May, Biden told US intelligence agencies to “redouble” their efforts to investigate how the virus originated, including the possibility that it emerged from a lab accident. Biden ordered the investigation after receiving an earlier report on the origins and asking for follow-up information, he said in a statement. The 90-day clock that Biden set for this investigation will be up in late August. 

It’s possible that the draft report could undergo significant revisions during the remaining review process. Biden also tasked the intelligence community with declassifying as much of the report as possible, a process now underway as it undergoes initial reviews. 

The intelligence community’s inability to present one theory with high confidence after three months of intense work underscores just how hard it is to probe the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The National Security Council did not return requests for comment.

Last week, CNN reported that intelligence agencies had gotten their hands on a trove of genetic data drawn from virus samples at the lab in Wuhan that some officials believe could have been the source of the outbreak. It’s unclear whether officials have finished analyzing that data. 

Intelligence officials have also taken a fresh look at signals intelligence, like intercepted communications and satellite imagery, that could provide clues.  

But ultimately, China’s refusal to share information from the early days of the outbreak and the country’s lack of transparency has been a major hurdle, and officials had been broadly pessimistic about finding a smoking gun during the 90-day push. 

The report — which was done without any Chinese participation — is now being reviewed by the intelligence community and outside experts for feedback before it is finalized later this month, the three sources said. Once the classified version is finalized, an unclassified version will also be developed so that the Biden administration can share something with the public, one source explained.

Arkansas University will require masks indoors on campus

The Old Main building is seen at the University of Arkansas on September 15, 2012, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The University of Arkansas (UA) Board of Trustees has passed a resolution directing all UA campuses to implement masking policies for students, faculty, staff, and guests, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor public settings where physical distancing cannot be assured “in accordance with CDC guidance,” due to the Covid-19 Delta variant.

According to the resolution, the policies include “reasonable exceptions” for certain settings and activities that follow guidance established by public health agencies or by external governing bodies, like the NCAA.

The university’s new policy will remain in effect as long as the use of face coverings continues to be recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and may be adjusted as more public health guidance comes out, the resolution said.

NYSE to require full Covid-19 vaccination for access to trading floor starting Sept. 13

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, on July 29.

The New York Stock Exchange announced it will require full Covid-19 vaccination for anyone entering the trading floor starting Sept. 13, according to a memo obtained by CNN. 

The exchange said that exemptions would be made for medical or religious reasons but that anyone granted an accommodation needs to present a negative test within the previous 48 hours and wear an N95 equivalent or surgical mask at all times while on the trading floor.  

The NYSE also announced, effective immediately, an expansion of its onsite random testing program to include vaccinated employees. 

In the memo, the NYSE said the decision was made based on recent shifts in public health conditions as well as recommendations from federal, state, and local authorities. 

Florida superintendent says some students feel stuck in debate between schools and parents on masks

Superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools Carlee Simon

Carlee Simon, superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools in Florida, said that some students feel caught in the middle of following the rules set by their parents and school policies on masks.  

“On the large scale, our students are very used to mask mandates,” Simon said to CNN’s John King. “… We do have some students, and unfortunately they tend to be many of our younger students in the elementary-school age, where their parents are telling them to refuse to wear a mask and the school district has a policy that requires a mask. And I think many of these young children really don’t know what to do. I mean, they want to obey their parents, but they also understand that they are in a school setting and they want to follow the rules of the school. I think it’s unfortunate, because I think they’re really put in a challenging position.”

Educators are trying to work with parents to make sure they understand that masks can protect all students, she said. 

“We haven’t even been open two days. In the day and a half that we have been open, we’re seeing infection rates that are increasing in our staff, and we’re also seeing the same situation in our students,” Simon said. 

On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office announced that the state board of education could move to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who disregard DeSantis’ executive order that effectively prohibits mask mandates in school districts. Alachua is one of several districts defying the order. 

“I have received a letter from the commissioner of education saying that this would be something that they’d do. I had to respond yesterday; it was due at 5 p.m. It was a little bit after 5 that I got it in to him. Actually, our staff attorney went home sick and did test positive for Covid. And she’s been vaccinated and she did allow me to share this. We are trying to do business as well as respond to the governor. And so we told him we’re going to continue to stay the course, because we do believe this is what we need in place in order to continue to function as a school system,” she said. 

Biden won't nominate permanent FDA chief until "he's found exactly the right person," White House says 

The White House again defended not having a permanent Food and Drug Administration commissioner amid a global pandemic. Press secretary Jen Psaki said it remains a “priority,” but President Biden is waiting to find “exactly the right person,” over 200 days into his term.

“He wants to name someone who’s qualified, who’s ready to lead the FDA. It is a priority for him. He’s also not going to take a step to put forward a nominee before he’s found exactly the right person,” Psaki said at Wednesday’s briefing.

She continued, “I will note that it is a place that is filled with talented experienced scientists, data experts, career staff who are certainly running the FDA effectively.”

As CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported in March, Biden has left the agency without permanent leadership as it plays a critical role in the pandemic response, including overseeing the development and authorization of coronavirus vaccines. In February, six former FDA commissioners urged Biden to select someone soon. 

The agency is currently being run by Dr. Janet Woodcock, who was named acting commissioner in January.

Psaki’s comments come after Biden told reporters Tuesday, “We’re working on that very hard to make sure we can get it passed.”

White House pushes back against Florida governor, says won't send ventilators without state interest

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 11.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back against comments from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suggesting his state had not requested a tranche of additional medical supplies amid rising Covid-19 cases, telling reporters in the briefing Wednesday, “I would note that as a policy we don’t send ventilators to states without their interest in receiving the ventilators.”

“I think the most important question here is, why would you oppose receiving ventilators when you clearly need those in your state, given the percentage of hospitalizations that are occurring in Florida?” Psaki added

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported Tuesday the Biden administration sent hundreds of ventilators to Florida in recent days as the state responds to a dramatic new increase in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. Despite that, DeSantis told reporters Tuesday that he was unaware of the request for the medical supplies.

“I would honestly doubt that that’s true, but I’ll look because we have a lot of stuff that we stockpiled over the last year and a half through the Department of Emergency Management,” DeSantis said when asked by a reporter about a request from the state for the additional supplies.

He continued, “I’ve not had any requests across my desk. I have not been notified of that. But they are in contact with the hospitals, I’m personally in contact with CEOs of a lot of the major hospitals.”

Pressed by Collins, Psaki said she’d seen DeSantis’ comments Tuesday. Asked if it was possible the governor was unaware of the request for supplies, Psaki told Collins, “I think that’s really a question for the governor and his team.”

Amtrak mandates that all employees get vaccinated

An Amtrak conductor looks down the train platform at the Galesburg, Illinois, station on June 15.

Amtrak is mandating that all of its employees get vaccinated against coronavirus. 

In a companywide memo, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said all workers will need to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1. All new hires will have to show proof of vaccination starting Oct. 4. 

“The vaccine is proven to save lives,” Flynn said in the letter to employees. “We did not come to these decisions lightly, and we understand it may take some time to process, which is why we are providing you with time to prepare.”

The memo says that employees who resist the mandate must either prove a “valid medical reason” as to why they cannot get vaccinated or submit a negative Covid-19 test result each week. 

“Many employees have shared reasons why they are apprehensive about getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” the memo said. “We understand these concerns and encourage everyone to consult with a medical professional and seek out facts from reputable sources.”

The move comes as the travel industry is taking a scattershot approach to employee vaccine mandates. Last week, United Airlines announced that all of its employees must get vaccinated by Oct. 25 or face getting fired. Since then, CEOs from Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines said they have no plans to implement similar mandates.

CDC strengthens its recommendation for pregnant women to get vaccinated against Covid-19

A syringe is filled with a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA in Los Angeles on August 7.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its recommendation for pregnant people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Previously, the public health agency said that “if you are pregnant, you can receive a Covid-19 vaccine.” Now, the CDC is strengthening its guidance, recommending that pregnant people should be vaccinated against Covid-19, based on new data about the safety of the vaccines. 

“We are not seeing a signal of safety concerns of the vaccine in pregnancy,” Sascha Ellington, team lead for emergency preparedness and response in the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health, told CNN on Wednesday.

Pregnant women are at an increased risk of getting severely ill from Covid-19 and “adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth,” Ellington said. “This vaccine can prevent Covid-19, and so that’s the primary benefit.”

The agency announced on Wednesday that a new analysis of information from its V-SAFE database, used to track vaccine side effects and safety, found no increased risk for miscarriage among people who received either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines before 20 weeks of pregnancy. There were also no safety concerns among people who were vaccinated late in pregnancy — for themselves or for their babies.

Ellington said that the rate of miscarriage among vaccinated pregnant women was about 13%, which is consistent with the rate that would be expected among unvaccinated pregnant women. In response to the myth that the vaccine could cause fertility issues, she said, “There are no data to indicate that the vaccine has any effect on fertility.”

The CDC says that it recommends Covid-19 vaccination for everyone ages 12 and older, including those who may be pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant. 

What the numbers show: As of July 31, only around 23% of pregnant women in the United States have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine so far, Ellington said, adding that “the vaccine coverage of 23% does give us an indication that it is below where we want it to be.”

See how quickly Covid-19 spread across the US in just one month

More than 98% of US residents now live in an area where there is a “high” or “substantial” risk of Covid-19 community transmission, up from 19% of residents only a month ago. This sharp turn has been driven in large part by the highly infectious Delta variant and low vaccination rates in many regions.

The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show an alarming rise in the number of counties that are considered at high risk of community transmission. On Monday, 2,361 counties in the United States were listed in the “high” tier, a stark increase from 457 counties in the same tier at the beginning of July.

A look at the past five weeks shows just how rapidly community transmission has increased across the country.

5th graders at Georgia school sent home due to Covid-19

Fifth graders at one suburban Atlanta elementary school have been sent home for virtual learning due to a rise in Covid-19 cases according to a school district email sent to parents and obtained by CNN. 

“This morning, based on our district protocols and at the guidance of the Department of Public Health in coordination with district leaders, we’ve had to make the difficult decision to have our 5th-grade classes move to virtual learning due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and high positive case numbers,” the email from East Side Elementary said.

According to the email, students will begin virtual learning on Thursday and continue until Aug. 20. Students can return to in-person learning on Aug. 23, according to the email.

East Side Elementary is in Cobb County, Georgia. CNN has reached out to Cobb County Schools for comment.

NJ mayor uses bullhorn in neighborhoods to urge residents to get vaccinated

The mayor of Camden, New Jersey, held a “vaccine parade” on Tuesday, walking through city neighborhoods with a bullhorn urging residents to get vaccinated and offering shots.

“We had a number of individuals on the street that got the shot right on the spot,” Mayor Victor Carstarphen said to CNN’s Erica Hill. 

“I was speaking to a gentleman who was on the fence about getting the vaccination shot. We had a really good conversation about the importance of protecting himself, protecting his family, protecting his people around him that’s elderly. He changed his mind. … I thought that was very empowering, not just for him but for the community to see a trusted individual in that community getting the vaccination,” he said. 

Carstarphen said that simply talking and listening to people about their concerns went a long way. He said some residents repeated misinformation about the vaccines. 

“I’ve had a resident say ‘how much does it cost?’ … I told him it’s free. And that was a resident that said I want to get it. We’ve got to keep on being optimistic and messaging and getting information out. So many times we rely on social media, and I say, listen, we’ve got to meet the people where they’re at. Go in the community. … We’re going to keep fighting and keep pushing,” he said. 

Police officers, firefighters and health officials were on hand to bring attention to the parade as well. 

As schools are getting ready to start up again in the area, Carstarphen said “we as adults have to step up.” 


Southwest Airlines warns Covid-19 variant is hurting its business

The Delta variant of Covid-19 is weighing on Southwest Airlines’ bottom line.

The carrier said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that customers this months have been booking fewer flights and are increasingly canceling the trips they’ve already booked. That prompted Southwest to lower its operating revenue estimates for the month to 15% to 20% below what it took in in August 2019. Previous estimates called for a 12% to 17% decline from two years ago. 

Southwest said it was profitable in July, but the “recent negative effects” of the pandemic will make turning a profit difficult in the third quarter. The airline expects September revenue will be down 15% to 25% compared to the same month in 2019, but said demand for Labor Day travel “remains healthy, thus far.” 

Shares of the airline were flat Wednesday.

The warning is a stark turn of events for Southwest, which predicted a few weeks ago that it would be profitable in the third and fourth quarters based of strong booking trends for leisure travel. Southwest’s president Tom Nealon said in July that so far “we have not seen any impact from the Delta variant.”

Industry wide: The highly contagious coronavirus variant is impacting overall air travel. As of July 3, domestic air travel, measured by tickets issued by US travel agencies and online booking companies, stood at just 3% below 2019 levels, according to the CNN Business Economic Recovery Dashboard. However, domestic air travel has since slowed, and as of July 23 was down 22% compared with the same point in 2019.