The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic in the US

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

Updated 0817 GMT (1617 HKT) August 12, 2021
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11:33 a.m. ET, August 11, 2021

CDC ensemble forecast projects increase in Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations over the next month

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Ensemble forecasts published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project that new Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths will likely increase over the next four weeks. 

The forecasts predict a total of 630,000 to 662,000 Covid-19 deaths will be reported by Sept. 4. 

The previous forecast, published Aug. 4, predicted up to 642,000 deaths by Aug. 28. 

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, there have been 618,175 coronavirus deaths in the United States. 

The forecasts predict that there will be 9,600 to 33,300 new confirmed Covid-19 hospitalizations likely reported on Sept. 6. 

Like last week, the agency says that its Covid-19 cases forecast should be interpreted with caution since actual numbers have fallen outside the range of previous predictions. CDC’s latest forecast predicts 550,000 to 2,340,000 new cases reported during the week ending Sept. 4. 

“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 the CDC. “Because of this, case forecasts for the coming weeks should be interpreted with caution.”
11:33 a.m. ET, August 11, 2021

5 things we know about Covid-19's impact on children as they head back to school

From CNN's Holly Yan and Alyssa Kraus

As children head back to school, doctors say it's crucial to protect them against the Delta variant — not just to preserve in-person learning and protect children's health, but also to help prevent even more aggressive variants from emerging.

Since this time last year, more than 45,000 children have been hospitalized with Covid-19, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Saturday, an average of 203 child Covid-19 patients were admitted to US hospitals every day over the past week, CDC data shows. That's a 21.4% increase from the previous week in the number of new children getting hospitalized every day with Covid-19.

Here are 5 key takeaways about Covid-19 in children:

  1. Almost half of children hospitalized with Covid-19 had no known underlying condition: With the rise in both new cases and hospitalizations recently, it's not just children with preexisting conditions getting hospitalized. 46.4%, or almost half of children hospitalized with Covid-19 between March 2020 and June 2021, had no known underlying condition, according to CDC data from almost 100 US counties.
  2. Covid-19 deaths in children shouldn't be ignored, CDC chief says: While children are far less likely to die from Covid-19 than adults, the deaths are still significant. At least 542 children in the US have died from Covid-19, according to CDC data. Moreover, the number of Covid-19 deaths among children is more than twice the number of pediatric flu deaths reported by the CDC between 2019-2020. Covid-19 is much deadlier than other diseases because many children are already vaccinated against those diseases, said Dr. James Campbell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
  3. Protecting kids from Covid-19 is critical to keep them in schools: Some students are returning to schools for the first time in a year, but long-awaited classroom learning can be quickly derailed by an infection or outbreak. For example, in Atlanta, more than 100 students at Drew Charter School had to quarantine after nine students and five staff members tested positive. In addition to masks in schools, the CDC recommends layering other strategies such as improved ventilation, physical distancing and testing on a screening basis.
  4. Covid can leave lasting impacts on children: Long-term Covid-19 complications can be significant for children, even for some who initially had mild or no symptoms, the American Academy of Pediatrics said. Problems can include respiratory symptoms, heart issues, cognitive problems, headache, fatigue and mental health issues, according to the AAP. Moreover, some children who start with mild or even no symptoms from Covid-19 end up hospitalized weeks or months later with a condition called MIS-C, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. MIS-C is "a rare but serious condition associated with COVID-19 in which different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs," the CDC says.
  5. Children can accidentally help spur new variants: Protecting children from getting Covid-19 can help everyone in the long run, doctors say. As coronavirus keeps spreading, replicating itself in new people, the more chances it has to mutate and potentially lead to even more contagious variants or one that might evade vaccines.

Read more about Covid-19 impacts on children here.

11:09 a.m. ET, August 11, 2021

California to mandate vaccines and testing for teachers

From CNN’s Kyung Lah & Cheri Mossburg

A nurse prepares to administer a Covid-19 vaccine at Kedren Community Health Center in Los Angeles, California, on February 16, 2021.
A nurse prepares to administer a Covid-19 vaccine at Kedren Community Health Center in Los Angeles, California, on February 16, 2021. Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

California teachers and other school staff will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or submit to regular testing under a new order to be announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom later today. 

California will become the first state in the nation to implement such an order which will be effective in mid-October, sources tell CNN. The health order will closely mirror a similar mandate that all California health care workers become vaccinated.

The mandate was first reported by Politico Tuesday night. 

School districts in San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, and Long Beach have already implemented such a measure. The state’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, has required weekly Covid testing, but stopped short of mandating educators be vaccinated.

 “We’re getting all our kids safely back in in-person instruction,” Newsom said Friday in an event touting mental health resources. “We want to do it in a safe way where these kids can get that full support.”

Most districts and unions have been very supportive of the health order, sources say. CNN has reached out to the California Teachers Union, which represented educators across the state. 

“Those that are unvaccinated need to get vaccinated. That way we can keep our kids, without any stress or anxiety, back in person throughout the school year,” Newsom said Friday.

California is home to more than 1,000 school districts employing more than 300,000 teachers serving about 6.1 million students.

10:55 a.m. ET, August 11, 2021

About 4% of Orange County Public Schools students opted out of wearing a mask

From CNN’s Rosa Flores

Orange County Public Schools received about 8,200 mask opt-out notes on the first day of school, according to school district spokesperson Sara Au. Au says that makes up roughly 4% of the student population.

The school district kicked off the school year yesterday with a mask mandate that allows students to opt out of the requirement.

10:24 a.m. ET, August 11, 2021

Thousands of lives would have been saved if US acted differently early in the pandemic, whistleblower says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Medical workers transport a deceased Covid-19 patient at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York in April 2020.
Medical workers transport a deceased Covid-19 patient at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York in April 2020. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved in the US and across the world if the American government had acted differently in the early days of the pandemic, Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said.

“Hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States and around the world would be saved, people would still be alive today if our government had listened to the science, had been honest and truthful with Americans from the beginning, had told Americans the real risk of this virus and put tools and information and clear messaging out to help people save their lives and protect themselves from getting this virus,” Bright said. 

Bright led BARDA between 2016 to 2020. The office is a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services that has been central to the response to the coronavirus outbreak. Bright is now president of the Rockefeller Foundation. 

“If we had initiated testing, a really robust nationwide testing strategy to tell people where the virus was and tell people who were infected, if we had done more to prepare for the vaccine administration rollout when the vaccine became available,” he said. “We could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives of our loved ones and relatives and others in our community.” 

Bright was removed from his role as head of BARDA in April 2020. He filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that he was removed from his post in retaliation for opposing the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19. 

He also said that it’s important to listen to other whistleblowers who come forward.

“We need to strengthen them, listen to them. They are speaking truth to power, regardless of who’s in office. They know the truth, they are our eyes and our ears, and they can help us be better and respond more effectively and end this pandemic sooner," he said.

10:03 a.m. ET, August 11, 2021

Consumer prices stay high in July in wake of pandemic

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

Cars sit in a lot at an Acura dealership in Queens, New York, on July 15.
Cars sit in a lot at an Acura dealership in Queens, New York, on July 15. Bess Adler/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Higher prices have been the pandemic recovery’s collateral damage. Even though Washington insists higher inflation may just be temporary, America’s prices keep rising — albeit at a slightly slower pace.

In July, the pace of consumer price inflation slowed some, but it still remained elevated, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.

Stripping out more volatile food and energy items, consumer prices rose 4.3% in the 12 months ended in July, slightly below June’s rise. Overall, prices rose 5.4% over the period, flat compared with June.

For the month alone, adjusted for seasonal swings, prices rose 0.5% on the whole and 0.3% stripping out food and energy items, representing a slowdown on both fronts. Price increases for shelter, food, energy and new cars were the major contributors to the index’s jump.

But the pace of the gains slowed, and the major driver of that was the price index for used cars, which was nearly unchanged.

This came as a surprise, given that used vehicle prices have soared in the past year as people were willing to pay a premium for mobility and new cars were in short supply amid a chip shortage. Over the past 12 months, the used car index is still up nearly 42%, a gain matched only by prices for gasoline.

In other transportation news, the price index for airline fares also fell after rising sharply in past months as the reopening accelerated.

9:37 a.m. ET, August 11, 2021

Letter from 175 public health experts urges Biden to be on "wartime footing" to vaccinate the world 

From CNN’s Amanda Sealy

President Joe Biden, right, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tour a Pfizer manufacturing facility in Portage, Michigan, on February 19, 2021.
President Joe Biden, right, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tour a Pfizer manufacturing facility in Portage, Michigan, on February 19, 2021. Evan Vucci/AP

In a letter to President Biden, 175 public health experts urged the White House to scale up US manufacturing of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021 in order to meet the greater global need. 

The letter emphasizes that the Delta variant is resulting in surges in Africa, Latin America and Asia where vaccine availability is limited.

“This highlights the risk of newer, emerging variants, some of which may turn out to be resistant to current vaccines, which will threaten the progress made to date on the pandemic in the US and elsewhere. The time is now for ambitious leadership to vaccinate the world,” the letter says. “The need to be on a ‘wartime footing’ to secure the world against this pandemic viral threat is paramount.”

Specifically, signers urged the administration to “commit to establishing 8 billion doses per year of mRNA vaccine capacity within six months using existing federal resources,” and “develop and implement training and technology transfer for the development and manufacture of mRNA and other vaccines in hubs around the world.”

They also would like the US to “begin immediate export of vaccine doses,” distributing at least 10 million doses a week.

The letter, dated Tuesday, was sent to White House chief of staff Ron Klain, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients.

The 175 experts who endorsed the letter include scientists from top public health and medical schools as well and other global civil society leaders.

Signers include Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives; Dr. Paul Farmer, cofounder and chief strategist for Partners in Health; Dr. Linda Fried, the dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Dr. Carlos Del Rio, executive associate dean of Emory School of Medicine and Grady Health System.

8:53 a.m. ET, August 11, 2021

Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers questions about vaccines, antibodies and the Delta variant

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

CNN
CNN

While vaccinations in the US are rising, the Covid-19 transmission rate in most states remains high. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta joined CNN’s “New Day” to answer questions about vaccines, the Delta variant and more. 

Q: Is there any research to show the effect of the Delta variant on vaccinated elderly people in nursing homes or adult living facilities?

A: “We've got to really pay attention to nursing homes. What's happening in nursing homes will give an indication of what's happening in the rest of the country,” Gupta said. 

Eighty-two percent of nursing home residents are fully vaccinated, according to data, Gupta said, while only 59% of nursing home staff members are fully vaccinated. 

Between the week ending June 27 and the week ending July 25, the number of weekly Covid-19 cases in the US grew about 4.4 times, according to Johns Hopkins data. But in that same timeframe, cases among nursing home residents and staff grew about 3.6 times. However, in the seven states in which less than half of nursing home staff are vaccinated, weekly cases were 5.2 times higher when compared over the same four-week period.

Q: What should be the message from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to counties with both high vaccination rate and high Covid transmission rate?

A: In San Diego, California, for example, 69% of the population has at least one vaccine dose, and the vast majority of new Covid-19 cases is happening among unvaccinated individuals. 

“The message, at least for the next few weeks, until the viral transmission rates come down, if you live in a place with high transmission, wear masks indoors,” Gupta said. 

Q: Why should someone who has already had Covid-19 get vaccinated? Doesn't he or she already have antibodies?

A: People who’ve had Covid-19 do have antibodies and T-cells, Gupta said, but vaccines offer long-lasting and broader protection. 

“There's even been throughout history examples where people who are naturally infected had even stronger immunity than what a vaccine could provide. That's not the case here, and that's just because we have the data now,” Gupta said. 

“We didn't know this for certain at the beginning but these vaccines are really good. There's more variants coming. What they're finding is the vaccines are more durable, lasting longer and … offering broader protection against the variants as well,” he said. 

Q: I'm fully vaccinated but I was exposed to somebody who got Covid. What should I do? And do I have to quarantine? 

A: Quarantining is not necessary if you’ve been vaccinated, Gupta said, but it’s a good idea to get tested. 

If you have symptoms, isolate from others and consider wearing a mask if around small children. 

8:22 a.m. ET, August 11, 2021

US nursing home Covid-19 cases are rising much faster in states where fewer staff are vaccinated

From CNN Deidre McPhillips and Michael Nedelman

Covid-19 cases are growing more slowly among nursing home residents and staff than they are in the United States overall, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

But in states where less than half of nursing home staff is vaccinated, new cases are multiplying much faster than they are in the US overall. 

Nationally, nursing staff – and residents, especially — have higher vaccination rates than the general US population. About 82% of nursing home residents and 59% of nursing home staff are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to CMS data. In the US overall, about 50% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over four weeks – between the week ending June 27 and the week ending July 25 – the number of weekly Covid-19 cases in the US grew about 4.4 times, according to JHU data. But in that same timeframe, cases among nursing home residents and staff grew about 3.6 times.

However, in the seven states in which less than half of nursing home staff are vaccinated, weekly cases were 5.2 times higher when compared over the same four-week period.

Mississippi had the largest increase, with more than 18 times more cases reported in the week ending on July 25 than in the week ending on June 27.

Weekly case growth in the other states where less than half of the staff is vaccinated against Covid-19 is:

  • Mississippi: 18.4 times
  • Louisiana: 8.4 times
  • Oklahoma: 6.7 times
  • Florida: 6.2 times
  • Kentucky: 4.2 times
  • Missouri: 3.1 times (an exception, lower than overall growth)
  • Tennessee: 2.6 times (an exception, lower than overall growth)

Meanwhile, in states that have vaccinated a larger share of staff than average (more than 59%), cases reported in the last week of July were only two times higher than cases reported in the last week of June.