The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic in the US

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

Updated 8:02 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021
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8:00 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Oregon health officials report highest daily total of Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Kay Jones

Oregon Health Authority reported its highest daily total of new Covid-19 cases on Thursday.

The state had 2,387 total cases reported in its Thursday report, which brings the state's total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to at least 236,698. 

There are 670 Covid-19 patients currently hospitalized statewide, according to a news release. 

“Our hospitals are full. Patients are boarding and being cared for in emergency departments when they should be admitted to hospital beds. Our ICUs are full. Our doctors and nurses are exhausted and rightfully frustrated because this crisis is avoidable," David Zonies, associate chief medical officer and professor of surgery at Oregon Health & Science University, said in the release. 

"It is like watching a train wreck coming and knowing that there’s an opportunity to switch tracks, yet we feel helpless while we watch unnecessary loss of life. That is why it is essential that we all do our part to get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors," he continued.  

The latest dashboard shows that 54.9% of the total population in Oregon is fully vaccinated and another 4.6% have received one dose. 

7:21 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

New Orleans will require proof of vaccination or negative Covid-19 test for certain indoor activities

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (WVUE-DT)

Starting Monday, everyone in New Orleans must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test to participate in certain indoor activities that have a higher risk of Covid-19 transmission, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced Thursday.

In addition to the city’s indoor mask mandate, people must now show proof of having received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine or a recent negative test, no more than 72 hours prior to entering venues such as bars, restaurants, breweries, gyms, fitness centers, sports complexes, and stadiums. 

The order also includes large outdoor activities of more than 500 people.

Cantrell said the new order will go into effect on Monday and the city will begin aggressive enforcement actions the following week.

“But again, I'm encouraging our businesses, you don't have to wait, you can go ahead and activate,” the mayor said.

“Don't look for reasons to be the exception. Don't look for the loopholes. Look for your vaccination card and be prepared to show it,” Cantrell added.

7:10 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Wyoming governor’s office closed after staffer tests positive for Covid-19

 From CNN’s Chris Boyette

A staff member in Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon’s office tested positive for Covid-19, and the governor’s office is closed Thursday and Friday for a deep cleaning, while his team works remotely, according to the governor’s communications director, Michael Pearlman.

Pearlman said the staffer who tested positive is fully vaccinated, as is Gordon.

"As the Governor is fully vaccinated he will follow CDC guidance and wear a mask in the coming days. He is also adjusting his schedule to accommodate additional social distancing. The Governor tests regularly for COVID-19 and tested negative earlier today,” Pearlman said.

No other information was available on the staffer.

The office will reopen Monday, according to Pearlman.

Remember: There is no mandatory vaccination policy for Wyoming state government, but Pearlman said he believes the office has a high rate of vaccination.

As of Aug. 9, 33.9% of Wyoming’s population had been vaccinated with 14.8% of people age 12 to 17 and 42.4% of adults age 18 and older, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.


6:05 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Share your story: Are you returning to an office, classroom or college campus for the first time?

People across the country will be returning this fall to a physical office, workplace, college or school for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic started.

What will be different? What are you excited about? What are you concerned about? 

We want to hear about your plans for a potential story.

6:04 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Nevada parent sent child to school despite positive Covid-19 test, potentially exposing 80 students

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

(From Marce Herz Middle School/Facebook)
(From Marce Herz Middle School/Facebook)

More than 80 students in Reno were potentially exposed to Covid-19 on their first day of classes Monday, when a parent sent their child to school despite receiving a positive Covid-19 test two days earlier, the Washoe County Health District said.

While no faculty or staff were impacted at Marce Herz Middle School, according to the Washoe County School District, the exposed students had to quarantine at home and begin distance learning on Tuesday.

In a letter sent to the parents of impacted students on Tuesday night, Principal Brandon Bringhurst told parents that that if their student is fully vaccinated, parents can bring their vaccination card to school and the student can resume in person classes immediately. Students can also take a Covid-19 test on or after Aug. 14 and if they test negative and are symptom free, they can return to school on Aug. 17, he said.

According to the health district, both the parent and student tested positive for coronavirus two days before school started. The health district said the parent has refused to communicate with its staff or school officials.

“We are not seeking to invest our limited resources in bringing charges against the parent at this time,” the health district said in a statement. “We are seeking cooperation from our community members.” 

In Nevada, all staff and K-12 students must wear a face covering while inside school buildings, regardless of vaccination status, according to a state directive. 

The positivity rate for Covid-19 in Washoe County is 17% and the number of cases for children aged 0-17 increased 2.6 times between June and July, according to the Washoe County Health District.

Over 58% of residents aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated, the health district said.

5:14 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Major live music promoter will require all concertgoers and staff to show proof of vaccination

From CNN’s Sarah Moon

The Roxy in Los Angeles is one of the venues owned by AEG Presents.
The Roxy in Los Angeles is one of the venues owned by AEG Presents. (Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images/FILE)

 One of the country’s biggest concert promoters, AEG Presents, announced Thursday it will require proof of vaccination for all concertgoers and staff members to enter its clubs, theaters, and festivals by October. 

The policy, which it said will be “limited only as required by law,” comes amid a surge in coronavirus cases with the fast-spreading Delta variant combined with vaccine hesitancy, AEG Presents said in a news release.

The Los Angeles-based promoter owns and operates iconic venues and festivals across the nation, such as the New York’s Webster Hall and Brooklyn Steel, The Roxy and El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, the Coachella Music & Arts Festival, The Theatre at Resorts World Las Vegas, Firefly Music Festival, Day N Vegas, and The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, among others.

“Just a few weeks ago, we were optimistic about where our business, and country, were heading. The Delta variant, combined with vaccine hesitancy, is pushing us in the wrong direction again,” said Jay Marciano, chief operating officer of AEG and chairman and chief executive officer of AEG Presents, in a statement. “We realize that some people might look at this as a dramatic step, but it’s the right one. We also are aware that there might be some initial pushback, but I’m confident and hopeful that, at the end of the day, we will be on the right side of history and doing what’s best for artists, fans, and live event workers.”

The vaccination policy, which will go into effect no later than Oct. 1, will be open-ended, “with any changes or reversals informed by updates relating to infection rates, transmission data, variant developments, and local and federal regulations,” it said.

In the lead up to the Oct. 1 deadline, AEG Presents will require concertgoers to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of a show date. 

Face masks, where not required by law, will still be strongly encouraged at all of the company’s venues, it said. And children 12 and under, who have not yet been approved to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, will be required to show a negative test taken with the last 72 hours. 

“Our hope is that our pro-active stance encourages people to do the right thing and get vaccinated,” Marciano added. “We’ve already had to deliver bad news about JazzFest this week; I think everyone can agree that we don’t want concerts to go away again, and this is the best way to keep that from happening.”

4:57 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Wisconsin braces for possible health care system crisis as Delta variant surge looms 

From CNN's Hannah Sarisohn 

Julie Willems Van Dijk, Deputy Secretary Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Julie Willems Van Dijk, Deputy Secretary Wisconsin Department of Health Services (Wisconsin Department of Health Services)

Wisconsin’s leadership is looking at southern states struggling to contain the Delta variant as forewarning of what could become of their health care system if vaccination numbers remain stagnant. 

Julie Willems Van Dijk, Deputy Secretary in the state’s health department, warned at a news conference that Wisconsin could experience a Delta variant crisis similar to the one happening now in Florida. 

“With this surge, we’re a few weeks behind our southern states. What we're seeing happen in Florida could happen. Wisconsin has a similar vaccination rate to Florida and COVID-19 cases are reaching an all-time high in Florida, and their healthcare systems are overwhelmed,” Van Dijk said Thursday. “We find ourselves in a situation that we hoped was in the past – we risk our hospital systems being overwhelmed, again, just as they were last November.”

According to health department data, only 53% of eligible Wisconsin residents received at least one dose of the vaccine.

In data also released from the health department yesterday, there were 526 positive tests and 16,285 negative tests. The seven-day percent positive by test was 6.9%. 

Comparatively on July 11, there were 92 positive tests and 3,899 negative tests, according to the health department, and the seven-day percent positive by test was 1.6%. 

As of Aug. 10, 86.8% of the state’s hospital beds and 89.5% of ICU beds were in use. Health department data showed 27.3% of Wisconsin’s hospitals were also at peak capacity that day. 

“All 72 counties are experiencing high or very high disease activity, and our health care providers are preparing for the worst. This delta variant is no joke,” Gov. Tony Evers said.

Evers also addressed rising concerns for pediatric hospitalizations as the Delta variant adversely effects children more so than the original stain of Covid-19, which CNN has previously reported. 

There’s been increases in hospitalizations for several months among children for respiratory viruses other than Covid-19, Evers said. The governor said it’s unusual to see such surges in respiratory viruses in the summer months, which has led to fuller pediatric ICUs. 

Evers said the big concern is as Covid-19 infections increase across the board, that could very well translate to higher numbers of children being hospitalized. 

With children preparing to return to the classroom, Evers said student safety is one of the biggest priorities. He said he’s urging all schools and school districts to adapt to CDC and DHS recommendations to require students and staff to wear masks, because the youngest students can't be vaccinated. 

“It is the most important action for schools to take to provide a safe learning environment for our kids,” Evers said, though indicating he would not follow suit with California’s recent policy mandating vaccinations for all healthcare workers and school staff and faculty members.

5:18 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Tennessee dad says he was verbally assaulted after school board voted in favor of mask mandate

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

Michael Miller, father of Williamson County School District students
Michael Miller, father of Williamson County School District students (CNN)

A Tennessee father of two is still reeling after being verbally attacked following a local school board meeting.

“Every time I watch that, I'm terrified,” said Michael Miller, referencing video from Tuesday evening. In the footage, anti-masker parents revolted against Miller and others after the board voted to approve a temporary elementary school mask mandate.

"There is a bad place in hell and everybody's taking notes, buddy," came cries from the crowd, with the diatribes directed at Miller and others in masks.

“In the moment I knew it was bad,” Miller told CNN’s Victor Blackwell, noting that following the meeting he “drove the most convoluted way possible home after that.”

While the Williamson County School Board was busy inside voting to pass the mask mandate, outside a crowd stood seething and waiting.

“At eight o'clock, I noticed a sheriff's deputy enter the room in a full bulletproof vest on the outside of his shirt, and that was a sign to me that something was going wrong,” Miller said, adding that those inside “could hear the chanting... from the crowd outside.”

Miller, who works as a data analyst within the healthcare profession, said he felt fearful as he aimed to part the unruly mob and find his car.

“The crowd was located in a position between the exit door and my vehicle,” Miller said who required a police escort simply to safely leave the event. “I had to get out of there. All I wanted to do was go home to my family and my kids. I'm a parent. I'm not a doctor… I'm just a parent who wanted to have his say why masks were important for children.”

The events of the evening became so heated that video of various exchanges quickly found their way onto the internet, and ultimately caught President Biden’s attention.

“This went viral… for all the worst reasons,” Miller said. “I woke up this morning it was… [the] lead story on national news and then by lunchtime, the President is talking about it.”

On the heels of the board’s 7-3 vote in favor of the mask requirements, the mandate will remain in effect through Sept. 21. After that, the Covid-19 situation in Williamson County will be reassessed, with the mandate potentially to be extended. The events of Tuesday evening, however, will remain seared in Miller’s memory.

“The terror of that day will take time to heal. There's absolutely no question,” Miller says.

4:49 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

Boston mayor mandates Covid-19 vaccination or weekly testing for city employees 

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Boston Mayor Kim Janey
Boston Mayor Kim Janey (WCVB)

Boston Mayor Kim Janey announced that all 18,000 city employees will be required to receive a Covid-19 vaccine or submit weekly Covid-19 testing results.   

"Our purpose is to protect our employees and the public, and our work is rooted in public health guidance, and based on data, and science," the mayor said during a news conference Thursday.  

"All city employees, contractors and volunteers will be required to verify their vaccination status through a secured centralized digital portal," Janey said. 

She said the vaccine verification portal "will be designed to protect the privacy of our employees' health information."  

"If employees do not verify their status as vaccinated, they will be required to enter a new mandatory regular testing protocol, which includes submitting proof of a negative test result weekly," she continued. 

The city will phase in the new policy on Sept. 20, starting with staff who interact with "high priority residents like children in K- 12 schools and our seniors." By Oct. 18, all city employees "will be required to comply with this new mandate," Janey added. 

The mayor said she met with municipal employees and labor leaders on Wednesday to discuss the measure and they "share the goal of a healthy workforce." 

To date, nearly 68% of Boston residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, she said.