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California Coronavirus Updates: Southern Nevada Officials Advise Mask-Wearing As COVID-19 ...

California Coronavirus Updates: Southern Nevada Officials Advise Mask-Wearing As COVID-19 ...

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Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.

Latest Updates

Southern Nevada officials advise mask-wearing as COVID-19 cases rise

Amazon to stop testing warehouse employees for COVID-19 by end of July

Olympic athletes test positive for COVID-19

California STD cases dropped during the pandemic, but advocates say more testing is needed

More counties are asking everyone to mask up when they’re indoors

COVID-19 By The Numbers

Tuesday, July 20

10:19 a.m.: Southern Nevada officials advise mask-wearing as COVID-19 cases rise

Masks are back in Las Vegas, where a rising number of coronavirus cases has health officials advising everyone — vaccinated or not — to wear facial coverings in crowds and indoor places.

The recommendation Friday from the Southern Nevada Health District affects casinos, concerts, clubs and supermarkets. However, the masks are not a requirement.

It follows a call this week by the top public health official in Los Angeles for Californians to reconsider traveling to Nevada until COVID-19 case numbers decrease.

Nevada health officials reported 938 new cases on Thursday — the biggest one-day case jump for the state since February. The number of new cases reported Friday was 866.

10:11 a.m.: Amazon to stop testing warehouse employees for COVID-19 by end of July

Amazon said it will stop testing its workers for COVID-19 at its warehouses by the end of July, citing the availability of vaccines and free testing.

According to the Associated Press, the company began testing warehouse workers last year when tests were difficult to find for the average American. Warehouse workers, who were considered essential, went to work to pack and ship orders throughout the pandemic.

In May, the online shopping giant said fully vaccinated warehouse workers could stop wearing face masks inside its facilities as long as the employee uploads a photo of their vaccine cards to an Amazon worker app.

9:54 a.m.: Olympic athletes test positive for COVID-19

Two South African soccer players have become the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

Other cases connected to the Tokyo Games were also confirmed Sunday to highlight the herculean task organizers face to keep the virus contained while the world’s biggest sports event plays out.

The positive tests came as some of the expected 11,000 athletes and thousands more team officials from across the globe began arriving in the village in Tokyo.

The Olympic Games open on Friday.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said there was “zero” risk of athletes passing the virus to the Japanese populace or other village residents — but it seems that his bold statement is just starting to get tested.

Monday, July 19

6:00 p.m.: California STD cases dropped during the pandemic, but advocates say more testing is needed

Between the first six months of 2019 and the first six months of 2020, California’s chlamydia cases dropped 31% and gonorrhea cases dipped 13%, according to a new study from the California Department of Public Health

But health advocates worry that sexually transmitted infections are still rampant — they’re just not being tracked.

“The numbers we might see don’t tell the full story,” said Amy Moy of nonprofit group Essential Access Health. “There’s been a huge gap in STI testing. Also during the pandemic, city and county health departments that were conducting STI prevention activities had to really shift.”

The state health department study found that 78% of health departments surveyed had to reassign at least half of their workforce to COVID-19 by the fall of 2020.

They also found the largest declines in STI case reporting were among Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Black residents.

Onyenma Obiekea, a program coordinator with Los Angeles-based nonprofit Black Women for Wellness, says the high rates of congenital syphilis among African American mothers illustrates the need for affordable screening.

“We are concerned that the pandemic has exacerbated the issues Black women face when it comes to access,” Obiekea wrote in an email. “The CDC identified lack of access to healthcare, lack of access to economic mobility and incarceration as some contributing factors to high STI rates, and we know that the pandemic has certainly had deleterious effects on these factors, particularly for Black women.”

Moy says the pandemic has exacerbated the need for more screening and prevention programs. Her organization is pushing a bill to mandate that Medi-Cal and commercial plans cover at-home STI test kits. 

5:51 p.m.: More counties are asking everyone to mask up when they’re indoors 

Mask-wearing isn’t required for vaccinated people under California’s COVID-19 guidelines. But more and more counties are asking everyone to cover up when they’re indoors because of the spread of the delta variant of the virus.

UC Merced Virology Professor Juris says that’s a good call. 

“The virus wasn’t gone, so there are still infection rates going up and we have this new variant,” Juris said. “So now it’s a matter of how we mitigate that situation.”

He says since children can’t be immunized right now, we all have a part to play in preventing public spread. That means masking up anywhere there might be unvaccinated people—like bars, restaurants, stores, or doctors’ offices.

The state says it doesn’t plan to change the current guidance. Instead, they’re putting it in the counties’ hands to make stricter policies.

5:20 p.m.: San Joaquin County falls short in response to pandemic, says Grand Jury report

San Joaquin County’s response to the pandemic fell woefully short according to a new Grand Jury report. Organization and policy issues were the main problems.

The Grand Jury commended the county employees who worked tirelessly to contain the virus.

However, the 15-page report found that there was a lack of training for employees pressed into the roles of disaster service workers.

Jury Foreman Gary Cooper says the pandemic response was hampered by the leadership at the top resulting in departments working independently and not coordinating their efforts.

“The inability of the different departments to work together definitely could have contributed to the lack of the vaccine being readily available to those who need it most,” Cooper said. 

County departments named in the report include the Office of Emergency Services, Public Health Services, and the Board of Supervisors among others.

Tiffany Heyer with Emergency Services says all are studying the report.

“All of the county departments take the investigation seriously and we always endeavor to provide the best service to the community and our partners at all times,” Heyer said. 

Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Patti admits to some disconnection among departments early on but says the county identified the problems prior to the vaccine’s arrival.

“When the supply came in, we were ready for almost 40,000 vaccinations a week,” Patti said. “So, I really don’t know that it was fair to say that this county above others was lacking or missing something.”

The Board has 90 days to respond in writing to the findings and recommendations made by the grand jury.

11:20 a.m.: US Surgeon General worried over pandemic worsening

The U.S. surgeon general says he’s worried about what lies ahead with cases of COVID-19 increasing in every state, the millions that are still unvaccinated, and the highly contagious delta variant spreading rapidly.

Dr. Vivek Murthy painted an unsettling picture of the future during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union" on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. cases of COVID-19 increased last week by 17,000 nationwide over a 14-day period for the first time since late fall, and an increase in death historically follows a spike in illness. Murthy says much of the worsening problem is being driven by the delta variant first identified in India.

11:15 a.m.: CDC rules will remain in place for cruise ships

Pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships will remain in place after a federal appeals court temporarily blocked a previous ruling that sided with a Florida lawsuit challenging the regulations.

According to the Associated Press, the one-paragraph decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was filed at 11:50 p.m. on Saturday, just minutes before a Tampa judge’s previous ruling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention restrictions was to take effect.

The judges’ issuance of a temporary stay keeps the CDC regulations on the state’s cruise ships in place while the CDC appeals the Tampa judge’s June decision. The Florida lawsuit claims the CDC’s multiple-step process to allow cruising from Florida is overly burdensome.

However, the CDC said keeping the rules in place would prevent future COVID-19 outbreaks on ships. The people traveling on cruises are especially vulnerable to the spread of the virus because of their close quarters and frequent stops at international ports.

“The undisputed evidence shows that unregulated cruise ship operations would exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, and that the harm to the public would result from such operations cannot be undone,” the CDC said in a court filing.

11:11 a.m.: Japan readies for Olympic Games unlike any other in history

Tens of thousands of visiting athletes, officials and media are descending on Japan for a Summer Olympics unlike any other.

According to the Associated Press, there will be no foreign fans and no local fans in Tokyo-area venuses. A COVID-19 case surge has led to yet another state of emergency, while a local vaccination campaign is struggling to keep up.

As athletes and their entourages arrive, they’ll be confined to a bubble. Government minders and GPS will try to track visitor’s every move.

Booze will be curtailed or banned, and through it all, there will be the inescapable knowledge of the suffering COVID has brought to the country and around the world. It just may all add up to an utterly surreal Olympics.

Sunday, July 18

11:15 a.m.: First person tests positive for COVID-19 at the Olympic Village in Tokyo

The first person has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Olympic Village one week before the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. 

So far, 44 people affiliated with the Games have tested positive since the beginning of July. 

Cases of the virus are at a half-year high in Tokyo. Polling has found that the majority of residents oppose hosting the Games. 

Read more here.

Saturday, July 17

1:35 p.m.: Many health experts say wearing a mask in public again could be a smart move

The delta variant of the coronavirus appears to be about 225% more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2 strains. 

Many health experts say it would be wise to wear masks again in public. 

"Everyone makes their own risk assessment,” says Helen Chu, associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington. “It would be prudent to start doing indoor masking again, particularly as we head into fall.”

Los Angeles County has announced it will reimplement an indoor mask mandate — including for people who are fully vaccinated.

Read more here.

Friday, July 16

11:23 a.m.: California asking people to fish less in certain rivers

California’s drought conditions and a boom in fishing during the pandemic has compelled state wildlife managers to ask people to change the way they fish in certain waters this summer.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking people not to fish after 12 p.m. in eight different rivers and lakes throughout the state.

Public Information Officer Peter Tira says the fish are vulnerable because of low water levels during the drought.

“They’re at a risk of dying, given the additional stress in warm water, so even if the angler is well-intentioned and doesn’t want to eat what he catches and plans to release his fish unharmed, that can be a fatal practice,” Tira said.

The state is asking anglers to adhere to the voluntary restrictions in the Truckee River near Lake Tahoe, as well as parts of the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

Nearly 2 million fishing licenses were sold in California last year, which is a notable increase over the year before the pandemic. Interest in fishing also appears to be increasing this year.

10:22 a.m.: CDC leader says the US is in a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director says the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. is becoming a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

According to the Associated Press, during a White House briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said cases in the U.S. are up about 70% over the last week, hospital admissions are up 36% and deaths rose by 26%. Nearly all hospital admissions and deaths, she said, are among the unvaccinated.

White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients echoed that the pandemic is “one that predominantly threatens unvaccinated people.”

He says the Biden administration expects cases to increase in the weeks ahead because of community spread in areas of low vaccination rates. Four states accounted for 40% of new cases last week, with one in five coming from Florida.

But Zients says there are signs that increased cases are driving more people in those communities to seek vaccination at rates faster than the national average.

10:05 a.m.: Stock market up, but investors fear it may drop as monetary assistance ends

With the U.S. economy humming, corporate profits flowing, and stock prices peaking, investors on Wall Street are posing an anxious question — is it all downhill from here?

Financial markets are trying to set prices now for where the economy and corporate profits are likely to be in the future. However, according to the Associated Press, even though readings across the economy are still at eye-popping levels, investors see some areas of concern.

New variants of the coronavirus are threatening to weaken economies around the world. Inflation is raging as supplies of goods and components fall short of surging demand. Plus, the beginning of the end of the Federal Reserve’s assistance for markets is coming into sight.

Thursday, July 15

10:48 a.m.: Sacramento County Says Wear A Mask Indoors, Even If You’re Vaccinated

In response to a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, Sacramento County is strongly recommending that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, return to wearing masks in most indoor settings.

The county is recommending mask-wearing in public places such as grocery stores and restaurants, or in any setting where immunization status isn’t being verified. In settings where vaccination verification is required, such as workplaces, vaccinated individuals can go unmasked.

County public health officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said Thursday that the biggest concern is around the delta variant spreading between unimmunized individuals, and that the ‘hot spots’ for new cases are in areas of the county that have the lowest vaccination rates. Officials are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

As of Thursday, Sacramento’s COVID-19 case rate is 10.4 per 100,000 people, up from 8 per 100,000 earlier this week. It was just 3.8 per 100,000 on June 20, according to the county.

The new rate is more than double the statewide case rate of 4.3 per 100,000. Sacramento has one of the highest case rates in California, according to state data.

Kasirye says it is possible for people who are immunized to contract COVID-19 and spread it to others, and that masking indoors can help prevent spread between both immunized and unimmunized people.

10:02 a.m.: WHO chief says ruling out COVID-19 lab leak was ‘premature’

The head of the World Health Organization has acknowledged it was premature to rule out a potential link between the COVID-19 pandemic and a laboratory leak.

According to the Associated Press, in a departure from his usual deference to powerful member countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that getting access to raw data had been a challenge for the team that traveled to China earlier this year to investigate the source of the outbreak.

Tedros said there had been a “premature push” to rule out the theory that the virus might have escaped from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan. His statement undermines a WHO report which concluded that a laboratory leak was “extremely unlikely.”

9:48 a.m.: COVID-19 pandemic made it more difficult for pregnant women to get into drug rehab programs

There’s a growing movement to get help for pregnant women struggling to stop using drugs rather than remove their children from their care.

But specialized rehab programs are a rarity because many treatment options consider pregnancy to be high risk. According to the Associated Press, experts fear that even more limitations during the coronavirus pandemic will stifle progress being made to reduce the number of babies exposed to drugs.

The Associated Press sought the number of drug-exposed babies in all 50 states between 2018 and 2020 to assess the pandemic’s toll on families and found most child welfare agencies are only beginning to grasp how pregnant women are increasingly struggling with drug use much like other Americans.

Wednesday, July 14

7:00 pm: Yolo County recommends wearing masks indoors

Yolo County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson is asking people to wear masks indoors, including some who are fully vaccinated. 

Sacramento County and a handful of others in California, including Sutter and Yuba, currently have higher rates of COVID-19 cases than the rest of the state. The highly contagious delta variant is contributing to that trend.

The delta variant represents 76% of the cases in Yolo County right now. Sisson said those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are highly protected, but that the "vaccines aren't perfect," leading to the new guidelines. Still, she said “the best protection that anybody can have against COVID-19, including the delta variant, is to get vaccinated.”

She recommends that even fully vaccinated people wear masks when they’re indoors — specifically in settings where vaccine status isn’t being verified, and for those 65 and older or those who might be immunocompromised.

“When I go to the grocery store, for example … it's self attestation as to vaccination status and and we know that not everybody will be entirely honest and that there are unvaccinated people who are unmasked in that setting,” she said.

5:27 p.m.: LA County reports fifth straight day of more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases

Los Angeles County is reporting the fifth straight day of more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases.

Health officials warn the especially contagious delta variant of the disease continues to spread rapidly among California's unvaccinated population.

The state reported more than 3,200 COVID-19 cases—the highest one-day total since early March.

LA County is where a quarter of California's population lives.

Officials there say the five-day average number of cases has seen a jump of more than 500% in just one month.

10:20 a.m.: US overdose deaths hit record high of 93,000 during pandemic

Overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Associated Press. 

The government estimate recently released eclipses the 72,000 drug overdose deaths in 2019 and amounts to a 29% increase. Experts say lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions isolated those with drug addictions and made treatment harder to get. 

Prescription painkillers once drove the opioid epidemic in the U.S., but now it’s fentanyl, a dangerously overpowered opioid.

Overdose deaths in 2020 are just one facet of what was overall the deadliest year in U.S. history, with about 378,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 last year.

10:01 a.m.: Will fully-vaccinated people need booster shots? Experts think not — at least, not yet.

Experts around the globe are watching closely to determine if and when people might need a COVID-19 booster shot, according to the Associated Press.

But for now, U.S. authorities say that fully vaccinated people remain well protected. Many experts suggest that the current priority should be getting more people vaccinated, not getting booster shots to already vaccinated people. The WHO director recently said that rich countries should donate their extra vaccines and that hoarding them is due to greed.

Experts are doubling down on the idea of getting unvaccinated people to roll up their sleeves, noting that worrisome coronavirus variants, like delta, wouldn’t be popping up so quickly if the U.S. and the rest of the world had gotten their initial round of shots.

9:48 a.m.: COVID-19 cases jumping after Fourth of July festivities

New COVID-19 cases per day in the U.S. have doubled over the past three weeks, driven by the fast-spreading delta variant, lagging vaccination rates and Fourth of July gatherings. 

According to the Associated Press, infections jumped to an average of about 23,600 a day on Monday, up from 11,300 on June 23. 

"It is certainly no coincidence that we are looking at exactly the time that we would expect cases to be occurring after the July Fourth weekend," said Dr. Bill Powderly, co-director of the infectious-disease division at Washington University's School of Medicine in St. Louis.

All but two states — Maine and South Dakota — reported that case numbers have risen over the past two weeks. Some parts of the country are running up against deep vaccine resistance. California is recording around 3,000 cases a day over the past week, far below this past winter's peak but a stark increase over recent weeks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nationally, 55.6% of all Americans have received at least one COVID-19 shot. The five states with the most significant two-week jump in cases per capita all had lower vaccination rates: Missouri, 45.9%; Arkansas, 43%; Nevada, 50.9%; Louisiana, 39.2%; and Utah, 49.5%.

In California, 62.7% of residents have gotten at least one vaccine, while 51.2% are fully vaccinated. It's predicted that about 70% of the state population should be vaccinated by Jan. 2022. Nationwide, it's expected to be by March 2022.

Tuesday, July 13

5:20 p.m.: California Labor Secretary Julie Sue confirmed as new deputy secretary of federal Labor Department 

​​The U.S. Senate has confirmed former California Labor Secretary Julie Su as the new deputy secretary of the federal Labor Department. The vote was along party lines.

Su was heavily criticized by Republicans and business groups for her role in overseeing the state's Employment Development Department during the pandemic and for being a strong proponent of a controversial employment law, AB-5.

An audit showed the state has paid out billions of dollars in fraudulent unemployment claims. EDD has also faced criticism over the huge backlog in unpaid claims and for long wait times for callers.

10:08 a.m.: California’s latest public school mask ruling causes some controversy

California’s new coronavirus rules for public schools eliminate physical distancing and make sure students won’t miss class time even if they’re exposed to someone with the virus.

However, according to the Associated Press, the state says it will still require everyone to mask up indoors. The state promised to review and possibly change this rule by Nov. 1.

But the move has still angered some parents. Reopen California Schools founder Jonathan Zacherson says his group is preparing to sue the state over the new rules.

On the flip side, University of California-San Francisco infectious disease doctor and professor of medicine Dr. Monica Gandhi says the new state rules are reasonable.

9:57 a.m.: FDA adds warning about rare reaction to Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

U.S. regulators added a new warning to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine about links to a rare and potentially dangerous neurological reaction, according to the Associated Press.

The announcement said it’s not entirely clear the shot caused the problem. Regulators have also said that there’s been reports of 100 people who got the shot and developed an immune system disorder that can cause muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis.

The report represents a tiny fraction of the 13 million Americans who have received the one-dose vaccine. Other U.S. approved and made vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna show no risk of the disorder.

9:44 a.m.: Experts think summer camp COVID-19 outbreaks could preview upcoming school year

The U.S. has seen a string of COVID-19 outbreaks tied to summer camps in recent weeks.

States like Texas, Illinois, Florida, Missouri, and Kansas are offering what some fear could be a preview of the upcoming school year.

According to the Associated Press, the clusters have come as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reversed course, surging more than 60% over the past two weeks from an average of about 12,000 a day to about 19,500.

The rise in many places has been blamed on too many unvaccinated people and the highly contagious delta variant.

Monday, July 12

5:36 p.m.: Not everyone has embraced Sacramento’s “Safe and Active Streets” program 

Like many cities around the world, Sacramento used the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink how its streets are utilized. In addition to outdoor dining taking over roads and sidewalks, the city launched a “Safe and Active Streets” pilot program.

Transportation Planning Manager Jennifer Donlon Wyant admits not everyone has embraced the program.

“I hope that we planted a seed for folks to think about their neighborhoods, think  about how they want to move around, particularly in this time of climate change,” she said. “We all can continue to drive all the time.

Tom Harrington, a resident of Tahoe Park, says he was confused by the signage and the streets selected for the program.

“The one block from the park with easy access,” he said. “The other street borders the park.” 

Whether you like the slow streets program or hate it there is still time to offer your feedback by visiting the City of Sacramento’s website.

5:30 p.m.: San Joaquin Delta College offering rewards for student vaccinations 

Many colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated for COVID before they can return to campus. San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton was among them, but it’s now dropping that mandate in favor of rewards.

Alex Breitler with Delta says students who get the vaccine will be offered a number of incentives including free textbooks saving them hundreds of dollars.

“In addition to the free textbooks for vaccinated students, we’re offering free parking, free loaner laptops, and hotspots,” said Breitler. “We’re trying to support students as much as we can and be as flexible as possible.” 

Vaccinations on campus will be offered this month. Delta still plans to use social distancing and masks on campus. 

About 26,000 students attend Delta College. This fall students will have the option of attending classes in person or continuing with online instruction.

10:40 a.m.: Pharma giant Pfizer to discuss booster shots with US health officials

Pfizer says it plans to meet with top U.S. health officials to discuss the drugmaker’s request for federal authorization of a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Associated Press.

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser acknowledges “it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely” that booster shots will be needed in the coming months. Last week, Pfizer assured booster shots would be needed within 12 months.

This has drawn a rebuttal from U.S. health officials who’ve said that booster shots were not needed “at this time.” While Dr. Anthony Fauci isn’t ruling out the possibility, he says it’s too soon for the government to recommend another shot.

10:30 a.m.: WHO says rich countries should donate vaccines, booster shots

Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that an additional dose post-full vaccination is needed.

According to the Associated Press, the WHO appealed on Monday for the scarce shots to be shared with developing countries who have yet to immunize their people instead of being used by rich countries as boosters.

At a press briefing, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world’s grotesque vaccine disparity was driven by greed. He called on drugmakers to prioritize supplying their COVId-19 vaccines to less wealthy countries instead of lobbying rich countries to use even more doses as boosters.

Sunday, July 11

11:34 a.m.: COVID cases are rising in many states

More than half the states have seen COVID-19 cases rise in the past two weeks.

18 states have higher cases now than four weeks ago; In Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma new daily cases have doubled.

The number of people getting hospitalized for the virus has also started rising again in nine states: Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin and Mississippi.

Read more here.

Saturday, July 10

12:04 p.m.: Bad translations and more are blocking access to state rent relief funds

California’s rent relief program has delivered assistance to only several thousand so far—even though hundreds of thousands of households fell behind on rent during the pandemic.

Housing advocates say issues include tenants with limited English abilities.

Online applications are available in Asian languages, but they have been translated from English using Google Translate, which can be unreliable.

For example, the Chinese translation for the “return” button on the website read as “Go back to your country applicant.”

Read more here. 

Friday, July 9

10:24 a.m.: Delta now the dominant coronavirus variant in the US

The highly contagious delta variant now accounts for more than 51% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to new estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The variant, also known as B.1.617.2, was first detected in India and is spreading quickly across the globe.

In parts of the U.S., the delta strain accounts for more than 80% of new infections, including some Midwestern states like Missouri, Kansas and Iowa.

The delta variant is already causing 74.3% of infections in Western states, including Utah and Colorado, and 58.8% of infections in Southern states like Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and more.

The good news is that the vaccines being used in the U.S. all appear to be highly effective at protecting against severe disease, hospitalization and death by the delta variant. However, public health officials are still concerned and are encouraging the roughly 140 million to 150 million people who remain unvaccinated to get their shots.

10:21 a.m.: CDC says vaccinated teachers, students don’t need masks in school buildings

U.S. health officials say vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings, according to the Associated Press.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new guidelines on Friday. These changes come after a growing national vaccination campaign in which children as young as 12 are eligible to get shots, as well as a general decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

The guidance generally leaves it to local officials to determine how to ensure the unvaccinated are using precautions while letting those who are fully immunized go mask-free. The biggest questions will be at middle schools where some students are eligible for shots and others aren’t yet.

9:45 a.m.: Pandemic garbage overflow has people questioning waste-to-energy processing

As people hunkered down at home during the pandemic, households produced up to 25% more trash than usual. The U.S. still remains awash in refuse, even as COVID-19 cases decline and the economy slowly rolls back, according to the Associated Press.

All of this garbage has people questioning the sustainability of waste-to-energy processing plans. They make up only about half a percent of the electricity generated in the country, but they have long sparked opposition from environmentalists and local residents who decry the facilities as polluters and eyesores.

Members of the industry say they see the increase in garbage production in recent months as a chance to play a bigger role in creating energy and fighting climate change.

President Joe Biden has put a premium on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and creating more renewable energy. And while that push has focused on wind and solar power, the administration has also acknowledged a place for waste-to-energy conversion.

However, any attempt to build more plants in the U.S. will be met with resistance, says Energy Justice Network Director Mike Ewall. He said the plants represent a threat to human and environmental health because they emit chemicals such as mercury and dioxin. Communities have also opposed waste-to-energy plants because of concerns about airborne particulate matter that can have negative health consequences.

Thursday, July 8

10:44 a.m.: Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 4 million

The death toll from COVID-19 has eclipsed 4 million as the crisis increasingly becomes a race between the vaccine and the highly contagious delta variant, according to the Associated Press.

That’s three times the number of people killed in traffic accidents every year and is about equal to the population of Los Angeles.

Even then, it’s widely believed to be an undercount because of overlooked cases of deliberate concealment. In recent weeks, the delta variant first identified in India has set off alarms.

The tally was reported on Wednesday by Johns Hopkins University.

10:16 a.m.: Do I need to take precautions at hotels if I’m vaccinated? Health experts say it’s not really needed.

Most fully vaccinated people won’t need to take special precautions at hotels, but what you’re comfortable with will depend on your situation.

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccinated people can resume indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or social distancing. However, people with health issues should talk to their doctors about the need for keeping up precautions like wearing a mask.

Others might not be letting their guards down yet if they’re traveling with children who aren’t yet vaccinated. The guidance could vary by country, too, depending on local vaccination infection rates.

9:14 a.m.: Tokyo Olympics will no longer have fans

Fans are banned from the Tokyo Olympics following a state of emergency to contain rising COVID-19 infections in Japan’s capital.

According to the Associated Press, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the emergency, and the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers followed by banning fans from the Olympics.

Fans from abroad were banned months ago. These new measures will instead clear venues all around Tokyo of any fans attending the games at all.

The emergency declaration made for a rude arrival in Japan for IOC President Thomas Bach, who landed in Tokyo on Thursday just hours before the new measures were announced. He is to spend three days in self-isolation at the five-star hotel that lodges IOC members.

Wednesday, July 7

10:08 a.m.: Las Vegas bounces back, but COVID-19 bounces back too

Fifteen months after the pandemic transformed Las Vegas from flashy spectacle to ghost town, Sin City is back in action.

Tourists are streaming in again, and gambling revenue has hit an all-time high. Plexiglass panels installed to separate gamblers at the poker and blackjack tables have been largely removed, the world-famous buffets are reopening and nightclub dance floors are packed.

But, according to the Associated Press, that progress is under threat — Nevada saw the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases nationally this week. The spike is adding urgency to the campaign to get more people vaccinated.

Still, in a place where the economy runs on crowds and uninhibited behavior, a return to pandemic-related restrictions and mask requirements seems to be off the table. Inside casinos, guests are not required to wear masks if they’re fully vaccinated, but employers don’t appear to be asking visitors for proof.

Las Vegas fully reopened and lifted restrictions on most businesses on June 1, though many casino resorts had already returned to 100% capacity before that with approval from state regulators. While not at their pre-pandemic highs, visitor numbers have grown by double digits four months in a row.

9:32 a.m.: As the economy reopens, clothing purges, thrifting surges

A wardrobe purge is on for some as vaccinations have taken hold, restrictions have lifted and offices reopen or finalize plans to do so.

According to the Associated Press, the main beneficiaries are secondhand clothing marketplaces and brick-and-mortar donation spots. This latest purge continues a trend that’s been building for the last several years.

The second hand clothing business is expected to more than double from $36 billion to $77 billion in 2025, according to a recent report commissioned by second hand marketplace ThredUP and research firm GlobalData.

The growth is driven by an influx of new sellers putting high-quality clothing into the market. Even before COVID, buying and selling second hand clothing was popular, but the pandemic made thrifting even more appealing.

The post-pandemic shopper is more environmentally conscious and is showing a greater appetite for clothes that have good resale value, rather than disposable fast fashion, according to ThredUP co-founder and CEO James Reinhart.

Tuesday, July 6

10:07 a.m.: Biden says US may be ‘coming back together,’ but that COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet

President Joe Biden celebrated the second July Fourth holiday of the coronavirus pandemic by declaring that “America is coming back together,” according to the Associated Press.

Service members and first responders were among more than 1,000 guests at a White House event on Sunday, marking the nation’s founding. Biden highlighted the success of the vaccination campaign he has championed but also warned that the fight against COVID-19 isn’t over.

To the millions yet to be vaccinated, the president said getting your shots “is the most patriotic thing you can do.” More than 200 Americans still die each day from COVID-19, and the more infectious variant of the virus, the delta variant, is spreading rapidly through the nation and globally.

9:44 a.m.: Airlines hint at difficult summer for travelers

If you’re planning to fly this summer, you may want to bring plenty of patience.

According to the Associated Press, airlines are already struggling to keep up with the rising number of Americans flying, as passengers are at a pandemic-era high.

Travelers are posting pictures of crowded airports, recounting horror stories about long delays and more. The industry is quickly bouncing back after claiming to struggle from the pandemic, despite receiving $25 billion in federal aid through the CARES Act, then promptly laying off thousands of workers.

Now the industry is struggling with the lack of pilots and flight attendants. At the same time, just under 2.2 million travelers were screened at U.S. airports on Friday, the highest number since early March 2020.

Southwest Airlines, in particular, has struggled with thousands of delays and hundreds of canceled flights in the past three weeks because of computer problems, staffing shortages and bad weather. According to the pilots' union, American Airlines is also grappling with a surge in delays and has trimmed its schedule through mid-July at least in part because it doesn’t have enough pilots.

9:14 a.m.: Tokyo Olympics facing mounting pressure from hosting games during pandemic

The pressure of hosting an Olympics during a pandemic is becoming evident in Japan. According to the Associated Press, the games will begin July 23, by the sheer determination of the organizers, even with no spectators attending.

While Japan has made remarkable progress in vaccinating its population against CVOID-19, the drive is losing steam because of supply shortages. Tens of thousands of visitors are coming to a country that's only 13.8% fully vaccinated.

Gaps in border controls have also emerged, highlighted by two Ugandan team members who've tested positive for the contagious delta variant. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says the country "must stay on high alert."

Saturday, July 3

1:02 p.m.: Over half of California’s population fully vaccinated for COVID-19 

50.1% of California is fully vaccinated and 60.7% have at least one dose. 

More than 328 million doses have been administered in the United States since vaccine distribution began on Dec. 14

Read more here.

Friday, July 2

5:02 p.m.: COVID-19 mutual aid groups continue to serve in Nevada

As public officials in Nevada struggled to deal with the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, mutual aid efforts popped up around the state. 

Jennifer Elliott runs a food bank out of her house north of Reno, called the Sun Valley Karma Porch. 

She says she started helping feed her community before COVID-19 arrived, but when it did, she got busier than ever.

"I don’t keep numbers. I could just say that we handed out like, a couple hundred thousand pounds of food over the last couple years. The numbers are just inconceivable for me," Elliott said.

Elliott says even though the state has reopened and people are back at work, many of her neighbors are still experiencing food insecurity.

9:45 a.m.: US Airports may see over 3 million travelers this holiday weekend

With the country partially reopened, many people are expected to travel and gather for cookouts and family reunions over the Fourth of July weekend in numbers not seen since pre-pandemic days.

According to the Associated Press, well over 3 million people could pass through the nation’s airports this weekend. However, some lingering restrictions combined with worker shortages and still significant numbers of unvaccinated people may mean that travelers still need to be diligent.

There are fears that the mixing of vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans at a time when the highly contagious delta variant is spreading rapidly in the U.S. could undo some of the progress made against the deadly virus.

While airlines are expecting a banner holiday this weekend, they’ve been struggling to get enough staffing to fly their planes and keep the millions of travelers passing through airports flowing. Pools and beaches have also been experiencing worker shortages, and many restaurants and bars in tourist destinations have had to scale back hours due to a lack of employees.

President Joe Biden has welcomed the July 4 holiday as a historic moment in the nation’s recovery from a crisis that has killed over 600,000 Americans. He plans to host more than 1,000 people at the White House — including  first responders, essential workers, and troops — for a cookout and fireworks celebration to what the administration calls a “summer of freedom.”

The U.S. is averaging about 12,000 new cases and 250 deaths a day thanks to vaccines that have been administered to two-thirds of the nation’s adults. But that’s still short of the goal of 70% vaccination by July 4 that Biden set. Vaccine hesitancy remains stubborn, especially in the Deep South and West, allowing the delta variant to spread throughout the country.

9:39 a.m.: U.S. employers added 850,000 jobs in June

America’s employers added 850,000 jobs in June, well above the average of the previous three months. This may be a sign that companies may be having an easier time finding enough workers to fill open positions.

According to the Associated Press, the latest report from the Labor Department was the latest sign that the reopening of the economy is propelling a powerful rebound from the pandemic recession.

Restaurant traffic across the country is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, and more people are shopping, traveling and attending sports and other entertainment events. The number of people flying each day has regained about 80% of its pre-COVID-19 levels.

9:17 a.m.: Some fans? No Fans? Tokyo Olympic committee still deciding three weeks before the games start.

The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee president has repeated that banning fans from venues is still an option, with the games opening in just three weeks.

According to the Associated Press, this would be a reversal of a decision spelled out 10 days ago by organizers to allow a limited number of local fans. Previously, fans from abroad were banned months ago.

The possible change of direction is being forced by rising new infections in Tokyo and the appearance of the rapidly spreading delta variant. The Olympics are set to open on July 23. The decision on fans is expected to be announced next week.

The government’s top COVID-19 advisor, Dr. Shigeru Omi, said the safest option is to hold the games without any fans.

Thursday, July 1

1:41 p.m.: Many workers laid off early in pandemic never found work in 2020, report says

A new study from the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley is sharpening the picture of the economic damage to workers and their families caused by the pandemic.

Around 40% of those who filed for unemployment compensation in the second quarter of 2020 earned no income for the remainder of the year. That 40% represents 800,000 California workers who lost their jobs as the pandemic and stay-at-home orders hit and — at least during calendar 2020 — never got them back, nor did they get new jobs.

“Of the about 60% who did earn income in those last two quarters, the majority of them had been recalled to their prior employer," said TJ Hedin, a co-author of the report.

CPL’s report also discovered an anomaly that’s causing weekly first-time unemployment numbers to appear 66% higher than they actually are.

“They’re being triggered in situations where people might be late to certify for benefits, or they’re being denied payments for multiple weeks in a row," Hedin said. "So that some people are having maybe five, six, seven additional claims,  but they’re not actually fluctuating in and out of the unemployment system.”

This means, Hedin said, the employment situation is more stable now than first-time claim numbers indicate.

1:34 p.m.: Anti-Asian hate crimes increased 107% in California last year

The state Justice Department says hate crimes in California are at a 10-year high in 2020, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Wednesday.

There was a 31% annual increase of overall hate crimes. Anti-Black bias events were up by 87%, and anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 107%.

"We're in a full-on state of crisis, state of emergency when it comes to hate crimes and hate violence," Bonta said.

Bonta says the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes can be attributed to harmful rhetoric from public figures trying to connect the Asian community with COVID-19. The Newsom administration is proposing an investment of $300 million to support survivors of hate crimes and to help fund community-based responses to violence.

"The highest number of anti-Asian hate crime events reported to our office occurred in March and April of last year just as we were going into shelter in place and we were in the very beginnings of a long struggle with the pandemic," he said.

Find older coronavirus updates on our previous blog page here.


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