The U.S. continues to grapple with a worsening surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as the spread of the delta variant among the unvaccinated remains the most pressing concern in the nation’s pandemic response.
A new report in The Wall Street Journal found that a record number of adults in their 30s are being hospitalized with COVID-19 infections. To be specific, this means the rate that people between the ages of 30 and 39 years who are being admitted to the hospital is now 2.5 per 100,000 people.
At the same time, some major U.S. cities are moving forward with plans that limit indoor socializing in public settings to people who are vaccinated as part of an effort to curb the spread of the virus among those who are unvaccinated.
Starting Monday, New Orleans is requiring vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to visit bars, restaurants, gyms and stadiums. The city is reporting a record number of cases, with about 5,800 people testing positive every day.
New York City’s aggressive new rules, which will require proof of at least one vaccine dose to enter bars, restaurants, and outdoor festivals, are set to go into effect on Tuesday, while San Francisco’s new vaccination rules for restaurants, venues, and gyms are expected to land on Friday.
Here’s what the numbers say
The seven-day moving average is 119,523 cases per day and 544 deaths per day, as of Aug. 13, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This tracks with the same number of new daily cases we were seeing in mid-November and early February, and it means that the daily average number of cases in the U.S. is at a six-month high. (The average number of deaths in the U.S. is still far below the number of deaths being reported earlier this year, likely due to the vaccines’ ability to largely prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death even if some people who are vaccinated are getting sick with breakthrough infections.)
About 168 million people in the U.S., or 50.7% of the total population, are now fully vaccinated, as of Aug. 15. Nearly 60% of the people who qualify for the vaccine have received at least one shot.
What other COVID-19 news are people talking about?
1. There’s the big booster question: Now that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized an extra dose of either the Pfizer Inc.
or the Moderna Inc.
vaccines for some people with weakened immune systems, others are asking: Will I need an extra shot, too?
The short answer is: Not yet. The FDA’s language is straightforward, in that the updated authorizations announced last week only apply to those individuals who are immunocompromised, which includes organ transplant patients, people with advanced HIV, and those undergoing chemotherapy.
However, this hasn’t stopped some public health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, from saying booster shots may be coming—just not right now.
“Right now, we’re not saying they do,” Fauci told “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “We’re looking at it on a daily and weekly basis in cohorts not only in the United States, but in other countries to determine if, when and to whom we should be giving this.”
2. Tensions are high as COVID-19 cases in children rise and the school year looms. As schools across the country prepare or are already bringing students back into the classroom, tensions about masks, vaccination status, and COVID-19 precautions are at a high.
Anxiety is mounting in Florida’s Broward County, where a teachers union said two unvaccinated teachers and an unvaccinated teaching assistant died from COVID-19 over a two-day period. School is expected to begin on Wednesday. The head of the union over the weekend told NPR that Gov. Ron DeSantis is “interfering” with safety protocols for schools by saying he will withhold pay from district officials who bypass a state ban on mask mandates and allow masks to be worn in schools.
At the same time, the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 infections hit an all-time high, with more than 1,900 kids in the hospital, as of Saturday, according to Reuters.
“This is a critical question: Is the delta variant more dangerous in kids and that’s what’s driving these hospitalizations or is it just that many kids are getting infected right now?” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner and Pfizer board member, said on CBNC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.