HOUSTON — The latest wave of coronavirus infections in Texas continues to tax the state’s health care systems as health officials report that 10,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 for the first time since early February.
State health officials reported Tuesday that 10,041 hospital patients in Texas were ill with COVID-19 as of Monday. That is the most since 10,259 COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported Feb. 4.
Meantime, a state district judge in San Antonio granted a temporary restraining order to allow the governments of San Antonio and Bexar County to require public school students to wear masks in class and to quarantine unvaccinated students exposed to the virus.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Bangladesh vaccinating Rohingya refugees amid virus surge
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— COVID-19 vaccines to be required for military under new US plan
— Governor of Texas appeals for out-of-state help against COVID-19
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SALT LAKE CITY — The top health official in Utah’s most populous county plans to impose an indoor mask mandate for students under the age of 12, who are ineligible to be vaccinated.
Salt Lake County Health Director Angela Dunn says the order will officially be issued Wednesday, about a week before schools resumes. She made the announcement Tuesday next to Mayor Jenny Wilson, who said she supports the decision.
Last year masks were required in schools but under a new state law school mask mandates are banned. Local health departments can issue a rule but only with support from elected county leaders. The mandate will have to be confirmed by the city council.
Critics of mask have been vocal in their opposition.
RENO, Nev. — Health officials in northern Nevada say current coronavirus trends mirror those that led to some of the worst times of the pandemic.
They warned Tuesday about the possibility of closing schools or limiting business capacities again if the steep trajectory of new cases doesn’t begin to flatten soon.
The Washoe County Health District also confirmed the first COVID-19 death of a fully vaccinated person in the Reno-Sparks area, a man in his 80s with multiple underlying conditions.
Nevada’s test positivity rate has risen from a low of 3.4% in mid-May to 16.3% on Monday. It has reached 17.1% in Clark County and 15.4% in Washoe County.
LOS ANGELES — Singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks has canceled appearances at five music festivals, citing coronavirus concerns.
Nicks released a statement Tuesday saying these are challenging times requiring challenging decisions. She says that while she is vaccinated, she is being extremely cautious with hopes of a brighter 2022.
Nicks had been scheduled to headline one day each at BottleRock Napa Valley in California and the Jazz Aspen Festival in Colorado in September. In October, she was to have played two days at the Austin City Limits Music Festival and one day at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
PORTLAND, Ore. — As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she is issuing two new pandemic mandates — a vaccination requirement for state employees and statewide indoor mask requirements.
Details about the statewide mask requirement will be released during a news conference Wednesday.
Under the new vaccine rule, state employees will be required to be fully vaccinated on or before Oct. 18 or six weeks after a coronavirus vaccine receives full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, whichever is later.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota health officials say the state has recorded at least 5,599 people vaccinated against the coronavirus who later became infected by the virus, with 514 of them requiring hospitalization for COVID-19. At least 57 died.
But officials stressed Tuesday that those cases represent a tiny fraction of the state’s immunized population.
The state health department says just over 3 million people in Minnesota have been fully vaccinated and about 200,000 more have gotten one dose.
ATLANTA — Georgia’s most populous county is considering mandating coronavirus vaccines or frequent tests for its employees, saying incentives to get protected against the virus aren’t working.
Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts tells WSB-TV that the commission could debate a mandate for employees later this week.
A number of hospital systems have mandated vaccines for employees in Georgia, as have some private colleges and universities and other private employers.
However, Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order in May saying public agencies in Georgia can’t require people to prove they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. He says that means no agency can require anyone to receive the vaccination.
It’s unclear if the policy to be considered by Fulton County could run afoul of that order.
KANSAS CITY — The health department in Kansas City, Missouri, says only 35 of the more than 70,000 people who attended Garth Brooks’ concert there Saturday took advantage of a chance to get a coronavirus vaccination.
The mobile vaccination clinic operated for four hours in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot before the concert, and fans were offered a chance to get upgraded floor seats to the concert if they got a shot.
Brooks says he is fully vaccinated, and he encouraged his fans to get the shot.
The health department says it will continue to partner with community events in an effort to increase vaccinations, including at the upcoming Planet Comicon Kansas Cit, scheduled for Aug. 20-22.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi is approaching its pandemic high for COVID-19 hospitalizations as the coronavirus continues spreading rapidly in a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S.
The state Health Department reported Tuesday that 1,410 patients with COVID-19 were in Mississippi hospitals Monday. The state’s highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for a single day was 1,444 on Jan. 4, before vaccines against the virus were widely available.
Officials say that as of Tuesday, 35% of Mississippi residents were fully vaccinated, compared to about 50% nationally.
The Health Department says that between July 13 and Monday, unvaccinated people made up 97% of those newly diagnosed with COVID-19, 89% of those hospitalized with it and 85% of those who died from it.
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco school district has reversed course, saying it will require its 10,000 teachers and other staff to get vaccinated for the coronavirus or be tested weekly.
The announcement makes the San Francisco Unified School District the latest in California to issue a vaccine or testing mandate for staff as schools across the state return to in-person classes amid a troubling surge in infections because of the highly contagious delta variant.
The San Jose and Long Beach Unified school districts have issued similar requirements in recent days.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Unified district is requiring all students and employees to undergo weekly virus testing regardless of vaccination status. It is California’s largest school district.
MIAMI — The Florida Hospital Association says nearly 70% of the state’s hospitals are expecting critical staffing shortage in the next seven days.
Association president Mary Mayhew says an influx of COVID-19 cases is hitting at a time when Florida hospitals are seeing “unusually high numbers of very ill non-COVID patients.”
Mayhew says that “our front line health care heroes are finding themselves stretched thin and physical and mental exhaustion is taking its toll.”
She says that many of those being hospitalized for COVID-19 during the latest surge in cases are in their 20s and 30s.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina — South Carolina’s top prosecutor has advised authorities in the state capital that they are prohibited by law from instituting a school mask mandate as a way to protect children who are age-ineligible for the coronavirus vaccine.
Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a Tuesday letter to the Columbia city council that its recently approved measure is “in conflict with state law and should either be rescinded or amended.” He is giving officials until Friday to make changes.
The Columbia council ratified an ordinance last week requiring the use of masks in the city’s elementary and middle schools for at least the beginning of the school year.
But a state budget proviso that went into effect July 1 bars South Carolina educational institutions from using appropriated funds to mandate masks.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says it is “vital” that Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the nation heads into the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Biden attended a White House briefing of emergency management and scientific advisers. He said getting vaccinated is part of preparing for the possibility of damaging storms this year, in addition to taking other preparedness measures.
He says: “A vital part of preparing for hurricane season is to get vaccinated now.”
Biden encouraged Americans living in vulnerable areas to remind themselves of their evacuation zones and to visit Ready.gov for additional information on how to be ready in case a storm hits.
Getting vaccinated would guard against the chances of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 should someone need to evacuate to a shelter during a storm.
He added: “Get vaccinated. Make a plan.”
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas’ COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a new high for the second day in a row Tuesday as a surge in coronavirus cases continued to overwhelm the state’s health system.
The state Department of Health says virus hospitalizations rose by 59 to 1,435. A day earlier, the state broke the record it set in January for total COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Arkansas’ latest surge has been brought on by the highly contagious delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate.
Arkansas’ reported coronavirus cases rose by more than 2,600 from Monday to Tuesday, and COVID-19 deaths increased by 24.
The department says there are only 12 ICU beds available in the state.
Arkansas ranks third in the country for new virus cases per capita, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s governor on Tuesday gave employees of the state’s prisons and its health care and congregate care facilities about a month to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or begin taking weekly tests.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement affects about 25,000 employees.
Wolf set a Sept. 7 deadline for the employees to get fully vaccinated. In addition to the Corrections Department, the announcement applies to state hospitals, veterans’ homes, community health centers and homes for those with intellectual disabilities.
Wolf also announced what is intended as an incentive toward vaccination: starting Oct. 1, vaccinated state employees will be eligible for an additional paid day off.
HELENA, Mont. — Montana state employees will be required to return to in-person work starting Sept. 7.
The Montana State News Bureau reported Tuesday that the requirement was announced by the state Department of Administration in an email to workers last week.
The plans come as Montana health officials reported 493 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the highest number of cases tallied in a single day since January.
Department of Administration Director Misty Ann Giles encouraged employees to get vaccinated though vaccination against COVID-19 is not required.
Less than half of eligible Montana residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday defended his administration’s handling of the delta variant, which is surging through unvaccinated communities across the country.
Biden spoke after the Senate passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill he championed. He was asked if his administration acted too slowly to recommend reimposing face mask requirements and other distancing measures to slow the spread of the highly transmissible variant.
Biden said the issue is not the variant but the reluctance of 90 million eligible Americans to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We knew how the variant spread and we know the vaccines prevent the spread,” Biden said. “What is disappointing is that more people were not willing to take the vaccine.”
MILWAUKEE — One of the country’s most popular music festivals will require attendees to have a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend the concerts.
Organizers at Summerfest in Milwaukee released a revised entry protocol policy Tuesday. They announced that those attending the lakeside festival will need proof of vaccination or negative results from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of attending.
The annual concert runs Sept. 2 to 4, 9 to 11, and 16 to 18.
Last month, Lollapalooza, the large music festival on Chicago’s lakefront, put in place similar restrictions. On Tuesday, the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, which is scheduled for Sept. 2-5 in Tennessee, also announced requirements for vaccination or testing.
OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska’s largest public school district will require students to wear masks indoors when they return to classrooms next week.
The Omaha Public Schools board voted 8-1 Monday to require all people to wear masks indoors at school, effective Tuesday, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
The resolution made note of recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending universal masking for teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools in an effort to fight the growing spread of COVID-19 cases.
The Omaha district joins a growing number of Nebraska school districts requiring face masks when school starts this fall.
O’FALLON, Mo. — More than 375,000 Missouri residents have entered the state’s coronavirus vaccine lottery program, but vaccinations continue to lag, especially in rural areas.
State officials say the first of five drawings will be Friday. In all, 800 adults will win $10,000 cash prizes, and 100 people ages 12-17 will win education savings accounts worth $10,000. Entries for the first drawing are due Wednesday. Only those who have initiated vaccination are eligible.
Gov. Mike Parson announced the incentive program last month. Officials say about 120,000 people registered within 24 hours of the announcement, and vaccinations have risen nearly 50% in the past month.
But state data say only 49.4% of Missouri residents have had at least one shot, nearly 10 percentage points below the national average. Fewer than 25% of residents in 14 Missouri counties have initiated vaccination.
WASHINGTON — The nation’s capital will require that all local government workers and public school teachers be fully inoculated by Sept. 19.
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s policy, announced Tuesday, largely mirrors those adopted recently by the federal government and U.S. military. Those who opt out of the vaccine must submit to weekly self-testing.
The policy does not apply to teachers in the city’s robust charter school network, which holds about half of D.C. students. But it has been endorsed by the local teachers union and local AFL-CIO chapter.
Virus metrics have spiked in D.C. and the larger DMV area of northern Virginia and southern Maryland. But health officials maintain that new infections are predominantly among the unvaccinated, saying breakthrough infections among the vaccinated among are rare, and then milder and less infectious.
The Associated Press
BC College of Pharmacists investigate reuse of syringes for COVID-19 – BC News – Castanet.net
The Fraser Health Authority has confirmed that syringes were reused for COVID-19 vaccines at a B.C. pharmacy.
CTV News Vancouver is reporting that Fraser Health confirmed the information on Tuesday via email that – “the plastic tube which holds the vaccine solution, not the needles” – were reused.
Fraser Health did not indicate where in the region the pharmacy is located in. The Fraser Health Authority stretches from Burnaby to Boston Bar.
Fraser Health indicated the pharmacy was part of a provincial pilot program that was testing the ability of pharmacies to use a specific booking system. The location was suspended from the program once it the issue came to light.
Fraser health indicates the B.C. College of Pharmacists is investigating the but they confirmed the pharmacy is no longer giving out vaccines.
-with files from CTV News Vancouver
COVID-19 vaccine boosters recommended for long-term care residents, national advisory committee says – CBC.ca
Canadian seniors living in long-term care homes and other congregate-care settings should get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, Canada’s vaccine advisory body recommends.
Residents of such sites, including retirement homes and assisted-living facilities “are at increased risk for COVID-19 infection because of their daily interactions with other residents and staff,” said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) in updated guidance released online on Tuesday.
“They are also at increased risk for severe disease because of their age and underlying medical conditions.”
The amount of time that has passed since residents received their initial vaccinations is a factor in the recommendation — given that older adults may “have a less durable response to vaccines and/or past infection compared to younger adults.”
“Older Canadians residing in congregate living settings were prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine when the vaccines were first authorized; therefore, many completed their COVID-19 vaccination series early in the vaccine roll-out, leaving more time for waning should it occur,” NACI said.
Many long-term care residents had their initial COVID-19 shots spaced out over shorter intervals based on the manufacturers’ guidance — 21 days between doses for Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) and 28 days for Moderna (Spikevax).
Current evidence now suggests that longer intervals between doses result in higher immune responses, NACI said, and therefore the original schedule may have contributed to “more rapid waning of protection, including against variants of concern.”
In its guidance, NACI noted that its booster shot recommendation for residents of long-term care homes is not the same as recommending a third dose as part of the initial vaccination schedule.
“The intent of a booster dose is to restore protection that may have waned over time in individuals who responded adequately to a primary vaccine series,” the advisory committee said.
That’s different than the recommendation NACI issued just over two weeks ago for moderately to severely immunocompromised Canadians. People who are immunocompromised should receive three doses of COVID-19 vaccine as part of the standard immunization schedule, NACI said, because they may not mount an adequate immune response to two doses in the first place.
North Bay–Parry Sound's COVID-19 vaccination rates rank near bottom-third in Ontario – BayToday.ca
The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is trailing the majority of the 33 other districts in Ontario when it comes to vaccination rates but officials are confident the mobile vaccination clinics held on a retrofitted transit bus can boost those numbers toward the 90 per cent goal.
According to COVaxON, the province’s vaccination reporting system, 78 per cent of eligible North Bay–Parry Sound residents age 12 and older have had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s tied for 23rd out of 34 health units in Ontario.
The Health Unit also reports 84 per cent of eligible residents 12 and older in the district have received at least one dose, tied for 25th of 34 health units.
The recent introduction of the proof of vaccination program for Ontarians to gain entry to non-essential settings such as restaurants, fitness clubs, and cinemas is acknowledged by health officials as a means to encourage those who are not fully vaccinated to do so.
There was an uptick in vaccinations in the weeks following the announcement of the vaccine certificate program in Ontario. And, a boost in vaccinations followed locally, as well, in mid-September, as the Health Unit reported an increase, particularly among those aged 29 and younger. The Health Unit reported then a 128 per cent increase in first doses week over week.
The goal locally and province-wide is to have 90 per cent of the population vaccinated with first and second doses. As of Monday, that leaves 6,646 first and 14,680 second shots required. The Health Unit’s dashboard reports 692 doses administered over the weekend. It should be noted hundreds of third doses have been administered to eligible segments of the population over the past two weeks.
In North Bay–Parry Sound, the 30-39, 18-29 and 12-17 age groups all sit at less than two-thirds fully vaccinated, although the 12-17 category was not eligible for the vaccine for months following the initial local roll-out.
The Health Unit reports since June 1, 10 per cent of local positive cases have been detected in fully vaccinated people. Ontario reports 86 per cent of COVID-19 patients in ICUs are unvaccinated, while 72 per cent in hospitals (but not the ICU) are unvaccinated.
The Health Unit has consistently advocated for more people to roll up their sleeves and has gone to great lengths to achieve that goal by providing clinics in long-term care and retirement communities, mass immunization opportunities at Memorial Gardens, clinics focused on members of the vulnerable population, and now the mobile vaccination clinics that visit many of the underserved towns in the district.
Andrea McLellan, Director of COVID-19 Immunization Strategy, previously spoke about possible reasons for vaccine hesitancy.
“It may be a lack of confidence in immunizations overall, it may be a personal choice they are making at this time and waiting to receive further information,” she said, noting there are excellent resources out there for those who are hesitant. “We are providing as much information to the public as we can — our website holds a wealth of information, the Ontario.ca website has a lot of information about the vaccine, as does Public Health Ontario.”
“Some people need a familiar health care provider to really reassure them that the vaccine is right for them,” Dr. Carol Zimbalatti added, encouraging people to reach out to their trusted health care providers for guidance. “Definitely, primary care offices have the information available to counsel their patients.”
The Health Unit will continue to roll out the vaccine through mobile clinics. McLellan says some of the feedback from the public indicated people who weren’t thinking of getting their shot did so thanks to the convenience of the bus set-up.
“We believe the mobile bus has been exceptionally successful,” McLellan said last week. “We’ve done over 300 at a couple of clinics, 150-plus at other clinics, 50 to 60 in smaller communities. The bus has been helpful in getting our numbers up. A lot of people are getting their first doses. And, we’ve accommodated a lot of people eligible for their third doses.”
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