The Latest: AP source: CDC to adjust masking guidelines

By The Associated Press 28 July 2021, 12:00AM

NEW YORK — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend vaccinated people wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.

That’s according to a federal official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to release the data. The nation’s top health agency is expected to make an announcement later Tuesday.

In May, the CDC further eased its guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

However, the coronavirus has surged in many states, fueled by the delta variant, especially in areas with low vaccination rates. In recent weeks, a number of cities and towns have restored indoor masking rules.

For much of the pandemic, the CDC advised Americans to wear masks outdoors if they were within 6 feet of one another. In April, as vaccinations increased and cases decreased, the agency eased its guidelines on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to cover their faces unless they were in a big crowds of strangers.

— By AP Medical Writer Mike Stobbe



— Tokyo hits record 2,848 daily virus cases during Olympics

— Russia OKs testing on combination Sputnik, AstraZeneca shots

— UK spares key workers quarantine during staff shortages

— Iran hits daily record for 2nd straight day, posts 34,900 new cases


— Find more AP coverage at and



BRUSSELS — European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the EU has reached a major goal by providing at least one coronavirus shot to 70% of adults across the 27-nation bloc.

She says 57% of adults are now fully vaccinated. But von der Leyen is warning countries to step up their vaccination rates to combat fast-spreading variants of the disease. Vaccination rates vary around Europe, with Bulgaria and Romania notably slow.

Von der Leyen says “these figures put Europe among the world leaders.” But she warned against complacency given the well-established presence in Europe of other variants.

“The delta variant is very dangerous. I therefore call on everyone — who has the opportunity — to be vaccinated. For their own health and to protect others,” von der Leyen said.


ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic says it will require employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by mid-September, becoming one of the latest health systems to do so as delta variant cases rise around the country.

The Rochester-based medical system says the “vast majority” of its employees are already vaccinated. But it says all employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or complete an opt-out process by Sept. 17.

“Our patients expect to be safe when they come to Mayo Clinic, and we need to do everything we can to protect everybody,” Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, the clinic’s president and CEO, said in a statement Monday.

Staff who decline to be vaccinated must complete education modules and will be required to wear masks and socially distance at work.

Mayo says it is joining dozens of health systems nationwide in requiring vaccinations because of increasing cases of COVID-19 nationally, poor vaccination rates in many communities and the threat of variants.


MOSCOW — Russia’s health officials have given a go-ahead to testing a combination of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shot and the single-dose version of the domestically developed Sputnik V vaccine.

The country’s registry of approved clinical trials shows the small study was scheduled to start July 26 and to enroll 150 volunteers. The AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines use a similar technology.

Russian officials introduced Sputnik V last year as a two-shot vaccine using different viruses in each dose, but they also have separately marketed the first shot as a single-dose alternative dubbed Sputnik Light.

The developers of Sputnik V proposed combining the shots to AstraZeneca in November, suggesting it could increase the effectiveness of the British vaccine.


LONDON -- Britain is easing coronavirus quarantine rules for essential workers including prison guards, veterinarians and garbage collectors in an attempt to end staff shortages that are hobbling parts of the economy.

About 26 million Britons have downloaded a phone app that tells them to self-isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The system has caused employee absences and led to gaps on supermarket shelves. The U.K. has recently recorded tens of thousands of new virus cases a day. The government says many key workers can now be tested daily instead of self-isolating.

Cases have fallen for six straight days, with Monday’s figure of 24,950 confirmed infections down more than a third from a week earlier. Britain has given 70% of adults both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.


TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has recorded more than 34,900 new coronavirus infections, setting the nation’s single-day record for cases.

This comes as vaccinations lag, public complacency deepens and the country struggles through an outbreak. The previous record of 31,814 infections was set Monday, providing a sense of how quickly Iran’s latest surge, fueled by the contagious delta variant, is mounting.

The alarming spread of the variant prompted new anti-virus restrictions last week. The government ordered the closure of state offices, public places and non-essential businesses in the capital of Tehran. But as with previous government measures, the lockdown looked very little like a lockdown at all. Tehran’s malls and markets were busy as usual and workers crowded offices and metro stations.

Health authorities recorded 357 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the confirmed total death toll to 89,479, the highest in the Middle East.


BUCHAREST, Romania — Vulnerable people and medical staff in Romania could receive a third booster dose of coronavirus vaccine as concerns grow over rising cases of the delta variant.

National vaccination committee chief Valeriu Gheorghita says there are discussions for a possible booster for people at high risk of exposure, such as medical and social staff, people with chronic illnesses and those over the age 65

The announcement came as Romania recorded 175 cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, a sharp increase compared to recent weeks of just a few dozen cases per day. Gheorghita says the delta variant cases are an “increasing trend.”

So far, less than 25% of Romania’s population of more than 19 million have received the necessary two doses to be fully inoculated against COVID-19, prompting officials to express concerns over a potential fourth wave of the virus.

The slow campaign to vaccinate the nation has prompted government officials to push to forge a partnership with the Romanian Orthodox Church to help promote vaccination among parishioners.

Romania has recorded more than a million cases and more than 34,000 confirmed deaths.


TOKYO — Tokyo has reported its highest number of coronavirus infections, four days after the start of the Olympics.

The Japanese capital reported 2,848 new cases, exceeding its record of 2,520 daily cases in January. It brings Tokyo’s total to more than 200,000 since the start of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga urged people to avoid non-essential outings but says there is no need to consider a suspension of the Games.

Tokyo is under its fourth state of emergency, which is to continue through the Olympics. Experts have warned the more contagious delta variant could cause a surge during the Olympics, which started Friday.

Nationwide, Japan reported 5,020 daily cases Monday for a total of 870,445 and 15,129 confirmed deaths.

Japan has kept its cases and deaths lower than many other countries. Its seven-day rolling average of cases is about 3.57 per 100,000 people, compared to 2.76 in India, 17.3 in the United States and 53.1 in Britain, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.


LISBON, Portugal — Hungary has delivered to 200,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to Portugal, which will send to six of its former colonies.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva says his country is buying excess vaccines from other countries and providing them to its five former colonies in Africa and to East Timor, in Southeast Asia.

Portugal initially planned to send 1 million shots to the former colonies but announced last weekend it is increasing that to 3 million.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó offered the vaccines to Portuguese authorities at an official ceremony at a Portuguese Air Force base in Lisbon on Tuesday.

Hungary has a vaccine surplus after also purchasing COVID-19 vaccines from outside the European Union’s common procurement program, including China’s Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V.


LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese health experts say there are signs that the country’s recent surge in COVID-19 infections is running out of steam, as political leaders consider whether to start winding down pandemic restrictions.

Senior members of the government met Tuesday with virus analysts who said in televised comments that, though infection rates remain high, the increase is slowing and the surge’s peak is close.

Portugal’s infection rate per 100,000 population over 14 days is above 400. In the hard-hit capital Lisbon and the southern Algarve tourist region, the infection rate is stabilizing.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has been rising since the start of the month, with the occupancy rate of beds set aside for the pandemic now at 78%.

The delta variant has in recent weeks accounted for almost 99% of cases.

Portugal’s government is expected to decide at a Cabinet meeting Thursday whether to relax some limits on gatherings, amid complaints from owners of restaurants and bars that they are losing money.


BRUSSELS — The European Union’s chief executive says the 27-nation bloc has achieved its goal of providing at least one coronavirus vaccine shot to 70% of all adults, but she’s urging people to protect themselves against the fast-spreading delta variant.

The EU, home to around 450 million people, was widely criticized for the slow pace of its vaccine rollout earlier this year. But its executive branch, the European Commission, says that 57% of adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday that “these figures put Europe among the world leaders” when it comes to vaccination rates.

Von der Leyen said “the catch-up process has been very successful,” but she warned against complacency given the well-established presence in Europe of the delta variant.

She said: “The delta variant is very dangerous. I therefore call on everyone - who has the opportunity - to be vaccinated. For their own health and to protect others.”


LONDON — The British government is easing coronavirus quarantine rules for more essential workers — including prison guards, veterinarians and garbage collectors — in an attempt to ease staff shortages that are hobbling some sectors of the economy.

About 26 million Britons have downloaded a health service phone app that tells them to self-isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. With the U.K. recording tens of thousands of new virus cases a day, the system has led to acute staff shortages for restaurants and other businesses and led to gaps on some supermarket shelves.

The government said last week that food, transportation, border staff, police and firefighters could take daily tests instead of self-isolating. It said Tuesday it was expanding that system to include more jobs, including trash collectors, prison employees, veterinarians, tax collectors and defense workers.

The government said 2,000 sites would be set up to meet the increased demand for daily coronavirus tests.

One person “pinged” by the app was Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had to self-isolate after the government’s health minister tested positive. Johnson’s 10-day spell in isolation ended at midnight on Monday.


BANGKOK — Authorities in Thailand have began transporting some people who tested positive for the coronavirus from Bangkok to their hometowns for isolation and treatment to alleviate the burden on the capital’s overwhelmed medical system.

A train carrying more than 100 patients and medical workers in full protective gear left the city for the northeast. It will drop patients off in seven provinces, where they will be met by health officers and taken to hospitals.

Medical authorities in Bangkok said Monday that all ICU beds for COVID-19 patients at public hospitals were full and that some of the sick were being treated in emergency rooms. Officials said they have asked army medics to help out at civilian hospitals.

“We will continue this service until no COVID-19 patients who cannot get beds in Bangkok are left,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

He said buses, vans and even aircraft might be deployed to send people back to less badly affected provinces.

Thailand initially kept coronavirus cases in check but outbreaks have flared in recent months.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Fiji’s leader is urging people to get vaccinated as the island nation contends with a devastating outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Relative to its population of less than 1 million people, Fiji’s outbreak is currently among the worst in the world.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said the nation’s mission was to vaccinate 80% of adults by the end of October. About 47% of Fijians have had at least one vaccination dose.

He said “lies, misinformation, and unholy insanity” about the vaccine were endangering people.

Fiji has reported a record 1,285 new cases in its latest daily update. It has reported 193 deaths since the outbreak began in April.

Fiji has also reported a further 101 deaths of COVID-19-positive patients that it’s not classifying as coronavirus deaths because the patients had underlying conditions. Before the April outbreak, Fiji had recorded just two COVID-19 deaths.


BEIJING — The major eastern Chinese city of Nanjing recorded another 31 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, as authorities announced more than 1.5 billion doses of vaccine have been administered around the country.

The new cases bring Nanjing’s total to more than 106 over recent days. The virus circulating in the city has been identified as the delta variant, according to local officials.

The city has been carrying out mass testing and placed tens of thousands of people under lockdown. Along with near-universal indoor mask wearing, China has utilized such practices to largely contain the domestic spread of the virus.

China has also aggressively pursued vaccinations, with little word of noncompliance. The National Health Commission said 1.55 billion doses had been administered as of Sunday — exceeding the country’s population of 1.4 billion.

However, questions have been raised about the efficacy of Chinese-made vaccines, particularly the SinoPharm jab among older people.

That’s stirred concern for the dozens of countries that have given the Chinese company’s shots to their most vulnerable populations. Some countries now say they are prepared to provide a third shot to boost production of protective antibodies.

China on Tuesday also reported another 40 imported cases, almost half in Yunnan province along the border with Myanmar, which is facing a major outbreak.

China has 795 people currently in treatment for COVID-19. The death toll has stayed steady for months at 4,636.


MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s second-most populous city is ending its fifth pandemic lockdown Tuesday as the Victoria state government declares it has beaten an outbreak of the highly contagious coronavirus delta variant for a second time.

The five-day lockdown in Melbourne and across Victoria will allow schools, pubs and restaurants to reopen. But people will not be allowed to have visitors in their homes for two more weeks.

Meanwhile, the city of Sydney remains in lockdown indefinitely after more than four weeks. Australia’s most populous city is where the delta outbreak began in mid-June when a limousine driver was infected while transporting a U.S. air crew from the airport. The New South Wales state government reported a new daily high of 172 infections Tuesday.

South Australia state announced that its week-long lockdown will end as planned Wednesday after no new cases were recorded Tuesday.


UNITED NATIONS — The U.N.’s deputy humanitarian chief is warning that the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting conflict-ridden and impoverished countries much worse this year than in 2020, with many facing higher caseloads and rising deaths.

Ramesh Rajasingham said in a closed briefing Monday to the U.N. Security Council that these surges are being fueled by a lack of access to vaccines, the easing of public health measures, increased social mixing, and the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

In his briefing obtained by The Associated Press, Rajasingham says that so far in 2021 almost three-quarters of countries needing humanitarian aid have recorded more pandemic cases or deaths than in all of 2020. He adds that in over one-third of those countries “at least three times more cases or deaths have been recorded this year compared to last.”


By The Associated Press 28 July 2021, 12:00AM

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