The Latest: States, businesses reconsider mask wearing in US
BOSTON — Governments and businesses are attempting to follow new federal guidance calling for the return of mask wearing in coronavirus hot spots amid a surge of cases and hospitalizations.
Nevada moved swiftly to re-impose an indoor mask mandate following Tuesday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Arkansas, legislative leaders are weighing revisiting a recently passed law banning mask mandates. Ford Motor Co. says it will reinstate face mask protocols at its Missouri and Florida facilities.
CDC Director Dr, Rochelle Walensky says the updated guidance was prompted by new data that showed vaccinated people can pass on the virus. She notes unvaccinated people account for the vast number of new infections.
Walensky stressed vaccines are working by preventing greater levels of hospitalization and death. Two-thirds of the vaccine-eligible population in the U.S. has received at least one dose.
The U.S. is averaging more than 60,000 new cases a day, driven by the highly contagious delta variant spreading through unvaccinated populations.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— U.S. states, businesses reconsider masks amid surge
— WHO says coronavirus deaths up 21% in last week
— Tokyo sets another virus record, exceeding 3,000 daily cases for 1st time
— Explainer: On vaccinated people masking up where cases rising
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — St. Louis County’s top elected official insisted Wednesday a mask mandate remained in place even though the county commission voted to overturn it.
Meanwhile, Kansas City prepared to issue its own order to stem a rise in COVID-19 cases straining hospitals.
“This virus, these cases and this curve is shooting straight up and if we don’t make some decisions fast, we are going to be in a bad spot,” St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said during a media briefing.
He spoke after the St. Louis County Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to end the county’s mask mandate, saying Page didn’t consult with them before issuing it. Orders took effect Monday there and in the city of St. Louis, requiring everyone age 5 or older to wear masks in inside public spaces and on public transportation, even if they are vaccinated.
The mandates prompted the state’s Republican attorney general to immediately file a lawsuit in an effort to stop them. Page says until the lawsuit was resolved, “masks will be required in all indoor public spaces.”
Meanwhile, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Tuesday he’ll reinstate an indoor mask mandate, tweeting the community “cannot ignore the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant in Missouri -- outpacing much of the country.”
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — About 89% of Idaho residents live in communities where masks should be worn again.
The Post Register reports 27 of Idaho’s 44 counties have substantial to high transmission of the coronavirus.
The CDC on Tuesday recommended vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges. The CDC cited new information about the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people.
The city of Boise on Wednesday started requiring masks indoors at its city-owned facilities.
Idaho has the sixth-lowest vaccination rate, with only about 46% of eligible residents fully vaccinated, compared to 56% of all eligible Americans. Everyone age 12 and up is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia’s aviation authorities say only citizens vaccinated against the coronavirus can travel abroad starting Aug. 9, aiming to ramp up its inoculation campaign and counter vaccine hesitancy.
The country’s General Authority for Civil Aviation on Wednesday issued a notice to all airlines that only fully vaccinated citizens can board international flights. The rule exempts children under 12 and those who have recovered from the coronavirus over six months ago.
On Tuesday, the Saudi Ministry of Interior delivered a warning to the public against traveling to destinations on its “red list,” or countries with a high risk of COVID-19 infection, including the United Arab Emirates, India, South Africa and Turkey. Authorities say they’ll impose a three-year travel ban on anyone found to have violated the rules.
The kingdom has previously announced nationwide restrictions on the unvaccinated. Next week, all residents must show proof that they’ve received at least one vaccine dose to enter non-essential businesses, public transportation and schools.
On Tuesday, Kuwait also ruled only vaccinated citizens can travel abroad next week.
Saudi Arabia, with a population of 34 million, has reported half a million cases of the coronavirus, including more than 8,100 confirmed deaths. It has administered 25.5 million doses of the vaccine, according to online scientific publication Our World in Data.
LONDON — Fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and much of Europe can enter England without quarantining starting next week.
The British government says people who have received both doses of a vaccine approved by the FDA in the U.S. or the European Medicines Agency, can take pre- and post-arrival coronavirus tests instead of self-isolating.
There is one exception: France, which Britain has dubbed a higher risk because of the presence of the beta variant of the coronavirus. Visitors from France will continue to face a British quarantine.
Currently only people who have been vaccinated in Britain can skip 10 days of quarantine when arriving from most of Europe or North America. The move to boost Britain’s ailing travel industry comes despite rising coronavirus cases.
The rule change takes effect Monday and only applies to England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will decide whether to follow suit.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Doctors in several regions in Sumatra island in Indonesia reported the increasing COVID-19 cases in their areas.
Indonesia recorded 47,791 new cases and 1,824 confirmed in the last 24 hours. The Health Ministry recorded 558,392 active cases in Indonesia, with more than 81,000 cases from Sumatra regions.
Doctors from the associations in Jambi, South Sumatra and Riau Islands regions also say the bed occupancy rate at the hospitals in those areas have increased, along with oxygen distribution. Doctors and other health care workers are also among those infected by the virus.
Adib Khumadi, Head of The Risk Mitigation Team of Indonesian Medical Association, says some regions outside Java, such as Jambi, South Sumatra and South Kalimantan provinces show spikes of the new infections.
Indonesia has registered 3.2 million cases and 88,659 total confirmed deaths.
WARSAW, Poland — There have been 60,000 more deaths in Poland so far this year compared to the same period the year before.
That’s according to data released this week by the nationwide registry offices. Health experts say many deaths were caused by the coronavirus but also from the overload and inefficiency of the health care system. That led to many other health issues diagnosed or treated too late.
Registry statistics indicate there were 285,000 deaths until mid-July, compared to 224,000 deaths by mid-July last year.
In March and April, there were more than 35,000 daily coronavirus cases and over 700 deaths from COVID-19. There were 15,000 more deaths in March, than the year before, and 20,000 deaths more in April.
Poland currently reports about 100 daily cases and less than 10 daily deaths.
Some 17.1 million people are fully immunized and another 18.1 million have received the first shot in this nation of some 38 million. More than 75,000 people have died since the start of the pandemic.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office says he’s pulled two of his children out of a summer day camp that didn’t require kids to wear masks.
The camp’s decision is a violation of state policy that requires masks for everyone in youth settings because children under 12 can’t be vaccinated. Newsom spokeswoman Erin Mellon says the Newsoms missed a communication from the camp saying it wouldn’t enforce mask wearing.
The statement comes after an organization called Reopen California Schools tweeted about Newsom’s son attending the camp, casting it as example of Newsom saying one thing and doing another. Newsom faces a Sept. 14 recall election.
WASHINGTON — Dr. Rochelle Walensky says new mask-wearing guidance, coupled with higher rates of vaccination against COVID-19, could halt the current escalation of infections in “a couple of weeks.”
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told “CBS This Morning” she hopes more stringent mask-wearing guidelines and other measures won’t be necessary as the country heads into the fall.
“We can halt the chain of transmission,” she said. “We can do something if we unify together, if we get people vaccinated who are not yet vaccinated, if we mask in the interim, we can halt this in just a matter of a couple of weeks.”
With the delta variant fueling a surge of infections across the country, the CDC on Tuesday recommended even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in areas where the variant is prevalent.
Walensky says the new guidance was prompted by data that vaccinated people can pass on the virus. However, the vast number of infections are occurring in unvaccinated people, she noted. Walensky said 80% of the counties with the highest number of infections have less than 40% of people vaccinated.
The nation is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. The guidance on masks in indoor public places applies in parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week.
TOKYO — Tokyo has reported 3,177 new coronavirus cases, setting an all-time high and exceeding 3,000 for the first time, just days after the start of the Olympics.
The new cases Wednesday exceeded the record of 2,848 set the previous day and bring the total for the Japanese capital to more than 200,000.
Tokyo has been under a fourth state of emergency since July 12 ahead of the Olympics, which began last Friday despite widespread public opposition and concern that they could further worsen the outbreak.
Health experts say Tokyo’s surge is being propelled by the new, more contagious delta variant of the virus.
LONDON — Britain is donating 9 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to countries, including Indonesia, Jamaica and Kenya, the first shots the U.K. has sent to developing nations during the pandemic.
Britain has one of the world’s highest inoculation rates against the virus, with more than 70% of adults fully vaccinated, and has faced calls to donate doses to the many countries that lack vaccines.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says shipments will begin this week of 5 million doses to the U.N.-backed COVAX vaccine distribution program and 4 million more directly to countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and several Caribbean nations.
Some 817,000 doses are going to Kenya, whose President Uhuru Kenyatta is in Britain and will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The shipments are the first batch of Britain’s commitment to donate 100 million doses by June 2022.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Tanzania’s president has kicked off her nation’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign by publicly receiving a dose and urging others to do the same.
The Johnson & Johnson shot that President Samia Suluhu Hassan received Wednesday represented a major breakthrough for one of the world’s last countries to embrace coronavirus vaccines. The country received more than 1 million Johnson & Johnson doses over the weekend.
Her predecessor denied the seriousness of pandemic. Tanzania went well over a year without updating its number of confirmed virus cases. Since Hassan took over the presidency, she has changed course.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization says the number of coronavirus deaths globally jumped by 21% in the last week.
Most of the 69,000 deaths were reported in the Americas and Southeast Asia. The U.N. health agency also noted that COVID-19 cases rose by 8% worldwide and that there are now nearly 194 million infections.
WHO said that “if these trends continue, the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next two weeks.” It added that the number of COVID-19 deaths increased in all regions except for Europe. The biggest numbers of cases were reported in the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, the U.K. and India.
BERLIN — Germany says that half of its population has now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a milestone in a campaign that has slowed markedly in recent weeks.
Official figures released Wednesday showed that the number reached nearly 41.8 million, or 50.2%, of the population on Tuesday. And more than 50.8 million, or 61.1% of the population, had received at least one vaccine dose.
But the numbers are moving higher at a much more leisurely pace than they were several weeks ago. Nearly 436,000 shots have been administered per day on average over the past week. That figure was over 800,000 in mid-June.
That is worrying officials at a time when infections are creeping up from a low level as the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has become dominant.
Chancellor Angela Merkel last week appealed to reluctant citizens to get vaccinated.
SYDNEY — Australia’s largest city Sydney will remain in lockdown for another month.
The New South Wales state government said the lockdown of the city of 5 million would last at least until Aug. 28 after reporting on Wednesday 177 new infections in the latest 24-hour period. It was the largest daily tally since the cluster was discovered in mid-June.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters that “I am as upset and frustrated as all of you that we were not able to get the case numbers we would have liked at this point in time but that is the reality,”
More than 2,500 people have been infected in a cluster that began when a limousine driver tested positive on June 16 for the contagious delta variant. The driver had been infected by a U.S. aircrew he transported from Sydney airport.
The death toll from the cluster reached 11 on Wednesday with a woman in her 90s dying in a Sydney hospital.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is reporting a new daily high for coronavirus cases a day after authorities enforced stringent restrictions in areas outside the Seoul capital region seeking to slow a nationwide spread of infections.
The 1,896 cases announced Wednesday took the country’s total for the pandemic to 193,427, with 2,083 deaths from COVID-19.
It was the highest daily jump since the pandemic began and surpassed a previous record of 1,842 announced last Thursday.
The Seoul area has been at the center of the outbreak. The government on Tuesday put much of the non-Seoul regions under the second highest distancing guidelines to guard against a nationwide viral spread.