A wave of COVID-19 cases in the United States is fueled by unvaccinated Americans, as officials increasingly say vaccine misinformation is leading too many people to forgo potentially life-saving vaccines.
President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday that social media platforms like Facebook, where vaccine misinformation has spread, “are killing people.” Biden’s commentary follows the publication of an opinion by the American surgeon general Vivek Murthy on Thursday, in which Murthy called health misinformation a “serious threat to public health.”
Data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows American vaccinations have steadily declined since their peak in late May. After millions of people rushed to get vaccinated in early 2021, the supply of vaccines now far exceeds demand.
Dr Leana Wen, former Baltimore Health Commissioner, said that disinformation “has led people to give up masks [and] doubting vaccines ”, while Andy Slavitt, former Biden administration adviser on COVID-19, said on twitter this misinformation has mistakenly convinced “just enough American communities that a vaccine is worse than COVID.”
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Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, has denounced the destructive nature of vaccine misinformation disseminated by figures on the political right.
“We’ve got these – these talking heads that’s got the vaccine and telling them not to get the shot,” Cox said, according to the Washington Post. “This stuff is fair, it’s ridiculous; it’s dangerous, it’s damaging and it kills people. I mean, it literally kills their supporters, and it just doesn’t make sense to me.
Also in the news:
►Three Texas House Democrats have tested positive for COVID-19 in Washington, DC, according to the leadership of the Texas House Democratic Caucus. They are among nearly 60 lawmakers who fled the state on Monday to break the quorum in the House, as part of an effort to block passage of a GOP-led election bill. Most members stay at the same hotel.
►COVID-19 hospitalizations in Florida jumped 73% from mid-June, ending months of steady decline that began when widespread vaccinations became available.
►The UK government still plans to lift all remaining legal restrictions on social contact, as well as other public health measures on Monday, despite the UK having recorded more than 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in six months and a terrible warning from Britain’s best medical adviser.
►Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who is in charge of the UK’s coronavirus response, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating while awaiting the results of a second test. Javid, who has been fully vaccinated, said in a video message that he has so far only exhibited mild symptoms.
►Canada has now surpassed the United States in its percentage of fully vaccinated residents, with the Canadian government reporting that 50.04% of residents aged 12 and over are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
►Thousands of demonstrators marched in France on Saturday in opposition to President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to include mandatory vaccinations for health workers and a COVID-19 absence certificate to enter public places.
Numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 34 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 608,800 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: over 189 million cases and over 4 million deaths. More than 160.6 million Americans – 48.4% of the population – have been fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘 What we read: Border Patrol agents face COVID-19 crisis as President Joe Biden considers relaxing border rules. “We haven’t taken a break,” Brian Hastings, head of the US Border Patrol Area in the Rio Grande Valley, told USA TODAY. More here.
COVID-19 cases have doubled in the United States over the past two weeks, and Arkansas is becoming a case study of how low vaccination rates may fuel the spread of the virus.
Arkansas continues to be the top state in the country for new cases per capita, and only 35% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus appears to largely spare those vaccinated from the most serious disease.
“Of all our critically ill COVID positive patients at Baptist Health facilities, none have been fully immunized,” said Stephanie Whitaker, director of nursing for Baptist Health, a major state health care provider. .
Arkansas has a history of lax pandemic response and was one of seven states that did not issue a stay-at-home order for non-essential activities in March and April 2020 in response to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, cases increased in all 50 states for the week ending Friday, according to USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
Health officials at popular tourist destinations like Los Angeles and Las Vegas ask more people to hide inside.
The Southern Nevada Health District now recommends people wear masks in crowded indoor public places – including Las Vegas casinos – regardless of vaccination status, according to a statement Friday.
The announcement comes a day after Los Angeles County said it would reinstate an indoor masking policy due to a recent spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases. Other California counties followed suit with mask recommendations on Friday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he and his deputies “will not spend our limited resources” to enforce the order. Villanueva also criticized the reinstated mandate for contradicting CDC guidelines and not being “backed by science”, according to an ABC News affiliate in Los Angeles.
– Bailey Schulz
The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee reported the first positive case of COVID-19 in the Olympic Village the Saturday. The unidentified person, who is only listed by organizers as “staff affected by the games,” tested positive for the disease on Friday and is now in quarantine at a hotel.
Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee, told a press conference that he had no information as to whether the person had been vaccinated. And Seiko Hashimoto, chair of the committee, said the organizers were doing everything in their power to ensure that the Olympic Village – like all venues and facilities – was as safe as possible.
The anonymous resident of the Olympic Village is one of 44 people affiliated with the Games who have tested positive for COVID-19 since July 1, according to organizers. Fourteen of those cases were reported on Saturday. Twenty-eight of the 44 positives involved Tokyo 2020 contractors. Read more.
– Tom Schad
New study touts benefits of the second shot
In two-dose COVID vaccines, the benefits of a second shot “far outweigh those of the first shot,” according to Stanford researcher Bali Pulendran.
Pulendran co-authored a study on how mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna work. The study was published in an early form by “Nature” on July 12.
The benefits of the second shot went beyond the “easy” measure of a successful immune response: the introduction of neutralizing antibodies, Pulendran said in a statement. The stroke “stimulated a multiple increase in antibody levels, a formidable T-cell response that was absent after the first stroke alone, and a remarkably improved innate immune response,” Pulendran said.
COVID-19 has become a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”
All 50 states reported more cases of COVID-19 in the most recent 7-day period than the previous week, USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University showed.
The data marks a worrying trend for public health officials as the country enters its fourth wave of cases, with an overall increase of almost 70% in the average number of daily cases last week compared to the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control. and Prevention.
As the number of cases rises, the epidemics of greatest concern continue to occur in areas with low vaccination rates, CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky told a press conference on Friday.
“It is becoming an unvaccinated pandemic,” Walensky added. The average number of hospitalizations and deaths has also increased over the past seven days, increasing by about 36% and 26%, respectively, according to the CDC.
Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said four states accounted for more than 40% of all new COVID-19 cases in the United States last week, with 1 in 5 cases in Florida . Zients did not name the other three, but CDC data shows Arkansas, Missouri, Florida and Louisiana have the highest case rates per 100,000 people – each averaging more than 150 during of the last seven days.
Cases will continue to increase in the coming weeks and will be concentrated in unvaccinated communities, Zients said. “If you are not vaccinated, please get vaccinated now,” he added.
Contributors: Abbi Ross, Fort Smith Times Record; The Associated Press