The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has projected the highly transmissible delta variant is now the dominant strain in the U.S., an expected development that experts have said underscores the need for more Americans to get vaccinated.
Projected CDC data for June 20 to July 3 says delta is expected to account for 51.7% of cases, and President Joe Biden has said the delta variant is now responsible for a majority of new virus cases in much of the country.
The variant's rapid rise comes as some regions of the country see dramatic and concerning spikes in cases — especially areas with low vaccination rates. In Missouri, a temporary ventilator shortage and a public call for help from respiratory therapists came in recent days as the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients jumped by nearly 30% over the Fourth of July weekend. The area has low immunization rates and delta is rapidly spreading throughout the state.
The variant, first identified in India, has been blamed for a surge of cases in countries around the globe and led some areas to bring back some pandemic restrictions. Parts of Europe have reinstated travel quarantines and several Australian cities are in outbreak-sparked lockdowns.
The vaccines most used in Western countries still appear to offer strong protection against the delta variant.
Also in the news:
► Costco announced the big-box grocery chain will be ending its weekday senior hours, which have been in place since March 2020, and resuming its regular hours of operation on July 26.
► Smithsonian magazine is relaunching its annual Museum Day in September, following the event's cancellation last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Over 1,000 museums, zoos and cultural centers across the U.S. will waive admission fees for visitors as part of the event.
►Summertime jobs for teens are on the rebound, according to the predictions of labor market experts: 31.5% of 16- to 19-year-olds will have jobs this summer.
►Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, New Hampshire’s only academic health system and the state’s largest private employer, is shifting to a “remote by design" approach, in which up to 2,000 employees will keep working remotely in some capacity even after the coronavirus pandemic.
►The African country of Zimbabwe is reimplementing strict lockdown measures – staying home and permission letters from employers – to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 amid vaccine shortages, the country’s information minister announced Tuesday.
►A program in Rhode Island is using increases in COVID-19 vaccinations to give back to local charities. Under the COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Fund, for every 5,000 additional people who get a first dose of a vaccine, an increasing amount of money will be granted to nonprofits in the state
?Today's numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 605,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 184.4 million cases and more than 3.9 million deaths. More than 157.6 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 47.5% of the population, according to the CDC.
?What we're reading: The Canadian and U.S. governments aren’t expected to reevaluate the border closure between the two countries until July 21, but the ongoing closure has both economic and human costs.
Several anti-mask protesters who disrupted a school district board meeting in Utah earlier this year are now facing criminal charges, officials said.
About 30 to 40 protesters disrupted the May 4 meeting amid news that Utah public schools would require masks through the end of the school year. After board members abruptly ended the meeting, the parents remained on the district’s campus and police were called. Video of the meeting was shared widely on social media.
The 11 protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting late last week. Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley said police are still searching for another person who was accused of being involved in the confrontation.
The meeting was held after Utah reached criteria required for COVID-19 public health mandates to expire. However, the Utah Department of Health did not lift the mask order for K-12 schools. Parents attending the meeting argued against continuing the requirement, and many questioned why masks would still be required in schools while they are not elsewhere.
With more than 605,000 dead of COVID-19 in the United States and nearly 4 million worldwide, thousands or more could be experiencing prolonged grief, the kind of mourning that experts say can prevent people from moving beyond a death and functioning normally again.
Natalia Skritskaya, an expert on grieving, said it’s too early to say whether prolonged grieving, also known as complicated grief, will be a major complication from the pandemic — it isn’t yet over, with thousands still dying daily worldwide, including hundreds in the United States. Many mourners have yet to pass the one-year anniversary of a loss, and few studies have been published so far on the psychiatric fallout, she said.
A study published in the fall predicted a likely increase in cases of prolonged grief linked to the pandemic. Skritskaya, a research scientist and clinical psychologist with the Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia University in New York, noted that prolonged grief can be treated with therapy in which participants talk through their experience and feelings.
— Jay Reeves, The Associated Press
A San Francisco Bay Area zoo is inoculating its big cats, bears and ferrets against the coronavirus as part of a national effort to protect animal species using an experimental vaccine.
Alex Herman, vice president of veterinary services at the Oakland Zoo, said none of the animals has gotten the virus, but the zoo wanted to be proactive. The doses were donated and developed by veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis in New Jersey. Tigers, black and grizzly bears, mountain lions and ferrets were the first to receive the first of two doses; next are primates and pigs.
In a news release, Herman said the zoo has used barriers for social distancing and staff have worn protective gear to protect susceptible species. “We’re happy and relieved to now be able to better protect our animals with this vaccine,” she said.
Zoetis is donating more than 11,000 doses for animals living in nearly 70 zoos, as well as more than a dozen conservatories, sanctuaries, academic institutions and government organizations located in 27 states, according to the news release.
Contributing: The Associated Press