The nation's top infectious diseases expert stressed the importance of COVID-19 booster shots Tuesday after a report this week questioned their use.
Booster shots are a crucial part of the effort to halt the coronavirus surge because immunity is waning across all age groups, Dr. Anthony Fauci told MSNBC. He said the government is working to provide vaccine for the U.S. and the world and reprised his call for all Americans to get jabbed, even if young and healthy.
"If you get infected, even if you don't have any symptoms, it is likely that you will pass the virus on to someone else who might pass it on to someone else who might have a severe outcome leading to hospitalization and even death," Fauci said. "So you've got to look at it that you're not in a vacuum, you're part of society."
Fauci's comments come after an expert review by international scientists – including some at the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – questioned the value and ethics of providing third "booster" shots to healthy Americans while many countries are unable to secure sufficient vaccine for first and second jabs.
The review, published Monday in The Lancet, found vaccines remain highly effective against severe disease, including from the delta variant and other main variants.
Meanwhile, the U.K. announced Tuesday it will offer booster shots to everyone over 50 and other vulnerable people, and the Dutch government’s independent medical advisory body said booster shots should be given "with high priority" to people with seriously compromised immune systems.
Also in the news:
►Three in five Americans support the Biden administration's vaccine requirements for federal employees and businesses with 100 or more workers, according to an Axios/Ipsos poll released Tuesday.
►As Florida continues to be an epicenter of COVID-19 infections, the state's deputy secretary for health is stepping down from her post, a department spokesperson confirmed Tuesday. The news comes after Florida's health secretary and state surgeon general announced he was stepping down after his contract runs out Sept. 20.
►From June through August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults cost over $5.7 billion, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis published Tuesday.
►Just three states have vaccinated less than 60% of their adult population with at least one dose: West Virginia (56.5%), Wyoming (57.6%) and Mississippi (59.6%), according to CDC data.
►Six New Orleans Saints assistant coaches have tested positive for COVID-19, NFL Media and ESPN reported Tuesday. One player and a nutritionist also tested positive, per the reports.
►Brown University in Rhode Island has paused in-person dining and placed a limit of five people for undergraduate social gatherings in response to a recent rise in confirmed coronavirus cases on campus.
►The World Health Organization and partners say they hope to provide Africa with about 30% of the COVID-19 vaccines they need by February, half of the 60% goal African leaders had aimed for by the end of this year.
📈Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 41.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more 663,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 225.6 million cases and 4.64 million deaths. Nearly 179 million Americans– 53.9% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘What we're reading: Most kids who suffer crippling long COVID-19 symptoms get better. Doctors worry about those who don’t.
One of every 500 Americans has died of COVID-19, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
With its 662,899th death, America on Tuesday reported a toll equal to 0.2 percent of the people who answered the 2020 Census, near the beginning of the pandemic.
Half of the deaths have occurred since two days before Christmas 2020.
– Mike Stucka
Nearly two million people in Texas are overdue for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the Texas Tribune reported Tuesday.
As of Sept. 6, 1.89 million have missed their second dose of the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, the Tribune reported, citing data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. More than 1 million of them are more than 90 days overdue for their second dose.
That means that of those who received a first dose, 11% haven’t gotten their second shot within the recommended time frame, according to the outlet. Read more here.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Tuesday filed a legal challenge to the federal requirements for businesses to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing at companies with 100 or more employees, calling it an overreach.
"This is an infringement on individual liberties," Brnovich said Tuesday on a call with reporters, adding that the law leaves such health decisions to the states.
Brnovich's office filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona seeking a ruling that declares the new federal policies unconstitutional. The Attorney General's Office said the lawsuit was the first of its kind filed in the U.S., though more action is expected across the country.
Under Biden's plan, the requirement for employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing applies to employers with 100 or more workers. Employers that don't comply could face fines of $14,000 per violation. Read more here.
– Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic
A federal judge temporarily blocked the state of New York on Tuesday from forcing medical workers to be vaccinated after a group of health care workers sued, saying their constitutional rights were violated because the state’s mandate disallowed religious exemptions.
Judge David Hurd in Utica issued the order after 17 health professionals, including doctors and nurses, claimed in a lawsuit Monday that their rights were violated. The judge gave the state until Sept. 22 to respond to the lawsuit in federal court.
The state issued the order Aug. 28, requiring at least a first shot for health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes by Sept. 27. Read more here.
Tennessee has the most coronavirus infections of all U.S. states in the past seven days and over the entire pandemic when adjusted for population, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
Tennessee averaged over 8,300 new infections each day over the last seven days and has seen a total of 1.15 million cases since the pandemic began. When adjusting these numbers for population, Tennessee has surpassed states like North Dakota and Florida.
Still, Gov. Bill Lee has vowed to fight President Joe Biden's executive order requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to require vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing. Lee calls the mandate unconstitutional. Read more here.
– Adam Friedman, Nashville Tennessean
The number of COVID-19 cases among children has "increased exponentially" in recent weeks, according to new data from the American Academy of Pediatrics Monday. The number of children across the country who were infected with COVID-19 declined this week but is still at staggering levels: A more than 2,700% increase since the end of June.
The data shows more than 243,000 children were infected last week, a decline from the week before when nearly 252,000 cases were reported but still the "second highest number of child cases in a week since the pandemic began." It's a huge jump compared with the 8,447 cases reported at the end of June or the 12,100 at the start of July, data from the AAP shows.
The startling jump comes as more schools return to in-person learning and as tensions grow over mandates on vaccinations and masks across the country.
Americans' incomes fell last year, and more people were living in poverty as the COVID-19 pandemic threw millions out of work.
Median U.S. household income decreased 2.9% to $67,500, the Census Bureau said Tuesday, the first significant decline since 2011. That followed gains of 1.8% in 2017, 0.9% in 2018 and 6.8% in 2019. Household income includes bonuses, Social Security, public assistance payments and interest and dividend from investment, among other sources.
There were 37.2 million people in poverty last year, 3.3 million more than in 2019. The poverty rate rose after five straight annual declines, to 11.4% from 10.5% in 2019. Read more here.
– Paul Davidson
A man who spent a third of his life on death row following a wrongful murder conviction has died of COVID-19.
Damon Thibodeaux died two weeks ago, nine years after DNA evidence exonerated him and he was released from solitary confinement at Angola Prison in Louisiana. Thibodeaux had been arrested in 1996 for the murder of his 14-year-old cousin in New Orleans. The Innocence Project of New York later reinvestigated the case and Thibodeaux's conviction was ultimately overturned.
"He was only 47, so he lost 16 years of his life behind bars for something he hadn't done," Steve Kaplan, Thibodeaux's former lawyer, told USA TODAY. "The resilience and the strength of mind to endure what he went through on death row takes a mental strength that is beyond my comprehension." Read more here.
– Asha C. Gilbert
Russian President Vladimir Putin is going into self-isolation because of coronavirus cases in his inner circle, the Kremlin said Tuesday, adding that he tested negative for COVID-19.
Putin has been fully vaccinated with the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, receiving his second shot in April.
Contributing: The Associated Press