In a major retreat in the Deep South, Louisiana ordered nearly everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear masks again in all indoor public settings, including schools and colleges, and so did other cities and states to combat the crisis blamed on fasting. To restore the precautions for transferred. -Variety of prevalence and stubborn resistance to receiving the vaccine.
Biden had set a 70% vaccination target by the Fourth of July. The figure was the low end of initial government estimates that it would be necessary to achieve herd immunity in the US, but has been rendered insufficient by the highly infectious Delta variant, which has enabled the virus to storm back in.
There was no celebration at the White House on Monday, nor was a new target set, as the administration instead struggles to overcome skepticism and outright hostility towards the vaccine, especially in the South and other rural and conservative regions.
The US has not achieved the administration’s second goal of fully vaccinating 165 million American adults as of July 4. That’s about 8.5 million less.
New cases per day in the US have increased six-fold over the past month to an average of about 80,000, a rate not seen since mid-February. And deaths per day have risen from an average of 259 to 360 over the past two weeks.
They are still well below the 3,400 deaths and a quarter million cases per day seen during the worst outbreak in January. But some places across the country are seeing caseloads reach their highest level since the pandemic began. And almost all deaths and serious diseases are now in unvaccinated people.
The surge has prompted states and cities across the US to retreat, just weeks after it looked like the country was seeing warmer-than-normal heat.
Health officials in San Francisco and six other Bay Area counties announced Monday that they are reinstating a requirement that everyone – vaccinated or not – wear a mask in public indoor spaces.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York City airport and transit workers would have to get vaccinated or face weekly testing. He stopped making masks or inoculation mandatory for the general public, saying he did not have the legal authority to do so.
Denver’s mayor said the city would need police officers, firefighters and some other municipal workers, as well as staff from schools, nursing homes, hospitals and prisons, to get vaccinated.
Minnesota’s public colleges and universities will require masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. New Jersey said those working in government nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals and other such institutions should face regular checkups.
The governor of North Carolina ordered state employees under his control to cover up indoors if they were not fully vaccinated.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said a nationwide vaccination requirement is “not on the table,” but noted that employers have the right to take such a step.
The US Senate saw its first revealed breakthrough case of the virus with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina saying she had mild symptoms.
In Florida, it took two months for the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 to jump from 2,000 to 10,000 last summer. Mary Mayhew, president of the Florida Hospital Association, said it only took 27 days for Florida hospitals to see the same increase this summer.
She also noted that this time around, 96% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients have not been vaccinated and are much younger, many of them in their 20s and 30s.
Amid the boom, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis doubled down on his anti-mask, anti-lockdown stance, warning in a fundraising email over the weekend: “They’re coming again for your freedom.”
While setting a national vaccination target may be useful to try to increase enthusiasm for shots, the 70% of Americans receiving one shot will not be enough to stop the increase among non-vaccinated groups. And when he announced the target, Biden acknowledged it was just a first step.
It is the level of vaccination in a community – not a broad national average – that can slow an outbreak or allow it to flourish.
Vaccination rates in some southern states are much lower than in New England. Vermont has fully vaccinated about 78% of its adult population. Alabama just cracked 43%.
Associated Press writers Kelly Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Michelle Liu in Columbia, South Carolina, and Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.