(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 summer surge as the delta variant spreads.
More than 611,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Just 57% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COVID-19 has infected more than 194 million people worldwide and killed over 4.1 million.
-US moved into ‘high’ community transmission category per CDC
-Dept. of Veterans Affairs mandates vaccine
-Savannah reinstates mask mandate indoors
-Orlando area in ‘crisis mode’ as cases skyrocket
Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.
Jul 27, 3:42 pm
NYC hospital mandating vaccines for staff
New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery is requiring its staff be vaccinated as of Sept. 15.
Only staff with a medical or religious reason will be exempt, the hospital said Tuesday.
Jul 27, 3:00 pm
CDC reverses guidance on masks for vaccinated people
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday reversed its mask guidance for vaccinated people due to the delta variant surge.
Vaccinated Americans should now wear masks inside if they’re in places with substantial or high transmission, the CDC said.
“In rare occasions, some vaccinated people can get delta in a breakthrough infection and may be contagious,” the CDC said.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said data shows that on “rare occasions, some vaccinated people with the delta variant … may be contagious and spread the virus to others. This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”
In May, the CDC said vaccinated Americans could stop wearing masks indoors.
The CDC also said Tuesday that masks should be worn in schools by all students, teachers, staff and visitors, even for those who are vaccinated. The CDC said students should return to full-time in-person learning this year with prevention strategies in place.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, calling this an “evolving pandemic,” said Tuesday, “Our responsibility here is to always lead with the science and always lead with the advice of health and medical experts.”
“We’re not saying that wearing a mask is convenient, or people feel like it, but we are telling you that that is the way to protect yourself, protect your loved ones and that’s why the CDC is issuing this guidance,” Psaki said.
-ABC News’ Anne Flaherty and Eric Strauss
Jul 27, 2:03 pm
Cal State requiring vaccinations
California State University, the nation’s largest university system that’s home to nearly 500,000 students, will require vaccinations for in-person students, staff and faculty.
“The current surge in COVID cases due to the spread of the highly infectious delta variant is an alarming new factor that we must consider as we look to maintain the health and well-being of students, employees and visitors to our campuses this fall,” CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro said in a statement Tuesday.
Jul 27, 1:10 pm
Louisiana reports 2nd highest daily case count since January
Louisiana is in a “continued surge,” logging 6,797 new daily cases on Tuesday, the second highest single-day case count since Jan. 6, the state’s Department of Health said.
The department said 99.56% of the cases are linked to community spread, not congregate settings like nursing homes.
New Orleans city officials said Monday that hospital capacity in the region and the state are being stretched to the limits due to a large uptick in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. New Orleans officials said 97% of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the state are unvaccinated.
Jul 26, 7:46 pm
Delta variant is ‘a whole new virus,’ St. Louis health official
St. Louis’ top health official talked with ABC News Monday about Missouri’s rising coronavirus cases and gave a stark warning to the rest of the country.
“The delta variant is a whole new virus,” Dr. Sam Page, the county executive for St. Louis County, Missouri, told ABC News.
Since June, Missouri’s daily case average has surged by 500%, with the state now reporting its highest number of new infections since mid-January. Hospital admissions have more than doubled in recent weeks. They are up by 125% in the last month, according to Page.
At the same time, vaccinations have seen a slight increase the county, Page said. However, he reiterated that it will be at least another month before the county sees full effect of the vaccines in those patients.
“We just wish that we could get people vaccinated sooner because the illness has an unfortunate loss of life associated with it. And that’s just a terrible thing to watch,” Page said.
Page said there was no “silver bullet” that will help increase vaccination rates across the state, or drive down cases immediately, but said that officials must work together fast.
“It’s going to be multifactorial, a lot of education, a lot of time, a lot of comforting,” he said.
ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett and Arielle Mitropoulos
Jul 26, 3:45 pm
US moved into ‘high’ community transmission category per CDC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now categorizing the U.S. as having “high” community transmission, with nearly 62% of counties in the nation reporting high (43.79%) or substantial (18.17%) transmission.
New York County, which includes Manhattan, is among those now reporting substantial community transmission.
One month ago, only 8% of counties were reporting high transmission.
Louisiana, Florida, and Arkansas have the country’s highest case rate with over 300 new cases per 100,000 residents.
Missouri follows closely behind with 200 new cases per 100,000 residents.
Hospitalization numbers are also rising. More than 27,300 COVID-10 patients are in hospitals across the country — a 36.8% jump in the last week.
ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos
Jul 26, 2:44 pm
Dept. of Veterans Affairs mandates vaccine
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced Monday that COVID-19 vaccines will be mandatory for the department’s health care personnel.
Four VA employees, all of whom were unvaccinated, died in recent weeks, the department said. At least three of those cases were linked to the delta variant.
VA employees will have eight weeks to be fully vaccinated.
McDonough said this mandate is “the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country.”
ABC News’ Cindy Smith
Jul 26, 2:06 pm
Unvaccinated NYC municipal workers will have to get weekly testing
All unvaccinated New York City municipal workers will have to get weekly testing by the start of school in September, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.
The new requirement will apply to all city workers, including police officers, firefighters and teachers. The new rule will go into effect on Sept. 13, when students are expected to return to public schools.
The New York Police Department has a 43% vaccination rate while about 55% of New York City Fire Department employees are vaccinated.
Workers in publicly run residential or congregate care facilities, like nursing homes, must present proof of vaccination even earlier, on Aug. 16.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a similar mandate on Monday. Beginning on Aug. 9, state employees and health care workers must show proof of vaccination or get tested regularly.
In California, 75% of those eligible have received at least one dose.
“Everyone that can get vaccinated—should,” Newsom tweeted.
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky
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