The Latest: Navajo nation reports rise in virus cases
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation on Saturday reported 25 additional COVID-19 cases as officials said some tribal members are foregoing needed precautions to ward off spread of the coronavirus.
“A lot of the new cases we are seeing on the Navajo Nation are due to family and social gatherings where people let their guard down and don’t wear masks,”″ tribal President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.
Nez noted that the virus’ highly contagious delta variant is spreading quickly in many states and said people visiting other households should wear masks and encourage others to do so.
The three additional deaths reported Saturday increased the pandemic’s toll to 1,377.
The Navajo Nation’s sprawling reservation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— French police clash with anti-virus pass protesters in Paris
— U.S. tenants prepare for unknown as coronavirus eviction moratorium ends
— Tokyo witnesses coronavirus record at Olympics midpoint
— In West Africa, rising cases finally brings demand for vaccinations
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PHOENIX — Phoenix: A Republican legislator who supported legislation enacted in late June to prohibit school districts from requiring the wearing of masks said she has asked government lawyers to determine when the prohibition takes effect.
Sen. Kelly Townsend’s requests Friday to the Legislature’s legal office and the state Attorney General’s Office was a response to Phoenix Union High School District’s announcement that it will require students, staff and visitors to wear masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
The prohibition in budget legislation is retroactive to July 1, but the budget legislation itself doesn’t take effect until Sept. 29, 90 days after the end of the Legislature’s 2021 regular session.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida has reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state’s highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to federal health data released Saturday.
The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the U.S.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, and along with the Florida Legislature, has limited local officials’ ability to impose measures meant to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday showed how quickly the number of cases is rising in the Sunshine State. Only a day earlier, Florida reported 17,093 new daily cases.
The previous peak in Florida had been 19,334 cases reported on Jan. 7.
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada state employees who aren’t fully vaccinated for COVID-19 must take weekly virus tests starting Aug. 15.
Gov. Steve Sisolak announced the testing policy in a statement on Friday. As with other governors who have implemented similar vaccination or testing policies for their states, Sisolak’s statement made it clear his intent to nudge workers to get vaccinated.
Vaccination “is the best tool we have to combat this virus and we are committed to making state government a safe and healthy environment for all employees and the public we are charged with serving,” he said.
Under Nevada’s mask mandate, state employees who live in substantial or high transmission counties — nearly all of the state — generally must wear a mask while working, the statement noted.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka received 728,460 doses of AstraZeneca from the COVAX program on Saturday.
The consignment was flown as part of the total contribution of more than 1.4 million doses provided by Japan through the COVAX’s dose sharing, said UNICEF in a statement.
The Health Ministry says part of the doses will be used to give the second doses.
This is the third consignment of COVID vaccines received by Sri Lanka under the COVAX Facility. The first delivery was 264,000 doses of AstraZeneca in March, followed by 1.5 million Moderna vaccines in July.
The country has been facing a shortage more than 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine after the producer in the neighboring India failed to deliver the promised shots because of the surge of the virus in India.
Sri Lanka has registered 306,662 cases and 4,380 deaths.
PARIS — Thousands protested France’s coronavirus pass by marching through Paris and other French cities. Most demonstrations were peaceful but some in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas.
Some 3,000 security forces deployed around the French capital for a third weekend of protests against the pass that will be needed soon to enter restaurants and other places. Police took up posts along Paris’ Champs-Elysees.
With coronavirus infections spiking and hospitalizations rising, French lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of Aug. 9. Polls show a majority of French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed.
The pass requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health care workers by mid-September.
PHOENIX — Arizona reported more than 2,000 new daily cases for the first time in nearly five months.
It comes amid increases in the state’s rolling average of new cases and more virus-related hospitalizations.
Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily cases rose over the past two weeks from 898 to 1,577. The daily death average declined from 13 to 11.
The number of virus patients occupying hospital beds topped 1,000 for the third straight day, with 1,106 Friday. That’s double the number on June 30 and the most since March 2.
Public health officials in Arizona and elsewhere attribute the worsening spread to the contagious delta variant and low vaccination rates.
“Unlike last summer when we were headed into school w/ declining rates, the match has been lit and the kindling is aflame this time,″ Dr. Joe K. Gerald, a University of Arizona researcher who tracks COVID-19 data, said on Twitter.
The additional 2,066 cases and 22 deaths increased Arizona’s confirmed pandemic totals to 927,235 cases and 18,246 deaths.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California spent nearly $200 million to set up, operate and staff alternate care sites that ultimately weren’t needed as much as feared when during the coronavirus surge last winter.
It was a costly way to learn that California’s hospital system is far more elastic than was thought at the start of the pandemic. The system expanded enough to accommodate most patients during the dire surge when hospitalizations topped 20,000 and nearly 700 people died weekly.
The traditional hospital system squeaked through the worst of the pandemic with little overflow into the alternate care sites because the state temporarily eased nurse-to-patient staffing ratios — designed to protect the sick and their caretakers — and because of a scramble to bring in temporary outside workers, said Stephanie Roberson, government relations director of the California Nurses Association.
Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the state Office of Emergency Services, said officials learned that it is better to align the state’s efforts with existing health care facilities than to set up makeshift, stand-alone hospitals.
The state budgeted $74.5 million for the fiscal year that started this month to cover late-arriving bills or if there is another surge that requires the state to ramp up again.
BOSTON — Tenants who are months behind on rent face the end to a federal eviction moratorium Saturday.
Housing advocates fear the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium could result in millions of people being evicted in the coming weeks, forcing some to become homeless just as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading. The Biden administration announced Thursday it will allow a nationwide ban to expire. It argued that its hands are tied after the Supreme Court signaled the moratorium could only be extended until the end of the month without congressional action.
The moratorium, put in place by the CDC in September to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, is credited with keeping 2 million people in their homes over the past year as the pandemic battered the economy, according to the Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. Eviction moratoriums will remain in place in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, California and Washington, D.C., until they expire later this year.
Elsewhere, the end of the federal moratorium amid surging cases from the delta variant means evictions could begin Monday, ushering in the worst housing crisis since the Great Recession.
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — A memorial grove to COVID-19 victims has been planted in Ohio, and governors and lawmakers elsewhere are pursuing similar permanent remembrances.
One widow says such memorials to victims of the coronavirus could help heal wounds for survivors robbed of funerals and other comforting death rituals. Such memorials would outlast the equally heartfelt yet ephemeral tributes of flags, candles and artwork springing up across the country.
The organization Marked by COVID plans to push Congress later this year to back a national memorial. The group’s co-founder says the idea is unifying at a time of deep division.
The process of creating more lasting remembrances that honor the over 600,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus is fraught compared to past memorial drives because of the politics. Last year, a bill kickstarting a national COVID-19 memorial process died in Congress as the Trump administration sought to deemphasize the ravages of the pandemic.
HARTFORD, Conn — Parents and policy makers across the nation have been plunged anew into a debate over whether face coverings should be optional or a mandate when schools reopen.
U.S. health officials recommended this week that children mask up in school this fall because of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
Some states may heed the federal government’s guidance and require masks. Others are leaving the decision up to parents. Many fear their children will be put at risk by those who don’t take the virus seriously enough to wear a mask.
In Connecticut, anti-mask rallies have happened outside Gov. Ned Lamont’s official residence in Hartford, and lawn signs and bumper stickers call on him to “unmask our kids.” The Democrat has said he’ll likely follow the latest advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC on Tuesday recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status. The agency cited the risk of spread of the highly contagious delta variant, even among vaccinated people.
BERLIN — Germany’s government plans to stop covering the cost of rapid coronavirus tests, according to the nation’s health ministry.
“Health Minister Jens Spahn already said weeks ago that he thinks it’s conceivable for the government to stop offering free tests to unvaccinated people at a later date,” the ministry told the German news agency dpa. No exact date has been set.
The confirmation comes after a report in the Bild newspaper, which said the government would stop paying for tests as soon as everyone has had the opportunity to receive two doses of vaccine, meaning late September or early October.
Since March, German citizens and residents have been eligible to receive free rapid coronavirus tests in pharmacies and designated testing centers across the country. The tests have been a crucial part of Germany’s reopening strategy: Those who cannot show proof that they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus must present a negative test result for certain activities, including dining indoors at restaurants or staying in a hotel.
Some government officials have recently begun advocating for this shift to incentivize vaccination, saying unvaccinated individuals should bear the costs once everyone has had an opportunity to get the vaccine.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alabama jumped from 204 to 1,345 in July.
Fueled by the delta variant, health officials say they are concerned the state will soon see numbers that match, or exceed, the previous peak of the pandemic.
Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who heads the Alabama Hospital Association, says state hospitals are seeing an increase of about 70 to 90 patients per day with COVID-19.
Alabama’s status as the least vaccinated state in the country at 34% has caused health officials to emphasize the need for mask-wearing and vaccinations. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Alabama has risen over the past two weeks from 666 cases per day on July 14 to 1,707 cases per day on July 28.
DAKAR, Senegal — Thousands of new coronavirus cases have been reported in West Africa in recent weeks amid low vaccination rates and the spread of the delta variant.
Officials say cases have risen sharply in Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and elsewhere. The surge is pushing a reluctant population to seek out the COVID-19 vaccine in larger numbers at a time when doses are arriving from multiple sources after nearly stopping across Africa in recent months.
Misinformation and conspiracy theories previously prevented many from getting the shots. But officials say more residents in West Africa are lining up as people close to them fall ill and funeral numbers rise.
Confirmed cases in Senegal, which had been ahead in the fight against the virus, leapt from 380 on July 10 to 1,700 on July 18, the highest number since the start of the pandemic, according to the Ministry of Health.
Senegal received nearly 300,000 Johnson & Johnson doses and more than 330,000 of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in the past week. Tens of thousands of residents are waiting for a second dose of AstraZeneca, but it is out of stock and new deliveries are not expected until August.