Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are weighing revising their COVID-19 guidelines to recommend that even fully vaccinated individuals wear masks in public.
Fauci, the nation’s top government infectious disease official, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he’s taken part in conversations about altering the guidelines, something he described as being “under active consideration.”
In the last two weeks, COVID-19 cases have increased 171% nationally, fueled by the delta variant. The death rate is up 19% over the week before.
Eleven weeks ago, when more than 1 million Americans a day were getting vaccinated and COVID-19 case counts were low, the CDC announced that most fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks inside, even in crowded spaces.
“More mitigation is coming. Whether it’s masking, or whether it’s closures or whether it’s your kids having to return to virtual learning, that is coming,” Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. surgeon general, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“And it’s coming because this pandemic is spiraling out of control yet again. And it’s spiraling out of control because we don’t have enough people vaccinated.”
Los Angeles County and other municipalities are requiring everyone to wear masks indoors. St. Louis announced that beginning Monday, everyone 5 years and older must wear masks indoors, vaccinated or unvaccinated. The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending universal masking in schools.
Around 1.5 million doses were reported administered this weekend, the CDC said. Sunday’s total of 779,000 marked an increase of 29% of Americans newly vaccinated from the week prior, over a 7-day average, said White House COVID-19 Director Dr. Cyrus Shahpar.
But with 49.1% of the nation fully vaccinated, the U.S. is a long way from herd immunity, made more difficult by the rapid spread of the Delta variant, now accounting for 83% of cases nationwide.
Also in the news:
►At least 17 cases of COVID-19 have been identified stemming from attendees at the Faster Horses Festival last month, according to the Michigan Department and Human Services. Some of these individuals were at the festival while they were infectious.
►Several states, including Florida, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota, scaled back their reporting of COVID-19 statistics this month just as cases across the country started to skyrocket, depriving the public of real-time information on outbreaks, cases, hospitalizations and deaths in their communities.
►German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff warned this weekend that restrictions for unvaccinated people may be necessary if COVID-19 infection numbers reach new heights in the coming months.
►Tokyo Olympic organizers announced 10 new positive tests on Sunday among people connected to the Games, bringing the total to at least 137, including 16 athletes, reported the New York Times.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 34.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 610,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 194 million cases and 4.15 million deaths. More than 163 million Americans — 49.1% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading: Florida leads the nation in new cases, recording more this week than California, Texas, New York and Illinois combined. And like elsewhere, the unvaccinated make up nearly all of the hospitalized and the dead. But residents, including many health care workers, are still wary of the shot. Read more.
Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.
A South Korean study found evidence of increased antibody levels when people received a mixed vaccination schedule of an AstraZeneca shot then the Pfizer vaccine, Reuters reported. The study follows one from the U.K. with similar results when mixing AstraZeneca then Pfizer, rather than two doses of AstraZeneca.
The FDA has not yet authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine in the U.S.
Public health officials have asked whether a “mix-and-match” vaccine schedule would be safe and effective. There have also been questions over whether a booster dose will be needed for those who received two shots of Moderna or Pfizer or one shot of Johnson & Johnson in the U.S as coronavirus variants spread.
Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, however, called the mixed approach a “dangerous trend” earlier this month, adding that it could lead to people deciding for themselves which vaccines to combine and how many doses to receive.
Humans are not the only ones catching COVID-19 during the surge. An unvaccinated snow leopard at the San Diego Zoo has contracted the coronavirus, according to a statement from the zoo.
The 9-year-old snow leopard named Ramil tested positive for the virus on Friday after a wildlife care specialist noticed he had a cough and nasal discharge, the statement said.
The snow leopard appears to be doing well with no other symptoms, according to the statement. Ramil shared the same habitat as a female snow leopard and two Amur leopards who may have also been exposed. It is assumed that they have been exposed and are currently under quarantine as veterinarians monitor their symptoms.
In January, three gorillas tested positive for COVID at the San Diego Zoo, the first known case in apes. The San Diego Zoo announced on July 6 that animals at the zoo and safari park would be receiving COVID-19 vaccines for some of their animals, including wild cats and mustelids. The doses from Zoetis, a New Jersey-based veterinary pharmaceutical company, require two vaccines three weeks apart, similar to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
It is not known how Zamil got infected.
– Steven Vargas
A conservative Tennessee-based talk radio host has changed his previously skeptical messaging on vaccines after being hospitalized with COVID-19, his family said.
Phil Valentine, who has posted on social media dissuading his audience from getting vaccinated if they aren’t “in danger of dying” from COVID, has been hospitalized in the critical care unit and is receiving supplemental oxygen, but is not on a ventilator, according to his brother.
Valentine told listeners after being diagnosed — but before being hospitalized — that he chose not to get a COVID vaccine because he thought he probably wouldn’t die from the disease.
His brother, Mark Valentine, said on WWTN-FM in Nashville this week that his brother has never been an “anti-vaxxer,” but was “pro-information” and “pro-choice” regarding the vaccine.
“First of all, he’s regretful that he wasn’t a more vocal advocate of the vaccination,” Mark Valentine said. “For those listening, I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories.’”
– Jeanine Santucci
Contributing: Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.