Vaccine approval, mandates may help US control COVID-19 by next year, Fauci says: Latest COVID-19 updates

Vaccine approval, mandates may help US control COVID-19 by next year, Fauci says: Latest COVID-19 updates

After the Food and Drug Administration issued its full stamp of approval on the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, an avalanche of new mandates is now expected.

Already, the University of Michigan issued new restrictions Monday that students would be required to provide proof of vaccination and the White House signaled more mandates were on the way within the federal government to cover more factions within agencies. 

President Joe Biden also called on companies, nonprofit groups, government agencies and schools to “step up vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people.” 

The FDA’s approval and additional mandates come as the delta variant continues to cause surges of new infections across the country. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said the combination of the Pfizer-BioNTech receiving full approval and the expectation of new vaccine mandates might help the U.S. get a handle on the disease and bring us closer to normalcy. 

“If we can get through this winter and get really the majority – overwhelming majority – of the 90 million people who have not been vaccinated, vaccinated, I hope we can start to get some good control in the spring of 2022,” Fauci told CNN. 

Also in the news:

► An Italian student tattooed his COVID-19 vaccination pass on his arm. The QR code tattooed on his forearm actually works when scanned, he says. 

►New York City officials announced Monday that all Department of Education staff, including teachers, principals and custodians, will be required to get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27.

►Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that officials are preparing to issue guidance to require COVID-19 vaccination for the military now that the Pfizer vaccine has receivec full approval. He did not say when that guidance would be issued.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had nearly 38 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 629,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 212 million cases and 4.4 million deaths. More than 171 million Americans — 51.5% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: Pediatricians say it’s a “no-no” to vaccinate children under 12 against COVID-19 – even though it’s now legal. Read about it here. 

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.

America’s delta-driven surge has entered a deadlier phase

Cases are rising in 42 states, the lowest number of states seen in six weeks. But deaths are now increasing in 43 states — the worst tally since December, before America’s deadliest month of the pandemic, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

U.S. deaths in the week ending Monday totaled 7,225. At that pace, America experiences the loss of a Pearl Harbor attack three times a week, or the human cost of a 9/11 attack every three days.

In the latest week, the U.S. reported 1,050,689 new cases, similar to 104 cases every minute, not far from two every second. The pace of new cases may be slowing; the latest week for cases is up about 11.7% over a week earlier. The pace of new deaths, however, increased 52.2%.

On Monday, Oregon reported its worst-ever week for cases and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported its worst week for deaths.

Some of the states hardest-hit in this wave of the coronavirus may have peaked in cases, but other states are increasing fast. Monday saw new case count records in communities that are home to about 4.8 million Americans, including records in 26 Georgia counties, 16 Kentucky counties and 10 Mississippi counties.

Camden County, Georgia, and Douglas County, Oregon, on Monday reported their worst ever weeks for both cases and deaths.

— Mike Stucka

FDA warns against use of animal dewormer as COVID-19 treatment

Health officials are warning against using a drug called ivermectin for unapproved use as a medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19.

The drug, which has been approved only as an anti-parasitic treatment for humans and animals, such as livestock and horses, has been the subject of a spike in calls to the Mississippi Poison Control Center. 

The drugs produced for humans are different than the drug made for livestock, which is “highly concentrated and is toxic to people, and can cause serious harm,” the Mississippi State Department of Health said in an alert Monday. At least two people have been hospitalized with potential ivermectin toxicity after ingesting the drug produced for livestock, the state’s poison control center said Monday.

Interest in the drug is rising as the delta variant of the coronavirus has spurred higher COVID-19 transmission rates and increased concern among the vaccinated about becoming infected.

Multiple reports of patients treated or hospitalized after “self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses” led the Food and Drug Administration to issue a warning Friday. “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” the agency said on Twitter.   

Hawaii Gov. David Ige urges tourists to stay home amid COVID surge

Hawaii Gov. David Ige is urging tourists not to visit the popular destination through October due to a surge in COVID cases that has the state’s hospitals at capacity.

“It’s not a good time to travel to the islands,” he said at a news conference Monday.

Monday’s announcement does not mean travelers cannot visit Hawaii, as the state did not tighten its entry requirements. Since October, travelers have been able to visit by presenting a negative COVID test to bypass the state’s strict quarantine. In July, the testing requirement went away for vaccinated travelers.

There has been speculation the testing requirement would return due to the spike in COVID cases from the delta variant but Ige said that is difficult to do since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says domestic travel is safe for vaccinated travelers.

How one woman vaccinated more than 94% of her Alabama town 

Dorothy Oliver sits behind the counter inside her General Store most days, selling canned peaches, cold sodas, Marlboro cigarettes and other items she has in stock. A white trailer in Panola, Alabama, houses the store, and it is the only place to shop for miles. 

She grew up in Cooksville, Mississippi, but in her decades living in Panola, Oliver has become one of the most influential people in the area. 

“All of them know me,” she said of her customers. “They come in, and I just start talking to them like I know them. I don’t have to know you to talk to you.” 

She wasn’t afraid to ask her customers about their vaccination status and helped ease the concerns of many of her customers. But when the vaccine started being widely available, the nearest clinics offering them were about a 40-minute drive. Oliver said she wanted to make the process easy, so she volunteered to help schedule appointments and drive her customers to and from the sites. 

“A lot of them had a lot of doubts, and then I had a lot of them that were excited that they had somebody who could help them,” she said.  

There are approximately 350 people in the Panola area, and according to Oliver’s records, only about 20 adults in the community are left unvaccinated. She keeps a slowly dwindling list of them. Read more about Oliver’s efforts here. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

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