Coronavirus Updates: Hospitalizations at highest point in 6 months

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information

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Thursday, August 19, 2021
COVID hospitaizations reach highest point in six months
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Ike Ejiochi has more on the battle against the coronavirus in the US.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- As the delta variant maintains its grip, the U.S. case average is now surging to more than 128,000 new daily cases.

Hospitalizations are now at their highest point in over six months. In Alabama, ICU beds are overflowing.

As mask mandates continue to be a point of contention, President Biden warned he would take legal action against governors who block schools on mask policies.

The Paris, Texas school district found a loophole in Governor Abbott's ban on mask mandates by adding mask requirements to the dress code.

Here are more of today's headlines:

3 senators test positive for COVID-19 in breakthrough cases

Three senators said Thursday they have tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, a high-profile collection of breakthrough cases that comes as the highly infectious delta variant spreads rapidly across the United States.

Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., all said they have tested positive for the virus. Almost every member of the Senate spent long hours together on the chamber's floor last week in an all-night session of budget votes before leaving town for August recess.

Connecticut vaccine mandate

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Thursday that started Sept. 27, the COVID vaccine will be required for long-term care employees and state employees in hospital facilities.

A vaccine mandate with a testing option will go into effect for all other state employees (excluding hospital facilities), K-12 teachers and staff and early childhood staff.

Lamont faces pushback over school mask mandate

It was a bill signing to encourage teacher recruitment and to introduce the new state education commissioner, but for Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont COVID remains the concern.

On Thursday, Lamont held firm on the executive order that will require all students grades K-12 to wear masks through at least the month of September.

With no beds, hospitals ship critically ill COVID patients to far-off cities

Many overwhelmed hospitals, with no beds to offer, are putting critically ill COVID-19 patients on planes, helicopters and ambulances and sending them hundreds of miles to far-flung states for treatment.

The surge in the delta variant of the virus, combined with low vaccination rates, has pushed hospitals to the brink in many states and resulted in a desperate scramble to find beds for patients.

Masks in schools and COVID booster shots top agenda in NY

With the start of the school year fast approaching, the safety of students and teachers has taken center stage in New York.

New York State is not expected to mandate that students get vaccinated, but they will have to wear a mask no matter what district you're in.

States banning mask mandates could face civil rights probes

In an escalating battle with Republican governors, President Joe Biden on Wednesday ordered his Education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19.

In response, the Education Department raised the possibility of using its civil rights arm to fight policies in Florida, Texas, Iowa and other Republican-led states that have barred public schools from requiring masks in the classroom

Over 10,000 students in Florida school district isolated or quarantined a week into school year

Just a week into the school year, over 10,000 students and staff in the Hillsborough County Public Schools district in Florida have been isolated or quarantined as districts across the state grapple with COVID-19.

Hillsborough is the seventh-largest school district in the U.S., with more than 213,000 students. As of Wednesday, 10,384 students and 338 staffers are isolated or under quarantine, the district told ABC News.

What to know about delta and other COVID-19 variants of concern

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed the COVID-19 delta variant as one of its "variants of concern" (VOCs) on June 15. According to the CDC, VOCs can be more contagious, more dangerous, less susceptible to available treatments or harder to detect. The current VOCs all have mutations in the virus's spike protein, which acts as a key to break into cells to infect them. And that's a potential concern because the spike protein from the original version of the virus is what scientists used to design all three authorized vaccines. It's also what monoclonal antibody treatments latch on to so the virus can't get into your cells, effectively "neutralizing" the threat. So far none of these mutations have changed the virus enough to undercut the vaccines. The uncontrolled spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, means the virus is mutating quickly. That's why many new variants are being discovered in places with the highest infection rates and large numbers of unvaccinated individuals, like the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Brazil.

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