NEW YORK (WABC) -- The CDC is now calling the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, a "variant of concern."
The new label raises the profile of the variant significantly. Before, the agency marked the variant as one "of interest."
An alarming rise in infections attributed to the strain inside the U.S. is a warning to communities with low vaccination rates, and recent estimates are that 10% of infections in the U.S. are caused by the Delta variant - a more than 60% increase in this month alone.
CDC reserves the label for variants when there is "evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease, significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures."
The good news is that the vaccines have been shown to be effective against the variant, but much of the population remains ineligible for the vaccine and people who are immunocompromised also remain at risk.
Here are more of today's headlines:
Yankee Stadium to return to full capacity
When the Yankees take the field on Friday night, they will do so in front of a full house. The New York Yankees announced on Tuesday that Yankee Stadium will return to full capacity starting Friday, June 18 against the Oakland A's.
NY-mandated COVID restrictions lifted across commercial, social settings
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced New York state-mandated COVID restrictions on commercial and social settings are lifted effective immediately -- and to celebrate, there will be fireworks across the state Tuesday night.
"We have hit 70% vaccination," a triumphant Cuomo said Tuesday, meaning the state can "now return to life as we know it."
NY Philharmonic plans 80 concerts at two Lincoln Center venues
The New York Philharmonic announced the dates for it's new season, which begins September 17. They are planning about 80 concerts, down from 120 in a normal year. With the orchestra's home, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, in the midst of a $550 million renovation, most concerts will be at two other venues, Alice Tully Hall and the Rose Theater. Four concerts will be held at Carnegie Hall, and there will be a holiday run of "Messiah" at Riverside Church. The orchestra will present three Sunday matinees, its first since the 1960s, to broaden its audience. There will be no intermissions, at least through December, to discourage gatherings, and the orchestra will follow health guidance.
US COVID-19 death toll hits 600,000, equal to yearly cancer toll
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 600,000 on Tuesday, even as the vaccination drive has drastically brought down daily cases and fatalities and allowed the country to emerge from the gloom and look forward to summer. The number of lives lost, as recorded by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of Baltimore or Milwaukee. It is about equal to the number of Americans who died of cancer in 2019. Worldwide, the COVID-19 death toll stands at about 3.8 million. The real totals in the U.S. and around the globe are thought to be significantly higher, with many cases overlooked or possibly concealed by some countries.
More evidence suggests COVID-19 was in US by Christmas 2019
A new analysis of blood samples from 24,000 Americans taken early last year is the latest and largest study to suggest that the new coronavirus popped up in the U.S. in December 2019 - weeks before cases were first recognized by health officials. The analysis is not definitive, and some experts remain skeptical, but federal health officials are increasingly accepting a timeline in which small numbers of COVID-19 infections may have occurred in the U.S. before the world ever became aware of a dangerous new virus erupting in China.
"The studies are pretty consistent," said Natalie Thornburg, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Over 800 New Yorkers given expired COVID vaccine
A pop-up vaccination site at the former site of Times Square's NFL Experience informed 899 patients that they need to be re-vaccinated after receiving expired Pfizer doses. The city's Department of Health says they've "communicated with Pfizer, which recommended that the patients receive another dose as soon as possible. While there is no safety risk for the patients, the re-administration is being carried out to ensure that the individuals are fully protected."
Long Island school district denies student's mask exemption request from family pediatrician
A medical consultant for the New York State Education Department overruled a request from the pediatrician of an elementary school student on Long Island that she not be required to wear a mask outdoors due to her asthma, according to documents obtained exclusively by Eyewitness News.
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