NEW YORK (WABC) -- The Delta variant is spreading furiously among the unvaccinated, and it's now estimated to account for four out of every five cases of COVID-19.
"The Delta variant now represents 83% of sequenced cases," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. "Vaccines are widely available across the country, and this suffering and loss is simply and entirely preventable."
Across the country, the average number of patients admitted to hospitals each day is up to more than 55%.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she is considering reinstituting restrictions.
"If we allow the virus to continue to linger here in Chicago, we will likely have to re-enforce some of the restrictions that have come to infamously define much of 2020 and part of 2021," she said.
Meanwhile in Arizona, schools aren't allowed to require students or teachers to wear masks. The most populous county in the state is Maricopa, which has seen a 75% increase in COVID cases in just the last week.
Here are more of today's headlines:
Vaccines or weekly testing required for NYC health workers
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that New York City healthcare workers will have to show one-time proof of vaccination or submit weekly negative COVID-19 test results beginning August 2. The move comes amid a growing rise in the number of COVID cases across the city, the majority of which are being caused by the more contagious Delta variant of the virus.
Fauci, Rand Paul get in shouting match over Wuhan lab COVID research
GOP Sen. Rand Paul stepped up his months-long fight with the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, suggesting he lied to Congress about whether the National Institutes of Health funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and triggering an angry shouting match. At a Senate Health Committee hearing meant to update lawmakers on the country's COVID-19 response, the Kentucky Republican began by asking Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, if he's aware that it's a crime to lie to Congress.
Spike in air rage incidents, majority involve passengers' refusal of mask mandate
With the rise in airline passengers has come a rise in violence and aggression in our nation's airports and onboard flights throughout the country. On Tuesday, two federal U.S. agencies, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sounded the alarm on the increasingly unfriendly skies. The FAA announced nearly 100 more in-flight incidents with unruly passengers -- a week after its worst weekly report of unruly passengers this summer -- bringing this year's total to 3,509 reports. An overwhelming majority of these in-flight incidents, 2,605, involve passengers who refuse to comply with the federal mask mandate.
Texas hospital reports its 1st case of lambda COVID-19 variant
A major Texas hospital system has reported its first case of the lambda COVID-19 variant, as the state reels from the rampant delta variant. Houston Methodist Hospital, which operates eight hospitals in its network, said the first lambda case was confirmed Monday. The lambda variant was first detected in Peru in December 2020, according to the World Health Organization and makes up 81% of COVID-19 cases sequenced in the country since April 2021, according to a June WHO report. Currently, WHO designates lambda as a "variant of interest."
MTA won't increase fare in 2021
The MTA announced that it would not increase fare prices this year and it would not take any cost-cutting measures as it is set to receive $10.5 billion in federal aid. Additionally, fare revenues are trending higher than expected. The authority's board met Wednesday to discuss a wide range of topics, including possible fare hikes. The meeting comes as mask compliance among subway riders is falling, even as COVID cases are on the rise across the city.
NJ giving $135M boost to small businesses amid pandemic
Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation to give another boost to small businesses struggling amidst the pandemic. In fact, he signed the bill at a small business, Simply Vietnamese restaurant in Tenafly. The bill provides $135 million to small businesses throughout the state and will be administered by the Economic Development Authority as part of its Phase IV Emergency Grant Program and NJ Community Stage Relief Grant Program.
"As small businesses throughout New Jersey continue to struggle from the economic aftermath of COVID-19, we remain committed to providing them with the resources they need to recover," Murphy said. "Together with our partners at the federal level, the EDA and other departments have provided more than three-quarters of a billion dollars to our small business community as we emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient."
NYC vaccination rates by zip code
There are about a dozen communities in the New York City area where three out of four people have not been vaccinated yet. 7 On Your Side Investigates created a map where the darkest colored zip codes have the most vaccinated New Yorkers and the lightest, the least.
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