Delta-driven surge in US enters deadlier phase — and who’s dying is changing: Latest COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

While the Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, America’s delta-driven surge of COVID-19 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.

The face of who is dying is also changing quickly. Deaths are increasingly centered among white non-Hispanic people, a USA TODAY analysis of National Centers for Health Statistics data show.

Most other racial and ethnic groups now have a smaller share of deaths, but white non-Hispanics, which represent about 61.1% of all deaths during the pandemic, made up 68.8% of the deaths reported so far in July and August.

Meanwhile, the share of deaths among young people is jumping, too, with people in their 30s and people aged 18 to 29 both having roughly tripled their share of deaths in July and August, preliminary Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallies show.

And people in their 50s and early 60s have represented fewer than 1 of every 6 victims in the entire pandemic, but in July and August, they represent more than 1 of every 4.

Mike Stucka

Also in the news:

Kentucky will send National Guard members to hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and facing a nursing shortage, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday. The announcement came as the state broke its records for hospitalizations, patients in intensive care units and patients on ventilators. 

►The Supreme Court is expected to decide in the coming days whether to block President Joe Biden’s eviction moratorium. Millions of Americans are behind on rent and could face eviction if the high court stops the CDC-ordered moratorium, while property owners say they’ve had to pay their own expenses for months.

►As Israel expands its vaccine booster efforts amid the spread of the delta variant, data show that the rate of the virus’ spread is falling among those who have received a third dose, Reuters reported.

►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 received full approval. He did not say when that guidance would be issued.

► 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. 

📈 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: After the Pfizer vaccine received full approval Monday from the FDA, millions of Americans were left with a confusing, difficult task: How in the heck do you pronounce Comirnaty? That’s the brand name for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s how you say it.

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.

Pediatricians say don’t yet vaccinate children under 12 against COVID-19

Leading pediatricians said loudly and in unison Monday that doctors should not prescribe COVID-19 vaccines to children under 12

With the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, such “off-label” use is now legal. But it’s definitely not a good idea, a number of experts said.

“We don’t have the data on young children. So that really ought to be a no-no,” said Dr. Jesse Goodman, an infectious disease expert at Georgetown University.

Yet while the American Academy of Pediatrics agreed children should not yet get vaccinated, the group is also calling on the FDA to accelerate the process of authorizing shots for children under 12, by relying on early trial data rather than waiting for more complete results. 

In the week ending Aug. 19, there were approximately 180,000 children and adolescents infected with COVID-19, virtually all with the delta variant, the AAP said Monday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 4.6 million minors have been infected – almost 15% of total cases – and rates have increased four-fold in just the last month, reaching roughly the same levels as last winter’s surge. Hospitalization and death remains low among children.

– Karen Weintraub

Vaccine approval, mandates may help US control COVID by next year, Fauci says

As the FDA’s approval and additional vaccine mandates were announced Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, the measures might help the U.S. get a handle on the disease by next year.

“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

After the FDA issued full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, CVS, the University of Michigan, Chevron, the city of Chicago and New York and New Jersey’s public schools were all among the businesses, schools and governments to announced new vaccine requirements for some or all of their employees.

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

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. 

“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. 

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