Nearly 72K children test positive in the past week; heart problems associated with vaccines are uncommon, study shows: COVID-19 updates

As the school year approaches in most of the country, there’s increasing evidence — both numerical and anecdotal — of children’s vulnerability to the coronavirus and its highly transmissible delta variant.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said that as of July 29, almost 4.2 million children have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began, nearly 72,000 of them in the last week. That’s almost twice as many as the 39,000 infections from the previous week. For perspective, about 79,000 Americans of all ages tested positive in a week of late June.

Two children with COVID-19 died over the weekend at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

One of the children was a patient at the hospital, said Le Bonheur’s Dr. Nick Hysmith, a pediatric infectious disease specialist. Another child died during transit to the hospital, he said. The child was coming to the regional hospital from a neighboring hospital.

“It’s important for everyone to know that we’re seeing sicker kids, we’re seeing more kids be admitted that are sick with actual COVID illness, and that those kids, some of them are in our intensive care unit and some of them are intubated,” Hysmith said.

“I just think it’s really important for the public to realize that kids are getting sick,” Hysmith said. “This is happening.”

Also in the news:

►The Food and Drug Administration is aiming to fully approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine by the start of next month, according to The New York Times.

►Nearly all foreign visitors will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering the U.S., according to a plan the Biden administration is working on, The Associated Press reported.

►Officials in the city of Los Angeles are considering a proposal that would require people to show proof they’ve been vaccinated to enter restaurants, museums, gyms and other public spaces, following in the footsteps of New York City, which became the first in the country to require proof of the COVID-19 vaccine to enter many indoor public spaces this week.

►Texas state health officials say new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the state are showing steeper jumps than past surges in the pandemic. In a video conference Wednesday, a spokesman for the Department of State Health Services said the rolling seven-day average of new virus infections cases has increased 92% from last week, while hospitalizations rose 49% and deaths from COVID-19 grew by 15%.

►The number of students and staff at an east Arkansas school district who have quarantined because of a coronavirus outbreak has grown to more than 700.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 35.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 614,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 200.1 million cases and 4.2 million deaths. More than 165.8 million Americans — 49.8% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘What we’re reading: Chicago’s Lollapalooza is a “recipe for disaster,” experts warn. Should more music festivals be canceled amid COVID-19?

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.

Here’s what we know about the lambda variant

More than 90% of new coronavirus infections across the U.S. are from the delta variant, according to the latest data from the CDC. The primary delta strand accounted for 83.4% of infections in the two-week period that ended July 31, the CDC says. Other delta strands represented another 10%.

But other variants are causing concerns on social media as well, such as the lambda variant.

The lambda variant, first detected in Peru in August 2020, made its way to the U.S. for the first time on July 22 and now accounts for 1,053 cases in the country. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both don’t classify the variant as a variant of concern, a classification given to both alpha and delta. It accounts for a handful of cases in 28 countries, according to GISAID, an initiative dedicated to promoting COVID-19 data through genomic sequencing.

Though some studies say that the variant could be resistant to vaccines or highly transmissible, the lambda variant isn’t showing signs to spark concern about it becoming the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States like delta, Dr. Abhijit Duggal, a staff ICU physician and director for critical care research for the medical ICU at the Cleveland Clinic, told the Nashville Tennessean.

Fayetteville State University freshman wins vaccine lottery drawing

A freshman at Fayetteville State University is the third winner of the $1 million COVID-19 vaccine lottery, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday during his COVID-19 briefing.

Audrey Chavous, 18, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was selected at random on July 21 for the third giveaway of $1 million in North Carolina’s vaccine lottery. Chavous will start her freshman year at Fayetteville State University this fall.

The vaccine lottery in North Carolina awards $1 million to four individuals 18 years or older who choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Four $125,000 scholarships are being awarded to four vaccinated individuals under the age of 18 as well.

Chavous joined the governor during his COVID-19 briefing and discussed why she chose to get vaccinated and what she plans to do with the money.

“I chose to get vaccinated, not only for the safety of other people around me, but simply for the safety of myself,” she said.

– Jack Boden, The Fayetteville Observer

Barbie launches special edition dolls of prominent COVID-19 medical experts

Mattel announced Wednesday that they would be creating a Barbie doll of Professor Sarah Gilbert, who played a crucial role in developing the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The barbie made in her likeness will sport her signature dark-rimmed glasses and long auburn hair while wearing professional attire.

The doll derives from Mattel’s latest #ThankYouHeroes program, according to a news release from the toy manufacturer. They will be making five other dolls of other prominent first responders in the world’s fight against COVID-19.

According to Mattel, they have five other special edition Barbies lined up: Amy O’Sullivan of the U.S.; Dr. Audrey Sue Cruz of the U.S.; Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa of Canada; Dr. Jaqueline Goes de Jesus of Brazil; and Dr. Kirby White of Australia.

As part of the program, Barbie will donate $5 for each special edition doll sold at participating Target stores to the First Responders Children’s Foundation, the statement said.

Gilbert told The Guardian that she thought being made into a Barbie was “very strange” but also hoped it would empower young girls.

“I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of girls into Stem careers and hope that children who see my Barbie will realize how vital careers in science are to help the world around us,” Gilbert told The Guardian. “My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a vaccinologist.”

Heart problems associated with U.S. vaccines are uncommon, research shows

For every one million Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, only 60 developed heart problems, according to a new study published in the JAMA Network Wednesday. The study found that the complications were short-lived.

Myocarditis associated with vaccination was primarily prevalent among younger male individuals within a few days after the second vaccine, the study said.

“We see that these adverse events are leading to very short and unremarkable hospital stays,” Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who wasn’t part of the study told The New York Times. “The same can’t be said of hospitalizations for COVID-19 in this or any age group so far.”

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