Schools implement mask mandates even as some states impose bans; US reports one case every second: Live COVID-19 updates


The U.S. Department of Education Monday released a roadmap for the return to school this fall, encouraging districts to invest in physical and emotional support for students.

Among the roadmap’s recommendations: That school systems follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s masking guidance for schools, released last week in the face of rising cases attributed to the delta variant. But a few states have already passed laws banning schools from following this guidance, others say they won’t enforce it.

One district in Arizona, where lawmakers have prohibited mask mandates, announced June 30 that it would require masks indoors. Phoenix Union High School District opened its doors to masked students Monday, and Tuesday, Phoenix Elementary School District followed suit.

“Let’s all do our part to help protect our children, our employees, and their families, by wearing face coverings at schools,” a Phoenix Elementary School District news release said. “We must take every precaution to protect the lives of those entrusted to us.”

In Florida, Duval County Public Schools will have a mask mandate with an opt-out option, even as Gov. Ron DeSantis threatens district funding if schools issue one.

In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves said he has no intention of mandating masks in schools.

But because of the number of COVID-19 outbreaks and cases across the school system, students and staff at all Lamar County School District schools will be required to wear masks indoors beginning Monday, the district said. The same thing is happening in Ohio’s largest school district Columbia City Schools.

In Tennessee, Shelby County Schools will keep its mask mandate in place, even start school remotely depending on cases this fall. The state’s House Speaker has threatened to call a special session prohibiting it.

And a contingent of legislative Democrats from Oklahoma is calling for a special legislative session to repeal a new law that prevents school districts from imposing mask mandates unless a state of emergency is in effect. Tulsa Public Schools has required masks at all times for students and staff, regardless of vaccination status.

Also in the news:

►Country music star Garth Brooks says he is reassessing whether to continue his stadium tour in light of the rising number of coronavirus cases across the country.

►The Biden administration Tuesday issued a targeted moratorium on evictions in areas hardest hit by COVID-19, replacing a nationwide evictions freeze that expired Saturday despite legal concerns about doing so unilaterally.

►The global number of new cases has been increasing for more than a month, with over 4 million cases reported in the past week, according to a World Health Organization epidemiological update out Tuesday. Deaths fell last week by 8% globally but spiked in some places.

►New York City will soon require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for people to enter indoor restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues, a move endorsed by Biden, who on Tuesday continued to push for more Americans to get vaccinated.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 35.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 614,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 199.4 million cases and 4.2 million deaths. More than 165. million Americans — 49.7% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: After more than 18 months of a pandemic, with 1 of every 545 Americans killed by COVID-19, a substantial chunk of the population continues to assert their own individual liberties over the common good. Read the full story.

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.

US reports 620,226 new coronavirus cases in a week, one case every second

The United States is again reporting more than one new coronavirus case every second. Johns Hopkins University data released through Tuesday night shows at least 620,226 new coronavirus cases reported in the latest week, much more than the 604,800 seconds in that week.

The United States hadn’t hit that mark since Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. At its worst, the country was reporting nearly three cases every second on average in mid-January.

– Mike Stucka

Number of Americans unlikely to get vaccinated declines in face of delta variant

The number of Americans who are not at all likely to get the vaccine has declined to 15%, down from 20% two months ago, according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll released Tuesday.

The dip can be largely attributed to a surge in cases in recent weeks, as the delta variant sweeps around the country, now accounting for more than 90% of cases. To that end, three in four Americans are largely concerned about the emergence of the delta variant and half believe returning to pre-COVID activities to be risky.

Tuesday, White House COVID-19 Data Director Cyrus Shahpar said on Twitter that 453,000 doses were reported administered, including 301,000 first doses.

Louisiana hospitalizations spike largely due to unvaccinated

Louisiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations surged Tuesday to record levels, with 2,112 largely unvaccinated people in hospital beds struggling and hospital leaders describing facilities overrun with patients.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported that 89% of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 weren’t vaccinated.

The state’s previous peak of people hospitalized with COVID-19 was 2,069 patients in early January, after holiday gatherings spurred a spike in cases and before vaccines became widely available. But the highly contagious delta variant of the virus is propelling record-breaking numbers of hospitalizations at a faster pace.

Health officials say the influx of COVID-19 patients is damaging hospitals’ ability to care for people with heart attacks, injuries from car accidents and other health conditions.

“We’re asking for ambulances not to come to us, to divert to another facility. There’s not another facility for them to go to,” said Michele Sutton, president and CEO of North Oaks Health System in Hammond. “So, when I’m making rounds, it’s not uncommon to see five, six stretchers lining up in our emergency room hallway with the EMS drivers standing by waiting to offload, but I don’t have a room to put them in.”

Louisiana has the highest per capita COVID-19 case growth in the nation, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards.

South Korea reports two new cases of delta plus variant

South Korea reported two new cases of the delta-plus variant Tuesday, a variant some experts say is more transmissible than the original delta variant. First identified in Europe in March, the delta plus variant refers to the addition of the K417N spike protein mutation, also found in some sub-strains of the alpha variant, according to a U.K. report released in July.

“To date, there is no clear evidence that it conveys enough of a benefit to the virus to allow it to dominate the original delta variant,” Colin Angus, senior research fellow at the University of Sheffield, told the Washington Post. “So although it is clearly here, there is no obvious sign that it has gained a foothold over existing variants of the virus.”

The variant is showing up more in young people, Angus said, but vaccinated people are still showing an immune response to the variant in a small data set. But it has not appeared to gain a foothold in Britain.

But Richard Novak, head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at University of Illinois Health told the Post that it is too soon to say whether it is more contagious.

Contributing: Associated Press

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