“Cases are exploding in our hospital and in our communities,” Chad Neilsen, the hospital’s director of infection prevention, told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday.
Local leaders are reinstating mask mandates
While most businesses and local leaders across the US did away with mask requirements as summer inched closer — most still asking unvaccinated Americans to keep on their face coverings — mandates are now slowly coming back.
New Orleans announced a new mask advisory Wednesday, asking everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to keep a mask indoors when they’re with people who are not in their household. Health officials said average daily cases in the city increased by more than 10 times over two weeks, the majority of which are unvaccinated people.
“People who continue to refuse to take the lifesaving COVID vaccine are now also putting the entire community in jeopardy. We must take action now to slow the rapid spread of the Delta variant,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the director of the city’s health department.
Nevada’s Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, announced it was reimplementing a mask mandate for workers in public places. The new requirement went into effect Wednesday after a unanimous approval from the Clark County Commission and will stay in effect through at least August 17.
Dozens of people spoke before the vote, nearly all of whom opposed the measure. Pediatric physician’s assistant Amanda Knowles said she supported it because “we have a duty to protect our children who do not have the option to be vaccinated at this point.”
In Missouri, the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County said that starting Monday, masks will be required in indoor public places and on public transportation for everyone 5 and older, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also “strongly encouraged” outdoors as well, especially in group settings, officials added.
Schools are issuing similar requirements
About 18% of its eligible student population is fully vaccinated, the district said, and about 58% of employees are vaccinated or plan to be. Two other Atlanta suburban school districts, Clayton and Dekalb counties, also announced that masks will be required when the school year begins in August.
Parents and community members lined up to speak out against the mask policy.
“You’re all hypocrites,” said Annie Palumbo, among the evening’s first speakers. “I’m here fighting with hundreds of other parents because we don’t want our kids masked for seven hours a day. And I look around and I see all of you sitting here without masks. Seriously, what’s the deal?”
Members of the board said its decisions followed guidance from the CDC and Virginia’s health commissioner. In a letter to families on Thursday, Virginia Beach City Public Schools said administration officials have reviewed the state’s latest guidance — published a day after the board’s meeting — and are consulting with local and state health officials on a plan.
The recently issued state guidance leaves mask decisions to local districts but “strongly recommends” elementary schools put an indoor mask requirement in place for students, teachers and staff regardless of vaccination status and that that “at a minimum” middle and high schools require masks indoors for those who have not been fully vaccinated.
Some companies are rethinking their return to office
The pandemic drastically changed the way Americans worked. While many expect to return to the office in the coming weeks, the latest surge is forcing some employers to rethink their plans.
Among them, Apple.
Apple said that date could change again depending on the country’s Covid-19 numbers, but that it would let employees know at least a month in advance, The Times said.
CNN reached out to Apple, but the company did not confirm the delay in plans.
The key to getting our lives back
“If you’re somebody who’s fully vaccinated, take a little breath here, you’re still really well protected by this vaccine and you can do a lot of stuff that you couldn’t do six months ago,” National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Wednesday.
“But, for those who are not vaccinated, this is becoming a pandemic that has you in its sights,” he said.
But a majority of unvaccinated Americans say they’re not at all likely to get a shot regardless of outreach efforts, according to new poll results published Tuesday, by Axios-Ipsos. A quarter or less of those who are unvaccinated said they would be likely to get the vaccine under certain circumstances, according to the poll, which was conducted July 16 to 19.
Without widespread protection against the virus, the country will likely continue to see outbreaks, experts have warned, and new — potentially more dangerous — variants could arise that could pose problems to vaccines.
CNN’s Naomi Thomas, Andy Rose and Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.