Biden to unveil new strategy to stop virus spread; US records 40M cases since start of pandemic: COVID-19 updates

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President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on Thursday laying out a six-pronged strategy involving both the public and private sectors in his administration’s latest efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant and boost vaccination rates.

The announcement from White House press secretary Jen Psaki comes as the U.S. reached more than 40 million recorded cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and as health officials race to contain the highly contagious variant.

Nearly 650,000 Americans have died from the virus since the pandemic began more than 18 months ago.

The president’s approval rating on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic has dropped by 10 points since June, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. The survey found 52% of adults said they approved of the way he is handling COVID-19, down from 62% who said he was doing a good job in late June.

-– Courtney Subramanian

Also in the news:

► Health officials say anyone who attended the Oak Leaf Festival in West Virginia should get tested for the coronavirus. The weekend festival in Oak Hill started Saturday, but most events scheduled for Sunday were canceled after some workers and volunteers tested positive for COVID-19.

► The two most populous counties in Washington state began outdoor mask mandates Tuesday. In King and Pierce Counties, regardless of vaccination status, anyone at large events with 500 or more people now must wear a mask.

► Over 8 million schoolchildren and teenagers across Spain are returning to classes this week with masks and efforts to keep social distancing, while authorities try to boost the vaccination rates among students.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 40 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 650,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 221 million cases and 4.57 million deaths. Nearly 176 million Americans – 53% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to reverse years of progress made in patient safety standards, a new CDC study suggests. An analysis found four out of the six routinely tracked infections saw major increases in 2020. Read more here.

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.

Vietnamese man sentenced to 5 years for breaking quarantine

A Vietnamese man was sentenced to jail for five years after he disobeyed a 21-day quarantine mandate and spread COVID-19, according to a local media reports. Le Van Tri was found by a court in Vietnam as guilty for “transmitting dangerous infectious diseases” to eight people – including one person who later died, according to the Vietnamese News Agency. Van Tri, 28, traveled by motorcycle from Ca Mau to Ho Chi Minh City, breaking his quarantine back in July. It was discovered that Van Tri also lied on a health declaration form. Vietnam has witnessed 530,000 cases and 13,300 deaths just in the last few months, according to BBC.

Detailed COVID information elusive in Florida

COVID-19 killed one Floridian an average of about every four minutes last week, but information on how many people are dying every day in local communities is hard to find. The state of Florida won’t say, nor will most local public health officials. At least one county acknowledged it doesn’t know. Federal websites show either incomplete or inconsistent data for Florida’s counties. Florida has not reported deaths at the county level for three months. The intensity of this worst wave of the pandemic in a given locale is anyone’s guess. Read more here.

– Frank Gluck and Chris Persaud, Fort Myers News-Press

40 million infections later, coronavirus is booming

The United States has recorded a total of 40 million COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began. Data from Johns Hopkins University also shows the U.S. has reported about 12 cases for every 100 residents. The milestone comes as the delta variant continues to spread and worries mount about potential surges after the long Labor Day weekend. An estimated 42.5 million Americans traveled for the holiday to mark the end of summer, according to Arrivalist, a company that tracks travel data.

Daily coronavirus infections and deaths are much higher than a year ago, and hospitals across the country are filling up again. Oregon and Idaho are among the latest states to warn they are running out of ICU beds.

“We are dangerously close to activating statewide crisis standards of care – a historic step that means Idahoans in need of health care could receive a lesser standard of care or may be turned away all together,” Idaho Gov. Brad Little said last week.

Most parents back mask mandates for schools, dislike online learning

As the last wave of U.S. kids heads back to school, parents are concerned their children will get seriously ill if they catch COVID-19. A strong majority support requiring universal mask-wearing and teacher vaccinations amid the surge in pediatric COVID cases. Still, parents are eager for their children to return to classrooms, and they’re more skeptical of online learning now than they were last school year.

That’s according to a new USA TODAY/Ipsos poll, which found declining optimism about distance learning as some schools, having just reopened, close or go back online. Read more here.

Alia Wong

Ohio judge won’t force hospital to treat COVID patient with livestock drug

An Ohio judge has ruled that West Chester Hospital cannot be compelled to administer ivermectin to a COVID-19 patient. Butler County Judge Michael Oster Jr. said no clear evidence that ivermectin is effective against COVID-19 was presented in court and that he must also consider the impact that forcing a hospital to give a drug could have.

Ivermectin is an antiparasitic treatment commonly used for livestock, and is recommended by the FDA to treat “infections caused by some parasitic worms” in humans as well as head lice and rosacea. Interest in the drug to combat the coronavirus has been fueled by endorsements from allies of former President Donald Trump as well as Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, plus Fox News personalities Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity.

Julie Smith, the wife of the patient, Jeffrey Smith, had sued the hospital to force doctors to administer the medication.

– Cameron Knight, Cincinnati Enquirer

Unemployment benefits expire amid delta surge

Millions of jobless Americans lost their unemployment benefits Monday, leaving only a handful of economic support programs for those who are still being hit financially by the year-and-a-half-old coronavirus pandemic.

Two critical programs expired Monday. One provided jobless aid to self-employed and gig workers and another provided benefits to those who have been unemployed more than six months. The Biden administration’s $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit also ran out Monday.

It’s estimated that roughly 8.9 million Americans will lose all or some of these benefits.

While the White House has encouraged states to keep paying the $300 weekly benefit by using money from the stimulus bills, no states have opted to do so. Many states even opted out of the federal program early after some businesses complained that they couldn’t find enough people to hire. The data has shown minimal economic benefits from cutting off aid early in those states.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US cases reach 40M; unemployment benefits expire: COVID updates

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