WASHINGTON -- Dr. Rochelle Walensky says new mask-wearing guidance, coupled with higher rates of vaccination against COVID-19, could halt the current escalation of infections in “a couple of weeks.”
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told “CBS This Morning” she hopes more stringent mask-wearing guidelines and other measures won’t be necessary as the country heads into the fall.
“We can halt the chain of transmission,” she said. “We can do something if we unify together, if we get people vaccinated who are not yet vaccinated, if we mask in the interim, we can halt this in just a matter of a couple of weeks.”
With the delta variant fueling a surge of infections across the country, the CDC on Tuesday recommended even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in areas where the variant is prevalent.
Walensky says the new guidance was prompted by data that vaccinated people can pass on the virus. However, the vast number of infections are occurring in unvaccinated people, she noted. Walensky said 80% of the counties with the highest number of infections have less than 40% of people vaccinated.
The nation is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. The guidance on masks in indoor public places applies in parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— WHO says coronavirus deaths up 21% in last week
— White House strongly considering requiring vaccinations for federal employees
— CDC changes course on indoor masks in some parts of the US
— Tokyo governor urges younger people to get vaccinated to slow area's virus surge
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TOKYO — Tokyo has reported 3,177 new coronavirus cases, setting an all-time high and exceeding 3,000 for the first time, just days after the start of the Olympics.
The new cases Wednesday exceeded the record of 2,848 set the previous day and bring the total for the Japanese capital to more than 200,000.
Tokyo has been under a fourth state of emergency since July 12 ahead of the Olympics, which began last Friday despite widespread public opposition and concern that they could further worsen the outbreak.
Health experts say Tokyo’s surge is being propelled by the new, more contagious delta variant of the virus.
LONDON — Britain is donating 9 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to countries, including Indonesia, Jamaica and Kenya, the first shots the U.K. has sent to developing nations during the pandemic.
Britain has one of the world’s highest inoculation rates against the virus, with more than 70% of adults fully vaccinated, and has faced calls to donate doses to the many countries that lack vaccines.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says shipments will begin this week of 5 million doses to the U.N.-backed COVAX vaccine distribution program and 4 million more directly to countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and several Caribbean nations.
Some 817,000 doses are going to Kenya, whose President Uhuru Kenyatta is in Britain and will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The shipments are the first batch of Britain’s commitment to donate 100 million doses by June 2022.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Tanzania’s president has kicked off her nation’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign by publicly receiving a dose and urging others to do the same.
The Johnson & Johnson shot that President Samia Suluhu Hassan received Wednesday represented a major breakthrough for one of the world’s last countries to embrace coronavirus vaccines. The country received more than 1 million Johnson & Johnson doses over the weekend.
Her predecessor denied the seriousness of pandemic. Tanzania went well over a year without updating its number of confirmed virus cases. Since Hassan took over the presidency, she has changed course.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization says the number of coronavirus deaths globally jumped by 21% in the last week.
Most of the 69,000 deaths were reported in the Americas and Southeast Asia. The U.N. health agency also noted that COVID-19 cases rose by 8% worldwide and that there are now nearly 194 million infections.
WHO said that “if these trends continue, the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next two weeks.” It added that the number of COVID-19 deaths increased in all regions except for Europe. The biggest numbers of cases were reported in the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, the U.K. and India.
BERLIN — Germany says that half of its population has now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a milestone in a campaign that has slowed markedly in recent weeks.
Official figures released Wednesday showed that the number reached nearly 41.8 million, or 50.2%, of the population on Tuesday. And more than 50.8 million, or 61.1% of the population, had received at least one vaccine dose.
But the numbers are moving higher at a much more leisurely pace than they were several weeks ago. Nearly 436,000 shots have been administered per day on average over the past week. That figure was over 800,000 in mid-June.
That is worrying officials at a time when infections are creeping up from a very low level as the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has become dominant.
Chancellor Angela Merkel last week appealed to reluctant citizens to get vaccinated.
SYDNEY — Australia’s largest city Sydney will remain in lockdown for another month.
The New South Wales state government said the lockdown of the city of 5 million would last at least until Aug. 28 after reporting on Wednesday 177 new infections in the latest 24-hour period. It was the largest daily tally since the cluster was discovered in mid-June.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters that “I am as upset and frustrated as all of you that we were not able to get the case numbers we would have liked at this point in time but that is the reality,”
More than 2,500 people have been infected in a cluster that began when a limousine driver tested positive on June 16 for the contagious delta variant. The driver had been infected by a U.S. aircrew he transported from Sydney airport.
The death toll from the cluster reached 11 on Wednesday with a woman in her 90s dying in a Sydney hospital.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is reporting a new daily high for coronavirus cases a day after authorities enforced stringent restrictions in areas outside the Seoul capital region seeking to slow a nationwide spread of infections.
The 1,896 cases announced Wednesday took the country’s total for the pandemic to 193,427, with 2,083 deaths from COVID-19.
It was the highest daily jump since the pandemic began and surpassed a previous record of 1,842 announced last Thursday.
The Seoul area has been at the center of the outbreak. The government on Tuesday put much of the non-Seoul regions under the second highest distancing guidelines to guard against a nationwide viral spread.
BEIJING — Drivers seeking to leave eastern China’s Jiangsu province will have to show a negative coronavirus test taken in the last 48 hours or be forced to turn around as infections in the province continue to rise.
The provincial transport department said Wednesday that 93 checkpoints have been set up on highways in the province whose capital of Nanjing is the epicenter of China’s latest outbreak. Drivers must remain in their vehicles and wear masks while health workers carry out the checks.
The National Health Commission reported 48 new cases in Jiangsu over the previous 24 hours. That brings its total to 154 over recent days. Authorities say the illnesses are being caused by the highly contagious delta variant.
The coronavirus continues to spread despite China having administered more than 1.5 billion doses of vaccine.
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