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11 states report 1M cases since start of pandemic; Texas school districts defy order barring masks: Live COVID-19 updates

11 states report 1M cases since start of pandemic; Texas
school districts defy order barring masks: Live COVID-19
updates 1

Oklahoma and Kentucky each reported their 500,000th coronavirus case on Monday, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. Now, half of America’s states have each reported at least half a million cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

In all, 11 states have reported at least 1 million cases each: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, New Jersey and Michigan.

In Kentucky on Monday, 1,139 people were hospitalized compared to a few hundred a day in June and early July. Numbers of patients in intensive care and on ventilators also have risen steadily.

In Oklahoma, the state’s seven-day average of new daily cases now tops 2,000 per day. The last time’s the state’s rate of daily cases was higher was in early February.

During a news conference at the downtown fire station, emergency response authorities said Oklahoma City is among cities around the nation enduring a shortage of qualified emergency medical technicians and paramedics who provide pre-hospital treatment, care and transportation. 

“When we look at the confluence of a busy summer in Oklahoma City, we are in the midst of not just a pandemic, but by all scientific evidence, the fourth wave of this pandemic in the United States,” EMSA Medical Director Jeffrey Goodloe said.

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– Mike Stucka, USA TODAY and Josh Dulaney, Oklahoman

Also in the news:

►The superintendent of the school district in the capital of Florida said Monday that he will require masks amid an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations fueled by the delta variant, even as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an order suggesting punishments for school districts that mandate mask-wearing in classrooms.

►The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday raised its travel advisory for France, Israel and Thailand to level four, which discourages visiting those countries because of large caseloads of COVID-19.

►The Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

►Most state workers in Washington, as well as private health care and long-term care employees, will be required to show proof of vaccination for the coronavirus by Oct. 18 or will lose their jobs.

►Mexico will ask the United States to send at least 3.5 million more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as the country faces a third wave of infections.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 35.9 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 617,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 203.3 million cases and 4.2 million deaths. More than 166.6 million Americans — 50.1% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: With hurricanes approaching during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, health experts are calling on individuals to protect themselves from the weather and from potential exposure to the virus if they have to evacuate, gather in a shelter and more. 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.

Dallas, Austin ISDs requiring masks for students and teachers; defying Abbott’s order

The second-largest school district in Texas is defying the governor’s executive order barring mask mandates, officials announced Monday. Following their announcement, another district in a major metropolitan area in Texas joined them. 

“We’re in a situation that has gotten significantly more urgent,” said Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa in his announcement that the district would be the first in the state to require masks for students and teachers.  

Austin Superintendent Stephanie S. Elizalde announced late Monday the district will require face masks, defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders banning ​​mask mandates amid a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations from the highly contagious delta variant. 

And Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II is expected to seek approval for a mask mandate from the school board of the largest school district in the state this week.

Gov. Greg Abbott has continued forbidding school districts from requiring face coverings, counter to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatricians and the CDC.

CDC study disputes Paul, Massie claims COVID-19 immunity

Two Republican members of Congress from Kentucky — Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Thomas Massie — have steadfastly refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine, saying they have natural immunity because they had the viral infection.

But a new study from the CDC, based on data from people in Kentucky who contracted COVID-19 a second time, says the vaccine boosts immunity in people who have had the virus.

Unvaccinated people who contracted COVID-19 are more than twice as likely to catch it again than those who got vaccinated after contracting the virus, it said.

The study shows “COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone and that vaccines, even after prior infection, help prevent reinfection,” the CDC said in a news release announcing the results.

Read more here. 

— Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier Journal

Fake COVID-19 vaccination cards worry college officials

As the delta variant of the coronavirus sweeps across the United States, a growing number of colleges and universities are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for students to attend in-person classes. But the new mandate has opened the door for those opposed to getting the vaccine to cheat the system, according to interviews with students, education and law enforcement officials.

Both faculty and students at dozens of schools interviewed by The Associated Press say they are concerned about how easy it is to get fake vaccine cards. Across the internet, a cottage industry has sprung up to accommodate people who say they won’t get vaccinated for either personal or religious reasons.

An Instagram account with the username “vaccinationcards” sells laminated COVID-19 vaccination cards for $25 each. A user on the encrypted messaging app, Telegram, offers “COVID-19 Vaccine Cards Certificates,” for as much as $200 apiece.

A Reddit user commented on a thread about falsifying COVID-19 vaccination cards, saying, in part, “I need one, too, for college. I refuse to be a guinea pig.”

On Twitter, one user with more than 70,000 followers tweeted: “My daughter bought 2 fake ID’s online for $50 while in college. Shipped from China. Anyone have the link for vaccine cards?”

According to a tally by The Chronicle of Higher Education, at least 675 colleges and universities now require proof of COVID-19 inoculations. The process to confirm vaccination at many schools can be as simple as uploading a picture of the vaccine card to the student’s portal.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

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