University of California requires vaccines; Los Angeles County to mandate masks indoors: Live COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

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The University of California said Thursday that COVID-19 vaccinations will be required before the fall term begins for all students and faculty, amid rising cases in the state. 

“Vaccination is by far the most effective way to prevent severe disease and death after exposure to the virus and to reduce spread of the disease to those who are not able, or not yet eligible, to receive the vaccine,” UC President Michael V. Drake said in a letter to the system’s 10 chancellors, reported the Los Angeles Times. 

The announcement makes them the largest university system to mandate vaccinations. They previously proposed to mandate them only after the Food and Drug Administration fully approved a vaccine.

College students pose a high risk to efforts to control the pandemic. Last September, counties home to universities suffered many of the nation’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks. As of late May, 400 colleges and universities plan to require vaccines for students.

The announcement also comes as several counties in California have reported rising cases. Los Angeles County reported 1,000 cases daily for most of the week, and San Diego County reported 2,000 cases for the whole week. 

The U.S. is also reporting more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections every hour, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data for the week ending Wednesday.

Children were 22.3% of weekly reported total cases last week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. There were 9 new pediatric deaths.

Also in the news:

►All 50 states had more cases in the most recent 7-day period than in the week before, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The number of deaths was also higher in 40 states compared to a week earlier.

►A top official at the European Medicines Agency says a decision on whether to recommend Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine be authorized for children is expected late next week.

►Joining a growing list of medical centers across the country, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the hospital confirmed in an email Thursday.

►President Joe Biden said he hopes to know in the next several days when the U.S. will be lifting COVID-19 travel restrictions on much of Europe.

►New coronavirus cases surged to 1,308 in Tokyo on Thursday, a six-month high, as fears rise of a possible dramatic increase that could flood hospitals during the Olympics, which start in eight days.

►At least 59 residents at a homeless shelter in Northern California tested positive for the coronavirus, half of whom were vaccinated, health officials said.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 33.9 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 608,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 188.8 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. More than 160.4 million Americans — 48.2% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘 What we’re reading: J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine comes with rare nerve syndrome warning. Here’s what to know about it.

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The fourth wave of COVID is here. Will the US escape the UK’s fate?

A doubling of COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks suggests the United States has entered a fourth wave of the pandemic.

No one knows what the next month or two will bring, but the example of the United Kingdom suggests the infection rate could get quite high, while hospitalizations and deaths stay relatively low.

Instead of the virus raging through entire communities, it is expected to target the unvaccinated, including children, and if rates are high enough, also the most vulnerable of the vaccinated – the elderly and the immunocompromised.

Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said it was “unlikely” to see a return of COVID to the levels experienced in January. But major outbreaks can still occur, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates.

“We’re going to be living in two pandemic worlds, the world that’s vaccinated and the world that’s unvaccinated,” said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, chief of infectious diseases at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston.

– Karen Weintraub

Protesters at Idaho Capitol fight hospitals’ COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Idaho Capitol on Thursday to oppose the COVID-19 employee vaccine mandates of a few state health care systems.

Kayla Dunn, organizer of Thursday’s Stop the Mandate Idaho Rally, said the protest “was not an argument over whether the ‘vaccine is good or bad,’” but a demand for bodily autonomy, according to the Idaho Statesman.

“Don’t get me wrong, evidence-based practice shows us that vaccinations do work,” another nurse said. “But it should never, ever be forced upon (us), especially since there have been no long-term studies.”

Saint Alphonsus and St. Luke’s, two of Idaho’s largest health systems, both announced in early July that they’d be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations of all staff members. Both hospitals said they would allow exemptions for individuals with religious objections or medical conditions; employees who don’t meet exemption criteria, however, could be terminated if they don’t get vaccinated.

– Edward Segarra

Los Angeles County to require masks indoors – regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status

Los Angeles County, the most populated county in the U.S., will once again require people to wear masks indoors – regardless of vaccination status – due to a recent surge in new COVID-19 cases.

The startling change, announced exactly a month after California became one of the last in the country to reopen and drop coronavirus mandates, aims to stunt an uptick in new cases combined with the spread of the highly infectious delta variant. It will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” the county‘s health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, said during a Thursday afternoon news briefing.

WHO asks China to give access to raw data on origins

The head of the World Health Organization says he’s hoping for better cooperation and access to data from China in the search for the origins of the coronavirus.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says getting access to raw data had been a challenge for the international expert team that traveled to China this year to investigate the cause of the outbreak, which was first reported from Wuhan.

Tedros says the Geneva-based body is “asking actually China to be transparent, open and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic.”

He also says there had been a “premature push” to rule out the theory that the coronavirus might have escaped from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan.

“I was a lab technician myself, I’m an immunologist, and I have worked in the lab, and lab accidents happen,” he said. “It’s common. Checking what happened, especially in our labs, is important and we need information, direct information on what the situation of this lab was before and at the start of the pandemic, then, if we get full information, we can exclude that.”

Tedros says the world owed it to the millions who had died “to know what happened and to prevent the same crisis from happening again. And that’s why we need cooperation.”

Contributing: The Associated Press