Jeffrey Zients, the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, said that unvaccinated Americans “account for virtually all recent Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths”, emphasizing the risk the virus poses to those who remain unvaccinated.
“We will likely continue to experience an increase in Covid cases in the weeks ahead, with these cases concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates,” he said.
Four states that are currently seeing high upticks in Covid-19 cases have accounted for over 40% of the total Covid cases seen in the country this past week, Zients said. One in five cases occurred in Florida, in which about 50% of the state is fully vaccinated.
“Each Covid-19 death is tragic, and those happening now are even more tragic because they are preventable,” he said.
Zients said that the White House is working on local outreach to communities that are skeptical of the vaccine and are making the vaccine accessible at doctors offices and workplaces.
Speaking at the White House’s coronavirus press briefing, Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease, said that there has been an “extraordinary surge” in the Delta variant – which is a more transmissible variant of Covid-19 – around the world, including in the US. Fauci said that at least 100 countries have detected the Delta variant. Over 50% of cases in the US, and 70% of cases in certain areas of the country, are of the Delta variant.
Fauci pointed out that Israel, which has seen high vaccination rates among its population, has continued to see diminished hospitalizations even with the presence of the Delta variant. The UK and US in comparison have both seen slight increases in hospitalizations as the Delta variant has started to spread.
He emphasized that the vaccines available in the US are highly effective against Covid-19, including the Delta variant.
“The message loud and clear that we need to reiterate is that these vaccines continue to [have] strong protection against Covid,” Fauci said.
CDC head says country is undergoing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’
The White House’s coronavirus task force is giving its weekly update, and the nation’s top public health officials are sounding the alarm on the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that the US is seeing an average of 26,000 cases a day – a seven-day average that is 70% higher this week than it was last week. Hospitalizations and deaths are also seeing increases around 36% and 26%, respectively.
Walensky said that this is a “critical moment” in the pandemic as the virus continues to spread.
“There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” she said.
“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk. Communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well.”
Joe Biden has been trying to undo the legacy of Donald Trump, down to the changes the former president was trying to make to shower heads across the country.
Biden is reversing a Trump rule that was finalized in December that allows shower heads to pour as much as 2.5 gallons of water per minute for each nozzle on the shower head, according to the Associated Press. Federal law formerly capped 2.5 gallon of water per minute for the entire shower head.
Trump last year criticized the lack of water coming out of shower heads saying: “You take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. … So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer?”
The energy department said that the shower heads that pour out Trump’s desired water amount are not easily found on the market but emphasized that the reveal is “commonsense”.
The change “means consumers can purchase shower heads that conserve water and save them money on their utility bills”,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, an acting assistant the the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
A new law in Illinois will bar the police from lying as an interrogation tactic when questioning minors under 18 years old.
Officers will sometimes promise leniency or lie about existing evidence as a tactic to get a confession out of suspects. Criminal justice advocates say the strategy can lead to false confessions. According to the Innocence Project, lying as an interrogation tactic has played a role in 30% of all wrongful convictions that have been overturned by DNA evidence.
Illinois governor JB Pritzker signed the bill banning deceptive tactics, saying that it makes “abundantly clear that justice can no longer be denied”. The governor also signed three other bills around criminal justice, including one guaranteeing that participation in restorative justice practices will remain privileged and creating a task force on resentencing.
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Two men were charged with planning to firebomb the California Democratic Party’s headquarters in Sacramento and were in possession of multiple explosives and firearms to carry out the plot, according to the Washington Post.
Federal officials say the two men, Ian Benjamin Rogers and Jarrod Copeland, are members of a militia group and were “prompted by the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election”. They hoped to start a “movement” with their plans to attack the party’s headquarters.
In searches of Rogers’ home and business, the authorities found a collection of pipe bombs, ammunition and at least 45 firearms. The two men face multiple federal charges, including for conspiracy to destroy a building used in interstate commerce and possession of unregistered destructive devices.
In a statement, the FBI said the agency’s “highest priority has remained preventing terrorist attacks before they occur, including homegrown plots from domestic violent extremists.” Domestic terrorist incidents have generally been on the rise, particularly among right-wing extremists motivated by white supremacist and anti-government sentiments.
Covid cases rising in every US state, data shows
Good morning, and welcome to today’s politics live blog.
Covid-19 cases are rising in every state, with some states seeing as much as double the number of cases as last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Public health experts point to the more transmissible Delta variant, a slowdown in vaccinations and surges from the Fourth of July weekend as the main factors behind the surge.
Though nearly 70% of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose, the virus is clearly still spreading. The New York Yankees are postponing a game after six members of the team tested positive for the virus. In Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with about 35% of its population fully vaccinated, hospitals are “full” and “cases are doubling every 10 days”, Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Science, told CNN. Los Angeles county will begin requiring masks indoors again starting Sunday.
Biden’s administration has deployed “surge response teams” in states with high Covid-19 rates and low vaccination rates to try to encourage skeptical Americans to get vaccinated and assist local governments, though it is unclear how successful these efforts will be.
Here’s what else we’re looking at today:
- Even as Covid cases are rising across the country, Republican lawmakers in multiple states are pushing for bills that would make it harder for employers to require the Covid-19 vaccinations.
- The fight for voting rights continues as nine people, including a Democratic congresswoman, were arrested at the US Capitol yesterday as they protested for voting rights.
- The west coast is bracing for another heatwave this weekend as wildfires are burning across hundreds of miles.
Stay tuned for more live updates.