The United States reached another grim pandemic milestone on Tuesday: One of every 500 Americans has died of COVID-19, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
With the 662,899th death, America reported a toll equal to 0.2% of the population, based on the number of people who answered the 2020 Census that was conducted near the beginning of the pandemic.
Half of those deaths have happened since just before Christmas 2020.
The country reached this point as hospitalizations have surged due to the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. The surge has caused shortages in health care facilities not seen since the winter peak of COVID, before vaccines were widely available in the U.S.
The delta variant has added what could potentially be months of increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths to what appeared to be a waning pandemic earlier in the summer, particularly as children — ineligible for vaccines under age 12 — return to in-person learning.
As of last week, the U.S. has also recorded more COVID cases in 2021 than in the previous year. In the last 28 days, the country has recorded 4.3 million new cases and more than 39,000 deaths.
Also in the news:
►A federal judge temporarily blocked New York on Tuesday from forcing medical workers to be vaccinated after a group of health care workers sued, arguing the state’s mandate disallowed religious exemptions.
►More than 4,000 students at California State University, Sacramento, failed to provide proof that they had been vaccinated by the Sept. 13 deadline, and are now being denied access to campus.
►The Buffalo Bills became the second NFL team to require that all eligible audience members show proof of vaccination. The Las Vegas Raiders previously made the requirement for fans 12 and up.
►The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization has recommended that everyone over age 50 receive an additional booster shot.
►Russian President Vladimir Putin is self-isolating after members of his inner circle tested positive for COVID. The Kremlin said Tuesday he tested negative. Putin is fully vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 41 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 663,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 225 million cases and 4.6 million deaths. Nearly 179 million Americans — 54% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘What we’re reading: France re-opened to all Americans in June. Despite the EU’s recent recommendation for member countries to ban Americans, it’s still open – at least to vaccinated U.S. residents. Read what it’s like to visit Paris as a vaccinated American during COVID.
For months, Lisa Wilson went door to door in Belle Glade, Florida, trying to convince people to get the coronavirus vaccine. Despite Wilson’s insistence that the shots would save lives, some members of her own family ignored her.
In the last three weeks, six of them died from complications of COVID-19.
The nightmare began in late August when her 48-year-old uncle died. A day after his funeral, her 89-year-old grandmother was hospitalized and died 24 hours later.
In quick succession, three more cousins followed, and on Sunday, a 44-year-old assistant football coach in her family died.
“I was in their ears almost every day. ‘You’ve just got to do this,’” Wilson said Tuesday. “I’m beating myself up. Should I have pushed harder?”
— Jane Musgrave, Palm Beach Post
Controversial Tennessee pastor Greg Locke, who has repeatedly been accused of spreading misinformation about COVID-19, was banned from Twitter on Tuesday.
After the permanent suspension, Locke, who pastors Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, posted a video on Facebook saying he was being censored for “dropping gospel bombs.”
Locke’s church has held in-person services, including in a tent, since 2020 amid the pandemic. He has been vocal in his opposition to COVID-19 protocols, even declaring his church a mask-free area.
— Natalie Neysa Alund, The Tennesseean
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Tuesday filed a legal challenge to the federal requirements for businesses to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing at companies with 100 or more employees, calling it an overreach.
“This is an infringement on individual liberties,” Brnovich said Tuesday on a call with reporters, adding that the law leaves such health decisions to the states.
Brnovich’s office filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona seeking a ruling that declares the new federal policies unconstitutional. The Attorney General’s Office said the lawsuit was the first of its kind filed in the U.S., though more action is expected across the country.
Under President Joe Biden’s plan, the requirement for employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing applies to employers with 100 or more workers. Employers that don’t comply could face fines of $14,000 per violation.
— Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic
Contributing: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press