WASHINGTON -- The director of the National Institutes of Health says federal guidance urging vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in communities of high COVID-19 spread is aimed at mostly protecting the unvaccinated and immunocompromised.
Dr. Francis Collins tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that mask mandates can help as virus infections spike higher in parts of the U.S. because studies show vaccinated people can spread the virus to others.
But he stressed Sunday that masks are no substitute for getting a shot, which work “extremely well” and reduce a person’s risk of serious illness and hospitalization by “25-fold,” including the delta variant.
Collins warns that right now the virus is “having a pretty big party in the middle of the country” but the silver lining is that more people are now getting the shot.
He says businesses may need to step up to require vaccinations, and that a case can be made for airlines to consider them as well for passengers. In recent days, Disney and Walmart have asked their employees to be vaccinated.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Eviction crisis in pandemic leads to greater tenant protections
— Europe's vaccine passes reveal some pockets of resistance
— A pandemic Olympics, without all the crowds: What gets lost?
— U.S. memorials to victims of COVID-19 are taking shape
— In West Africa, rising cases finally brings demand for vaccinations
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is warning of “some pain and suffering in the future” as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
Fauci, speaking on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, said he doesn’t foresee more lockdowns in the U.S., but warned that the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic will continue to get worse because so many Americans are still unvaccinated. While this week the nation saw a surge in Americans getting the shot, as coronavirus cases rise driven largely by the more infectious delta variant, still only about 60% of Americans are fully vaccinated.
Fauci argued that the unvaccinated are affecting others because they’re “allowing the propagation and the spread of the outbreak,” and pushed back against critics who say whether to get the shot is an individual decision. Fauci said that those who choose not to get vaccinated are actually impacting the rights of Americans particularly prone to infection because they’re “encroaching on their individual rights” by “making them vulnerable.”
BERLIN — Germany’s government will recommend offering the coronavirus vaccine for all 12- to 17-year-olds on Monday, according to a draft resolution ahead of a planned meeting of state-level health ministers. They also plan to offer boosters to high-risk individuals starting in September.
The draft report from the Ministry of Health, obtained by the German press agency dpa and first reported by the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, said all states will begin offering appointments at vaccination centers for youths.
The European Medicines Agency approved the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year olds in May, and Moderna’s vaccine in late July. Still, Germany’s vaccine commission had thus far only recommended high-risk youths under 18 be vaccinated, citing a lack of data on vaccine safety in this age group.
The high-level report would put pressure on the vaccine commission to formally recommend shots for those under 18. The commission recently has been criticized for delaying such a step.
In addition, German states will expand their “low-threshold” vaccination opportunities for young adults at universities and training centers. “This can make a significant contribution to a safe start for teaching and learning after the summer holidays,” the draft says.
For high-risk individuals, including immunocompromised people and the elderly, a third vaccine dose will be available beginning this fall.
More than 61% of the German population has received at least one dose of vaccine and 52% are fully vaccinated.
LONDON — Restaurants, ride-hailing apps and food delivery services are backing Britain’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, offering discounts and even free slices of pizza to persuade young people to roll up their sleeves and get the shot.
The program, announced Sunday by the Department of Health and Social Care, is designed to boost the vaccination rate among adults under 30 as Britain races to inoculate as many people as possible before colder weather arrives.
While more than 90% of adults in Britain have received at least one dose of vaccine, the rate for people between the ages of 18 and 30 is about 60%, according to government statistics.
As he thanked businesses for helping out, Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged people to “take advantage of the discounts.” Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo and Pizza Pilgrims are among the brands to offer incentives.
ROME — By the end of July, 60% of those in Italy 12 years of age and older and thus eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will have been vaccinated, according to government figures on Sunday.
An army general specializing in logistics, Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, who was tapped by the Italian premier to lead the country’s vaccination program, has set a goal of vaccinating 80% of those eligible by the end of September.
Italy is particularly trying to encourage young people to receive the jab. On Saturday night, an ice cream parlor in Ostia, a popular beach town near Rome, paired the debut of a new flavor with the possibility to receive the vaccine without making a reservation. State radio said many people stepped up to take the injection. As a reward, they received a free “coffee-beer” flavored gelato.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia has started a nationwide drive to vaccinate minors against the coronavirus.
The country aims to inoculate about 2 million people aged 12 to 17 before November, beginning in the capital Phnom Penh and three nearby provinces.
Among the first to be vaccinated Sunday were the grandchildren of Prime Minister Hun Sen and grandchildren of other government ministers. The prime minister urged all parents to have their children vaccinated as the only sure way to protect them from COVID-19 and to reduce the number of infections and deaths. He said he expects schools to reopen once the vaccination drive has been completed.
Like its neighbors in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is struggling with a surge in cases. The Health Ministry reported 671 new cases on Sunday and another 23 deaths. It has confirmed a total of 77,914 cases and 1,420 deaths.
Nearly 50% of the population has now had at least one shot. Cambodia plans to vaccinate at least 12 million of its approximately 17 million people.
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation has reported 25 additional COVID-19 cases and officials say some tribal members are foregoing needed precautions to ward off spread of the coronavirus.
“A lot of the new cases we are seeing on the Navajo Nation are due to family and social gatherings where people let their guard down and don’t wear masks,″ tribal President Jonathan Nez said in a statement Saturday.
Nez noted that the virus’ highly contagious delta variant is spreading quickly in many states and said people visiting other households should wear masks and encourage others to do so.
The three additional deaths reported Saturday increased the pandemic’s toll to 1,377.
The Navajo Nation’s sprawling reservation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state’s highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to federal health data released Saturday, as its theme park resorts again started asking visitors to wear masks indoors.
The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the U.S. as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, and along with the state Legislature, has limited local officials’ ability to impose restrictions meant to stop the spread of COVID-19. DeSantis on Friday barred school districts from requiring students to wear masks when classes resume next month.
The latest numbers were recorded on Friday and released on Saturday on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. The figures show how quickly the number of cases is rising in the Sunshine State: only a day earlier, Florida reported 17,093 new daily cases. The previous peak in Florida had been 19,334 cases reported on Jan. 7, before the availability of vaccinations became widespread.