New coronavirus infections are rising again in most states for the first time in two months, and deaths are increasing in about half of the states, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data reveals.

In 29 states, the number of cases was higher than the previous week. Just 12 states were experiencing an increase in case counts a month back.

These states are mostly in the North that have reported an increase in infection rates. The North had performed much better during the summer, when the South was swept aside by the delta virus. Vermont, which was a leader in vaccination, now has record cases. Florida, which has suffered the most deaths of any state since July 1 – 22,600 – now reports the lowest daily per-capita case count of any state. Three remaining school districts in Florida that have mask requirements are eliminating them.

The highly contagious delta variant began dominating even after vaccines, which are most effective at preventing severe disease and death, became widely available to all adults. Now, health officials encourage booster shots and new vaccines to be approved for children. 

Mike Stucka

Also in the news:

►Colorado will expand hospital capacity and staffing amid a coronavirus surge in hospitalizations that could break records, Gov. Jared Polis said.

►Coronavirus deaths across Europe jumped 10% in the first week of November from the previous week, while new cases rose 7%, the World Health Organization reported. Globally, deaths fell 4% while new cases edged up 1%.

►A Veteran’s Day parade dubbed the nation’s first returned to the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday after 2020 was online because of the pandemic. The Veterans Administration credits Birmingham with having the first celebration to use the term “Veterans Day” in its title after World War II veteran Raymond Weeks organized “National Veterans Day” in 1947.

►Stonecrest, Georgia, Mayor Jason Lary pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and other charges related to a scheme to steal federal coronavirus relief funds. Defense lawyer Dwight Thomas, however, said Lary won’t fight the charges.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 46.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 759,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 251.7 million cases and 5 million deaths. More than 194 million Americans – 58% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: If you’re taking your child to get vaccinated against COVID-19 soon, experts say some approaches can make it easier.

This page is updated regularly so you don’t miss any new information. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox, and join our Facebook group.

Recalled more than 2.2 Million COVID home test

The Food and Drug Administration said more than 2.2 million COVID-19 home tests from Australian manufacturer Ellume are being recalled because of an unacceptable rate of false positives. The recall extends a recall that was made in October of 200 000 Ellume test kits due to the same issue.

The agency, which granted Ellume emergency use authorization for the tests in December 2020, said it has received 35 reports of false positives and none was connected to a fatality. 

Ellume stated in a statement, “The reliability of negative results does not change by this issue,” but the FDA pointed out that false positives can cause serious complications. They can cause health problems and could lead to people being forced to quarantine or seek treatment that is unnecessary.

The recalled tests were manufactured between February 24, 2021 and August 11, 2021.

Experts would tell you what to do. Avoid indoor concerts and travel for Thanksgiving

The second Thanksgiving in COVID’s era is fast approaching. Public health professionals are not as strict as they were last year about keeping indoor family gatherings away, but remain cautious of large maskless events, as the number of infections continues to rise across the U.S.

In a survey of 28 medical experts, the STAT health news website asked not what they would advise but what they would do, or not, based on their perceived safety level for a number of activities. 

Good news! The good news? Nearly everyone would travel by train, bus, or air for Thanksgiving. However, 25 of those who responded said that they would use a mask. What activity would they most avoid? They would not attend an indoor concert, or any other event in which masking is required. 23 percent of respondents said that they will avoid such events.

The results of the survey make it clear that, even closing in on the anniversary of COVID vaccines first being administered, face masks remain a key mitigation measure.

NFL player is rushed to an emergency room for COVID

The coronavirus struck the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings this week, including a vaccinated player who was admitted to an emergency room, head coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday. Zimmer, who said the situation was “scary,” said the player was hospitalized in stable condition. ESPN and NFL Network reported the player was offensive lineman Dakota Dozier, who was placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list last Friday. The Vikings have put several players on the COVID roster in recent days. NFL policy does NOT require players who are vaccinated to be quarantined. 

Zimmer stated that it was serious business and he has been vocal in encouraging players to get vaccines. I am one of the 29 who are being tested due to close contact.

Analis Bailey

Clear majority of Americans support requiring masks, vaccines in schools

At a time when high-profile Republican governors like Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida vehemently oppose vaccine and mask mandates, a clear majority of Americans continue to favor them in schools. They are also pleased with the way that Democratic President Joe Biden handled the pandemic.

A new Monmouth University poll shows 61% of the public supports mask requirements in schools for students, teachers and staff. This number dropped from 66% September to 61% in September. However, this is still in line with the violent protests against masks in parts of the nation.

“The dramatic images of parents protesting at school board meetings has not shifted overall public opinion on mandates one way or the other since the beginning of the school year,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The survey, conducted Nov. 4-8, also found support for vaccination of those in schools holding steady, with mandates for teachers and staff at 59% — down just 1 percentage point from September — and requiring kids 12 and older to get the shots up to 53%, after registering 51% in September.

While Biden has seen his approval rating plummet due to inflation and the ongoing pandemic, 53% of those surveyed still back him in fighting the coronavirus. Fourty-one per cent of respondents think he does a bad job. 

As FDA ponders, Moderna states case for adolescent vaccine

Moderna awaits FDA approval of the COVID vaccine, for children 12-17 years of age. Moderna continues to make the case for its effectiveness and acknowledges a possible rare side effect. 

FDA is withholding its endorsement, as it investigates the connection between vaccination and rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) in young men. Moderna Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Paul Burton stated Thursday that the Moderna vaccine is beneficial for adolescents. However, a French study has shown the risk to be higher with Moderna than the Pfizer BioNTech shot.

Burton cited CDC data to say that the Moderna vaccine had produced fewer breakthrough infections — infected people who have been fully vaccinated — than Pfizer according CNBC.

Judge blocks Texas governor’s ban on mask mandates in schools

Federal Judge ruled Wednesday that Governor. Greg Abbott’s executive order that bans schools from imposing mask mandates cannot be enforced because it violates federal law by putting students with disabilities at greater risk. 

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel also blocked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from bringing legal action against school districts that require students, teachers and staff to wear face coverings as a pandemic safety measure. The evidence, Yeakel wrote, shows that wearing masks can decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19 – a particularly useful strategy for children with disabilities who can be at higher risk of contracting respiratory disease and of suffering more severe symptoms.

Yeakel stated that GA-38 does not allow for masks in schools. This means students with disabilities are forced to either quit in-person learning or face unnecessarily higher safety and health risks than those without disabilities.

– Chuck Lindell, Austin American-Statesman

Universities with mandates see widespread compliance

While universities have been able to see widespread compliance with COVID-19 mandates for vaccines, many schools allowed students to request exemptions. Colleges are facing resistance from students, scattered lawsuits and a lot of legal issues. Making it compulsory for students to receive the vaccine even if they have medical or religious objections could make schools in tricky legal territory. There are additional concerns for some that a strict line may lead to enrollment drops.

Yet, mandating universities have higher vaccination rates that communities without mandates, even though they are located in areas with high vaccine resistance. Most of the nation’s largest public universities aren’t seeing large numbers of student exemption requests, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. At the same time, those colleges have approved the vast majority – in some cases all – of the requests.

Virginia Tech University where 95% students have been vaccinated has granted exemption requests for 1,600 students. Students must agree to undergo weekly testing.

Contributing: The Associated Press



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