PHOENIX — Health officials in Arizona on Sunday reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for the second consecutive day.
They say the 2,306 new cases and five additional deaths pushed the state’s totals to 929,541 cases and 18,251 known deaths since the pandemic began more than a year ago.
Arizona had reported 2,066 new cases and 22 deaths on Saturday, the highest daily total since early March. The numbers have been quickly climbing with 1,759 cases and 15 deaths reported Thursday and 1,965 cases and 24 deaths reported Saturday. Public health officials in the state and elsewhere attribute the worsening spread to the very contagious delta variant and low vaccination rates.
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
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina is requiring students to wear masks indoors this fall as the spread of COVID-19 has sped up across the state.
School officials said that masks are again required inside campus buildings given Richland County’s high coronavirus transmission rate.
The announcement follows recently updated federal guidance that calls for mask-wearing indoors regardless of vaccination status in areas where the delta variant is rapidly spreading.
Young adults have the lowest vaccination rate across age groups in South Carolina. But public colleges and universities in South Carolina can’t require students to get inoculated after lawmakers banned schools from making the vaccine a condition of enrollment.
ORLANDO, Fla. — A day after it recorded the most new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida on Sunday broke its previous record for current hospitalizations, set more than a year ago.
The Sunshine State had 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
The previous record was from July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started becoming widespread. Florida then had 10,170 hospitalizations, according to the Florida Hospital Association.
Florida is now leading the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19, as hospitals around the state report having to put emergency room visitors in beds in hallways and others document a noticeable drop in the age of patients.
In the past week, Florida has averaged 1,525 adult hospitalizations a day, and 35 daily pediatric hospitalizations. Both are the highest per capita rate in the nation, according to Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida.
BERLIN — Thousands turned out in Berlin on Sunday to protest the German government’s anti-coronavirus measures despite a ban on the gatherings, leading to clashes with police and around 500 arrests.
Local authorities had banned several different protests this weekend, including one from the Stuttgart-based Querdenker movement, but protesters in Berlin defied the ban.
Berlin’s police department deployed more than 2,000 officers to try and disperse the protests, but it said officers who sought to redirect protesters or disband larger groups were “harassed and attacked.”
“They tried to break through the police cordon and pull out our colleagues,” Berlin police said, adding that officers had to use irritants and batons.
Germany eased many of its coronavirus restrictions in May, including reopening restaurants and bars. Still, many activities, such as dining indoors at restaurants or staying in a hotel, require proof that an individual is either fully vaccinated, has recovered from the virus or can show proof of a recent negative coronavirus test.
ROME — The Italian region that includes Rome says its website has been hacked, making it temporarily impossible for residents to sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Lazio regional Health Commissioner Alessio D’Amato told state TV that the ”very powerful” hacking attack began just after midnight and that by early Sunday evening it was still crippling the website. He said those scheduled to receive the vaccine on Sunday would still get the injection, but that the process would be slow since all data for now must be recorded by hand.
So far, some 70% of Lazio residents 12 years or older and eligible for the vaccine have been vaccinated. Nationally, 60% of Italy’s residents have been vaccinated.
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.
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.