Texas Governor Tests Positive for Virus

Texas Governor Tests Positive for Virus

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Credit…Eric Gay/Associated Press

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday and is receiving an antibody treatment, though he has no symptoms, the governor’s office announced.

An ardent opponent of mask and vaccine mandates, Mr. Abbott, a Republican, has taken his opposition to such requirements all the way to the State Supreme Court. Mr. Abbott, who is fully vaccinated, will now be isolated in the Governor’s Mansion while receiving monoclonal antibody treatment, which can help patients who are at risk of getting very sick.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Tests Postive for Covid-19

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tested positive for the coronavirus and said in a video uploaded to Twitter that he was “really not feeling any symptoms right now,” and has previously received the Covid-19 vaccine.

This is Gov. Greg Abbott — as you may have heard by now, I have tested positive for Covid-19. I test myself every day, and today is the first day that I tested positive. The good news is that my wife continues to test negative. Also want you to know that I have received the Covid-19 vaccine, and that may be one reason why I’m really not feeling any symptoms right now. I have no fever, no aches and pains, no other types of symptoms. Also, I want to express my gratitude for everybody across the entire country that has been sending in their well wishes. Similarly, I want to send well wishes myself to everybody across the country, and especially here in Texas, for everybody else who is going through the challenge of having Covid. I want you to know that as I work my way through this, I will stay engaged every single day on everything happening at the Texas Capitol, including working with the members of the Legislature, as well as our members across the entire state to keep Texas the best state in the United States. God bless you all and God bless Texas.

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Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tested positive for the coronavirus and said in a video uploaded to Twitter that he was “really not feeling any symptoms right now,” and has previously received the Covid-19 vaccine.

“The governor has been testing daily, and today was the first positive test result,” the statement said. “Governor Abbott is in constant communication with his staff, agency heads, and government.”

The announcement came less than a day after Mr. Abbott appeared at a crowded indoor political event hosted by a Republican club in Collin County, a hotly contested area of the fast-growing suburbs north of Dallas.

In the images and in videos posted by the governor’s campaign, Mr. Abbott could be seen smiling and shaking hands with supporters who were largely unmasked. “Collin County is fired up to keep Texas RED,” the governor’s campaign posted.

According to the The Houston Chronicle, Mr. Abbott told those gathered that masks were optional — a stance that he has taken across Texas even as cases have risen sharply and some hospitals are filling to at or near capacity. The governor’s office did not respond to questions about the event.

At least 10 other sitting governors — four Democrats and six Republicans — have contracted the virus since the pandemic began, according to reports compiled by Ballotpedia, a political information site. So have four lieutenant governors, all Republicans.

Vaccination rates in Texas lag those of many other U.S. states, and deaths are rising, though far more slowly than in prior waves, given that a majority of the state’s oldest and most vulnerable residents are now vaccinated. The state has averaged more than 15,000 new cases a day as of Tuesday, up from an average of more than 10,000 cases a day two weeks earlier, according to a New York Times database.

Mr. Abbott, 63, has faced criticism as available intensive-care beds have dwindled in Austin and in other cities. But he maintained his ban on mask mandates, which prohibits local officials from imposing restrictions in their communities.

Fear and frustration over the course of the pandemic in Texas, the nation’s second-most populous state, come as schools were preparing to reopen, raising worries about further spread of the virus.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance recommending that even fully vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors in high-risk areas and that everyone should wear one in schools, regardless of vaccination status. Mr. Abbott, though, doubled down in the opposite direction. He issued an executive order that stopped local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines and reaffirmed decisions to prohibit officials from requiring that students wear masks.

Across the United States, most counties are experiencing either “substantial” or “high” transmission, according to the C.D.C.

Last week, after Mr. Abbott’s ban suffered at least three legal setbacks, the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, said that he was taking the issue to the State Supreme Court. The setbacks were in areas with Democratic leaders, rampant cases and rising hospitalizations.

The State Supreme Court sided with the state on Sunday, ruling that schools could not make masks mandatory.

As the virus surged, the Texas Department of State Health Services requested five mortuary trailers from the federal government in early August as a precaution, said Douglas Loveday, a spokesman for the health department. The mortuary trailers will be kept in San Antonio, though none have been requested by cities or counties as of Tuesday, he said.

The five trailers are scheduled to arrive in Texas beginning on Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Correction: 

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this item referred incorrectly to guidance recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The guidance said that everyone, including fully vaccinated people, should wear masks in public indoor settings, not that the fully vaccinated did not need to do so. 

Preparing doses in New York. Clinical trials are underway to determine whether booster shots of Covid-19 vaccines will be necessary in the coming months.
Credit…Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

More than five million Americans could be eligible for booster shots of Covid-19 vaccine by late September under a Biden administration plan to combat the Delta variant by giving extra doses eight months after initial vaccinations.

Officials are expected to announce the strategy at a White House briefing on Wednesday. Nursing home residents, health care workers and emergency workers would probably be first in line. Other older people would be next, followed by the rest of the general population.

But the plan depends on several crucial steps taking place in the next few weeks. Most important, the Food and Drug Administration would need to decide that third shots are safe and effective for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the two vaccines that were rolled out first and have been most used.

Pfizer is farther along in submitting data to the F.D.A. that it says supports the use of boosters. Moderna and the National Institutes of Health are still studying whether a half-dose or a full dose would work better for a third shot, but they expect results soon. Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, has said the firm plans to submit its data to the F.D.A. next month.

Officials envision giving people the same vaccine they originally received, using pharmacies as key distribution points.

Administration officials are discouraging people from seeking booster doses on their own, noting that the F.D.A. has yet to rule on their safety and efficacy. Nonetheless, the C.D.C. says that more than a million Americans have already obtained them, apparently by pretending they were unvaccinated. The officials hope to roll out extra shots in an orderly way, so that people get a booster shot when it is recommended, not simply based on their own fears.

Dr. Danny Avula, the vaccine coordinator for the state of Virginia, said that his state had thousands of vaccine providers already in place and could most likely manage boosters without much change. “What caused so much of the urgency and frenzy of January through April was the limitations in supply,” he said.

The government has more than 100 million doses stockpiled that could be used for boosters, along with tens of millions more doses that have already been delivered to pharmacies and other locations. Even more supply is scheduled for delivery this fall.

In interviews on Tuesday, hospital officials and doctors were supportive of the push for booster shots.

“I think we’re running out of second chances,” said Dr. Matthew Harris, the medical director of the coronavirus vaccination program at Northwell Health, New York’s largest hospital system. “What keeps me up at night is the inevitability of a variant that is not responsive to the vaccine, so if this is how we stay ahead of it, I fully support it.”

Federal officials envision offering additional shots to recipients of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as well as those who got Moderna or Pfizer. But the government began offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March, months later than the others, and only 14 million people have gotten it. By comparison, 155 million people have been fully vaccinated with either Pfizer or Moderna.

Data from a Johnson & Johnson clinical trial in which participants were given two doses is likely to be submitted to the F.D.A. later this month and will guide the government’s recommendation on that vaccine.

At Wednesday’s briefing, administration officials plan to make the case that a booster strategy is essential, even if it must be amended as more data comes in. They are expected to present data showing that vaccine efficacy is declining even though unvaccinated people still make up the vast majority of those who become seriously ill or are hospitalized.

A church service at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago in May. The new mask mandate in the city applies regardless of vaccination status.
Credit…Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

As the highly contagious Delta variant fuels a rise in cases around the United States, more indoor mask mandates are returning or being extended: for Chicagoans, New Mexicans and, now until next year, anyone in the country using public transportation or visiting an airport.

Chicago and New Mexico’s mandates, which apply regardless of vaccination status, begin on Friday.

The new rules, announced on Tuesday, come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended last month that everyone in communities with growing caseloads wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Officials said the mask requirements were needed to help stop the spread of the virus. Over the past week, the United States has been reporting about 139,800 new coronavirus cases each day on average, an increase of 52 percent from two weeks ago. The number of new deaths reported is up 87 percent, to an average of 696 deaths per day.

Hawaii, Louisiana, Oregon and Puerto Rico have also implemented indoor mask mandates, as have San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Though cases have risen eightfold in Cook County, which includes Chicago, since early July, the outlook remains far better than in much of the rest of the country. On a per-capita basis, Cook County is averaging fewer than half as many new cases as the country as a whole. An average of 17 cases per 100,000 residents is emerging each day in Cook County, compared to 43 cases per 100,000 people nationally and 138 cases per 100,000 people in Florida.

Chicago’s new mask mandate extends to bars and restaurants, clubs and common areas of residential buildings, according to the department of health.

Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s health commissioner, said, “I don’t expect that this will be an indefinite, forever mask requirement.”

In New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Tuesday that masks would be required in all public indoor places starting on Friday and continuing until at least Sept. 15.

New Mexico had previously dropped its mask mandate for people who were fully vaccinated, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

“This surge is a terrifying indicator of moving absolutely in the wrong direction,” Ms. Lujan Grisham said at a news conference. “We’re in a terrible place for health care services and for protecting our health care workers.”

Ms. Lujan Grisham also announced that teachers and all workers at public, private and charter schools in the state would have to be vaccinated or face regular testing. That mandate goes into effect on Monday.

The Transportation Security Administration said on Tuesday that it was extending its mask mandate for airports, airplanes and public transportation in the United States through Jan. 18, 2022. Travelers under the age of 2 and those with certain disabilities are exempt, Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the agency, said.

Requiring masks has become a hot-button political issue, and Republican governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas have banned local governments and school districts in their states from imposing mask mandates.

That has not stopped districts in those states from trying, and legal battles about the requirements are still playing out.

Masks will be required at all large public gatherings in Los Angeles, including events at outdoor arenas such as Dodger Stadium and Hollywood Bowl.
Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

Los Angeles County, where the coronavirus is surging, said Tuesday that it would require masks to be worn at large outdoor concerts and sporting events that attract more than 10,000 people.

The new regulation, which takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, means that people attending the Hollywood Bowl and Dodger Stadium, as well as outdoor music festivals and what the county describes as “mega events,” will now have to wear masks. The rule will apply to people regardless of their vaccination status.

The order came as cities around the nation have taken steps to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Chicago joined Los Angeles County, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and other areas to require masks in public indoor places. New York City is requiring proof of vaccination for dining and entertainment activities indoors.

The new rules requiring masks at large outdoor events in Los Angeles came as the county reported that cases, hospitalizations and positivity rates have increased markedly. Los Angeles County has been averaging 3,361 new cases a day, an 18 percent increase over its average two weeks ago, according to data collected by The New York Times.

The Transportation Security Administration has extended the mask mandate for airports, buses and trains through January 2022.
Credit…Jeenah Moon/Reuters

A mask mandate in place for people visiting U.S. airports has been extended through Jan. 18, 2022, according to a statement on Tuesday from the Transportation Security Administration.

The mandate covers airports, as well as planes, buses, trains and shuttle buses connected to airports, and all public buses, trains, subways and ferries, Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the T.S.A., said.

The goal of the directive is to minimize the spread of Covid-19 on public transportation, she said.

This is not the first time the T.S.A. has extended its mask mandate. The T.S.A. initially put a mask mandate in place back on Feb. 1, with an expiration date scheduled for May 11. In April, that mandate was extended to Sept. 13.

Travelers under the age of 2 are exempt from the mask requirement, as are people with certain disabilities, Ms. Koshetz said. Penalties for violating the mandate start at $250 and go up to $1,500 for repeat offenders, she said.

As of Tuesday, more than 9,200 T.S.A. employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 20 have died, along with one screening contractor, according to Ms. Koshetz.

The I.C.U. at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., last month. Vaccinated people are far less likely to become severely ill or to die from Covid-19.
Credit…Isadora Kosofsky for The New York Times

Since Americans first began rolling up their sleeves for coronavirus vaccines, health officials have said that those who are immunized are very unlikely to become infected, or to suffer serious illness or death. But preliminary data from seven states hints that the arrival of the Delta variant in July may have altered the calculus.

Breakthrough infections in vaccinated people accounted for at least one in five newly diagnosed cases in six of those states and higher percentages of total hospitalizations and deaths than had been previously observed in all of them, according to figures gathered by The New York Times.

The absolute numbers remain very low, however, and there is little doubt that the vaccines remain powerfully protective. This continues to be “a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” as federal health officials have often said.

Still, the trend marks a change in how vaccinated Americans might regard their risks.

“Remember when the early vaccine studies came out, it was like nobody gets hospitalized, nobody dies,” said Dr. Robert Wachter, chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “That clearly is not true.”

The figures lend support to the view, widely held by officials in the Biden administration, that some Americans may benefit from booster shots in the coming months. Federal officials plan to authorize additional shots as early as mid-September, although it is not clear who will receive them.

“If the chances of a breakthrough infection have gone up considerably, and I think the evidence is clear that they have, and the level of protection against severe illness is no longer as robust as it was, I think the case for boosters goes up pretty quickly,” Dr. Wachter said.

The seven states — California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Virginia — were examined because they are keeping the most detailed data. It is not certain that the trends in those states hold throughout the United States.

In any event, scientists have always expected that as the population of vaccinated people grows, they will be represented more frequently in tallies of the severely ill and dead.

“We don’t want to dilute the message that the vaccine is tremendously successful and protective, more so than we ever hoped initially,” said Dr. Scott Dryden-Peterson, an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“The fact that we’re seeing breakthrough cases and breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths doesn’t diminish that it still saves many people’s lives.”

Clemson University institutes mask mandates after a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling that said schools could require them. In January, football players gathered in New Orleans before the Sugar Bowl.
Credit…Butch Dill/Associated Press

Clemson University instituted a new mandatory mask policy late Tuesday, reacting swiftly to a decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court that mask mandates are allowed under state law. The university, under pressure from the state’s Republican leadership, had previously recommended, but not required, vaccines or masks.

It is the latest public university in a Republican-led state to establish mask mandates. Others include Arkansas University, and all three Arizona state universities, which have defied the governor’s ban on masks.

South Carolina, like many Southern states, is facing a rise in coronavirus infections, as the Delta variant sweeps through the country. And Clemson, a public land-grant university of about 20,000 undergraduates, had been under pressure from its faculty to require masks. Professors had planned to stage a protest on Wednesday, the first day of classes, demanding a mask requirement.

The protest was scheduled after hundreds of freshmen appeared at a convocation last week bare faced, flouting university recommendations that they wear masks.

But that changed on Tuesday when the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled, in a case filed by a professor at the University of South Carolina, that state law does not prohibit masking requirements at state universities.

The ruling overturned guidance from the South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, who said last month that state rules prohibited mask mandates at public universities.

State Senator Dick Harpootlian, a lawyer in Columbia, S.C., who represented the South Carolina professor who filed the suit, said Tuesday the court decision also applied to public universities throughout South Carolina, including Clemson, that had declined to implement mask mandates.

In a statement Tuesday night, a spokesman for Clemson University, Joe Galbraith, said that based on the Supreme Court decision, Clemson would require masks for a three-week period in all of its buildings including classrooms, instructional facilities, offices, labs, and residential and dining halls except while eating or in private spaces.

“This three-week period coincides with the greatest risk predicted by our public health team’s modeling of the disease,” Mr. Galbraith said in a statement.

Clemson was among several universities around the country, including Mississippi State and Penn State, where professors had staged protests and signed petitions demanding tighter restrictions to prevent spread of the Delta variant.

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New Zealand Shuts Down After Coronavirus Case Is Found

New Zealand will participate in a three-day lockdown in parts of the county and a seven-day lockdown in one particular area after the country’s first possible reported case of the Delta variant.

We have a positive case of Covid-19 in the community. We will not be in a position to identify if this is a case of the Delta variant of Covid-19 until genome sequencing is returned tomorrow. I want to assure New Zealand that we have planned for this eventuality, and that we will now be putting in place that plan to contain and stamp out Covid-19, once again. Going hard and early has worked for us before. We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it, we only get one chance. That’s why cabinet has met this afternoon and made the decision that New Zealand will move to Alert Level 4 from 11:59 p.m. tonight. Level 4 will be for initial period of three days, except for Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, who we anticipate will likely be at Level 4 for seven days due to them being most closely linked to our current case. We’ve seen the dire consequences of taking too long to act in other countries, not least our neighbors. Just as we successfully stayed home and saved lives last year, I’m asking the team of five million to unite once more to defeat what is likely to be this more dangerous and transmissible variant of the virus.

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New Zealand will participate in a three-day lockdown in parts of the county and a seven-day lockdown in one particular area after the country’s first possible reported case of the Delta variant.CreditCredit…Jason Oxenham/New Zealand Herald, via Associated Press

New Zealand began a three-day nationwide lockdown after reporting its first coronavirus case in six months.

The snap lockdown, which started at 11:59 p.m. local time on Tuesday, was set off by the discovery of an infection in Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city, that was believed to be the country’s first case of the more contagious Delta variant outside its strict quarantine system. Auckland and the nearby Coromandel Peninsula, which the infected person recently visited, entered a longer, seven-day lockdown.

A day later, the number of cases had risen to seven, one of whom involved a nurse at the country’s largest hospital. Genomic testing by health officials revealed a link to cases in the Australian state of New South Wales, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

It was not yet known how the man who tested positive had contracted the virus. He had not recently visited Australia and did not have any links to the country’s quarantine facilities at the border.

Early modeling suggests the cluster could grow to as many as 120 people, health officials said on Wednesday.

Under the lockdown rules, New Zealand’s toughest, residents must stay at home and all schools, public facilities and nonessential businesses are closed.

Ahead of the lockdown announcement, New Zealanders flocked to supermarkets to stock up, leaving toilet paper aisles bare, in scenes reminiscent of the earliest days of the pandemic. Roads out of Auckland were packed as people left the city for holiday homes in other parts of the country.

“I want to assure New Zealand that we have planned for this eventuality and that we will now be putting in place that plan to contain and stamp out Covid-19 once again,” Ms. Ardern said at a news conference.

“Going hard and early has worked for us before,” she added.

Ms. Ardern warned that if New Zealand failed to act swiftly, it could end up in the same situation as New South Wales, which is reporting hundreds of new cases each day, more than at any other time during the pandemic. A lockdown now in its eighth week in Sydney, where the Delta-driven outbreak began, was extended to the entire state on Saturday.

“We are one of the last countries in the world to have the Delta variant in our community,” Ms. Ardern said. “This has given us the chance to learn from others.”

The New Zealand government previously indicated that it would respond to any cases of the Delta variant in the community with stringent lockdowns, in line with the country’s Covid-zero strategy. New Zealand has had among the fewest virus cases in the world, with a total of 2,927 cases and 26 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

Fears of a Delta outbreak in New Zealand have been heightened by the country’s relatively low vaccination rate. According to a New York Times database, 29 percent of New Zealand’s population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 17 percent is fully vaccinated. The person whose infection led to the three-day lockdown was unvaccinated.

The campaign is expected to accelerate in the final months of this year, with officials saying last week that all residents over the age of 16 would be able to book appointments starting Sept. 1. Vaccinations are currently open to those over age 40.

The summer surge in cases in the United States, led by the domination of the more contagious Delta variant, is well into its second month, and the number of those hospitalized with Covid-19 has reached heights last seen during the overwhelming winter wave.

The number of those patients who are critically ill, requiring treatment in an intensive care unit, has risen, too. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that the number of hospitals with very full I.C.U.s doubled in recent weeks. Now, one in five I.C.U.s have reached or exceeded 95 percent of beds occupied, a level experts say makes it difficult or impossible for health professionals to maintain standards of care for the very sick.

In many states, hospital workers are seeing admission numbers that resemble what they saw at the height of the pandemic over the winter. Some are struggling to find enough beds, while others have employees working overtime and are relying on contract nurses and emergency medical technicians. Outside some hospitals, officials are erecting large tents to house everyone.

Dr. David De La Zerda, who has spent more than a year treating patients in the I.C.U. at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, thought early this summer that a drop in cases meant the crisis phase of the pandemic was near its end. That feeling lasted just four weeks. According to federal data, there were over 300 patients hospitalized with Covid in the Jackson Memorial Hospital system in the week ending Aug. 12, up from around 70 at the beginning of July.

For health care providers like Dr. De La Zerda, the rise in cases feels like déjà vu — but the emergence of vaccines is worsening the blow.

“This virus is becoming a more preventable disease than before, when this was all new, because now we know that there’s something that we can do,” he said, referring to vaccines, which are highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from Covid-19. “There’s this sense of a lack of concern, but we all know this isn’t true because we’re working in the hospitals.”

A bouncer at The Comedy Cellar in the West Village checks vaccine cards before a show in June.
Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

Those who are 12 and older will be required to show proof of having received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to participate in New York City’s indoor dining, fitness or entertainment venues starting Tuesday. Enforcement will not start until Sept. 13.

The requirement is intended to spur vaccinations, which have lagged in the city even as the extremely transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus has driven up new cases.

“I am absolutely certain this is going to motivate a lot of people to get vaccinated,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York announced that starting Sept. 13 those who are 12 and older will be required to show proof of having received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to participate in indoor dining, fitness or entertainment.

Businesses will be required to hang posters describing the mandate near their entrances and those that do not comply will be subject to fines. Customers are allowed to enter the premises for a few minutes to use the bathroom, or for other reasons, without proving that they have been vaccinated.

The city has hired 570 people to go out and canvass small businesses in every ZIP code with information about the vaccination requirement, Mr. de Blasio said. The goal is to canvass all businesses across the city within the next three weeks. A $10 million advertising campaign will also spread the word about the new mandate.

Starting Sept. 13, agencies such as the Department of Health will be able to start issuing fines and other penalties against indoor venues that do not check vaccination status. The sheriff’s office may also get involved if customers use fake vaccine cards, the mayor said.

There are two official apps, NYC Covid Safe and the Excelsior Pass, but showing your paper vaccine card is fine too. For those who were vaccinated outside of the United States, paperwork from abroad showing that people received any of the eight vaccines cleared for emergency use by the World Health Organization is also acceptable.

A market in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday.
Credit…Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

In the state of Maharashtra, one of the first places struck by India’s devastating second wave of Covid-19 this year, scientists are anxiously looking for signs of a third.

New laboratories in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, and in the city of Pune are searching for dangerous new variants. They have stepped up testing, to over 3,600 samples per month, from 134 in December last year, as they search for versions of the virus that could make the pandemic even harder to stop.

India is still far short of its goal to increase genome sequencing nationwide. While coronavirus cases and deaths have plunged, according to official numbers, the virus is continuing to spread in some parts of the country. A low vaccination rate and other factors have left India especially vulnerable to variants like Delta, which helped power India’s second wave this spring.

The second wave, which exploded across the country in April and May, exposed both the Delta variant’s increased communicability and India’s inability to cope. Official figures show that about 430,000 people have died since the virus hit early last year, though the numbers are widely considered unreliable and experts say the true toll may be in the millions. The second wave pushed the country’s medical system past its limits and led to anger over the government’s inability to handle the crisis.

Checking health passes at a bar in Bordeaux, France, on Wednesday. Certification is needed to gain access to many public spaces and services in the country, including nonemergency hospital treatment.
Credit…Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A week after France introduced a coronavirus health pass that is required for entry to restaurants and other venues, the police around the country are investigating incidents of fraudulent documentation.

The French health authorities said 46 cases of false certificates are under investigation.

The passes show that the holder is vaccinated against Covid-19, has tested negative within the past 72 hours or has a certificate of recovery. The documents are needed to gain access to many public spaces and services in France, including restaurants, bars, museums, cinemas, major shopping centers and even nonemergency hospital treatment.

Last month, a contractor at a vaccination center in a suburb of Paris was sentenced to a year in prison for trafficking 200 false vaccination certificates. Her sentence was later reduced to home detention.

In Bordeaux, two employees of a vaccination center are facing charges of forgery after having been accused of selling false certificates. Using a forged Covid-19 pass is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 45,000 euros, about $53,000.

A similar phenomenon has been observed in the United States, where sellers have offered counterfeit or stolen vaccine cards on Etsy, eBay, Facebook and Twitter.

In France, fraudsters have also tried to create false certificates by hacking doctors’ computer systems. In one case, hackers infiltrated the account that a doctor outside Bordeaux used to register vaccination certificates. In another example, public prosecutors in Marseille are investigating reports that another doctor’s computer was hacked to create 178 fraudulent passes.

Gov. Bill Lee visited McConnell Elementary School in Hixson, Tenn., last week. He signed an executive order on Monday essentially gutting any school district’s effort to require its students to wear masks.
Credit…Troy Stolt/Chattanooga Times Free Press, via Associated Press

As the Delta variant fuels a new coronavirus wave, particularly in areas with underwhelming vaccination rates, Tennessee on Monday became the latest state where a governor has undermined efforts by local school districts to require students to wear masks as the new school year approaches.

Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, signed an executive order on Monday essentially gutting any school district’s effort to require its students to wear masks.

According to the order, a student’s parent or guardian “shall have the right to opt out of any order or requirement” that the student “wear a face covering” at school, on school buses or at school functions.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Tennessee has been steadily rising since July, according to a New York Times database. As of Sunday, Tennessee recorded its highest weekly average of coronavirus cases since late January.

Mr. Lee’s executive order comes days after video surfaced last week showing anti-mask protesters threatening doctors who expressed support for requiring face coverings during a local school board meeting in Williamson County.

Tennessee is one of several battlegrounds with a Republican governor who opposes mask mandates and local school officials who want them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone in schools wears masks, regardless of vaccination status, so that schools can more safely resume in-person instruction.

About two weeks ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican and an ardent opponent of public health mandates, signed an executive order directing state officials to ensure that parents have the final say on whether their children wear masks in school this fall.

On Sunday, the chairwoman of the Broward County School Board said the district had no choice but to defy Mr. DeSantis’s ban.

“We’re living out the nightmare of the Covid pandemic, where so many people in our county, including members of our staff and others, are being impacted,” the chairwoman, Rosalind Osgood, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” “We believe that we have a constitutional obligation to protect the lives of our students and staff.”

Recently, Mr. DeSantis and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas both blocked local school districts from requiring masks or taking other measures to protect students from the coronavirus in the coming school year.

But several school districts have taken their fight to the courts.

The Texas State Supreme Court ruled on Sunday that the state’s governor could ban mask mandates, at least temporarily. Some districts, though, vowed to maintain the requirements. On Monday, a judge in Bexar County ruled in favor of officials in the county and the city of San Antonio who had already put in place a mask requirement in schools, as well as at county and city facilities, according to a reporter at KENS5 and a spokesman for the county.

The escalating battles come as schools around the country open, or prepare to do so, with tens of millions of children under 12 ineligible for vaccination. Hospitalizations of young people have been increasing as the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus has spread.

As of last week, more than half of the nation’s largest 100 school districts are requiring that all students wear masks, according to data collected by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.

Some Republicans have condemned mask rules as an infringement on parental rights, while many Democrats hold that they are a matter of public health.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this item misstated the day when the governor of Tennessee signed an executive order about mask mandates at school. It was signed Monday, not Tuesday.

Steven Means (55), a defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons, cheered on his teammates during practice in Atlanta last weekend. The Falcons said that all their players have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Credit…Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The Atlanta Falcons announced on Monday that the team’s players are all vaccinated against the coronavirus, becoming the first N.F.L. team to reach 100 percent. Achieving that threshold means that all players on the roster now enjoy more freedom and are not subject to certain restrictions.

Because all Falcons players are vaccinated, everyone on the team may eat together, work out in the same weight room and not be subjected to daily testing. Close contacts of an individual who tests positive will not need to quarantine. The Falcons said the team’s coaches are all vaccinated as well.

As of Tuesday, 91.7 percent of all N.F.L. players are vaccinated, according to a league spokesman.

In July, the N.F.L. essentially mandated that players receive the vaccine, saying that those who refuse would face steep possible penalties, like loss of paychecks and game forfeitures if it were proven that an unvaccinated person caused an outbreak that forced a game to be rescheduled. The N.F.L. and the N.F.L. Players Association have also relaxed virus-related protocols, like wearing masks and maintaining physical distance, for vaccinated individuals.

The news comes as the regular season approaches and more teams mull vaccination requirements for fans who attend their home games. The New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders were the first clubs to require that fans show proof of having received at least one dose of vaccine before entering their stadiums. At Saints games, unvaccinated fans may also enter if they show a recent negative test result.



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