COVID-19 Live Updates: Delta Variant Spreads As Fears of Mutations Grow

Live Updates

The rolling average of new daily COVID cases in the U.S. has crept back up over 100,000 for the first time since February as the country faces the impact of the Delta variant.

Medical officials in southern states like Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana, report major surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as vaccination rates remain low and mask mandates are outlawed.

As more children are getting infected and seriously ill with the coronavirus, many school districts are at odds with state and local governments over mask mandates when school starts this fall.

There are also growing concerns about the possibility of other variants spreading out of control in the U.S. including the Lambda mutation, which early data suggests slightly weakens the positive effects of COVID vaccines. Meanwhile, a race between variants and the vaccine continues. Dr. Anthony Fauci hopes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will soon give full approval for all current COVID vaccines currently being distributed across the U.S. on an emergency license.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

KEY UPDATES

Vaccines Missouri
People wait to get vaccinated for Covid-19 at a baseball game on August 05, 2021 in Springfield, Missouri. According to the latest numbers from the state’s health department, little more than 4 in 10 Missourians have received the Covid-19 vaccine. Communities there have been especially hard hit by the Delta variant, with the unvaccinated representing the overwhelming majority of hospitalized patients. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Louisiana Governor asks residents to join him in prayer, fast for health care workers

Lousiana Governor John Bel Edwards asked his constituents to join him in a three-day prayer and lunch fast in honor of the state's health care workers and those sick with COVID-19.

"I will be praying that our sick may fight this illness, that the medical professionals caring for them can remain strong and safe, that our children, teachers and school support staff can safely begin the school year and that our people will do everything they can to help us slow the spread of this terrible virus," he said in a statement.

Join me and @FirstLadyOfLA in praying & fasting during lunch time August 9-11 for our health care workers & all those affected by COVID-19. In addition to prayer, I urge all Louisianans to protect their neighbors & themselves by getting their vaccines & wearing masks. #lagov pic.twitter.com/Oaf0BUpHRC

— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) August 8, 2021

Monday's report from the Louisiana Department of Health noted 16,541 new COVID-19 cases and 50 deaths since Friday.

READ MORE: "John Bel Edwards Asks Louisiana Residents to Join Him in Fast to Honor Health Care Workers"

Mexico presidents to ask the U.S. for more COVID-19 vaccines

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he will as the United States to send at least 3.5 million more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In June, the U.S. donated 1.3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Mexico has vaccinated more than 50 million people, about 56 percent of the adult population.

López Obrador said he planned to discuss a transfer of vaccine with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris during a call scheduled for later Monday, according to the Associated Press.

New Jersey schools will require masks

All students, educators, staff and visitors in New Jersey schools will be required to wear a face mask regardless of vaccine status, Governor Phil Murphy said.

REMINDER: ALL students, educators, staff, and visitors will be required to wear masks while in school buildings for the upcoming school year.⁰⁰We are doing this to protect the health of our kids and education communities so we can get back to full-time, in-person instruction. pic.twitter.com/ZABExxHN7c

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) August 9, 2021

There are 13 are children being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals and two in intensive care, Murphy said.

"We're not willing to surrender our kids to this virus, unlike those opposed to our commonsense masking plan," he said.

People gathered in New York City to protest vaccine requirements

People gathered at City Hall in New York City to protest the vaccine requirements for entering restaurants and gyms, chanting "freedom" and "we will not comply."

"Freedom over fear, no forced injections, my body my choice," one woman at the podium said to the crowd.

Protestors also displayed a banner depicting NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holding the severed head of Lady Liberty.

“We will not comply!” chants from the crowd gathering outside of New York City Hall this afternoon, protesting against the new vaccine mandate set to take effect for entering some establishments in the city #NYC #VaccinePassport pic.twitter.com/3eiJrGruRF

— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) August 9, 2021

Another woman compared mandatory vaccinations to her experience as a Holocaust survivor.

"The Holocaust didn't happen overnight, it happened in stages," she said. "Stages of humiliation, discrimination, demonization, and the final stage, extermination."

"The current hysteria about a virus is an assault on or freedom it has nothing to do with health," she added. "Fear of coronavirus is being fomented by propaganda in order to demolish democracy, that's the goal."

Pentagon will require military members to get vaccinated

The Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by September 15, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press.

"I will seek the president's approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon" licensure by the Food and Drug Administration "whichever comes first," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in the memo to troops.

President Biden said he "strongly supports" Secretary Austin's plan to ensure "our troops have every tool they need to do their jobs as safely as possible."

"Being vaccinated will enable our service members to stay healthy, to better protect their families, and to ensure that our force is ready to operate anywhere in the world," Biden said in a press release.

"I am proud that our military women and men will continue to help lead the charge in the fight against the pandemic by setting an example of keeping their fellow Americans safe," he added.

Texas school district defies state executive order, will require masks in schools

The Dallas Independent School District, the second-largest in Texas, will require students and faculty to wear masks while in school buildings beginning Tuesday.

The measure contradicts an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits public schools and the Texas Education Agency from imposing mask mandates and threatens a fine of up to $1,000 for areas that don't comply.

A statement issued on the DISD website stated that Abbott's order "does not limit the district's rights as an employer and educational institution to establish reasonable and necessary safety rules for its staff and students."

Anti-vaccine protestors storm television station in London

A group of anti-vaccine protestors turned violent as they tried to break into the BBC Television station in London.

The crowd can be heard chanting, "Shame on you, shame on you," toward the building, and The Independent said one protester was giving a speech accusing the corporation of BBC of "not giving out the right information," presumably about vaccination rates or mandates.

A group of demonstrators, who began in Shepards Bush Green, allegedly attempted to break into the building through the back but were stopped by police.

There have been no arrests but officers are in attendance and will continue to monitor the situation, a London Met police spokesperson told The Independent.

NOW - Protest outside BBC Television Centre in West Londonpic.twitter.com/cZsfKzIRXj

— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) August 9, 2021

READ MORE: "Video Emerges of Anti-Vaccination Protesters Attempting to Storm Television Studio"

Public health officials see no evidence migrants caused the surge in COVID-19 cases

Public health officials say low vaccination rates, not migrants, are to blame for the surge in COVID-19 cases, despite claims from Republican governors.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that President Joe Biden "imported more virus" through the "wide-open southern border." Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Biden was allowing migrants, "many of whom have COVID," into the country.

New York Times reporter Linda Qiu noted that many of the major outbreaks are occurring in Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana—states that do not border Mexico. There is also no evidence that the Delta variant or three others labeled "of concern" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention entered the U.S. through the southern border.

"It's not a border issue or a migrant issue, it's a national issue. And it's a particularly major issue in states with lower vaccination rates," Max Hadler, the COVID-19 senior policy expert at Physicians for Human Rights, a nonprofit advocacy group, told the NYT. "That's the clearest and most important correlation, and it has nothing to do with migrants but rather with rates of vaccination among people living in those states."

The U.S. is averaging more than 110k new daily COVID-19 cases

The United States is averaging more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases a day for the first time since February.

According to a New York Times database, the seven-day average of new cases reported has doubled in the last two weeks to 110,360. Deaths have also nearly doubled, to an average of 516 a day.

Fake COVID-19 vaccine cards selling for as little as $25 online

Social media users are selling fake COVID-19 vaccine cards to students, as some colleges and universities are requiring proof of vaccination to attend in-person classes.

According to the Associated Press, the Instagram user "vaccinationacards" is selling fake laminated cards for $25, while one Telegram user is offering "COVID-19 Vaccine Cards Certificates" for up to $200 each.

"This is our own way of saving as many people as we possibly can from the poisonous vaccine," reads the Telegram user's message.

The prevalence of fake vaccine cards online has worried some school officials.

"There needs to be policies in place for accountability to make sure that every student is operating in the collective interest of the entire campus," global health policy professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Benjamin Mason Meier, told the AP.

READ MORE: "Fake COVID Vaccine Cards Can Be Bought Online for as Little as $25, Worrying Officials"

Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant says the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, according to Dr. Larry Brillant, an epidemiologist who was part of the World Health Organization's team that helped eradicate smallpox.

"I think we're closer to the beginning than we are to the end [of the pandemic], and that's not because the variant that we're looking at right now is going to last that long," Brilliant told CNBC.

"Unless we vaccinate everyone in 200 plus countries, there will still be new variants," he said.

While he said the delta variant is "maybe the most contagious virus" ever, Brillant noted that the vaccines are holding up against the variant.

He recommends giving vulnerable populations a booster shot as soon as possible.

Teacher union president says vaccines are key to opening schools this fall

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said Sunday that she supports members working with school districts on vaccine mandates.

"As a matter of personal conscience, we need to be working with our employers, not opposing them, on vaccine mandates," Weingarten told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd.

While she said teachers are "probably the most vaccinated profession," Weingarten said the spread of the Delta variant is "alarming," amid growing COVID-19 hospitalizations among children.

"The circumstances have changed," she said. "It weighs really heavily on me that kids under 12 can't get vaccinated."

She said her priorities are getting kids back into schools and combating vaccine misinformation.

"Our number one goal is to get schools open," Weingarten tweeted. "Vaccines and COVID mitigation policies are key to doing that."

Our number one goal is to get schools open. That's what @AFTunion and our locals are working on. Vaccines and COVID mitigation policies are key to doing that. We're going to keep working to make sure schools are safe and welcoming in the fall.

— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) August 8, 2021

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins says vaccine mandates can make a difference

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins told ABC News that he believes vaccine mandates could make a difference in the fight against COVID-19.

"That's obviously a hot topic," Collins said. "For me, as a non-political person, as a physician, as a scientist, the compelling case for vaccines for everybody is right there in front of you. Just look at the data."

He said he agrees with President Biden's insistence to require vaccines or weekly testing in federal agencies.

Collins added that the government "ought to use every public health tool that we can when people are dying."

"Death rates are starting up again," he said. "We ought to be thinking of every possible intervention."

.@gstephanopoulos: "Is it time for more vaccine mandates?"@NIHDirector Dr. Francis Collins: "Yeah, I think we ought to use every public health tool that we can when people are dying." https://t.co/OFn9QFfihK pic.twitter.com/d7ajJA2nxC

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 8, 2021

Senator Rand Paul blasts CDC, mask and vaccine mandates

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky released a video on Twitter Sunday night blasting COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates and-19 lockdowns.

"It's time for us to resists, they can't arrest all of us," he said. "We don't have to accept the mask mandates, lockdown and harmful policies of the petty tyrants and bureaucrats. We can simply say no, not again."

Paul called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her "drunk-with-power reign over the capitol," saying he and his staff will make their own health choices regarding masks, vaccines and COVID-19 testing.

"President Biden, we won't accept your agencies' mandates or moves towards a lockdown," Paul said. "No one should follow the CDC's [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] anti-science mask mandates."

He also threatened to punish local governments, federal agencies and school districts that enforce COVID-19 lockdown or mandates with bills to cut funding.

We are at a moment of truth and a crossroads. Will we allow these people to use fear and propaganda to do further harm to our society, economy, and children?

Or will we stand together and say, absolutely not. Not this time. I choose freedom. pic.twitter.com/XrI2tjdAHW

— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 8, 2021

Children's hospitals 'completely overwhelmed' - concerns over Delta variant impact on kids

The highly infectious COVID variant has seen a high number of children admitted to hospitals in the U.S., according to data shared by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Florida has the highest number of children hospitalized from COVID of any state in the country, with 172 currently being treated in medical facilities. "The numbers of cases in our hospitals in children and our children's hospitals are completely overwhelmed," Dr. Aileen Marty said about the increasing amount of children hospitalized.

READ MORE: Healthy Children in Florida Increasingly Getting Sick With COVID As Over 170 Hospitalized

Governor DeSantis loses court battle over vaccine passports

A federal judge has ruled to dismiss Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' banning of cruise companies requiring proof of COVID vaccines to board ships in the state, under controversial new laws he set out in May.

Judge Kathleen Williams decided in favor of Norwegian Cruise Line's challenge to the law, arguing that it jeopardized the health and safety of crew members and was in breach of the First Amendment's right to free speech.

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis Loses Battle With Florida Cruise Line Over Vaccine Passports

Cruise firm wins COVID passport court battle
Norwegian Cruise Line has won a court battle against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over a ban on requiring COVID vaccination status Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Miami nightclubs offer free vaccines to customers

Clubs are hoping to help boost low vaccination numbers in Florida as the Sunshine State set another record high for daily COVID cases over the weekend.

Owner of clubs LIV and Story, David Grutman - often described as the king of South Beach's nightlife scene - who also owns a restaurant and hotel with Pharrell, said the "only way" for his businesses to stay open "is if people get vaccinated, so we want to make it as accessible as possible".

Grutman has partnered with CDR Health to offer clubbers free virus shots, while other club owners are waiving door charges for fully vaccinated partiers and offering $200 bonuses to workers who prove their vaccination status.

Customers queue outside bar in Miami
Clubbers and restaurant customers in Miami, Florida are being offered free vaccines on the door Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

Teaching unions launches attack on Republican governors over COVID policies

Randi Weingarten, from the American Federation of Teachers, said Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are "hurting people" by spreading misinformation about the virus, adding that "politics are infecting" the public health crisis while on NBC's Meet the Press.

The disinformation campaign and what people like Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis are doing, they are hurting people in terms of their public health by this disinformation campaign.

School leaders have faced threats of funding cuts and the removal of people from executive boards by governors for mandating vaccines and face covering.

READ MORE: Teachers Union President Says DeSantis, Abbott 'Hurting People' With COVID 'Disinformation'

Americans reunite with friends and family in Canada

The COVID travel ban from the U.S. to Canada ended as of midnight - despite a surge in virus cases in the states. There was not a mad rush at the as expected, however, with waiting times at Ambassador Bridge around 10 minutes.

The U.S. continues its closure to all Canadians making nonessential trips until at least August 21, which also applies to the Mexican border. It is expected the Biden administration will soon announce plans for a phased reopening.

Delta is wreaking havoc - but what do we know about the threat from Lambda?

The variant, first documented in Peru last year, was flagged as a "variant of interest" by the World Health Organization on June 14 and is now spreading amongst Americans, with 1,300 confirmed cases so far.

While much remains to be known about the variant, experts fear its rapid spread could mean more severe illness, more hospitalizations and more resistance to vaccines than the original strain - and possibly even Delta.

Currently, the Delta variant accounts for more than 93 percent of circulating coronavirus cases in the country - but that could change.

READ MORE: The Lambda COVID Variant - What WHO, CDC Have Said

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

As the Delta variant continues to spread out of control and the threat of a "doomsday" mutation looms, Newsweek bring you all the latest COVID news throughout the U.S.

Stick with us throughout Monday for all the latest.