COVID-19 Live Updates: U.S. Hospitals Scramble for Staff, Countries Brace for Delta Variant Arrival

Live Updates

Hospitals across the U.S. continue to suffer a critical shortage of staff as the Delta variant hits states hard. Floods of unvaccinated patients continue to arrive at emergency rooms requiring urgent treatment, with Texas setting up specialist units in parking lots to stem the flow.

Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oregon currently all have more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic. Reports suggest some patients are waiting inside ambulances for up to an hour before hospitals can admit them.

Several governors have resinstated COVID-19 restrictions amid rising cases and hospitalizations. Hawaii Governor David Ige announced capacity limits and indoor mask mandates in bars, restaurants and gyms.

Local officials in Texas and Florida continue to defy mask mandate bans from their governors and require students and teachers to wear face masks when school starts this fall.

The updates for this blog have ended.

KEY MOMENTS

Coronavirus patient
A doctor takes care of a patient infected with Covid-19 in the intensive care unit of Lyon-Sud hospital in Pierre-Benite, on September 8, 2021. JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images

Mask mandate in place for schools, business in Dallas County

Dallas County issued a mask mandate that will start Thursday, in defiance of Governor Greg Abbott's executive order.

Judge Clay Jenkins signed an emergency order declaring a state of local disaster Wednesday due to the ongoing public health threat of COVID-19.

All students, staff and visitors in child care centers and pre-K through 12 public schools must wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccine status. The mandate does not apply to children under the age of two.

Additionally, masks must be worn inside businesses and County buildings, regardless of vaccine status. Businesses that do not comply with this order could face fines up to $1,000.

As the rate of infections and hospitalizations increase rapidly in Texas, Jenkins "strongly urged" that everyone older than the age of two wear a face mask in public indoor spaces.

Order on required us of a face mask in certain public space pic.twitter.com/bibjDrdzUL

— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) August 11, 2021

Florida reports the highest rate of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S.

While Florida reports the highest rate of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the country, Governor Ron DeSantis stands by his mask mandate ban.

Florida is reporting 8.1 children hospitalized with COVID-19 per 100,000 residents as of August 7, according to data from the CovKid project, which uses COVID-19 hospitalization numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Over the past seven days, Florida has reported 341 new hospital admissions among those aged 17 and younger, the most in the U.S.

During a press conference Wednesday, DeSantis stood by his executive order banning mask mandates in schools.

"We believe this is a decision for the parent to make, just given the uncertainty about what it means, particularly for a lot of the young kids to be in that," he said.

READ MORE: "Florida Sees Highest Rate of Children Hospitalized With COVID in U.S."

California requires teachers to get vaccinated or tested weekly

California will require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

Governor Gavin Newson announced the mandate for K-12 educators Wednesday as school returns amid rising coronavirus due to the Delta variant.

"We think this is the right thing to do and we think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open and to address the number one anxiety that parents like myself have for young children," Newsom said.

California is the first state in the country to enact such a mandate for schools.

Newsom already mandated health care workers be fully vaccinated for employments and required all state employees get vaccinated or get tested weekly.

READ MORE: "California becomes first state in U.S. to mandate COVID vaccines for teachers"

Southwest Airlines says Delta variant is hurting business, won't require employees get vaccinated

Southwest Airlines said the spread of the Delta variant is hurting business.

In a regulatory filing Wednesday, the airline said customers have been booking fewer flights and are increasingly canceling trips they've already booked.

Southwest expects its August operating revenue to be down 15 to 20 percent compared with the same month in 2019.

"The Company has recently experienced a deceleration in close-in bookings and an increase in close-in trip cancellations in August 2021, which are believed to be driven by the recent rise in COVID-19 cases associated with the Delta variant," Southwest said in a filing.

Southwest, along with American and Delta Airlines, said it will not require its employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said the company will "continue to strongly encourage" vaccination.

"Obviously, I am very concerned about the latest Delta variant, and the effect on the health and safety of our employees and our operation, but nothing has changed," Kelly said in an internal memo.

Read More: "Southwest Doubtful It Will Turn Third-Quarter Profit Without Federal Assistance"

CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent serious illness.

According to the CDC, expecting women are at a higher risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications, including preterm births, if infected with the coronavirus.

The vaccine will not cause adverse pregnancy-related outcomes or effects on babies, the CDC said. The agency also recommends vaccines for women who are breastfeeding.

''The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

Only about 23 percent of pregnant women have received at least one dose, according to CDC data.

READ MORE: "CDC Tells Pregnant Women to Get COVID Shot After Study Shows No Increased Miscarriage Risk"

States reinstate COVID-19 restrictions amid Delta spread

States across the country are reinstating COVID-19 restriction as the Delta variant spreads.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced a statewide mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people during indoor gatherings.

"This new mask requirement will not last forever, but it is a measure that can save lives right now," Brown said in a statement.

In Hawaii, Governor David Ige announced that social gatherings will be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, groups at restaurants must be seated six feet apart and professionally sponsored events must be reviewed by counties to ensure they are using safe practices.

Indoor events at bars, restaurants, gyms and places of worship will be reduced to 50 percent capacity and masks must be worn at all times except while eating and drinking.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said that masks must be worn by students and faculty in pre-school and K-12 schools across the state.

"Bottom line: we've got to protect our kids. This is how we do it," Beshear tweeted.

German nurse accused of swapping COVID vaccine for saline solution

A German nurse is suspected of injecting people with a saline solution instead of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Around 8,600 people who visited the Roffhausen vaccination center in Friesland between March and April this year could be affected, the Friesland district administrator, Sven Ambrosy, said on Facebook Tuesday.

"For peace of mind we would recommend people get an additional vaccination," Ambrosy said.

The Lower Saxony government's coronavirus crisis team, which is overseeing the case, told journalists on Tuesday that police found the nurse involved was "motivated to oppose the vaccination."

"The investigations of the police have shown the person [involved] was motivated to oppose the vaccination," Claudia Schröder, the deputy head of the Lower Saxony coronavirus team, said. "Since she remains silent with police, we do not know whether and to what extent she was manipulated during this period."

The U.S. will deliver over 830k vaccines to the Caribbean

The U.S. will deliver 837,000 Pfizer vaccines to Caribbean nations, the Associated Press reported.

The Bahamas will receive 397,000 doses, followed by Trinidad and Tobago with more than 305,000 doses. Barbados will receive 70,200 doses, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will get 35,100, Antigua will receive 17,550 and 11,700 will go to St. Kitts and Nevis.

"The Biden-Harris administration's highest priority in the Americas today is managing and ending the COVID pandemic and contributing to equitable recovery," Juan González, the National Security Council's senior director for the Western Hemisphere, said.

World Health Organization testing new treatments for COVID-19

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it will soon test three new drugs for COVID-19 treatment.

The three drugs will be tested as part of the next phase of WHO's Solidarity trial, the ongoing global research into identifying treatment for COVID-19.

The drugs–artesunate, imatinib and infliximab–were selected by an independent panel based on their potential for reducing the risk of death in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

The drugs are currently used to treat other diseases: artesunate is used for severe malaria, imatinib for certain cancers and infliximab for immune diseases like Crohn's Disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

"Finding more effective and accessible therapeutics for COVID-19 patients remains a critical need, and WHO is proud to lead this global effort," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

"WHO remains committed to working with you and with all of the researchers and patients in the trial to advance the science, find new solutions, and to do it all in solidarity"-@DrTedros #COVID19 https://t.co/K6tk22NnFf

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) August 11, 2021

Florida Department of Education threatens to withhold salaries from school board over their mask mandate

Florida's Broward County School District defied Governor Ron DeSantis' executive order by voting 8-1 to uphold a mask mandate in schools.

The Florida Department of Education sent the district a letter threatening to withhold their salaries if the board does not adjust the mandate by Friday.

The letter states that the mandate does not comply with DeSantis' Emergency Rule because it does not allow parents to opt students out from wearing a mask.

The district requires a medical waiver from students in order to go without a mask in school.

pic.twitter.com/CPmFqRvzS1

— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) August 10, 2021

"There is no room for error or leniency when it comes to ensuring compliance with policies that allow parents and guardians to make health and educational choices for their children," DOE Commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote.

At the special school board meeting Tuesday, school board chair Rosalind Osgood said the pandemic is "deadly" and "getting worse"

"You can't ignore this pandemic," she said. "The more we don't use masks, the more we position the mutation of this virus to grow."

YouTube suspends Sen. Rand Paul over his comments about cloth masks

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was suspended from YouTube for one week after posting a video claiming cloth face masks were ineffective against COVID-19.

According to The New York Times, Paul said that "most of the masks you get over the counter don't work. They don't prevent infection," adding that "cloth masks don't work."

A spokesman for YouTube told the Times that the video violated company policy on COVID-19 misinformation, including "claims that masks do not play a role in preventing the contraction or transmission of COVID-19."

Paul tweeted that he will wear the suspension as "a badge of honor," writing that his video quotes two peer-reviewed articles saying cloth masks don't work.

A badge of honor . . . leftwing cretins at Youtube banning me for 7 days for a video that quotes 2 peer reviewed articles saying cloth masks don’t work.

If you want to see the banned video go to Liberty Tree https://t.co/gsTUwuLZGL

— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 10, 2021

READ MORE: "Rand Paul says YouTube account suspension over mask comments is 'badge of honor'"

Texas judge upholds temporary restraining order on Texas mask mandate ban

District Court Judge Tonya Parker upheld a temporary restraining order against Texas Governor Greg Abbott's mask mandate ban.

Parker wrote in her ruling that "immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result" if Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins was unable to mandate COVID-19 measures.

Jenkins filed a temporary restraining order on Abbott's mask mandate ban Monday, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalization surge in Texas.

Parker said that Jenkins' position as county judge means that he leads the government in providing safety for all citizens "who have and will continue to be damaged by Governor Abbot's conduct, including, but not limited to" his executive order. The restraining order expires on August 24.

Following the ruling, Jenkins said he will meet with health, education and business leaders "with the anticipation of issuing an emergency order" Wednesday.

Moments ago, I received a copy of The Hon. Tonya Parker’s order enjoining @GovAbbott from stopping local mask requirements here. I’ll get feedback from health,education and business leaders tonight and in the morning with the anticipation of issuing an emergency order tomorrow.

— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) August 11, 2021

READ MORE: "Judge Wins Temporary Restraining Order Against Greg Abbott's Mask Mandate Ban"

In case you missed it - key COVID moments early Tuesday morning

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Wednesday for all the latest...

Sydney hospital overwhelmed as COVID enters mental health unit

Nine infections have been recorded on a psychiatric ward at Nepean Hospital amid a deepening staff crisis in the city.

The local health district's chief executive has told staff it "needed to and will need to continue" to import nurses and doctors from other areas, similarly to Texas' plea yesterday, as some refuse to attend the site due to safety concerns.

Sinopharm vaccine 96 percent effective in children

Almost all children aged 3 to 17 who took part in the Sinopharm "immune bridge study remained uninfected and developed antibodies, the findings from UAE found.

New Zealand warns of strict lockdown is Delta arrives

New Zealanders are being told to prepare for a strict lockdown at the first sign of an outbreak of the Delta variant as COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the government's response is likely to be "swift and severe."

New Zealand has stamped out the spread of the virus and had previously planned to rely primarily on contact tracing for any small outbreaks.

But Hipkins said the problems that Sydney currently faces in trying to contact trace a growing outbreak showed the Delta variant was extremely hard to manage, meaning that New Zealand's tolerance for risk was now very low.

'I'm so tapped out': Nurses exhausted as COVID causes overtime burnout

Many nurses have described hitting a wall during the pandemic and reaching point of exhaustion where they simply cannot go on.

"There was never a time that we could just kind of take a breath," Michelle Thomas, a registered nurse and a manager of the emergency department at an Arizona hospital, told AP. "I hit that point ... I can't do this anymore. I'm so just tapped out."

She helped other nurses cope with being alone in rooms with dying patients and holding mobile phones so family members could say their final goodbyes. But three weeks she resigned, and told the agency she does not know if she will ever return to nursing.

Miami's Jackson Memorial Health System, Florida's largest medical provider, reports losing nurses to staffing agencies, other hospitals and pandemic burnout. The CEO says nurses are being lured away to jobs in other states at double and triple the salary.

Now, nurses in Florida are being offered $500 for extra shifts as hospitals struggle to retain staff amid a new, harsher wave of COVID.

READ MORE: Florida Nurses Offered $500 Bonuses for Each Extra Shift During COVID Surge

Moderna delays vaccine orders to South Korea

Many South Koreans will have to wait an extra two weeks to get their second COVID vaccine as Moderna delays shipments to the country.

It is the latest development in a serious of supply issues that has hampered the country's vaccine rollout in the midst of a second wave of the virus.

Indonesian 'Delta' robot gets to work helping self-isolating COVID

A robot made of recycled pots and pans by villagers and scientists in Indonesia has spent the first day helping out people with COVID isolating indoors.

The Delta machine delivers meals and medication to their homes, removing any risk of infection for family members, friends and health professionals. It also helpfully sprays the streets with a disinfectant spray as it moves around, as well as providing entertainment for the kids - and adults - in Surabaya city.

It has been put together out of old kitchen utensils, a quadbike and - yes - an ancient TV monitor.

Locals make Delta COVID robot in Indonesia
Aseyan, who goes by one name only, operates a disinfection robot named Delta, which he created from recycled household goods, at a neighbourhood in Surabaya Juni Kriswanto/Getty Images

Florida braces for two emergencies - COVID and Tropical Storm Fred

Officials feared Storm Fred could become much faster and more dangerous as it hurtles towards the U.S. - and it has done exactly that. The tropical storm developed just south of Puerto Rico late Tuesday night and now it aims toward a Florida that's dealing with a record COVID outbreak.

As of early this morning, winds have reached up to 40mph, but if they were to reach around 74mph and the water remains warm, it could develop into a deadly hurricane.

Meanwhile, health officials are rapidly trying to distribute an emergency order of ventilators brought in from other states.

READ MORE: Tropical Storm Fred Develops, Barrels Toward Florida as COVID Surges

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

Today we continue our coverage of COVID at home and abroad as hospitals in the U.S. fight the Delta variant and others countries brace for impact.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Wednesday for all the latest.