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Today: Florida is asking the Supreme Court to block the CDC’s restrictions on the cruise ship industry. Tennessee is resuming vaccine outreach to adolescents, St. Louis is mandating masks indoors again, and a new study shows how vaccines will help keep students safe this fall.
We’ll start with masks:
St. Louis County and city reimpose mask mandate as COVID-19 cases surge
Both the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County are reimposing an indoor mask mandate in an effort to fight the spread of the delta coronavirus variant and a rise in hospitalizations.
Effective on Monday, the city and county will require all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks inside public places and on transportation. The rule will apply to everyone ages 5 and older.
Wearing masks outside will be encouraged but not required.
“We’ve lost more than 500 St. Louisans to COVID-19, and if our region doesn’t work together to protect one another, we could see spikes that overwhelm our hospital and public health systems,” Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the city of St. Louis, said in a statement.
Delta rising: The move comes three weeks after the county and city recommended people wear masks indoors. The escalation is a sign people did not heed the recommendation, and cases did not decrease as hoped. St. Louis joins Los Angeles County, which reimposed its indoor mask mandate earlier this month as infections from the delta variant rise. The danger is mostly to unvaccinated people, especially in states like Missouri where the vaccination rate is extremely low.
Read more here.
Tennessee resuming nearly all adolescent vaccine advocacy
Tennessee is resuming almost all of its adolescent vaccine advocacy efforts, a top health official announced on Friday, following backlash for the state’s reported plans to suspend outreach.
Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey told reporters that the state will return to promoting all vaccines for children and hosting vaccination events on school property, including some next week, after a “pause.”
“I want to assure you that the department’s commitment to immunization is completely unchanged,” she added.
The Tennessean reported earlier this month that the Tennessee Department of Health planned to stop its outreach advocating for vaccines for adolescents against all diseases, including COVID-19, sparking nationwide outrage.
More controversy: Tennessee’s health department also came under fire this month when the state’s top vaccination official told the newspaper that she was terminated after she sent a letter to providers about a doctrine that allows minors aged 14 and older to get vaccinated without a parent’s permission.
The state has one of the lower COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, with 38.5 percent of the population fully vaccinated. At the same time, cases have more than tripled in the past 14 weeks, according to data from The New York Times.
Read more here.
Florida asks Supreme Court to block CDC’s limits on cruise ship industry
Florida’s attorney general on Friday asked the Supreme Court to block federal health restrictions placed on the cruise ship industry amid the pandemic.
In a 31-page brief, Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) argued that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) limits exceed the agency’s authority under federal law.
“The statute grants the CDC limited powers to enact traditional quarantine measures,” the brief states. “It does not permit the agency to remake the entire cruise-ship industry.”
The request was filed to Justice Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasOvernight Health Care: St. Louis reimposes mask mandate | Florida asks Supreme Court to block CDC’s limits on cruise ship industry Florida asks Supreme Court to block CDC’s limits on cruise ship industry No reason to pack the court MORE, who handles emergency matters arising from Florida and surrounding states and who can act on the application alone or refer the matter to the rest of the justices.
Backstory: A federal judge in Tampa last month sided with Florida, finding that the CDC’s measure amounted to an unlawful government overreach. But last week a divided federal appeals court panel agreed to halt enforcement of that ruling while the CDC appeals, prompting Florida to ask the Supreme Court on Friday to lift the stay.
Read more here.
Alabama governor on rising COVID-19 cases: ‘Time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks’
Alabama Gov. Kay IveyKay IveyDemocrats question GOP shift on vaccines Overnight Health Care: St. Louis reimposes mask mandate | Florida asks Supreme Court to block CDC’s limits on cruise ship industry White House on unvaccinated Americans: Our role is not to ‘place blame’ MORE (R) declared that it’s “time to start blaming the unvaccinated” for the surge in coronavirus infections in her state.
The governor, visibly exasperated while discussing the need to get a COVID-19 vaccination shot, was asked by local reporters Thursday what more can be done to boost vaccination rates.
“I don’t know, you tell me!” Ivey said. “Folks supposed to have common sense.”
“But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down,” she continued.
By the numbers: Ivey’s comments come as her state grapples with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Only 48.7 percent of the population age 12 and up has received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 39.6 percent have been fully inoculated,
Meanwhile, the state has seen its average daily new cases quadruple in the past two weeks, reaching 1,133 on Thursday, according to data from The New York Times.
Ivey said it should be “crystal clear” that the new cases and hospitalizations are being reported among the unvaccinated.
“These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle and self-inflicted pain,” Ivey told reporters. “You know we’ve got to get folks to take the shot. The vaccine is the greatest weapon we have to fight COVID, there’s not question about that, the data proves it.”
Read more here.
Related: White House on Alabama governor’s comments about unvaccinated Americans: Our role is not to ‘place blame’
Study finds COVID-19 is 95 percent lower in vaccinated Philadelphia school employees
A study published Friday found the portion of positive COVID-19 tests among vaccinated school employees in Philadelphia was 95 percent lower than among unvaccinated workers.
The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) reported that weekly tests among School District of Philadelphia employees working in-person earlier this year returned 0.09 percent positive results among those vaccinated with two doses.
Comparatively, 1.21 percent of workers who had one dose and 1.76 percent of employees who had zero shots tested positive for COVID-19, showing the effectiveness of the vaccine.
The research included the mandatory screening tests for employees during the first five weeks of in-person work. In total, 0.7 percent of the 34,048 COVID-19 tests returned positive results among about 12,300 employees between March 21 and April 23.
Takeaway: The research comes as the back-to-school season is approaching and as communities aim to start this school year with full-time in-person learning after the pandemic disrupted traditional education.
While all adults are authorized to get the vaccine, only children older than 12 years old are eligible.
“Vaccination of school staff members has been highlighted as an important strategy to maximize the safety of in-person education,” the MMWR reads.
Read more here.
What we’re reading
Facing headwinds on new Alzheimer’s drug, Biogen launches controversial campaign (Kaiser Health News)
How 3 counties reached the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in their states (ABC News)
Why is Delta such a big deal? And other burning questions about the next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic (Stat News)
Contraception is free to women, except when it’s not (Kaiser Health News)
State by state
‘Hugely disappointing’: Iowa may have to toss out tens of thousands of expiring COVID vaccine doses (Des Moines Register)
Alaska leads nation with steepest climb in coronavirus hospitalizations (Alaska Public Media)
‘This is not a hoax’: Personal COVID-19 loss spurs Alabama family to urge others to vaccinate (Montgomery Advertiser)