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CDC report shows mounting evidence about dangerous delta variant; researchers study possible link between virus, dementia: Latest updates

  • July 30, 2021

recommended that people in COVID-19 hotspots resume mask-wearing in indoor public spaces in regions with high coronavirus transmission. 

The report followed an ongoing explosion in COVID-19 cases across the nation fueled by the emergence of the delta variant and waning vaccination rates. A new report, first reported on by the Washington Post, highlights why the CDC made these new recommendations.  

It shows that those who are vaccinated are three times less likely to get COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated. Once infected, though, vaccinated people are just as contagious as someone without that protection — meaning they need to wear a mask and keep their distance to avoid passing on the virus. 

Last summer, before there was a vaccine, there were about 80,000 new COVID-19 cases reported every day and nearly 500 deaths — almost exactly the same count as today although half the population is vaccinated and many others have immunity because they’ve already been infected.  

to offer unvaccinated residents $100 to get their COVID-19 shots. The cash reward for vaccination was one idea in Biden’s latest plan to boost lagging vaccination rates in many parts of the nation. Rolled out Thursday, the core of his new plan is a requirement for federal workers to disclose their vaccination status to their agencies. Read more here.Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 196.5 million cases and 4.19 million deaths. More than 163.8 million Americans — 49.4% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: Some people in Missouri are dressing in disguise and begging doctors to not publicly reveal they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine, a doctor said. Read more.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

St. Louis health director said he faced racism, threats over mask mandate

A suburban St. Louis health director said he was called racial slurs and physically assaulted after defending a new mask mandate to combat COVID-19.

St. Louis County Health Director Dr. Faisal Khan said in response, he raised his middle finger at a crowd gathered at a St. Louis County Council meeting, according to a Wednesday letter obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

changes in brain biology after hospitalization with COVID-19, problems lingering months after infection, and a link between smell loss and mental sharpness in older adults.

Although long-haul COVID-19 is often described as primarily affecting younger people, the new studies suggest that many over 60 also have brain issues long after their initial infections.

“Is this part of that puzzle of things that may contribute to your (dementia) risk? We don’t know yet, but we need to understand that,” said Heather Snyder, vice president for medical scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, an advocacy group.

The three new studies, presented at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, being held in Denver, each looked at different aspects of the link between COVID-19 and brain issues. None of the studies has yet been peer reviewed, the standard for scientific research, so their findings are preliminary. Read more here.

— Karen Weintraub 

IRS announces tax credit to employers who offer employees PTO to get vaccinated

The IRS announced Thursday they would expand tax credits to employers who give their employees paid time off to get vaccinated against COVID-19, encouraging them to make time for people to get inoculated.

Eligible employers, including businesses and tax-exempt organizations with less than 500 employees, can receive a tax credit equal to the wages paid for providing the time off, but only up to certain limits, according to a release from the agency.

“This new information is a shot in the arm for struggling small employers who are working hard to keep their businesses going while also watching out for the health of their employees,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in the release. “Our work on this issue is part of a larger effort by the IRS to assist the nation recover from the pandemic.”

The decision extends from Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which offers tax credit to small and mid-sized employers that provide paid sick and family leave to employees due to COVID-19. Self-employed individuals also have a similar tax credit as part of the plan.

— Steven Vargas

won’t reinstate $300 in additional federal pandemic unemployment payments that Gov. Mike DeWine ended early.

On Thursday, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Holbrook rejected an attempt to restore the extra unemployment benefits in Ohio, saying DeWine had the power to cut them off before Labor Day.

“The court is aware of, and sympathetic to, the thousands of Ohioans without work and in desperate need of any assistance available,” Holbrook wrote. “The court simply cannot legislate from the bench and overlook the clear terms of (Ohio law.)”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress approved an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits to help struggling Americans. The benefits are set to expire after Labor Day, but several governors cut them off early.

DeWine, a Republican, stopped the additional payments for Ohioans on June 26, citing Ohioans’ need to get back to work. Ohio’s unemployment rate had dropped from 16.4% in April 2020 to 5.2% in June.

Ultimately, Holbrook found that DeWine had the authority to stop the benefits. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, in a statement, said they were pleased with the decision.

— Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer

Contributing: The Associated Press

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