Here’s what you need to know:
The surge of the Delta variant has forced Americans to recalibrate.
New Zealand begins a three-day lockdown after a single case is reported.
Biden officials say most Americans should get boosters after eight months.
France tries to clamp down on growing number of fake vaccine certificates.
Intensive care units across the U.S. are filling up, again.
India’s Covid-19 numbers have fallen. A third wave still looms.
Americans have entered a new, disheartening phase of the pandemic: the realization that the virus is not disappearing anytime soon.
Even as the highly contagious Delta variant has flooded the nation with a surge of recent infections, mayors, governors and public health officials have treaded lightly when considering whether to reimpose restrictions. With more than twice as many new cases being reported nationally compared with last August, baseball games, music festivals and state fairs have forged ahead, and restaurants, gyms and movie theaters have stayed open.
In many places, people have been largely left to decide for themselves whether to start wearing masks again or change the ways they work, socialize and vacation.
At the beginning of summer, the United States was reporting the lowest case totals since the pandemic’s start. But now, hospitalizations have reached their highest levels since winter. Only about half of Americans are fully vaccinated, and daily vaccination rates have risen only modestly, to about 700,000 doses a day, since the Delta surge began.
The worst surges have so far been concentrated in Southern states with underwhelming vaccination numbers, but reported cases have also been rising in places with far better vaccine uptake. Oregon and Hawaii, both of which have relatively high vaccination rates, have set weekly case records in recent days, and daily case rates have more than doubled in recent weeks in highly vaccinated parts of New England.
Most of the country remains fully open, and aside from Hawaii, where the governor recently imposed restrictions on social gatherings and restaurants, most officials have so far steered away from restricting or closing businesses, leaning instead on mask rules or vaccine requirements or, more commonly, nothing at all. Louisiana and Oregon have reinstated mask mandates. San Francisco will require proof of vaccination to patronize restaurants, bars and gyms. Several school districts and cities have returned to universal masking, while more employers and colleges have announced plans to require vaccines.
But other officials have been hostile to new restrictions or have worried that rules could further politicize the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that some vaccinated Americans wear masks in public again, but has not suggested shutting down businesses.