(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.
More than 629,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.4 million people have died from the disease worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Just 60.2% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here’s how the news is developing Tuesday. All times Eastern:
Aug 24, 6:43 am
Tokyo Paralympics kicks off amid COVID-19 crisis
The delayed 2020 Summer Paralympics kicked off in Tokyo on Tuesday as Japan grapples with a growing COVID-19 crisis that has showed no signs of slowing down.
Protesters calling for the Games to be canceled gathered outside the Olympic Stadium in Japan’s capital ahead of Tuesday’s opening ceremony. Like the 2020 Olympics, which ended on Aug. 8, this year’s Paralympics is taking place amid a state of emergency. More than a dozen Japanese prefectures, including Tokyo, are currently under emergency measures related to COVID-19. The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were both postponed a year due to the pandemic.
Japan’s daily number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases has been breaking records in recent days and weeks, while the daily death toll has stayed below the record 216 fatalities reported on May 18. The Japanese government and the Tokyo metropolitan government issued a joint appeal on Monday to hospitals in the capital to admit more COVID-19 patients as cases rise.
“The delta variant’s strong infectiousness just isn’t comparable to previous ones,” Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said as he stood alongside Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike. “We would like to have further support from the medical community to secure hospital beds for coronavirus patients.”
Aug 24, 3:59 am
3 Houston-area emergency rooms shutter due to COVID-19 surge
Memorial Hermann, one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in southeast Texas, said Monday it was forced to close three of its 24-hour emergency rooms in the Houston area “due to the continued COVID-19 surge.”
The emergency rooms inside Memorial Hermann’s convenient care centers in the Kingwood, Spring and Sienna neighborhoods will remain closed “until further notice.”
“Patients who are currently receiving care inside any of these Emergency Rooms will be safely discharged or transferred to another Memorial Hermann facility,” the health system said in an announcement on its website. “Members of our community who require emergent care should proceed to another nearby Emergency Center for assistance.”
Aug 23, 9:35 pm
Hawaii governor urges tourists to stay away
Hawaii Gov. David Ige is urging tourists to stay away from the state, which saw a huge number of visitors over the summer, due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.
“It is not a good time to travel to the islands. I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii,” Ige said at a news conference Monday.
The islands are dealing with a big COVID surge due to the delta variant, but have a limited number of hospitals. The governor even suggested that another full lockdown is on the table.
“Is a lockdown on the table? Yes, it would be if the number of cases continues to grow exponentially as it has in the last 10 weeks … then we will have to take action to limit and ensure that the hospitals aren’t overrun,” Ige said Monday.
Aug 23, 7:35 pm
CDC director touts FDA’s Pfizer approval
In an interview with ABC News’ Linsey Davis, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she hopes unvaccinated Americans are spurred into action following Monday’s Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Walensky said the FDA is “the gold standard for the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines,” and the move was “powerful signal in the safety and effectiveness.”
“We have an extraordinary amount of data, and I’m really pleased that the FDA not just took their time and did the due diligence that needed to be done, but did it quickly and efficiently to bring this to the American people as soon as possible,” she said.
Walensky didn’t have a timetable for when the Moderna vaccine would get full approval since they haven’t submitted its data to the FDA yet.
She did say that the current expectation is that the Pfizer vaccine will be authorized for children ages 5 to 12 by November.
While Walensky said she prefers Americans voluntarily get their shots, she encouraged more vaccine mandates to spur people.
“We’ve already seen just today many come through so that people will recognize if they were on the fence and they just needed that extra push that these mandates will get them there,” she said.
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