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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Wearing face masks, people walk through Union Station in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

As vaccination rates dwindle and the Delta variant becomes a growing public health concern, COVID cases appear to be surging across the U.S.

The big picture: "Twenty-four states have seen an uptick of at least 10% in Covid-19 cases over the past week," CNN writes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says between June 20 and July 3, the Delta variant accounted for more than 51% of all news cases.

Driving the news: Missouri and Arkansas are the states with the highest weekly case rates per capita. In the last seven days, Missouri had 142.1 cases per 100,000 residents and Arkansas had 139.8, according to CDC data.

  • Kansas reported the most number of new cases in over three months, AP reports.
  • The city of Independence issued a public health advisory Friday, saying cases and hospitalizations were growing throughout the Kansas City metro and the state of Missouri due to the Delta variant.
  • In California, Los Angeles County officials said they saw a 165% increase in new cases week over week.
  • Arizona reported its biggest daily increase in two months with more than 900 new cases on Friday.
  • Mississippi health officials acknowledged a "modest" increase in hospitalizations, mostly driven by the Delta variant, AP notes.

What they're saying: "We should think about the Delta variant as the 2020 version of Covid-19 on steroids," former White House COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt told CNN on Wednesday.

  • "It's twice as infectious. Fortunately, unlike 2020, we actually have a tool that stops the Delta variant in its tracks: It's called vaccine," he added.
  • Slavitt noted the variant presented a "very little threat" to fully vaccinated individuals.

Zoom out: Virus cases have ticked up around the world. The United Kingdom saw its highest case count since January as the disease spreads among younger age groups. On Friday, the government reported more than 35,700 new cases, the highest number since January.

  • The Netherlands reimposed coronavirus restrictions on Friday amid a surge of new cases, which the government said were driven by the Delta variant.
  • In Bangkok, health authorities reported more than 9,200 new cases and 72 new deaths. "More than 90% of the cases and deaths have occurred since early April," AP writes.

Go deeper

Sep 18, 2021 - Health

Mississippi reports rise in COVID-19 deaths among pregnant women

Dr. Thomas Dobbs speaks during a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2020. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At least eight pregnant women in Mississippi, who weren't fully vaccinated, have died of COVID-19 since late July, CNN reports.

Why it matters: The eight pregnant women who have died from the virus more than doubles the state's pandemic total in just two months.

Sep 18, 2021 - Health

Most Kentucky school boards vote in favor of mask mandates

Photo: Paul Bersebach, MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

A majority of school boards in Kentucky voted in favor of mask mandates, according to the Kentucky School Board Association.

Why it matters: A week ago, Kentucky's Republican-dominated legislature voted to revoke a statewide mask mandate in public schools that was meant to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The decision on masks would instead be left up to individual districts.

Sep 17, 2021 - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

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