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A man checks out a display at the NRA annual meeting of members in Indianapolis in 2019. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association has canceled its annual meeting in Houston because of concerns about the rising rate of COVID-19 infections in Texas, the organization announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Texas, like much of the U.S., is experiencing a surge in cases driven by the highly-contagious Delta variant.

State of play: The NRA said it came to its decision after analyzing COVID-19 data from Houston's Harris County and consulting with "medical professionals, local officials, major sponsors and exhibitors," according to the statement.

  • "The NRA’s top priority is ensuring the health and well-being of our members, staff, sponsors and supporters," read the statement. "We are mindful that NRA Annual Meeting patrons will return home to family, friends and co-workers from all over the country, so any impacts from the virus could have broader implications."

This is the second year in a row the meeting has been canceled, after last year's planned get-together in Nashville also was canceled. The organization said it looked forward to meeting in Louisville in May 2022.

The big picture: Some Texas hospitals are already out of ICU beds.

  • In the Houston area, the Memorial Hermann health care system recently announced that it would close three emergency centers "to free up staff for hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients," the Texas Tribune writes.
  • Harris County also recently approved up to $30 million of spending to hire out-of-state nurses to assist with the local COVID-19 surge, per the Tribune.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify Harris County recently approved up to $30 million of spending for out-of-state nurses.

Go deeper

Dec 2, 2021 - World

Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people

Photo: John MacDougall - Pool/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that people who are unvaccinated will not be allowed in nonessential shops, cultural and recreational venues, AP reports.

State of play: Merkel, alongside incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said the measures were necessary to avoid overflowing hospitals with coronavirus patients. The country is seeing an increase in daily infections.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker
Dec 3, 2021 - World

COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming

Recreated from Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

South Africa alerted the world to the Omicron variant. Now data out of South Africa may serve as a warning of what we're facing.

Driving the news: South Africa recorded 11,535 new cases Thursday with 22.4% of tests coming back positive — up from an average of about 300 new cases, with a 2% test positivity rate 10 days earlier. The country's top public health officials expect that exponential rise to continue as Omicron rapidly becomes the dominant variant.