Coronavirus Updates: GOP senator pushes back on states blocking masks

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy says he disagrees with GOP governors in Florida and Texas who are blocking mask mandates even as COVID-19 cases spike higher.

Cassidy, a Louisiana physician, said Sunday that “local officials should be listened to” if hospital ICUs in a community are full because of rising infections and school officials want to implement safeguards such as mask-wearing ahead of students returning in the fall.

He told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he doesn’t agree with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or Texas Gov. Greg Abbott because as a conservative, he doesn’t want “to top down from Washington, D.C.,” and “I don’t want to top down from a governor’s office.”

In May, Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting local governments from imposing mask mandates. DeSantis in July issued an order barring school districts from requiring children to wear masks for in-person instruction.

Infections are soaring in those states and elsewhere due to the highly contagious delta variant. While officials stress vaccinations as the best protection, children under 12 are not yet eligible.

Here are more of today’s headlines:

US hits 50% vaccinated milestone
The US hit the key milestone of vaccinating 50% of the total population against COVID-19 and nearly 60% of the eligible population, those 12 and older, are fully vaccinated. However, the country is still seeing cases surge again, more than 120,000 cases were reported in the last 24 hours. The seven-day average of deaths exceeds 450.

“Today, about 400 people will die because of the Delta variant in this country,” President Joe Biden said Friday. “A tragedy, because virtually all of these deaths were preventable if people had gotten vaccinated.”

CDC: 4th straight day with over 100k COVID-19 cases reported
The United States has recorded a fourth straight day with over 100,000 COVID-19 cases reported in a single day, according to CDC data. The country is now averaging more than 99,000 cases a day, per the CDC.

Amazon to mandate masks for all its workers in warehouses
Starting Monday, Amazon will be requiring all of its 900,000 U.S. warehouse workers to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. The move follows steps by a slew of other retailers, including Walmart and Target, to mandate masks for their workers. In many of those cases the mandates apply to workers in locations of substantial COVID-19 transmission.

Lambda and delta plus: What to know about other COVID variants detected in US
The delta variant is fueling the COVID-19 surge in the United States, but experts warn that a more dangerous variant could emerge if more Americans don’t get vaccinated. Delta is the most recent of four coronavirus mutations added to the World Health Organization’s and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “variants of concern” lists. Viruses constantly mutate, and most changes aren’t concerning. Right now, health officials are most concerned with the spread of the highly contagious delta but are monitoring mutations closely. These include lambda, listed as a “variant of interest” by WHO, and delta plus, a mutation of delta itself. Here is what you need to know.

Funeral of man who died of COVID-19 is turned into vaccine and testing event
A Florida man’s last wish before dying of COVID-19 was to get the vaccine. To honor his memory, his family is turning his funeral into a vaccine and testing event to protect the community against the deadly virus. Marquis Davis, a 28-year-old business owner and father, died on July 26 from COVID-19. He was not vaccinated at the time. Despite initially being hesitant to take the vaccine, Marquis Davis told his wife he wanted to get the shot after he recovered.

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