Most Americans favor vaccine requirements, poll finds; plus, a look inside a Florida hot spot
A roundup of this morning’s COVID-19 headlines as the delta variant spreads and the nation debates mask and vaccine mandates:
AP-NORC poll: COVID anxiety up, vaccine requirements favored
DENVER (AP) — Anxiety in the United States over COVID-19 is at its highest level since winter, a new poll shows, as the delta variant rages, more states and school districts adopt mask and vaccination requirements and the nation’s hospitals once again fill to capacity.
The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also finds that majorities of American adults want vaccination mandates for those attending movies, sports, concerts and other crowded events; those traveling by airplane; and workers in hospitals, restaurants, stores and government offices.
The poll shows that 41% are “extremely” or “very” worried about themselves or their family becoming infected with the virus. That is up from 21% in June, and about the same as in January, during the country’s last major surge, when 43% were extremely or very worried. Read the full story here:
‘Bracing for the worst’ in Florida’s COVID-19 hot zone
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — As quickly as one COVID patient is discharged, another waits for a bed in northeast Florida, the hot zone of the state’s latest surge. But the patients at Baptist Health’s five hospitals across Jacksonville are younger and getting sick from the virus faster than people did last summer.
Baptist has over 500 COVID patients, more than twice the number they had at the peak of Florida’s July 2020 surge, and the onslaught isn’t letting up. Hospital officials are anxiously monitoring 10 forecast models, converting empty spaces, adding over 100 beds and “bracing for the worst,” said Dr. Timothy Groover, the hospitals’ interim chief medical officer.
“Jacksonville is kind of the epicenter of this. They had one of the lowest vaccination rates going into July and that has probably really came back to bite them,” said Justin Senior, CEO of the Florida Safety Net Hospital Alliance, which represents some of the largest hospitals in the state.
Duval County, which consists almost entirely of Jacksonville, is a racially diverse Democratic bastion, won by Joe Biden. The overwhelmingly white rural counties that surround it went firmly for Donald Trump.
But all had lower than average vaccination rates before the highly contagious delta variant swept through this corner of Florida, driving caseloads in a state that now accounts for one in five COVID patients hospitalized nationwide. Read the full story here:
GOP governors, school districts battle over mask mandates
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Millions of students in Florida, Texas and Arizona are now required to wear masks in class as school boards in mostly Democratic areas have defied their Republican governors and made face coverings mandatory.
The three states are all hot spots in the nation’s recent COVID-19 surge, and defiant boards in Miami, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and other urban areas argue that requiring masks protects students, teachers and staff from contracting and spreading the virus as many pediatric hospitals fill.
The districts often cite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends teachers, staff and students all wear masks regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated.
“This thing (the virus) is not playing with us,” Marcia Andrews, a member of the Palm Beach County, Florida, school board, said this week as it passed a mask mandate, according to the Palm Beach Post. “I don’t want to see a kid die.”
The governors argue that wearing masks stifles learning and does little to stop the virus’s spread but children rarely get seriously ill from the disease. They say mandates violate parents’ rights to determine how best to protect their children. Read the full story here:
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