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Hospitals fill in Texas, Mississippi due to COVID-19

The surge of COVID-19 activity in the United States that began with increased transmission in early July is now causing hospitals to fill in several Southern states.

In Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has made both mask and vaccine mandates illegal, has asked hospitals in the state to stop non-emergency procedures in an effort to free up space for COVID-19 patients. 

Abbott tweeted that he has also brought in medical staffing from outside of Texas to help hospitals, and directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers in communities across the state. Abbott said he hopes these infusion centers will prevent moderately ill patients from becoming sick enough for hospitalization.

Currently 9,500 Texans are hospitalized with the virus.

In Mississippi yesterday, state leaders said there are no intensive care unit beds left in the state due to climbing COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the Mississippi Clarion Ledger. The state is averaging about 2,300 new cases a day.

The United States reported 184,346 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, and 492 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. The 7-day average of new daily cases is 124,470, according to the New York Times tracker.

In total, the country has 35,983,375 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 617,704 deaths. 

Florida, Texas schools fight to require masks

In defiance of Abbott’s sanction against mask mandates, the Dallas Independent School District began requiring masks in the classroom beginning today.

Next week, school is in session in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis has also said parents cannot be compelled to send their children to schools in masks. Yesterday he said that the state Board of Education could withhold pay from school leaders who implement mask mandates for students, according to NPR.

As children in Florida return to school, COVID-19 cases in most counties in the state are at least four times higher than they were a year ago, according to a USA Today analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

In five Florida counties—Indian River, Liberty, Sarasota, St. Johns, and Pasco—weekly case counts are more than 10 times higher than they were before the start of the last school year, and more than 5 times higher in another 31 counties.

Military and state of Washington announce vaccine mandates

Members of US military will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning next month under a plan laid out by the Pentagon, the Associated Press reports.

In a memo distributed yesterday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “I will seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon licensure by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee yesterday also announced that most state employees and healthcare workers will be required to be vaccinated by Oct 18. Vaccination will be a condition of employment, and employees will not have a test-out option. In other states, including New York and California, state workers who do not want to get vaccinated must take weekly COVID-19 tests. 

“No patient should have to worry about getting COVID-19 from their health care provider, period,” said Jeff Duchin, MD, King County Public Health officer, in a press statement. “Requiring COVID-19 vaccination for health care personnel protects not only patients and health care workers, but also their families and our community—including those who cannot be vaccinated or do not respond to the vaccine due to being immunocompromised.”

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