Local and state governments across the country are debating how to deal with this latest surge of the Delta variant of COVID-19. This comes as health officials warn of possible future mutations worse than Delta.
As the number of cases rise across the South, President Biden told GOP governors to “get out of the way” of efforts to contain the virus.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) fired back. “Why don’t you do your job. Why don’t you get this border secure and until you do that I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you,” he said during a press conference.
The president later dismissing the governor when asked to respond to his comments. “Governor Who?” the president asked with a grin.
Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana account for nearly 40 percent of current COVID hospitalizations, putting strain on their health systems and workers.
“I’ve been doing this for a year and a half, and it feels like there’s never gonna be an end,” said a tearful Melinda Hunt who works as a nurse in Louisiana.
The surge comes with summer in full swing and local fairs and festivals cranking up.
“It feels good. I got my shot so I’m OK, I hope,” Mariesia Wilson said walking around the Wisconsin State Fair.
But now, as the school year begins, state governments are debating how to protect kids who are too young to get the shot.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is expected to issue a mask mandate for students K-12 and school staff.
In Arkansas, nearly 19 percent of cases are in children under the age of 18. “Those children that cannot take a vaccine, that cannot have a vaccine at this point. Those under 12 account for more than half of that percentage,” Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero told reporters.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the legislature into a special session and is asking them to reverse a ban on mask mandates so local school districts can require them if they want.
“This is not a debate about mask mandates for those that can make their own decisions and have means to get vaccinated. This is a discussion about the school environment where schools can make decisions to add to the public health for their own school environment and the children that they have the responsibility to protect,” Gov. Hutchinson explained.
Health officials warn the coronavirus could mutate into variants that evade current vaccines if the spread isn’t tamped down.
“And when you give it ample opportunity to mutate you may sooner or later get another variant and it is possible that that variant might be in some respects worse than the already very difficult variant we’re dealing with now,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
For the fourth consecutive week now, vaccination numbers are up. More than 70- percent of Americans have received at least one shot. Soon booster shots for immuno-compromised people, like cancer patients, will be available.