PHOENIX — Arizona on Saturday reported more than 2,000 additional COVID-19 cases for the fourth straight day as the number of virus-related hospitalizations continued to rise.
The U.S. state’s coronavirus dashboard reported 2,653 additional cases and 34 deaths, increasing the pandemic totals to 943,415 cases and 18,376 deaths.
There were 1,358 COVID-19 patients occupying inpatient beds as of Friday, up from 866 two weeks earlier on July 23, according to the dashboard.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases nearly doubled over the past two weeks from 1,145,1 on July 22 to 2,227.6 on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
While the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all increased in the past month, levels remain far below those of the surges last summer and winter.
Public health officials attribute the recent increases to the highly contagious delta variant and lagging vaccination rates.
The Arizona dashboard reported that roughly 53.2% of the state’s population has been vaccinated.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— US now averaging 100,000 new confirmed virus cases a day
— Once-gloomy scientist says future UK lockdowns unlikely
— Vaccination form for federal workers adds penalties for lies
— American survivors of COVID-19 speak out for vaccines, masks
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka on Saturday received a second consignment of AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Japan under the COVAX facility, the WHO said.
With the second batch, the total doses of AstraZeneca of vaccines received from Japan through COVAX exceeds 1.45 million.
Sri Lanka’s government aims to vaccinate nearly all citizens above 30 years of age by September.
There have been 326,043 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka. Nearly 5,000 people are confirmed to have died of the disease.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — With low demand for COVID-19 vaccinations in Alabama, the state saw more than 65,000 doses wasted because health providers couldn’t find people to take them before they expired, according to State Health Officer Scott Harris.
“Sixty-five thousand doses have been wasted. That’s extremely unfortunate when we have such a low vaccination rate and of course, there are so many people in the world that still don’t have access to vaccine,” he said.
The doses that expired represent less than 1.5% of the more than 5 million coronavirus vaccines doses that Alabama has received. Still, Harris said it is tragic to lose the potentially life-saving allotments.
Alabama is one of the least vaccinated states in the country. The state ranks last – at 34% – for the percentage of people fully vaccinated.
BERLIN — Germany’s disease control center estimates that coronavirus vaccines have saved the lives of more than 38,000 people in the country.
The Robert Koch Institute said Saturday that according to a model calculation, mass vaccinations in the last 6 1/2 months also kept 76,000 COVID-19 patients out of hospitals and almost 20,000 people out of intensive care units. Germany’s vaccine drive also prevented more than 706,000 confirmed cases this year, the institute said.
“The high effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign shows in an impressive way that vaccinations pave the way out of the pandemic,” the institute said in a statement.
Germany started vaccinating residents against the virus in late 2020, and more than 45 million people have been fully vaccinated, or 54.5% of the population. Some 51.8 million, or 62.3%, have received at least one shot, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Saturday.
But after a sluggish start that only really gained traction from March onward, the country’s vaccination rate has dropped in recent weeks. Officials worry of a fourth wave of infections as travelers return from summer vacations and schools start to open again with most children and teenagers still unvaccinated.
NEW DELHI, India – India has given emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine, the country’s health minister said Saturday.
“This will further boost our nation’s collective fight against COVID-19,” Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted.
The shot from the U.S. pharmaceutical giant, the fifth coronavirus vaccine to win emergency authorization in India, will come to the country through an agreement with Indian vaccine maker Biological E.
The approval bolsters hopes that India’s vaccination rate will rise. Confirmed cases have fallen after a dramatic surge earlier this year that saw hospitals across India overrun with COVID-19 coronavirus patients needing oxygen that wasn’t available.
After hitting a daily high of 9 million shots in June, the vaccination rate has steadily dropped due to supply and approval issues. In the last week, daily shots averaged around 5.1 million, according to government data.
Experts have said that if India wants to vaccinate all eligible adults by the end of the year, this number will have to increase.
PARIS — Thousands of people marched in Paris and other French cities Saturday for a fourth consecutive week of protests against the COVID-19 health passes that everyone in the country will need shortly to enter cafes, trains and other venues.
The demonstrations came two days after France’s Constitutional Council upheld most provisions of a new law that expands the locations where health passes are needed to enter.
Starting Monday, the pass will be required in France to access cafes, restaurants, long-distance travel and, in some cases, hospitals. It was already in place for cultural and recreational venues, including cinemas, concert halls, sports arenas and theme parks with a capacity for more than 50 people.
With French riot police on guard, a largely peaceful crowd of protesters walked across Paris carrying banners that read: “Our freedoms are dying” and “Vaccine: Don’t touch our kids.”
Dozens of street protests were organized in other French cities, including Marseille, Nice and Lille.
The seven-day average for new daily COVID-19 infections has surpassed 100,000 in the U.S., returning to levels not seen since the winter surge.
Cases and hospitalizations have skyrocketed in the last month, driven by the highly contagious delta variant. The country was averaging about 11,000 cases a day in late June. Now the number is 107,143.
The virus is spreading quickly through unvaccinated populations, especially in the Deep South. Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi have had hospitals overrun with patients.
The U.S. first crossed the 100,000 average number in November and peaked at about 250,000 in early January before bottoming out in late June.
LONDON — A British scientist who gained prominence for issuing dire warnings about the spread of COVID-19 said Saturday the U.K. is unlikely to need future lockdowns, although new infections may rise significantly as social interactions increase.
Professor Neil Ferguson, an infectious disease expert at Imperial College London, told The Times of London that Britain is likely to move to a situation where the disease can be managed by vaccinations rather than “crisis measures” such as lockdowns.
“I wouldn’t rule it out altogether, but I think it’s unlikely we will need a new lockdown or even social-distancing measures of the type we’ve had so far,’’ he said. “The caveat to that is, of course, if the virus changes substantially.”
Data released Friday showed the latest virus surge in the U.K. has eased, with the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 falling in most parts of the country. Based on its weekly survey of infection levels, the Office for National Statistics said infection rates appeared to be falling in England, Scotland and Wales, though not in Northern Ireland, with the biggest declines in younger age groups.
Public health experts credit the U.K.’s successful nationwide vaccination program for slowing the spread of COVID-19 even in the face of the more infectious delta variant,
MEXICO CITY — Mexico City and a half-dozen of the country’s 32 states are now on “red” alert as COVID-19 infections rose to their highest level ever.
As of Friday, Mexico had over 144,000 active coronavirus cases nationwide, 4.6% more than the previous peak during the country’s surge in January.
The country has seen 243,733 test-confirmed deaths but does little testing; studies of death certificates indicate the real toll is nearly 370,000.
Nearly a quarter of Mexico is now on the highest level of alert, which requires some non-essential businesses to close and forces others to serve fewer customers at a time.
The federal Health Department said the capital is “red” on a color-coded alert system for the pandemic, but Mexico City officials claimed they were still on orange level, which allows wider business activity.
“We do not believe we should close economic activities, but rather accelerate the pace of vaccination,” Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said.
HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut has become the latest U.S. state to mandate that workers in nursing homes be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Gov. Ned Lamont on Friday directed an executive order that requires all employees of long-term care facilities to receive at least the first dose of a vaccine by Sept. 7.
In a statement, he said it would “absolutely irresponsible” for staffers not to be vaccinated, given the vulnerability of the people in their care.
According to Lamont’s release, more than half of all nursing homes in Connecticut have a staff vaccination rate lower than 75%. Connecticut joins at least five other states that have issued similar mandates.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The state of California has announced another round of coronavirus vaccine incentives.
The California Department of Health Care Services on Friday said it would spend $350 million to vaccinate more people on the state’s Medicaid program. Medicaid is the joint state and federal health insurance program for people who are disabled or have low incomes.
About 76% of California residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. But only 45% of the state’s Medicaid population has been vaccinated.
The new incentives include up to $50 grocery store gift cards. About 13.8 million people are enrolled in California’s Medicaid program.