Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care. Former Beatle Paul McCartney designated the COVID-19 vaccines as “cool” in a Twitter post. If you need more convincing, the lead singer of the Finnish heavy metal band Lordi got his second dose on Sunday.
Today: The U.S. reached its goal of having 70 percent of adults with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, weeks after President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE's target date. The White House argued that the CDC cannot declare another eviction ban, and HHS’s watchdog plans to investigate a facility used to house unaccompanied migrant children.
We’ll start with vaccinations:
Average daily COVID infections topped last summer's peak, CDC says
Nationwide COVID-19 infections have surpassed last summer's peak, White House officials said Monday, but vaccination rates are increasing in states with some of the highest COVID-19 infection rates.
Over the weekend, the seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 cases was about 72,000 per day, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyPfizer results offer hope amid worsening pandemic for children FDA panel endorses COVID-19 booster shots for older Americans, rejects widespread use Watch live: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing MORE said, higher than the peak from last summer before any authorized vaccines were available.
At that time, the nation was reporting about 68,700 new cases per day, according to the CDC. Cases reached record highs in the fall and winter months that followed.
Vaccinations up too: "In the states with the highest case rates, daily vaccination rates have more than doubled," White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in Travel industry hopes for rebound with loosened COVID-19 restrictions Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Rocky US alliances as Biden heads to UN assembly MORE said in a press briefing.
Louisiana has seen a 302 percent increase in the average number of newly vaccinated per day, Mississippi has increased 250 percent, Alabama 215 percent and Arkansas increased 206 percent.
But one out of three new COVID-19 cases occurred in Florida and Texas over the past week. About 17 percent of cases came from seven states with low vaccination rates.
US reaches 70 percent vaccination goal—about a month after Biden’s target
The White House on Monday said 70 percent of adults have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, almost a month after President Biden's original goal of reaching that mark by July 4.
The vaccination campaign has slowed compared to the spring months, as hesitancy and even resistance to the vaccine has created a major obstacle for public health officials. But vaccination numbers are starting to tick up amid new outbreaks fueled by the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19.
The seven-day average of newly vaccinated people is the highest since July 4, White House COVID-19 data director Cyrus Shahpar said on Monday.
Figures ticking up: The country is averaging about 660,000 vaccinations per day, according to Our World in Data, up from about 500,000 on July 20.
Still, that figure is well below the peak from April, when the country was averaging more than 3 million shots per day.
White House says CDC can't renew eviction ban
The White House asserted on Monday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have the legal authority to issue another eviction ban after Democratic leaders urged the Biden administration to take unilateral action.
In a statement, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiReporters lodge complaint with White House over Biden-Johnson meeting access White House faces increased cries from allies on Haitian migrants Harris 'deeply troubled' by treatment of Haitian migrants MORE said that CDC officials “have been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium” after the administration floated a one-month emergency extension.
“Our team is redoubling efforts to identify all available legal authorities to provide necessary protections,” Psaki said.
“In the meantime, the President will continue to do everything in his power to help renters from eviction.”
Rising pressure: President Biden has faced mounting pressure over the weekend from Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats seek to cool simmering tensions Louisiana delegation split over debt hike bill with disaster aid House Democrats unveil legislation to curtail presidential power MORE (D-Calif.), to renew the CDC’s eviction ban after failing to marshal enough support behind a bill to do so Friday.
Biden asked lawmakers last week to extend the CDC’s ban, two days before it expired on July 31 and nearly a month after the Supreme Court warned that the agency would need congressional support to extend the moratorium again. Even so, House Democrats were unable to rise to Biden's last-ditch request after roughly 20 moderates objected to a bill to extend the ban, breaking for recess Friday without even taking a vote.
HHS watchdog to probe Fort Bliss facility for migrant children
The Department of Health and Human Services's (HHS) independent watchdog is launching an investigation of the agency's use of the Fort Bliss, Texas, facility to house unaccompanied migrant children following a whistleblower complaint about conditions at the site.
The HHS Office of Inspector General said it will analyze interviews and on-site observations "regarding case management challenges at Fort Bliss that may have impeded the safe and timely release of children to sponsors."
A report is expected to be issued this year.
A large influx of unaccompanied children crossing the border in the spring of 2021 forced the Biden administration to open more than a dozen emergency intake facilities: unlicensed, temporary facilities designed to meet basic standards of care for children on a short-term basis.
Fort Bliss is the largest, with a capacity to house up to 10,000 children.
Whistleblowers: Multiple whistleblowers have stepped forward in recent days to complain about overcrowding, filthy conditions and inadequate access to mental health services at the facility, after the government allegedly contracted with several companies with no experience caring for children.
Mask mandates catching on: Louisiana governor reinstates requirement
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) reinstated a statewide mask mandate for everyone 5 years old and up as the Pelican State has hit the most cases per capita in the U.S.
The governor announced the mask requirement over Twitter, citing surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, which he said are “threatening the ability of hospitals to deliver care.”
The mandate will go until at least Sept. 1, but Edwards said it could be extended if needed.
“This decision is not one I take lightly, but as the fourth surge of COVID-19 is upon us, we know that mask wearing when you are in public is one way to greatly lower your risk of spreading or catching COVID. Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is another,” he said in the statement.
“We can end this nightmare, but it is going to take all of us working together to do it,” he added.
By the numbers: With a daily average of 4,119 new cases as of Sunday, Louisiana has seen its case count more than triple within two weeks. A majority of the 10 counties and parishes with the highest case count per capita in the U.S. are in Louisiana. The state’s daily average hospitalizations of more than 1,500 is almost triple the amount from 14 days ago.
At the same time, Louisiana has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with 37 percent of the population considered fully vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What we’re reading
Where a vast global vaccination program went wrong (The New York Times)
Americans might prefer vaccine mandates to mask mandates (The Washington Post)
For many, the belated realization that Covid will be ‘a long war’ sparks anger and denial (Stat News)
State by state
'It's everywhere': Tennessee Health Commissioner warns of delta variant surge, encourages vaccination (Tennessean)
As COVID cases skyrocket, Missouri health workers battle misinformation among the unvaccinated (CBS News)
12,000 square miles without obstetrics? It’s a possibility in west Texas (Kaiser Health News)
Mississippi weekend virus cases increase sixfold in 3 weeks (The Associated Press)
Op-eds in The Hill