COVID-19 Round-Up: Local US Officials Sounding Alarm Over Possible New Wave of Infections; and More

Here are the some of the main COVID-19 stories of the week ending in July 2, 2021.

Local Officials Are Concerned Over Increased Infections

As the nation prepares to celebrate Fourth of July weekend, local officials are sounding the alarm over an increase in COVID-19 infections. For example, in Arkansas, one of the least vaccinated states in the country, cases are surging. “We are now going in the wrong direction yet again with Covid-19 infections here in the state of Arkansas,” said Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, during the state’s weekly briefing Tuesday. “With July 4th holiday coming up and eventually kids going back to school, we have to be concerned that this would be a trend that could continue. And if it does, it would appear that we may be in the beginning of the third surge of Covid-19 here in the state of Arkansas.”

Biden Administration to Deploy COVID Response Teams Across the US

The Biden administration will deploy response teams across the US to areas with a high rate of spread from the Delta variant. These teams comprise officials from the US CDC, and the Department of Health and Human Services. “We want to be as clear as possible,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday. “So, if you have been vaccinated, the message we’re conveying is: You’re safe…If you are not yet vaccinated, you are not safe and protected. That’s why you should go get vaccinated. It’s not more complicated than that in some regards.”

J&J Vaccine Lasts at Least 8 Months and Protects Against Delta

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine provides immunity for at least eight months, and it appears to protect against the highly transmissible Delta variant. “Current data for the eight months studied so far show that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generates a strong neutralizing antibody response that does not wane; rather, we observe an improvement over time,” Dr. Mathai Mammen, head of research and development at J&J’s Janssen vaccine arm, said in a statement.

Delta Variant Now in All 50 States

The Delta variant is now present in all 50 US states, after South Dakota became the last state to report the rapidly spreading strain. “When you have such a low level of vaccination superimposed upon a variant that has a high degree of efficiency of spread, what you are going to see among under-vaccinated regions — be that states, cities or counties — you’re going to see these individual types of blips,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci. “It’s almost like it’s going to be two Americas.”

Pfizer Vaccine May Offer Years of Protection

A new study indicates the two-doser Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should keep immune response to COVID-19 up for years – unlike flu vaccines, that require a yearly booster.