(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.
More than 660,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.6 million people have died from the disease worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Just 63% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Sep 14, 8:15 am
Putin goes into self-isolation due to COVID-19 among inner circle
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will self-isolate “for a certain period,” after a member of his entourage tested positive for COVID-19.
Putin made the comment during a telephone call with Tajikistan’s president, while excusing himself from attending a regional summit there this week, the Kremlin said Tuesday in a readout of the call.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Russian leader is “completely healthy” and that the self-isolation will not affect his work. Putin will continue to participate in meetings via video but will not meet with people in person while he self-isolates.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Putin has effectively been in a form of isolation, with most people being required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days before meeting with him.
Putin hinted at the issue of COVID-19 among his inner circle on Monday but still went to several public events, including a meeting with Russian Paralympians, attending military exercises conducted in coordination with Belarus and a meeting with Syria’s president.
“Even in my entourage, problems are arising with this COVID. We need to sort out what is happening there really,” Putin said while meeting with the Paralympians. “I think I, myself, will soon have to go into quarantine. A lot of people are sick around [me].”
Putin’s self-isolation has prompted speculation that he may be using it as a convenient excuse to not attend the summit in ex-Soviet Tajikistan in person. Chinese President Xi Jingping has also dropped out of the summit.
Sep 13, 9:42 pm
Lee County schools superintendent reverses mask mandate
The superintendent of schools in Lee County, Florida, informed parents and staff Monday night that he is reversing the mask mandate he imposed for students and will now let parents opt their children out of wearing face coverings.
In a letter, the superintendent, Ken Savage, said that last week’s ruling by an appeals court allowing the state to continue sanctioning mask-requiring districts, led him to reverse course.
“Last Friday, the 1st District Court of Appeal instituted a stay, which means the Florida Department of Education can continue to enforce its interpretation of the parental opt out until this matter is ultimately resolved. Therefore, starting on Tuesday, September 14, the School District of Lee County will require face coverings, while allowing parents to opt-out without a medical exemption,” Savage said in statement.
Lee County was one of at least 13 districts in Florida defying Gov. Ron DeSantis and requiring masks for students unless they provided a doctor’s note exempting them from wearing one.
Savage implemented a mandate on Sept. 1, effective for 30 days, while the district tracked coronavirus-related numbers.
Sep 13, 6:22 pm
DeSantis threatens Florida cities that issue vaccine mandate with $5k fine
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is threatening to sue cities in the state that have issued vaccine mandates, for up to $5,000 per infraction.
The governor, who early Monday repeated falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccines, said hours later, at a press conference, that he’s willing to sue the cities because he does not want vaccine mandates to threaten Floridians’ jobs.
“We are not gonna let people be fired because of a vaccine mandate,” he said.
Meanwhile, over 11,215 patients remain hospitalized in Florida with COVID-19, according to the Florida Hospital Association.
As of Monday, 75% of the state’s eligible population has had one vaccine dose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sep 13, 9:01 pm
Judge issues temporary order to allow mask mandates in Iowa schools
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that ordered Iowa officials to stop enforcing a law passed in May that prevents school boards from enforcing mask mandates.
Judge Robert Pratt said the parents who are suing Gov. Kim Reynolds and state and local education offices, have demonstrated that an “irreparable harm exists” if masks aren’t used and required.
The judge said he looked at data on the effectiveness of masks to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and agrees with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics on mask wearing in schools.
The order will stay in effect until the court issues an order for a preliminary injunction.
Thomas Ahart, the superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools, called the judge’s decision “welcome news.”
“I will reinstate a mask mandate – as we had in place for most of last school year — for all students, staff and visitors to Des Moines Public Schools,” he said in a statement.
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