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COVID-19 live updates: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tests positive


(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.

More than 622,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 4.3 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 59.3% 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 Tuesday. All times Eastern:

Aug 17, 8:28 pm
2 Florida school districts found in violation of state’s ban on mask mandates

Two school districts in Florida were found to have violated state law by mandating masking-wearing in schools during an emergency hearing held by the Florida State Board of Education Tuesday.

Alachua County Public Schools and Broward County Public Schools were non-compliant with Florida Department of Health Emergency Rule 64DER21-12 and are now subject to punishment and the potential withholding of state funding.

More than 600 students in Alachua County have been quarantined since the start of the school year just six days ago, Dr. Carlee Simon, superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools, said during the meeting.

Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools Vickie Cartwright said school administrators were concerned about the number of cases that are happening in Broward County as the delta variant spreads, especially since there were only five pediatric ICU beds available in Broward County as of Tuesday morning.

“We argue that we are exercising our constitutional responsibilities to protect our students and staff,” Simon said. “We believe this is, in quote, reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest.”

All Board of Education members present at the emergency meeting voted that both school districts were in violation of the law, which “protects parents’ right to make decisions regarding masking of their children in relation to COVID-19.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued in an that the board has the right to withhold state funding to schools that they find are “unwilling or unable to comply with the law.”

No punishment was specified for the schools during the emergency meeting.

-ABC News’ Victoria Arancio

Aug 17, 8:13 pm
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott not experiencing symptoms after positive COVID-19 test, he tweeted Tuesday.

As you may have heard, I have Covid.

Right now I have no symptoms such as fever or aches and pains.

Thanks for the well wishes from around the country.

I will remain engaged every day to govern the great state of Texas.

God bless you all, and God bless Texas. pic.twitter.com/kbYPt1FpNj

— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 17, 2021

Aug 17, 6:52 pm
Hundreds of patients waiting for hospital beds in Texas

Patients in one region of Texas are experiencing extraordinarily long waits for hospital beds as COVID-19 continues to spread through the state.

Patients in southeast Texas, which includes Houston and the surrounding areas, are waiting in ambulances, hallways and more holding spaces for hospital beds to free up, Houston officials announced at a press briefing Tuesday.

Of the 678 patients holding in area emergency rooms with general admission orders, 265 of them have been infected with the virus, according the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.

The ratio of patients who tested positive with COVID-19 is even worse for ICU admissions. Of the 112 patients in holding area emergency rooms who need an ICU bed, 75 have the virus, according to SETRAC.

-ABC News’ Gina Sunseri

Aug 17, 4:57 pm
Texas governor tests positive

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced.

The governor is fully vaccinated and has no symptoms, his office said, adding that he’s been tested daily.

Abbott is receiving Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment, his office said.

“Everyone that the Governor has been in close contact with today has been notified,” his office said.

Abbott has banned mask and vaccination mandates in Texas.

According to The Houston Chronicle, the governor gave a speech Monday night to a crowd of about 600 people where there was little social distancing or mask-wearing.

Aug 17, 4:29 pm
Hospitalizations could reach 32,800 per day by Sept. 1: Forecast

The U.S. could see as many as 32,800 hospitalizations per day by Sept. 13, according to the COVID-19 Forecast Hub at U Mass Amherst, which is used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The low end of the forecast is 9,000 per day.

Currently, more than 11,249 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 each day in the U.S., up from a daily average of 8,300 last week.

These forecasts suggest Florida, Louisiana and Texas hospitalizations may improve in coming weeks while other states, like California and New York, may see more hospitalizations.

-ABC News’ Brian Hartman

Aug 17, 4:08 pm
Mask mandate for US travel extended into January

The mask mandate for travelers on planes, trains and buses will be extended into January, according to a Department of Homeland Security source.

-ABC News’ Sam Sweeney

Aug 17, 9:03 am
Biden administration ships 1st of 500 million vaccine doses to Rwanda

The Biden administration on Tuesday will ship the first 188,370 doses of a 500 million dose commitment of the Pfizer vaccine to Rwanda, according to a senior administration official. The 500 million dose pledge was announced at the G7 summit in June and the contract the U.S. negotiated with Pfizer identified late August as the goal for initial shipments.

The U.S. is also sending 300,000 additional U.S. surplus doses to Rwanda Tuesday, making this first total shipment 488,370. All the doses will be distributed through Covax, the World Health Organization’s vaccine-sharing initiative.

Aug 17, 4:56 am
US reports over 200,000 new cases in a day for 3rd time this month

There were 209,988 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the third time this month that the U.S. has reported more than 200,000 newly confirmed infections in a single day.

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins data shows an additional 683 fatalities from the disease were registered nationwide on Monday, down from this month’s peak of 1,889 new deaths on Aug. 13.

A total of 36,888,978 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 622,321 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

Aug 17, 4:38 am
Bangladesh extends COVID-19 vaccines to Rohingya refugees

Bangladesh has launched a COVID-19 vaccination program for Rohingya refugees housed in one of the world’s largest and most densely populated camps in Cox’s Bazar, according to a press release from the World Health Organization.

The campaign, led by the Bangladeshi government with technical support from the WHO and other partners, is initially targeting nearly 48,000 Rohingya refugees who are 55 and older. It’s part of Bangladesh’s national deployment and vaccination plan to ensure equity and fair allocation of vaccines across the country.

“Bangladesh is demonstrating what WHO has been advocating for — equitable access to vaccines,” Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of the WHO South-East Asia Region, said in a statement Monday. “Inclusion is key to protecting vulnerable populations like the refugees, for safeguarding their health and that of their host communities and societies.”

More than 1 million Rohingya — a stateless ethnic group who predominantly practice Islam — are sheltering in crowded camps in Bangladesh after fleeing persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Aug 16, 11:38 pm
Biden admin expected to recommend boosters for all Americans

The Biden administration could soon be urging Americans to get a booster shot eight months after completing their original vaccination, a source familiar with the discussions told ABC News Monday.

Federal health officials and experts are currently coalescing around the idea that all Americans should receive a booster, the source said. Those booster shots could be rolled out as soon as mid to late September — pending Food and Drug Administration authorization.

The announcement, first reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post, could come as soon as this week.

The new timeline for the booster shots in a significant shift for the administration, which previously had been non-comital on when boosters for the majority of Americans would be needed.

Aug 16, 10:20 pm
El Paso sues state of Texas over ban on mask mandates

The city of El Paso has filed a lawsuit challenging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates in the state to allow for local protective measures to be ordered in the county.

Starting Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., a local health authority order will mandate that all individuals over the age of 2 wear some form of face covering while in public indoor spaces.

The parents of children under the age of 10 will be responsible for appropriately masking their children while outside their home, city officials said.

The order comes after El Paso City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza recommended masks at all indoor facilities in the county.

A face covering is not required on those who are eating or drinking or anyone who has trouble breathing, has a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.

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