More states and companies take a stand on vaccination against COVID-19 in latest push to get unvaccinated to get their shots

A growing number of states, localities and companies are taking a stand on vaccination against the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 or are issuing face-mask requirements, as they step up efforts to persuade unvaccinated people to get their shots and help rein in the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

California will require all of its roughly 2.2 million healthcare and long-term-care workers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 30, the Associated Press reported. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is set to announce later Friday that the Garden State will require staff members and students from kindergarten through 12th grade will be required to wear masks when the school year begins in a few weeks, also from the AP.

Virginia will require state employees to be vaccinated or face testing every week, following similar moves from New York, Puerto Rico and the federal government, the New York Times reported.

CNN President Jeff Zucker told staff Thursday that the network had fired three employees who came to work without having received a COVID-19 vaccine, the Wall Street Journal reported. Zucker said that the terminated employees violated the company’s honor system, which asked workers to attest that they were vaccinated but didn’t require them to produce documentary evidence of their vaccination.

United Airlines
will require employees in the U.S. to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by late October, perhaps sooner if the vaccines being administered under emergency-use authorizations receive full approval, according to the AP. The Chicago-based airline estimates that up to 90% of its pilots and close to 80% of its flight attendants are vaccinated. They get incentives to do so.

And the list of companies that are allowing only vaccinated employees to work in their offices is growing by the day and includes household names including Disney
Walmart WMT and Target TGT and the tech giants Google
and Apple
The list also includes the world’s biggest asset manager, BlackRock Inc.

Also see: Costco, Kroger, Target, Walmart and Apple change mask policies, as CDC warns about rise in delta variant

Main Street: The CDC should scrap its confusing guidance and make Covid-19 vaccination the only priority. Images: AFP via Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

Thanks to the delta variant, COVID-19 cases are rising in all 50 states, and the country is averaging more than seven times as many cases a day as at the beginning of July, according to a New York Times tracker.

Read now: I traveled overseas as the delta variant of COVID-19 surged. Here’s what I wish I knew before my trip.

The seven-day average of daily cases stood at 100,199 on Thursday, up 119% from two weeks ago, the tracker shows. And outbreaks in Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama are filling hospitals and stressing healthcare systems.

“If Florida and Louisiana were countries and not [U.S.] states,” observed Dr. Michael Osterholm, a renowned epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, in an MSNBC interview, “they would be No. 1 and 2 in the world for the incidence of COVID.”

The administration of President Joe Biden is considering using federal powers and the threat of withholding funds from institutions to pressure more Americans to get vaccinated, the Washington Post reported, citing four unnamed people described as familiar with the plans.

Don’t miss: ‘I don’t want to lose you’: How families approached their loved ones about the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccination

Those include long-term-care facilities, cruise ships and universities and could impact millions of Americans. The White House has been pushing for months to increase momentum behind its vaccine program, with numbers remaining stubbornly static for the past few weeks, even as states with high levels of cases report seeing some vaccine resisters change their minds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker shows that just 49.9% of the overall population is fully vaccinated, meaning they have had two shots of the vaccines developed by Pfizer
with German partner BioNTech
or Moderna
or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s
one-and-done vaccine. Those are the only vaccines to win emergency-use authorization in the U.S. to date.

Don’t miss: Moderna presses for COVID-19 boosters as federal health officials warm to an extra dose for some people

See now: Stock drops after Novavax delays emergency-use submission to FDA

Elsewhere, China has recorded the highest number of new cases in a single day in its latest outbreak, which started in late July, as Reuters reported. China reported 124 new confirmed cases on Thursday, according to the National Health Commission, up from 85 cases a day earlier. Of that total, 80 were locally transmitted. Millions of Chinese people are now facing lockdowns and other restrictions on movement.

In Australia, Sydney set its latest one-day case record of 262 new cases, and five people died, also from Reuters. Four of those who died were unvaccinated, while the fifth had received only a first dose. Australia’s three most populous cities — Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — are all in lockdown.

Residents of the Philippine capital Manila are rushing to get vaccinated and waiting in long lines outside vaccine centers ahead of a two-week lockdown that goes into effect Friday evening, CNN reported.

In Italy, a new vaccine-pass requirement has kicked in and means only vaccinated people can dine or drink indoors, or enter stadiums, museums, cinemas or sports centers. From Sept. 1, the pass will also be required for teachers and university students and those traveling on public transport.

The cruise industry is treading delicately as it begins sailing again in the U.S. WSJ’s Dave Sebastian explains the complicated maneuvers the industry faces as it works to return to pre-pandemic levels. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

Latest tallies

The global tally for confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 201 million on Friday, while the death toll climbed above 4.27 million according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. leads the world with a total of 35.4 million cases and in deaths with 615,347.

India is second by cases at 31.9 million and third by deaths at 426,754 according to its official numbers, which are expected to be undercounted.

Brazil is second in deaths at 560,706, but is third in cases at 20 million. Mexico has fourth highest death toll at 243,165 but has recorded just 2.9 million cases, according to its official numbers.

In Europe, Russia continues to pull ahead of the U.K. by deaths at 160,574, while the U.K. has 130,390, making Russia the country with the fifth highest death toll in the world and highest in Europe.

China has had 105,569 confirmed cases and 4,848 deaths, according to its official numbers, which are widely held to be massively underreported.