But Dr. Anthony Fauci said there shouldn’t be a big uptick “if we do it right.”
There are certain simple things that are essential, he told CNN on Tuesday. “We’ve gotta get the school system masked in addition to surrounding the children with vaccinated people,” the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease said. “That’s the solution.”
Fauci stressed that masks and vaccines in schools are crucial, even though some local leaders are pushing back against such measures.
Ahead of the speech, poll data from Gallup on Tuesday showed that more Americans now disagree than agree that Biden and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have communicated a clear plan of action in response to Covid-19.
The speech also comes as the impact of the pandemic on schools becomes clearer.
Children now represent 26.8% of the weekly Covid-19 cases, according to new data released Tuesday. Over two weeks, from August 19 to September 2, there was a 10% increase in the cumulated number of Covid-19 cases in children since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In Miami-Dade County Public Schools, 13 school employees have died from Covid-19 since August 16, the school district and local teacher union told CNN. All 13 — three teachers, one security monitor, one cafeteria worker, and seven school bus drivers — were unvaccinated, they said.
Carvalho said the 13 individuals who died were African Americans and were unvaccinated, according to their families.
Since vaccine mandates are illegal in Florida, Carvalho said the best thing he can do is offer incentives to teachers to get fully vaccinated, including a $275 stipend to any employee who shows proof of vaccination.
Reinforcements going to hospitals
The lagging vaccination rates and climbing case numbers are keeping the pressure on the health care systems in many states.
In Kentucky, hospitals are facing critical staffing shortages and getting pushed to the brink for ICU beds, Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday, forcing the closure of some surgery rooms to create ICU centers and more beds to address the influx of Covid-19 patients.
The state has stepped in to help by providing Covid-19 testing via third-party vendors that set up outside of hospitals, freeing up hospital emergency room staff and clinicians to prioritize other healthcare needs for the community, Beshear said.
The governor said he also requested FEMA strike teams and has had a nurse strike team deployed up at St. Claire Regional Medical Center, which has been overwhelmed in treating the influx of Covid-19 patients.
Less than half of Kentucky’s population is fully vaccinated against the virus, according to CDC data.
Reinforcements are also on the way for health care workers treating Covid-19 patients in Idaho, Arkansas and Alabama.
Each state will get a 20-person US Army North (ARNORTH) team that includes nurses, respiratory therapists, and medical doctors. Six teams are already deployed, with three teams in Louisiana, two in Mississippi, and one in Alabama.
“This is the first time Department of Defense medical assets have deployed to support both Idaho and Arkansas during the pandemic,” ARNORTH commander Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson said in the statement. “We are proud to be called upon to support our local, state, and federal partners there, and in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, in this whole-of-government response.”
Rollout of booster shots may be in late September
The best protection against hospitalizations, experts have emphasized, is vaccination.
Data from local health departments in Utah, Virginia and Seattle’s King County suggests that unvaccinated people are at least four times — and up to nine times — more likely than vaccinated people to test positive for Covid-19, and that gap has grown in recent weeks.
About 62.5% of the total US population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 53.2% is fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. Those numbers are not yet where experts say they need to be to protect the majority of Americans.
The White House is expected to kick off its booster plan the week of September 20, and at that time up to 5.2 million people may be eligible to receive their third dose.
The schedule envisions residents getting the third dose eight months after receiving their second of either the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines, although the timing could fluctuate.
On Sunday, for example, Fauci predicted that Moderna may be rolling out its booster dose later than Pfizer.
The boosters do not indicate that something is wrong with the first two doses, Fauci said Tuesday. Rather, the third dose may just be part of a full vaccine regimen.
“That might be two doses for a J&J, but for the mRNA, we know from studies that are already ongoing in Israel now, that when the degree of protection against infection and even severe disease goes down to a certain precarious level, when you give the person that third boost, you dramatically increase the level of protection. Even more so than before the boost, it goes up to and beyond the level of protection,” Fauci said.
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Virginia Langmaid, Kaitlan Collins, Elizabeth Stuart, Carma Hassan and Leslie Perrot and Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.