CDC says 50% of Americans are now vaccinated; Florida reports worst week of new cases; 616K US deaths. Latest COVID-19 updates

The U.S. reached a key milestone in its fight against COVID-19 on Friday, with half of Americans now fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 165.9 million Americans, or 50% of the population of all ages, are fully vaccinated, with 193.7 million having received at least one dose as of Friday.

According to White House COVID-19 Data Director Cyrus Shahpar, Friday’s data totals include 565,000 newly vaccinated Americans, and the one-week average of new vaccinations is up 11% from the last week, and up 44% over two weeks.

The increase in vaccinations comes as the country sees a spike in cases due to the highly-contagious delta variant, which experts say accounts for about 80% of new cases. White House officials have said they believe the uptick in people headed to get inoculated is because the states hardest hit by the virus are seeing how the delta variant poses a greater risk.

“Clearly, Americans are seeing the impact of being unvaccinated and unprotected,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said during a briefing on Thursday. “And they responded by doing their part, rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated.”

In the states with the highest case rates, Zients said the number of people newly vaccinated each day over the past three weeks more than doubled. That helped the U.S. reach President Joe Biden’s goal to vaccinate 70% of adults, a month later than his initial July 4 target.

Also in the news:

► More than 11 million Californians who get their insurance through Medicaid will be offered a $50 incentive to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the state announced Friday.

►Students are asking the Supreme Court to block a plan by Indiana University to require that all students and faculty members be fully vaccinated in order to return to campus. It’s the first case where the Supreme Court is being asked to weigh in on vaccine mandates.

► A Washington state elementary school teacher and National Guard reservist has won the final COVID-19 vaccination lottery award in the state, and will take home the $250,000 prize. Meredith V. is the third winner, after two other vaccinated people from the state each took home $100,000.



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