CDC reports increase in COVID-19 cases, sparking mask debates

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MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — The nation’s top doctors are warning Congress and the country that COVID-19 numbers are once again going in the wrong direction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the delta variant now makes up 83% of new cases.

“Over the last week we have averaged 239 deaths per day, an increase of nearly 48% over the prior week,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, during a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday.

The conversation on Capitol Hill quickly erupted in political fireworks between Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci when the senator suggested federal funding to a Chinese lab might have caused the coronavirus.

“If anybody is lying here Senator, it is you,” Fauci said. 

“It’s a dance, and you’re dancing around this because you’re trying to obscure responsibility for four million people dying around the world from a pandemic,” Paul said.

“I totally resent the lie that you are now propagating,” Fauci said.

Disagreements about how to handle the new surge are flaring up from coast to coast.

Florida’s governor says he’ll never require masks, while the governor of New Jersey Tuesday threatened to bring masks back.

School districts nationwide are also debating the issue.

“Please just put a mask on your kid for one more year or six more months or whatever it takes,” said one parent.

“Trying to do a speech therapy with the masks on is almost impossible,” said another parent. “You can’t hear your teacher or the other students.”

Health experts say the only way for the pandemic to really end is for more people to get vaccinated.

The biggest hurdle now is young people opting not to get the shot.

At Miami-Dade College, most of the students NewsNation spoke to were not vaccinated.

“Not yet because I am busy,” said one student.

“I know with this variant it is more dangerous and I should get the vaccine for herd immunity but I am trying to hold off as long as I can,” said another student.

Health experts stress that the vaccines do protect people from all the variants, at least from the most serious symptoms.

A new study out Tuesday suggests the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be less effective against the delta variant and that a booster shot may eventually be needed.

NewsNation spoke with Dr. Timothy Quinn, a family physician in Mississippi, about kids wearing masks in schools, the delta variant and the J&J vaccine. See the interview in the player below.

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