August 2021 Current Events: US News
The world is a very busy place, and it's hard to stay on top of everything. Infoplease has got you covered. Here are the US news events you need to know so far for August 2021:
- Coronavirus Updates (4)
- Bomb Threat in DC
- US Food Stamp Amount Increased
- Coronavirus Updates (3)
- Major Voting Days for the Senate
- Governor Cuomo Resigns Amidst Allegations
- Gun Violence Still Rages Across the US
- Coronavirus Updates (2)
- President Biden Calls for Governor Cuomo to Resign
- Violence Across the US Continues
- Coronavirus Updates
Coronavirus Updates (4)
Photo Source: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
On Saturday, August 21, CNN reported that the labor shortage we saw during the pandemic will most likely continue after the pandemic. Some companies, though opting to raise minimum wage and benefits, are being forced to outsource work overseas. However, this process is becoming more difficult with the complications surrounding visas. More often than not, obtaining a visa requires extensive planning and new vaccine requirements. On Monday, August 23, the FDA announced that official approval of the Pfizer vaccine is imminent. Once approved, schools and businesses will have more ability to enforce vaccine mandates. Officials hope this will help decrease the number of hospitalizations as many counties across the nation are reaching ICU capacity. The CDC has also reported an uptick in cases for school-aged children, but hopes to see a decrease if the Pfizer vaccine is officially approved. On Monday, August 23, it was reported that at least five South Florida police officers have died from Covid in the last week. The news comes as school districts continue to fight the legal battle over mask mandates. On Wednesday, August 25, Moderna announced that it has completed the application process for making its vaccine FDA-approved. On the same day, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they also submitted a proposal to approve the third dose of the vaccine. The reviewal process typically takes four months. On Wednesday, August 25, the US intelligence report regarding the origins of Covid came back as inconclusive. A summary will be published in the next couple of days; however, China has already called the report “anti-science.” This latest report was ordered by President Biden after the WHO report came out earlier this year. On Wednesday, August 25, Delta Airlines announced that it will impose a $200 monthly surcharge on all health-care-receiving employees who choose not to get the vaccine. The surcharge will be enforced starting November 1. Delta’s boss Ed Bastian stated that the average Covid hospital stay was costing $50,000 per person, a bill that is simply not sustainable for the company. Beginning September 30, all unvaccinated Delta staff will have to test for Covid weekly as well as always wear masks when indoors. On Friday, August 27, the US intelligence community reached an inconclusive conclusion to the origins of Covid-19. The community is still stuck between two options: that the virus was released from a lab or that it was naturally transmitted from animals to humans. The report stated that both possibilities are plausible. On Friday, August 27, a judge ruled against Florida Governor DeSantis’s mask mandate. Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis did not have the authority to place a ban on mask mandates. The new order is expected to take place next week, which could impact the legal battle amongst schools. On Friday, August 27, the Arkansas Medical Board announced that it was investigating a doctor who had been prescribing an anti-parasitic drug, usually used to treat parasites in livestock, to those suffering from Covid-19. Since March, the CDC has issued warnings about using this drug; however, in recent weeks, the CDC has seen a rise in cases of poisoning. Many people have begun using the drug rather than get vaccinated. On Sunday, August 29, it was reported that southern hospitals are no longer just out of ICU beds - they’re also running low on oxygen. Some hospitals across Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina have already had to dip into their reserve supply of oxygen. Florida reached an all-time high of hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Despite these alarming numbers, the states that make up the Southeastern Conference (SEC) announced that stadiums will open to 100% capacity for college football starting next weekend. Many of the states in the SEC have some of the lowest vaccination rates, which could pose issues as the Delta Variant continues to spread. On Tuesday, August 31, it was reported that at least five states are at less than 10% ICU capacity: Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida. Idaho and Kentucky have since joined the list as hospitals are looking into converting hallways into makeshift wards. Some Covid patients are even being treated in their cars. The CDC released data suggesting that the hospitalization rate of the unvaccinated is 16 times higher than those who are vaccinated. The CDC also stated that the number of children cases continues to rise.
Source: CNN CNN CNN CNN BBC BBC CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN
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Bomb Threat in DC
Photo Source: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
On Thursday, August 19, a man was arrested for making bomb threats outside the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The 49-year-old suspect surrendered himself after a few hours of a standoff. His truck was parked outside the Library of Congress and across the street from the Capitol building and Supreme Court. Congress is not currently in session, but there were some employees still present in the building. Police evacuated people from all surrounding buildings. Once the man surrendered, they investigated the vehicle but have not released details. As of now, the man’s motives are currently unknown.
Learn more about the history of the Library of Congress
US Food Stamp Amount Increased
Photo Source: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
On Monday, August 16, the Biden Administration announced that starting in October, there will be an increase to the government-issued food assistance. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will increase monthly budgets by 25%, the largest increase the program has seen. The increase is expected to raise the monthly food allowance to $157 per person. Three years ago, Congress ordered the USDA to reevaluate the Thrifty Food Plan created in 1962. The reevaluation led to a revision in calorie intake, as well as a difference in food trends and prices. The caloric intake was increased to support active lifestyles. The Biden Administration hopes this increase will promote and accommodate healthier eating to boost the overall society safety net.
Learn more about the government’s role in regards to income and poverty
Coronavirus Updates (3)
Photo Source: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
On Sunday, August 15, the Pentagon announced plans to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for troops. Almost immediately after the announcement, lawyers reported an increase in calls from service members wanting to know their options. Many lawyers are looking into the legality of making the vaccine mandatory. Defense Secretary Llyod Austin stated that he hopes to make the call by mid-September whether or not the vaccine is fully FDA approved by then. On Monday, August 16, the legal battle in Texas continued as a Supreme Court judge briefly sided with Governor Abbott, blocking mask mandates. Local governments, however, have still stated plans to enforce mask mandates. Smaller courts have scheduled hearings as this legal conflict continues across the state. On Monday, August 16, New York Governor Cuomo issued one more mandate before his resignation takes effect, making it a requirement for health care workers to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Those who work in nursing homes, adult care, and other care settings are also included in the mandate. The Department of Health has also issued a third vaccine dose after the CDC released a recommendation for it. On Tuesday, August 17, the Florida State Board of Education voted unanimously to take legal action against Broward and Alachua Counties for defying the order passed by Governor DeSantis. Both Broward and Alachua mandated masks across their districts despite DeSantis’ order banning such mandates. Nearly 1,000 students and staff are already in quarantine due to exposure to the virus. On Tuesday, August 17, Texas Governor Abbott tested positive for Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated. His team has said that he is experiencing no symptoms and is currently in isolation. Despite the positive test, Abbott’s team is still fighting school districts to ban mask mandates. On Friday, August 20, San Francisco’s vaccine mandate officially went into effect. The new mandate requires high-capacity indoor areas to ask for proof of vaccination. It also requires mask wearing regardless of vaccination status. Most businesses in the area were already implementing these rules for the past month. On Friday, August 20, the Florida Board of Education officially gave Broward and Alachua counties 48 hours to allow for opt-outs for masks or risk losing funding. Financial penalties will begin after the 48 hours for as long as the school districts keep their mask mandates in place. One twelfth of the budget will be withheld each month the mandate is enacted. The Board is also requiring a certified list from each district with information of students who were punished or “harassed” for not wearing a mask. Further penalties will apply if this list is not provided. On Saturday, August 21, the University of Virginia announced that it disenrolled 238 students for not complying with the Covid vaccine mandate. The university is requiring each student attending in person classes to be fully vaccinated by the time term starts. Those disenrolled have 1 week to update their vaccination status before missing the semester entirely. On Saturday, August 21, CNN reported the astronomical numbers of Covid noticed by governors. Alabama has a negative capacity of ICU beds, with children making up many of the cases. Louisiana is seeing a large increase in infections amongst young people, as well. Numbers are increasing at an alarming rate. In Kansas, ICU beds are hard to come by, and on Wednesday, the state saw more hospitalizations than ever before. Reports still state that most people in the ICU are unvaccinated, and they are still urging people to get vaccinated if they haven’t yet.
Source: CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN
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Major Voting Days for the Senate
Photo Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
On Wednesday, August 11, Senate Republicans blocked Democratic attempts to advance their voting overhaul bill. The new bill Democrats were attempting to pass was designed to combat some of the controversial voting bills passed by separate state governments. Senator Ted Cruz stated that the bill would give too much power to the federal government during election cycles. Biden’s Administration, however, is still arguing that voting restrictions are Jim Crow-level inequalities. That same day, the Senate approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution despite GOP opposition. The 50-49 vote was a win for Democrats, but it still has yet to pass the House. The budget bill is designed to help families impacted by the pandemic, as well as denote a portion to the climate crisis.
Source:  CNN BBC
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Governor Cuomo Resigns Amidst Allegations
Photo Source: AP Photo/Hans Pennink
On Tuesday, August 10, New York Governor Cuomo announced his resignation amidst the sexual assault allegations. The report, released earlier in the week, contained at least 11 allegations from different women. His resignation will take place officially in two weeks. Cuomo’s decision was made before state officials made the moves to impeach him, which was looking to be the next steps should he have refused to resign. On Wednesday, August 11, it was announced that Kathy Hochul will be Cuomo’s successor. Hochui will also become the first female governor of New York. She has been part of the governor’s team since 2014, and much of her work has focused on sexual assault and the #metoo movement.
Source:  CNN BBC
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Gun Violence Still Rages Across the US
Photo Source: Samuel Corum/Pool via AP
On Sunday, August 8, a traffic stop in Chicago turned deadly after suspects opened fire on the three police officers. One officer died and the other is in critical condition. At least three suspects are currently in custody as officials continue to investigate the incident. The officers were wearing body cams, which are currently under review. On Sunday, August 8, a gunman opened fire at a party in New York City, killing two people and injuring another three. Police have said that the party had anywhere from 100-150 people in attendance in what appeared to be a nice summer party. There are no arrests and officials are still investigating the incident. On Sunday, August 8, at least one person died and another six were injured after a shooting at a Houston, Texas nightclub. A fight broke out before several of the fighters brandished firearms and began shooting. Officials are still investigating the shooting and no charges have been made at this time. On Tuesday, August 10, at least two people were killed and another injured after an altercation regarding unpaid rent in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 78-year-old suspect was reportedly renting the rooms to the three victims. A short standoff occured before the suspect exited the home and was taken into custody.
Source:  CNN CNN CNN CNN
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Coronavirus Updates (2)
Photo Source: AP Photo/LM Otero
On Saturday, August 7, various retailers announced that they will be reinstating their mask mandates. The call comes after the CDC edited their mask guidelines, stating that in high risk areas, even vaccinated people should wear masks. Some of the retailers include Walmart, Target, Costco, Starbucks, and McDonalds to name a few. On Sunday, August 8, a church in Florida reported that in the last two weeks, 6 unvaccinated attendees had died from Covid-19. The following day, the church decided to host a vaccination clinic. The pastor stated that at least four of the deaths were people younger than 35 and relatively healthy. At least 20 church members are in or have been in the hospital battling Covid recently, as well. On Monday, August 9, it was reported by Johns Hopkins University that in the last week, the US has seen more than 107.000 daily cases, the highest it has seen in six months. It was also reported that hospitalizations are the highest they’ve been since February, with most occupants unvaccinated. Likewise, child and teenager cases have risen 84% in the last week and about 93% of the cases are the Delta variant. On Monday, August 9, New Orleans Jazz Festival announced that it will be cancelling the event for the second year in a row. Recently, Louisiana has broken its own Covid records, with over 2,400 people hospitalized in the last week. The festival is planning for next Spring.On Tuesday, August 10, two Texas judges ordered a restraining order on Governor Abbott’s emergency order preventing federal buildings from requiring masks. The order allows local officials to implement mask mandates if they feel it necessary. On Tuesday, August 10, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines all announced that they will not be following United Airlines’ decision to require employee vaccination. Airlines will still strongly encourage employees to get vaccinated, however. On Wednesday, August 11, after many parents complained, Broward County Public Schools in Florida voted to mandate mask wearing despite Governor DeSantis’ executive order. Parents of students with special needs in particular have spoken against DeSantis’ decision, claiming that underlying health issues make it impossible for their kids to attend schools unless masks are mandated. Students with 504 plans, medical needs, and other reasons may still be exempt from the mask mandate, according to the district. On Friday, August 13, Dallas County officials stated that all the children ICU beds in this area of Texas are full. Officials stated that even children needing a bed for non-Covid related issues will have to wait for another child to potentially die before the bed will be open. Hospitalizations and fatalities are increasing in Dallas County, and a shortage of medical staff has also led to the lack of ICU beds. Governor Abbott announced that he will deploy 2,500 medical staff to the areas in need. On Saturday, August 14, it was reported that at least three teachers have died from Covid-19 in the last week in Florida’s second-to-largest school district. The three teachers were reportedly unvaccinated, and the deaths came days before Broward County is set to reopen. The teachers had not been in school buildings yet. The district just voted to defy Governor DeSantis’ order to prevent mask mandates in schools.
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President Biden Calls for Governor Cuomo to Resign
Photo Source: AP Photo/mpi43/MediaPunch /IPX
On Tuesday, August 3, President Biden called for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation amidst sexual assault accusations. A recently published report by the New York attorney general’s office found that Cuomo had assaulted multiple women, many of whom were aides to the governor. The report also found that Cuomo assaulted many women outside of state government, as well. On Wednesday, August 4, CNN published an article detailing the accusations as outlined in the report published by the attorney general’s office the day before. Cuomo has allegedly been found to have assaulted at least 11 women. The report also found a pattern of inappropriate behavior. The stories of the women have allegedly been corroborated by interviews the office conducted.
Violence Across the US Continues
Photo Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
On Sunday, August 1, at least five people were shot after a shooting occurred near Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Police have stated that at least one suspect has been detained in relation to the shooting. The investigation remains active, as no immediate motive or argument was apparent. One person has since died from his injuries, and another is in critical condition. On Monday, August 2, at least two people were pronounced dead after a shooting at a Corona, California movie theater. One of the victims, Anthony Barajas, was a well-known Tik-Tok star, who was there with his friend, the other victim. Movie theater staff say they found the two after the movie was over, both with apparent gunshot wounds. A 20-year-old male has been arrested in connection with the shooting. On Tuesday, August 3, a shooting occurred at SmileDirectClub in Antioch, Tennessee. The shooter shot three people before police fatally shot him. The alleged gunman was a 22-year-old employee of SmileDirectClub, entering the facility and shooting one manager and two security guards early in the morning. Two victims are in stable condition and one is currently at the hospital in critical condition. On Tuesday, August 3, the Pentagon was placed under lockdown after shots were fired near the building. According to three law enforcement sources, a police officer was stabbed and shot and killed outside the building. The officer worked for the Pentagon and the circumstances of his death are still unclear. Officials have not provided many details as they are still investigating the incident. The suspect, however, did take his own life after the seemingly random attack.
Learn more about the legislation regarding gun control.
Photo Source: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
On Monday, August 2, CNN reported on the findings of a CDC study that involved Provincetown, MA. The study focused on the July 4 holiday in the popular summer destination. After studying the area from July 3 to July 17, the CDC reported that 469 cases of Covid-19 were recorded, three-fourths of which were in fully vaccinated people. This study helped the CDC understand how vaccinated people may still carry and contract the virus, and also prompted the CDC to reinstate the guidelines for mask wearing that we saw earlier this year. On Monday, August 2, Florida’s largest school district released a statement, claiming it is worried about funding after Governor DeSantis’ new executive order regarding masks. Miami-Dade County Public Schools intended to revisit mask guidelines after the CDC released new information a few days prior. However, DeSantis’ executive order prevents schools from making masks mandatory, and threatens to withhold funding from those districts that do not comply. A new report showed that cases in Florida are up 50%, which many schools are also taking into consideration. On Monday, August 2, many schools in Georgia resumed in-person learning despite the spike of Covid-19 cases over the summer. The highly contagious Delta variant has caused a surge in the area, causing concern for many parents regarding their children’s return to class. Georgia has seen nearly 3,000 new cases a day according to Johns Hopkins research. The same research reported that hospitalizations have jumped 50% and deaths have jumped 18% since March. Georgia is one of the first states to go back to school, doing both virtual and in-person learning. On Tuesday, August 3, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report stating that nearly 72,000 children caught Covid-19 in the last week. This is quite the increase from the nearly 39,000 cases reported the week before, and nearly five times higher than numbers reported in June. Researchers are placing the blame on the highly transmissible Delta variant. On Tuesday, August 3, an Arizona teacher sued a Phoenix school district for imposing a mask mandate despite the Governor’s order banning such action. While Governor Ducey signed the bill, it may not yet be a law as it takes 90 days to implement in Arizona. This may be a key factor in the lawsuit. On Wednesday, August 4, Florida’s Broward County school district reversed its mask mandate decision after Governor DeSantis threatened to pull funding. The school district stated that it intends to follow all executive orders passed by the governor. This call comes after Florida reached its highest number of hospitalizations, with 11,515 residents currently hospitalized due to Covid-19. Just days before, Florida set a new record for the most cases in a single day. Many hospitals across the state are reaching capacity, with people staying in hallways and lobbies. Doctors have stated that there are more hospitalizations with this surge than previous surges. On Friday, August 6, eight lawyers filed a lawsuit against Governor DeSantis regarding his executive order on mask mandates in school. Data regarding the rise in Florida cases was present in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs consist of parents with school-aged children who believe there should be masks. On Friday, August 6, Amazon announced that not only will it delay office reopenings, but starting Monday, it will require all employees to wear masks regardless of vaccination status. The company has stated it will follow local guidance. On Saturday, August 7, an Arizona judge temporarily blocked the executive order on mask mandates. This block allows schools to legally instate a mandate for the time being. Governor Hutchinson stated that he regrets signing the order in April and is hoping to revise the legislation. Districts have filed lawsuits similar to Florida, with one district already quarantining 900 people due to positive cases within the first two weeks of school.
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