That’s all for today, thanks for following along. Some key links and developments:
- The Pentagon said it was “deeply concerned” about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan as the Taliban completed their sweep of Afghanistan’s south.
- The Taliban’s seemingly unstoppable advance across Afghanistan continued today as insurgents took control of four more provincial capitals, having on Thursday seized Kandahar and Herat, the second and third-largest cities.
- The White House said the states of Texas and Florida alone accounted for almost 40% of new Covid hospitalizations across the US last week.
- July was the world’s hottest month ever recorded, US government scientists have confirmed.
- Temperatures were expected to soar to triple digits again in Portland and Seattle, and forecasters said hot weather and wildfire smoke would pose a problem through the weekend.
- Louisiana’s public health efforts have been hobbled by low vaccination rates and crowded housing following last year’s hurricane season.
- Four teachers in Florida’s Broward county have died from Covid-19 this week as the Delta variant of coronavirus rages in the state amid political rows over mask mandates and vaccination.
The letters made clear that the US education department supports the local governments adopting mask policies in line with CDC recommendations:
“The Department stands with these dedicated educators who are working to safely reopen schools and maintain safe in-person instruction,” US education secretary, Miguel Cardona, wrote to Texas governor Greg Abbott.
To Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Cardona said, “It appears that Florida has prioritized threatening to withhold State funds from school districts that are working to reopen schools safely rather than protecting students and educators and getting school districts the Federal pandemic recovery funds to which they are entitled.” Cardona also said that despite the governor’s threats, school districts will be able to access to the federal funds they are owed.
David Zonies, an emergency room doctor at Oregon Health and Science University, said earlier today that the hospital had only about three out of 80 intensive care beds available, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting: “Historically we’ve never had to have a waitlist for people to come in for a critical care bed and that’s what we’re now experiencing.”
More than 918,000 doses were administered over the last day, with 576,000 newly vaccinated people, according to the White House’s Covid-19 data director.
Some health officials are hoping that there will be an increase in vaccinations as the Delta surge continues to prompt devastating outbreaks, particularly in Texas and Florida.
The judge’s restraining order, while temporary, would allow local officials to adopt their own mask mandates without fear of facing retribution from the state government, Houston Public Media reported, citing a statement from county attorney, Christian Menefee:
In light of the rapidly spreading Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that all school staff and children age two and up wear masks indoors. But the Republican governors in Florida and Texas have fought to block local school districts from adopting such policies, creating a showdown between state and local government agencies and leading to chaos and conflict as students return to the classroom.
Canada to accept 20,000 vulnerable Afghans
Canada plans to resettle more than 20,000 vulnerable Afghans including women leaders, human rights workers and reporters to protect them from Taliban reprisals, Reuters is reporting, citing immigration minister Marco Mendicino.
This adds to an earlier initiative welcoming thousands of Afghans who worked for the Canadian government, including interpreters and embassy workers.
“As the Taliban continues to take over more of Afghanistan, many more Afghans’ lives are under increasing threat,” said Mendicino, who didn’t offer details about timing, Reuters reported.
Earlier, the Pentagon said it was “deeply concerned” about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan as the Taliban completed their sweep of Afghanistan’s south weeks before the US is set to officially end its war of two decades. [SOURCE]