Millions of students in Florida, Texas and Arizona are being required to wear masks in class as school boards in mostly Democratic locales are imposing anti-COVID mandates in defiance of their Republican governors.
The three states are all hot spots in the nation’s recent COVID-19 surge and defiant boards in Miami, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and elsewhere argue that requiring masks protects students from contracting and spreading the virus as pediatric hospitals fill.
Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida, Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona argue that children are safe without masks and such decisions should be left up to parents.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and most pediatric medicine organizations support masking.
-From The Associated Press, last updated at 7:50 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Friday morning, more than 210 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracking database, more than 4.4 million deaths had been reported worldwide.
In the Middle East, Israel has made third booster shots against COVID-19 available to people age 40 and older, in an effort to fight a surge of the delta variant. About 5.9 million people of Israel’s 9.3 million population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. More than 5.4 million have received two doses, and 1.3 million have received a third dose.
In the Americas, Mexico is battling a new wave of coronavirus infections as daily cases hit record highs and the official death toll passed 250,000, one of the highest worldwide.
In Jamaica, the prime minister has announced a lockdown to try and slow the spread of COVID-19 as the island nation faces a strong surge in cases.
I urge all Jamaicans to co-operate and to do their part. We all need to work together to get this third wave under control so that we can start opening schools.<br><br>We now have sufficient vaccine supplies with the commitment of further supplies to come.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Vietnam will deploy troops in Ho Chi Minh City and prohibit residents from leaving their homes, authorities said, as its biggest city turns to drastic measures to slow a spiralling rate of coronavirus deaths.
Sri Lanka’s government imposed a 10-day lockdown across the island on Friday in an attempt to contain the rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases. The lockdown will be effective from 10:00 p.m. Friday until Aug. 30, Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella tweeted.
Thailand, meanwhile, passed one million total coronavirus infections Friday, as its latest surge dropped below 20,000 daily cases for the first time in 10 days. Over 97 per cent of the cases counted since the pandemic began have been since April.
Rich countries’ decisions to roll out COVID-19 booster shots while so many people across Africa remain unvaccinated “threaten the promise of a brighter tomorrow” for the continent, the Africa director for the World Health Organization said Thursday, warning that “as some richer countries hoard vaccines, they make a mockery of vaccine equity.”
Matshidiso Moeti and other African health officials, including the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had warned against booster shots in recent weeks, as less than two per cent of the population on the continent of 1.3 billion people is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Moeti noted that the latest resurgence in cases across Africa is levelling off and more vaccine doses are finally arriving on the continent, but “Africa is encountering headwinds” as rich countries like the United States decide to roll out booster shots.
The situation in Africa remains “very fragile” as the more infectious delta variant is now dominant in most of the continent’s 54 countries, she said. More than 7.3 million cases, including more than 186,000 deaths, have been confirmed across the continent and health systems are straining to provide medical oxygen and other care.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 8 a.m. ET
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