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US: Over 25% of Americans are no longer living in high-transmission counties: Live COVID-19 updates

Hispanic voters now key in swing counties nationwide

  Hispanic voters now key in swing counties nationwide As the "Hispanic vote" grows, it's also changing. And there are signs of these differences in the county-level vote from 2020. According to Census data, there are 234 counties around the country where the population is 30 percent or more Hispanic. And in many of those locales former President Donald Trump did better in 2020 than he did in 2016 — particularly in rural communities and Miami-Dade County, which many ethnic Cubans, Colombians and Venezuelans call home. Trump lost ground in 21 of those 234 counties, meaning he got a smaller percentage of the vote in 2020 than he did in 2016.

More than one-quarter of Americans are now living in a county that no longer has high levels of community transmission of coronavirus, a USA TODAY analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show.

That's a major change from earlier in the pandemic wave driven by the delta variant, when every state was considered to have high levels of community transmission, which the CDC says is 100 cases per 100,000 people per week.

The United States isn't out of the woods — nearly everyone who isn't in a "high" county is in a "substantial" county. That's the case for about 82.5 million Americans. About 7.5 million Americans are in a "moderate" county, and about 560,000 are in a "low" county.

Project could help needy Mississippi families hold onto land

  Project could help needy Mississippi families hold onto land JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A nonprofit law firm announced a new project Thursday to help low-income Mississippi families hold onto inherited land, an effort that advocates say would build wealth and preserve biological diversity by promoting better forest management. The problem centers on “heirs' property,” which is passed down without a will, resulting in the land being owned in common by multiple family members. Such land can lack proper legal documentation, making it vulnerable to being taken over by others or lost when property taxes are not paid on time. © Provided by Associated Press This Oct.

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Some 244 million Americans remain in a high-transmission county. Put another way, Americans are more than 1,000 times as likely to live in a "high" county than a "low" one.

Every person in 13 states and the District of Columbia lived in a place with high community transmission. The lowest rates were found in Hawaii, Florida, California, and Maryland, where fewer than one-third of residents lived in places with high levels of coronavirus.

The best place on record, however, isn't a state. In Puerto Rico, about 71,000 people — some 2.1% of the population — are living in an area of high community transmission.

Puerto Ricans are five times as likely to live in an area of low transmission than a high one, and 37 times as likely to live in a community with a moderate level than a high one.

Michigan cat becomes first pet in state to test positive for virus that causes COVID-19

  Michigan cat becomes first pet in state to test positive for virus that causes COVID-19 Ingham County cat tested positive for virus that causes COVID-19. Its owners were confirmed to have COVID-19 about a week before the cat became ill.The cat had close contact with its owners, who were confirmed to have COVID-19 about a week before the feline became ill, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a release Tuesday. The cat was tested after it began to sneeze and has recovered.

Puerto Rico alone accounted for far more of the people living in areas of low transmission than the rest of the country combined. It also accounts for about a third of the nation's people living in areas of moderate transmission.

— Mike Stucka

Also in the news:

►The Food and Drug Administration may give its OK to administer booster shots that are different from recipients' original COVID-19 vaccine by Wednesday, the New York Times reported.

►A San Francisco-based In-N-Out restaurant was briefly shut down by the health department for refusing to check that patrons dining indoors were vaccinated, according to KGO-TV.

►More than 20 Chicago police officers have been put on "no pay" status for refusing to comply with the city policy of disclosing their COVID vaccine statuses, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said Tuesday.

►Country singer Travis Tritt canceled shows at venues requiring masks, proof of COVID-19 vaccinations or a negative test in Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Kentucky.

Legislators want three counties to secede Maryland for West Virginia

  Legislators want three counties to secede Maryland for West Virginia State legislators in three conservative western Maryland counties are seeking permission to secede from the state to join neighboring West Virginia.In letters to West Virginia state House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R) and Senate President Craig Blair (R), six Republican Maryland state legislators who represent Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties asked the legislature to consider adding their residents to the Mountaineer State."We believeIn letters to West Virginia state House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R) and Senate President Craig Blair (R), six Republican Maryland state legislators who represent Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties asked the legislature to consider adding their residents to the Mountaineer Stat

►Fox News Channel anchor Neil Cavuto tested positive for COVID-19, he announced Tuesday. Cavuto was previously fully vaccinated.

???? Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 45.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 728,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 241.5 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 189.4 million Americans — 57.1% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

???? What we're reading: Latino Catholics have one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates among major religious groups in the United States, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. The study comes amid ongoing debate over whether or not to mandate vaccines, and amid ethical questions surrounding the research and manufacture of certain vaccines using cell lines from aborted fetuses.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY's Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Washington sees fallout from state worker vaccine mandate

More than 1,800 Washington state workers have been fired, resigned or retired due to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, according to data released Tuesday.

FDA says Pfizer vaccine appears to work in young kids; study shows lower mortality rates for vaccinated people: Live COVID updates

  FDA says Pfizer vaccine appears to work in young kids; study shows lower mortality rates for vaccinated people: Live COVID updates Pfizer’s COVID vaccine appears highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections in young kids and caused no unexpected safety issues, feds say.The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis of Pfizer’s data ahead of a public meeting next week to debate whether the shots are ready for the nation’s roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11. The agency will ask a panel of outside vaccine experts to vote on that question and is expected to authorize the vaccine for young children as early as next week.

The latest numbers released by the governor’s Office of Financial Management show that about 3% of the state’s approximately 63,000-person workforce that was covered by the mandate have left their jobs, and the cases of another 4.6% — or 2,887 — are pending because they are either in the process of receiving a job accommodation, are planning to retire, are getting vaccinated or are awaiting separation from their agency.

Of the 1,887 who are no longer employed, 1,696 were fired, 112 resigned and 79 retired.

-The Associated Press

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has breakthrough COVID infection

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday morning, the department said.

DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa said in a statement that Mayorkas tested positive after “taking a test as part of routine pre-travel protocols.” Mayorkas was expected to travel to Colombia this week with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“He is experiencing only mild congestion; he is fully vaccinated and will isolate and work at home per CDC protocols and medical advice,” Espinosa said.

The department is currently conducting contact tracing.

-Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Over 25% of Americans are no longer living in high-transmission counties: Live COVID-19 updates

A World Remembers: Memorials honor COVID-19's 5 million dead .
BERGAMO, Italy (AP) — The Italian city that suffered the brunt of COVID-19’s first deadly wave is dedicating a vivid memorial to the pandemic dead: A grove of trees, creating oxygen in a park opposite the hospital where so many died, unable to breathe. Bergamo, in northern Italy, is among the many communities around the globe dedicating memorials to commemorate lives lost in a pandemic that is nearing the terrible threshold of 5 million confirmed dead. Some have been drawn from artist’s ideas or civic group proposals, but others are spontaneous displays of grief and frustration.

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