Covid Updates: New C.D.C. Mask Guidelines Rest on Data Showing the Vaccinated May Transmit Virus

New research shows how fully immunized people can carry large loads of the Delta variant. The Biden administration wants states and cities to pay people $100 to get vaccinated.

Follow our latest coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

The C.D.C.’s decision on masks rests on new data showing the Delta variant thrives in the nose and throat.

ImageAnne Mikkelsen shops for clothes at Eileen Fisher clothing store while wearing a mask in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York on Tuesday.
Credit...Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

The recommendation that vaccinated people in some parts of the country dust off their masks was based largely on one troublesome finding, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New research showed that vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant carry tremendous amounts of the virus in the nose and throat, she said in an email responding to questions from The New York Times.

The finding contradicts what scientists had observed in vaccinated people infected with previous versions of the virus, who mostly seemed incapable of infecting others.

That conclusion dealt Americans a heavy blow: People with so-called breakthrough infections — cases that occur despite full vaccination — of the Delta variant may be just as contagious as unvaccinated people, even if they have no symptoms.

That means fully immunized people with young children, aging parents, or friends and family with weak immune systems will need to renew vigilance, particularly in high-transmission communities. Vaccinated Americans may need to wear masks not just to protect themselves, but everyone in their orbit.

The C.D.C. has not yet published its data, but four scientists familiar with the research said it was compelling and justified the agency’s new advice on masks.

In her email, Dr. Walensky said breakthroughs are rare, and unvaccinated people account for the bulk of virus transmission. Still, she said, the new data suggest even fully immunized people can be unwilling vectors for the disease.

Previous versions of the virus rarely broke through the immunization barrier, which prompted the C.D.C. to advise in May that vaccinated people could go mask-free indoors. But the usual rules don’t seem to apply to the Delta variant. The variant is twice as contagious as the original virus.

The Delta variant seems to flourish in the nose, the main port of entry for the virus. The vaccines are injected into muscle, and the antibodies produced in response mostly remain in the blood. Some antibodies may make their way to the nose but not enough to block it.

“The vaccines — they’re beautiful, they work, they’re amazing,” said Frances Lund, a viral immunologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “But they’re not going to give you that local immunity.”

When the virus tries to snake down into the lungs, immune cells in vaccinated people ramp up and rapidly clear the infection before it wreaks much havoc. That means vaccinated people should be infected and contagious for a much shorter period of time than unvaccinated people, Dr. Lund said.

“But that doesn’t mean that in those first couple of days, when they’re infected, they can’t transmit it to somebody else,” she added.

Tracking the Coronavirus ›

Biden seeks to revive vaccination effort: ‘We can make a huge difference and save a lot of lives.’



Biden Says Federal Workers Must Be Vaccinated or Tested Regularly

President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees must receive the coronavirus vaccine or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and travel restrictions. Mr. Biden also urged states to use financial incentives to get more people vaccinated.

I’m calling on all states and local governments to use funding they have received, including from the American Rescue Plan, to give $100 to anyone who gets fully vaccinated. I know the pain people to get vaccinated, it might sound unfair to folks who have gotten vaccinated already, but here’s the deal. If incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them. Next, every federal government employee will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest, or is not vaccinated, will be required to. mask, no matter where they work, test one or two times a week to see if they’ve acquired Covid, socially distance and generally will not be allowed to travel for work. Likewise, today, I’m directing my administration to take steps to apply similar standards to all federal contractors. If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated.

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President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees must receive the coronavirus vaccine or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and travel restrictions. Mr. Biden also urged states to use financial incentives to get more people vaccinated.CreditCredit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times

President Biden on Thursday tried to revive the nation’s stalled push to vaccinate Americans against the surging Delta variant of the coronavirus, announcing new requirements for federal workers to be vaccinated and urging local and state governments to offer $100 to anyone willing to get a shot voluntarily.

In a speech at the White House, the president announced that all civilian federal employees must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.

He also ordered the Defense Department to move rapidly toward requiring coronavirus vaccines for all members of the military, a step that would affect almost 1.5 million troops, many of whom have resisted taking a shot that is highly effective against a disease that has claimed the lives of more than 600,000 Americans.

“We all want our lives to get back to normal, and fully vaccinated workplaces will make that happen more quickly and more successfully,” Mr. Biden said, speaking in the East Room. “We all know that in our gut. With incentives and mandates, we can make a huge difference and save a lot of lives.”

Late on Thursday, the Defense Department said it would require all military and civilian personnel to follow the same rules as other federal workers.

The federal government employs more than 4 million Americans, all of whom will need to attest to being fully vaccinated to avoid wearing a mask on the job, regardless of where in the country they work, and comply with screening tests once or twice a week.

And he called on states, territories and local governments to pay $100 to Americans who remain unvaccinated to get their shots.

Mr. Biden’s announcement of new mandates in a speech was part of an attempt to reset expectations on the health scourge that just weeks ago he thought he had under control. On July 4, the White House celebrated the national holiday as a day of “independence from Covid-19.”

But now, the Delta variant is ripping through unvaccinated communities, threatening to undo the progress made by the Biden administration in its first six months. About half of all Americans have been fully vaccinated, but the pace of vaccinations has declined significantly from early spring. This week, the European Union pulled ahead of the United States in total vaccinations, adjusted for population.

Recent research has shown fully vaccinated people are protected against the worst outcomes of Covid-19, including those involving the Delta variant. And cases, hospitalizations and deaths are still far below their winter peaks.

Mr. Biden acknowledged the news was frustrating. “I know we hoped this would be a simple straightforward line without problems or new challenges, but that isn’t real life,” he said.

Rebecca Robbins and Dan Levin contributed reporting.

U.S. military personnel will be asked their vaccination status or will face testing.

Credit...John Moore/Getty Images

The Pentagon said on Thursday evening that it would require military personnel to attest to their vaccination status against the coronavirus or face frequent testing and other restrictions.

The announcement came just hours after President Biden announced that federal employees and on-site contractors must be vaccinated against the coronavirus, or be required to submit to regular testing and other measures.

Mr. Biden also called upon the Department of Defense to move rapidly toward requiring coronavirus vaccines for all members of the military, a step that would affect almost 1.5 million troops, many of whom have resisted taking a shot that is highly effective against a disease that has claimed the lives of more than 600,000 Americans.

But he stopped short of saying he would use his powers as commander in chief to compel service members to get vaccines not yet fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration by issuing a waiver.

On Thursday night, Jamal Brown, a deputy Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement that military members would need to adhere to the same guidelines as the department’s civilian workers.

Employees would be asked to “attest to their vaccination status” and, if unwilling to do so, they “will be required to wear a mask, physically distance, comply with a regular testing requirement and be subject to official travel restrictions,” the statement said.

The military sits firmly at the center of an escalating debate over vaccine mandates as Mr. Biden and other officials struggle to get ahead of the Delta variant sweeping through the nation.

Members of the military are regularly given vaccines, and unvaccinated service members are sometimes not allowed to deploy abroad and face other restrictions. But as a political matter, forcing the coronavirus vaccines on the military is all but certain to set off a firestorm among Mr. Biden’s critics.

Here are the details from Biden’s latest push to spur vaccinations.

Credit...Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

In a speech at the White House on Thursday, President Biden announced plans for new actions to spur coronavirus vaccinations and slow the spread of the Delta variant in the United States.

The contagious variant is ripping through unvaccinated communities, threatening to undo the progress made by the Biden administration in its first six months. About half of all Americans have been fully vaccinated, but the pace of vaccinations has declined significantly from early spring. Recent research has shown fully vaccinated people are protected against the worst outcomes of Covid-19, including those involving the Delta variant. And cases, hospitalizations and deaths are still a fraction of their devastating winter peaks.

Here are the key points of the plan:

Strengthen protocols for federal employees and contractors. All civilian federal employees will be required to be vaccinated or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements, as well as restrictions on most travel. The federal government employs more than 4 million Americans throughout the country and abroad.

Urge vaccination mandates for members of the military. The Department of Defense has been asked to detail when and how they will add the coronavirus vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for members of the military. The president stressed the importance of immunization for service members because American troops serve in countries where vaccination rates are low and Covid-19 is prevalent.

Expand paid leave to enable vaccinations for families and children. Small- and medium-sized businesses will be reimbursed for offering employees paid leave to get themselves and their family members vaccinated. Children younger than 12 cannot yet get vaccinated but will likely be eligible later this year.

Call on local and state governments to offer $100 incentives for getting vaccinated. States, territories and local governments are being asked to do more to incentivize vaccination, including offering $100 to those who get the shot. Some states, including New Mexico, Ohio and Colorado, have piloted $100 incentive programs that have helped move the dial on vaccination rates. New York City said this week that the city will begin offering $100 payments, too.

Increase vaccinations for children returning to classrooms. School districts are being encouraged to host at least one pop-up vaccination clinic over the coming weeks, with the goal of increasing vaccination rates among children 12 and older. Mr. Biden said that while almost 90 percent of educators and school staff are vaccinated, he believes every student should have an accessible way to receive a vaccine. The administration is also directing pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program to prioritize children 12 and older, and to work with school districts across the country to host vaccination clinics at schools and colleges.

The Biden administration wants states and cities to pay people $100 to get vaccinated.

Credit...Desiree Rios for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is calling on states, territories and local governments to pay $100 to Americans who remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus to get their shots. The move comes as concern has grown about rising cases across the country, and the administration has shifted its strategy to focus on more personalized approaches.

The Treasury Department said Thursday that the money to pay for the vaccine incentive payments could come from the $350 billion of relief funds that is being given to states and cities as part of the economic rescue package that Congress approved in March. The incentive is intended to “boost vaccination rates, protect communities, and save lives.”

The administration is also stepping up efforts to get to companies to give their employees time off to get the vaccine.

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said that employers can claim tax credits to cover wages paid to workers who take family members to get vaccinated or care for members of their households who are recovering from the vaccination. Self-employed workers are also eligible to receive the tax credits.

The initiative expands on a program that was rolled out in April that offered a paid leave tax credit to offset the cost to companies with fewer than 500 workers incurred by giving paid time to workers getting vaccines.

President Biden on Thursday announced that all civilian federal employees must be vaccinated or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel. The president also directed the Defense Department to study how and when to add the coronavirus vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for all members of the military.

The Biden administration has been tussling with some states over how the relief money can be used, but earlier this year issued guidance that made clear it can go toward programs that are expected to increase the number of people who choose to get vaccinated. The Treasury Department said it will provide technical assistance for states and cities to help them use the money to boost vaccinations in their communities and it will be working with the Department of Health and Human Services.

States and cities have been taking creative approaches, such as lotteries, to encourage people to get vaccinated. Some experts, especially in the early days of the vaccination campaign, have expressed concern, though, over the idea of paying people to get vaccinated, worrying that it could be perceived as out of step with messaging that vaccines bring enormous benefits on their own. Opponents of the idea have also questioned whether paying people is the best use of funds to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said this week that the city will begin offering $100 payments as part of an incentive plan to spur more people to get vaccinated. The program is expected to start on Friday.

“I think when someone says here’s $100 for you, that’s going to make a big impact,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota announced on Twitter that residents can also expect the incentive. “Starting July 30, every Minnesotan who gets vaccinated will get $100! All you have to do is roll up your sleeves,” he said.

Dr. Elisa Sobo, an anthropologist at San Diego State University who studies vaccine hesitancy, said that the payment could be an incentive but suggested it was unlikely to sway every unvaccinated person. “Some folks will find the offer insulting; others will use it as ‘proof’ that the vaccine is no good,” she said. But, she added, “There are lots of people who will say ‘why not’ to $100. Some people who have until now been on the fence will see $100 as a good reason to get off of it.”

In guidance that was issued in May, the Treasury said that the relief funds can be used to encourage vaccinations “so long as such costs are reasonably proportional to the expected public health benefit.”

Rebecca Robbins and Sharon Otterman contributed reporting.

The European Union pulls ahead of the United States in vaccinations.

Credit...Raymond Roig/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The 27 member states of the European Union altogether have now administered more coronavirus vaccine doses per 100 people than the United States, in another sign that inoculations across the bloc have maintained some speed throughout the summer, while they have stagnated for weeks in the United States.

E.U. countries had administered 102.66 doses per 100 people as of Tuesday, while the United States had administered 102.44, according to the latest vaccination figures compiled by Our World in Data. This month, the European Union also overtook the United States in first injections; currently, 58 percent of people across the bloc have received a dose, compared with 56.5 percent in the United States.

The latest figures provide a stark contrast with the early stages of the vaccination campaigns this year, when E.U. countries, facing a shortage of doses and delayed deliveries, looked in envy at the initially more successful efforts in the United States, Britain and Israel.

But the European Union is now vaccinating its populations at a faster pace than most developed countries. More than 70 percent of adults in the bloc have now received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the achievement put E.U. countries “among the world leaders.”

“The catch-up process has been very successful,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

As inoculation campaigns in many American states have been marred by widespread anti-vaccine sentiment, E.U. countries have been able to immunize their populations with less pushback.

Around 75 percent of residents in the bloc agree that vaccines are the only way to end the coronavirus pandemic, according to a public survey conducted across the European Union in May.

Furthermore, 79 percent said they intended to get vaccinated “sometime this year.”

Yet the spread of the Delta variant has added new urgency. Cases have soared in countries such as the Netherlands and Portugal, and hospitalizations have increased in France and Spain, among others, driving officials to try to speed up vaccination campaigns that have slightly slowed in recent weeks.

“Countries have tried in the first half of the year to stretch the interval between the first and the second doses, but now they have to reduce it to the minimum, with the shortest possible interval,” Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said this month.

The center said last week that the Delta variant was now dominant in a majority of countries in the bloc.

Countries including France and Italy have announced new vaccine requirements to try to speed up inoculations, with proof of vaccination or a negative test set to be required to gain access to most public indoor venues. The goal, President Emmanuel Macron of France said in announcing the measures this month, is to “put restrictions on the unvaccinated rather than on everyone.”

As campaigns have slightly decreased or plateaued in some E.U. countries, health officials have also urged younger age groups to get vaccinated.

“We have focused a lot on the elderly, and it’s left a very strong perception among younger people that they’re not at risk, or that if they are, it’s very mild,” said Heidi Larson, an anthropologist and founder of the London-based Vaccine Confidence Project, which tracks opinions about immunization across the world.

Vittoria Colliza, a Paris-based epidemiologist at Inserm, the French public-health research center, said that vaccine saturation levels were high among many populations, but that large pockets had yet to even receive one dose.

She added that new lockdown restrictions may have to be reimposed to stem the spread of the Delta variant if immunization fails to keep up.

“They’re increasing already,” Dr. Colliza said about inoculations, especially among younger people. “But the fear is that the Delta variant will begin to fully impact our lives by the end of August.”

Puerto Rico’s governor says public employees must get vaccinated or face testing.

Credit...Carlos Giusti/Associated Press

Puerto Rico’s governor announced on Wednesday that all public employees in the territory would have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face weekly testing, joining a growing list of states, municipalities, companies and the federal government that have imposed some form of vaccine requirement.

The governor, Pedro R. Pierluisi, said on Twitter that government employees must get their first shot by Aug. 16 and be completely inoculated by Sept. 30, though exceptions for religious reasons or disabilities will be allowed.

On Thursday, President Biden announced in Washington that all civilian federal employees in the United States must be vaccinated or submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.

In recent days New York, California and North Carolina have all announced similar vaccination requirements for their employees, as has the Department of Veterans Affairs. Google, Facebook and The Washington Post are among the companies that have announced mandates of their own.

The pace of vaccinations has declined dramatically since they peaked in April, and just under half the country is fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some communities with low rates of vaccination have seen soaring case rates and hospitalizations in recent weeks, due in part to the highly contagious Delta variant.

Mr. Pierluisi’s mandate is in response to a sharp increase in known coronavirus cases in Puerto Rico — the island saw a 311 percent jump in daily cases over the past two weeks, the most of any U.S. state or territory, according to a New York Times database.

In Puerto Rico, public employees who are not vaccinated will need to provide a negative coronavirus test result every week, or a positive test result with a certification from a doctor that they are no longer contagious. Those who refuse will be forced to use their vacation or paid leave time, then placed on unpaid leave.

Puerto Rico was one of the first parts of the United States to order a lockdown because of the coronavirus. Cases and hospitalizations there surged in April 2021 after businesses, schools and tourism reopened, and Mr. Pierluisi reinstated a curfew, imposed a testing requirement for tourists, and lowered the indoor capacity for businesses and restaurants.

Conditions improved by May, and Mr. Pierluisi relaxed some of the restrictions; but cases started to rise in July, and have since grown dramatically, though they are still about a third of their April 2021 peak.

Masks are mandated indoors in Washington, D.C., as localities grapple with revised federal guidance.

Credit...Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington said on Thursday that an indoor mask mandate would be reimposed in the nation’s capital on Saturday, becoming the latest jurisdiction to change public health protocols after new federal guidance advised even vaccinated people in coronavirus hot spots to resume wearing face coverings in indoor public spaces.

The announcement from Washington came as some states and municipalities were quick to update their own mask rules, while others expressed outrage, another example of the political tensions that have often accompanied public health precautions during the pandemic.

The new federal guidance also suggested masks for all children, staff members and visitors in schools, regardless of their vaccination status and community transmission of the virus.

The mayors of Atlanta and Kansas City, Mo., both Democrats, reinstated mask mandates; Atlanta’s took effect immediately and Kansas City’s will start on Aug. 2. Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada, a Democrat, ordered that residents in counties with high rates of transmission — including Clark County, home to Las Vegas — wear masks in public indoor spaces starting on Friday. In Minnesota, health and education officials urged all students, staff and visitors to wear masks in schools, but held off making the guidance a state requirement.

Gov. Laura Kelly of Kansas, a Democrat, announced a mask requirement for state employees and visitors in public areas of state government buildings, starting on Aug. 2. She also recommended masks for all residents in counties with high transmission rates, while acknowledging the frustrations of vaccinated people.

“I take no pleasure in asking you to put a mask on again,” she said at a news conference on Wednesday, the same day a mask requirement went into effect in a central Kansas school district.

On Wednesday, at least six Republican governors, Greg Abbott of Texas, Doug Ducey of Arizona, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, and Ron DeSantis of Florida, signaled their opposition to the recommendation.

​​ “It’s very important that we say unequivocally, no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions, and no mandates,” Mr. DeSantis said in a speech at a gathering held by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative lobbying group.

Nine states — Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — had already banned or limited face mask mandates, leaving cities and counties with few options to fight the virus spread.

Some municipalities in states that have resisted mandates faced headwinds even before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its new guidance. On Monday St. Louis County, Mo., reinstated a mask mandate, only to face a lawsuit hours later from Eric Schmitt, the state’s Republican attorney general.

Major employers are also struggling with how best to interpret the new mask recommendations. Apple announced that it would require masks for customers and employees in more than half of its U.S. stores and in some corporate offices, and MGM Resorts International, the casino and hotel giant, said it would require all guests and visitors to wear masks indoors in public areas.

Other companies have pushed back their return-to-office dates, while some that have already relaxed mask restrictions, like WalMart and Kroger, had not indicated their plans as of Wednesday.

Lauren Hirsch and Jack Nicas contributed reporting.

A troubled vaccine plant in Baltimore is given the go-ahead to reopen.

Credit...Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Federal regulators have approved the reopening of a troubled Baltimore vaccine-making plant that has been closed for more than three months over contamination concerns that delayed the delivery of about 170 million doses of coronavirus vaccine.

The turnabout came after a two-day inspection at the plant this week by the Food and Drug Administration and weeks of effort by Johnson & Johnson and its subcontractor, Emergent BioSolutions, to bring the site up to standard.

The F.D.A. had halted production at the factory in late March after it was discovered that workers had accidentally contaminated a batch of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine with a key ingredient used in AstraZeneca’s, then made at the same site.

The federal government also stripped Emergent of the responsibility to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine and instructed Johnson & Johnson to assert greater control over Emergent’s operation.

“The American people should have high expectations of the partners its government chooses to help prepare them for disaster, and we have even higher expectations of ourselves,” Robert Kramer, the chief executive of Emergent, said in a statement on Thursday.

“We have fallen short of those lofty ambitions over the past few months but resumption of manufacturing is a key milestone, and we are grateful for the opportunity to help bring this global pandemic to an end,” he added.

The development, reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal, is welcome news for Johnson & Johnson. Because of Emergent’s failures to meet manufacturing standards, Johnson & Johnson has fallen behind on its contractual pledges to deliver vaccine to the United States government and to Europe.

The F.D.A.’s decision that the Baltimore plant can resume operation does not mean that the agency has broadly authorized Johnson & Johnson to distribute doses made by Emergent on an emergency basis. In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said it is continuing to work toward that F.D.A. authorization.

Without it, Johnson & Johnson has been unable to distribute Emergent-produced doses without specific, batch-by-batch clearance by regulators. The equivalent of up to 75 million doses have been cleared since production was halted, but tens of millions of doses still remain in limbo.

It remains unclear whether the federal government would deploy additional Johnson & Johnson doses at home, export them or both. So far, the vast bulk of the nation’s vaccine stock has came from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the two other vaccine developers. The federal government has purchased huge quantities of those vaccines for the future.

Before it halted operations, Emergent said that the plant had the capacity to produce about a billion doses of vaccine a year. Production will need to gear up in stages, officials said.

In a conference call with investors later on Thursday, company officials disclosed a $41.5 million loss from having to discard batches of vaccine that regulators deemed unusable. The company spent another $12.4 million to correct problems at the Baltimore facility, executives said.

Also during the call, Mr. Kramer announced that Sean Kirk, a longtime Emergent executive overseeing manufacturing who went on personal leave earlier this year after regulators found a host of problems at the Baltimore site, would be leaving the company.

Chris Hamby contributed reporting.

The Justice Dept. tells the Texas governor his new Covid rule restricting migrant transports violates federal law.

Credit...Sergio Flores for The New York Times

The Biden administration took aim on Thursday at a crackdown by Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on transportation for migrants, warning him to rescind his new executive order or be sued.

The order, announced on Wednesday, would prevent nonprofits and other private transportation suppliers from providing ground transit to many migrants, which would make it far harder for them to reach shelters or their final destinations in the United States. Mr. Abbott cited a risk of spreading the coronavirus, which has driven up cases and hospitalizations in the state in recent weeks.

In a letter to Mr. Abbott, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said that the order “violates federal law in numerous respects,” labeling it “both dangerous and unlawful,” and added that federal authorities would not be changing their transportation practices.

Mr. Abbott’s order bars the private transportation of migrants and reiterates an earlier assertion that the surge of people crossing the Texas-Mexico border “poses an ongoing and imminent threat of disaster” in Texas, “including the potential for the spread of Covid-19.”

The order says that only federal, state or local law enforcement officials can provide ground transportation to migrants who have been detained on suspicion of illegally entering the country, along with anyone who would have been subject to expulsion under “the Title 42 order.” The order can be invoked on health grounds to prohibit border crossings by those who are not citizens or permanent residents, or their spouses and children.

The United States often works with private companies and nonprofits to transport migrants in federal custody to other destinations. Mr. Garland said that Mr. Abbott’s order would impair migrants’ releases, making it difficult for them to appear at their immigration hearings, obstruct the federal government’s work to transport them to Covid-19 test sites and “exacerbate and prolong overcrowding in facilities and shelters.”

“To the extent the order interferes with immigration enforcement, the order is unconstitutional,” Mr. Garland said, adding that Texas had no authority to interfere with the federal government’s “broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration.”

The order also says that the Texas Department of Public Safety can stop and impound any vehicle under “reasonable suspicion” of violating the directive. Immigration advocates warned of a new opening for racial profiling.

Mr. Abbott’s order offered a contrast to the decision he made earlier this month to refuse to issue a statewide mask mandates. When he announced that position, he said that it was “past the time of government mandates” to stop the spread of the virus and that people should be personally responsible for their health.

Israel will give third Covid vaccine shots to those 60 and older.

Credit...Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

JERUSALEM — Israel will begin administering a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to those 60 and older, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Thursday, citing the rising risk of a virus surge fueled by the Delta variant.

The health ministry has instructed the country’s four main health care providers to begin giving on Sunday a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine to Israelis in that age group who received a second dose more than five months ago. President Isaac Herzog, 60, will be the first to get a booster shot on Friday, Mr. Bennett said.

“The battle against Covid is a global effort,” Mr. Bennett said.



Israel to Offer Third Covid Vaccine Shot to Those Over 60

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel said the country would begin offering a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to people over the age of 60, in an effort to slow the spread of the Delta variant.

The battle against Covid is a global effort, and it’s vital that we all share information with each other. Therefore, I’d like to update you that the expert committee at the Ministry of Health of Israel officially approved the recommendation of giving a third booster dose of the Covid vaccine to Israeli citizens above the age of 60. The decision was based on considerable research and analysis, as well as the rise in risk of the Delta variant wave. Israel has already vaccinated 2,000 immuno-suppressed people with a third dose, with no severe adverse events, and now we’re rolling out a national third dose campaign.

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel said the country would begin offering a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to people over the age of 60, in an effort to slow the spread of the Delta variant.

Whether booster shots are needed by older citizens is an issue that is far from settled among scientists. Most studies indicate that immunity resulting from the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna is long-lasting, and researchers are still trying to interpret recent Israeli data suggesting a decline in efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine months after inoculation.

Pfizer on Wednesday offered up its own study showing a marginal decline in efficacy against symptomatic infection with the coronavirus months after immunization, although the vaccine remained powerfully effective against severe disease and death. The company has begun making a case for booster shots in the United States, as well.

The latest government decision in Israel, an early leader in administering vaccines, follows an analysis by the health ministry that estimated that the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in preventing serious illness remained higher than 90 percent — but that its ability to stop infection had fallen over time.

Some experts have pushed back against a rush to approve a booster in Israel. The data are too uncertain, they say, to estimate of how much efficacy has waned. For example, the Delta-driven outbreak hit parts of the country with high vaccination rates first and has been hitting other regions later.

Since June, there has been a steady rise in Israel’s daily rate of new virus cases, and the seven-day average is 1,670 a day. The figure exceeded 2,300 one day this week, a spike that health experts have attributed to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.

The daily rate is still far lower than at the height of Israel’s third wave of infections in January, when number of new daily cases rose briefly above 11,000. But it is far higher than in mid-June, when the figure fell to single digits and the government eased almost all antivirus restrictions to allow daily life to return to normal.

The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals nevertheless remains relatively low; a total of 159 people were hospitalized on Thursday, much less than the figure of more than 2,000 at the height of the third wave in January.

In the United States, Biden administration health officials increasingly think that vulnerable populations may need additional shots even as research continues into how long the coronavirus vaccines remain effective.

There is growing consensus among scientists, for example, that people with compromised immune systems may need more than the prescribed two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Earlier this month, Israel began administering a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine to people with compromised immune systems. The country has already given 2,000 of those people a third dose with no severe adverse events, Mr. Bennett said Thursday.

Sharon LaFraniere and Carl Zimmer contributed reporting.

Despite setbacks, AstraZeneca logs a billion doses for 170 nations.

Credit...Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

AstraZeneca has released one billion coronavirus vaccine doses to 170 nations this year, the company said on Thursday, an important milestone despite the many challenges that its low-cost vaccine has faced — including legal fights with the European Union, slashed deliveries and hesitancy in many countries.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed with Oxford University, was once earmarked for broad use throughout Europe and other continents, including Africa.

But the vaccine has been held back by various problems. AstraZeneca has been embroiled in a legal dispute with the European Union after the company said this year that it could deliver only a third of the 300 million doses it was expected to provide to the bloc.

Several European countries, as well as Australia and Canada, stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine for young people after reports of extremely rare but serious blood clots. Denmark and Spain have stopped using it altogether because of the blood clot risk. South Africa stopped using the vaccine after it was found to be ineffective on a variant there.

And the United States has not authorized its use. AstraZeneca’s vaccine had been widely expected last year to become a major player in the U.S. vaccination campaign, and even after delays, the company still said for months that it planned to apply for an EUA in the United States. AstraZeneca said on Thursday that in the second half of the year, it would seek full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a process that can take many months to complete.

Experts say they fear that the negative publicity the vaccine has received in some countries — President Emmanuel Macron of France called the vaccine “quasi-ineffective” among those over 65 — may have also affected others that are in critical need of doses.

“We are definitely seeing that hesitancy in high-income countries can affect low-income countries,” Andrew Pollard, a professor of pediatric infection and immunity who leads the group at Oxford University that developed the vaccine with AstraZeneca, said on the BBC on Thursday.

Dr. Pollard added that he believed most people across the world were desperate to receive the vaccines and that the main issue remained the inequitable distribution of doses.

AstraZeneca, which has pledged not to make any profit from the shots, said on Thursday that its Covid vaccine sales for the first half of the year had reached $1.2 billion. In comparison, Pfizer, which created a shot with the German company BioNTech and has made no such promise, said it predicted its Covid vaccine sales to reach more than $33 billion by the end of the year.

The Olympics may be less safe from the coronavirus than officials hoped.

Credit...Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Outside the Tokyo Olympics bubble, the coronavirus situation in Japan has never been worse. Both the city and the country reported record numbers of new infections on Thursday as the Delta variant outpaced vaccinations, straining the health care system.

Inside the bubble, a handful of new cases continue to emerge every day. The most prominent one yet, involving the world champion pole-vaulter Sam Kendricks, came on Thursday, knocking him out of the Games and briefly sending dozens of other athletes into isolation.

All along, Olympic organizers have insisted that these two worlds, inside the bubble and outside, can be kept sealed off from each other, with neither posing a significant risk to the other. But as the Games approach their midway point, the promises of a “safe and secure” Games are being put to the test.

With Tokyo still under a state of emergency, the city reported a record 3,865 new cases on Thursday. A day earlier, Tokyo had reported more than 3,000 new infections for the first time, warning that the city was running out of hospital beds to treat not only coronavirus patients but those with other medical emergencies, too.

The Japanese Health Ministry announced 9,577 new infections for the whole country on Wednesday, and NHK, the public broadcaster, said that number would most likely top 10,000 for the first time on Thursday.

Olympic organizers insisted that there was no connection between the Games and the rising numbers, saying that the bubble they had created to isolate athletes, coaches, officials and staff from the general public remained intact.

Fewer than 200 positive cases have been recorded among Olympics-related personnel, including 23 in the Olympic Village and 23 athletes. More than half of the Olympics-related cases are among people who live in Japan. Additionally, infections have been reported among 14 police officers who were working security at the Games.

Despite meticulous health measures, there were signs that the Olympic bubble was more porous than officials have admitted.