US virus cases nearly triple in 2 weeks; air quality warnings on East Coast; key transgender rulings

Today is Thursday, July 22, 2021. Let’s get caught up.

Here’s what you should know today: COVID-19 cases have nearly tripled over two weeks amid an onslaught of vaccine misinformation; wildfires in the American West are hurting air quality along East Coast; and two rulings on transgender restrictions are victories for LGBTQ advocates.

Keep scrolling for today’s top stories, this date in history and celebrity birthdays.


TOP STORIES

US virus cases nearly triple in 2 weeks amid misinformation

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — COVID-19 cases nearly tripled in the U.S. over two weeks amid an onslaught of vaccine misinformation that is straining hospitals, exhausting doctors and pushing clergy into the fray.

“Our staff, they are frustrated,” said Chad Neilsen, director of infection prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, a Florida hospital that is canceling elective surgeries and procedures after the number of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 inpatients at its two campuses jumped to 134, up from a low of 16 in mid-May.

“They are tired. They are thinking this is déjà vu all over again, and there is some anger because we know that this is a largely preventable situation, and people are not taking advantage of the vaccine.”

Across the U.S., the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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Wildfire smoke clouds sky, hurts air quality on East Coast

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Smoke and ash from massive wildfires in the American West clouded the sky and led to air quality alerts Wednesday on parts of the East Coast as the effects of the blazes were felt 2,500 miles away.

Strong winds blew smoke east from California, Oregon, Montana and other states all the way to other side of the continent. Haze hung over New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The nation’s largest wildfire, Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, grew to 618 square miles — just over half the size of Rhode Island.

A Northern California wildfire crossed into Nevada, prompting new evacuations, but better weather has been helping crews battling the nation’s largest blaze in southern Oregon.

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Federal judges block transgender restrictions in 2 states

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Federal judges on Wednesday temporarily blocked an Arkansas law banning gender confirming treatments for transgender youth and a West Virginia ban on trans athletes in women’s sports, two major victories for LGBTQ advocates against a wave of restrictions approved by Republican legislators.

The ruling in Arkansas prevents the state from enforcing the law that made it the first state to forbid doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or sex reassignment surgery to anyone under 18 years old. The law, which was to take effect July 28, also banned doctors from referring the minors to other providers for such treatment.

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Click on the links below for full version of today’s top stories. Keep scrolling for a look back at this day in history and today’s celebrity birthdays:

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IMAGE OF THE DAY

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TODAY IN HISTORY

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO …