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News Wrap: Record heat drives wildfires across Italy

In our news wrap: Regions in Italy saw temperatures soar to 120 this week, fueling destructive wildfires across the south. Meanwhile in the US, nearly 175 million Americans are under severe heat advisories. A new analysis of the sweltering June northwest heatwave revealed it may have killed up to 600 people.

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  • William Brangham:

    In the day's other news: More COVID vaccine mandates were ordered today. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced its 25,000 health care workers must get immunized.

    Boston told city employees to be vaccinated, or to be tested weekly. And San Francisco ordered proof of vaccination for all indoor activities.

    Meanwhile, the CDC confirmed booster shots are likely coming for Americans with weakened immune systems.

  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director:

    The FDA is working with Pfizer and Moderna to allow boosters for these vulnerable people. An additional dose could help increase protection for these individuals, which is especially important as the Delta variant spreads.

  • William Brangham:

    Also today, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett refused to block Indiana University's vaccine requirement, as a group of students had wanted.

    We will hear again from the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, after the news summary.

    Record heat gripped Southern Europe, North Africa and parts of the United States today. Some of the worst was in Italy. A monitoring station in Sicily had a reading of nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday. That's the highest ever recorded in Europe. The heat also helped fires that are sweeping across Sardinia and Southern Italy today. And Rome baked in triple digits as people tried to keep cool near the Colosseum.

    Nearly 175 million Americans are under similar heat advisories tonight. In the Northwest, volunteers in Portland, Oregon, have been gathering supplies for those in need, as temperatures there top 100 degrees.

    And a New York Times analysis suggests a June heat wave in the Northwest may have killed more than 600 people, which is far more than official estimates. The heat is also making it harder to fight fires in Montana, California and elsewhere.

    Tropical Storm Fred weakened to a depression overnight, as it heads for the U.S. mainland. The storm dumped heavy rain on the Dominican Republic, flooding streets and knocking out power for some 300,000 customers. It's expected to regain tropical storm status as it reaches South Florida by Saturday.

    In Texas, the Republican-led state Senate passed new voting restrictions today banning 24-hour polling stations and drive-through balloting, among other things. That came after Democrat Carol Alvarado staged an all-night filibuster, standing and speaking for 15 hours. She finished this morning, but Republicans rejected her arguments.

  • State Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-TX):

    Let's be clear. Instead of making it easier to vote, this bill makes it easier to intimidate. Instead of making it harder to cheat, it makes it harder to vote.

  • State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-TX):

    I know what it's like to talk a long time, and talk overnight, but this bill, we know it well. And those who have read the bill know what's in it, simple, commonsense reforms.

  • William Brangham:

    The bill may stall in the Statehouse, where dozens of Democrats have again refused to attend to prevent any votes.

    U.S. border agents detained more than 200,000 people along the Southern border in July for the first time in 21 years. Official numbers released today include a record high of nearly 19,000 teenagers and children traveling alone. The surge has continued, despite government forecasts of a summer decline.

    And the U.S. Census Bureau released its 2020 data today, showing That the nation's white population fell for the first time. In the last decade, the overall population grew more than 7 percent to 331.4 million. The number of whites was down about 19 million, to a total of 204 million. And the data indicates that Latinos accounted for half of the nation's growth since 2010.

    We'll look at the impact of the census numbers later in the program.

    There's word tonight that Jamie Spears, father of Britney Spears, has agreed to step down as conservator of her estate. Published reports say he's filed legal documents agreeing to his daughter's long-sought demand. He says he's been subjected to unjustified attacks, but that a continued public battle is not in her best interests.

    And, on Wall Street, a quiet day today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 14 points to close near 35500. The Nasdaq rose 51 points, and the S&P 500 added 13.

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