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News Wrap: U.S. COVID cases up 200% in 2 weeks with delta variant behind 83% of them

In our news wrap Tuesday, new COVID-19 infections in the U.S. are still building — up 200% in two weeks. Vaccinated staffers in both the White House and in Congress have tested positive. China has rejected U.S. Accusations that it was behind the hack of Microsoft Exchange email system. Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein — now a convicted rapist — was extradited from New York to California.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    New COVID-19 infections in the U.S. are still building, up 200 percent in two weeks. and federal health officials said today that the Delta variant accounts for 83 percent of those cases.

    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed a vaccinated staffer there is now infected, and that other vaccinated aides previously tested positive.

  • Jen Psaki:

    We know that there will be breakthrough cases, but, as this instance shows, cases in vaccinated individuals are typically mild.

    The White House is prepared for breakthrough cases with regular testing. This is another reminder of the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines against severe illness or hospitalizations.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A vaccinated aide to Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is also infected. The aide caught it from one of the Texas Democrats who are staying in Washington to block state action on a voting bill. Six of them have tested positive.

    Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci have had another heated exchange over COVID-19. At a hearing today, Paul accused Fauci of lying about U.S. funding for a lab in Wuhan, China.

    There've been questions about whether the virus might have escaped from that lab.

  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY:

    We don't know that if it did come from the lab, but all the evidence is pointing that it came from the lab. And there will be responsibility for those who funded the lab, including yourself.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden: You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individual. I totally resent that.

  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY:

    And it could have been. And it could have been.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci:

    And if anybody is lying here, Senator, it is you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Separately, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell appealed for Americans to get vaccinated. He did not directly criticize Republican vaccine opponents, but he urged people to ignore what he called demonstrably bad advice.

    On Wall Street, investors put aside the pandemic worries that drove Monday's losses. Instead, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 550 points today to close at 34512. The Nasdaq rose nearly 224 points. The S&P 500 added 64.

    There's word that the true toll of COVID-19 deaths in India could be as high as 4.7 million. A former Indian government adviser and other researchers issued the new estimate today. It is more than 10 times the official count.

    India's Parliament erupted over a cyber scandal today. A media consortium has reported that spyware helped monitor government opponents in 50 countries, including India. Today, opposition lawmakers shouted accusations and repeatedly disrupted the session. The Indian government dismissed the allegations as highly sensational.

    China has rejected U.S. accusations that it was behind the hack of Microsoft Exchange e-mail system. In Beijing today, the Foreign Ministry said the U.S. is the real cyber culprit.

  • Zhao Lijian (through translator):

    The U.S. ganged up with its allies and launched an unwarranted accusation against China on cybersecurity. This is made out of thin air and confused the right and wrong.

    It is purely smear and suppression out of political motives. In fact, the U.S. itself is the largest source of cyberattacks in the world.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Beijing also demanded that the U.S. drop charges against four Chinese nationals accused of stealing trade secrets.

    Central China has been hit by heavy flooding after extreme rainfall. Whole neighborhoods around the city of Zhengzhou were inundated on Tuesday. Flooding filled subway cars, trapping passengers inside, and more than 10,000 people were moved to shelters.

    Back in this country, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos blasted into space on his Blue Origin company's first manned flight. The reusable rocket launched from West Texas on a suborbital trip and then returned to land upright. The passenger capsule flew 66 miles high and floated back down after 11 minutes.

    Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: Big things start small. And — but you can tell, you can tell when you are on to something. And this is important. We're going to build a road to space, so that our kids and their kids can build the future. And we need to do that. We need to do that to solve the problems here on Earth.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The four passengers also included aviation pioneer Wally Funk, who is 82 and now the oldest person ever in space.

    Just nine days ago, Richard Branson flew on his company's space plane, as he and Bezos vie for space tourist dollars.

    The man who chaired the 2017 Trump inaugural committee, Tom Barrack, is now accused of acting as unregistered foreign lobbyist. He was arrested today in Southern California on federal charges issued in New York. Prosecutors say tried to influence Mr. Trump's policies on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

    Former movie producer Harry — Harvey Weinstein was extradited from New York to California today. He will face trial on charges of sexually assaulting five women. Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence for raping an actress in New York.

    And the nation's three largest drug distributors will pay more than a billion dollars to New York state over the opioid epidemic. The deal announced today involves AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. Lawyers say that a national settlement totaling $26 billion is nearing completion.

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