The cities of San Francisco and New Orleans on Thursday ordered patrons to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to enter restaurants, gyms and other venues, joining New York in a severe step designed to contain the fast-spreading Delta variant.
The move by the two liberal cities came on the same day that school board members in Houston voted to support a mandate by the district superintendent to require students to wear masks in classrooms and on school buses.
One Houston school board member, Judith Cruz, said she would also support requiring children to be vaccinated. That suggestion was not formally considered on Thursday.
The Houston mask order sets up a potential clash between local officials and Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who has banned such mandates.
As the start of the academic year coincides with a rise in COVID-19 infections linked to the Delta variant, schools have become the flashpoint in a national debate over the authority of state, federal and local governments to order masks and vaccines.
The number of daily nationwide infections has doubled in the last two weeks, according to a Reuters tally, reaching a six-month peak. The average number of daily deaths has increased 85% in that same time span.
In Virginia, where some school district officials have said they would not require students to wear masks, Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, issued an order on Thursday requiring them.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has threatened to withhold the salaries of school officials who require students to cover their faces, defying the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat.
The White House is considering reimbursing Florida school officials if DeSantis, who is considered a possible presidential candidate in 2024, follows through with his threat.
The Delta variant appears to be slowing the pace of a U.S. economic recovery after an upswing in the first half of 2021, according to Oxford Economics U.S. Recovery Tracker.