The coronavirus delta variant might be more dangerous than we thought: 5 Things podcast

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On today's episode of the 5 Things podcast: The delta variant of coronavirus might be even more dangerous than we thought. Plus, USA TODAY Sports' Dan Wolken reports from the Tokyo Olympics, Bob Nightengale updates us on the MLB trade deadline, Prince's estate releases a new album and the IRS sends out more refunds.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning, I'm Taylor Wilson. And this is 5 Things You Need to Know Friday, the 30th of July 2021. Today, just how dangerous is the Delta variant of COVID-19, plus Prince releases a new album after his death, and more. Here are some of the top headlines:

Taylor Wilson:

Japan is expanding its coronavirus state of emergency beyond Tokyo to four more areas on Friday. The move comes during a record spike in cases at the same time as the ongoing Olympics. Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney. The star of superhero film, Black Widow alleges in the suit that the studio breached her contract by releasing the film to stream on Disney+ at the same time as it's theatrical debut. Johansson said her salary was based largely on box-office performance. And as expected, Cade Cunningham went first overall to the Detroit Pistons in Thursday nights, NBA draft. The Houston Rockets selected Jalen Green at two, and the Cleveland Cavaliers took Evan Mobley at number three.

Taylor Wilson:

Evidence is growing about just how dangerous the Delta variant of COVID-19 is. A CDC memo out Thursday painted some of that picture. Health officials continue to stress the importance of vaccination saying those who are vaccinated are three times less likely to catch COVID-19, and 10 times less likely to die from it than unvaccinated people. But vaccinated people can still get the virus, especially with half the country still allowing it to circulate by not getting vaccinated. And once infected, vaccinated people are just as contagious as those who aren't. Dr. Charles Chiu, an infectious disease expert at UC, San Francisco said, "The data makes a pretty compelling justification for why we need to go back to mask-wearing and other public health measures. I do think it's because of the Delta variant."

Taylor Wilson:

The CDC earlier this week recommended that people in places with high infection rates continue to mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. And county and city officials around the country are increasingly rolling out new mask mandates. Government officials continue to focus on trying new ways to get more people vaccinated. President Joe Biden announced Thursday that all civilian federal employees and onsite contract workers must get vaccinated or go through testing every week while also being forced to socially distance and wear a mask at all times. And the president is looking into other ways to up vaccination numbers.

President Joe Biden:

Since many vaccinations are required for active-duty military today, I'm asking the Defense Department to look into how and when they will add COVID-19 to the list of vaccinations our armed forces must get. Our men and women in uniform, who protect this country from grave threats, should be protected as much as possible from getting COVID-19. I think this is particularly important because our troops serve in places throughout the world, many where vaccination rates are low and disease is prevalent. It's an American blessing that we have vaccines for each and every American. We've made it our first and top priority to have available vaccines for every eligible American. And that's never going to change, as long as I'm here. And it's a shame. It's just such a shame to squander that blessing. This is an American tragedy. People are dying, and will die, who don't have to die. If you're out there unvaccinated, you don't have to die.

Taylor Wilson:

Vaccines remain very effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, but early data is showing they worked better against the original strain and Alpha variant than against Delta. In one Israeli study vaccinated people over 60 were shown to be 97% protected against Alpha, but only 85% against Delta. And the CDC said Thursday that people may be infectious for longer with Delta, 18 days instead of 13. That could be particularly daunting for how long people need to quarantine after contracting the virus. And above all, Delta is much more contagious than other variants, as contagious, but deadlier than chickenpox. Among common infectious diseases, only measles is more contagious. It's also important to note that new and even worse variants of COVID could be on the horizon if vaccination rates remain low. 57.2% of Americans are at least partially vaccinated, with 49.4% of the country fully vaccinated.

Taylor Wilson:

It was a good day in the pool for Team USA on Thursday. USA Today Sports, Dan Wolken has the latest from Tokyo.

Dan Wolken:

It was great to be a Florida Gator, as they say, when it came to Team USA's morning in the pool. Not only did former Florida swimmer Caeleb Dressel roll to a thrilling win in the 100 meter freestyle, current Florida senior, Bobby Fink came from behind to win gold in the 800 meters. I'm Dan Wolken, here's what you missed on Thursday in Tokyo. And I'll tell you everything you need to look out for on Friday.

Dan Wolken:

Team USA got some bad news as pole vault world champion, Sam Kendricks tested positive for COVID-19 and is out of the Olympics. Sunisa Lee won the all-around competition at the Tokyo games on Thursday becoming the fifth consecutive American to win the event. She beat out competitors from Brazil and Russia to earn the top spot on the podium and extends the American streak of Olympic golds. Meanwhile, American Kayle Browning won the silver medal in women's trap shooting. And the golf event for men got underway here with Austrian and former University of Georgia golfer, Sepp Straka posting 800 to lead the way.

Dan Wolken:

Let's move on from Thursday and take a look at what's ahead for Friday in Tokyo. We will see if the US women's soccer team can live up to its lofty expectations at this event, when it plays the Netherlands in the quarter final. We've got the start of track and field where the women's 100-meter competition gets going with first round heats. Lilly King returns to the pool for the 200-meter breaststroke. Abbey Weitzeil goes for the gold in the 100-meter freestyle. And the US tries to add more metals in the men's 200-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley.

Taylor Wilson:

As of early Friday morning, US time, China leads with 18 gold medals, followed by host Japan with 15, and Team USA in third with 14, but the US has the most overall medals with 41. You can find up-to-the-minute updates from Tokyo at olympics.usatoday.com.

Taylor Wilson:

It's time for the MLB trade deadline. Teams looking to strengthen their rosters for a World Series push have until 4:00 PM Eastern, 1:00 Pacific to make moves on Friday, but some big trades have already gone down. The San Diego Padres added to an already stacked roster grabbing All-Star second baseman, Adam Frazier from the Pittsburgh Pirates, and one of the best pitchers of the generation, eight-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer from the Washington Nationals. Also out west, but in the American League, the Houston Astros added to their pitching trading with their rivals Seattle Mariners for reliever, Kendall Graveman. The New York Yankees though may have stolen the spotlight moving for first baseman, Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs and outfielder, Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers. USA today Sports Bob Nightengale has more on what Gallo brings to the Bronx.

Bob Nightengale:

Well, the New York Yankees finally got that left-hand of the slugger they've been coveting all year long. Joey Gallo is going to the Yankees. But for the Yankees, this was badly needed. They have only hit 22 home runs from the left-hand hitters this year. Of course, now Gallo does have some flaws. He strikes out a percentage of 32.2% of the time. But, big move by the Yankees. They're showing that they're not giving up this year. This is Bob Nightengale from USA Today Sports. And this is what I'm hearing.

Taylor Wilson:

As the deadline gets closer, lots of eyes are still on Chicago with Cub stars, Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel involved in trade rumors. You can stay up with all the latest throughout the day on the MLB section of USA Today Sports.

Taylor Wilson:

Prince's estate is releasing a new album. The music icon recorded Welcome 2 America in 2010 at his famous Paisley Park studio in Minnesota. The project also involves bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and drummer Chris Coleman for tracks inspired by 1970s jazz soul and funk. But the effort was then mysteriously scrapped right before its release, though Prince did perform it live on tour that year. Even 11 years on, the album's themes likely, still resonate. Prince grapples with racial injustice and political division. And he examines how the internet and technology hinder human connection. Prince died in 2016 of an accidental fentanyl overdose. He was 57.

Taylor Wilson:

Another round of extra tax refund cash is on its way out Friday. The Internal Revenue Service continues to send money to taxpayers in the middle of an abrupt change to the rules on jobless benefits. Paper check refunds will begin arriving after the IRS adjusted their federal income tax returns, though, people getting their refunds by direct deposit, might've already gotten their money as early as Wednesday. Overall, about 1.5 million people received an average of $1,686 this week. The IRS is rolling out these special refunds in batches, as it makes adjustments for early filers who paid more than they owed in taxes on their jobless benefits for 2020 during the pandemic. So far, the service has issued 8.7 million pandemic-related refunds, totaling some $10 billion.

Taylor Wilson:

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us on Apple Podcasts, where we ask for a five-star rating and review, if you have a chance. You can also find us wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks as always to Shannon Green and Claire Thornton for their great work on the show. 5 Things is part of the USA Today Network.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Delta is more contagious than other coronavirus variants: 5 Things podcast

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