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First lady Jill Biden headed to two Southern states on Tuesday to encourage vaccination, as the White House scrambles to raise inoculation levels in a region where relatively few people have received their shots.

Biden’s visits to Mississippi and Tennessee, both states where under 35 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, come as health experts warn that young people in the South are increasingly being hospitalized because of the coronavirus. There are fears that the more virulent delta variant could become the dominant strain this summer.

In Mississippi, the seven-day average of people 18 to 29 years old hospitalized for covid has quadrupled in the month to June 19, federal government data show. In Arkansas, the figure has more than doubled in the same time period.

Here are some significant developments:

  • After conceding that the United States won’t reach its July 4 vaccination goal, the White House announced a new objective: ensuring that 70 percent of Americans age 27 and up receive at least one vaccine dose by the end of the holiday weekend.
  • Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike will take a break from her duties to recuperate from fatigue, just 30 days ahead of the 2020 Games, after the Kyodo News agency reported she had been hospitalized Tuesday.
  • Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, on Tuesday called the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus the “greatest threat” to the nation’s efforts in eliminating covid-19.
  • An American scientist has incited a new skirmish over the origin of the coronavirus, reporting that he has retrieved potentially significant genetic data about SARS-CoV-2 that had been stored and later deleted from a digital archive at the National Institutes of Health.
  • The American Red Cross is warning of a “severe” blood shortage as more people undergo elective surgeries, organ transplants and require emergency care as they return to their pre-pandemic activities.
  • Two coronavirus outbreaks at schools highlight the low vaccination rates among minors in Israel, where most of the adult populated has been inoculated, spurring fears of a return to restrictions.