President Joe Biden on Thursday turned up the heat on his administration's COVID-19 vaccination campaign with two measures aimed at getting workers inoculated, part of a six-point plan to combat the pandemic.
Biden announced a new rule by the Labor Department that will require all businesses with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or submit to testing at least once a week.
In addition, the president signed an executive order requiring most federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, a tightening of the previous policy announced in July that called for vaccinations but allowed other options.
Combined, Biden said the new vaccine requirements would cover about 100 million workers, two-thirds of the country's workforce.
Channeling the frustration of vaccinated Americans upset about not being able to return to normal life during what he repeatedly calls a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,’’ Biden had a direct message for the nearly 80 million holdouts.
“What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?’’ he said. “We’ve made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. The vaccine is FDA approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us. Please do the right thing.’’
The new Labor Department standard would apply to more than 80 million Americans working in the private sector. The executive order affects employees working for the executive branch, about 90% of the federal workforce.
Some federal health workers, including those who work for the Veterans Department, are already required to get vaccinated. Members of the U.S. military also need to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
But civilian federal employees and contractors only had to reveal their vaccination status and, if not inoculated, get tested regularly, socially distance, wear masks and be subject to restrictions on most work travel. Those won't be options anymore.
– Maureen Groppe and Courtney Subramanian
Also in the news:
►Chicago health officials defended the school system's online database tracking infections after the teachers union raised questions Thursday about safety and transparency. The controversy comes amid ongoing negotiations over pandemic safety protocols.
►Connecticut College canceled in-person classes Wednesday and will conduct them remotely for at least a week after more than 50 students tested positive for COVID-19, the New London school said.
►Issues including demand for booster shots in developed nations mean Africa will get about 25% fewer vaccine doses this year than anticipated, the World Health Organization’s Africa director said. Less than 4% of people across the African continent have been fully vaccinated.
►Italian anti-terrorism police on Thursday raided the homes of eight people who allegedly advocated violence, particularly against journalists, in upcoming protests against the government’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
►The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 310,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The total is a pandemic low and a sign that the surge in coronavirus cases has yet to prompt widespread layoffs.
Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 40.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 653,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 222.9 million cases and 4.6 million deaths. More than 177.4 million Americans – 53.4% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we're reading: After lying low for months since the Capitol insurrection Jan. 6, members of the far-right street gang the Proud Boys have been showing up at protests against mask mandates and coronavirus vaccine requirements. How the Proud Boys are offering muscle at anti-mask rallies.
What we're reading: After lying low for months since the Capitol insurrection Jan. 6, members of the far-right street gang the Proud Boys have been showing up at protests against mask mandates and coronavirus vaccine requirements. How the Proud Boys are offering muscle at anti-mask rallies.
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President Joe Biden unveiled a six-point strategy Thursday aimed at strengthening vaccination requirements for federal and private sector workers, increasing school safety protocols and making COVID-19 testing more accessible.
Biden said the Department of Labor is developing an emergency temporary standard to require all businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure every worker is either fully vaccinated or face testing at least once a week, a standard he said will affect about 80 million workers. The Labor Department is also developing a rule to ensure those businesses provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated or to recover from the shot.
Hospitals and other health care settings that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding will also be required to vaccinate their workers.
Ahead of his remarks, Biden signed a pair of executive orders to require vaccination for federal workers in the executive branch and contractors, building on a policy announced in July that encouraged vaccinations but provided other options.
Federal workers will have about 75 days to be fully vaccinated, according to a senior administration official. The order includes limited exceptions for medical or religious reasons, but any federal worker who refuses to comply could face disciplinary action, the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
Biden had an edge in his voice as he blamed the nearly 80 million eligible Americans who are unvaccinated -- a little over 25% of those who can get the free shots -- for hampering the country's efforts to fight the virus.
"The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or pancreatitis or cancer,’’ Biden said.
“The path ahead, even with the delta variant, is not nearly as bad as last winter. But what makes it incredibly more frustrating is we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans, supported by a distinct minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner.’’
Other parts of Biden's plan include requiring teachers and staff at federally funded education programs like Head Start, Department of Defense schools and Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools to be vaccinated. He called on all states to adopt vaccine requirements for school employees.
Biden also said the Department of Education will provide additional funding to help local school districts backfill salaries and other funding that had been withheld by state leaders for implementing COVID-19 safety measures.
The president's strategy also centers on boosting availability of testing by expanding the existing free pharmacy testing program to 10,000 local pharmacies and sending nearly 300 million rapid tests to community health centers, schools and food banks.
-- Courtney Subramanian
The Los Angeles Unified School District became the first in the nation among large school systems to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for eligible students when the board of education voted 7-0 with one recusal Thursday in favor of the requirement.
All students 12 and older in the LAUSD, second largest in the U.S., will need to be vaccinated by January to take in-person classes, the Los Angeles Times reported. The district also requires that all teachers and school staff be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15.
L.A. schools Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly told the newspaper that the new policy will impact about 225,000 student in grades 6-12. According to the Times, district officials have estimated about 80,000 students are not vaccinated against the virus.
"We are seeing without a doubt that the vaccines are one of the clearest pathways to protecting individuals from getting severe sickness as well as for mitigating transmission of the COVID virus,'' Reilly said. "It is one of the best preventive measures that we have at our disposal to create a safe environment at schools.”
Schools across the country are closing as the pandemic continues to hamper in-person learning, and thousands of students are either at home in quarantine or sick with the coronavirus. But in Tennessee and seven other states, new rules are limiting districts from pivoting to virtual learning. That means thousands of students nationwide are poised to receive even less instruction this year than last year when their classrooms or schools close – compounding the problem of unfinished learning.
In Tennessee, the Hamilton County schools medical team advised district leaders to close after the Labor Day weekend. But even though the county has been recognized nationally for its efforts to ensure tens of thousands of students have access to the Internet, hot spots and quality devices, students won't receive instruction while schools are closed.
"If there is ever a county that could pivot to virtual, it would be Hamilton County," McClendon said.
– Meghan Mangrum
Government counts of the devastation from the coronavirus among the most vulnerable elderly likely missed more than 16,000 COVID-19 deaths in U.S. nursing homes during the early months of the pandemic, an academic study published Thursday has found. The missing deaths add up to 14% of what researchers estimate to be the true death toll in nursing homes for all of last year, according to the analysis in JAMA Network Open, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Medical Association. The researchers estimate the total of nursing home deaths at 118,335 by the end of 2020.
– Letitia Stein
The rise in COVID-19 cases from the delta variant is hurting airline bookings and hampering the travel industry's recovery, multiple airlines reported Thursday. American Airlines said a slowdown that started in August has continued into September, and the airline lowered its outlook for third-quarter revenue. United Airlines said its flying and revenue are both weaker than previously expected, and it is cutting its schedule for later this year to match the lower demand. United forecast a pretax loss in the third quarter that could extend into the fourth quarter if the virus outbreak continues.
Delta Air Lines said it still expects to post an adjusted pretax profit for the third quarter, but revenue will be toward the lower end of its previous forecast.
The U.S. coronavirus infection rate being driven by the delta variant is more than 10 times the rate needed to end the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci says. In an interview with Axios, the presidential adviser said the nation is struggling with about 160,000 new cases a day – "not even modestly good control" – and won't get appreciably better until more Americans are vaccinated.
"The endgame is to suppress the virus," Fauci said. "In a country of our size, you can't be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day. You've got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable."
More vaccinations won't completely end infections, but " you're not going to have it as a public health threat," he said, adding that current variants, while troublesome, remain controllable with available vaccines. And the longer it takes to end the pandemic, the more likely a "monster variant" will emerge that eludes vaccines, he said.
Pfizer's vaccine contains only a fraction of a key active ingredient found in Moderna's jab and also produces a lower antibody response, according to a study.
The study of 1,600 Belgian health workers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine produced twice as many antibodies as Pfizer's at six to 10 weeks after vaccination.
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine has 30 micrograms of mRNA, while Moderna's has 100. Philip Dormitzer, Pfizer's chief scientific officer, told the Financial Times this week that Pfizer and its codeveloper BioNTech used the minimum dose level to get an immune response. A higher dose risked more side effects, he said.
"If you look at what's going on with all the COVID-19 vaccines out there, the derailer has often been adverse events that have cropped up," Dormitzer said. The vaccines, however, produce similar side effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A new study by Minnesota researchers indicates that COVID vaccinations do not increase the chances of a miscarriage. The study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed data from more than 100,000 pregnancies. The data was drawn from eight major health systems – Kaiser Permanente: Washington, Northwest, Northern California, Southern California and Colorado; Denver Health; HealthPartners; and Marshfield Clinic, Wisconsin – from December 2020 through June 2021.
The results were similar for all the vaccines approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.
Some states are nearing a point of having to ration care in hospitals as COVID hospitalizations surge. At Kootenai Health hospital in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a conference center has been transformed into a field hospital with patients being treated with ventilators in classrooms. At the nearby hospital, COVID patients in emergency rooms are overflowing into hallways. On Tuesday, there were only nine intensive care beds available in the entire state, officials said. Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with only 40% fully vaccinated.
Kentucky, too, is rapidly approaching a crisis standard of care, Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday, pointing out there are only 90 adult intensive care beds available in the state. More than two-thirds of hospitals are experiencing a critical staffing shortage, he said. Beshear told CNN the state is "right at” or “quickly approaching that point" at which hospitals will have to begin rationing care.
“So we are at a very precarious situation,” he said.
-John Kennedy, Capital Bureau, USA TODAY Network-Floridaimg src="https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2021/06/03/USAT/da5946e8-ee60-4062-a93e-3d14b04de1a5-GTY_1319854050.jpg?width=388&height=388&crop=3039,3039,x1347,y0" onerror="this.style = 'display: none;'"">>View Gallery: Vaccination efforts around the world aim to curb COVID-19 pandemic.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/09/09/states-nearing-point-rationing-care-hospitals-covid-updates/5778950001/2857