New York must allow religious exemptions to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for medical workers, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. Northern District Justice David Hurd of Utica granted a preliminary injunction temporarily barring New York state and employers from enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate against medical workers claiming a legitimate religious exemption. Last month, Hurd issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the mandate in relation to religious beliefs.
This mandate required that all state-based medical staff receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27. Or they would lose their jobs. The mandate encouraged approximately 55,000 workers to receive the vaccine, while leaving the fates of the remaining 35,600 workers who refused the shots a mystery.
Many of the medical workers who had claimed religious exemptions had been placed on suspensions pending the outcome of the court battle. Potentially thousands of these workers could be reinstated to their jobs, as many hospitals and nursing homes are facing staff shortages.
– David Robinson
Also in the news:
►Florida is investigating dozens of local governments, performing arts centers, the Miami Marlins, a law enforcement counter-terrorism unit and a concert by singer Harry Styles for violating a law that bans requiring proof of vaccination.
►The FDA’s independent advisers convene Thursday to begin weighing whether booster shots for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should be dispensed and who should get them. At most, final approval will not be given until next week.
► United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the pandemic has forced more than 100 million people into poverty and left over 4 billion people with little or no social support, health care or income protection.
►Russia registered a record 973 daily coronavirus deaths Tuesday as it faces a rapid surge of contagion amid low vaccination rates.
📈These are the numbers of today The U.S. has recorded more than 44.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 714,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 238.5 million cases and 4.86 million deaths. More than 187.7 million Americans – 56.8% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘This is what we are reading COVID-19 vaccines offer the best protection against severe illness and death. According to experts, new antiviral therapies and antibodies offer “interlocking” benefits. You can read more about it here.
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White House declares Gov. Abbott is playing politics with Texans health
Tuesday’s White House charge that Texas governor. Greg Abbott issued Monday’s executive order banning COVID-19 mandates to employees and consumers in Texas because he was driven by politics, not health concerns.
“It’s pretty clear when you make a choice that’s against all public health information and data out there that it’s not based on what is in the interests of the people you are governing,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “It’s perhaps in the interest of your own politics.”
Abbott’s executive order expands on a prior order limited to government entities. Abbott asked Texas lawmakers to address the matter during the special legislative session. This would ensure that no entity can force the vaccination.
Psaki answered a question about whether the White House will sue to bring down the ban. He said that the administration would enforce the requirements for vaccines President Joe Biden had announced September.
Biden directed employers employing 100 people or more to make sure their workers are fully vaccinated. In the weeks ahead, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will issue revised rules that would enforce the mandate.
– Michael Collins
Brooklyn Nets banning Kyrie Irving (unvaccinated) from practices and games
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, a seven-time All-Star who has refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, won’t play or practice with the club “until he is eligible to be a full participant,” general manager Sean Marks said Tuesday.
Irving was practicing with the Nets, but is now ineligible for home games due to New York City’s vaccine mandate. Marks said Tuesday that the team would not accept a part-time player. He did however say Irving will continue to receive his road game salary. Irving will lose over $381,000 every time he misses a home game.
Due to their talented roster which also includes James Harden (former MVP) and Kevin Durant (former MVP), the Nets are thought to be among the top contenders for the NBA championship. Irving is also a former MVP who averaged 22.8 point per game during his career.
NBA players union claims that more than 90% of their members have been fully vaccinated. Irving is one of the biggest holdouts. Because of San Francisco vaccine requirements, Andrew Wiggins faced the same dilemma with his Golden State Warriors team. But he finally accepted and was vaccinated less than two months ago.
There may not be as much risk for unvaccinated children than for those who are vaccinated.
Unvaccinated children may be at a lower risk for serious illnesses from COVID than some adults who have been vaccinated. The New York Times looked at statistics from the Seattle area and found that unvaccinated children get hospitalized at about the same rate as vaccinated people in their 50s. British data shows kids under 12 appear to be at less risk than vaccinated people in their 40s – if not 30s.
Covid can be a serious threat to children TwitterDr. Alasdair Munro at Britain’s University of Southampton is a pediatric infectious disease specialist. “But it’s not an extraordinary threat. In fact, it’s very ordinary.”
Illinois VA nursing home didn’t follow guidelines. 11 residents died.
Leaders and staff at a federal veterans’ nursing home in Illinois mismanaged a coronavirus outbreak that killed 11 residents in fall 2020, well after employees had been put on notice about the danger the pandemic posed to its elderly population, a government investigation found. The test was refused for a staff member at the nursing home who had been exposed and asked to wear a mask during caregiving. An employee who was exposed at home tested positive on the following day. Even after the virus spread to Danville Veterans Affairs Complex, testing was inconsistant. The investigation revealed that isolation of the exposed was not a systematic process.
“Direct care staff described chaos and a lack of awareness of what to do,” the inspector general at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said in a report released last month. Continue reading.
– Donovan Slack
More virus treatments expected soon
Several new COVID-19 treatments are likely to become available within the next few months. Although each drug serves a different purpose, they can all be combined to change the course of COVID-19, at least for the United States. An experimental antiviral from Merck and a monoclonal antibody from AstraZeneca, along with a handful of other drugs making their way through the development process, could make COVID-19 a much less fearsome disease.
“We’re at the point where if we could use these medications all to their interlocking benefits … we could really begin to control the impact this virus has on us, and in particular on the health care system,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease physician at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.
– Karen Weintraub
Moderna isn’t going to share COVID-19-vaccine recipe
Moderna has no plans to share the recipe for its COVID-19 vaccine because executives have concluded that scaling up the company’s own production is the best way to increase the global supply, the company’s chairman said. Moderna has been pressed by the United Nations to disclose its vaccine recipe.
Moderna chairman Noubar Afeyan said the company analyzed whether it would be better to share the messenger RNA technology and determined instead it could expand production and deliver billions of additional doses in 2022.
“Within the next six to nine months, the most reliable way to make high-quality vaccines and in an efficient way is going to be if we make them,” Afeyan said. Asked about appeals from the World Health Organization and others, he contended that such pleas assumed ”that we couldn’t get enough capacity, but in fact we know we can.” The COVID-19 vaccine is Moderna’s only commercial product.
High vaccination rates are seen in educators and health workers thanks to mandates
Almost all of Washington and North Carolina’s state health workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 99.99% of Cincinnati Public School employees have complied with the district’s mandatory vaccination policy. The high vaccination rates come after mandates from the federal government, states and local school districts. Last week, the White House published a report claiming that mandated vaccines will result in millions of more Americans being vaccinated.
It was found that employers who have implemented vaccine mandates have witnessed their workers fully vaccinated rise to over 90%.
California coronavirus death count tops 70K as cases fall
California’s coronavirus death toll reached another once-unfathomable milestone – 70,000 people – on Monday as the state emerges from the latest infection surge with the lowest rate of new cases in the nation. California’s cases started to increase last year. By January, the state had experienced the most severe pandemic and was considered the nation’s epicenter. Each day, 700 people died.
The latest surge started in summer and was driven by the delta variant, which primarily targeted the unvaccinated. But at its worst during this spike, California’s average daily death count was in the low 100s.
Contributing: The Associated Press