Covid-19 live updates: Republican governors threaten to sue over Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandates


imageWith the United States reporting a record number of infections among children in recent weeks as schools have reopened, pressure has mounted to expand immunization to those under 12.But the Food and Drug Administration cautioned Friday that data must be collected and reviewed before granting emergency authorization or approval.In a lengthy statement, Janet Woodcock, the acting FDA commissioner, and Peter Marks, the agency’s top vaccine regulator, said they could not offer a specific timeline, even as top executives from German firm BioNTech told Der Spiegel that they plan to submit the coronavirus vaccine it developed with Pfizer for approval in children as young as 5 to regulators across the globe.“Just like you, we are eager to see our children and grandchildren vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible,” the officials wrote.“We have to let the science and data guide us.”In the meantime, President Biden urged parents to get their shot to protect children who are unable to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.Speaking during a visit to the District’s Brookland Middle School on Friday morning, Biden promoted mandates expected to affect millions of adults.“We owe it to them to do everything we can to keep them safe in school, dreaming, learning, thriving, socializing, becoming good citizens,” Biden said.Here’s what to know Some countries are setting records for daily coronavirus infections.Others are pursuing sweeping rules to mandate vaccination.But in Denmark, something like normal life has resumed.After nearly 550 days, the Scandinavian country has lifted the last of its domestic pandemic-era restrictions, declaring that the coronavirus is no longer a “critical threat to society.” Denmark appears to be the first European Union member to issue such a declaration, potentially providing a glimpse into the future of the bloc’s recovery — or serving as a cautionary tale of a nation that moved too quickly.The country’s leaders have pointed to its high vaccination rates — among the best in the world , with nearly 75 percent of residents fully immunized — as evidence that the step is justified, though they have not claimed herd immunity has been reached.Denmark also has one of Europe’s lowest levels of newly reported infections.

Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement Key coronavirus updates from around the world By Annabelle Timsit 3:10 p.m.

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Here’s what to know about the top coronavirus stories around the globe from news service reports.

The coronavirus is spreading through schools once again.

But classrooms probably aren’t the main culprit — experts say locker rooms and fields are more to blame.North Carolina has seen a “sharp increase” in clusters of covid-19 in middle and high school sports teams, the state’s department of health and human services announced Wednesday.Between July and September, 45 percent of all clusters in North Carolina middle and high schools stemmed from sports teams, according to the department, with a spike in August at the beginning of the school year.Experts have been studying the risks of youth sports since students returned to their courts and fields last year.Anthony S.Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pointed to youth sports as a high-risk activity for coronavirus spread in April.

Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement Florida court sides with DeSantis, allowing mask-mandate restrictions to continue amid ongoing appeals By Meryl Kornfield 1:53 p.m.Link copied Link

After a series of recent courtroom losses for Gov.Ron DeSantis (R), an appellate court on Friday ruled that Florida can continue restricting mask mandates while a legal challenge by parents makes its way through the judicial process.The First District Court of Appeal reversed a decision by Leon County Circuit Judge John C.Cooper that had allowed school districts to enforce their mask rules.

After Cooper had sided with parents for the second time, agreeing that DeSantis and other state officials had overstepped their authority, a panel of appeals court judges wrote that they have “serious doubts about standing, jurisdiction, and other threshold matter” in the case they are reviewing.“The stay should have been left in place pending appellate review,” the judges ruled.

The panel is made up of judges appointed by DeSantis and former governor Rick Scott (R).It could be months before the appellate court can issue a final ruling, meaning the state’s restrictions on mask mandates will probably remain in effect for much of the school semester.The legal battle over mitigation measures comes as schools have reopened in Florida amid a surge in the delta variant of the coronavirus that has led to a record-breaking increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.About a dozen districts have defied the state by requiring students to wear masks unless they have a doctor’s note, and parents aren’t allow to choose to opt their children opt.DeSantis threatened to withhold the salaries of school board members who approved the mandates.

The United States isn’t the first country to announce sweeping coronavirus vaccine mandates.But not all vaccine mandates around the world look the same.Some countries, such as France, have created “vaccine passes,” which allow entry to certain places only for the fully vaccinated.Other nations, including Indonesia, have implemented blanket vaccine mandates for most citizens.All of these mandates, however, are part of a growing trend around the world to require — or nearly require — vaccinations for certain categories of people to stem the tide of variant-fueled infections and get the pandemic under control.

Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement Hospitals and nursing homes get long-awaited federal aid By Amy Goldstein 12:45 p.m.Link copied Link

The Biden administration released billions of dollars Friday that hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care providers have been awaiting with frustration for months, aiming to help alleviate the coronavirus pandemic’s financial burden.In an announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services, officials said $17 billion will be distributed to health-care providers to help with extra expenses and lost revenue, with smaller facilities and practices being paid more than larger health systems.The money represents most — but not all — of the amount left over from $178 billion Congress designated last year in pandemic-relief laws.An additional $8.5 billion, from the American Rescue Plan law adopted this year, is being sent to providers in rural areas with patients who are covered by Medicaid, Medicare and a children’s public health insurance program.

Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement France says no to unvaccinated tourists from U.S.

By Hannah Sampson 12:03 p.m.Link copied Link

Americans who have not been vaccinated will no longer be allowed to vacation in France, starting Sunday.The French government has moved the United States from its green list to its orange one, which means unvaccinated people coming from the country need “proof of a compelling reason” to enter France.That standard allows entry to diplomats, some students and health-care workers — but not tourists.Those with a compelling reason still need a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours or an antigen test within 48 hours and must self-isolate for seven days after arriving.There is no change for vaccinated travelers.Previously, unvaccinated travelers coming from the United States needed a rapid antigen or PCR test and a sworn statement that they did not have symptoms of covid-19 and had not had contact with anyone who had the virus.The new rules in France follow the European Union’s decision to remove the United States from its “safe list,” leaving individual members of the bloc to impose their own restrictions.Other countries, among them Spain, Belgium and Denmark, have tightened their rules to allow entry only to vaccinated people from the United States.

Italy added a testing requirement, and the Netherlands is requiring that even vaccinated arrivals from the United States go into quarantine.

Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement BioNTech to seek approval soon for vaccine for kids, ages 5-12, as FDA cautions patience for parents By Meryl Kornfield 11:15 a.m.

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BioNTech, the German company that developed a coronavirus vaccine with Pfizer, plans to seek approval globally for immunizing children ages 5 through 12 as early as mid-October, two executives said.“In the coming weeks we will present the results of our study on the five to eleven-year-olds worldwide to the authorities and apply for approval of the vaccine for this age group, including here in Europe,” BioNTech’s chief medical officer, Özlem Türeci, told the German news magazine Der Spiegel .With schools around the country returning to in-person instruction, parents hoping to get their children immunized have long anticipated a vaccine for children.However, approval in the United States will take time, the Food and Drug Administration cautioned Friday.Offering new granularity about the process to collect and review clinical trial data about pediatric vaccines, Janet Woodcock, the acting FDA commissioner, and Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Research and Evaluation, wrote in a post that the trial process “is expected to include a follow-up period of at least about two months” to review safety data.After vaccine producers request emergency authorization or approval from the FDA, the agency could take “a matter of weeks rather than months” to analyze the data, depending on the quality and timeliness of the submissions.The officials partly attributed the delays for a children’s vaccine compared to adult vaccinations to the differed dosing regimens under investigation.“Children are not small adults — and issues that may be addressed in pediatric vaccine trials can include whether there is a need for different doses or different strength formulations of vaccines already used for adults,” the FDA officials wrote.Still, BioNTech CEO Uğur Şahin expressed confidence in the company’s timeline, saying the trial results are ready and only need to be processed.“It looks good,” he said.“Everything is going according to plan.”

Biden expressed deep frustration and disappointment with Republican governors who he argued have looked to politics more than science when responding to the issue of vaccines and masks in the country’s schools.“I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities,” he said Friday after touring a“This is what this is.We’re playing for real here.

This isn’t a game.And I don’t know of any scientist out there in this field that doesn’t think it makes considerable sense to do the six things I’ve suggested.”Biden announced sweeping new coronavirus vaccine mandates Thursday that include ordering all businesses with more than 100 employees to require their workers to be immunized or face weekly testing.The president also said he would require most health-care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding to vaccinate their employees, which the White House believes will cover 50,000 locations.Several Republican governors immediately threatened to wage legal challenges to the requirements, with Gov.Henry McMaster (R-S.C.) vowing to fight Biden to the “gates of hell.” Asked about the GOP countereffort, Biden said Friday, “Have at it.”Frustrated with the country’s inability to make progress on defeating the pandemic, Biden has become more antagonistic toward the unvaccinated — a shift from previously pleading with those who have not been vaccinated to blaming those who still refuse to get the shots for harming other Americans.“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” Biden said Thursday.

“And your refusal has cost all of us.”On Friday, the president expressed his hopes about the impact of the country’s highly partisan response to the coronavirus pandemic on younger generations of Americans — and how it could impact their politics.“One of the lessons I hope our students can unlearn is that politics doesn’t have to be this,” he said.

“Politics doesn’t have to be this way.They’re grown up in an environment where they see it’s like a like a war, like a bitter feud.”“It’s not how we are,” Biden added.“It’s not who we are as a nation.It’s not how we beat every other crisis in our history.We’ve got to come together.”

Biden visited the District’s Brookland Middle School on Friday morning and urged parents to get their children ages 12 and older vaccinated against the coronavirus.In his remarks, Biden noted that children must receive vaccinations against a host of other diseases to be enrolled in school and argued that the coronavirus should be no different.“The safest thing you can do for your child 12 and over is get them vaccinated,” Biden said.“That’s it.

Simple, plain, straightforward.Get them vaccinated.So parents, get your teenagers vaccinated.You’ve got them vaccinated for all kinds of other things — measles, mumps, rubella.For them to go to school, to be able to play sports, they’ve had to have those vaccinations.Get them vaccinated.”

Around 12,000 people have just become French citizens under a fast-track program for workers at the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus.They include doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, cashiers and garbage collectors, France’s citizenship minister, Marlène Schiappa, said Thursday .“These front-line workers responded to the call of the nation.

It is normal for the nation to take a step toward them,” she added.

“The country pulled through, thanks to them.”The pandemic has prompted calls in other countries for visa and residency restrictions to be lifted for foreign workers who have put their lives at risk in health-care systems that need them.

Singapore looks to ease coronavirus restrictions on migrant laborers after over a year of confinement By Rachel Pannett 9:48 a.m.Link copied Link

Migrant laborers have borne the brunt of measures to contain the virus in Singapore, which has been praised by epidemiologists for its swift response to the pandemic and lately for its high vaccination rate — which, at 81 percent, is among the best in the world.For nearly 17 months, more than 300,000 low-income workers, mostly men from India, Bangladesh or China, have endured social distancing curbs stricter and longer than the wider population.Since April 2020, they have been largely confined to their dormitories, allowed to leave only for work, essential errands or to visit designated “recreation centers” once a week.What once was seen as a necessary health policy to control the outbreak — which at its peak last year saw infections in the dormitories reach nearly 1,400 a day — now serves as salient reminder of the gap between migrant workers and other residents in the wealthy city-state, who’ve been leading relatively normal lives for months after the virus was almost stamped out.

Africa CDC chief criticizes booster shot campaigns as ‘gambling’ By Bryan Pietsch 9:03 a.m.Link copied Link

Africa’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director criticized wealthy nations’ vaccine booster efforts Thursday, saying that “not enough science” has been shown to prove the need for booster shots of the coronavirus vaccine.About 3 percent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated, according to the University of Oxford, and some experts fear that a rush for booster shots in wealthy nations could exacerbate a global imbalance in distribution of doses.John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC, said Thursday that “the problem we have with the third dose is that we have not seen enough science behind them.”Studies have shown that — as expected — protection against infection decreases gradually over time.Still, “vaccine effectiveness against severe disease, hospitalization and death remains relatively high,” U.S.CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said last month.Some experts have criticized the Biden administration’s plan to offer booster shots as soon as this month, saying it is premature based on the current science.“It is really confusing to me as to why we are moving toward a vast recommendation for a booster dose,” Nkengasong said at a news conference.

“We need to use science to inform us.”“Without that,” he said, “we surely will be gambling.”Nkengasong added that with a lack of vaccines on the African continent, the world was moving toward a “moral catastrophe.”The lack of shots in developing countries also puts the developed world at risk, as the virus can continue to spread and mutate in unvaccinated populations, he said.“We still have a window of opportunity,” he said.The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for a global moratorium on booster shots through the end of the year, citing low vaccination rates in many poorer nations due to lack of access to shots.“I will not stay silent when companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Rep.Don Beyer (D-Va.) introduced a bill to require all domestic travelers to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test at airports or for Amtrak trips, seeking to revive largely stagnant discussions among federal officials about more restrictive pandemic travel requirements.The bill, the Safe Travel Act, introduced Thursday would also require all Amtrak, airport and air carrier employees or contractors to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.Unvaccinated travelers would have to present a negative test within 72 hours before travel.Beyer, who chairs the House Science, Space, and Technology subcommittee on space and aeronautics, said in a statement that the proposal would “help make people comfortable traveling again by putting basic requirements in place that prevent the spread of Covid.”.

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