Covid-19 live updates: Victoria, NSW cases, lockdown, restrictions

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has doubled down on his calls to open up Victoria, slamming one “ludicrous and unacceptable” rule in particular.

Welcome to our live coverage of Saturday’s national Covid-19 news.

Australians and their families will be to free to travel in and out of the country from November 1, a move triggered by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s announcement that quarantine would come to an end in his state for fully vaccinated arrivals.

But not everyone will benefit from the lifted outbound travel ban – with Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressing that only “Australians, permanent residents and citizens and their families” will be permitted to come and go for the time being.

Meanwhile Victoria has reported 1993 new local infections and sadly, seven deaths – a slight drop after two consecutive days of cases exceeding 2000.

NSW also reported another drop in cases, with 319 new infections and two deaths.

And residents in Hobart and southern Tasmania are on the first day of a three-day lockdown, after a 31-year-old man who was Covid-positive escaped hotel quarantine and visited a supermarket earlier this week.

There were no further cases in the state overnight.

Read on for today’s updates below. Just remember to keep refreshing the page to see the latest news.

‘Ludicrous and unacceptable’: Frydenberg doubles down

Josh Frydenberg has doubled down on his op-ed about Victoria’s Covid-19 restrictions, declaring during a press conference that it is “ludicrous and unacceptable” that people in Sydney can now travel to Victoria, but Melburnians aren’t able to see their families in the regions.

“Victorians are looking at what is happening in NSW and saying ‘Why do those people get the freedoms at 70 and 80 per cent that we here in Victoria are not getting?’” the Treasurer told reporters.

“Victorians have done the right thing. They have spent so much time in lockdown. They have gone and got the jab in record numbers. It is now time that the Government gave back their freedoms and their lives.”

Asked if Victoria needed to be in lockdown for “so long”, Mr Frydenberg said it was “an indisputable fact, a very sad fact is that Victorians have spent more time in lockdown than any other state and that Melburnians have spent more time in lockdown than any other city in the world”.

“Just think about that for a moment. Melburnians have spent more time lockdown than any other city in the world,” he added.

“There are going to be more cases, particularly among the unvaccinated. This is what living with Covid means. An elimination strategy is not a viable strategy.”

It’s worth noting that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said his state is no longer trying to eradicate the virus.

15-year-old Victorian ‘very sadly’ among Covid deaths

Victoria’s Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar has provided further detail about the seven virus deaths in his state overnight.

One of them, Mr Weimar told reporters, was a 15-year-old girl who “very sadly passed away, with a number of conditions, but she was positive”.

“That is a sad and tragic case, we won’t be making any more comments on her but we will send our best wishes to her family and the family of all those who have lost their lives with Covid, particularly in the last 24 hours.”

The other six deaths occurred in a man in his 80s from Darebin, a woman in her 70s from Whittlesea, a man in his 80s from Moonee Valley, a woman in her 60s from Casey, another woman in her 60s from Darebin, and a man in his 50s from Hume.

Queensland introduces border restrictions with Tasmania

There might have been zero new cases in Tasmania overnight, but that hasn’t stopped the Sunshine State from reimposing border restrictions with 12 local government areas.

Residents in Hobart and the state’s south will be required to enter hotel quarantine if they fly to Queensland after 1am tomorrow.

Chief health officer Jeanette Young urged anyone in her state who was in Tasmania on October 11 or 12 to get tested if they show any symptoms.

“I strongly recommend that at this point in time, anyone who is planning to go down to Tasmania, does reconsider whether it’s necessary to do so,” Dr Young told reporters.

20 new cases in the ACT

There have been 20 new cases in the ACT up to the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday.

Of these infections, 14 are linked to known cases or clusters.

There are currently 15 patients being treated with the virus in hospital, 10 of whom are in intensive care.

No new cases in Queensland 

There have been no new cases of local Covid-19 in the Sunshine State in the last 24 hours. The state reported three new overseas acquired cases, all of which were detected in hotel quarantine.

Premier’s ‘great sadness’ at snap lockdown

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has expressed his “great sadness” at the snap lockdown that Hobart and its surrounding LGAs is currently under.

The state recorded no further infections overnight.

“I want to start by thanking Tasmanians in the south for their cooperation, by staying at home at this critical time. I don’t mind saying that I walked back to my room late last night and just noted the number of people that were on the streets and there weren’t very many. In the main, they were wearing face masks,” Mr Gutwein told reporters.

“I must admit, it filled me with great sadness, walking past the closed businesses and noting those that were doing their very best to supply takeaways and to have pivoted and thank you to them for that.

“It is important the steps that we are going through at the moment, we have acted swiftly, decisively, with a view to ensuring that this doesn’t get away from us.”

While the Premier said he was “pleased” there hadn’t been any more infections, he warned that “the next 48 hours remains critical and I ask all Tasmanians in the south to work together to get on top of this as quickly as we can”.

ACT expands NSW border bubble

The ACT has expanded its border bubble with NSW – meaning Canberrans will be able to travel to the Southern Highlands and South Coast from midday today.

Residents will be allowed to travel freely to locations including Batemans Bay, Thredbo and Bowral if they are fully vaccinated, meaning they’ll no longer have to quarantine or complete an exemption form to return to the ACT.

People who live in those approved areas of NSW will also be allowed to enter the ACT, as long as they follow the public health directions.

ACT Health said the change was to “better align our travel restrictions with NSW where possible”.

NSW reports 319 new local cases

NSW’s numbers are in, with another drop in local infections – down to 319 new infections in the 24 hours up to 8pm last night.

There were also, sadly, two further deaths.

There are currently 652 people with Covid-19 being treated in hospital, 138 of who are in the ICU.

Victoria reports 1993 Covid-19 cases

Victoria has reported 1993 new local cases overnight and, sadly, seven further deaths.

It’s a slight drop in numbers for the state, after recording two consecutive days of cases exceeding 2000.

‘No time to lose’: Treasurer’s urgent plea

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is again calling for Daniel Andrews to roll back restrictions in Victoria to line up with those in NSW, declaring that “it’s time to put Victoria back in the fast lane”.

In an op-ed published by the Herald Sun, Mr Frydenberg wrote that “Melbourne has gone from the world’s most liveable city to the world’s most locked down city”.

“The damage done by lockdowns is clear. Our cafes are quiet; our lanes are empty; and our stadiums, normally filled with cheering fans, are deserted,” he wrote.

“Melbourne is famous for its cultural vitality; its music, museums, and its warm hospitality. But Covid has hit and hit us hard.”

Comparing the measures in Victoria to those in NSW, Mr Frydenberg said there was “no time to lose”.

“Victorians who have given up so much, are rightly asking the question; why are the people of NSW granted more freedoms at 70 and 80 per cent vaccination rates than they are?” he said.

“Victorians, like those in NSW, have done the right thing and got the jab, and in return, they deserve their lives and their freedoms back.”

Why the mandatory jab lawsuit failed

The NSW government has won a landmark Supreme Court challenge to the state’s lockdown measures to combat the Covid outbreak.

Two sets of plaintiffs – who all refused to be vaccinated – filed civil suits asking for various aspects of the public health orders to be quashed and that the government be restrained from setting any further lockdown measures.

Northern Rivers woman Natasha Henry and five other citizens asked the court to overturn rules requiring aged care workers to get the Covid-19 jab and prohibiting unvaccinated essential workers from leaving a local government area of concern for their jobs.

Another group, including construction worker Al-Munir Kassam, was asking the public health orders be declared invalid because they impugn their “personal liberty” and force them to undergo a medical procedure.

However, Robert Justice Beech-Jones ordered that both lawsuits be dismissed on Friday afternoon.

“It was contended the orders interfered with a person’s right to bodily integrity and a host of other freedoms,” Justice Beech-Jones said.

“When all is said and done, the proper analysis is the impugned order curtails freedom of movement, which in turn affects a person’s ability to work and socialise.”

– Additional reporting NCA NewsWire

Hobart enters three-day lockdown

Hobart and southern Tasmania has entered its full day of a three-day lockdown to contain the threat of a Delta outbreak, after a 31-year-old man who was Covid-positive escaped hotel quarantine and visited a supermarket earlier this week.

Announcing the shutdown on Friday afternoon, Premier Peter Gutwein said the man had been “uncooperative” with authorities about his movements.

“There is growing concern now that he has been to several touch points in the community. We can’t continue to wait another two days to find out more about what has been going on,” Mr Gutwein told reporters.

“We don’t want to be Sydney or Melbourne in this case that acted too late with Delta.”

The lockdown applies to Hobart and surrounding local government areas, where residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential purposes.

Mr Gutwein said he hoped the lockdown would end as scheduled at 6pm on Monday night, but that would depend on public health advice over the weekend.

Who misses out when international travel returns

Australians and their families will be to free to travel in and out of the country from November 1, a move triggered by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s announcement that quarantine would come to an end in his state for fully vaccinated arrivals.

But not everyone will benefit from the lifted outbound travel ban – with Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressing that only “Australians, permanent residents and citizens and their families” will be permitted to come and go for the time being.

After being reportedly blindsided by Mr Perrottet’s declaration that the NSW border would open for everyone – including international tourists – the PM delivered a diplomatic slapdown, noting that it was the Commonwealth that controlled visas and decided who comes to Australia.

While he welcomed the decision to reopen borders and scrap quarantine, he suggested it was a “first step” and was about Australian residents returning, not tourists.

“We are not opening up to everyone coming back to Australia at the moment. I want to be clear about that,” Mr Morrison said.

“It is for the Commonwealth and Federal Government to decide when the border opens and shuts at an international level and we will do that.

“In the first instance it will be for Australian residents and their families. We will see how that goes.”

The PM said no decision had yet been made on when “visa holders, student visa holders (and) international visitors travelling” would be welcomed Down Under.

Government sources told The Australian they expect it could be “weeks” after Australia passes its 80 per cent vaccination rate in November before international students and skilled migrants are allowed a look-in.

State’s borders likely to stay shut

Western Australia’s hard border closure to NSW is likely to be extended as fully vaccinated Australians are allowed to return to the latter state from overseas without quarantining.

Vaccinated Australian citizens, residents and their families, including overseas-based parents, will be allowed to freely enter NSW from November 1.

They will need to be tested before boarding a flight and will need to prove they have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said on Friday he was concerned an influx of travellers could lead to more coronavirus cases, flagging the border could remain shut for longer.

“I understand why they would (open their international border), because you may well be just as safe overseas as you are in Sydney,” he told reporters.

“But it may mean there’s greater spread of the virus in NSW. So that would obviously mean that we would keep our current border arrangement which is at ‘extreme risk’ with NSW for as long as it’s necessary.”

NSW residents are only allowed to enter WA in some exceptional circumstances and they must undergo a fortnight of hotel quarantine.

– Additional reporting NCA NewsWire

Glaring issue with new VaxPass

One vital detail may have been overlooked in the rollout of the VaxPass for NSW residents on Friday, according to a digital privacy expert.

The new Service NSW phone app’s additional feature, which streamlined the existing check in system with the user’s vaccination status, has attracted criticism over a seemingly obvious flaw.

The new function, while equipped with the Waratah logo hologram and rotating QR codes, doesn’t present the user’s photo identification.

Without the inclusion of photo ID, unvaccinated members of the public could easily use someone else’s phone, or even someone else’s login details, to gain access to a venue.

“Unlike the NSW driver’s licence which has your picture on it, you can take your friend’s phone and show their QR code, chief digital privacy officer at Trustrgrid, David Palmer, said.

“You need to have the picture of the individual to match who’s presenting it, and then the QR code does its work by presenting the green tick saying you’re vaccinated.”

Mr Palmer said without photo identification being built into VaxPasses, businesses employees would need to request that each person present additional documents before entering a venue.

– Brooke Rolfe

Read related topics:Josh FrydenbergMelbourne

Source link

Covid-19 and Boosters Live News: Vaccines, Travel Restrictions and More




F.D.A. Panel Endorses J.&J. Covid-19 Vaccine Boosters

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years or older, at least two months after the first dose.

“Today, we are seeking authorization for use of Janssen’s Ad26 Covid vaccine as a homologous booster in those individuals who were previously vaccinated with the single dose.” “Do available data support the safety and effectiveness of Janssen’s Covid-19 vaccine for use under EUA as a booster dose in individuals 18 years of age and older, at least two months after a single dose primary vaccination?” “We do have 19 out of 19 unanimous yes votes for this question. Thank you.”

Video player loading
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years or older, at least two months after the first dose.CreditCredit…Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel unanimously voted on Friday to recommend authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years or older, at least two months after the first dose. The F.D.A. typically follows the panel’s advice.

Before the vote, a top agency official, Dr. Peter Marks, said that the agency might consider regulatory action that would allow Johnson & Johnson recipients to receive a booster shot of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines. But Dr. Marks, who oversees the F.D.A.’s vaccine division, gave no timetable for any decision, saying only that authorization of a different vaccine as a booster for Johnson & Johnson recipients was “possible.”

Many panel members said that a second dose was important because the first dose did not provide strong enough protection. Unlike the other vaccines available in the United States, Johnson & Johnson chose to seek authorization for a single dose — a decision that some committee members couched as a mistake in hindsight.

“I think this frankly was always a two-dose vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Johnson & Johnson representatives presented their case Friday morning during a meeting of the advisory panel, arguing that a second dose given either two months or six months after the first shot increased antibody levels, part of the immune response to vaccines. They also said that the single dose remained durable.

Federal vaccine experts also walked through the company’s data, repeatedly pointing out its shortcomings. They warned that the two-month booster trial only followed up with study volunteers for a short period of time after their second shot. They also noted that a key test used by the company to measure the antibodies produced by a booster had a low sensitivity, calling the results into question — a concern raised by panel members on Friday.

Dr. Archana Chatterjee, an infectious disease expert at Rosalind Franklin University, asked the F.D.A. why it convened the panel if its own experts had not had time to verify the company’s data. Dr. Marks, the agency’s top vaccine regulator who has argued for a “harmonized” approach to booster policy, said it could have taken a month to verify all the data from the company’s largest-scale two-dose trial and several weeks to review the smaller studies.

The regulators did not see any evidence of serious safety concerns in the booster studies. But they noted they were not afforded enough time to independently review much of the data that Johnson & Johnson provided in its application for authorization, including in its large, two-dose trial that the company said made a clear case for bumping up protection with a booster.

Some federal officials appeared skeptical of the claims the company made about the efficacy of one dose, and expressed worry that those who received it are not as protected as Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech recipients.

“It was used as an outreach vaccine,” Dr. Marks said. “Many of the people who got that may not have been part of a health maintenance organization or an organized health care system.”

Dr. Amanda Cohn, a C.D.C. official, said that “the effectiveness or protection with a single dose of the J.&J. vaccine is not equivalent” to two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.”

Some committee members argued that the vaccine should have been used in a two-dose regimen from the start.

Panel members repeatedly conveyed concern about the size of the study Johnson & Johnson used to ask for authorization of a six-month interval. “I’m not sure why you’re asking for an indication that would apply to millions of patients with a data set that includes 17 patients,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, an adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

After voting on a Johnson & Johnson booster, the panel heard from Dr. Kirsten Lyke of the University of Maryland School of Medicine about a study in which she and her colleagues found that Johnson & Johnson recipients may benefit more from a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech booster.

Dr. Lyke and her colleagues carried out a “mix and match” study with different combinations of the three vaccines.

Preliminary data from the study showed that those who got a Johnson & Johnson shot followed by a Moderna booster saw their antibody levels rise 76-fold within 15 days, whereas those who received a Johnson & Johnson booster saw only a fourfold rise in the same period. A Pfizer-BioNTech booster raised antibody levels in Johnson & Johnson recipients 35-fold.

Several panelists said they felt comfortable with the amount of data the N.I.H. researchers had gathered to recommend F.D.A. authorization. Dr. Ofer Levy, director of the Precision Vaccines Program at Harvard’s Boston Children’s Hospital, said that many Americans had already taken the matter into the own hands and urged the F.D.A. to step in.

“It’s a matter of some urgency for F.D.A. to help sort out what is admittedly a complicated and challenging scenario,” he said. “We can’t hide from it. And I do think we need to give guidance to the public.”

Dr. Cohn, the C.D.C. official, said that the F.D.A. could perhaps allow for general language in its authorizations of the vaccines that would allow for combinations. “From a public health perspective, there’s a clear need in some situations for individuals to receive a different vaccine,” she said, including those who do not have access to the same vaccine they received the first time, or those who now realize they might have increased risk of some side effects from the same vaccine.

The N.I.H. trial only looked at antibody levels, which on their own are an insufficient measure of how well different combinations would protect people. Dr. Lyke said that studies on immune cell responses were underway.

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration’s panel of expert advisers voted on Friday to recommend authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine for people 18 and older, at least two months after the first dose. The committee also voted on Thursday to recommend booster shots for many recipients of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.

While the panel’s recommendations are not binding, they are very likely to influence the F.D.A.’s decision — typically issued within a few days after the advisory committee weighs in. If the agency says yes to the boosters, the process moves to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Who are the experts on the F.D.A.’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee?

The committee now has 19 voting members who are scientific authorities from a range of fields, including immunology, vaccine safety and virology. Many are medical practitioners.

Dr. Arnold Monto, the acting chair of the committee, is a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Here are the other voting members:

  • Dr. Archana Chatterjee, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist, is the dean of the Chicago Medical School and vice president for medical affairs at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.

  • Capt. Amanda Cohn is a doctor and senior official overseeing vaccine policy at the C.D.C.’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

  • Dr. Oveta Fuller is a trained pathologist and an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at University of Michigan Medical School.

  • Dr. Hayley Gans is a professor of pediatrics infectious diseases at Stanford University Medical Center.

  • Dr. James Hildreth is a professor of medicine and the president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College.

  • Dr. Randy Hawkins is a practicing physician who specializes in internal medicine and sits on the committee as a consumer representative.

  • Dr. Michael Kurilla is a senior official with expertise in infectious diseases and vaccine development at the National Institutes of Health.

  • Dr. Jeanette Lee is a professor of biostatistics at the University of Arkansas For Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Ark., and an expert on clinical trials.

  • Dr. Ofer Levy is the director of the Precision Vaccines Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

  • Dr. H. Cody Meissner is professor of pediatric infectious disease at the Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Children’s Hospital in Boston.

  • Dr. Patrick Moore is a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Pittsburgh.

  • Dr. Michael Nelson is a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He is also president of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

  • Dr. Paul Offit is a professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

  • Dr. Steven Pergam is an expert on infectious diseases at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and an associate professor at the University of Washington.

  • Dr. Stanley Perlman is professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa, and a pediatric infectious diseases specialist with expertise in coronaviruses.

  • Dr. Eric Rubin is the editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and an expert on infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

  • Dr. Mark Sawyer is a professor of pediatrics and a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Diego, and Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

  • Dr. Melinda Wharton is the associate director for vaccine policy at the C.D.C.’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

An independent panel of experts advising the Food and Drug Administration voted on Thursday to recommend a booster shot for many recipients of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, and on Friday to recommend authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years or older, at least two months after the first dose.

So what happens now? There are further steps at the F.D.A., then steps at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the process ends with the states. Here’s how it breaks down.

  • The F.D.A., a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services that controls and supervises medications and other elements related to public health, takes up the advisory panel’s recommendation, which includes the question of who should be eligible. The advisory panel’s votes are not binding, but the F.D.A. typically follows them.

  • The F.D.A.’s top official — its acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock — issues the agency’s final determination on whether to authorize the boosters and for whom. Such decisions are typically issued within a few days of advisory committee meetings.

  • An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States’ public health agency, reviews the F.D.A.’s decision. On Thursday and Friday of next week, that panel is scheduled to meet and vote on its recommendations regarding boosters.

  • The C.D.C. takes up that panel’s recommendations, and the agency’s director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, issues the agency’s guidance on whether boosters should be used and who should be eligible. That guidance is deeply influential for states, doctors, pharmacies and other health care institutions and the general public. As with the process at the F.D.A., the panel’s recommendations are not binding, but the C.D.C. usually follows them.

    However, there was a rare exception last month: When a C.D.C. advisory panel rejected the F.D.A.’s recommendation that frontline workers be included among those eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster, Dr. Walensky overrode her own agency’s advisers and sided with the F.D.A.

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

State health departments generally follow the recommendations of the C.D.C. In the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech booster, the shots began being administered widely immediately after Dr. Walensky announced the C.D.C.’s guidance to allow them for people over 65, patients in nursing homes and other institutional settings, those with underlying medical conditions, and frontline workers.

Credit…Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times, via Associated Press

A clash between Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and the head of the city’s largest police union over coronavirus vaccinations intensified on Friday as the city filed a complaint against the union, arguing that it was threatening an illegal strike.

City employees in Chicago are required to report their vaccination status by the end of Friday, but John Catanzara, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, has urged police officers to ignore the order and risk discipline or loss of pay. Employees who are not vaccinated will be subject to twice-weekly testing, but vaccinations are not required.

Mr. Catanzara released a video on Tuesday predicting that Chicago police officers would not report to work because of the policy. He said that if a large number of police officers refuse to submit to testing or reporting their vaccination status to the city, “it’s safe to say the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50 percent or less for this weekend coming up.”

“Whatever happens because of the manpower issue, that falls at the mayor’s doorstep,” he added.

He escalated the dispute on Thursday, releasing another video that urged officers not to comply with any direct orders from their supervisors to provide their vaccination status in an online portal.

But, on Friday, the police union said in a statement: “President John Catanzara has never engaged in, supported, or encouraged a work stoppage.” The police union also announced that it had filed its own legal request for the courts to hear the case.

Ms. Lightfoot, who has often faced resistance from Mr. Catanzara since taking office in 2019, said in a statement on Friday that his actions threatened public safety.

“As Chicago’s mayor, I cannot and will not stand idly by while the rhetoric of conspiracy theorists threatens the health and safety of Chicago’s residents and first responders,” Ms. Lightfoot said in a statement. “President Catanzara has time and again deliberately misled our police officers by lying about the requirements of the policy and falsely claiming that there will be no repercussions if officers are insubordinate and refuse to follow a city and department directive or order.”

A strike from the police union is illegal under both state law and the union’s contract with the city, Ms. Lightfoot said.

Chicago is following other cities throughout the United States in requiring city employees to be vaccinated or submit to frequent coronavirus testing. Last week, Ms. Lightfoot softened the original policy requiring vaccination, saying that public workers could opt out of the city’s mandate until the end of the year by getting tested regularly.

City officials have said that employees who fail to report their vaccination status by the Friday deadline will be placed on unpaid leave.

Law enforcement officers have died of Covid-19 in large numbers throughout the pandemic, making the virus by far the most common cause of duty-related deaths in 2020 and 2021, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that catalogs the deaths of law enforcement officers.

Police officers in many departments have been slow to get vaccinated, and several other cities have issued vaccine or testing mandates. In San Jose, Calif., city leaders decided just as a vaccine mandate was taking effect to allow unvaccinated officers to remain employed through the end of the year, with incremental discipline and testing requirements.

Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

International travelers fully vaccinated against the coronavirus who have been barred from entering the United States during the pandemic will be able to enter the country on Nov. 8, according to a White House official, marking an end to restrictions that had walled off tourists and relatives seeking to visit their families.

The specific date for when the Biden administration would lift travel restrictions for those traveling by air or hoping to cross the land border was previously unclear. The administration last month said it would be implementing a new system in which fully vaccinated foreigners who show proof of a negative coronavirus test would be able to fly to the United States in early November.

Earlier this week, administration officials said those hoping to enter from Mexico or Canada who are fully vaccinated would be able to cross at the same time. But thousands around the world eager to organize their travel plans were still left wondering what specific date they would be able to enter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers people fully inoculated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those who have received vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, such as the AstraZeneca vaccine, would also be considered fully vaccinated, according to the C.D.C.

The new travel system also comes with stringent requirements.

Unvaccinated foreigners will be broadly barred from entering the United States, although the White House official said there will be limited exemptions, including for young children.

Those who were never banned from traveling across the land borders, including commercial drivers and students, will also need to show proof of vaccination when crossing starting in January, giving them some time to adjust to the new rules, officials said. Those crossing land borders will not need to show a coronavirus test.

Foreigners hoping to fly to the United States will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding and a negative coronavirus test within three days of entering.

Unvaccinated Americans traveling from overseas will need to test negative for the coronavirus one day before returning home and show proof that they have bought a test to take after arriving in the United States.

The U.S. Travel Association, an industry group, applauded the moves.

“The date is critically important for planning — for airlines, for travel-supported businesses, and for millions of travelers worldwide who will now advance plans to visit the United States once again,” Roger Dow, the group’s president, said in a statement. “Reopening to international visitors will provide a jolt to the economy and accelerate the return of travel-related jobs that were lost due to travel restrictions.”

A spokeswoman for Airlines for America, another industry group, noted that even before the announcement of the date, airlines had seen an uptick in ticket sales to the United States from abroad.

“The full reopening of international travel is also critical to reviving economies around the globe, reinvigorating communities and supporting millions of jobs in the U.S. and abroad,” Katherine Estep, the spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Credit…Andrew Medichini/Associated Press

ROME — Italy on Friday set a new bar for major Western democracies seeking to move beyond the pandemic by enacting a sweeping law that requires the nation’s entire work force — public and private — to have government-issued health passes, essentially forcing Italians to choose between getting a pass and earning a living.

With the step, Italy, the first democracy to quarantine towns and apply national lockdowns, is again first across a new threshold, making clear that it is willing to use the full leverage of the state to try to curb the pandemic and get the economy moving.

Italy’s measures, which require proof of vaccination, a negative rapid swab test or recent recovery from Covid-19 to go to the workplace, now stand as some of the toughest among Western democracies, which have struggled to balance public health needs with civil liberty concerns.

For many Western governments, like those of the United States and France, that has resulted in refraining from national mandates while seeking other ways to encourage, coax and even mildly coerce people to get vaccinated.

Under Italy’s new rules, those who do not have a Green Pass, as the health certificate is called, must take unpaid leave. Employers are responsible for verifying the certificates, which are for the most part shown on a cellphone app, though hard copies are also acceptable. Workers risk fines of up to 1,500 euros — or about $1,750 — for not complying.

Not everyone has been accepting of the requirements. Last weekend, a demonstration of 10,000 Green Pass opponents — a mix of vaccine skeptics, conspiracy theorists, anti-establishment types and workers livid about having to pay for frequent swabs — was hijacked by right-wing extremists and turned violent, prompting Italy to once again reckon with its fascist legacy.

But on Friday, the rollout went more or less smoothly, with only scattered protests, as the majority of citizens accepted the new pass as a fact of Italian life and a tolerable sacrifice, like wearing masks indoors, to help the country get out of the pandemic and return to normalcy.

Global Roundup

Credit…Choe Jae-Koo/Yonhap, via Associated Press

South Korea said on Friday that it was a week ahead of schedule for fully vaccinating 70 percent of its population against Covid and that it would ease social-distancing rules starting next week.

“If vaccinations continue without any setbacks and cases remain controlled in the next two weeks, a full-fledged transition to the new strategy will be possible from November,” said Lee Gi-il, a senior official in the health ministry.

In an effort to encourage more people to get vaccinated, President Moon Jae-in and the first lady, Kim Jung-sook, each received a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in public on Friday.

South Korea never went into a full lockdown but has imposed stringent social-distancing rules, including a mask mandate, even outdoors. The country reached record numbers of new infections a few weeks ago after a major holiday, but daily coronavirus case numbers dropped to a seven-day average of 1,386 in the past week, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The number of reported deaths has remained very low, at 0.02 per 100,000 people in the past week, according to the data. Nearly 63 percent of the country had been fully vaccinated as of Thursday, the health authorities said.

The rules are being relaxed as the pace of vaccinations outperforms earlier expectations, health officials said. Officials said they would likely reach the 70 percent target by the end of next week — about a week sooner than expected.

For the two-week period starting on Monday, the government will allow gatherings of up to four people who are not fully vaccinated, expanding the limit by two, and will permit reading rooms, performance halls and movie theaters to stay open until midnight, two hours longer than before.

People who are fully vaccinated will also be allowed to watch sports events in person again and to attend larger weddings, officials said.

Curbs on social gatherings, however, will remain tougher in and around Seoul, where cases have been more frequent.

In other Covid-related news around the world:

  • An estimated 43,000 people in Britain were mistakenly informed that they had tested negative for the coronavirus after previously testing positive, the officials said in a statement on Friday. The government suspended operations at a private laboratory after an investigation revealed that thousands of people — most of them from southwestern England — had received false negatives on P.C.R. tests from Sept. 8 to Oct. 12, after previously testing positive on lateral flow devices.

  • New South Wales will become the first state in Australia to allow fully vaccinated residents to return to the country without quarantining, starting next month, the authorities announced on Friday. Tens of thousands of Australians have been stranded abroad because of caps on the numbers of weekly returnees, and people entering the country must quarantine for 14 days in a hotel at their own expense. New South Wales is the country’s most populous state, encompassing Sydney.

  • The authorities in pandemic-stricken Thailand, seeing to revive the country’s tourism, have reopened a cave where a dozen young soccer players and their coach were trapped for 18 days in 2018, becoming the focus of a tense rescue effort that captivated the world. The cave complex had been closed to tourists in April to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Source link

Coronavirus live updates: US pledges $100 million to attract medical workers amid pandemic burnout – The Washington Post

Coronavirus live updates: US pledges $100 million to attract medical workers amid pandemic burnout  The Washington Post

Source link

Covid-19 Live Updates: Latest Vaccine and Travel News

ImageAt at Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine event at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., in March.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

People who received a Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine may be better off with a booster shot from Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, according to preliminary data from a federal clinical trial published on Wednesday.

That finding, along with a mixed review by the Food and Drug Administration of the case made by Johnson & Johnson for an authorization of its booster, could lead to a heated debate about how and when to offer additional shots to the 15 million Americans who have received the single-dose vaccine.

The agency’s panel of vaccine advisers will meet Thursday and Friday to vote on whether to recommend that the agency allow Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to offer booster shots.

Despite the questions raised by the new data on the strength of Johnson & Johnson’s boosters, some experts anticipated that the agency would clear the shots anyway, since the effectiveness of the one-shot vaccine is lower than that of the two-dose mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. And the broader public may also be expecting the authorizations, given the Biden administration’s push for boosters from all brands.

Once the agency authorized a booster from Pfizer-BioNTech last month, “the die was cast,” said John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are by far the most used in the United States, with more than 170 million people in the United States fully immunized with either one or the other vaccine. When Johnson & Johnson’s was authorized in February, public health experts were eager to deploy the “one-and-done” option, particularly in communities with poor access to health care. But the shot’s popularity plummeted when the F.D.A. later paused its use to investigate rare blood clotting cases.

For those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the timing of a booster authorization — of any brand — is still uncertain. The F.D.A. panel is set to vote Friday only on whether the agency should permit a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a scenario the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own vaccine advisory committee will discuss next week. If both agencies believe an additional dose should be offered, people could seek them out as early as next week.

Whether the F.D.A. might authorize the mix-and-match approach, and how, is unclear. The strategy will be discussed at the agency panel’s meeting on Friday, but no vote will be taken. If regulators eventually believe there is enough scientific support for the approach, they would likely need to update the authorization language of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to allow for their use in people who initially received Johnson & Johnson’s.

In a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, researchers organized nine groups of roughly 50 people each. Each group received one of the three authorized vaccines, followed by a booster. In three groups, volunteers received the same vaccine for a boost. In the other six, they switched to a different brand.

The researchers found that those who got a Johnson & Johnson shot followed by a Moderna booster saw their antibody levels rise 76-fold within 15 days, whereas those who received another dose of Johnson & Johnson saw only a fourfold rise in the same period. A Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot raised antibody levels in Johnson & Johnson recipients 35-fold.

The authors cautioned about the study’s small size and noted that they did not follow the volunteers long enough to identify rare side effects.

Sharon LaFraniere contributed reporting from Washington.

Credit…David Ryder/Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will lift travel restrictions at the borders with Canada and Mexico starting in November for fully vaccinated travelers, reopening the doors of the United States to tourists and separated family members who have been sealed out of the country during the pandemic.

Foreign travelers who provide proof of vaccination and are looking to visit families or friends or shop in the United States will be allowed to enter, senior administration officials said on Tuesday, weeks after the administration said it would soon lift a similar sweeping restriction on foreigners traveling to the country from overseas.

The lifting of the bans will effectively mark the reopening of the United States to travelers and tourism, signaling a new phase in the recovery from the pandemic after the country closed its borders for nearly 19 months.

But the new requirements also indicate that the United States will welcome only visitors who are vaccinated. Unvaccinated travelers will continue to be banned from crossing the borders with Mexico or Canada, officials said. Those who were never banned from traveling across the land borders, including commercial drivers and students, will also need to show proof of vaccination when crossing starting in January, giving them some time to adjust to the new rules, officials said.

The travel restrictions, imposed in March 2020, only applied to “nonessential travelers” — relatives looking to visit family members, or shoppers, whom border communities relied on for profits. Politicians representing such communities have pleaded with the Biden administration to lift the restrictions to provide a reprieve for suffering businesses.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said the restrictions had cost Erie County in her state at least $660 million annually.

“This reopening will be welcome news to countless businesses, medical providers, families and loved ones that depend on travel across the northern border,” Ms. Gillibrand said.

More than half of the 20.7 million people who visited the United States from Canada in 2019 traveled by crossing the land border, according to the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group. More than 15 million people visited the United States that year by crossing the land border with Mexico, roughly 85 percent of all of the visitors who entered legally from Mexico.

“After months of closure, the reopening of U.S. land borders to vaccinated visitors will bring a welcome surge in travel from our two top source markets of inbound travel, Canada and Mexico,” said Roger Dow, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association.

Officials did not give an exact date for the lifting of the travel restrictions. The announcement comes more than two months after Canada reopened its borders; Mexico did not close its northern border during the pandemic.

People entering the United States at the borders with Mexico or Canada will be questioned by Customs and Border Protection officers about their vaccination status before being allowed to cross. The officers will have the discretion to send travelers to secondary screenings for their documents to be checked, officials said. The administration will have limited exemptions for unvaccinated travelers from Mexico and Canada, including some children.

Credit…Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

However, President Biden will continue to use a separate border policy, implemented early in the pandemic, to turn away migrants who are seeking protection or economic opportunity — a policy that has been criticized by a top State Department official and the administration’s own medical consultants.

The decision on the land borders was made in part to coincide with the reopening to foreign air travelers, officials said. While those traveling by air will need to show both proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test to enter the United States, there will be no testing requirement for those crossing the land borders.

Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said at a news conference on Wednesday that his country’s vaccine rollout played a role in the reopening.

“The vaccination averages in Mexico, especially in the northern region, but also the rest of the country, are very high or are comparable to those in the United States,” Mr. Ebrard said. “The basis of global mobility will be vaccination.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers people fully inoculated two weeks after they receive a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s.

Those who have received vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, such as AstraZeneca’s, would also be considered fully vaccinated — a standard that one senior official said would probably be applied to those crossing the land border. Officials added that the C.D.C. was still discussing whether foreigners crossing from Canada or Mexico with two doses from different vaccines could enter.

Many Mexicans have received vaccines that do not have W.H.O. authorization, like Sputnik V, developed in Russia, or the CanSino vaccine from China. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Wednesday that he would press the W.H.O. to authorize them soon.

The decision to lift the restrictions on air travel has been celebrated by business leaders overseas and in the United States. Travel spending dropped nearly in half to about $600 billion in 2020 from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

And businesses in places from Buffalo to San Diego to South Texas rely on tourists or those making a short visit to shop before returning home.

The Texas border city of Del Rio sees its population of 36,000 fluctuate with cross-border traffic, as workers and residents travel back and forth on a daily basis. The lifting of the restrictions was celebrated by residents like Irma G. Rocha, 55, a clerk at a gas station, Border One Stop, a few miles from the bridge.

“We are a small border town and we need the people to come from Mexico to shop,” Ms. Rocha said. “This is going to help our economy greatly. We have not had people from Mexico come shop here for more than a year.”

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, said the lifting of the restrictions would benefit communities she represents like Point Roberts, which are “almost entirely dependent on cross-border travel to sustain their economy.”

But she warned that after “months of economic calamity” inflicted largely by the border closure, more measures would be needed to ensure that the community could fully recover.

Reporting was contributed by Nicholas Fandos and Heather Murphy from New York, Edgar Sandoval from San Antonio, and Oscar Lopez and Maria Abi-Habib from Mexico City.

Credit…Thomas Peter/Reuters

The World Health Organization on Wednesday named 26 scientists to a new advisory group charged with studying the origins of the coronavirus, opening another chapter of the fraught search for how the pandemic began.

The group, chosen from more than 700 applicants, includes scientists from 26 countries, a reflection of the W.H.O.’s effort to amass widespread international support for the work.

Among them are an American researcher — Dr. Inger Damon, a veteran of the country’s Ebola response who directs work on highly lethal diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and a Chinese scientist. The Chinese scientist, Dr. Yungui Yang, is the deputy director at the Beijing Institute of Genomics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government institution.


With this new group, the W.H.O. is trying to revive its study of the pandemic’s origins. That work that had become bogged down in a political rivalry between China and the United States, and concerns about scientists’ conflicts of interest, since the W.H.O. sent a previous team to China in early 2021.

The result of that visit was a joint report by the W.H.O.-chosen team and China that said a leak of the coronavirus from a lab, while possible, was “extremely unlikely,” a conclusion that the W.H.O.’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, later called premature.

Six members of that since-disbanded W.H.O. team have joined the new advisory group. The committee also includes the head of a Swiss biosafety center, an indication of W.H.O.’s efforts to ensure that a laboratory leak be considered alongside scenarios in which the virus spilled over naturally from animals to humans.

“A lab accident cannot be ruled out until there is sufficient evidence to do so and those results are openly shared,” Dr. Tedros and two top W.H.O. officials wrote in an editorial in Science outlining the advisory group’s mandate.

After a two-week public comment period that is customary before W.H.O. advisory groups are set up, the committee will begin to meet.




W.H.O. Announces New Team to Study Covid-19 Origins

The World Health Organization hopes that the new advisory group, which includes scientists from 26 countries, can revive its study of the pandemic’s origins, after previous efforts became bogged down in a political rivalry between China and the United States.

“Following a public call for experts, W.H.O. today announced the proposed members of the W.H.O. scientific advisory group for the origins of novel pathogens, or SAGO. The 26 experts were selected from over 700 applications, and were chosen for their world-class expertise and experience in a range of disciplines, as well as their geographic and gender diversity.” “That is a human endeavor to understand a virus that has stopped our whole world. And I would ask everyone, countries, journalists and everybody else, to create a little space for that discussion to happen because this is probably, right now, this is our best chance, and it may be our last chance, to understand the origins of this virus in a collegiate, collective and mutually responsible way.” “I anticipate that the SAGO, in its discussions about the urgent next steps for understanding you know, the origins of the current pandemic, will recommend further studies in China and potentially elsewhere. And I very much hope, we very much hope, that there will be further missions to China and other countries. The SAGO itself will make recommendations or give advice to W.H.O. Any future missions will be organized by W.H.O. and that member-state in question. And of course, we need the cooperation of that member-state to carry out any future missions.”

Video player loading
The World Health Organization hopes that the new advisory group, which includes scientists from 26 countries, can revive its study of the pandemic’s origins, after previous efforts became bogged down in a political rivalry between China and the United States.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Denis Balibouse

W.H.O. officials said the group would assess recent studies, including those describing bats harboring close relatives of the virus behind Covid-19, and advise the organization on what future studies were needed — potentially including field research in China.

China has reacted angrily to the idea that the virus may have emerged from a lab and, analysts have said, is almost certain to resist outside requests to visit research centers, bat caves or wildlife farms within its borders.

Unlike the last W.H.O. team, which was assembled specifically for the visit to China, the new committee will also have a mandate to weigh in on the emergence of any new pathogens beyond the coronavirus, giving it a permanence that the W.H.O. hopes will help insulate it from political squabbling.

At a news briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the W.H.O. Health Emergencies Program, said it was impossible to ignore obstacles like “national pride” standing in the way of hunting down the origins of the coronavirus. But he said the new advisory group was an effort to return to the scientific issues at the core of that effort.

“This is our best chance,” he said. “And it may be our last chance to understand the origins of this virus in a collegiate and collective and mutually responsible way.”

Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

In Guatemala, shortages of syringes have slowed vaccination efforts. In Haiti, logistical and security challenges after the devastating Aug. 14 earthquake have contributed to making it the country with the lowest vaccination coverage in the world.

And across the Caribbean, countries are grappling with unequal distribution of doses and vaccine hesitancy, World Health Organization officials warned today in an online news conference.

An “important challenge that the Caribbean is facing — English-speaking countries and French- speaking countries and territories — is vaccine hesitancy,” said Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, the Covid-19 incident manager at the Pan American Health Organization, which is part of the W.H.O.

“Even if some territories of the Caribbean are leading the regional effort in terms of vaccination coverage, we can say that the vaccine uptick is suboptimal in most of the Caribbean countries,” he said.

The W.H.O. has set a goal of having every country in the world vaccinate at least 40 percent of its population by the end of the year. Four of the six countries in the Americas that have yet to reach the 20 percent threshold are in the Caribbean: Haiti, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia. The other two — Nicaragua and Guatemala — are in Central America.

“Across all these countries, vaccine availability due to unequal distribution of doses has been a central challenge,” said Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, the Pan-American agency’s director.

But several of the countries are also “facing their own unique barriers,” she added, like the shortage of syringes in Guatemala.

At the same time, Jamaica has had to cope with supply delays.

Haiti, where the August earthquake killed at least 2,200 people, has fully inoculated less than 1 percent of its population.

“The sociopolitical situation in Haiti is still tense, and that has negatively impacted” vaccination efforts, said Ciro Ugarte, the Pan-American agency’s director of health emergencies.

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean receive vaccines through bilateral agreements with manufacturers as well as through the United Nations-backed Covax program and donations from countries with excess doses. The Pan-American agency has also sealed deals for countries to buy millions of vaccine doses from China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac, as well as from AstraZeneca.

Although the numbers of Covid cases in much of Latin America and the Caribbean are declining, several islands in the Caribbean are seeing increases.

Barbados, for example, is reporting the highest number of infections and deaths since the pandemic started, said Dr. Etienne, the agency’s director. The Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Cayman Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and Anguilla are also reporting increases in cases.

“In the eastern Caribbean, health services have been — or are still — overwhelmed by the influx of patients requiring hospitalization,” Dr. Aldighieri said. He also noted that the situation was a sharp contrast to last year, when most of the Caribbean island countries were largely able to avoid widespread transmission of the virus.

Despite vaccine hesitancy, 39 percent of the population across Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Dr. Etienne said. That is sharply higher than in Africa, where less than 5 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As more vaccines start to flow to the region, though, it’s important for countries “to make the necessary preparations so these doses can be used as quickly as possible,” Dr. Etienne said.

Credit…Liam James Doyle for The New York Times

Intensive care units are nearing capacity and health care workers are in short supply in Minnesota, as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths all reach levels not seen since vaccines became widely available.

All of the state’s counties are at high risk for community transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New daily cases have risen by 29 percent in the last two weeks and hospitalizations by 17 percent, according to a New York Times database.

About this data

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The seven-day average is the average of a day and the previous six days of data. Currently hospitalized is the most recent number of patients with Covid-19 reported by hospitals in the state for the four days prior. Dips and spikes could be due to inconsistent reporting by hospitals. Hospitalization numbers early in the pandemic are undercounts due to incomplete reporting by hospitals to the federal government.

The state’s daily case average is at its highest level for 2021 and reached 2,932 on Monday, a dramatic increase since the summer, when it bottomed out at an average of 81 daily cases.

While a monthslong increase driven by the Delta virus variant is waning in much of the country, Minnesota is just one of several Upper Midwestern and Mountain West states where the virus is surging. Cases are up and hospitals have been overwhelmed in North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, all of which have low vaccination rates. Some areas have had to ration care and send patients to distant hospitals for treatment.

The Minnesota Department of Health said the state’s surge is overwhelming hospitals, with rural and metropolitan areas equally stretched.

“Even before Covid cases started to rise in this latest surge, our hospitals were very full with patients needing care for other critical conditions,” Jan Malcolm, the state’s health commissioner, said in a news conference last week.

According to a state health department database, 96 percent of I.C.U. beds in Minnesota are in use along with 93 percent of non-intensive care beds. Although beds are almost at capacity, the state is equipped with respirators to combat the surge, Ms. Malcolm said. The bigger issue now is a shortage of medical personnel, she said.

“What’s important to understand is that this isn’t so much about the physical asset of a hospital bed or a ventilator, and those were big focuses earlier in the pandemic, but now this is really an issue of health care worker capacity,” Ms. Malcolm said. “There are actually fewer health care workers on the job today than there were last year due to the extreme stress and burnout that they have faced for over 18 months now.”

Dr. Kevin Croston, chief executive officer at North Memorial Health, one of Minnesota’s largest medical systems, said “every element of our health system is incredibly stressed.”

Both hospitals run by North Memorial — North Memorial in Robbinsdale and Maple Grove Hospital — are almost running at capacity and are experiencing staffing shortages that have reached a “critical level.”

“Staff vacancies are increasing while our customer patient volumes remain high,” Mr. Croston said. “We have rapidly escalated measures to attract and retain talent in health care and that’s adding more expense to an already stressed financial picture for all these health care systems.”

He also noted that all patients hospitalized with Covid were unvaccinated.

In Minnesota, 59 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated compared to 56 percent of the population nationally.

“With the amount of virus that’s out there and the amount of the population that is not protected by the vaccine, there’s unfortunately plenty of room for the virus to still do its harm,” Ms. Malcolm said.




Biden Announces Plan to Address Supply Chain Shortages

President Biden said the Port of Los Angeles would move toward 24/7 operations, joining its counterpart in Long Beach, in an effort to curb product shortages.

Today, we have an important announcement that we’ll get things you buy to you, to the shelves faster. After weeks of negotiation and working with my team, and with the major union retailers and freight movers, the Ports of Los Angeles, the Port of Los Angeles announced today that it’s going to begin operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This follows the Port of Long Beach’s commitment to 24/7 that it announced just weeks ago. By staying open seven days a week through the night and on the weekends, the Port of Los Angeles will open over 60 extra hours a week, will be open. In total, that will almost double the number of hours that the port is open for business from earlier this year. Walmart, our nation’s largest retailer, is committing to go all in on moving its products 24/7 from the ports to their stores nationwide. Specifically, Walmart is committing as much as a 50 percent increase in the use of off-peak hours over the next several weeks. Additionally, FedEx and UPS, two of our nation’s biggest freight movers, are committing today to significantly increase the amount of goods they’re moving at night. And other companies are stepping up as well. They include Target, Home Depot and Samsung, that have all committed to ramp up their activities that utilize off-peak hours at the ports.

Video player loading
President Biden said the Port of Los Angeles would move toward 24/7 operations, joining its counterpart in Long Beach, in an effort to curb product shortages.CreditCredit…Allison Zaucha for The New York Times

President Biden said Wednesday afternoon that his administration is taking steps to untangle supply chains and clear disruptions that have threatened the holiday shopping season, including moving a key port and some large retailers toward round-the-clock operations.

Speaking from the White House, Mr. Biden said the country must “take a longer view” and invest in shoring up supply chain vulnerabilities that have been exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The remarks came as the White House sought to spotlight its efforts to address the problems in ports, factories and shipping lanes that have helped produce shortages, long delivery times and rapid price increases for food, televisions, automobiles and much more.

The resulting inflation has chilled consumer confidence and weighed on Mr. Biden’s approval ratings. On Wednesday, the Labor Department announced that the Consumer Price Index, a key reading of monthly inflation, jumped 5.4 percent in September when compared with the prior year, raising the stakes for the White House and the Federal Reserve.

Mr. Biden cheered an announcement that the Port of Los Angeles will begin operating around the clock as his administration struggles to relieve growing backlogs in the global supply chains that deliver critical goods to the United States.

“Today’s announcement has the potential to be a game-changer,” Mr. Biden said, but added that its success would depend on private retailers taking steps to more rapidly move products from ports to stores around the country.

Administration officials say that they have brokered a deal to move the Port of Los Angeles toward 24/7 operations, joining Long Beach, which is already operating around the clock, and that they are encouraging states to accelerate the licensing of more truck drivers. UPS, Walmart and FedEx will also announce they are moving to work more off-peak hours.

Mr. Biden’s team, including a supply chain task force he established earlier this year, is working to make tangible progress toward unblocking the flow of goods and helping the retail industry return to a prepandemic normal.

But it is unclear how much the White House’s efforts can realistically help. The blockages stretch up and down supply chains, from foreign harbors to American rail yards and warehouses. Companies are exacerbating the situation by rushing to obtain products and bidding up their own prices. Analysts say some of these issues may last into late next year or even 2023.

Reporters peppered Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, with questions Wednesday about lingering effects on holiday shopping, including whether she could guarantee it would not be disrupted by supply chain issues. “We cannot guarantee,” she said. “What we can do is use every lever at the federal level to reduce delays.”

Credit…Li Bo/Xinhua, via Associated Press

Chinese authorities are rolling out third shots of coronavirus vaccines for high-risk groups in at least 10 regions, according to state media, as the country races to meet its goal of fully vaccinating 80 percent of its population by the end of the year.

After a series of outbreaks of the Delta variant, Wang Huaqing, chief expert for China’s immunization program at the Chinese Center for Disease Control, recommended last month that additional shots be administered to people in frontline professions, including medical workers; people with weaker immune systems; those age 60 or older; and travelers going to countries deemed at high risk.

Chinese health officials have said that further studies were still needed to determine whether the rest of the population would benefit from getting an additional shot.

By Sunday, more than 40,000 people in Hubei, the province encompassing Wuhan where the virus first emerged, had received booster shots, according to state media reports. In the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, which had a flare-up of the Delta variant last month, local health officials said that people who got the booster shot would see their government-issued health codes upgraded to reflect their strengthened immune status.

Last month, China announced that it had fully inoculated 1 billion people, or about 71 percent of its population of 1.4 billion. The country has administered 2.21 billion doses, more than twice that of India, which is ranked second for shots given, according to Our World in Data, which tracks vaccination figures.

Despite its high vaccination rate, China has shown no signs of abandoning its “zero Covid” strategy, and has instead continued to employ a mix of stringent border controls, mass testing and snap lockdowns to tame outbreaks.

On Monday, a panel of experts advising the World Health Organization recommended that an additional dose be administered to people over 60 who were inoculated with vaccines made by the Chinese companies Sinopharm and Sinovac. The panel cited evidence from studies in Latin America that immune protection from the Chinese vaccines wanes significantly over time. While the experts also recommended additional doses of the seven W.H.O.-authorized vaccines for people with weaker immune systems, the Chinese-made shots were the only ones that were singled out for expanded use for older people in the general population.

In a nod to concerns that poorer countries are struggling to offer first doses to their populations while some wealthier countries administer boosters, the W.H.O. panel recommended that health authorities using the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines aim to fully inoculate older populations before administering third doses.

Authorities in Turkey have already been allowing people inoculated with Sinovac’s vaccine to get an additional shot of the Pfizer vaccine to help facilitate travel to countries where the Chinese vaccines have not been approved.

More than 1 billion Chinese-made doses have been administered in over 90 countries outside China, though outbreaks in several countries over the summer have raised questions about the efficacy of the shots at preventing the spread of the virus, especially new variants.

The concerns have not slowed China’s efforts to engage in vaccine diplomacy. Last month, the Pan American Health Organization struck a deal with Sinovac to buy millions of Covid-19 vaccines for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where access to vaccines has been highly uneven.

Credit…Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News, via Associated Press

The Anchorage Assembly approved a mask mandate on Tuesday after two weeks of heated public discussion amid a Covid outbreak that has forced doctors to ration life-saving care in Alaska’s largest city.

The vote was 9-1, concluding a tense, often chaotic debate that included doctors being heckled by members of the public, an armed man being arrested, and protesters sparking outrage by turning up to meetings wearing Stars of David — an attempt to liken mask requirements to the persecution of Jews in the Holocaust.

“The time to act is now,” Meg Zaletel, an assembly member, said on Tuesday night while pressing for a vote. One person in the crowd shouted objections, leading security officers to intervene.

The order requires everyone to wear a mask or face covering in public indoor spaces, with limited exemptions for younger children and for religious or medical reasons.

Alaska has recorded the highest coronavirus case numbers per person in the United States in recent weeks. Although new infections have fallen from a late September high, the surge has overwhelmed hospitals, especially in Anchorage, where many of the state’s patients come for critical needs.

About this data

Source: State and local health agencies. Daily cases are the number of new cases reported each day. The seven-day average is the average of a day and the previous six days of data.

Heart surgeries have been canceled to preserve space in hospitals. One facility rationed oxygen. And doctors have been forced to implement “crisis standards of care,” prioritizing some critical patients over others because of the lack of resources.

One patient who needed emergency surgery was not attended to; a second was taken off of dialysis because another needed it. In both cases, the patients who received substandard care died.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has resisted a statewide mask mandate, but assembly members in Anchorage — home to about 40 percent of the state’s population — moved forward. Doctors had gone to the assembly meetings in recent weeks to detail the crisis they have been facing, but they faced blowback from community members. One man followed doctors out of a meeting, calling them liars.

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, who has opposed a mask requirement, vowed to veto the mandate, although it appears the assembly has the votes to override it.

About 51 percent of Alaska’s population is fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database, lower than the national figure of 57 percent.

Source link

Covid-19 Live Updates: Govt withdraws travel advisory that added COVID-19 related additional checks, restrictions on those arriving from the UK

Revised guidelines for UK nationals arriving in India issued on October 1, 2021, stand withdrawn, and earlier guidelines on international arrival dated February 17, 2021, shall be applicable for those arriving in India from the UK: Ministry of Health

!1 New UpdateClick here for latest updates

Wipro Q2 consolidated profit rises by 17% to Rs 2,930.6 cr, revenue up at Rs 19,667.4 cr

It’s good that Devendra Fadnavis still considers himself as CM. I congratulate him. After being CM for five years, Fadnavis still feels he is holding the post. I lacked this trait. I had served as CM (of Maharashtra) four times. But I don’t even remember

– NCP chief Sharad Pawar

Rupee rises 15 paise to close at 75.37 (provisional) against US dollar

Sensex surges 452.74 points to hit new closing high of 60,737.05; Nifty rallies 169.80 points to 18,161.75

Lakhimpur Khiri deaths case: Shekhar Bharti, staff of Ankit Das remanded to three-day police custody

Govt scraps basic customs duty on crude varieties of palm, soyabean and sunflower oil till March 31; also cuts agri cess

Farmers were crushed to death in Lakhimpur. Farmers alleged that son of MoS was present. After SC observation, he was arrested. Ruling party should take a stand. Neither UP CM nor MoS Home can escape. MoS Home should resign

– Sharad Pawar, NCP

Top Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist commander Sham Sofi killed in encounter with security forces in Tral area of Pulwama

– IGP Kashmir

Invesco says it facilitated tie-up talks between India’s Reliance and Zee

Invesco said on Wednesday it facilitated talks between India’s Reliance Industries and Zee Entertainment earlier this year on a possible tie-up, revealing for the first time that India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, was interested in the television giant. But the U.S. investment firm rejected allegations from Zee that it was resorting to double standards by objecting to a potential merger with Sony Group’s India unit with terms similar to those discussed with Reliance.

Revised guidelines for UK nationals arriving in India issued on October 1, 2021, stand withdrawn, and earlier guidelines on international arrival dated February 17, 2021, shall be applicable for those arriving in India from the UK: Ministry of Health

Drugs on cruise matter | Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has summoned filmmaker Imtiaz Khatri for questioning. He has been asked to appear before the agency on October 14: NCB

Sharad Pawar takes on NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede

“I have tried to take information about Wankhede from officials as he was posted earlier in the airport. I have come to hear some stories but I don’t have the complete picture so I won’t speak about it.” “However have to point out that NCB a central agency is in Mumbai for several days but if you look at the seizures made by them in different cases then the quantity is quite small. They have made seizures of small pouches in pockets or small grams. The Anti Narcotics Cell of the state government have comparatively made bigger seizures and hence, one thing is clear that the state agencies are doing an honest and straight forward job while the NCB is doing high profile arrests just to show the Centre that it is doing some thing.”

Centre is misusing some institutions like CBI, Income Tax, ED, NCB for politics

– NCP chief Sharad Pawar

Another encounter underway in Kashmir

The encounter has started at Tilwani Mohalla in Tral area of Awantipora. Police & security forces are on the job: J&K Police

Team India gets a new look!

Odisha reports 615 fresh Covid-19 cases; 7 deaths in a day

Lakhimpur violence: Ashish Mishra’s friend Ankit Das appears before SIT

Sprinter Hima Das tests positive for COVID-19

SOPs for COVID19 protocols for Chhath Puja celebrations will remain the same as SOPs for all other festivals: ANI quoting government Sources

Drugs on cruise matter

Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) hands over copies of their reply to the concerned lawyers on bail applications of Aryan Khan and others. NCB has opposed bail for each accused.

We have two demands in the Lakhimpur injustice case – fair judicial inquiry, Immediate dismissal of the Minister of State for Home

– Rahul Gandhi

India will have a vaccine capacity of 28 crore doses this month. 22 crore Covishield and 6 crore Covaxin; 60 lakh ZyCoV-D doses are also ready: ANI quoting govt sources

NIA conducts searches at multiple locations in J&K and arrests 4 persons in J&K terrorism conspiracy case

Two sitting SC judges should probe Lakhimpur incident, those who committed murder should be punished: Rahul Gandhi to President Kovind

Congress delegation meets Prez on Lakhimpur incident

PM Modi says taxpayers’ money was insulted in past due to delays and a lethargic approach to development work

In the 5 years before 2014, only 60 panchayats could be connected with optical fiber. In the last 7 years, we have connected more than 1.5 lakh gram panchayats with optical fiber: PM

Before 2014, the metro was running on only about 250 km of track. Today the metro has been expanded up to 700 km and work is going on on one thousand km new metro route: PM

Infrastructure development has been far from the priority of most of the political parties. It was never been part of their manifesto… but it has been known that quality infrastructure is a way to sustainable development which builds economy & generates employment

– PM Modi

Earlier, we used to see ‘work in progress’ boards everywhere & people started to believe that it will never be completed. It showed distrust of people. But we changed it. We planned well & introduced ‘gati’ in development projects: PM Narendra Modi

We are laying a foundation for the next 25 years. This national master plan will give ‘gatishakti’ to development plans of the 21st century & will help in the timely completion of these plans: PM Narendra Modi

We have not only developed a work-culture of completing the projects within the stipulated time frame, but today efforts are being made to complete the projects ahead of time

– PM Modi

PM Gatishakti National Master Plan is going to take India’s self-confidence, self-confidence, to the resolve of self-reliance. This National Masterplan will give impetus to 21st century India: PM

GatiShakti will be a game changer…

– CII president TV Narendran

PM Narendra Modi inaugurates PM GatiShakti-National Master Plan for multi-modal connectivity & new exhibition complexes of ITPO

GatiShakti Highlights

  • PM GatiShakti to break departmental silos and institutionalize holistic planning for stakeholders across major infrastructure projects
  • All departments to now have visibility of each others’ projects through a centralized portal
  • Multi-modal connectivity to provide integrated and seamless connectivity for movement of people, goods and services
  • PM GatiShakti to generate multiple employment opportunities, cut down of logistics cost, improve supply chains and make local goods globally competitive

Initially we thought it’s impossible to do

– Piyush Goyal on GatiShakti scheme

PM to unveil National Infra Master plan shortly

The mortal remains of Naib Subedar Jaswinder Singh brought to his residence in Mana Talwandi village of Kapurthala district

He lost his life during a counter-terror operation in Poonch sector in J&K on Oct 11th. One JCO & 4 soldiers had lost their lives in the operation.

Over 97.79 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses provided to states, UTs: Centre

Jilted lover killed 14-year-old girl in Bibwewadi area of Pune on Tuesday, police say

“The girl died on the spot. A case has been registered and a team has been formed to nab the accused,” said DCP (Zone 5) Namrata Patil. Pune city police has arrested the main accused Rishikesh Bhagwat, aged 22 years, in this case. Three more accused who are minors are also detained.

They are presenting distorted history. If this continues, they’ll remove Mahatma Gandhi & make Savarkar the father of the nation, who was accused of the murder of Mahatma Gandhi & was pronounced complicit in the inquiry of Justice Jeevan Lal Kapu

– AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi

Rupee rises 26 paise to 75.26 against US dollar in early trade

Covid: Over 50 lakh (50,63,845) vaccinations done in India in last 24 hours taking the total to over 96 crore (96,43,79,212)

Kerala reports 7,823 cases and 106 deaths in last 24 hours

Active COVID-19 cases in India decline to 2,07,653: Union Health Ministry

India’s Covid tally rises to 3,40,01,743 with 15,823 new cases; 226 more fatalities push death toll to 4,51,189: Govt

Sensex rallies 337.41 pts to hit a fresh lifetime high of 60,621.72 in opening session; Nifty jumps 74.15 pts to 18,066.10

1 new COVID-19 case in Andamans, tally rises to 7,635

Maharashtra: Thane logs 201 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths

58,63,63,442 samples tested for COVID19 up to 12th October 2021. Of these, 13,25,399 samples were tested yesterday: Indian Council of Medical Research

The US will reopen its land borders for non-essential travel in November after a 19-month freeze. All international visitors will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus: Associated Press

Mumbai Fire

Apple announces a special event for Oct 18

Apple is expected to announce its next-generation Mac computers, powered by the company’s own Apple Silicon chips, during the event

Twitter down for some users in India

Massive fire in Mumbai

A massive fire broke out in around 20 motorcycles parked at a residential society in Nehru Nagar, Kurla earlier this morning. All the motorcycles were gutted in the fire that was later doused by the fire department’s personnel. More details awaited. (ANI)

Bihar sets up Covid vaccination camps at Durga puja pandals

IMD predicts heavy rainfall in Kerala in next 5 days

IGL revises CNG, PNG prices

PNG price increased in Muzzaffarnagar, Meerut & Shamli to Rs. 38.37/- per SCM: IGL

Source link

Covid Live Updates: Vaccine Mandates, Air Travel and More

ImageAn advisory panel to the Food and Drig Administration is expected to vote on whether to recommend emergency authorization of booster shots of both Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines. While the panel’s votes are not binding, regulators typically follow them.
Credit…Bess Adler for The New York Times

In documents released Tuesday morning, Moderna argued that the Food and Drug Administration should authorize a half-dose of its coronavirus vaccine as a booster shot for recipients at least six months after the second dose, citing evidence that the vaccine’s potency against infection wanes over time. The agency noted in its own analysis that, overall, available data show Moderna and the other vaccines “still afford protection against severe Covid-19 disease and death in the United States.”

Moderna cited the rate of breakthrough infections, “real world evidence of reduced effectiveness against the Delta variant,” and falling levels of neutralizing antibodies from its vaccine six to eight months after a second dose. The company said its clinical trial studies showed that a third injection boosted antibody levels — one measure of the immune system’s response — higher than what they had been before the second dose.

The documents were released by the F.D.A. ahead of a two-day meeting of the agency’s advisory committee, scheduled for Thursday and Friday. In its own briefing document for the committee, also released Tuesday, the F.D.A. summarized the data without taking a position.

The committee is expected to vote on whether to recommend emergency authorization of boosters of Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines. While the panel’s votes are not binding, regulators typically follow them.

Moderna did not try to argue that its vaccine is waning now against severe disease or hospitalization, and the existing data does not appear to support that claim. That distinguishes Moderna’s application from Pfizer-BioNTech’s last month.

In its document, the F.D.A. said: “Some real world effectiveness studies have suggested declining efficacy of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine over time against symptomatic infection or against the Delta variant, while others have not.”

The agency said “there are many potentially relevant studies” and it has not independently reviewed the underlying data or conclusions of each one.

The F.D.A. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to authorize boosters for many but not all Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients. The eligible include those 65 or older, who live in long-term care facilities, have underlying medical conditions or are at higher risk of exposure to the virus because of their jobs or institutional settings. The last group includes health care workers, teachers and prisoners.

In the document released Tuesday, the F.D.A. proposed the outside experts consider essentially the same eligibility groups for Moderna recipients. But people familiar with the deliberations said that federal officials may also ask the committee to consider broadening eligibility for boosters of both vaccines to include more middle-aged people.

Moderna said it compared using a full dose and a half dose as a booster, and found that a half dose boosted antibody levels well with lower risks of adverse side effects. It also tried to make a point about conserving limited supplies, saying a half-dose “would result in a substantial increase in the world wide supply” of its vaccine.

Several independent studies have tried to estimate how long Moderna’s two-dose vaccine remains effective against mild, moderate and severe Covid. One looked at Covid cases last summer among more than 15,000 volunteers in Moderna’s clinical trial, some of whom had been vaccinated a full year earlier. Researchers compared Covid cases in July and August among trial participants who had been fully vaccinated between July and October 2020 with cases among those who were fully vaccinated between December 2020 and March 2021.

Those who got vaccinated later had a 36 percent lower rate of disease. But Dr. Hana M. El Sahly, a professor of molecular virology at Baylor College of Medicine and one of the lead researchers, said the study did not find a statistically significant difference between the two groups in cases of severe Covid — of which there were only 19.

Overall, she said, “the findings do not indicate that a booster is needed.” The study was backed by the National Institutes of Health, researchers said.

Another recent C.D.C. study reviewed case files of nearly 3,700 patients in 21 different hospitals from March to August. Researchers found that of the three vaccines available in the United States, Moderna’s vaccine held up best over six months.

The researchers said that Moderna was 93 percent effective against hospitalization, compared with 88 percent for Pfizer and 71 percent for Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer’s efficacy dropped significantly after four months, to 77 percent, while Moderna’s basically held steady, they said.

Given the dearth of data showing that Moderna’s protection weakens against severe disease, the committee’s deliberations about boosters for Moderna recipients will likely revolve around other key questions.

First, is there a need to “harmonize” U.S. booster strategy, making recipients of all three vaccines eligible even if they keep their potency for different periods of time? Some federal officials argue that with many Pfizer recipients already receiving boosters, the answer is yes.

“We’re in this very complicated situation right now: People are going into pharmacies or places where vaccines are available and saying, ‘I want my third dose of Moderna, or I want my second dose of J.&J.,” said Dr. H. Cody Meissner, an infectious disease expert at Tufts Medical Center who serves on the F.D.A. panel. “I don’t think anyone has much doubt that we will need a booster dose for these vaccines. What we don’t know is: How urgent is the need?”

Another question is whether Moderna will eventually wane against severe disease. Some booster advocates argue that Moderna is following the same path as Pfizer’s vaccine, just more slowly, because its initial dosage is significantly stronger and the interval between the first two shots is longer.

Committee members are also expected to debate whether Moderna recipients should be given a booster simply to protect them against the risk of mild or moderate disease, or to try to disrupt transmission of the virus.

“The fundamental issue is, what are we trying to do?” said Dr. El Sahly. “Both Moderna and Pfizer seem to have waned when it comes to mild to moderate disease, especially with the Delta variant.

“So, if that’s the goal, a booster is needed. If we want to prevent only severe disease that lands people in the hospital, that’s a different mathematics.”

Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Britain’s initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic “ranks as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced,” a parliamentary inquiry has found, blaming the British government for “many thousands of deaths which could have been avoided.”

The government, in effect, pursued an ill-conceived strategy of herd immunity when it failed to carry out widespread testing and delayed imposing lockdowns, social distancing or border controls in the early months of the pandemic, according to a report published on Tuesday by two parliamentary committees.

After the initial stumbles, Britain raced ahead in the spring as one of the world’s leaders in vaccination rates; 78.6 percent of people aged 12 and over have now received two doses of a Covid vaccine, according to the Our World in Data project at Oxford University. But the report — the first major investigation into Britain’s pandemic response — cited numerous missteps by the government since the first coronavirus cases were detected in Britain in January 2020.

That early response, the product of “groupthink” among top officials in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government and its scientific advisers, failed to consider or act on the aggressive containment, testing and tracing strategies successfully employed in Taiwan, Singapore or South Korea at the time, the report said.

It was only in late March 2020, with infections doubling every three days and the national health system at risk of being overwhelmed, that Mr. Johnson reversed course and ordered a full nationwide lockdown.

“The loss of that time was to prove fatal to many,” the report concluded.

The inquiry found that the government’s decision not to order a lockdown or conduct extensive contact tracing was due in part to the assumption by scientific advisers that the British public would not accept such restrictions. That belief was based on limited evidence and turned out to be false, as people generally complied with lockdown measures, the report said.

The assumption of noncompliance was “one of the critical things that was completely wrong in the whole official thinking,” Dominic Cummings, a former chief adviser to Mr. Johnson who has sharply criticized the prime minister’s pandemic response, is quoted as telling the lawmakers.

Britain has experienced one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks among wealthy nations, with more than 137,000 people having died from the disease, according to official statistics. In recent months, the government has done away with almost all restrictions as deaths and cases of severe illness have declined from prior peaks, even though infections remain high.

The inquiry did praise certain aspects of Britain’s handling of the pandemic, in particular its early investment in vaccine research, including support for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that has become among the most widely administered in the world.

The government’s decision to space out the interval between vaccine doses in order to enable as many people as possible to get one shot was “decisive and courageous,” and “significantly enhanced the pace of protection for the U.K. population,” the report said.

The report’s findings do not require the government to act, but could help shape the public debate ahead of a full public inquiry into the pandemic response promised by Mr. Johnson in 2022.

Credit…Jeffrey Mcwhorter/Associated Press

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued a broad executive order on Monday that bars virtually any coronavirus vaccine mandate in the state.

Mr. Abbott, a Republican, has been among the most vocal political leaders in the United States opposing vaccine mandates. His latest executive order includes private employers, which had been exempt from previous edicts against the mandates.

“No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a Covid-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from Covid-19,” the order states. “I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.”

The order acknowledges that “vaccines are strongly encouraged for those eligible to receive one, but must always be voluntary for Texans.”

Shortly after that order was signed, Facebook, which employs more than 2,000 people in the state, said in a statement it was reviewing the order “and our company vaccine policy currently remains unchanged.”

Professor Srividhya Ragavan, who teaches global public health at Texas A&M University School of Law, said the order will probably be litigated in court, as Mr. Abbott’s ban on mask mandates has been.

Courts in the United States have a long history of upholding vaccine mandates, Professor Ragavan said, in part, because people who oppose such mandates are not the only individuals whose rights the courts take into account.

“I may choose not to get treatment for cancer,” Ms. Ragavan said, “but when it’s a case of an infectious disease, your freedom has the ability to affect someone else.”

The order may be hard to enforce because of its broad scope and timing, said Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston. Companies that operate in multiple states will have to wrestle with whether it applies to them merely by having some operations in Texas, he said.

Some businesses may face “severe financial risk” if they already have mandates in place, said Mr. Blackman.

The order ratchets up an already deeply polarizing debate. On one side is President Biden, who has mandated shots for health care workers, federal contractors and the vast majority of federal workers, and has ordered all private employers with 100 workers or more to require their workers to be vaccinated or undergo frequent testing.

Mr. Biden’s actions reflected growing frustration with the millions of Americans who are eligible for shots but have not gotten them. In announcing them, he spoke of the need to “protect vaccinated workers from the unvaccinated.”

As of Friday, 66 percent of people 12 and older in the United States have been fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database — a lower figure than dozens of other countries have achieved.

About this data

Source: State and local health agencies. Daily cases are the number of new cases reported each day. The seven-day average is the average of a day and the previous six days of data.

On the other side are the Republican governors of Texas, Florida and other states who now adamantly oppose any measures that would require vaccines or masks, saying they infringe on personal liberties. Their bans on mandates have been making their way through the courts for months.

A Texas hospital, Houston Methodist, was one of the first large health care facilities in the country to enforce a vaccine mandate in June, when more than 150 staff members were fired or resigned.

Facebook and Google, which maintain significant campuses in Texas, had said before Monday’s order that they would require proof of vaccination for employees to return to their offices.

American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, announced on Friday that more than 100,000 U.S.-based employees must get vaccinated.

J. David Goodman contributed reporting.

Credit…Adam Hunger via Associated Press

The Nets announced Tuesday that they were indefinitely barring Kyrie Irving from all games and practices until he was “eligible to be a full participant.”

Irving, the team’s starting point guard, had faced the prospect of being able to play only on the road with the Nets this season because of local coronavirus ordinances in New York that require most individuals to be at least partially vaccinated to enter facilities such as sports arenas. The Nets play their home games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Without a doubt, losing a player of Kyrie’s caliber hurts,” Sean Marks, the Nets’ general manager, said at a news conference. “I’m not going to deny that. But at the end of the day, our focus, our coaches’ focus and our organization’s focus needs to be on those players that are going to be involved here and participating fully.”

Irving has not spoken publicly about his vaccination status, asking instead for privacy, and the Nets had danced around the topic for weeks. In response to a question from The New York Times on Tuesday about whether Irving was vaccinated, Marks said: “If he was vaccinated, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I think that’s probably pretty clear.”

Marks said Irving would not be paid for missed home games, and that the decision to keep Irving away from the team had been made by himself and by Joe Tsai, the Nets’ owner.

“Will there be pushback from Kyrie and his camp? I’m sure that this is not a decision that they like,” Marks said. “Kyrie loves to play basketball, wants to be out there, wants to be participating with his teammates. But again, this is a choice that Kyrie had and he was aware of that.”

Irving missed the Nets’ preseason home-opener against the Milwaukee Bucks after being listed as “ineligible” on the injury report. He also was not with the Nets in Philadelphia for their preseason game against the 76ers on Monday. Asked about his absence before the game, Steve Nash, the Nets’ coach, said: “We’re just trying to take our time to figure out what everything means.”

Irving’s potential absence from home games had created a predicament for the Nets, a team with championship aspirations that had to weigh whether having him around only half the time would be worth it. His teammates had expressed their support for him.

“It’ll work itself out,” James Harden said last week, adding: “I want him to be on the team, of course. He’s been a huge part of our success.”

On Tuesday, Marks said he would be willing to welcome Irving’s return to the team “under a different set of circumstances.”

Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks play, require all employees and guests 12 and older to show proof of having received at least one vaccine dose, to comply with a city mandate, unless they have a religious or medical exemption. San Francisco has a similar requirement that applies to Chase Center, where the Golden State Warriors play. The mandates in both cities mean that the players from the Knicks, Nets and Golden State cannot play in their teams’ 41 home games without being vaccinated.

The ordinances in New York and San Francisco do not apply to players from visiting teams.

Credit…Yana Paskova for The New York Times

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that New York State health officials must allow employers to grant religious exemptions to a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers while a lawsuit challenging the mandate makes its way through the courts.

The judge’s order at least temporarily thwarts Gov. Kathy M. Hochul’s effort to require immediate vaccination for health care workers even if they have religious objections. And it offers a reprieve for thousands of unvaccinated doctors, nurses and support workers who would have been prevented from working beginning Tuesday if the judge had ruled for the state.

A lawyer for a group of health care workers who are suing the state over the mandate hailed the ruling.

“With this decision, the court rightly recognized that yesterday’s ‘front line heroes’ in dealing with Covid cannot suddenly be treated as disease-carrying villains and kicked to the curb by the command of a state health bureaucracy,” said Christopher Ferrara of the Thomas More Society.

Ms. Hochul, in a statement, indicated the state would appeal.

“My responsibility as governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that,” Ms. Hochul said. “I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued the state’s first vaccine mandate for health workers in mid-August; it permitted religious exemptions.

But when Ms. Hochul’s administration issued its own mandate later that month — to take effect this fall — it rescinded the exemptions. That prompted 17 health care workers to sue the state in federal court, on the ground that the mandate conflicted with their religious beliefs.

Between the two governors’ orders, thousands of health care workers across the state had applied for or received a religious exemption.

In his 27-page ruling, Judge David N. Hurd of the Northern District in Utica wrote that New York appeared to overreach by barring all religious accommodations in the mandate. He issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Department of Health from acting against any employer who grants religious exemptions, and wrote that the 17 health care workers were likely to succeed in their case.

“The Department of Health is barred from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions from Covid-19 vaccination going forward, or with the operation of exemptions already granted,” Judge Hurd wrote.

The judge had earlier issued a temporary injunction barring the state from enforcing the mandate against people with religious objections starting in mid-September; technically, Tuesday’s order extended that ruling. The injunction allowed many health workers who applied for religious exemptions in New York to continue working even after the mandate went into effect.

In the federal case, titled Dr. A et al v. Hochul, the 17 health care workers argued that they could not consent to be inoculated with vaccines “that were tested, developed or produced with fetal cell lines derived from procured abortions.”

Pope Francis has said that Catholics may get the Covid-19 vaccines; most of the health care workers suing in the case are Catholic. But Judge Hurd did not question whether the health care workers were correct in their religious objections. Instead, he focused on their broader constitutional right to have their religious beliefs considered, and when possible, accommodated.

In his ruling, Judge Hurd looked at how the mandates differed from one governor to the next. “This intentional change in language is the kind of ‘religious gerrymander’ that triggers heightened scrutiny,” the judge wrote.

Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

Fully vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries, including the United States and China, would be allowed to visit Thailand without undergoing quarantine starting Nov. 1, under a plan announced by the country’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Health officials are expected to approve the plan, which calls for the lifting of restrictions for tourists from 10 countries. It would be the first step in a phased reopening strategy that would lead to the resumption of service at entertainment venues as early as Dec. 1, he said in an address Monday evening.

Before the pandemic, Thailand’s economy was highly dependent on tourism and attracted nearly 40 million tourists in 2019, with more than a quarter coming from China. Bangkok, the capital, often ranks in surveys as the world’s most visited city. Thailand was among the most successful countries in containing the virus last year. But it was slow in procuring vaccines and has seen a surge of cases this year.

The prime minister said that Thailand must learn to live with the virus, noting that other nations were already taking steps to reopen to tourists, and that Thailand must act quickly to lure millions of visitors for the New Year holidays.

Under Mr. Prayuth’s plan, fully vaccinated visitors from the 10 countries would be required to show proof of a negative PCR test before departure, and to take another test upon arrival. After testing negative, they would be free to travel around Thailand. Visitors from countries not on the list would still face quarantines and other restrictions.

A ban on restaurants serving alcohol — a rule widely flouted in Bangkok — would remain in place until at least Dec. 1, he said.

In July, Thailand began allowing vaccinated tourists who tested negative to visit the island of Phuket under a program called the Phuket Sandbox. After 14 days, they were allowed to travel freely in Thailand. That period has since been reduced to seven days. Thailand has increased its vaccine supply in recent weeks and launched an aggressive inoculation campaign, vaccinating as many as 1 million people a day.

“The time has come for us to ready ourselves to face the coronavirus and live with it as with other endemic infections and disease,” Mr. Prayuth said.

Credit…Thomas Kienzle/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The German company CureVac announced on Tuesday that it was withdrawing its mRNA vaccine for Covid-19 from the approval process in Europe. The company pulled the plug after determining that it might take until June for regulators to make a ruling about the vaccine.

With other mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech already in wide distribution, the company decided it was time to give up on its initial efforts to address the Covid-19 emergency.

“The pandemic window is closing,” Franz-Werner Haas, CureVac’s chief executive, said in an interview.

The company will also terminate its advance agreement with the European Commission to sell it 405 million doses of the vaccine after approval.

But in the longer term, CureVac is not out of the Covid-19 vaccine business. The company is partnering with the pharmaceutical giant GSK to start a clinical trial of a new version of the vaccine that they hope will be more effective. The companies are also investigating how to combine seasonal booster shots to work against both Covid-19 and influenza.

Founded 20 years ago, CureVac pioneered early research on mRNA vaccines along with the German firm BioNTech and the U.S. company Moderna. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, all three companies developed new vaccines against the coronavirus.

While Moderna and BioNTech moved swiftly into clinical trials, CureVac was slower to find partners to support its vaccine’s development. Nevertheless, some experts saw promise in the CureVac shot, hoping that it could help address the global shortfall in Covid vaccines.

The European Medicines Agency gave CureVac special priority for its application, cutting the time needed for authorization. But in June, the company made a disappointing announcement: A clinical trial found that the vaccine’s efficacy was just 48 percent. By comparison, the vaccines from BioNTech and Moderna had efficacies around 95 percent.

Despite that disappointment, CureVac went ahead with its application for authorization in Europe, and submitted a final data package in September. In its updated application, CureVac asked that the vaccine be considered only for people 18 to 60 years old. In that group, the clinical trial had found a moderately higher vaccine efficacy, of 53 percent.

The European regulators’ response was less than encouraging. “We were not being lined up for emergency review,” said Dr. Klaus Edvardsen, the company’s chief development officer.

CureVac’s Covid-19 vaccine is now the seventh to be abandoned after entering clinical trials. Last month, Sanofi announced it was giving up on its mRNA vaccine.

But CureVac’s newer version may have more success. In August, the company shared the results of an experiment on monkeys, showing that the new vaccine generated 10 times as many antibodies against the coronavirus as the original one did. CureVac will begin testing it in people in the next couple of months.

Dr. Haas said the company’s strategy is now “to be fast with a second generation rather than to be very late with the first generation.”


An earlier version of this article misstated the efficacy of the CureVac vaccine. It was 48 percent, not 47. It also misstated the age range for which the company asked regulators to consider vaccine approval. It was ages 18 to 60, not under 65.

Credit…Seth Wenig/Associated Press

In their struggle to convince holdouts to get vaccinated against Covid, governments around the world are embracing vaccine mandates.

The push to get people vaccinated has largely shifted from offering incentives, like cash payouts or free drinks, to issuing mandates and restricting the access of the unvaccinated to many venues and activities.

Care to sip an espresso indoors at a cafe in Paris? You will need to provide proof of vaccination or a fresh negative coronavirus test, for which unvaccinated people will have to pay beginning on Oct. 15.

Want to work in settings like offices, factories, shops and restaurants in Italy? Starting later this month, you will need to have recently recovered from Covid-19, provide proof of having received at least one dose of a vaccine, or get a coronavirus test every two days. In areas of high coronavirus transmission in Greece, live music is returning indoors to restaurants and bars for a two-week trial, but the unvaccinated will not be admitted.

Italian and French officials announced their measures in July. Greece announced its shift last week. In early August, New York became the first U.S. city to require proof of vaccination for indoor dining, gyms and movie theaters.

Since then, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities have announced their own vaccine requirements to engage in public activities.

As the latest wave of infections has begun to wane around much of the U.S., President Biden’s administration has increasingly turned to mandates, drawing fire in the process from many Republican leaders who perceive them as government overreach. On Thursday, he urged private employers to impose mandates of their own as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration works out the details of a vaccine or testing requirement for companies with more than 100 employers.

Vaccine mandates have sparked resentment and refusal to comply from the unvaccinated.

France’s restrictions spurred large protests this summer, but those protests have mostly cooled, and as of Oct. 7, 67 percent of the population was fully vaccinated, more than double the level from early July, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. An additional 8.3 percent were partly vaccinated as of Oct. 7.

Vaccine requirements remain politically toxic in some parts of the United States. Republican governors like Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida have enacted rules that penalize businesses that require proof of vaccination and prohibit local governments from mandating such requirements.

On Monday, Mr. Abbott signed an executive order that broadened a previous ban on vaccine mandates by barring private companies from imposing them.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” the governor said in a statement.

The A.C.L.U., on the other hand, has defended vaccine mandates, saying they protect the civil liberties the organization defends.

“They protect the most vulnerable among us, including people with disabilities and fragile immune systems, children too young to be vaccinated and communities of color hit hard by the disease,” David Cole, the national legal director of the A.C.L.U., and Daniel Mach, director of its program on freedom of religion and belief, wrote in a New York Times editorial in September.

Some organizations that encourage vaccinations feel that mandates could be counterproductive, like the Wyoming Hospital Association. Eric Boley, the association’s president, said that vaccination was critical, especially for health workers, but that mandates could drive away staff that Wyoming’s hospitals urgently need.

Credit…Joe Raedle/Getty Images

By the holiday season, flying will have changed significantly for Americans returning to the United States from abroad. They will be asked to show proof that they are vaccinated, to commit to two coronavirus tests if they are not and to participate in a new contact tracing system.

For Americans traveling within the United States, however, none of this applies. As airlines prepare for what’s expected to be the biggest travel rush of the past two years, domestic travel — aside from a mask mandate and some restrictions on alcohol — will be largely the same as it was before the pandemic: packed cabins and no testing or proof of vaccination required.

Whether this is a symptom of denial or a sign of progress depends on whom you ask. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, recently telegraphed her position when she proposed a bill that would require passengers on domestic flights to be fully vaccinated, to have recently tested negative or to have a certificate of recovery from the virus.

“We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating COVID-19 surge,” Ms. Feinstein said in a statement. “We simply cannot allow that to happen again.”

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser, has said he personally supports requiring proof of vaccination for domestic air travel, a policy that Canada will begin putting in place on Oct. 30. But the White House has said it is focused on other strategies for encouraging broad vaccination.

Credit…Fabio Bucciarelli for The New York Times

On Jan. 9, 2020, about a week after the world first learned of a mysterious cluster of pneumonia cases in central China, authorities announced that scientists had found the culprit: a novel coronavirus.

It was a sobering announcement, and an unnervingly familiar one. Nearly two decades earlier, a different coronavirus had sped around the world, causing a lethal new disease — severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. It killed 774 people before health officials contained it.

But even as scientists worried that history may be repeating itself, there was one glimmer of hope. Although all viruses evolve, coronaviruses are known to be relatively stable, changing more slowly than the common flu.

What many scientists had not counted on was unchecked global spread. Over the following weeks, the new virus, SARS-CoV-2, skipped from Wuhan, China, to a cruise ship in Japan, to a small town in northern Italy and to a biotechnology conference in Boston. Country by country, global coronavirus trackers turned red.

To date, more than 237 million people have been infected with the virus, and 4.8 million have died — 700,000 in the United States alone.

With every infection come new opportunities for the virus to mutate. Now, nearly two years into the pandemic, we are working our way through an alphabet of new viral variants: fast-spreading Alpha, immune-evading Beta, and on through Gamma, Delta, Lambda and, most recently, Mu.

Even for a virus, evolution is a long game, and our relationship with Covid-19 is still in its infancy. We are extremely unlikely to eradicate the virus, scientists say, and what the next few years — and decades — hold is difficult to predict.

But the legacy of past epidemics, as well as some basic biological principles, provides clues to where we could be headed.

Credit…Grant Hindsley for The New York Times

It’s difficult to parse how immunity from infection from the coronavirus and from vaccination compare. Dozens of studies have delved into the debate, and have drawn contradictory conclusions.

Some consistent patterns have emerged. Two doses of an mRNA vaccine produce more antibodies, and more reliably, than an infection does. But the antibodies from a previous infection are more diverse, capable of fending off a wider range of variants, than those produced by vaccines.

Studies touting the durability and strength of natural immunity are hobbled by one crucial flaw. They are, by definition, assessing the responses only of people who survived Covid-19.

Only 85 percent to 90 percent of people who test positive for the virus and recover have detectable antibodies to begin with. The strength and durability of the response is variable.

For example, while the immunity gained from vaccines and infection is comparable among younger people, two doses of the mRNA vaccines protected adults older than 65 better than a prior infection did.

Research published in May showed a stepwise increase in the level of antibodies with rising severity of infection. About 43 percent of recovered people had no detectable neutralizing antibodies — the kind needed to prevent reinfection — according to one study. The antibodies drop to undetectable levels after about two months in about 30 percent of people who recover.

Several studies have now shown that reinfections, at least with the earlier versions of the virus, are rare.

At the Cleveland Clinic, none of 1,359 health care workers who remained unvaccinated after having Covid-19 tested positive for the virus over many months.

But the clinic tested only people who were visibly ill, and may have missed reinfections that did not produce symptoms. The participants were 39 years old on average, so the results may not apply to older adults, who would be more likely to become infected again.

Credit… Edward “Doc” Rogers/MediaNews Group/Oakland Tribune via Getty Images

Covid-19’s waves of destruction have inflicted their own kind of despair on humanity in the 21st century, leaving many to wonder when the pandemic will end.

“We tend to think of pandemics and epidemics as episodic,” said Allan Brandt, a historian of science and medicine at Harvard University. “But we are living in the Covid-19 era, not the Covid-19 crisis. There will be a lot of changes that are substantial and persistent. We won’t look back and say, ‘That was a terrible time, but it’s over.’ We will be dealing with many of the ramifications of Covid-19 for decades, for decades.”

Especially in the months before the Delta variant became dominant, the pandemic seemed like it should be nearly over.

“When the vaccines first came out, and we started getting shots in our own arms, so many of us felt physically and emotionally transformed,” said Dr. Jeremy Greene, a historian of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We had a willful desire to translate that as, ‘The pandemic has ended for me.’”

He added, “It was a willful delusion.”

That is a lesson from history that is often forgotten, Frank Snowden, a historian of medicine at Yale University, said: how difficult it is to declare that a pandemic has ended.

It may not be over even when physical disease, measured in illness and mortality, has greatly subsided. It may continue as the economy recovers and life returns to a semblance of normality. The lingering psychological shock of having lived in prolonged fear of severe illness, isolation and painful death takes long to fade.

Credit…Zowy Voeten/Getty Images

Severely or moderately immunocompromised people who have been vaccinated should be offered an additional dose of the seven coronavirus vaccines the World Health Organization has authorized, an advisory committee recommended on Monday.

People whose immune systems are diminished should get another shot if they initially received vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, the Serum Institute of India, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm and Sinovac, members of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization told reporters on a call on Monday.

Dr. Alejandro Cravioto, the committee’s chair, said that people with compromised immune systems “need a third dose as an additional priming process so that they’re fully protected.”

The officials also recommended a third vaccine dose for people 60 and over who were inoculated with China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, ideally of the same brand as their first course of treatment.

W.H.O. officials have previously said that they supported additional vaccine doses for immunocompromised people who were not sufficiently protected from a standard vaccination regimen, and some countries, including the United States, already administer them.

The committee was careful to distinguish its own recommendation for additional doses for immunocompromised people from booster shot regimens like those authorized in the United States, Israel and some European countries.

Those booster programs, largely intended to boost immunity in healthy individuals over certain ages, have drawn criticism from the W.H.O., which has called for a moratorium on boosters until the end of the year so that more of the world’s limited supply of vaccines can go to countries where few people have been vaccinated.

Dr. Katherine O’Brien, director of the W.H.O.’s department of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, called the panel’s recommendation “a distinct thing from giving additional doses, booster doses, to people who have had an adequate primary response to vaccination.”

Those boosters, she said, are “like putting two life jackets on somebody and leaving other people without any life jacket. So in this sense we’re talking about getting the first life jacket on to people who have immunocompromising conditions.”

She added that the W.H.O. had not yet determined that fully vaccinated, otherwise healthy people needed the added protection from boosters, but the committee planned to review booster issues during a session on Nov. 11.

The call with reporters on Monday was intended to summarize a series of meetings held last week, during which officials discussed global vaccine issues, like a newly approved vaccine for malaria.

Credit…Mark Makela/Getty Images

New Jersey’s governor’s race, which is one of just two governor’s races in the country before next year’s midterm elections, is seen by some as an early barometer of voter sentiment.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, has tried to lash Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican challenging his bid for re-election, to President Donald J. Trump, who lost to President Biden in New Jersey by 16 points.

But New Jersey’s election also offers one of the first statewide tests of how voters feel about strict coronavirus-related mandates as pandemic fatigue mounts.

Voters surveyed in polls continued to give Mr. Murphy some of his highest marks for the way he has responded to the pandemic, and he has said he believed it was the most defining issue separating him and Mr. Ciattarelli.

Last week, Mr. Murphy refused to rule out a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for students, a step taken only by California, where, as early as next fall, vaccination will be required to attend school.

Still, along the Jersey Shore in Ocean County, where Mr. Trump won by nearly 30 points, it remains easy to find anti-mask yard signs that read “Free the Smiles.” And across the state some local board of education meetings have grown tense with parents opposed to mask wearing in schools clashing with officials who are required to enforce the state mandate.

Registered Democrats in New Jersey outnumber Republicans by nearly 1.1 million voters, giving Mr. Murphy a built-in advantage that several polls have shown Mr. Ciattarelli is struggling to overcome.

A report released Friday by the Covid States Project, a research and tracking effort by several universities, found that governors of states with prohibitions on vaccine mandates, including Arkansas, Arizona and Idaho, got the lowest approval ratings.

Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

Many law enforcement officers in the United States resist coronavirus vaccination even though Covid-19 has killed more law enforcement officers than any other work-related cause since the start of the pandemic.

More than 460 American law enforcement officers have died from Covid-19 infections tied to their work since the pandemic began, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, making the coronavirus by far the most common cause of duty-related deaths in 2020 and 2021. More than four times as many officers have died from Covid-19 as from gunfire during the pandemic. There is no comprehensive accounting of how many American police officers have been sickened by the virus, but departments across the country have reported large outbreaks in the ranks.

While the virus has ravaged policing, persuading officers to take a vaccine has often been a struggle, even though the shots have proven to be largely effective in preventing severe disease and death.

Health departments generally do not publish vaccination data by occupation, but some cities have released figures showing that police department employees have been vaccinated at lower rates than most other government workers, and at lower rates than the general public. In Los Angeles, where vaccines are required for city workers, more than 2,600 employees of the police department said they intended to seek a religious exemption, though almost all major religious denominations support vaccines.

Some elected officials say police officers have a higher responsibility to get vaccinated because they are regularly interacting with members of the public and could unknowingly spread the virus. The debate echoes concerns from earlier in the pandemic, when police officers in some cities resisted wearing masks in public.

Yet as more departments in recent weeks have considered requiring members to be vaccinated, officers and their unions have loudly pushed back, in some cases threatening resignations or flooding systems with requests for exemptions.

Source link

Live updates: traffic on the M5, A30, A38, A39 and travel news across Devon and Cornwall on Tuesday, October 12

The roads seem pretty quiet this morning as thousands of people across Devon and Cornwall are about to start their daily commute.

Several roadwork areas are being reported on the roads, including on the A30 at Zelah, Cornwall, where a road closure is in place, and on the A39 at Bideford, where temporary traffic lights have been installed.

One lane is also still closed on the Tamar Bridge due to resurfacing work.

We’ll be looking at all the latest traffic information until this evening, so keep checking back to make sure you get wherever you’re going as quickly and safely as possible.

We will bring you live updates of all the incidents and trouble spots around the region.

Follow our traffic blog below for the latest travel information

Source link

WNBA Finals Game 1, Chicago Sky vs. Phoenix Mercury live updates

The WNBA Finals will feature quite the unexpected meeting when the No. 5 seed Phoenix Mercury take on the No. 6 seed Chicago Sky. Since 2016, only once has a WNBA Finals not featured a No. 1 seed vs. a No. 2 seed — and that game still was a No. 1 vs. No. 3 matchup.

How to watch:

The best-of-five series kicks off Sunday in Phoenix with a 3 p.m. ET tip on ABC. Game 2 in Phoenix is scheduled for Wednesday (9 p.m. ET on ESPN) and Game 3 (9 p.m. ET on ESPN2) in Chicago is scheduled for Friday. Games 4 and 5 will be played if needed on Oct. 17 and Oct. 19, respectively.

How they got here:

In the semifinals, the Sky stunned the top-seeded Connecticut Sun, which had finished the regular season on a 14-game winning streak. Candace Parker is leading her hometown team back into the finals for the first time since 2014 after leaving Los Angeles for Chicago during free agency. Parker, Courtney Vanderlsoot, Kahleah Copper and the rest of the crew found a way to speed up the Sun, and Connecticut could never regain its identity.

Meanwhile, the Mercury upset No. 2 seed Las Vegas Aces in a Game 5 stunner. Phoenix was dealing with two major injuries: Kia Nurse tore her ACL in Game 4 and will miss the remainder of the season, and guard Sophie Cunningham missed both Game 4 and Game 5 with a left calf strain. Cunningham is listed as questionable in the injury report for Game 1 of the finals. Without those two players, Diana Taurasi did DT things, only adding to her legacy as a playoff legend. She’s now 16-2 in win-or-go-home games. Shey Peddy played big minutes and Brittney Griner grabbed a huge block to save the win.

The Athletic’s Game 1 predictions:

Chantel Jennings: I predicted Chicago as the WNBA champs back in May. Then, for about three months, the Sky made me look very, very uninformed. But given that Chicago has made it all the way here, I’m going to stick with that prediction and say Chicago will win as long as this series is played in four games or fewer.

If the finals extend to five games, then I’m breaking with my prediction and saying Phoenix will win its third championship. Is that cheating to pick both? Yes, it probably is. But considering how Phoenix closed out Game 5 against Las Vegas, and the thought of the Mercury having the X-Factor at home — that’s a lot for even a sharp-shooting team like Chicago to overcome. But if the Sky can manage to close it out at home, I like their odds.

I expect Chicago to jump out to the 1-0 lead with a win today. Yes, they had to fly across the country on Friday (and then fly from Vegas to Phoenix on Saturday), and they’ll be playing an earlier game. But the Mercury bench is just too short to keep up with Chicago, and I think the Sky is really going to push the pace in the finals opener. That level of intensity and speed is going to be tough for a short bench (one that already was short before the Mercury lost Kia Nurse for the playoffs and Sophie Cunningham indefinitely). Ultimately the Sky will be able to take the early advantage on the road.

Charlotte Carroll: Given how the Sky are playing, I’m going with Chicago to win this series. The matchup against the Sun was favorable as they were able to force them to play their style and Connecticut just couldn’t find its footing. But even then, the Sky just looked like a well-oiled machine for most of the series and were able to close out the last game in a more dominating fashion than expected. I’m going with Chicago in four games.

Similarly, they should take Game 1 considering the Mercury didn’t get much recovery time from the semifinals and they don’t have bench depth. Both teams have momentum, but it’s the Sky’s to lose.

Check back for more updates.

Source link

Covid News: Live Updates on the Virus, Vaccines and Mandates

Daily Covid Briefing

Oct. 9, 2021, 11:05 a.m. ET

Oct. 9, 2021, 11:05 a.m. ET

ImageA view of Chicago last winter. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Friday that city employees could avoid the vaccine mandate she issued in August by getting tested twice a week through the end of the year.
Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Just a day after President Biden visited Chicago to plead for vaccine mandates, saying they were the only way to defeat the coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday said public workers could opt out of the city’s mandate until the end of the year by getting regularly tested.

The mayor announced the mandate for Chicago workers in August. But the proposal was met with immediate pushback from employees and labor groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the Chicago Federation of Labor.

New reported doses administered by day

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Note: Line shows a seven-day average. Data not updated on some weekends and holidays. Includes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as of March 5. The C.D.C., in collaboration with the states, sometimes revises data or reports a single-day large increase in vaccinations from previous dates, which can cause an irregular pattern in the daily reported figures.

Now, workers who are not fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, including those who have sought medical or religious exemptions, must get tested twice a week, separated by three to four days, at their own time and expense, the mayor’s office said.

Employees who fail to report their vaccination status by the Oct. 15 deadline will be placed on unpaid leave.

The test-out option will remain in place until Dec. 31, after which employees must be fully vaccinated unless they have received a medical or religious exemption. It was unclear what the consequences will be for those who refuse to comply.

Cities and states around the country have introduced vaccine mandates for their workers, and some have been met with legal challenges.

After being delayed by the courts, a vaccine mandate for educators and staff in New York City public schools was cleared to proceed after a ruling by a federal appeals panel last week. Though it faced opposition, the mandate pushed tens of thousands of Department of Education employees to get their shots.

Municipal workers in Seattle and in Los Angeles are required to be fully inoculated against the virus by next week, though unlike Chicago’s policy, there is no test-out option. Both mandates allow for religious or medical accommodations.

Chicago had been negotiating with labor unions since the August announcement.

Credit…Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune, via Associated Press

While the Delta variant-driven surge is receding in much of the United States, it rages on in less-vaccinated states like North Dakota, to the point where the state’s governor and health professionals have asked people to avoid risky activities that could add to the burden on hospitals.

The plea to maximize capacity for the crush of Covid patient came last week from Gov. Doug Burgum and doctors and administrators from some of North Dakota’s largest hospitals. They asked the public to drive defensively, skip dangerous activities that could lead to injuries, regularly visiting primary care physicians and make sure all their vaccinations were up to date.

About this data

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The seven-day average is the average of a day and the previous six days of data. Currently hospitalized is the most recent number of patients with Covid-19 reported by hospitals in the state for the four days prior. Dips and spikes could be due to inconsistent reporting by hospitals. Hospitalization numbers early in the pandemic are undercounts due to incomplete reporting by hospitals to the federal government.

“The pressure on hospitals and clinics in both our urban and rural areas is reaching critical levels, and we all need to do our part to avoid hospitalization and prevent further strain on these facilities and their staff as we work through this incredibly challenging time,” said Mr. Burgum, a Republican.

The problem has been compounded by health care worker shortages and a wave of patients who can no longer delay care for other conditions, said Dr. Joshua C. Ranum, the vice president of the North Dakota Medical Association.

North Dakota’s caseload — 81 cases per 100,000 residents — trails only those of Alaska and Montana, according to a New York Times database, a 25 percent increase over the past two weeks. And Covid-related hospitalizations are up more than a fifth in the past two weeks.

Nationally, the United States is averaging below 100,000 new daily cases for the first time since Aug. 4. The average of 97,933 cases is down 20 percent from two weeks ago. New daily deaths are down 14 percent, to an average of 1,770.

Covid caseloads remain high in North Dakota and Western states like Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, where vaccination rates are relatively low. Some areas have had to ration care and send patients to distant hospitals for treatment.

Just 45 percent of the North Dakota’s population is fully inoculated, according to federal data, compared with 56 percent nationally.

Mr. Burgum has asked North Dakotans to get vaccinated, but he has resisted mandating vaccines and threatened legal action after President Biden announced vaccination requirements last month that Mr. Biden said would affect 100 million workers.

About this data

Source: State and local health agencies. Daily cases are the number of new cases reported each day. The seven-day average is the average of a day and the previous six days of data.

In North Dakota, Dr. Ranum said most hospitals were being forced to get by with the staff members they had, sometimes training them to work in different parts of the hospital to fill gaps. Reinforcements from elsewhere are rare because demand for traveling nurses and other health workers is so high, he said.

Dr. Michael LeBeau, president of Sanford Health Bismarck, North Dakota’s second-largest hospital, said the facility’s staff was depleted and exhausted as it reckoned with overdue care amid the surge.

“We spent the better part of a year where we had a hard time keeping up with standard health maintenance, yearly physicals, the stuff that prevents hospitalization,” Dr. LeBeau said.

Credit…Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel, via Associated Press

The political battle in Florida over masks in schools escalated this week, as the state Board of Education voted to authorize sanctions on eight local school districts for not following instructions from Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration that make masks optional.

The eight districts, whose boards all voted to require masks in school buildings, could face cutbacks equal to their school board members’ salaries unless, according to the Tampa Bay Times, they show within 48 hours that they are in compliance with state orders. The districts are in Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach Counties.

The measure was approved unanimously during a conference call meeting on Thursday by the State Board of Education, all of whose members are appointees by Republican governors. The vote came after superintendents from the eight districts argued their mask policies had been effective at curbing the spread of the virus.

After the vote, one of the superintendents, Alberto M. Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, noted on Twitter there had been “no major outbreaks” in his district and that student cases had been declining after a spike in early September.

“We disagree with today’s State Board of Education’s recommendation and wholeheartedly believe that we are in compliance with law, reason, and science,” he said in a Twitter post.

But the state board said that the county school boards had “willingly and knowingly violated the rights of students and parents by denying them the option to make personal and private health care and educational decisions for their children.”

Masks in schools have become the center of a fiercely partisan debate in Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states whose Republican governors oppose mask mandates as an infringement on personal liberties. In late July, Governor DeSantis, a possible Republican presidential candidate, signed an executive order directing state officials to ensure parents have the power to decide whether children wear masks in school.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all students, teachers and employees wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. Most masks offer far more protection to others than to the person wearing them, dispersing the exhaled aerosols that carry the coronavirus in an infected person. So individual masking undermines the protection the masks offer.

President Biden, a Democrat, has openly criticized the Republican governors blocking local mask mandates, and the federal Department of Education has started investigating whether such policies in five states violate the civil rights of disabled students.

Lawsuits have also been filed in a number of states, including Florida, challenging bans on mask mandates. In late August, a federal judge said that Florida’s state constitution allowed school districts to impose strict mask mandates on students, handing Mr. DeSantis a defeat. The state asked an appellate court to reverse the ruling, which has been stayed temporarily pending a final decision.

On Thursday, the Florida school board maintained that a “parents’ bill of rights” enacted by state lawmakers earlier this year gave parents the sole right to decide if their children should wear masks. The board’s statement said that the law requires districts and schools to “protect parents’ right to make health care decisions such as masking of their children in relation to Covid-19.”

“Every school board member and every school superintendent has a duty to comply with the law, whether they agree with it or not,” the chairman of the state board, Tom Grady, said in the statement.

Credit…Thalia Juarez for The New York Times

Dozens of people gathered at the Word of Life International Church in the South Bronx in New York City on a recent Saturday for its weekly food bank, but the pastor was also interested in discussing a different subject.

He said he wanted everyone there — mostly Black residents, including seniors and mothers with small children — to know that Covid vaccines were easy to find. More important, the pastor, the Rev. John S. Udo-Okon, wanted them to know that the vaccines would not harm them.

More than 80 percent of adults in New York City have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, but there are significant racial disparities in the vaccination rate.

Only 55 percent of Black adults have received at least one vaccine dose, compared with 92 percent of Asian Americans, 75 percent of Hispanic adults and 62 percent of white residents, according to data published by the city government. Community leaders attribute that low vaccination rate among Black New Yorkers to a combination of factors, primarily a history of racism in the medical system and a subsequent distrust of authorities.

To address the gap, health officials and some Black churches have sought to use the power of the pulpit to vouch for the safety of vaccines and to push back against misinformation. They have also hosted vaccination events in church halls or from mobile vans parked outside of churches after Sunday services.

“These cultural institutions are a safe space to have discussions — you go to your faith leader and they’ll answer questions,” said Dr. Torian Easterling, the first deputy commissioner and chief equity officer at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Credit…Ore Huiying for The New York Times

Singapore is adding the United States and seven other countries to its list of places where two-way travel for fully vaccinated people can occur without needing to quarantine, officials announced on Saturday, as the Southeast Asian country begins to cautiously reopen.

“We are charting a course for the new normal, toward living with Covid-19,” S. Iswaran, the transportation minister for Singapore, said in a post on Facebook. “This is how we must move forward to protect both our lives and livelihoods, to learn to live with the virus, and to journey toward a Covid-resilient nation.”

In addition to the United States, the new countries in this arrangement are Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain, according to Mr. Iswaran. Singapore already announced similar arrangements with South Korea, Brunei and Germany.

Under the plan, known as Vaccinated Travel Lanes, fully vaccinated people traveling between Singapore and those countries will subject only to PCR tests for the coronavirus instead of quarantining, according to the transportation ministry. Those travelers will also have no restrictions on their purpose of travel and will not be required to have a controlled itinerary or sponsorship, the ministry said.

The expanded travel plan will start on Tuesday, according to the ministry.

Email messages to the ministry seeking comment were not immediately returned.

The Vaccinated Travel Lanes are one of the biggest reopening steps being taken by Singapore, a major economic and transportation hub, after early successes in thwarting the coronavirus and then a sharp setback in controlling its spread.

Singapore was widely considered a success story in its initial handling of the pandemic, closing its borders, testing and tracing aggressively, and ordering vaccines early.

Singapore has now fully inoculated 83 percent of its population, and a top politician told the public in August that an 80 percent vaccination rate was the criterion for a phased reopening.

But in September, with cases doubling every eight to 10 days, the government reinstated restrictions on gatherings. The United States said its citizens should reconsider travel to the country, emergency departments in several Singapore hospitals were crowded, and people were once again told to work from home.

The country’s experience has become a sobering case study for other nations pursuing reopening strategies without having had to deal with large outbreaks in the pandemic. For Singapore residents, there were nagging questions about what it would take to reopen if vaccines were not enough.

For many, the repeated tweaks to the restrictions have taken a toll. The number of suicides in 2020 was the highest since 2012, a trend that some mental health experts have attributed to the pandemic.

Credit…Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

With the Nets star Kyrie Irving potentially set to lose more than $380,000 for missing a preseason game Friday night, the N.B.A. players’ association pushed back on the league’s plan to dock the pay of unvaccinated players for any games they miss this season because of local coronavirus ordinances.

Irving, a union vice president, has not spoken publicly about his vaccination status, instead asking for privacy. New York requires most teens and adults to have at least one vaccination shot to enter facilities such as sports arenas, and Irving has not practiced with the Nets in Brooklyn. The team listed him as “ineligible to play” in its injury report before Friday’s preseason home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center.

For Irving, the $380,000 represents about 1 percent of his base pay for the 2021-22 season. A disagreement between the league and the players’ union over lost pay hinges on a section of the collective bargaining agreement that allows the league to discipline players who, “without proper and reasonable cause or excuse,” fail to fulfill their contractual obligations.

Mike Bass, a league spokesman, said last week that “any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses.”

The union has rejected instituting a leaguewide vaccine mandate.

Irving’s indefinite absence from home games — and from practices — has created a predicament for the Nets, a team with championship aspirations that must weigh whether having him around only half the time is worth it. His teammates have said they support him.

Steve Nash, the Nets’ coach, said the team would not move its practices to a location outside of New York to accommodate Irving. The Nets, who have not said publicly whether Irving is vaccinated, held their training camp in San Diego.

“No, this is our home,” Nash said. “This is where we’re going to practice, and we have almost a whole group. So that’s a positive, and we’re just working at getting better every day and focusing on the things we can control.”

Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks play, require all employees and guests 12 and older to show proof of having received at least one vaccine dose, to comply with a city mandate, unless they have a religious or medical exemption. San Francisco has a similar requirement that applies to Chase Center, where the Golden State Warriors play. The mandates in both cities mean that the players from the Knicks, Nets and Golden State cannot play in their teams’ 41 home games without being vaccinated.

In Case You Missed It

Credit…Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Across the United States, many families with young children have been anxiously awaiting a vaccine for those under 12 years old.

This week, they moved one step closer, as Pfizer and BioNTech asked federal regulators to authorize emergency use of their shot, which has been proven to be safe and highly effective for young children, for those aged 5 to 11.

If approved, the vaccine could help protect some 28 million more people in the United States. Federal regulators received another major request this week from Johnson & Johnson as the company sought authorization for a booster shot for adults. It was the last of the three Covid vaccine manufacturers whose shots are authorized for U.S. use to make such a request.

Pfizer’s announcement came on Thursday, the same day that President Biden made an appeal to private employers to adopt vaccine mandates, underscoring the administration’s efforts to reach the tens of millions of Americans who remain unvaccinated. In his speech, Mr. Biden said that mandates were the only way to defeat the virus.

Here’s what else happened this week:

  • A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines can nearly triple the chances of a rare heart condition in young men, though the risk remained extremely low. Experts have thus far said that the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risk of getting the condition, called myocarditis.

  • After months of decline, the number of nursing home deaths rose sharply from July to August as the Delta variant spread across the country, a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found.

  • The Covax vaccine program backed by the United Nations will fail to meet its target for delivering doses to Latin America and the Caribbean this year, in part because wealthy countries that pay more for the shots are buying up most of the supply, according to the World Health Organization.

  • The United States will spend $1 billion to quadruple the availability of at-home rapid coronavirus tests by the end of the year, White House officials said. Two hundred million rapid tests are soon expected to be available to Americans each month.

Source link

Covid-19 live updates: San Francisco to ease indoor masking rules as cases fall – The Washington Post

Covid-19 live updates: San Francisco to ease indoor masking rules as cases fall  The Washington Post

Source link