The Food and Drug Administration is planning to allow Americans to receive a different Covid-19 vaccine as a booster than the one they initially received.
A study out of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found that the average unvaccinated person could expect to come down with COVID-19 every 16 months, ABC 11 News reported. The study, published in The Lancet, led the researchers to believe that public health measures should stay in place. “Maintaining public health measures that curb transmission-including among individuals who were previously infected with [COVID-19] coupled with persistent efforts to accelerate vaccination worldwide is critical to the prevention of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality,” the authors wrote. Read the full study here.
After recent claims from Chinese media outlets have suggested that the coronavirus pandemic began with a shipment of lobster from Maine, state officials and local fishermen say they aren’t buying it. The claim originated in an article from the Chinese media outlet Sina, which claimed that a shipment of 55 boxes of chilled lobster arrived in Shanghai on Nov. 11, 2019, and was distributed to food markets, one of which included the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China. Tom Adams, president of Maine Coast Shellfish, told the Portland Press Harold that he’s having none of that.
“To think that it originated from Maine, in a lobster shipment from 2019 seems pretty absurd to me,” he said. “We’ve been actively shipping all this time with no more scrutiny than any other company.”
Anti-vaccine activists will gather for a conference in Nashville, Tennessee, as the pandemic continues to kill thousands a week in the United States, NPR reported. Most serious infections and deaths are among the unvaccinated, a fact that is not stopping the conspiracy theorists who plan to gather. "If we're superspreaders, we're superspreaders of the truth," said Charlene Bollinger, one of the event organizers and "one of the nation's biggest vaccine misinformation superspreaders," according to NPR. "We have countless testimonies of people that are alive today because of our work, and this is straight from heaven. God has put us on this Earth for such a time as this." Bollinger and her husband have also pushed unproven cancer treatments and have said that the event won’t require any masks or social distancing. Among the scheduled guests at the event are Eric Trump, the son of the former president. Tennessee has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, with less than 49% of the state’s population fully vaccinated, according to
The number of new coronavirus cases and deaths in Russia continues to surge to new highs, with more than 37,000 new infections and 1,064 deaths reported in the country over the last 24 hours, The Associated Press reported. The Russian government is responding to the rise in cases by ordering Russians to follow a nonworking week between Oct. 30 and Nov. 7 to limit the spread of the virus. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the off-work period could be moved up to start as early as Saturday and extend past Nov. 7 in the worst-hit areas. Cases and deaths have been surging for weeks across Russia, as the virus spreads easily with low vaccination rates and a public largely apathetic to new restrictions. Putin has expressed his frustration over Russians’ vaccine hesitancy. “There are just two options for everyone — to get sick, or receive a vaccine," Putin said. "And there is no way to walk between the raindrops.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence stopped by an In-N-Out Burger location on Thursday, the same week the restaurant chain announced that it would be opposing local vaccination mandates. In San Francisco, restaurant locations are currently closed because of the vaccination policy, a move that Pence said he supports, according to Fox News.
"In California and had to stop at In-N-Out Burger!" Pence wrote on Twitter in a post. Previously, Pence visited Beth’s Burger Bar in Orlando, Florida, when the restaurant was reopening in May, 2020.
More vaccinated Americans are getting their booster shot than unvaccinated Americans are getting their first dose as the number of Americans getting their first dose slips to near its lowest point, ABC News reported. Just over 182,000 Americans a day are getting their first dose, while about 335,000 Americans are sitting down for their booster shots, a number that may rise as booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been approved for certain groups. Of the more than 112.5 million unvaccinated people in America, 64.3 million of them are over the age of 12 and eligible to get the shot.
Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. He tested positive just one day after he attended a gala in New York City hosted by the Robin Hood Foundation that was attended by around 3,000 people, The New York Post reported. “I had a negative PCR test for COVID on Monday, but I took another PCR test on Thursday after a co-worker at my home tested positive,” Tudor Jones said on Friday, a day after testing positive. “Every person at the dinner was vaccinated and we are sharing information as we have it. I feel fine, have no temperature and am following COVID protocols. If I have inadvertently exposed anyone, I am truly and deeply sorry.”
Some lawmakers in Washington state are unable to access some buildings in the Capitol due to a new rule passed by House leaders that requires full vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter the buildings. According to King 5 News, the interim rule was passed in September but went into effect on Oct. 18. The rule requires that members of staff who want to access House facilities provide proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to do so. “I can't do work from the Capitol as a legislator in this state. This is unusual,” Republican Rep. Jim Walsh said in a video posted to Facebook in which he showed that his keycard to enter the building would not work. Members and staff that do not provide proof of vaccination will continue to work remotely, according to the rule.
An analysis of 43 states found that in the instances in which the race/ethnicity of a person was known, 49% of the white population in Louisiana is vaccinated compared to 51% of the Black population, 56% of the Hispanic population and 84% of the Asian population of the state. The analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, looked over the 61% of people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine and whose race/ethnicity was known. “What we’ve seen since late summer is that the vaccination rates for Black and Hispanic people have been increasing at slightly higher rates compared to white people, so that has helped to close that gap,”Samantha Artiga, the director of the racial equity and health policy program at Kaiser Family Foundation, told NOLA.com. However, she added that the vaccination gap between rural and urban residents was increasing.
Health experts have suggested that the lack of a gap in vaccination rates between white and Black residents in Louisiana is in part due to an effort to vaccinate the Black population, which makes up nearly a third of the state’s population, but also due to the white population’s resistance to vaccination. “What’s happening is that the white population in Louisiana is underperforming,” Thomas LaVeist, dean of the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, told NOLA.com.
California saw its highest number of initial claims for unemployment benefits in six months during the week that ended on Oct. 16, Mercury News reported. Statewide, workers filed 80,700 first-time unemployment claims during that time period, about 17,600 from the number of initial claims filed the week prior, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The last time the state saw this large a jump in unemployment claims within a week was during the week that ended on April 3. Back during January and February of 2020, before the government called for shutdowns to block the transmission of the coronavirus, the state saw an average of 44,800 unemployment claims a week. Despite COVID-19 rates dipping below those of other states, schools reopening and childcare returning, Michael Bernick, an employment attorney with law firm Duane Morris and a former EDD director told Mercury News that the small business economy in the state had taken a hit, limiting job openings. “However,” Bernick added, “employers who do have job openings, particularly for retail and hospitality jobs, report few applicants.”
The World Health Organization said that somewhere between 80,000 and 180,000 healthcare workers have died from the coronavirus from the start of the pandemic to May 2021, a toll that will rise as the virus continues to spread globally, Al Jazeera reported. The WHO is also warning about the dangers of burnout, anxiety and fatigue to doctors and healthcare workers as the pandemic nears its third year. “These deaths are a tragic loss,” the WHO said on Thursday. “They are also an irreplaceable gap in the world’s pandemic response.” Less than one in ten healthcare workers have been vaccinated in Africa and in the Western Pacific, while workers in high-income countries are nearly fully vaccinated. “We have a moral obligation to protect all health and care workers, ensure their rights and provide them with decent work in a safe and enabling practice environment. This must include access to vaccines”, said Jim Campbell, Director of the WHO Health Workforce Department.
What happens if you test positive while overseas? April DeMuth and Warren Watson found out the hard way when they were attempting to return home from vacation in Greece this past August. The couple took a required COVID-19 test hours before boarding their return flight to South Carolina, but then Watson’s test result came back positive. Just hours before their plane’s departure, the vaccinated couple suddenly found themselves being whisked away to a Greek quarantine hospital, CNN reported.
"We were very fortunate that Greece has quarantine hotels that the government pays for," Watson said. There, the couple was provided three meals per day for free and stayed for seven days until he received a negative test.
However, according to CNN, their experience could have been much different in another country. In Italy, for example, infected visitors are required to pay for their own quarantine fees.
Singapore, one of several countries that became known for their strategies that had aimed to nearly eliminate the coronavirus before vaccinating its populations, is seeing cases and deaths rise after opening up, Reuters reported. The death toll in the country has jumped to 280 from just 55 at the start of September. "Singapore may potentially experience two to three epidemic waves as measures are increasingly relaxed," said Alex Cook, a disease modeling expert at the National University of Singapore (NUS). "Until then, deaths will probably continue to rise, unless many of the residual unvaccinated elders can be vaccinated or more get their booster shot." Countries like Australia and New Zealand have come to similar revelations regarding reopening, with both countries seeing a wave of cases related to the delta variant even as vaccination levels remain high. Unlike other COVID-zero countries, China has yet to open its borders or stop imposing severe restrictions when coronavirus cases are reported. "If I were a policymaker in Australia, New Zealand or China, I'd be studying what has happened in Singapore," Cook said.
The director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, denounced the vaccine disparity among health care workers, AFP reported. Approximately 40% of health care workers globally are fully vaccinated, but the distribution has not been equitable. “That average masks huge differences across regions and economic groupings,” Tedros said. “In Africa, less than one in ten health workers have been fully vaccinated.” Instead, most of the vaccines have gone to high-income countries, many of which are starting booster shot campaigns. “In most high-income countries, more than 80% of health workers are fully vaccinated,” Tedros added. Watch the video below for more.
New Zealand Prime Minister has said that the government will lift lockdowns once 90% of its population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, AFP reported. New Zealand had been attempting to fully eliminate the coronavirus within its borders, but an outbreak of the delta variant continues to grow. “Delta has made it very hard to maintain our elimination strategy,” said Ardern. “Its tentacles have reached into our communities and made it hard to shake, even using the best public health measures and toughest restrictions we had available to us.” Ardern says that the 90% fully vaccinated figure was devised after consulting with health experts. According to Johns Hopkins University figures, just over 56% of the country is already fully vaccinated. Watch the video below for more.
Data from drugmaker Pfizer shows that its coronavirus vaccine for kids is both safe and effective, preventing about 91% of symptomatic infections in kids ages 5 to 11, The Associated Press reported. If Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulators give the go-ahead, shots could be made available to kids as young as 5 by early November. The Biden administration has already purchased enough doses for all of the 28 million kids that fit between this age group. Side effects of the vaccine dose were similar to those experienced by teens and adults: a sore arm, a fever or aches and pains. More than 6.2 million children have been infected with the coronavirus since the pandemic began, with 1.1 million of those infections occurring in the past six weeks as kids returned to school while the delta variant surged.
Airlines are hoping for big holiday travel this December, hoping to close out 2021 on a high note. However, staffing issues and rising fuel costs may conflict with plans, and Southwest even predicted it will lose money in the fourth quarter, ABC News reported. “We expect a lot of passengers, tremendous pent-up demand,” as COVID-19 rates decline, American Airlines President Robert Isom told ABC News. “We are doing our best to make sure we have the right [employees] in the right places and the right times.” American said fourth-quarter revenue will be down 20% compared to the same quarter back during 2019, pre-pandemic.
Experts are debunking a story that originated from China about how the coronavirus first emerged into the public, NBC News reported. The global consensus is that the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China. Despite this, the Chinese general consul in Kolkata, India, tweeted that the coronavirus could have come to China from the United States through Maine lobsters shipped to a Wuhan market. The lobster industry was caught in the crossfire of a trade war between the United States and China, with China imposing heavy tariffs on the product in 2019. In other pieces of online disinformation related to China, it has been alleged that the virus leaked from a U.S. biological defense lab, Fort Detrick. “Whether or not anyone is buying into lobster or Fort Detrick being the source of Covid, it’s at least having the effect of muddying the truth and confusing people,” said Bret Schafer, the head of the information manipulation team at the Alliance for Securing Democracy.
Four months before the Winter Olympics are set to begin, Beijing has started offering booster shots against COVID-19. According to The Associated Press, "anyone 18 or older who has received two-dose Chinese vaccines and belongs to at-risk groups, including those participating, organizing or working on games facilities" are eligible. The games are set to begin on Feb. 4 in China's capital with only residents of China allowed in the stands.
It just got easier to get a COVID-19 booster. On Thursday, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed recommendations for booster doses for Moderna's and Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccines. This means millions more Americans can get booster shots. Some people who received the Pfizer vaccination are already eligible for a booster. Walensky also endorsed the mix-and-match approach to boosters, saying eligible people could choose whichever vaccine they wished as a booster. There are still restrictions on when specific age groups can get a booster. According to The Associated Press, "Starting six months past their last Prizer or Moderna vaccination, people are urged to get a booster if they're 65 or older, a nursing home resident, or at least 50 and at increased risk of severe diseases because of health problems." A booster for people who got the single-shot J&J vaccine is recommended at least two months after their vaccination because the vaccine didn't prove as protective as Moderna or Pfizer.
More than 50,000 COVID-19 cases were recorded in the United Kingdom for the first time since July 17. The count from July followed several weeks after households were allowed to mix together and indoor gatherings resumed, according to the BBC. Despite the return to a high number of cases, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the government was “continuing with its plan” and urged for those eligible to receive a booster shot. Doctors have been urging ministers to trigger England’s “Plan B,” which would reimpose regulations such as mandatory face masks and working from home advice, the BBC reported. While speaking in Northern Ireland, Johnson said that the number of infections and deaths currently seen were “within the parameters of what the predictions were … given the steps we’ve taken.” On Thursday, the U.K. had recorded 115 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
California officials are preparing to distribute coronavirus vaccines to children ages 5 to 11 in light of the anticipated authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for the age group. Among the plans are “family-friendly” events to persuade parents and guardians to vaccinate their kids. County officials expect to receive about 95,000 first doses of the vaccine by Nov. 1 going off the current timeline, according to The Associated Press, and health officials will begin speaking with parents next week to answer questions and get ahead of potential misinformation. “We like to be ready immediately because we know there’s some pent-up demand here,” Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s public health director, told The Associated Press.
Melbourne, Australia, one of the world’s most locked-down cities, is set to finally reopen. According to AFP, this is the sixth time the city has faced a stay-at-home restriction amid the pandemic. The restrictions will be lifted late on Thursday, affecting 5 million residents. In total, residents of Melbourne have faced over 260 days of lockdown orders since the pandemic first began last year, but now that 70% of eligible residents in Melbourne and the state of Victoria have been fully vaccinated, the city is gearing up to reopen. "When the clock strikes midnight tonight, the lockdown is over," state deputy premier James Merlino said. "I hope everyone enjoys those first reunions with their families, the first footy, netball, cricket training with the kids, the first pot and parma (beer and chicken parmesan) at the pub."
Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Thursday that a Phase 3 trial found that a booster shot of their vaccine restored full protection, with an efficacy of up to 95.6%, in recipients. The study followed 10,000 people aged 16 and older, and the results are likely to fuel the argument for giving a third dose of the vaccine, Bloomberg reported. “These results provide further evidence of the benefits of boosters as we aim to keep people well-protected against this disease,” Alberta Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, said in the press release.
With some of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, Ukraine is reporting an all-time high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, The Associated Press reported. More than 22,400 new cases and 546 deaths were reported on Wednesday, the most since the start of the pandemic. Ukrainians have ample choices of vaccines, with the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines all available, but just 15% of the population is fully vaccinated. Ukrainian leadership has been hesitant to impose a new lockdown, but has begun programs designed to increase vaccination, including offering shots at shopping malls and making proof of vaccination or a negative test mandatory to board public transportation. “There are just two ways — vaccination or lockdown,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. “I’m against the lockdown for the sake of (the) economy.”
Europe is the only region in the world where COVID-19 cases increased last week, according to The World Health Organization. "In its weekly pandemic assessment released last Tuesday, WHO said there were about 2.7 million new COVID-19 cases and more than 46,000 deaths last week worldwide. According to The Seattle Times, the health agency said the two regions with the highest rates were Europe and the Americas. Britain, Russia, and Turkey accounted for the most cases - a 7% rise - in Europe. Although the U.S. reported the biggest number of new cases, with more than 580,000, it was still an 11% decline. The biggest drops in COVID-19 cases were seen in Africa and Western Pacific.
More than 1 billion coronavirus vaccines have been administered across India, a milestone hit just 278 days after the country’s vaccination campaign began, the BBC reported. India aims to fully vaccinate 1 billion people by the end of the year, a goal it will not hit at its current pace. The only other country to hit the 1 billion mark so far is China, which surmounted that milestone in June. Some adults in the country remain hesitant to get the jab – roughly 70 million adults over the age of 45 are yet to get a single dose. "Overcoming hesitancy in the remaining adults and making sure the vaccine reaches all of those most vulnerable would be the biggest challenge going ahead," said Dr. Rijo M John, a health economist.
The number of weekly jobless claims fell to its lowest number since the COVID-19 pandemic began as pandemic-era benefits continue to be stripped away, CNBC reported. Just 290,000 people filed for unemployment, down 6,000 from the previous week. Continuing claims also fell, dropping to 2.48 million – the lowest since the pandemic began. A year ago, nearly 23.8 million Americans were receiving benefits from state or federal programs, a figure that has dropped to just 3.2 million today. The reduction in jobless claims has not solved a nationwide labor shortage, with retail, hospitality and manufacturing firms all struggling to fill positions.
Singapore's government is warning that its healthcare system is being "overwhelmed" by COVID-19 infections, according to the AFP. The country reported 18 deaths Wednesday, its highest death toll in a single day. The health ministry also reported 3,862 more cases which almost surpassed the record of 3,994 the day before. Hospital beds are almost at capacity and more than two-thirds of intensive care unit beds are occupied. "We are trying to add capacity, but it's not simply a matter of having extra beds or purchasing new equipment because... our medical personnel are stretched and fatigued,"Lawrence Wong, co-chair of a government task force fighting Covid-19 said. The news comes just a day after the city-state expanded quarantine-free travel to fully vaccinated passengers from eight countries, including the United States, Britain and France. Singapore has a population of nearly 6 million - comparable to the U.S. state of Colorado - and has reported more than 158,000 coronavirus cases and 264 deaths.
The AY.4.2 variant has been identified in Russia, with Russian experts believing it may be even more contagious than the delta variant, Reuters reported. Coronavirus cases and deaths in Russia are already at record highs, leading President Vladimir Putin to approve a week-long workplace shutdown after insisting for weeks that another lockdown would not occur. In Moscow, a stricter lockdown will be enforced, with gyms, schools, cinemas and entertainment venues shut from Oct. 28 to Nov. 7. “The situation in Moscow is developing according to the worst-case scenario,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his blog. Russia has had domestically developed vaccines available for more than a year, but much of the population remains unwilling to get the jab. “I can’t understand what’s going on,” Putin said. “We have a reliable and efficient vaccine. The vaccine really reduces the risks of illness, grave complications and death.”
The United States has now donated more than 200 million coronavirus shots, The Associated Press reported. Many of the doses came from the U.S. stockpile, with others coming from the 1 billion doses the Biden administration secured from Pfizer to donate overseas between now and Sept. 2022. The U.S. is the world’s largest vaccine donor. “These 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have helped bring health and hope to millions of people, but our work is far from over,” U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power said. “To end the pandemic, and prevent the emergence of new variants, as well as future outbreaks within our nation’s borders, we must continue to do our part to help vaccinate the world.” The U.S. and other developed states have come under criticism for launching booster shot campaigns with much of the world still unvaccinated. To date, the majority of shots have been administered in high- and middle-income countries.
U.S. officials are monitoring the spread of the AY.4.2 variant, also known as “delta plus,” which has been detected in the county, the New York Post reported. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials in the United Kingdom, where the variant is also spreading, believe delta plus may be 10 to 15% more transmissible than delta, already a highly transmissible virus. “We have, on occasion, identified this sub-lineage here in the United States, but not with recent increased frequency or clustering to date,” said CDC Director Rachel Walensky. “At this time, there is no evidence that the sub-lineage AY.4.2 impacts the effectiveness of our current vaccines or therapeutics and we will continue to follow.” Less than 10 cases of the variant have been identified in the United States, which is less than 0.05 of sequences cases. For more details, watch the White House’s coronavirus briefing below.
Deaths top 3,000 in the US on Wednesday as positivity rate tumbles below 5%
While new coronavirus cases continue to fall, the United States reported over 3,000 deaths on Wednesday, just the fourth time that has happened in the last 90 days, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. More than 86,000 new cases were reported Wednesday, with the positivity ratio, the measure of the percentage of tests that return a positive result, falling below 5%. The 5% figure was a critical one early in the pandemic, as the World Health Organization said that nations should have a positivity ratio of less than 5% for 14 days before reopening. According to Johns Hopkins University figures, 38 states have a higher positivity ratio than 5%, with more than 81% of tests in Idaho returning a positive result. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to make slow but steady process on its vaccination campaign, with an additional 750,000 doses administered. For more facts and figures on the pandemic, watch the video below.
If you're looking for a way to decrease stress, try scrolling through memes about COVID. As USA Today reports, a study published Monday in the American Psychological Association journal Psychology of Popular Media, found that just viewing memes "can be helpful in fostering positive emotions, mitigating stress and increasing one’s confidence in dealing with challenges like those found throughout the pandemic." Researchers showed 748 people COVID-related memes and non-COVID memes to determine how viewing memes on social media affected their emotions and how they handled stress about COVID. Results showed people who viewed memes reported a "flood of positive emotions" and participants who viewed COVID-related memes were more likely to have lower stress levels and a higher sense of coping ability about the pandemic than those who viewed non-COVID MEMES. The study's lead author, Jessica Gall Myrick, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, says humor offers a way of reframing events. "...This research suggests that viewing something funny and culturally relevant about this stressful situation can actually help you feel better connected to other people while dealing with the stress of the pandemic."
An In-N-Out fast-food restaurant was shut down temporarily over its refusal to force customers to prove they've been vaccinated against COVID-19. The San Francisco Department of Public Health closed the Fisherman's Wharf location on Oct. 14 after it was discovered that the restaurant was not checking the vaccination status of customers. An August mandate from the city requires all indoor diners to show proof of vaccination. In a statement to Fox News, In-N-Out said the requirements are "unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe." The company also accused the city of asking restaurants to "segregate customers" based on vaccine documentation. In-N-Out said they posted proper signage about the vaccination requirements and were not aware they must "actively intervene by demanding proof of vaccination and photo ID from every customer." While indoor dining remains unavailable, the store has since reopened.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered for workers across the nation to not go to work for a week starting at the end of October amid rising coronavirus infections and fatalities, The Associated Press reported. On Wednesday, the nation saw 1,028 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours — the highest amount for Russia since the start of the pandemic. Putin announced Wednesday that he supports the Cabinet’s proposal to introduce a “nonworking” period starting Oct. 30 and extending through the week. “Our task today is to protect life and health of our citizens and minimize the consequences of the dangerous infection,” Putin said in a video call with officials. “To achieve that, it’s necessary to first of all slow the pace of contagion and mobilize additional reserves of the health care system, which is currently working under a high strain.” He also strongly urged Russians to get vaccinated as only 32% of the country, or about 45 million Russians, are fully vaccinated.
People are 18 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 if they have not been vaccinated, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Wednesday. CNN reported that during a White House Briefing CDC Director Rochelle Walensky showed graphs generated by a new CDC data tool. “For the week ending August 28, 2021, the hospitalization rate in fully vaccinated people was 4.5 per 100,000...While the hospitalization rate in unvaccinated people was 83.6 per 100,000 — an 18.5 fold increase in hospitalizations for those who are unvaccinated," she said. Walensky also revealed that based on the data unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die compared to fully vaccinated people although she added the number of cases and deaths was improving slightly.
Officials at the FDA on Wednesday gave the green light to the practice of mixing and matching vaccine doses made by different pharmaceutical companies, a step that would help bolster the booster shot campaign and the vaccination effort at large. In addition, the agency approved the use of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for use as booster shots. At the moment, only the Pfizer vaccine is fully authorized in the U.S. for use as a booster shot. Mixing and matching is expected to make it easier for Americans to get both shots or obtain a booster shot. As The Associated Press Reported, mixing and matching and the Moderna and J&J vaccine booster shots still have another hurdle to clear: the CDC is expected to convene an expert panel on the subject later this week. Here's what to know about the FDA's guidance on the booster shots, according to the agency's statement.
• The use of a single booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine that may be administered at least 6 months after completion of the primary series to individuals:
- 65 years of age and older
- 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19
- 18 through 64 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2
• The use of a single booster dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered at least 2 months after completion of the single-dose primary regimen to individuals 18 years of age and older.
• The use of each of the available COVID-19 vaccines as a heterologous (or “mix and match”) booster dose ineligible individuals following completion of primary vaccination with a different available COVID-19 vaccine.
The Washington State Patrol said that 127 employees, including 74 commissioned officers, have left their jobs due to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate issued by Gov. Jay Inslee in August for all state employees. According to local public radio station KNKX, Monday was the deadline for the mandate that applies to state workers, teachers and staff at the state's schools, including colleges and universities and long-term care employees. Patrol officials say 67 troopers, six sergeants, and one captain, along with 53 civil servants have "separated from employment" but did not elaborate on whether they were fired or resigned. According to The Seattle Times, "about 3% of the 63,000 Washington state workers subject to Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate have left their jobs or were terminated as this week’s deadline passed."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a COVID-19 vaccination mandate on Wednesday for all city workers, according to a city press release. As an incentive to get vaccinated, city employees will receive $500 for getting the first dose, up until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, which is also the deadline for employees to have proof of at least one dose. Unvaccinated employees will be placed on unpaid leave until they are able to provide proof of vaccination. Roughly 71% of the workers impacted by the mandate have already received at least one dose of the vaccine.
As infections continue to climb in the United Kingdom, the British government is now urging millions of people get receive booster shots for COVID-19 vaccines. Government authorities are facing pressure from alarmed health experts, The Associated Press reported, as the nation’s health system is at risk for being overwhelmed. According to The AP, almost 80% of people in the country over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, but critics say the campaign to provide booster shots to those over the age of 50 is moving too slowly.
“COVID-19 cases are rising and winter is drawing closer,” said Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer. “Ventilation, masks in crowded indoor spaces and hand-washing remain important… If you have not been vaccinated, now is the time. If you are offered a booster, please take up the offer.”
Children between the ages of 5 and 11 will be able to get vaccinated at the doctor’s office, at a local pharmacy and potentially even their school, the White House announced Wednesday as it looked ahead to the expected authorization of the Pfizer shot for the age group within a couple of weeks. About 15 million doses will begin shipping to providers within just the first week following the formal approval to come, The Associated Press reported. “We’re completing the operational planning to ensure vaccinations for kids ages 5 to 11 are available, easy and convenient,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients on Wednesday. “We’re going to be ready, pending the FDA and CDC decision.” Should kids get their first shot of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine within a couple of weeks of the expected approval in early November, they could be fully vaccinated by the holiday season.
Country singer Travis Tritt announced Monday he would be canceling at least four shows at venues that call for mask wearing, require a negative COVID-19 test result or require proof of vaccination for attendees.The country singer has previously expressed his disapproval for mask and vaccine mandates, though says he’s “not against the vaccine,” according to Billboard. Other venues on tour stated on their websites that masks were required, and Tritt told Billboard that his team was working on confirming the status of the mandates.
The latest COVID-19 outbreak in China, centered around an elderly couple that disregarded measures in place to limit transmission, has spread to the capital city of Beijing.The outbreak surfaced over the weekend and was tied to two retired university lecturers from Shanghai who had started a road trip through the northwestern provinces along with a handful of others on Oct. 9, Bloomberg reported. The couple had been tested on Friday, Oct. 15, where their results came back abnormal. The next day they tested positive. Still, the couple continued their tour to the Shaanxi province where they were tested again. While awaiting their results, they traveled around the provincial capital. The results came back positive. Infections arose in the past areas they had visited —Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and Gansu. Roughly 20 infections have been tied to the traveling couple, according to Bloomberg. In addition to the outbreak, Beijing, China's capital city, reported its first local case since August on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The infected person had reportedly been on the same train as another person with COVID-19 on a train in Yinchuan.
Rental evictions in Minnesota are rising as state protections adopted due to the coronavirus pandemic begin to left, housing experts say. A 15-day notice is no longer required before an eviction notice is filed over delinquent rent as of last week, according to The Associated Press. RentHelpMN, a program that distributes federal money to address pandemic-related issues, has received nearly 50,000 applications associated with past-due rent or utilities, according to the AP. “There’s a lot of people who are in this circumstance,” Elizabeth Sauer, managing attorney for Central Minnesota Legal Services, told Minnesota Public Radio News. “We could have a whole bunch of landlords who just decide they are not going to continue to rent to these tenants who have struggled to pay their rent during the pandemic.”
Popular Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday and wasn’t on the air for Tuesday’s airing of Your World with Neil Cavuto. According to NBC News, the longtime news anchor is fully vaccinated and is urging the public to get vaccinated, especially for the sake of immunocompromised individuals like himself. The 63-year-old Cavuto has been public with his health battles, which include open-heart surgery in 2016, a cancer battle in the ‘80s and a multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 1997.
“While I’m somewhat stunned by this news, doctors tell me I’m lucky as well,” Cavuto said in a statement. “Had I not been vaccinated, and with all my medical issues, this would be a far more dire situation.”
A new COVID-19 mutation variant has doctors in the United Kingdom urging officials to bring back restrictions. The new descendent variant, known as AY.4.2, according to CNBC, is a mutated form of the delta variant, and has been deemed responsible for an increasing number of cases in the country. The U.K. is steadily recording over 40,000 new cases per day and the country’s National Health Service warned nation leaders that the country could be “stumbling into a winter crisis.”
In the United States, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb also shared his thoughts on the new variant on Twitter.
“U.K. reported its biggest one-day Covid case increase in 3 months just as the new delta variant AY.4 with the S:Y145H mutation in the spike reaches 8% of UK sequenced cases,” he said. “We need urgent research to figure out if this delta plus is more transmissible, has partial immune evasion?”
After six months of investigation, lawmakers in Brazil plan to recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be indicted on criminal charges for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report calls for Bolsonaro to be indicted on nine charges, "from charlatanism and inciting crime all the way up to crime against humanity," according to The Associated Press. Throughout the pandemic, Bolsonaro has downplayed dangers posed by the coronavirus, mocked masks and publicly doubted the vaccine. Bolsonaro has also been criticized for not enforcing lockdowns. In March he told Brazilians to "stop whining" about COVID-19 deaths. The 1,200-page report blames Bolsonaro’s policies for the deaths of more than 300,000 Brazilians, half of the nation’s coronavirus death toll. It's uncertain whether the report will lead to any actual criminal charges, given the country's political climate, but it reflects the anger of many Brazilians. The inquiry's final report is scheduled to be presented in the Senate Wednesday and voted on it next week.
A Homeland Security official has tested positive for the coronavirus, just days before a scheduled trip to Colombia. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who is fully vaccinated according to CNN, tested positive on Tuesday after standing alongside President Joe Biden on Saturday at an outdoor event. According to a White House official, “no White House principal has been determined to be a close contact of Secretary Mayorkas, given that the most recent contact was at the outdoors FOP event outside of the 48-hour close contact window.”
According to CNN, Mayorkas was scheduled to travel with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Bogotá, Colombia, for a meeting to address migration concerns.
More than 2,300 fatalities blamed on the coronavirus were reported across the United States on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University figures, bringing the national death toll close to 730,000 since the outset of the pandemic. Deaths continue to remain high even as the seven-day positivity rate continues on a gradual decline. The total caseload on Tuesday topped 81,000 nationwide and the positivity rate inched down to 5.16%. Globally, the U.S. is reporting higher cases than any other country in the world, but other countries, like the U.K., Russia and Turkey continued to see high caseloads. For more on the spread of the disease and the effort to vaccinate the population, watch the video below.
New Zealand saw its highest number of new coronavirus cases of the pandemic on Tuesday amid an outbreak in one of its largest cities, The Associated Press reported. Officials are now urging citizens to get vaccinated in an effort to quell the outbreak and curb the two-month lockdown. Health officials recorded 94 new local infections, surpassing the 89 that were reported twice earlier during the pandemic, according to the AP. The majority of the recent ones were reported in Auckland, though a few were also in the nearby Waikato district. The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that people breaking lockdown restrictions were contributing to the spread of the infections, and many of the new cases had been detected among younger people.
With Halloween approaching, doctors are saying that trick-or-treating outdoors should not be a high-risk activity for kids and the unvaccinated, The Kansas City Star reported. Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System, said that the unvaccinated or immunocompromised could protect themselves with a mask or a face shield. “We know most of these children are probably hanging out with each other at school or after school and extracurricular things, so really that isn’t too high of a risk,” Hawkinson said, adding that the most high-risk scenarios are indoor parties, saying it is reasonable to assume someone at a large party has COVID-19. “You really can’t control or understand exactly who is vaccinated, who had the infection recently or who is recovering or who could actively have it,” Hawkinson said.
Dozens of students and faculty at Eastern Michigan University have won cash and other prizes for being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, MLive reported. The school’s “Vax to Win” had a top cash prize of $5,000, which was won by two students. Students could also win free on-campus housing for a semester or free parking for a semester. The winning students had to be fully vaccinated by 5 p.m. on Oct. 8. Students at EMU are required to get vaccinated, while unvaccinated students who have a religious or medical exemption are required to get tested weekly. Officials credit the vaccination campaign with keeping cases low – just 21 cases have been reported on the campus since late August.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reported Thursday that deaths in nursing homes have doubled from mid-August to mid-September 2021. More than 2,000 lives were lost during that time period, according to the report. The rate of new staff ad resident cases had also increased, and residents who were not fully vaccinated were twice as likely to be infected than those who were fully vaccinated. “Cases and deaths would be even higher if not for the availability of vaccines, underscoring the importance of continuing access to COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots for eligible residents and staff,” the report said. Only 85% of residents and 67% of staff are fully vaccinated as of Sept. 19. “It’s now been one year since AARP began analyzing and reporting how COVID has infiltrated nursing homes across the United States,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “Tragically, we are still seeing far too many infections and deaths in these facilities. It is past time to vaccinate all staff and residents and prevent yet another wave of this virus from taking more lives.”
Australian doctors are using airplanes to take vaccines to remote areas of the country that have largely not been impacted by COVID-19, the BBC reported. Vaccination rates tend to be lower in rural areas, with many people saying that they might not have got the jab if it wasn't brought to their doorstep. “We bring the vaccinations and people they know and people that know people’s medical history can tell them it will be okay for them to have that vaccine, so that makes a big difference with the uptake,” said Lesley Mallard, a nurse manager for Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service. “If they hadn’t brought it here and my doctor hadn’t been so charming and persuasive about the whole situation, I wouldn’t have done it,” said a female resident of Ravenswood, a remote Australian town.
Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, moved to return to normalcy as it went to the lowest level of its coronavirus pandemic warning system, The Associated Press reported. The city entered the green category of its warning system, meaning that there are no capacity restrictions at large outdoor gatherings, though masks will be required among attendees. Additionally, bars and clubs now remain open until 1 a.m., but temperature checks and health filters will still be required. “Fortunately, the city continues in the right direction due to the good behavior of the people,” said Eduardo Clark, Mexico City’s Digital Government Director.
Russia logged a record high of 1,015 additional new coronavirus deaths on Monday along with more than 33,700 new infections, which are putting enormous pressure on the country’s hospital systems, The Associated Press reported. While the Kremlin had ruled out a nationwide lockdown, officials are weighing a weeklong “nonworking period” in hopes of slowing infections. Vaccine hesitancy remains high in Russia, with government officials attempting to incentivize vaccination by requiring the jab to attend some events. Many of Russia’s regions have enacted their own pandemic restrictions, restricting attendance at indoor venues and making vaccinations compulsory for certain groups.
Eight employees have sued Mass General Brigham after their requests for medical or religious exemptions from the hospital’s coronavirus mandate were denied, The Associated Press reported. The workers say that they are not challenging the legality of the mandate but are alleging that they were subjected to discrimination and retribution after their requests were denied. “Defendant’s offering of medical and religious exemptions was illusory and not based in accordance with federal law,” the suit says. The hospital says that its “knowledgeable team of reviewers” considers each request for exemptions. Mass General Brigham has mandated that all its employees receive their first shot by Nov. 5, or else they will lose their jobs. About 98% of employees at the hospital are already vaccinated.
The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to allow Americans to get any coronavirus vaccine they want as a booster, providing flexibility to doctors and patients, The New York Times reported. One shot will not be recommended over the other, and the government may still state that using the same vaccine is preferable. Still, a recent study from the federal government have shown that a mixing and matching of doses is extremely effective; recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose jab who got a Moderna booster saw their antibody levels rise 76-fold in 15 days, compared to just a fourfold increase after an J&J booster. Federal regulators are expected to approve Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters this Wednesday.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has not regained his sense of smell and taste after being infected with the coronavirus more than a year ago, The Virginia Pilot reported. Northam, a doctor himself, hopes that sharing his experience with prolonged COVID symptoms will encourage others to get vaccinated. “I’m 62, and I can deal with this,” Northam said. “But why take a chance, if you’re 15 or 20 years old or whatever age, of having symptoms that may affect you for the rest of your life? Or, in the worst-case scenario, you get COVID pneumonia and don’t recover and end up losing your life.” Northam is among millions of Americans who are experiencing “long COVID,” which range from mild post-infection impairments like the loss of smell and taste to more debilitating issues like chronic breathing problems, brain fog and weakened organs.
The National Hockey League announced that it will suspend San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane for 21 games after he used a phony vaccination card. The 21-game suspension is without pay and means that Kane will not take the ice until at least Nov. 30. "I made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for,” Kane said. “During my suspension, I will continue to participate in counseling to help me make better decisions in the future.” According to ESPN, the NHL does not have a vaccination mandate, but players must be vaccinated to play games in Canada without a mandatory quarantine.
The football coach for Washington State, along with four of his assistants, was fired on Monday after refusing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus despite a state mandate, The Associated Press reported. With his firing, Nick Rolovich became the first major college coach to lose his job due to an unwillingness to get the jab. “This is a tough day for Washington State football,” Washington State Athletic Director Pat Chun said at a news conference. “Nobody wants to be here.” Rolovich had applied for a religious exemption, something which was denied. Nearly 90% of Washington State employees and 97% of students have been vaccinated, according to Washington State President Kirk Schulz.
About 190 million Americans, or roughly 58% of the U.S. population, have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. The vaccination campaign in the United States has largely been slow and steady since the end of the spring. On Monday, more than 111,400 new cases and 1,879 new coronavirus deaths were reported. The positivity ratio, a measure of the percentage of tests that return a positive result, fell to 5.28%, even as the U.S. continues to lead the world in new cases. For more facts and figures on the state of the pandemic, watch the video below.
As new coronavirus cases recede across much of the United States, the nation’s coldest states are among the few seeing a rise in cases, The New York Times reported. The states with the highest rising number of new cases are Vermont, Colorado, New Hampshire, Michigan and Minnesota. The rise in cases is following a similar pattern as to last fall, where cases decreased in the south after a summer surge before rising steadily in northern parts of the country. “The weather drives people indoors into poorly ventilated spaces, and when either academic activities or social activities occur without masks in indoor, poorly ventilated spaces, that’s when transmission occurs,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive.
The world’s longest COVID-19 lockdown has come to an end. Officials in Melbourne, Australia, announced on Sunday that stay-at-home orders would be lifted this week after 262 days of restrictions. The nearly nine-month order exceeded the 234-day lockdown in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Victoria, the state Melbourne is located within, has seen its vaccination rate reach 70% this week, according to NBC News. “Today is a great day,” said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews. “Today is a day when Victorians can be proud of what they have achieved.”Capacity at many restaurants and businesses will remain capped, however, until further vaccination marks are reached. The reopening of many retail stores will come at the 80% mark, NBC News reported, which is estimated to be reached by Nov. 5.
Japan has seen its coronavirus cases plummet from more than 6,000 in Tokyo in August to less than 100 today, despite packed bars and crowded trains, leaving many to wonder what has caused the drop in cases, The Associated Press reported. Japan, unlike much of the world, never imposed a coronavirus lockdown. Experts aren’t sure what to credit, but possible factors include the country’s successful vaccination campaign, a widespread practice of wearing masks even before the pandemic and bad weather in late August that kept people home. “Rapid and intensive vaccinations in Japan among those younger than 64 might have created a temporary condition similar to herd-immunity,” said Dr. Kazuhiro Tateda, a Toho University professor of virology. However, with vaccine efficacy waning, experts worry that without knowing why cases dropped, they could soon surge again.
New research has found that mixing and matching different coronavirus vaccines is very effective, HealthDay News reported. A Swedish study found that combining a vector-based vaccine like the AstraZeneca jab and an mRNA vaccine, like Moderna or Pfizer is more effective than just getting one type of vaccine. "Having received any of the approved vaccines is better compared to no vaccine, and two doses are better than one," said Peter Nordström, a professor of medicine at Umeå University in Sweden. "However, our study shows a greater risk reduction for people who received an mRNA vaccine after having received a first dose of a vector-based, as compared to people having received the vector-based vaccine for both doses," he said in a university news release. Those who received a combination of the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines were 79% less likely than unvaccinated people to test positive for COVID-19, compared to just 50% who got two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Over 5% of Russia’s entire population has been infected with the coronavirus as the nation’s total number of cases tops 8 million. Russia’s national coronavirus taskforce announced a new daily record on Monday as well, as 34,225 cases were reported and 998 new fatalities. According to The Associated Press, 45 million country residents have been vaccinated, less than one-third of the population, but the Kremlin has ruled out the possibility of another nationwide lockdown.
Colin Powell’s death does not indicate that the coronavirus vaccine is ineffective, experts report. Despite being fully vaccinated, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s death does not mean that the coronavirus vaccine was ineffective as he had other medical conditions that were at play, and his case is considered a “breakthrough infection,” HealthDay News reported. "While Powell was fully vaccinated, he also had multiple myeloma, a cancer that suppresses the body's immune response," Dr. Gwen Nichols, chief medical officer at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, said. "Multiple myeloma is not curable, so while he may or may not have been on active treatment, his disease, and his age, made him more vulnerable to breakthrough infection, complications and death," she added. Nichols additionally said that this breakthrough case does not mean vaccines are ineffective, rather it demonstrates that everyone should receive the vaccine to prevent those most vulnerable to the virus from getting it.
"It's important to remember that Colin Powell was 84 years old and he had some other medical conditions. This is why we are recommending boosters in this age group,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said.
On Monday, Italy’s president sharply criticized the violence amid protests that broke out over the nation’s new coronavirus workplace health pass requirement, The Associated Press reported. Italy became the first major European economy to require all workers to present proof of vaccination, a negative test within the past 48 hours or proof of having recovered recently from COVID-19 to enter workplaces on Friday, also dubbed the Green Pass. It had already been required to enter indoor venues from restaurants to museums and was required for long-distance domestic travel. The implementation of a version for workers was a measure to ensure workplaces are safe for Italy’s economy, which shrank 8.9% last year, to recover, according to the Italian government. Opponents of the measure say it violates their rights and imposes unfair burdens on workers and employers, the AP said. President Sergio Mattarella said that the “explosion” of violence seemed "aimed at intercepting or getting in the way of the country’s recovery” after the coronavirus pandemic.
The East African nation of Burundi, one of the last three countries to begin administering coronavirus vaccines, launched its vaccine campaign on Monday, The Associated Press reported. The campaign began extremely modestly, with just over a dozen people getting the jab on Monday, including government ministers. Burundi received a half-million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, with the doses meant for health workers, the elderly and those with incurable diseases. Leading politicians in the country, though, have expressed doubts about the vaccine. “The vaccine has a lot of consequences not even known by the specialists who created the vaccine,” said Burundian Prime Minister Alain Bunyoni, without giving evidence to back his claim. With Burundi launching its vaccination campaign, North Korea and Eretria are the only remaining countries that have not begun vaccinating their people.
One of the largest electronic music festivals is underway in the Netherlands after officials lifted some coronavirus restrictions that were in place. The Amsterdam Dance Event is a five-day festival that will now be taking place during daytime hours for attendees with proof of vaccination, proof of COVID-19 recovery or a negative COVID-19 test. According to AFP, the countries new restrictions were announced after protestors rallied to reopen the country’s nightlife industry. For more, watch the video below.
Nineteen different states attempted large cash lotteries to boost vaccination numbers this summer, but a new study shows the results fell far short of their intended targets. In states such as Ohio, where the Vax-a-Million initiative gave $1 million a week to a vaccinated winner, data from a JAMA Health Forum study shows the correlation between the announcement of the lottery and vaccination rates to be “indistinguishable from zero.”
Andrew Friedson, an author of the study, told Axios that the results show a clear need to reassess how to encourage individuals to get vaccinated. “Our research points to a disappointing outcome—that is, there was no significant association found between a cash-drawing announcement and the number of vaccinations administered after the announcement date," he said.
Longtime ESPN reporter Allison Williams has opted to part with ESPN rather than get vaccinated, USA Today reported. Since ESPN made vaccines mandatory to report at live events, Williams had been unable to report from the sidelines during ESPN’s college football broadcasts. With a vaccine mandate expanded to all ESPN staff this month, Williams has decided to leave her job. "Ultimately, I cannot put a paycheck over principle," she said. "And I will not sacrifice something that I believe and hold so strongly to maintain a career." Williams cited anecdotal evidence of side effects in women after taking the vaccine, noting that she and her husband are trying to have a second child. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there is no evidence the COVID vaccines cause fertility problems in individuals of any gender. "The benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy," said the CDC.
Quarterback Cam Newton is still looking for an NFL contract and said on Sunday that he is now vaccinated against COVID-19, ESPN reported. The free agent was released by the New England Patriots in the preseason after being beat out for the starting position and missing three practices due to COVID-19 safety protocols. At the time, Newton was unvaccinated, although Patriots coach Bill Belichick said that wasn’t a factor in his release. In his Sunday video, which was posted to his personal YouTube channel, Newton said he was initially hesitant about possible vaccine side effects, and added that he believes it should be “a personal decision” for individuals to receive a vaccine.
Under 17,000 new coronavirus cases and 164 COVID-19 deaths were reported on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. While most states report little to no data over the weekend, COVID-19 cases are decreasing nationwide. The positivity ratio, a measure of the percentage of tests that return a positive result, fell to 5.7%. More than 800,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine were administered on Sunday, with 57.6% of Americans now fully vaccinated. Watch the video below for more.
As the holiday season approaches, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are urging eligible, unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated, CBS News reported. The CDC says that gathering outdoors is safer than gathering indoors and that the unvaccinated should wear well-fitting masks in indoor public spaces. The CDC recommends that even the vaccinated should still wear masks indoors in areas with high or substantial transmission. "If we don't get people vaccinated who need to be vaccinated, and we get that conflating with an influenza season, we could have a dark, bad winter," Fauci told CBS News. "We could also avoid a dark, bad winter if we get people vaccinated to a very high degree over the next several weeks to a month or two."
Colin Powell, the former U.S. Secretary of State, military general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died Monday morning at the age of 84, his family announced on Facebook. Family members said the cause of death was "complications from COVID-19" and added that Powell "was fully vaccinated." Powell led a storied career as a soldier, having served two tours of duty during the Vietnam conflict, according to CNN, and then later as a military official and U.S. statesman. Powell became the first Black secretary of state in 2001. He was also the first Black national security adviser and first Black Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. Powell's family thanked the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center, where he received treatment and added, “We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
Countries across Asia are rushing to place orders for a new drug to treat COVID-19, CNN reported. After many countries in Asia were slow to receive COVID-19 vaccines, many across the continent and in the Pacific are now rushing to order Molnupiravir — an antiviral pill that has yet to receive authorization in the U.S., where the company that created it resides. If the drug receives approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it will become the first oral antiviral treatment approved to battle COVID-19.
Experts are encouraging those who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine also receive the company’s booster shot once it becomes available. On Friday, an advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that all adults who received the vaccine also get the second dose, at least two months after receiving the first dose. "J&J is a very good vaccine. I also believe it's probably a two-shot vaccine," said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. "It's really urgent that people get that second shot pretty quickly.” Jha said that one dose of Johnson & Johnson is probably not enough for full protection.
FILE - In this March 3, 2021 file photo, a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is displayed at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. U.S. health advisers are meeting Friday, Oct. 15, to tackle who needs boosters of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine and when. Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration also will examine data suggesting that booster of a competing brand might provide better protection. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Confirmed cases: 240,553,753
Vaccine doses administered: 6,613,531,943
In a meeting between United States President Joe Biden and Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, Biden shared that the U.S. would be making a one-time donation of over 17 million doses of the J&J vaccine to the African Union. According to Reuters, the one-time donation is on top of the 50 million doses already donated by the U.S. to the union, which is made up of 55 member states totaling over 1.3 billion people. According to Africa’s top public health official, the continent has managed to vaccinate only 4.5% of its entire population. Kenyatta thanked Biden for his country’s efforts and said the U.S. "has done its best to step up in terms of not only helping Kenya, but the African continent."
The cruise industry, devastated by the pandemic and early infections on cruise ships, is arguing that cruise ships are safer than other vacations – something health experts agree with to some extent, but with caveats, reported The Miami Herald. At the cruise ship industries largest conference, executives touted the fact that cruise ships can mandate vaccines and testing, something that airlines and hotels cannot do. “Unlike almost any other place you can think of whether it’s restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues ... we control the environment,” said Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corporation. Some epidemiologists agreed – but would not go as far as calling it the safest option. “The cruise industry has a strong argument, but the next question is, cruise liners go and visit other ports in other countries,” said Dr. William Greenough of Johns Hopkins, who has studied norovirus and influenza outbreaks on cruises. “How are they handling that? Passengers may be coming into contact with populations abroad that are not highly immunized.” All told, the experts interviewed agreed that people should make informed decisions based on their personal health status and comfort levels.
Sydney, Australia, will be ending hotel quarantine for vaccinated travelers when scheduled international flights resume in Australia within two weeks, officials said Friday. However, some restrictions on foreigners entering the country will remain. New South Wales state Premier Dominic Perrottet said that vaccinated travelers who test negative for COVID-19 ahead of flying to Sydney will not have to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel upon arrival starting Nov. 1, The Associated Press reported. “We can’t live here in a hermit kingdom. We’ve got to open up and this decision today is a big one, but it is the right one to get New South Wales connected globally,” Perrottet said. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison approved the travel resumption, he has not yet announced when foreign tourists will be welcomed back into the nation.
The National Guard in Minnesota will step in to assist long-term care facilities that are short staffed. The National Guard has been alerted to the plan, which was announced by Gov. Tim Walz on Friday. Walz’s plan will also expand the state’s emergency staff pool for nursing homes and other assisted living facilities that experience COVID-19 outbreaks, The Star Tribune reported. "This surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations has been overwhelming our transitional care units, causing significant backups," Dr. Kevin Croston, CEO at North Memorial Health, told the outlet. "We are hopeful that today's announcement will provide much needed relief."
The number of new daily coronavirus cases and deaths surged to a new record high on Friday, with Russia’s health care system struggling to keep pace, The Associated Press reported. Russia’s coronavirus task force reported more than 32,000 new coronavirus cases and 999 deaths over the last 24 hours. While cases and deaths continue to rise, the Kremlin has ruled out a nationwide lockdown. Just 29% of Russia’s population is fully vaccinated despite government efforts to incentivize more people to get the jab. Overall, Russia’s has logged more than 7.9 million COVID-19 cases and 221,313 deaths, the highest death toll reported in Europe.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Friday that she has filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court against police union head John Catanzara for “engaging in, supporting and encouraging work stoppage or strike.” According to The Associated Press, the mayor has requested in the complaint that the court would prohibit the union or officers from “engaging in any concerted refusal to submit vaccination status information.” The court filing is in response to a Thursday video of Catanzara telling union police officers that they should refuse orders to submit their vaccination status. According to Lightfoot, officers who do not provide that information will be placed on unpaid leave.
“By doing so, and by predicting that 50% or more officers will violate their oaths and not report for duty, Catanzara is encouraging an unlawful strike and work stoppage which carries the potential to undermine public safety and expose our residents to irreparable harm, particularly during an ongoing pandemic,” Lightfoot wrote in the court filing.
Alaskan State Senator Lora Reinbold has tested positive for the coronavirus a month after being banned from Alaska Airlines due to her refusal to comply with the airline’s mask mandate, The Washington Post reported. In a Facebook post, Reinbold almost seemed excited about her opportunity to battle the virus. "Game on! Who do you think is going to win?" Reinbold wrote of her infection. "When I defeat it, I will tell you my recipe." Reinbold has said that she is taking ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medication that some have touted as an effective COVID-19 treatment despite a lack of evidence, as well as vitamins to treat the disease. "I am blessed to have gotten Ivermectin the 'de-COVIDer,’” she wrote. "My Vicks steamer has been a Godsend!" Just 51% of Alaskans are vaccinated, a rate that is below the national average.
An advisory panel of experts voted unanimously to recommend that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorize booster doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The panel voted 19 to 0 that the booster dose comes at least two months after the initial dose, applying to people 18 years and older. The approval follows Johnson & Johnson’s presentation of data that showed the protection offered from the single-shot, while it remained stable over time, was pushed to a higher level with the booster, NPR reported. When weighing whether to recommend the booster, the panel took into account that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s single-dose protection was substantially lower than the mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer.
A study published by the CDC in September ounce that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had an effectiveness of about 68% in keeping people out of the hospital for COVID-19 compared to more than 90% for Moderna’s vaccine and 77% for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after roughly four months. “I think, frankly, this was always a two-dose vaccine,” Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said during the discussion ahead of the vote. While the FDA is not obligated to follow the advisory panel’s recommendation, it typically has in the past.
Inmates who were incarcerated on or after March 3 will be paid $50 to get vaccinated, The Associated Press reported. More than 2,500 inmates qualify for the monetary incentive today, with the program scheduled to run until the end of 2024. The Hawaii Department of Public Safety says it is working hard to keep its inmates safe. “We’ve seen a substantial increase in inmate vaccinations that we believe is a result of our education efforts. It is our hope that inmates who are still on the fence about getting vaccinated will participate,” said Tommy Johnson, the deputy director for corrections. At least nine Hawaii prisoners have died of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.
Large protests have broken out in Italy this week in response to Europe’s new coronavirus mandates, which went into effect on Friday. According to The Associated Press, the measures require all workers in the country to show a health pass, knowing as a “Green Pass,” to enter their place of employment. A Green Pass can be acquired with proof of vaccine, a recent negative test or with proof of a COVID-19 recovery in the past six months. Hundreds of protestors gathered in Trieste and hundreds of others gathered in Florence. In surrounding countries, France has had a “virus pass” that allows residents to access indoor activities and events since the summer, while employers in Greece must maintain a record of vaccination status for all employees. However, Italy’s workplace access move was a step beyond the rest of the continent.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) is issuing new contract awards totaling nearly $78 million to develop and manufacture a dozen rapid diagnostic tests to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The rapid test expansion project is part of the RADx Tech Initiative which the NIH launched to speed the development and commercialization of technologies for COVID-19 testing. Scientists and investors with rapid testing technology compete in national "shark tank"-type testing challenges for funding. The goal is to bring needed tests to the market as early as this year. “These technologies represent important innovations to address the need for ready access to rapid, low-cost tests everywhere in the country, including in every home," said Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and lead for RADx Tech.
Chicago Bears running back Damien Williams was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, less than three days before Chicago’s key game against their divisional rival the Green Bay Packers. According to UPI, if the running back is asymptomatic and vaccinated, he could return immediately upon two negative test results at least 24 hours apart. If he is unvaccinated, however he would have to quarantine for 10 days. The timing of Williams’ roster move comes at a difficult time for the Bears, who are already without lead running back David Montgomery and have no time to sign another back to join rookie Khalil Herbert in the backfield ahead of Sunday’s game.
The coronavirus was the second-leading cause of death in the United States in September, ranking ahead of cancer but behind heart disease, The Peterson Center on Healthcare and Kaiser Family Foundation reported. In 2020, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death nationwide, with the disease surging to the number one cause of death in Jan. and Feb. 2021 before deaths fell sharply in the late spring, with COVID-19 dropping to just the seventh leading cause of death. However, with the spread of the delta variant, coronavirus deaths roared back, becoming the number one cause of death for people age 34-54. According to estimates from Peterson-KFF roughly 90,000 COVID-19 deaths among adults this summer likely would have been prevented by vaccination.
On Thursday, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted to recommend Moderna booster shots for the most vulnerable, NBC News reported. The official decision will go to the FDA, which will make a final ruling in the next few days. The recommendation is identical to that of the Pfizer booster, which was recommended for adults ages 65 and up, people in long-term care facilities and people ages 18-64 with underlying medical conditions and whose job puts them at high-risk of catching the coronavirus. Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, though, the Moderna vaccine dosage would be given as a half-dose compared to the initial vaccination series. The data has shown that protection from Moderna’s vaccine has waned over time. "We are concerned about the breakthrough disease that we’ve been observing," said Jacqueline Miller, the therapeutic area head for infectious diseases at Moderna, noting a particular concern for the elderly, many of whom got vaccinated in the early months of 2020.
Among many splintering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increase of tuberculosis (TB) fatalities is among the latest pieces of collateral health officials are blaming on the coronavirus. Prior to COVID-19, TB was the deadliest infectious disease in the world, but health workers were managing to slow its progress, NPR reported. However, in 2020, TB deaths rose to roughly 1.5 million, and researchers are pointing the finger at the pandemic.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress and efforts in the fight against tuberculosis," Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, head of WHO's global TB program, said. She said mandated lockdowns have limited patients’ access to health care and limited the number of TB diagnoses, which prevented treatment measures.
"The reason that people didn't come for TB treatment is principally because they were afraid that they would get COVID at a health care facility,” South African Dr. Francesca Conradie, a TB researcher, told NPR. “And let's face it, that's not impossible.”
FILE - In this March 24, 2018 file photo, a relative adjusts the oxygen mask of a tuberculosis patient at a TB hospital on World Tuberculosis Day in Hyderabad, India. The number of people killed by tuberculosis has risen for the first time in more than a decade, largely because fewer people got tested and treated as resources were diverted to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization said in a report released Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A., file)
COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are expected to decline over the next month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Forecasts published Wednesday predict 740,000 to 762,000 reported deaths by Nov. 6. There have been more than 717,000 Covid-19 deaths in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University. The CDC forecasts mark the third consecutive week of a projected decrease in newly reported deaths. The organization is also predicting 500 to 10,100 new confirmed Covid-19 hospitalizations likely to be reported by November 5, according to CNN. That marks a fifth straight week of projected declines in hospitalizations. As of October 12, there were 64,332 people hospitalized with Covid-19, according to US Health and Human Services.
Sydney will allow vaccinated travelers from overseas to enter without quarantining, authorities said Friday. Borders have been closed to foreigners since March 2020. The decision comes as New South Wales state, of which Sydney is capital, closes in on an 80% first-vaccination dose rate. "We need to rejoin the world. We can't live here in a hermit kingdom. We've got to open up," New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said according to Reuters. New South Wales residents can travel overseas for the first time since March of last year. Unvaccinated travelers from overseas will also be allowed back into New South Wales, but only 210 per week and they must quarantine in a hotel upon arrival.
Just over 83,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in the United States on Thursday as the number of new cases continues to decrease, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. The positivity ratio, a measure of the percentage of tests that return a positive result, fell to 5.77%. Coronavirus deaths remain relatively high, with 2,005 deaths reported on Thursday. The U.S. also had a strong day when it comes to administering vaccines, with more than 1 million doses administered in the country. Even with cases falling, the U.S. still leads the world in new infections, with the United Kingdom and Turkey trailing behind, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. For more facts and figures on the coronavirus pandemic, watch the video below.
Nearly one in five American households has delayed health care treatments for serious illnesses over the past few months as the pandemic continues, NPR reported. Chelsea Titus, a 40-year-old mother, has had to delay surgery to relieve severe pain she is experiencing due to hospitals in her home state of Idaho being full. "[My doctor] said, 'If the hospitals weren't in the situation they were in, I would have you in for surgery today,'" Titus recalls. Standard cancer screenings have also been pushed back as hospital capacity gets pushed to its limits, and some doctors are seeing more advanced-stage cancers than normal. "This is the United States," said Robert Blendon, a pollster at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. "You don't expect people with serious illnesses to say they cannot be seen for care."
Young people who catch the coronavirus can carry high levels of the disease and spread it even when asymptomatic, HealthDay News reported. Infants, children and teens are all equally capable of replicating the coronavirus, producing a high viral load that can lead to disease transmission. "The implications of this study show that masking and other public health measures are needed for everyone — children, adolescents and adults — to get us out of this pandemic," said study co-author Dr. Lael Yonker, a pediatric pulmonologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Yonker added that kids are potential hosts for new variants of the disease. Currently, kids under the age of 12 cannot get vaccinated, though the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to consider approving a vaccine later this month.
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