UncategorizedCovid-19 Live Updates: Pfizer Vaccine, Moderna and J&J

Covid-19 Live Updates: Pfizer Vaccine, Moderna and J&J


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Hochul Announces Mask Mandate for New York Schools

On her first day in office, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said she would order a universal mask mandate in the state’s schools and push for Covid vaccine-or-test requirements for school employees.

None of us want a rerun of last year’s horrors with Covid-19. Therefore, we will take proactive steps to prevent that from happening. Priority No. 1: We get children back to school, and protect the environment so they can learn and everyone is safe. For months, I’ve been consulting with parents, elected officials, teachers, school boards and superintendents. As a result, we need to require vaccinations for all school personnel with an option to test out weekly, at least for now. To accomplish this in New York, we need partnerships with all levels of government, and I’m working now on getting this done. New York is launching a back-to-school Covid-19 testing program to make testing for students and staff widely available and convenient. I’m also directing the Department of Health to institute universal masking for anyone entering our schools. Later this week, I’ll announce a series of school-related policies — they’ll be concise and consistent, giving the school districts what they have been asking for. Which leads me to Priority No. 2: increased vaccination rates for New Yorkers. Now much progress has been made, but too many are yet not vaccinated, putting themselves and their communities at risk. With the F.D.A.’S full approval of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday, New Yorkers can expect new vaccine requirements, and more on that soon. Priority No. 3: Prepare for booster shots, and make sure they are available and distributed quickly and reliably.

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On her first day in office, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said she would order a universal mask mandate in the state’s schools and push for Covid vaccine-or-test requirements for school employees.CreditCredit…Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Gov. Kathy Hochul, in her first day as governor of New York State, called on state health officials to impose a universal mask mandate in public and private schools and said she wanted to institute Covid vaccine-or-test mandates for employees in schools.

Ms. Hochul stopped short of formally implementing either requirement. In a televised address, she said that she was ordering the state Health Department to institute the mask requirement and would partner with “all levels of government” to implement the vaccine restriction.

“I’m working now on getting this done,” she said.

But in her first remarks to the public as governor, Ms. Hochul said that her top priority as she took office was ensuring that children could safely return to in-person learning as the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads across the state.

“Priority No. 1: We get children back to school and protect the environment, so they can learn and everyone is safe,” Ms. Hochul said.

The governor’s announcement came a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City would require all employees of the city’s Department of Education to receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27. The city requirement will apply to almost every adult working inside public school buildings, including the teachers and principals in the city’s public school system, the nation’s largest.

The mandate was expected to be a signal of more to come around the country, particularly after the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those 16 and older on Monday.

New York would join a growing number of states, mostly led by Democrats, that are requiring proof of vaccines for teachers, or in some cases forcing them to conduct regular testing.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said on Monday that all teachers in that state would have to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. California and Hawaii have a similar mandate in place.

The cities of Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as Washington State and Oregon, have also recently announced full vaccine mandates for teachers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended masking for everyone in schools, regardless of vaccination status. Several states, including California and Connecticut, currently have school mask mandates in place.

Ms. Hochul said that she would move toward requiring “vaccinations for all school personnel, with an option to test out weekly at least for now.” She added that New Yorkers could “expect new vaccine requirements” in light of the F.D.A.’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

The mask mandate would be one of Ms. Hochul’s first acts as governor, a position she takes as the state faces a climb in virus cases. Her predecessor, Andrew M. Cuomo, led New York through its first wave of the pandemic, often exerting a heavy hand that local officials bristled at as he set and lifted restrictions on businesses.

Even as cases, hospitalizations and virus-related deaths have been rising recently in the state, they remain well below the peak of the pandemic in April 2020 and a subsequent spike last winter.

Before Ms. Hochul was sworn in, Mr. Cuomo, who resigned on Monday amid a swirl of sexual harassment allegations and an accelerating impeachment investigation, voiced support for vaccination mandates for teachers.

In his farewell address, Mr. Cuomo spoke more forcefully, saying he believed that teachers “must be vaccinated for their protection and for our children’s protection.” But he said a state law would probably be required, especially given the heated political debate around vaccination.

New York State United Teachers, a statewide teachers’ union, said in a statement on Tuesday that it supported a state mask mandate. Though the union has previously expressed opposition to full vaccine mandates on school employees, it said it welcomed Ms. Hochul’s push to require regular testing for unvaccinated staff.

In New York City, Mr. de Blasio’s vaccination push has largely been supported by educators and the city’s teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers. City officials are negotiating with the U.F.T. and other unions who represent education staff over what might happen to employees who do not comply with the mandate.

District Council 37, which represents classroom aides, cafeteria workers and other school employees, said that it would file a formal complaint over the city’s vaccine mandate.

Last month, Mr. de Blasio issued a mandate for all municipal workers that allowed those who were unvaccinated to opt for weekly testing. That option remains for city employees who do not work in schools.

Mr. Cuomo said on Aug. 16 that all health care workers in New York State, including employees at hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities and other congregate care settings, would be required to get at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27.

Ms. Hochul said that the state would use federal funds to launch a “back to school” testing program that would help make testing for students and staff easily accessible. Tests will be made available in schools and at Rite Aid pharmacy locations.

She also said New York officials would consider reopening mass vaccination sites to help provide booster shots that the Biden administration recommended vaccinated American adults begin getting starting late next month, assuming federal regulators clear them.

An I.C.U. nurse treats a Covid-19 patient at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland last week.
Credit…Pool photo by Kristyna Wentz-Graff

Oregon is restoring a statewide mask mandate, ordering both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks when gathering indoors or out.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said on Tuesday that masks — which will be required starting on Friday — were needed to fight rising coronavirus cases fueled by the Delta variant. She called face coverings a simple yet critical tool to help keep Oregonians safe.

“The Delta variant is much more contagious than previous variants we’ve seen, and it has dramatically increased the amount of virus in our communities,” Ms. Brown said in a statement. “Masks have proven to be effective at bringing case counts down, and are a necessary measure right now, even in some outdoor settings, to help fight Covid and protect one another.”

Oregon is the first state to reintroduce an outdoor mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people since the Delta-driven surge took hold in the early summer, and among a handful to reimpose an indoor mask requirement statewide.

In California, Los Angeles County announced earlier this month that it would require masks to be worn at large outdoor concerts and sporting events that attract more than 10,000 people.

Under Oregon’s new rule, masks will be required in most public outdoor settings, including large outdoor events, when physical distancing is not possible. The rule does not apply to fleeting encounters, like passing someone on a hiking trail.

Though masks will not be required for outdoor gatherings at private residences, Oregon health officials recommended face coverings in those settings when they include people from different households.

While more than half of Oregon residents are fully vaccinated, new cases have surged in the state to a daily average of 2,114 as of Tuesday, from 339 a month ago, according to a New York Times database. Hospitalizations have more than quadrupled in the past month, to an average of more than 940 patients.

Under the current plan, nearly all public school students over age 5, regardless of vaccination status, will be expected to wear masks at school until at least October.
Credit…Stephanie Zollshan/The Berkshire Eagle, via Associated Press

Massachusetts is preparing to introduce a mask mandate for the state’s public schools as early as Wednesday, in a reversal for Gov. Charlie Baker, who has vocally advocated local control of school masking policy.

Mr. Baker, a Republican in a deeply Democratic state, had come under pressure to make masks mandatory in schools, and a poll released last week suggested that 81 percent of Massachusetts voters support the idea.

The state education board on Tuesday voted 9 to 1 to give the education commissioner, Jeffrey Riley, the power to issue a mandate. Mr. Riley is expected to issue the mandate this week, establishing uniform requirements ahead of school openings.

Massachusetts has not joined the list of states — including New Jersey, Oregon and Washington — that require teachers to get the vaccine. According to a New York Times data tracker, 75 percent of Massachusetts’s population has received at least one dose, a higher rate than any state except Vermont.

Under the current plan, nearly all public school students over age 5, regardless of vaccination status, will be expected to wear masks inside Massachusetts school buildings until at least October, when state officials will allow individual schools to lift the mandate as long as 80 percent of staff and students are vaccinated. Unvaccinated people would be required to continue wearing masks.

Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, called the vote “a significant advancement toward keeping our communities safe.” The union, the state’s largest, voted on Aug. 1 in favor of a mask mandate in schools.

The Pondok Indah shopping mall, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Aug. 13.
Credit…Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters

Indonesia, where cases of the coronavirus surged last month, will gradually ease restrictions in the capital, Jakarta, and elsewhere as reports of new cases decline.

Restaurants, malls and places of worship are set to reopen on Tuesday on the densely populated island of Java, which includes Jakarta and has a population of about 140 million, and Bali, a popular resort island, and other regions.

Places of worship and restaurants will be allowed to operate at 25 percent of their capacity, while shopping centers can stay open until 8 p.m. at up to 50 percent of their capacity, said President Joko Widodo.

In Indonesia’s most recent outbreak, cases peaked in mid-July but have since continued to fall, Mr. Widodo said. They are now down by 78 percent, he said at a virtual news briefing on Monday, adding that there were now more people recovering from the virus than were being diagnosed with it.

But while the government’s official tally shows a drop in cases, the World Health Organization warned that the data might be inaccurate because the rate of testing had also slowed.

“Urgent action is needed to address the continuing surge of cases,” the health body said in a statement released last week, noting continued outbreaks in parts of the country.

On average, more than 1,000 people in Indonesia continue to die daily from the virus, down from around 1,500 a day early in August. So far, just 12 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford.

Mr. Widodo acknowledged that Indonesia had to be on the alert for signs of outbreaks.

“Several countries are currently experiencing the third wave with significant addition of cases,” he said. “Therefore, we must remain vigilant.”

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Gov. David Ige of Hawaii asked visitors not to travel to the islands unless it is for essential business purposes, as high numbers of coronavirus cases strain the state’s hospitals.CreditCredit…Michelle Mishina Kunz for The New York Times

Facing a surge of Covid-19 cases that is straining hospitals, Gov. David Ige of Hawaii asked tourists to stay away.

“It’s not a good time to travel to the islands,” he said. “The visitors who choose to come to the island will not have the typical kind of holiday that they expect to get when they visit Hawaii.”

The governor’s remarks came at a news conference on Monday after the island of Oahu said it was imposing tighter restrictions on gatherings.

Starting Aug. 25, indoor gatherings of more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 25 will be prohibited in Oahu, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said. The new rule will apply for at least 28 days and will affect all events, including those that are professionally organized, a change from previous restrictions.

“We really thought we saw the light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr. Blangiardi said at a news conference. “But over the last several weeks, cases have surged and the Delta variant has proved to be more than formidable.”

The governor said he fully supported the actions that Oahu had taken.

Since July 1, Hawaii has experienced a sharp rise in new cases. The state’s seven-day average of new case reports peaked at 729 a day on Aug. 19, more than double the state’s previous high last fall, according to a New York Times database. In the past two weeks, new cases increased by 37 percent in Honolulu County, and hospitalizations more than doubled.

Mr. Blangiardi said that after extensive conversations with state health officials and health care providers, it was determined that large gatherings were the main cause of the rapid communal spread recently.

The restrictions mean that athletic events at the University of Hawaii will proceed without spectators, and that large concerts at the Waikiki Shell will be canceled. The mayor said that people would still be able to hold weddings, funerals and luaus, as long as they adhered to crowd limits. Restaurants will continue to operate at 50 percent of capacity, and youth sports can finish their seasons as long as parents spread themselves out as spectators.

Hawaii was the last state to expand vaccine eligibility to all adults. About 55 percent of the state population has been fully vaccinated so far.

At the news conference on Monday, officials said they were concerned about low vaccination rates in Oahu and the large number of young men and women with Covid-19 who were being treated in the island’s intensive care units.

Dr. James Ireland, the chief of the Honolulu Emergency Medical Services, said that over the past couple of weeks, island hospitals had seen a net increase of 10 to 14 patients a day. He warned that “very, very soon,” hospitals would not have the capacity to care for any more patients and that emergency services were close to “maxed out.”

Although Oahu was acting to curb large gatherings, which appear to be fueling the current spread, officials emphasized that the best way to fight the virus was to get vaccinated. According to the Hawaii Department of Health, the highly contagious Delta variant, which is more dangerous for those who are not vaccinated, now accounts for 93 percent of the state’s Covid-19 infections.

“That’s the way out of this,” Dr. Ireland said. “Vaccinations.”

Palestinians receive a shipment of coronavirus vaccine donated by the U.S in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Tuesday.
Credit…Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

JERUSALEM — For months, the Palestinian Authority struggled to inoculate many residents of the West Bank for want of vaccine supplies.

Now the government has a large quantity of doses in its stockpile, but it lacks something else: enough recipients.

“We’ve got vaccines, but we urgently need people to get vaccinated,” said Shadi al-Liham, the top Health Ministry official in the Bethlehem district.

As of Tuesday, only about 35 percent of West Bank residents had received at least one dose of vaccine and only about 22 percent were fully vaccinated, according to Health Ministry data. By contrast, Israel has fully vaccinated about 60 percent of its population and is now administering booster shots to vulnerable people.

Several Palestinian officials declined to say exactly how many vaccine doses the ministry had on hand. But they noted that a shipment of 500,000 doses from the United States government had arrived on Tuesday by way of the Covax global vaccine-sharing initiative, with 300,000 intended for the West Bank and 200,000 for the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Authority is now facing a challenge familiar from many governments’ immunization campaigns around the world: persuading a skeptical segment of society to get vaccinated. Disinformation and conspiracy theories have combined with more well-founded concerns about waning efficacy and limited operating hours at many inoculation centers in the West Bank to yield a slow rate of vaccine uptake, according to Abdulsalam al-Khayyat, the head of the public health department at An Najah University’s medical school in Nablus.

“Many people simply are not receiving reliable information about the vaccines but some can’t reach vaccination centers by the time they close,” he said.

Health officials said they hope the vaccine drive will gather steam, especially after the authority’s cabinet decided on Monday that public sector employees who do not get vaccinated would be placed on unpaid leave until the end of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said in announcing the decision that refusing to be vaccinated “is not a matter of personal freedom.”

“Your freedom ends when it causes harm to others’ health,” he said.

The situation is similar in the blockaded Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. Health officials there said vaccine doses were available but were finding few takers. Only about 13 percent of the population has had at least one dose so far, according to Dr. Majdi Dhair, director of the health ministry’s preventive medicine department.

The Gaza authorities have taken an even stricter approach than the West Bank has: All government employees in Gaza must be vaccinated, and so must anyone whose work brings them into frequent direct contact with the public, said Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the health ministry.

Human rights advocates expressed reservations about the Palestinian Authority’s move, arguing that the government could have introduced positive incentives like extra vacation time for getting vaccinated, or allowed employees to continue working on the condition of being tested regularly.

“There needs to be a balance between public health and personal freedoms,” said Ammar Dwaik, the director of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, a Palestinian government-established body. “But I think the government could have given more consideration to alternatives here.”

The authority’s effort to encourage more people to become vaccinated comes at a time when the virus is spreading faster in the West Bank, where the number of new cases being reported jumped significantly over the past week. The Health Ministry reported 696 new cases there on Tuesday, the highest single-day figure in months.

The West Bank has lately been averaging just under 500 new cases a day, and the number of people hospitalized for Covid there has almost tripled in the last week, to 96, according to ministry figures. In Gaza, new cases have been averaging 553 a day, and hospitalizations have almost doubled in a week, to 184. Deaths in the two territories have been running in the low single digits.

People getting the Pfizer vaccine at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville, Texas, in June.
Credit…Verónica G. Cárdenas for The New York Times

The full federal approval on Monday of a coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older appeared to clear the way for local officials, private businesses and others who want to impose vaccine requirements to do so in some states that have banned them.

By giving its formal blessing to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration lifted it out of the emergency-use category and effectively put it on par with other vaccines required by public health authorities, universities, employers and others.

At least three states that banned vaccine requirements by law or executive order — Montana, Texas and Utah — did so specifically because the three vaccines in use in the United States were being administered under emergency-use authorizations, not full approval.

Now one of the vaccines has that approval, undercutting that justification and potentially setting the stage for more of the kind of legal battles that have erupted around the country over the bans, often pitting cities, counties or school districts that want stricter vaccine requirements against governors who say they want to protect individual freedom.

The issue has grown more urgent as the pace of vaccination has slowed and as new cases, hospitalizations and deaths have risen sharply, driven largely by the highly contagious Delta variant. Many states that have banned vaccine requirements also have relatively low vaccination rates and are struggling with the latest surge in infections.

In Utah — where the Republican-led legislature passed a bill in March barring government entities from requiring a Covid-19 vaccine that was authorized for emergency use only — a spokeswoman for the state health department said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should no longer be subject to the restrictions because it now had full approval. State legislative leaders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that took effect in July, stating that “no governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a Covid-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Last week, after the San Antonio Independent School District sought to impose a vaccine requirement for its employees, the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, announced a lawsuit against the district. Pedro Martinez, the district’s superintendent, responded with a statement on Friday saying he would “not compel any staff member to be vaccinated until the vaccines are fully approved by the F.D.A.”

Mr. Paxton claimed victory in a statement on Monday, saying his office had stopped the district from trying to “play by its own set of rules.” But it was not immediately clear what would happen now that the F.D.A. had granted the approval Mr. Martinez said he was awaiting. Neither the school district nor the offices of Mr. Paxton and Mr. Abbott responded immediately to requests for comment.

Montana’s vaccine-mandate ban stipulates that “an individual may not be required to receive any vaccine whose use is allowed under an emergency use authorization or any vaccine undergoing safety trials.”

Brooke Stroyke, a spokeswoman for Montana’s governor, Greg Gianforte, maintained that vaccine mandates remained illegal in the state. She said the F.D.A. approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine did not entirely invalidate Montana’s law, which also prohibits discrimination based on whether a person has been inoculated.

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Pentagon to Require Vaccinations for Active-Duty Troops

Following the Food and Drug Administration’s final approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, Pentagon officials said they were working on a timeline for requiring vaccinations for all active-duty service members.

The F.D.A. approved full licensure of the Pfizer vaccine this morning and has also, I’m sure you’re aware, back in August on the 9th, the secretary articulated that it was his intent to mandate Covid-19 vaccines upon F.D.A. licensure or by mid-September to seek a waiver from the president. So now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved, the department is prepared to issue updated guidance requiring all service members to be vaccinated. A timeline for vaccination completion will be provided in the coming days. The health of the force is, as always, of our military and our civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority, and so it is important to remind everyone that these efforts ensure the safety of our service members and promote the readiness of our force, not to mention the health and safety of the communities around the country in which we live. We’re preparing now actionable guidance to the force we’re going to move forward making that vaccine mandatory. We’re preparing the guidance to the force right now, and that the actual completion date of it, in other words, how fast we want to see it get done, we’re working through that guidance right now.

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Following the Food and Drug Administration’s final approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, Pentagon officials said they were working on a timeline for requiring vaccinations for all active-duty service members.CreditCredit…Carl Court/Getty Images

Full federal approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for those 16 and older is opening the way for institutions like the military, corporate employers, hospitals and school districts to announce vaccine mandates for their employees.

Within hours of the announcement, the Pentagon, CVS, the State University of New York system and the New York City school system, among others, announced that they would enforce mandates they had prepared to carry out but had made contingent on the F.D.A.’s action.

One of the first and largest to move ahead was the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III had already received authorization from President Biden to mandate vaccines for all active-duty troops once the vaccine was fully approved, and he was moving swiftly to put the plans into action, said John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman. The secretary will soon send specific vaccination guidelines to 1.4 million service members.

“These efforts ensure the safety of our service members,” Mr. Kirby said during a news briefing on Monday. He said the deadline date for getting vaccinated was still being determined.

Last month, Mr. Biden ordered that all federal employees and on-site contractors must be vaccinated against the coronavirus, or else submit to regular testing and other measures. The requirement applied to the 766,372 civilians working for the Defense Department, but not active-duty service members.

The Defense Department’s website said that as of Aug. 18, more than one million service members have been vaccinated, along with more than 300,000 civilian employees.

Vaccine mandates for college students were also gathering pace after the F.D.A.’s decision.

The F.D.A.’s approval brought into force a requirement in New York, announced in May, that all in-person students at State University of New York and City University of New York schools be vaccinated. CUNY’s website said that after federal approval students “have 45 days to get fully vaccinated or will be subject to potential academic withdrawal.”

The University of Minnesota system, with five campuses and 60,000 students, said on Monday that the coronavirus vaccine would be added to the university’s list of mandatory immunizations for students. And the president of Louisiana State University told reporters that his school would also require vaccination. Each institution had previously said it would do so once the F.D.A. gave a coronavirus vaccine final approval.

The drugstore chain CVS said on Monday that its pharmacists would have to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 30 and that all corporate employees and other workers who interact with patients had until Oct. 31 to comply. The requirement affects about 100,000 employees, the company said. Workers may request exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

And Disney World said unions representing more than 30,000 employees had agreed to a mandate, citing the F.D.A.’s full approval, that would require workers to be vaccinated by Oct. 22.

New York City announced on Monday that every employee of the city’s Department of Education, from principals to janitors, would have to receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27.

Hours later, New Jersey’s governor, Philip D. Murphy, said that all state employees and employees of public, private and parochial schools in his state must be fully inoculated by Oct. 18 or be tested once or twice a week for the virus. And Chevron became the first major American oil producer to require its field workers to get vaccinated.

Before the F.D.A.’s announcement, the three coronavirus vaccines available in the United States, made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, were all being administered in the United States under an emergency use authorization. (The Pfizer vaccine remains available on that basis for youths 12 to 15 and for extra doses for some immunocompromised people.)

U.S. officials hope that full federal approval will quiet some of the vaccine misinformation online and induce more hesitant people to get vaccinated. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that three out of every 10 unvaccinated people said that they would be more likely to get a shot once it was fully approved.

But whether the announcement will help convince the roughly 85 million unvaccinated Americans to get inoculated without the added pressure of new requirements remains to be seen

Stephanie Saul, Eliza Shapiro, Tracey Tully and Coral Murphy-Marcos contributed reporting.

The United States has a far higher share of seniors without full vaccine protection than many other wealthy countries, a key risk factor driving serious Covid-19 illness and death, a Times analysis shows.

As the Delta variant has torn across the country, America’s pace of vaccinations has sped up after months of relative stagnation, and full federal approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday could extend that momentum. Just over half of Americans are now fully vaccinated.

But national averages mask the high rate of older Americans who remain deeply vulnerable. Older people still account for most Covid-19 deaths, and in many counties, especially in the South and Mountain West, seniors without full vaccination make up more than 10 percent of the total population.

“We have swaths of populations in counties who are healthy Americans, over 60, who are not vaccinated,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers. “These people are at extreme risk, and they don’t realize it.”

Coronavirus patients at a hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, last month. Haiti has averaged more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
Credit…Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its health advice for travel to six countries it now considers to be “very high” risk given the rapid spread of the coronavirus and the Delta variant. It is suggesting that people avoid traveling to these countries altogether, or if they must go, to get vaccinated beforehand.

The six countries — Haiti, Kosovo, Lebanon, Morocco, the Bahamas and St. Martin in the Caribbean — have all had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, pushing them into the C.D.C.’s highest warning category.

Several other countries, including Brazil, Britain and Georgia — which currently has the highest daily global average, at 126 new cases a day per 100,000 people, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University — were already on the list.

The warnings come as the rapid spread of the Delta variant has upended travel plans for Americans amid a summer that many had hoped would include more freedoms thanks to high vaccination rates.

“Even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants,” the C.D.C. warns on its site. The agency also recommends against any international travel without full vaccination.

“The Covid-19 situation, including the spread of new or concerning variants, differs from country to country,” the agency says. “All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling.”

The Columbia University campus in Manhattan in March last year. Visa numbers for international students plunged in 2020.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

After a precipitous drop in international student enrollment in 2020, the number of American student visas granted to international students has recovered to levels preceding the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, American consulates approved almost 117,000 F-1 student visas in May and June, about 90 percent of figures in 2019, according to U.S. State Department data. Among them, 57,000 Chinese students, who make up a large proportion of the international cohort, received F-1 student visas in May and June, a slight increase from 2019.

Last year, the number of international students in the United States on F-1 and M-1 visas fell by 20 percent to 1.25 million, while the number of new students dropped by 72 percent. Some students had opted to take classes remotely while others deferred their education in the United States because of coronavirus restrictions, including the suspension of in-person lessons.

The issue of visas for Chinese students has emerged as a point of contention in already strained ties between China and the United States. Travel between the countries has been largely frozen by visa controls imposed because of Covid-19 as well as geopolitical tensions.

About 500 Chinese postgraduates with offers to study STEM subjects were denied student visas this year, China Daily, a state news outlet, reported in July. Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, condemned the visa rejections and called on President Biden to end restrictions imposed by the Trump administration on researchers and scholars suspected of having Chinese military ties.

Campus closures last year stranded about 400,000 Chinese students studying in the United States, including 26,000 in primary and secondary schools. Many desperately tried to secure a passage home when almost all flights to and from the country were canceled.

It remains unclear how the Delta variant will affect international student enrollment. Data of visa approvals in July, one of the busiest months ahead of the fall semester, has yet to be released.

Goldman Sachs is the most prominent Wall Street bank to make a broad vaccine requirement. 
Credit…Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Goldman Sachs told employees on Tuesday that it will require anyone who enters the bank’s U.S. offices, including clients, to be fully vaccinated starting on Sept. 7, making it the most prominent Wall Street bank to issue such a broad requirement.

The announcement, in a memo obtained by The New York Times, came a day after the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a move that many large corporations had been seeking before making mandates.

President Biden seized on the F.D.A.’s approval, urging private businesses to protect their workers through vaccinations.

“If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader, who has been waiting for full F.D.A. approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that,” the president said on Monday. “Require it.”

Companies have been consulting with advisers for months about whether to mandate vaccines, but have been wary of employee pushback and potential litigation. The quick spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and prominent first moves by large corporations like Walmart and the Walt Disney Company helped to expedite those talks. Now, the F.D.A. approval on Monday has finally given them some assurances they need to move forward.

Goldman Sachs told employees on Tuesday that anyone in the United States who is not fully vaccinated by Sept. 7 must work from home. It will also require fully vaccinated employees to undergo weekly coronavirus testing.

The bank, which employs roughly 20,000 in the United States, is reinstating mask requirements throughout office common areas as of Wednesday. At offices in San Francisco and Washington, masks will be required at all times, except while someone is eating or drinking.

Other Wall Street banks have similar requirements. Citigroup said this month that it would require vaccinations for employees returning to its corporate offices in the New York area this fall, and Morgan Stanley said in June that it would require all employees and visitors to its New York offices to be vaccinated. JPMorgan Chase has so far strongly encouraged, but not required, vaccinations for its work force.

The Goldman Sachs announcement followed several others this week. On Monday, Chevron said it was mandating vaccines for expats and employees who travel internationally, as well as for the offshore work force in the Gulf of Mexico and for some onshore support personnel. CVS Health said its pharmacists have until Nov. 30 to be fully vaccinated, while others who interact with patients, and all corporate staff, have until Oct. 31. Disney Cruise Line said Tuesday that it was requiring passengers over 12 years old to be fully vaccinated for sailings to the Bahamas.

The F.D.A. approval also gives industry groups grounds to encourage vaccinations from their members — and lobby against legislation that may hinder those efforts. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced this month that it would mandate vaccines for its work force once the F.D.A. fully approved them. The Business Roundtable, an influential lobbying group, said Monday that it supported mandates.

“Many companies have made the decision to mandate vaccines for some or all of their employees, and we applaud their decision,” the group, led by the Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon, said in a statement. “We also encourage policymakers, including at the state and local levels, to support — not impede — companies’ ability to make such a decision.”

At least three states — Montana, Texas and Utah — that had banned vaccine requirements by law or executive order did so specifically because the three vaccines used in the United States were being administered under emergency-use authorizations, not full approval. Some companies, like Norwegian Cruise Line in Florida, have resisted such prohibitions, but most have largely stayed out of the fray so far.

Over the past month, there have been signs that companies are showing an increased appetite for vaccine mandates. Earlier this month, United Parcel Service said that any employee returning to an office that serves a support function must be fully vaccinated, or have received one shot with a second scheduled, by Oct. 1. The policy does not apply to workers in operational roles, though they are being encouraged to get vaccinated.

As of Aug. 7, the share of job postings requiring vaccinations was up 90 percent from a month earlier, according to the job search company Indeed. Those that require vaccinations, though, are still a small fraction of the overall listings.

F.D.A. authorization could also simplify negotiations with unions, whose mixed stance toward mandates has contributed to a class divide among workers. On Monday, Disney World said unions representing more than 30,000 employees had agreed to a mandate, citing the F.D.A.’s full approval, that would require workers to be vaccinated by Oct. 22.

But the United Food and Commercial Workers International, a union that represents around 1.3 million workers in grocery stores, pharmacies and meatpacking plants, warned on Monday against mandates that did not take employees’ concerns into consideration.

“With more employers considering vaccine mandates after this new F.D.A. approval, U.F.C.W. continues to urge all businesses to negotiate any vaccine requirements with their frontline workers,” the union’s president, Marc Perrone, said. The union had previously cited concerns about lack of regulatory approval in its negotiations with Tyson Foods over the meatpacker’s decision to require its entire work force to get vaccinated.

Unions and other industry groups are grappling with continued hesitancy about the shot. In a recent poll, three out of 10 unvaccinated people said they would be more likely to get a fully approved F.D.A. shot, but some experts believe that this figure could be exaggerated.

Some companies that previously cited approval status for the vaccines had no updates to share as of Tuesday. “It’s very difficult for us to come in and mandate a vaccine that isn’t even federally approved yet,” the chief executive of Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian, told CNBC this month. “So stay tuned.”

A spokesman for the airline told The Times that the airline’s plans were “status quo”: mandating vaccines for new hires and strongly encouraging them for existing employees.

More regulatory action that could make vaccines easier to mandate is coming. Moderna’s application for full approval of its vaccine was filed in June, a month after Pfizer’s. Johnson & Johnson is expected to apply for full approval soon. The F.D.A. is also weighing whether to authorize booster shots for the fully vaccinated, another twist for corporate vaccine mandates.

Niraj Chokshi and Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting

global roundup

One of Manila’s other hospitals — Quezon City General Hospital — has turned its chapel into a Covid-19 ward in response to rising infections.
Credit…Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

The Philippines’ largest public hospital has been so overwhelmed by a continuous stream of coronavirus patients that it temporarily stopped accepting patients at its emergency room on Tuesday.

The Philippine General Hospital’s decision came a day after the health department reported 18,332 new cases on Monday, a new daily high for the country. On Tuesday, 12,067 were recorded, with the country’s total number of reported cases exceeding 1.8 million.

“We ask for your understanding,” the hospital said in its in a statement. It said more than 100 of its 230 Covid-19 patients were in intensive care and needing high-flow oxygen and ventilators.

It said admitting more patients at this stage would place both patients and hospital workers in danger.

The hospital serves more than half a million patients a year, providing health care services to majority of the country’s poor.

Hospitals designated for Covid-19 have been reporting high caseloads since the beginning of August, fueled by the more infectious Delta variant.

The government said on Monday that it had detected 466 new cases of the Delta variant, bringing to 1,273 the total number of those known to be infected with this variant. It had also detected community transmissions of Delta in the capital, Manila.

On Tuesday, the presidential spokesman Harry Roque again appealed to the public to have themselves vaccinated as more shots arrive in the country.

“While cases are going up, it is true that we are now in the critical warning stage,” Mr. Roque told an online press forum, adding that the intensive care unit beds available in Manila were now nearly full.

“72 percent of all I.C.U. beds in Metro Manila are now in use,” he said, adding that the same trend was happening nationwide, with nearly half of available ventilators also in use. “It is understandable given the Delta variant, but we need to increase the use of masks, to wash hands and if possible, get vaccinated.”

In other news from around the globe:

  • Greece announced new measures meant to push more people to get vaccinated and to head off a renewed spike in infections from the Delta variant. Among them: People who have neither been vaccinated nor show proof that they recovered from a Covid-19 infection will be barred from barred from restaurants, cafes, clubs and sporting venues, the country’s health minister announced. Unvaccinated workers, especially in the tourism industry, will have to undergo frequent testing at their own expense, paying 10 euros ($12) a test — a sizable amount in a country where the average worker earns about $1,300, a month. About 52 percent of Greece’s population has been vaccinated so far. The new measures take effect Sept. 13.

  • The health watchdog in France has recommended a third vaccine dose for immunocompromised people and those 65 or older. They will be eligible for the booster shot beginning in September, but must be at least six months away from their last vaccination. New reported cases in the country are averaging more than 20,000 daily, but have been falling in recent days. The United States and Israel are already implementing booster vaccination campaigns.

Léontine Gallois and Niki Kitsantonis contributed reporting.

The Covid vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been available to the American public for months under federal emergency use authorizations.
Credit…Bess Adler for The New York Times

Now that the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been given full federal approval for use in people 16 and older, attention is turning to the vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Both vaccines have been available to the American public for months under emergency use authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration. Moderna applied for full approval in June, a month after Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson is expected to apply soon.

When they might be fully approved remains unclear. Dr. Peter Marks, the F.D.A.’s top vaccine regulator, declined to specify a timeline for Moderna’s approval in a call with reporters on Monday.

Dr. Marks did note that the approval for Pfizer’s vaccine took only 97 days from the time the company submitted its data, less than half the time of a typical approval period. The exhaustive process was expedited by a “tireless team” that “worked day and night to get this done,” he said, adding that regulators were “highly rigorous” despite the short timeline.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in a series of interviews on Tuesday that he hoped the F.D.A. would soon be able to move forward to give full approval to the next vaccine.

“I don’t think it’s too far away,” Dr. Fauci said on the CBS program “This Morning.”

“I think it’s a temporal issue,” he continued. “I don’t think there’s anything different necessarily about the process, it’s just that they submitted or are submitting their material a bit later or after Pfizer did.”

Full federal approval could make vaccines more palatable to the more than 80 million people around the country who have not been vaccinated yet, Dr. Fauci said on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, citing a survey that found that about a third of them were waiting for the F.D.A.’s imprimatur before getting a shot.

Dr. Fauci also said that he thought advertising for the vaccine, which is allowed now that it has been approved, might increase uptake, and that approval would spur more vaccine mandates from businesses, colleges and local governments.

President Biden encouraged such mandates in an address on Monday. The Pentagon announced that it would require all 1.4 million active duty troops to be vaccinated, New Jersey said that all teachers would need to get shots or weekly testing, and the State University of New York announced a vaccination requirement for its students.

Vaccine mandates and other protective measures have taken on greater urgency as the extremely infectious Delta variant has driven a surge in cases nationwide and overwhelmed hospitals in many states. The seven-day average of known deaths connected to the coronavirus has risen above 1,000 for the first time since March 2021, according to data collected by The New York Times.

Starting Sept. 20, the federal government plans to provide booster shots for people eight months after their second vaccine doses, assuming federal regulators clear extra doses.

Nearly 65 million people have been vaccinated with Moderna’s shot, and nearly 14 million with Johnson & Johnson’s, compared with more than 92 million people who have been vaccinated with Pfizer’s, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just over 60 percent of people eligible for the vaccine in the United States have been fully vaccinated.

Children ages 12 to 15 can still get Pfizer’s vaccine under the emergency use authorization; none of the vaccines have been authorized for children younger than 12.

In July, federal regulators pressed both Pfizer and Moderna to expand the sizes of trials in children ages 5 to 11 to detect rare side effects, including heart inflammation problems that have turned up in people younger than 30. Pfizer appeared to be on a faster track to secure an emergency use authorization for young children at the time.

Dr. Fauci said that pharmaceutical companies and federal agencies were still collecting data on using the vaccines in children younger than 12, and that he hoped the F.D.A. could at least authorize the vaccines for emergency use in children by early winter.

Speaking on “The Today Show” on NBC, Dr. Fauci said he thought that ending the pandemic in the United States would involve convincing the “overwhelming majority” of unvaccinated people to be inoculated.

“I believe we can see light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr. Fauci said. “When we reach a point where there’s enough of a veil of protection over the community that you see a dramatic diminution not only in cases, but in hospitalizations and, ultimately of course, in deaths.”

Treating a coronavirus patient in an intensive care unit in Ocean Springs, Miss.
Credit…Rory Doyle for The New York Times

Coronavirus vaccines provided strong protection against infection for essential workers earlier this year, but became less effective as the highly contagious Delta variant became the dominant form of the virus, according to a study published on Tuesday by federal health officials.

It was not clear whether the decline in protection was caused by the emergence of the Delta variant or the lengthening period of time since the inoculations were begun. Vaccine effectiveness showed possible signs of decline starting four months after vaccinations were first rolled out.

“What we were trying to figure out is: is this Delta, or is this waning effectiveness?” Dr. Fowlkes said. “Our conclusion is that we can’t really tell.”

Researchers followed thousands of first-responders, health care workers and others who could not work remotely in eight locations in Arizona, Florida, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Minnesota. The participants were tested for coronavirus infection every week for 35 weeks, as well as any time they developed Covid-like symptoms.

Most of the workers who were vaccinated received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine; one-third received the Moderna vaccine, and 2 percent received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Overall, the vaccines reduced infections among vaccinated workers by 80 percent from Dec. 14, when the U.S. vaccination campaign began, to Aug. 14, compared with unvaccinated workers. (The results were adjusted for factors including occupation, demographic characteristics, frequency of close social contact and mask use.)

But while the shots reduced infections by 91 percent before the emergence of the Delta variant, their protectiveness dropped to 66 percent as the variant became dominant in each region.

“We really wanted to let people know that we were seeing a decline in the effectiveness of the vaccine in protection against any infection, symptomatic or asymptomatic, since the Delta variant became dominant,” said Ashley Fowlkes, an epidemiologist on the Covid-19 response team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the study’s lead author.

“But we also want to reinforce that 66 percent effectiveness is a really high number,” she added. “It’s not 91 percent, but it is still a two-thirds reduction in the risk of infection among vaccinated participants.”

The drop-off in effectiveness “should be interpreted with caution,” however, because the observation period while Delta was dominant was short, Dr. Fowlkes said, and the overall number of infections was small.

Another C.D.C. study released on Tuesday analyzed infections and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County between May 1 and July 25 of this year. The researchers concluded that while vaccinated individuals became infected, infection rates among the unvaccinated were 4.9 times higher, and the hospitalization rate was 29 times higher among the unvaccinated.

Of 43,127 known infections in Los Angeles County among residents aged 16 and older, 25 percent were in fully vaccinated individuals, 3.3 percent were in partially vaccinated individuals, and 71.4 percent were in unvaccinated people. (The proportion of fully vaccinated Los Angeles County residents increased to 51 percent on July 25, from 27 percent on May 1.)

Three percent of vaccinated individuals needed to be hospitalized, 0.5 percent were admitted to intensive care and 0.2 percent required mechanical ventilation. The comparable rates for unvaccinated individuals were 7.6 percent, 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent, the study reported.

Those who were hospitalized despite vaccination were also older, on average, than the unvaccinated who were hospitalized. The death rate among the vaccinated was lower: 0.2 percent, compared with 0.6 percent among the unvaccinated. The median age at death was also higher among the vaccinated, at 78, compared with a median age of 63 among the unvaccinated.





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