Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the Web

Citigroup to require U.S. employees be vaccinated against COVID-19

CBS News - October 29, 2021

Citigroup will require all of its U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, the nation's third-biggest bank said Thursday. … Although other major financial institutions are requiring the shots for new hires or workers returning to the office, Citi is the first major lender to make inoculation against the coronavirus a condition of employment.

Florida sues Biden over contractor vaccine mandate

ABC News - October 29, 2021

The state of Florida on Thursday sued President Joe Biden's administration over its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal contractors, opening yet another battleground between Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and the White House. The lawsuit, announced by DeSantis at a news conference, alleges the president doesn’t have the authority to issue the rule and that it violates procurement law.

US jobless claims drop to pandemic low of 281,000

ABC News - October 29, 2021

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a pandemic low last week, another sign that the job market and economy continue to recover from last year’s coronavirus recession.

Merck agrees to let other drug makers make its COVID pill

AP - October 27, 2021

Pharmaceutical company Merck agreed to allow other drug makers worldwide to produce its COVID-19 pill, in a move aimed at helping millions of people in poorer countries get access to the potentially life-saving drug, a UN-backed public health organization said on Wednesday. The Medicines Patent Pool said in a statement that it had signed a voluntary licensing agreement for molnupiravir with Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

COVID Vaccination Can Be Safe Even in People With Severe Allergies

HealthDay - October 27, 2021

A new study shows that even when people report a history of severe allergic reactions to medications, vaccines or allergens, nearly all of them can be fully vaccinated. The research involved close to 53,000 employees with the Mass General Brigham health care system. ... A high-risk allergy history was associated with a 2.5-times increased risk of allergic reactions, with the highest risks for hives and swelling. However, despite these symptoms, 97.6% of the employees in the study received two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Immunocompromised may need a fourth Covid-19 shot, CDC says

CNN - October 27, 2021

People with certain health conditions that make them moderately or severely immunocompromised may get a fourth mRNA Covid-19 shot, according to updated guidelines from the CDC. The CDC authorized a third dose for certain immunocompromised people 18 and older in August. It said a third dose, rather than a booster -- the CDC makes a distinction between the two -- was necessary because the immunocompromised may not have had a complete immune response from the first two doses.

Enforcement of indoor vaccine mandates proves uneven in US

AP - October 27, 2021

Go out for a night on the town in some U.S. cities and you might find yourself waiting while someone at the door of the restaurant or theater closely inspects your vaccination card and checks it against your photo ID. Or, conversely, you might be waved right through just by flashing your card. How rigorously vaccination requirements are being enforced varies from place to place, even within the same state or city.

Covid-19 vaccination rates for kids echo regional disparities, worrying doctors

NBC News - October 27, 2021

Whether children receive a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine often depends on where they call home. About 81 percent of children ages 12 to 17 in Vermont have had at least one dose of a vaccine to protect against Covid-19, according to data from the CDC analyzed by NBC News. Puerto Rico leads the U.S. with a vaccination rate of 91 percent. But in West Virginia, the rate is just 35 percent — a marker of stark regional disparities that are deepening across the country.

Meatpacker Tyson: Mandate led 96% of workers to get vaccine

ABC News - October 27, 2021

Meatpacking giant Tyson Foods says more than 96% of its workers have been vaccinated ahead of the company's Nov. 1 deadline for them to do so. The company based in Springdale, Arkansas, said the number of its 120,000 workers who have been vaccinated has nearly doubled since it announced its mandate on Aug. 3. At that point, only 50% of Tyson workers had been vaccinated.

FDA says the Pfizer COVID vaccine looks effective for young kids

NPR - October 25, 2021

Federal health regulators said late Friday that kid-size doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine appear highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections in elementary school children and caused no unexpected safety issues, as the U.S. weighs beginning vaccinations in youngsters. The FDA posted its analysis of Pfizer's data ahead of a public meeting next week to debate whether the shots are ready for the nation's roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11. The agency will ask a panel of outside vaccine experts to vote on that question.

Thousands of workers are opting to get fired, rather than take the vaccine

NPR - October 25, 2021

Across the country, employers are firing workers for refusing to comply with vaccine mandates. Some people are opting to quit their jobs rather than take the shot. These workers represent only a tiny fraction of overall employees, not even 1% in some workplaces. But it can add up to thousands of people in many states.

Florida’s top doctor refuses mask, is told to leave meeting

AP - October 25, 2021

Florida’s top health official was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of a state senator who told him she had a serious medical condition, officials have confirmed.

Africa tries to end vaccine inequity by replicating its own

AP - October 25, 2021

In a pair of Cape Town warehouses converted into a maze of airlocked sterile rooms, young scientists are assembling and calibrating the equipment needed to reverse engineer a coronavirus vaccine that has yet to reach South Africa and most of the world’s poorest people. The energy in the gleaming labs matches the urgency of their mission to narrow vaccine disparities. By working to replicate Moderna’s COVID-19 shot, the scientists are effectively making an end run around an industry that has vastly prioritized rich countries over poor in both sales and manufacturing.

Delta ‘Plus’ Covid variant may be more transmissible

BBC - October 25, 2021

A new mutated form of coronavirus that some are calling "Delta Plus" may spread more easily than regular Delta, UK experts now say. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has moved it up into the "variant under investigation" category, to reflect this possible risk. There is no evidence yet that it causes worse illness. And scientists are confident that existing vaccines should still work well to protect people. … Latest official data suggests 6% of Covid cases are of this type.

China to start vaccinating children to age 3 as cases spread

AP - October 25, 2021

Children as young as 3 will start receiving COVID-19 vaccines in China, where 76% of the population has been fully vaccinated and authorities are maintaining a zero-tolerance policy toward outbreaks.

COVID vaccine: CDC expands booster rollout, OKs mixing shots

AP - October 22, 2021

Millions more Americans are closer to getting a COVID-19 booster as influential government advisers on Thursday endorsed extra doses of all three of the nation’s vaccines — and opened the possibility of choosing a different company’s brand for that next shot. Certain people who received Pfizer vaccinations months ago already are eligible for a booster and now advisers to the CDC say specific Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients should qualify, too. And in a bigger change, the panel allowed the flexibility of “mixing and matching” that extra dose regardless of which type people received first.