CDC Limits Boosters; Facebook Delays Office Return: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Booster shots that are expected to be approved for people with compromised immune systems aren’t appropriate for other people at this time, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
U.S. hospitals are desperately hunting for medical staff as the Covid-19 wave that’s pushing some systems to their breaking point in the South spills into the rest of the country. San Francisco will require proof of full vaccination for indoor patrons of restaurants, bars and gyms, becoming the first major U.S. city to impose such a stringent mandate.
Facebook Inc. is delaying its return to office plans due to a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, telling U.S. employees Thursday that they don’t need to return in person until January 2022. Dallas-based AT&T said it will require all employees in areas with “high or substantial” spread to wear masks indoors.
- Global Tracker: Cases top 205.2 million; deaths pass 4.3 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 4.56 billion doses administered
- Texas GOP’s all-in focus on culture war spurs corporate backlash
- One of the world’s few delta-free havens eyes reopening
- Tokyo virus situation is out of control, panel expert says
- Understanding the debate over booster shots: QuickTake
Oklahoma ICU Beds Run Short (4:50 p.m. NY)
Hard-pressed Oklahoma is running out of intensive care unit beds again as Covid-19’s delta variant surges, and larger hospitals in the state are declining to accept critically ill patients from smaller hospitals, the Oklahoman newspaper reported Thursday. With the Covid-19 patients, “the common denominator is: none of them are vaccinated,” Tulsa emergency room physician Chris Sudduth told the newspaper.
AT&T Imposes Mask Rules (3:40 p.m. NY)
Dallas-based AT&T said it will require all employees in areas with “high or substantial” Covid-19 spread to wear masks indoors as of Friday. In response to the viral surge fueled by the delta variant, the company is also requiring all managers to get vaccinated and is in discussions with unions on how to get other workers on board with vaccinations.
The company says it is following CDC guidelines to “provide for effective business continuity in what is a dynamic and uncertain environment,” according to a statement Thursday. AT&T has 227,000 employees and about 100,000 union workers.
Business and politics are colliding in Texas, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott is facing backlash over a conservative social agenda that companies say will make it harder for them to attract and retain the best talent.
NYC Gave 50,000 People $100 Incentive (3:20 p.m. NY)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 50,000 New Yorkers have received the $100 gift card the city began offering last month as an incentive to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
“This is clearly a smart, effective way to drive up vaccination rates,” said de Blasio in a statement on Thursday.
Facebook Delays Office Return (3:10 p.m. NY)
Facebook Inc. is delaying its return to office plans due to a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, telling U.S. employees Thursday that they don’t need to return to work in person until January 2022.
“Given the recent health data showing rising Covid cases based on the delta variant, our teams in the US will not be required to go back to the office until January 2022,” Tracy Clayton, a Facebook spokesperson, in a statement.
Facebook had originally said it expected about 50% office capacity in the U.S. by September, with a full return by October.
Mississippi Extends Emergency (2:55 p.m. NY)
Governor Tate Reeves extended Mississippi’s state of emergency for 30 days, after health officials reported a record high daily case count of 4,412. The Republican governor has faced criticism for not acting aggressively enough in the face of a new delta-variant surge that has strained Mississippi’s hospital system.
On Wednesday the state said it would open a 50-bed hospital and that the federal government will send in medical help. Reeves tweeted Thursday, however, “There will be no lockdowns and there will be no statewide mandates.” Mississippi has the nation’s lowest rate of vaccination, according the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.
WHO Sets Next Phase of Covid Origin Probe (2:15 p.m. NY)
The World Health Organization called on governments to “provide all data and access” to help advance investigations into the origin of the virus that causes Covid-19.
The United Nations agency said in a statement it’s creating a scientific adviser group to support recommended further studies outlined in March after a joint report by WHO and China. Afterward, WHO said it couldn’t rule out any hypothesis, including a lab leak.
Secure labs in the two countries that keep stocks of the eradicated smallpox virus, Russia and the U.S., submit every two years to inspections by the WHO, which publishes the inspection reports, according to the statement.
U.S. Hospitals Pushed to Brink (2:45 p.m. NY)
U.S. hospitals are desperately hunting for medical staff as the Covid-19 wave that’s pushing some systems to their breaking point in the South spills into the rest of the country.
More than a dozen states face severe shortages of personnel, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data show. In Texas and Hawaii, hospitals are building tents for extra space. In Florida, the federal government has deployed hundreds of ventilators to Florida in a rare tapping of the Strategic National Stockpile for that equipment.
The scramble comes as hospitals in hard-hit states say they’re reaching surge capacity, canceling elective procedures again and turning away transfer patients.
Boston to Require Shots or Tests for Workers (2:30 p.m. NY)
All of Boston’s 18,000 employees will need to show proof of vaccination or take weekly Covid-19 tests as of mid-October, Acting Mayor Kim Janey said Thursday.
“Our purpose is to protect our employees and the public,” Janey said.
The mandate will be phased in beginning later this month; as of Oct. 18, all city workers will be required to comply, she said. Janey said she worked with labor leaders on the decision, and that getting more residents vaccinated remains a priority.
CDC Limits Boosters to Immunocompromised (2:24 p.m. NY)
Booster shots that are expected to be approved for people with compromised immune systems aren’t appropriate for other people at this time, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
As soon as Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to recommend a third Covid-19 vaccine dose for immunocompromised people. But no one else should seek to get another shot on their own, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing.
“At this time, only certain immune-compromised individuals may need an additional dose,” Walensky said.
San Francisco Issues Stringent Vaccine Order (2:22 p.m. NY)
San Francisco will require proof of full vaccination for indoor patrons of restaurants, bars and gyms, becoming the first major U.S. city to impose such a stringent mandate.
The rule also will apply to major indoor spaces such as theaters and entertainment venues, Mayor London Breed’s office said in a statement Thursday.
The move comes as the San Francisco area, which suffered one of the country’s first coronavirus outbreaks last year, is seeing case counts rise again due to the fast-spreading delta variant. New York City imposed a similar order last week, but only required that indoor diners and gym patrons have one vaccine dose.
Lollapalooza Not a Superspreader (1:07 p.m. NY)
Chicago health officials said the city’s Lollapalooza concert shows no sign of being a superspreader event for Covid-19 earlier this month even with 203 cases being reported by attendees.
Those infected may have been exposed elsewhere, according to Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s health department commissioner. Lollapolooza, which took place July 29 to Aug. 1, drew an estimated 385,000 people, and approximately 90% or more were vaccinated based on measures taken at the site, Arwady said.
Colorado Weighs Paying Kids for Tests (12:52 p.m. NY)
In an effort to encourage Covid-19 surveillance, Colorado is considering paying school children to get tested, perhaps five or more dollars, Governor Jared Polis said at a news conference in Denver on Thursday. Plans are still being reviewed, Polis said. Of the 501 Covid-19 patients hospitalized in Colorado, seven are ages 10 and under, he said, and he is recommending schools use face masks to prevent the spread. There are no plans for a mask mandate, the governor said.
U.S. Positive-Test Rate Eases, CDC Says (12:30 p.m. NY)
The nationwide positive-test rate in the U.S. declined during the week that ended Monday, breaking an upward trend fueled by the delta variant, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Thursday.
The rolling seven-day average of viral lab test positivity fell 0.3% in the report, which didn’t explain the decline. The so-called positivity rate fell nationwide to 9.5%, compared with 10.2% in a similar CDC report issued Wednesday.
Hospital admissions for Covid-19 rose 31.3% on a rolling weekly basis, a slightly increased pace compared to 31.1% for the week that ended Sunday, according to CDC data.
Educators Group Supports Vaccine Mandate (11:22 a.m. NY)
National Education Association President Becky Pringle announced support for requirements that all educators receive a Covid-19 vaccination or submit to regular testing, according to a statement Thursday.
“As we enter a new school year amidst a rapidly spreading Delta variant and lagging public vaccination rates, it is clear that the vaccination of those eligible is one of the most effective ways to keep schools safe,” Pringle said.
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million teachers, administrators, retirees and students.
Blade to Require Passenger Vaccinations (10:58 p.m. NY)
Blade Urban Air Mobility will be among the first U.S. flight-providers to require passengers be fully vaccinated for Covid-19.
Starting Sept. 7, those booking a seat on one of its flights will have to submit a self-certification and may be required to show proof before boarding, Chief Executive Officer Rob Wiesenthal said. Passengers under the age of 12 and those with a medical exemption will be excluded.
New N.Y. Governor Wants Masks in Schools (10:36 a.m. NY)
Incoming New York Governor Kathy Hochul says she is meeting with the state health commissioner to discuss again requiring masks in schools as Covid-19 cases from the contagious delta variant continue to tick up.
“I believe that there will end up being mask mandates. I just don’t have the authority to do so at this point,” she said on Thursday during an interview with the Today Show.
JetBlue Sees Short-Term Demand Hit (8:28 a.m. NY)
JetBlue Airways said more customers are holding off on booking trips and others are seeking refunds for planned travel because of increased cases of coronavirus.
The carrier expects illnesses linked to the delta variant to peak in about six to eight weeks, as it has in other countries, CEO Robin Hayes said in a Bloomberg Television interview.
Israel to Expand Booster Drive (4:43 p.m. HK)
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed health services providers to prepare to expand the coronavirus booster drive to a younger age group next week.
Bennett said he expected to get the final go-ahead from an advisory team later Thursday. Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash said earlier this week that officials are considering lowering the minimum age to 40 or 50.
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