COVID-19 By The Numbers
Thursday, December 2
The Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the U.S. is on hold because of legal challenges, but employers can still require the shots, according to the Associated Press.
The regulation says businesses with 100 or more employees need to require COVID-19 vaccinations or have workers tested weekly for the virus. It was set to take effect Jan. 4, 2022, but has faced legal challenges from businesses, Republicans and others.
A federal appeals court put the rule on hold. Then all legal challenges were consolidated in another appeals court, which is taking written arguments from parties that want to join the case.
Governments worldwide are weighing new measures for those who may be tired of restrictions and vaccine mandates, as the delta variant pushes up cases in Europe and other parts of the world.
According to the Associated Press, different countries have been turning to varying measures to get their populations vaccinated and healthy.
For example, residents over 60 who refuse to get vaccinated will be hit with monthly fines of 100 euros ($113) a month in Greece. Potential carriers of omicron in Israel could be tracked by the nation’s domestic security agency.
In South Africa, restrictions include curfews and bans on alcohol sales. However, in the U.S., there is essentially no political willpower from either major party to enact any lockdowns or contact tracing. Even enforcing simple measures like mask-wearing has become a political flashpoint.
Governments are facing a thorny calculus made more difficult by the prospect of backlash, increased social divisions and the fear of being voted out of office.
While all eyes are on the new and little-understood omicron variant, the delta form of the coronavirus isn’t finished wreaking havoc in the U. S., sending record numbers of patients to the hospital in some states, especially in the Midwest and New England.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. recorded its first known omicron infection on Wednesday in a fully vaccinated person who had returned to California from South Africa, where the variant was identified just over a week ago.
For now, the extra-contagious delta variant accounts for practically all cases in the U.S. and continues to inflict misery at a time when many hospitals are struggling with shortages of nurses and a backlog of patients.
The fear now is that the latest variant will foist more patients and perhaps sicker ones into more hospital beds.
Wednesday, December 1
The first case of the COVID-19 omicron variant in the U.S. was found in San Francisco late last month, according to state and local health officials.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said the person was a traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22 and tested positive on Nov. 29. The person was vaccinated but had not received a booster shot, according to the Associated Press.
The news comes as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new strain of the virus. The Biden administration moved late last month to restrict travel from Southern Africa, despite the Netherlands being the first country to identify an infection.
Where the variant originated is still unclear, but clusters of cases have also been identified in about two dozen other nations.
Scientists say it could be weeks before they better understand how dangerous the omicron variant is.
According to the Associated Press, it’s still unknown whether the newest coronavirus “variant of concern” spreads faster than delta or makes people sicker.
According to the Associated Press, it also isn’t clear how much protection is offered either by our vaccines or a person’s immunity after recovering from another COVID-19 variant.
There are lots of guesses but little hard evidence as scientists race to find answers amid scrutiny from an anxious public. In the meantime, scientists urge people to get vaccinated and take other public health measures such as masking indoors.
As supply chain bottlenecks create shortages of many items, some charities are struggling to secure holiday gift wishes from kids in need, according to the Associated Press.
They’re reporting they can’t find enough items in stock or are facing shipping delays both in receiving and distributing the gifts.
The founder of One Simple Wish said many gift requests for gaming consoles and electronic items submitted to the charity have been out of stock. Another charity can’t find enough doll styling heads, racially diverse Barbies and other things to give to kids in need.
One expert believes charities are also bound to see fewer toy donations directly from manufacturers this holiday season.
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