US COVID-19 vaccine mandates met with mixed response

“Vaccination requirements work; that’s why so many organizations have supported the president’s plan,” Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator said today, a day after President Joe Biden announced the most sweeping mandates Americans have seen during the pandemic.

Over the next several months, two thirds of the US workforce will be mandated to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association (APHA) both agree with the administration’s move, which will apply to federal workers, healthcare workers, and those who work in businesses with 100 or more employees.

“We have seen significant reductions in sickness and death among people who have been fully vaccinated,” said the APHA in a statement. “This is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it is spilling over into our children, who cannot yet get their shots. The solution is to get everyone who is eligible their vaccinations. The president’s plan can achieve that, and we are here to help.”

Republicans fight back against mandates

But Republican governors and national leaders have taken umbrage with the President’s plan.

In several states, governors are threatening to challenge Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses and federal workers, the Washington Post reports. Previous federal workers or contractors had to be vaccinated or subjected to weekly testing.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) says it plans to sue the Biden administration over the vaccine mandate, NBC News reports. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the group “will sue the administration to protect Americans and their liberties.”

Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri said on Twitter, “The Biden Administration’s recent announcement seeking to dictate personal freedom and private business decisions is an insult to our American principles of individual liberty and free enterprise.”

The push against vaccine mandates echoes the struggles seen in many states over mask mandates in schools.

The Department of Education is promising to support school districts that get penalized for their COVID-19 protocols, The Hill reports. The department unveiled a program yesterday that will provide money to districts that have had funding withheld for implementing measures such as mask requirements.

Averaging 1,000 deaths a day

Today during a White House press briefing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said the new 7-day averages for the pandemic are 1,000 deaths per day, 136,500 cases per day, and 11,750 hospitalizations per day.

She said new data published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is further evidence that the current COVID-19 vaccines offer significant protection against infections caused by the Delta (B1617.2) variant.

Walensky said data from April through mid July show unvaccinated Americans were 4.5 times more likely to get infected than vaccinated Americans, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the virus.

“Vaccines work,” she said.

The CDC COVID Data Tracker shows 53.4% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 62.7% have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Finally today, the CDC updated its guidance on face masks and respirators. The agency warns that 60% of N95 respirators are fake, and provides links to reputable sources for the respirators. The CDC also recommended wearing surgical or disposable masks labeled with either, “meets ASTM F350,” “meets workplace performance,” or “meets workplace performance plus.”

Global COVID-19 developments

  • Today Denmark has downgraded COVID-19 as a critical threat, according to the Washington Post. Most public health restrictions have been lifted, and 76% of people are at least partially vaccinated, with the John Hopkins tracker indicating 73.5% are fully vaccinated. Our World in Data tracking shows that, from Aug 29, the 7-day moving average has dropped from 951.7 to 563.1 on Sep 8. 
  • UK COVID-19 infections are nearing their previous peak from July (951,700 cases) as Scotland records its highest infection rate thus far, according to the Financial Times.
  • In Australia, New South Wales state—where the outbreak in Sydney continues—reported a new daily record high of 1,542 cases, Reuters reports; also, Victoria state has 334 new cases, a daily high, with activity continuing in Melbourne, according to a separate Reuters story.

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