Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Jan. 14: Supreme Court Issues Split Decision on Vaccine Mandates, Djokovic Visa Revoked

2021 Saw Over 4,200 Unruly Passenger Cases Over Masks, Says FAA

By Jonathan Spira on 14 January 2022
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Reports of new cases of coronavirus in the United States are leveling off or even declining in the states that were first hit by the omicron variant.  The situation is improving more in the Northeast where New York City had reported a leveling of new cases two days ago.

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for companies with 100 or more employees but it upheld a separate vaccine mandate requiring healthcare workers at facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds.

The court’s unsigned majority opinion said that a statute on workplace hazards did not justify a mandate that would require over 80 million workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or to wear masks and be tested on a weekly basis.

UNITED STATES

Hospitals in two dozen states are nearing capacity as the omicron variant fueled version of Covid continues to spread unabated in some areas of the country. Intensive care units in Alabama, Missouri, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Texas are at capacity.

Four inmates at a jail in Arkansas are suing the facility, the Washington County sheriff, and a doctor after they unknowingly received ivermectin, a drug that was used to treat them for Covid after testing positive for the virus.  The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the detainees in federal court against the Washington County jail, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder and Dr. Robert Karas.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs delayed their planned return-to-office date.  The bank had previously told workers to return on January 18.  The new date is February 1.

GLOBAL

Canada’s prime minister said he hasn’t ruled out taxing non-vaccinated individuals amidst legal and ethical concerns that have been brought up. Earlier in the week, the province of Québec said it would fine residents who refuse a coronavirus vaccine as a way for the unvaccinated to contribute to an overburdened public health system.

Paris’ strict outdoor mask mandate has been suspended by a French court that found that the mandate’s conditions were “neither necessary, nor strictly proportionate to the protection of public health.”

“The wearing of a mask in the entire Parisian public area, at any time of the day or night, is neither necessary, nor strictly proportionate to the protection of public health,” a judge at the tribunal administrative de Paris said in his opinion.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s premiärminister, Magdalena Andersson, said she had tested positive for the coronavirus but was “feeling well considering the circumstances.”  The news came days after the Swedish government introduced new restrictions to stem a fourth wave of coronavirus cases driven by the highly-transmissible omicron variant.

TRAVEL

Thursday marked one year since the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced a zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers that skips warnings or counseling and goes directly to heavy fines and jail time.

The number of unruly passenger reports in 2021 was 5,981.  Of those, 4,290 – some 72% – were related to the requirement to don a face mask on flights.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s extended sailing order, which applies to all foreign vessels that sail or are planning to sail in U.S. waters, will soon expire and the agency is transitioning to a voluntary program, despite having moved cruise travel to its highest risk level some two weeks ago.

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

The tennis player Novak Djokovic, who was denied entry into Australia for the Australian Open on January 6, had his visa revoked for the second time by Australian authorities on Friday.  He will once again be detained in a hotel for refugees and asylum seekers while he appeals the decision.

The country’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, said in a statement that he had cancelled Djokovic’s visa on the grounds of “health and good order,” adding that it was in the public interest to do so.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, January 14.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 321.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 3.4 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and over 5.5 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 264.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1 million.

Worldwide, the number of active cases as of Friday is 51,403,771.  Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 51,307,800, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 95,971, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical was largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 889,613 new cases on Friday, compared with 851,910 new cases on Thursday, and 769,928 on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 803,736, a 133% increase, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,873, an increase of 53% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded 65.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 869,212. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 36.6 million, and a reported death toll of 485,350.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 620,609, and has 22.8 million cases.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Friday, 247.9 million people in the United States – or 74.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 62.8%, or 208.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 524.2 million. Breaking this down further, 86.7% of the population over the age of 18 – or 223.8 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 73.4% of the same group – or 189.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 40.6% of that population, or 76.9 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 59.6% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday, a figure that is up 0.1 percentage point in the past 24 hours, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 9.6 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 9.5% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 65% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine. In countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

Figures from the World Health Organization show that well-off countries are vaccinating people at the rate of one person per second, while the majority of poor countries have yet to give a single dose to its citizens.

It is critical that the world do a better job of sharing vaccines with poorer nations.

Sharing vaccines is not merely a form of charity.  Rather, the equitable distribution of vaccines is in every country’s health and economic interest and no country will be able to move past the pandemic until other countries have recovered as well.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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