Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Dec. 18: Appeals Court Reinstates Biden Administration Vaccine Mandate for Private Companies

By Jonathan Spira on 18 December 2021
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Patrons at Radio City Music Hall for the annual “Christmas Spectacular”

The on-again off-again vaccine mandate for employees of private U.S. companies with over 100 workers is back on.  A federal appeals court reinstated the rules issued by the Biden Administration on Friday that require such companies to ensure their workers are vaccinated.  The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved a stay issued by a three-judge panel on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in early November.  A divided panel on the Sixth Circuit said in its opinion that legal challenges to the administration’s requirements were likely to fail.

The ruling was immediately appealed on an emergency basis to the Supreme Court by multiple companies who remain opposed to the mandate. In addition, the Department of Labor said it would extend the deadline to comply with the mandate by approximately one month to February 9.

Health officials in New York State reported 21,027 new infections Friday. The figure was the highest since the earliest days of the pandemic.

Cases are also increasing “with lightning speed,” French Premier Ministre Jean Castex said Friday.  Officials there plan to limit access to public spaces such as restaurants, museums, and long-distance trains to those who are vaccinated.  The government hopes to transform the country’s pass sanitaire, or health pass, into a vaccine passport.  If Parliament approves, only vaccinated individuals would be eligible for the pass and

In New York, Broadway and off-Broadway shows continued to close due to outbreaks of Covid in the company.

Radio City Music Hall announced Friday that “The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes” had cancelled all remaining performances in 2021 due to an outbreak amongst the performers.

Several Broadway musicals including “Ain’t Too Proud,”  “Hamilton,” “MJ – The Musical,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical” remained on pause as of Saturday due to positive coronavirus tests in the company.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, who appeared sans face mask before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Wednesday where he questioned the effectiveness of face masks has now tested positive for Covid.   Kelly testified to explain how airlines, including his, had suffered operational meltdowns over the summer that airline executives attributed to staff shortages after U.S. carriers had received $54 billion in taxpayer-funded payroll support during the pandemic.

Kelly had tested positive multiple times prior to the hearing, Reuters reported, but upon returning home Thursday complained of mild symptoms.  As a result of the positive test result, contact tracing was conducted that included the CEOs of American Airlines and United Airlines, Doug Parker and Kirby.

Austrian officials announced a change in coronavirus testing requirements necessary to enter the country.  Travelers who have not yet had a vaccine booster shot must meet the 2G+ standard [“2G” stands for “geimpft” (vaccinated) and “genesen” (recovered) meaning entry is limited to those who have been inoculated or have proof of recent recovery from Covid and the “+” means that a negative PCR test is required in addition.  Those arriving travelers who have already had their booster shot can forego the PCR test.

Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, December 18.

As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 274.1 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million new cases, and almost 5.4 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 246.1million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.6 million.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 125,838, a 20% increase.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,294, an increase of 15% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded 51.6 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 826,719. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 34.7 million, and a reported death toll of 477,158.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 617,641, and has just over 22.2 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Saturday, 240.8 million people in the United States – or 72.5% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 61.3%, or 203.5 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 491.9 million. Breaking this down further, 84.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 219.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 72.3% of the same group – or 186.8 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 31.1% of that population, or 58 million people, has already received a booster shot.

Some 56.8% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, an increase of .2percentage points from the prior day, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 8.68 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 7.6% 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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