Joe biden

Biden Administration Telling U.S. States to Prepare to Vaccinate Children as Young as Five against Covid Next Month

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet decided whether to authorise the emergency use of the Pfizer Covid vaccine in children aged five-11, but reports suggest the Biden Government is already quietly telling states to prepare to begin jab roll-outs for this age group as early as next month. MailOnline has the story.

Recently, Pfizer submitted an application [to] the FDA to expand emergency use of its Covid vaccine to include kids between ages five and 11. 

An unnamed White House official told NBC News that the Federal Government has been telling state governors that it anticipates the authorisation will come in the next few weeks, as soon as early November. 

What’s more, an official in the Department of Health and Human Services told the news outlet that [the] Biden administration has already purchased 65 million pediatric doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.

That’s more than the two doses needed to fully vaccinate the 29 million children in the U.S. who would now become eligible.

According to clinicaltrials.gov, Pfizer’s study in younger children worked similarly to the way it did in older children and adults. …

[But] unlike the larger clinical trial conducted in adults, the pediatric trial did not measure efficacy by comparing the number of Covid cases among the vaccine group to the number in the placebo group.

Instead, scientists looked at levels of neutralising antibodies in young vaccine recipients and compared the levels to those seen in adults.

The companies expect data on how well the vaccine works in children between ages two and five and between six months and two years of age by the end of the year. …

Because of this low risk of severe illness, polls have shown that many parents are not inclined to vaccinate their children.

A July 2021 survey, conducted by CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine last month, found that 39% of parents said their children [had] already gotten a coronavirus shot.

However, 40% of parents also said it was “unlikely” that their children would be getting vaccinated.

Worth reading in full.

Biden Administration Plans to Increase Fines on Companies with Unvaccinated Employees

Through a provision attached to the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” spending bill, the Biden administration is attempting to increase the financial penalty tenfold for companies which continue to employ unvaccinated citizens. Due to previous emergency legislation, Federal law identifies the spread of Covid as a workplace hazard, allowing President Biden to become further unimpeded in his task of fully vaccinating the American workforce if the provision passes both chambers of Congress. MailOnline has the story. 

The increased fines on employers could go as high as $70,000 for serious infractions, and $700,000 for wilful or repeated violations – a sum which can be applied to each instance of a violation rather than a total limit.  

If enacted into law, the fines could rapidly bankrupt companies whose employees are not vaccinated, in effect forcing businesses to comply with Biden’s inoculation drive. 

It comes after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an emergency Covid rule in the Federal Register this summer, which added Covid to a list of possible workplace hazards for healthcare employment.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet announced when the House will vote on the reconciliation bill that includes the new vaccine enforcement mechanism. 

On Thursday September 9th, Biden announced that companies with 100 or more employees must ensure every worker is either fully vaccinated or gets tested at least once a week, or face fines of thousands of dollars.

He also demanded that all workers in healthcare settings that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement – roughly 17 million people – must get vaccinated, and signed an executive order requiring all federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated.

Now, the raise in fines included in the new bill formulates the latest part of the President’s drive to get 100 million employees across the federal government and private sector vaccinated. 

Any business that violates the rule can already face substantial fines of up to $14,000 per incident, but the legislation that has been included in the new $3.5 trillion bill could raise the fines for non-compliance 10 times higher, with a limit of up to $700,000 for each “wilful” or “repeated” violation according to Forbes. 

Worth reading in full.

Biden Accuses 70 Million Unvaccinated Americans of Slowing Economic Recovery

President Joe Biden has doubled down on his claim that unvaccinated Americans are “creating unease in our economy and around our kitchen tables“, saying that the 70 million people who haven’t been ‘jabbed’ are slowing down the country’s economic recovery. To resolve this ‘problem’, he will “[move] forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can”. CNBC has the story.

Biden’s comments came hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved distributing Pfizer’s booster shots to roughly 60 million Americans.

“The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing,” Biden said in addressing the nation, noting that three-fourths of those eligible have gotten at least one shot. He criticised the more than 70 million people who haven’t yet started the vaccination process. “And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine with false information the fight against Covid. This is totally unacceptable.”

Economists have lower expectations for the back half of the year following a string of disappointing economic reports. The U.S. economy added just 235,000 jobs in August, well short of expectations for a 720,000 gain from economists polled by Dow Jones. This week, the Federal Reserve forecast 2021 GDP to rise at a 5.9% annual pace, down from its previous forecast of 7% growth. …

Even though the CDC reports that 55% of the U.S. population has been fully immunised against Covid, Biden said the remaining unvaccinated people are hindering economic growth, costing jobs and putting unnecessary strain on the health-care system.

Biden issued sweeping new vaccine mandates on September 9th affecting private businesses and federal employees. Government staff and contractors are required to immunise against Covid with no alternative for testing, while any company with over 100 personnel must implement vaccine mandates that include medical and religious exemptions.

The requirements will cover two-thirds of all workers nationwide, Biden said, noting that 92% of the country’s active-duty service members have been inoculated. He mandated the shots for the military on August 9th.

Worth reading in full.

President Biden Tells Republican Governors Threatening Legal Action Over Vaccine Mandates: “Have at It”

Covid vaccine mandates will not be imposed on millions of U.S. federal workers and contractors without a fight from a growing list of Republican Party Governors who are threatening lawsuits. But President Joe Biden doesn’t seem to mind the prospect of legal challenges, telling his critics: “Have at it.” The Independent has the story.

The administration is gearing up for another major clash between federal and state rule. But while many details about the rules remain unknown, Biden appears to be on firm legal ground to issue the directive in the name of protecting employee safety, according to several experts interviewed by the Associated Press

“My bet is that with respect to that statutory authority, they’re on pretty strong footing given the evidence strongly suggesting… the degree of risk that (unvaccinated individuals) pose, not only to themselves but also unto others,” said University of Connecticut Law Professor Sachin Pandya.

Republicans swiftly denounced the mandate that could impact 100 million Americans as government overreach and vowed to sue, and private employers who resist the requirements may do so as well. Texas Govenor Greg Abbott called it an “assault on private businesses” while Govenor Henry McMaster promised to “fight them to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian”. The Republican National Committee has also said it will sue the administration “to protect Americans and their liberties”. …

The White House is gearing up for legal challenges and believes that even if some of the mandates are tossed out, millions of Americans will get a shot because of the new requirements…

Biden is putting enforcement in the hands of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is drafting a rule “over the coming weeks”, Jeffrey Zients, the White House Covid Response Coordinator, said Friday. He warned that “if a workplace refuses to follow the standard, the OSHA fines could be quite significant“.

Courts have upheld vaccination requirements as a condition of employment, both before the pandemic – in challenges brought by health care workers – and since the Covid outbreak, said Lindsay Wiley, Director of the Health Law and Policy Program at American University Washington College of Law.

Where Biden’s vaccine requirements could be more open to attack is over questions of whether the administration followed the proper process to implement them, she said.

“The argument that mandatory vaccination impermissibly infringes on bodily autonomy or medical decision making, those arguments have not been successful and I don’t expect that to change,” Wiley said. “I think the challenges that are harder to predict the outcome of are going to be the ones that are really sort of the boring challenges about whether they followed the right process.”

Worth reading in full.

Covid Vaccine Could Become Mandatory for Troops in U.S. Military

U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to recommend that vaccination against Covid should be mandated for all 1.3 million active-duty military troops, with the final decision lying with President Joe Biden. The shift in position is believed to have occurred because of fears over the Delta variant. The New York Times has the story.

Biden announced last week that all federal employees and on-site contractors must be vaccinated against Covid, or be required to submit to regular testing and other measures. The requirement extended to the 766,372 civilians working for the Defense Department, but not active-duty service members.

That could soon change, administration and military officials said on Tuesday. Austin, who recently returned to the United States from a trip to Asia, has asked the military services to report on how and when they would go about putting a mandate in place. Mr Austin has previously said that he would not be comfortable with a mandate until the vaccines are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but officials and executives across the board are rethinking their position as the Delta variant surges.

The FDA plans to fully approve the Pfizer Covid vaccine, one of the most widely used vaccinations, by early next month, people familiar with the effort have said. The move will lead to more vaccination mandates across the country, but officials say Mr Austin is not expected to wait for final approval before making his recommendation. …

About 64% of active-duty military members are fully vaccinated, above the 60% of Americans over 18 who are fully vaccinated. But for the military, the rate is unacceptably low, raising issues of readiness should cases rise among service members. It is also difficult to deploy troops who have not been vaccinated to countries with stringent local restrictions.

Beyond readiness, a big part of the push for a mandate for the military centers on the belief that service members could set an example for their families and friends in states where vaccine hesitancy has been higher.

“When people see that these guys got the vaccine and nothing happened to them, that could be decisive,” said Dr Ezekiel J Emanuel, a Bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania who advised Mr Biden during his transition.

“People admire our military,” he said. “They can serve as a positive example.”

Worth reading in full.

CDC U-Turns on Face Masks – Tells Vaccinated Americans to Put Coverings Back On

“Look, we’ve gotten this far. Please protect yourself until you get to the finish line.” With these words, spoken in May, President Joe Biden instructed unvaccinated Americans to continue wearing face masks indoors but echoed advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that fully vaccinated Americans could ditch their coverings. On Twitter, he said: “The rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.”

It turns out the rule wasn’t as simple as he made out.

The CDC has told vaccinated Americans that they must put their face masks back on when indoors, less than three months after announcing that it was safe to remove them, citing fears over the Delta Covid variant. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters: “The Delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and to be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a fortified response against it.” The Washington Post has more.

On Tuesday… the CDC announced it had again changed its guidance on masks, recommending once more that all Americans wear masks indoors in public spaces. The game-changer for the agency was data showing that vaccinated people infected with the highly infectious delta variant carry the same viral load as unvaccinated people who are infected, the Washington Post reported.

Whiplash recommendations carry downsides. “Once you’ve let the genie out of the bottle, it’s really hard to put it back in,” said Lawrence Gostin, a Professor of Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Americans who have set aside their masks might not be persuaded to don them again.

Last year, the CDC was not alone in its scepticism. The World Health Organisation (WHO) did not publish global guidance supporting masks until June 5th, more than two months after the United States did. The lack of mask availability early in the pandemic made recommending them difficult.

The WHO currently advises all people, vaccinated or not, to continue wearing masks when around others.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Tuesday that the global health body advises governments to continue emphasising proven public health and social measures, including masks, “as long as there is community spread”.

There was community spread when the CDC issued its May 13th guidance. The United States that day recorded almost 50,000 new Covid cases. But vaccination rates were dipping. The message about masks appeared to be an attempt to incentivise the shots.

That gambit may have failed: the number of Covid vaccine doses given out this week across the United States is less than half of what it was the week of May 13th. Many unvaccinated Americans appear to have ditched their masks anyway. …

Reinstating mask rules that have been lifted can be difficult. Israel has struggled with mask compliance since June 25th [when the mask mandate was reimposed just 10 days after it was lifted].

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Reporters had to be handed face masks at a White House event on Tuesday evening, minutes after the CDC updated its advice, according to MailOnline.

Joe Biden Announces Door-Knocking Campaign to “Get Americans Vaccinated”

The Joe Biden administration has announced it is “intensifying efforts” to increase the take-up in its Covid vaccine roll-out by sending “outreach” teams to knock on doors and pressure people to “get Americans vaccinated”. The Epoch Times has the story.

Because millions of Americans are unvaccinated and due to the so-called ‘Delta’ Covid variant that’s spreading, Biden said that his administration will attempt to ramp up vaccination efforts.

“Do it now,” said Biden during a White House press conference, referring to getting vaccinated.

The President said that people will be “knocking on doors” to get “help to the remaining people” who aren’t vaccinated. It’s part of a community outreach program, he said, that is being set up as mass vaccination sites are being phased out.

Biden also spoke about how his administration plans to make the vaccine available in more healthcare settings.

Those initiatives include providing more assistance to thousands of pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities so they can distribute vaccines, Biden said. Vaccines will also be doled out at sporting events, summer events, and religious activities, he added.

“We’re intensifying efforts to meet people out where they are,” the President said.

Younger Americans, Biden added, seem particularly reluctant to get the vaccine. The President argued they’re more at risk of contracting the Delta variant and that the strain is responsible for most new Covid cases.

“Seems to me, it should cause everyone to think twice,” Biden said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration’s efforts will include “targeted by community door-to-door outreach to get remaining Americans vaccinated.” It’s not clear how the administration plans to accomplish this, and neither she nor Biden provided any more details.

The administration will first target communities with lower vaccination rates, she added. The door-to-door outreach efforts will get information about vaccines to people who haven’t received them yet.

The plan is part of the Government’s Covid response after the White House fell shy of its self-imposed July 4th deadline to get 70% of American adults at least one vaccination shot. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 67% of American adults have received at least one shot and more than 157 million are fully vaccinated.

Worth reading in full.

Biden Administration Will Allow Businesses and Institutions to Demand Proof of Vaccination

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says that the Biden administration is not planning on imposing a vaccine mandate and will not keep track of those who have been vaccinated, but that it will allow business, colleges and universities to demand proof of vaccination. The Mail has the story.

“Private sector companies may decide that they want to have requirements. That’s up to them. We have no plans to change our approach from the Federal Government,” Psaki said…

Nearly half of Americans (46.8%) have had at least one dose of Covid vaccine, and more than 36% have been fully vaccinated.  

But nearly 20% of Americans are “vaccine hesitant” – with the highest rates among Republicans – and notions of mandates for vaccination or masks have become politically divisive in the U.S..

[Last week, it was reported that some states are requesting small fractions of their allotted Covid vaccine doses from the Federal Government to save them from having to throw misused doses away due to the waning of demand.]

So far, liberal states including New York are using vaccine passports at some events, while conservative states like Texas and Florida have banned companies for asking their employees for proof of vaccination. 

While public health officials are desperately trying to convince Americans to get vaccinated, they worry that mandates would backfire and only make more people hesitant to get the shots…

It’s up to states whether schools require shots or not, and the Federal Government does not legally require any health interventions, nor proof of them. 

Back in April, Psaki said: “The Government is not now nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.”

She acknowledged that private companies and non-profits likely would consider asking their employees to show proof of vaccination, as is their right, but requiring Americans to get the shots was not on the table for the Federal Government. 

“Our interest is very simple from the Federal Government, which is Americans’ privacy and rights should be protected so these systems are not used against people unfairly,” Psaki said. 

A number of U.S. universities, including Brown, Cornell and Stanford, have already announced that they will require their staff and students to be vaccinated against Covid before being permitted to return to campuses later this year, though it is unclear how state executive orders banning Covid vaccine passports will affect these demands.

The Mail report is worth reading in full.

CDC Says Americans Can Stop Wearing Face Masks Inside – but Only if They’re Fully Vaccinated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that Americans can stop wearing face masks inside. The loosening of restrictions comes, as always, with a range of caveats – not least the fact that they only apply to those who are fully vaccinated against Covid. The New York Times has the story.

The advice from the CDC comes as welcome news to [fully vaccinated] Americans who have tired of restrictions and marks a watershed moment in the pandemic. Masks ignited controversy in communities across the United States, symbolising a bitter partisan divide over approaches to the pandemic and a badge of political affiliation...

The new advice comes with caveats. Even vaccinated individuals must cover their faces and physically distance when going to doctors, hospitals or long-term care facilities like nursing homes; when travelling by bus, plane, train or other modes of public transportation, or while in transportation hubs like airports and bus stations; and when in prisons, jails or homeless shelters.

In deference to local authorities, the CDC said vaccinated Americans must continue to abide by existing state, local, or tribal laws and regulations, and follow local rules for businesses and workplaces. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot or the second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series…

The CDC has been under fire recently for moving too gingerly to lift restrictions on public activities for those who are vaccinated. Some critics have said the Agency’s caution may suggest to Americans that officials lack confidence in the vaccines…

Only half of Americans said that they had a “great deal” of trust in the CDC, according to a new survey conducted in February and March by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Officials are worried that herd immunity may not be reached in the U.S., partly due to the decline of daily vaccination rates.

As of Wednesday, about 154 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, but only about one-third of the nation, some 117.6 million people, have been fully vaccinated.

But the pace has slowed: Providers are administering about 2.16 million doses per day on average, about a 36% decrease from the peak of 3.38 million reported in mid-April.

As demand for the vaccine continues to wane, some states are requesting small fractions of their allotted doses from the Federal Government to save them from having to throw unused doses away. It is hoped that the change in mask-wearing guidelines for the vaccinated will push those who haven’t yet been vaccinated to get a move on.

The New York Times report is worth reading in full.

Stop Press: “The rule is now simple,” says Joe Biden: “Get vaccinated or wear a mask.”

Covid Numbers Continue to Fall in Texas More Than Two Weeks After State Returned to Normality

There is some great news from Texas today: Covid cases and hospitalisations continue to fall more than two weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and allowed businesses to reopen to full capacity. President Joe Biden dismissed this return to normality as “Neanderthal thinking”, but it appears as though it has not been the “big mistake” he claimed it would be. Let’s hope that it stays this way. The Mail has the story.

On Saturday, Texas’ seven-day Covid positivity rate reached an all-time low of 5.27%, while hospitalisations fell to their lowest level since October, according to the latest state data.

The state recorded 2,292 new coronavirus cases, about 500 fewer on average from last week, and 107 new deaths.  

The number of people hospitalised with coronavirus, meanwhile, dipped to 3,308. 

The latest figure marks a significant decline in hospitalisations in the state which had seen levels soar past 14,000 for a couple of days in January. 

The drop comes 17 days after Republican Governor Greg Abbott ended the statewide mask mandate and other Covid safety measures.  

Abbott took to Twitter on Saturday to celebrate the state’s progress, saying: “Today Texas hit an all-time recorded low for the seven-day Covid positivity rate: 5.27%. It’s been below 6% for 5 days & below 10% for an entire month.

“Covid hospitalisations declined again – now at the lowest level since October 3rd. Vaccinations continue to increase rapidly.”

Our leaders could certainly learn some lessons from what is happening on the other side of the pond.

Worth reading in full.