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CDC Panel Backs Booster Shots; Federal Workers Sue: Virus Update

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CDC Panel Backs Booster Shots; Federal Workers Sue: Virus Update
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(Bloomberg) -- A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel backed booster shots of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine for people ages 65 and older in the U.S. People over 18 with weakened immune systems were also recommended for an extra dose.

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New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she’s ready for a potential shortage of health-care workers, an acknowledgment that some may opt to quit or stay away rather than get vaccinated by Monday.

Federal workers and contractors sued the U.S. government over its Covid-19 mandates, challenging President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring staff to be vaccinated. With the school year under way, the U.S. has reported almost 1 million cases among kids under 18 over the past month.

Key Developments:

  • Global Virus Tracker: Cases pass 232.5 million; deaths exceed 4.7 million

  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 6.03 billion doses administered

  • Pfizer clearance sets stage for broader booster push in U.S.

  • What’s in a number? For OSHA vaccination mandate, it’s crucial

  • Fauci sees three doses as the eventual standard for mRNA vaccines

  • Understanding the debate over Covid booster shots: QuickTake

  • Dubai turns page on Covid with hottest jobs market in two years

CDC Panel Backs Pfizer Booster for Elderly (4:16 p.m. NY)

Americans ages 65 and older as well as adults with compromised immune systems should get booster shots, a panel of experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a unanimous vote Thursday.

The decision came one day after the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for people 65 and older, as well as those whose jobs put them at risk of infection, who got the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE shot to receive boosters.

The recommendations require CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s approval to take effect.

Florida Adds to Antibody Treatment Supply (4:11 p.m.)

Florida has acquired monoclonal antibody treatments from GlaxoSmithKline Plc because the federal government reduced its pipeline, Governor Ron DeSantis said in Tampa on Thursday.

DeSantis has opened more than 25 state-sponsored sites to administer the treatments.

CDC Panel Says Boosters Aren’t Panacea (3:21 p.m. NY)

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed concern that resistance to getting vaccinated will prolong the pandemic regardless of whether booster shots are offered.

“My concern is that we’re just going to keep give booster doses to the vaccinated as different variants come onto the scene, and we’re not going to be able to move forward in truly mitigating the pandemic,” Lynn Bahta, a member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices from the Minnesota Department of Health, said.

U.S. Deaths Rise Almost 3% on the Week (2:08 p.m. NY)

Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. rose 2.9% during the week that ended Tuesday, with some counties in New York and Pennsylvania showing increases of 26% or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

States including Alabama, Georgia and West Virginia had among the most widespread increases in deaths. Deaths as a share of population also are soaring in eastern Texas and central Florida, according to a CDC national data update published Thursday.

Hospitalizations for Covid declined 12.5% during the week through Monday compared with the previous seven days. The pandemic has claimed some 682,000 lives in the U.S., more than the estimated death toll of 675,000 in the 1918 influenza pandemic.

U.S. Pays Fines for Florida County (1:15 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Department of Education reimbursed a Florida county almost $150,000 after it was fined by the state of Florida for imposing a mask mandate in its schools.

The money is the latest escalation in the fight between the Biden administration and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been withholding money from school districts that defied his ban on mask mandates. The federal government said it would cover those costs, and the $147,719 announced on Thursday is the first payment.

“We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release.

Kansas School Outbreaks Rise (12:59 p.m. NY)

In Kansas, public health data show school-based Covid-19 clusters increased by 11 over the past week to total 72, and the state’s education commissioner reported a middle school student died this week, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson said: “Those are the types of things we’re working hard to make sure does not happen while we keep schools open — it’s keeping them open and safe.”

N.Y. Readies for Shortage of Health Workers (11:20 a.m. NY)

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she’s ready for a potential shortage of health-care workers, with the state’s mandatory vaccine deadline set for Monday.

Health-care workers including at nursing homes and hospitals are required to get the first vaccine by Sept. 27 or potentially risk losing their job.

“I will be announcing a whole series of initiatives that we are doing to be prepared for a situation on Monday, which I hope doesn’t happen,” Hochul said at a briefing on Thursday. A group of workers has taken the state to court over the mandate, saying it violates their religious beliefs.

Singapore Reports Record New Cases (11 a.m. NY)

Singapore added 1,504 new cases, a new high, as the spread among residents intensifies. The bulk of the infections were within the local community, where health authorities are monitoring more than a dozen clusters. Travelers arriving in the city-state made up just 13 of the new cases.

The number of deaths increased by two to 70 -- both elderly patients who have underlying health issues and weren’t vaccinated. A total of 23 are in the ICU.

In the past month, 97.9% of the cases were asymptomatic or had just mild symptoms, it said. The city-state has fully vaccinated 82% of its population.

Idaho Running Out of Room for Corpses (10:41 a.m. NY)

As Covid-19 deaths mount in Idaho, where vaccination rates are lagging, funeral directors are running out of room to store the deceased, the Idaho Statesman reports.

One mortuary converted a train car into an external refrigeration unit that’s noisy and smells of diesel fuel. It can hold up to 56 bodies.

The coroner in Ada County, Idaho, reports multiple funeral homes are no longer taking bodies. It has turned to a mobile refrigeration unit with a capacity of 70, the newspaper reported.

Almost 1 Million Infected in U.S. Schools (10:36 a.m. NY)

U.S. schools were counting on widespread vaccinations to help get all students back to in-person classes for the first time since early 2020. Mere weeks into the effort, signs of another taxing year are emerging amid scattershot safety rules and rising Covid-19 among children.

Over the past month, with kindergarten through 12th grade in session, the country has reported almost 1 million cases among those under 18. Though kids typically are less likely than adults to become severely ill with Covid, they increasingly are contracting the highly contagious delta variant. As of Sunday, 2,000 schools nationwide had closed — 18% more than a week earlier, according to the Burbio tracker.

Novavax Files for WHO Listing (9:31 a.m. NY)

Novavax and its partner Serum Institute of India Pvt. filed for an emergency use listing of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate with the World Health Organization. The listing is a prerequisite for exports to countries participating in the Covax vaccine initiative for poorer countries.

U.S. Federal Workers File Suit (9:31 a.m. NY)

A group of federal workers and contractors filed suit against the U.S. government over its Covid-19 vaccination mandates.

The lawsuit, filed in Washington Thursday, challenges President Joe Biden’s executive order this month requiring federal workers to be vaccinated and the U.S. Defense Department’s August memorandum that members of the military must be protected against coronavirus.

Among other things, the suit argues that a Christian is required “to refuse a medical intervention, including a vaccination, if his or her informed conscience comes to this sure judgment” and that “naturally acquired immunity provides greater protection than vaccines.”

Israel Sets Conditions for Teachers (6:38 a.m. NY)

Israel will require that teachers present negative Covid-19 tests or proof that they’re fully vaccinated to be allowed to enter schools starting next month, according to a letter sent Thursday by the Education Ministry to principals.

Educators who don’t comply won’t be permitted to teach remotely and they won’t be paid for the days they’re absent, the ministry said. Those who recovered from the virus in the past six months will be exempted from the requirement.

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