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Category Archives: Covid-19

For COVID-19 vaccinations, party affiliation matters more than race and ethnicity – Brookings Institution

Posted: October 3, 2021 at 2:06 am

At the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination push nine months ago, many experts worriedwith justificationthat people of color would be left behind. Sadly, it is a well-established fact that people of color suffer from poorer access to quality health care. And early on, there was some evidence of these disparities; in March of this year, for example, I documented inequities in vaccine share among Black Americans in Maryland. Fortunately, the situation has improved over time, in part because governments at every level have worked hard to make vaccines and accurate information available to everyone. According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released on Sept. 28, gaps in vaccination rates across racial and ethnic groups have virtually disappearedwhile gaps reflecting political affiliation have widened substantially.

Of Americans surveyed from Sept. 13-22, 72% of adults 18 and older had been vaccinated, including 71% of white Americans, 70% of Black Americans, and 73% of Hispanics. Contrast these converging figures with disparities based on politics: 90% of Democrats had been vaccinated, compared with 68% of Independents and just 58% of Republicans.

A Gallup survey released on Sept. 29 confirmed the KFF findings. As of mid-September, 75% of adult Americans have been vaccinated, including 73% of non-Hispanic white adults and 78% of non-whites. Along party lines, however, the breakdown was 92% of Democrats, 68% of Independents, and 56% of Republicans.

There is no reason to believe that these gaps in vaccination rates will disappear anytime soon. According to Gallup, 40% of Republicans dont plan to get vaccinated, versus 26% of Independents and just 3% of Democrats. In response to a more sharply worded KFF question, 23% of Republicans report that they will definitely not get vaccinated, compared to 11% of Independents and just 4% of Democrats.

These national divergences are reflected at the state and county level as well, per data from Johns Hopkins University. Of the 21 states with vaccination rates above the national average, Joe Biden carried 20 last November. Of the 29 states below the national average, Donald Trump carried 24. At the county level, the vaccination-rate gap between the counties Biden and Trump won has increased nearly six-fold from 2.2% in April to 12.9% in mid-September, according to KFF.

These recent surveys suggest two large truths about the pandemic. First, perceptions and incentives can affect the willingness to get vaccinated. After stagnating through much of the summer, vaccination rates jumped between mid-August and mid-September. The spread of the Delta variant and the surge of hospitalizations was a frequently cited reason for this decision; the desire to participate in activities that required vaccination was the other.

Second, attitudes toward vaccinations are now fully integrated into the larger, seemingly intractable cultural divide in American society and between the parties. For this reason, between 15% and 20% of adults are unlikely to get vaccinated, even if they come under intensifying pressure to do so.

If so, the United States will find out whether vaccination rates of 80% to 85% will be enough to fully reopen the economy and restore normal social life.

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COVID-19 in Arkansas: Hospitalizations drop below 700 for the first time since July, Hutchinson receives booster shot – KNWA

Posted: at 2:06 am

LITTLE ROCK, Ark New data released Saturday by the Arkansas Department of Health shows that hospitalizations for COVID-19 related symptoms have dropped below 700 for the first time in more than two months.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported that hospitalizations dropped by 14 in the last 24 hours to the 689 currently in the state. The last time the state recorded less than 700 hospitalizations was July 18.

Active cases of COVID-19 are down from Friday, dropping by 87 to 9,901.

In total, there were 642 new cases of COVID-19 reported Saturday, bringing the total since the beginning of the pandemic to 497,576 in Arkansas.

The state reported 6 more deaths among patients with COVID-19, pushing the total for the state to 7,724.

Officials reported 183 patients on ventilators, a decrease of seven.

More than 12,349 new COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in Arkansas in the last 24 hours. The number of fully immunized Arkansans has gone up by 3,682, bringing the total fully immunized in the state to 1,342,797.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson commented on receiving a COVID-19 booster shot this week.

I received my COVID booster shot this week, Hutchinson said in a Tweet. Throughout the COVID pandemic, I have listened to my personal doctors and healthcare professionals I trust to make the best decisions for my health. Ive encouraged Arkansans to do the same.

I received my COVID booster shot this week. Throughout the COVID pandemic, I have listened to my personal doctors and healthcare professionals I trust to make the best decisions for my health. Ive encouraged Arkansans to do the same. pic.twitter.com/7cpBQ74QtN

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They had an appointment to get the vaccine, but died from COVID-19 – ABC News

Posted: at 2:06 am

She was an animal lover in Kentucky who was a "bright ray of sunshine" to all who knew her. He was a father of two and "young soul" in Florida who could often be found out on the water on his boat. They were excited about the next chapters in their lives -- for her, a wedding; for him, his first grandchild.

Samantha Wendell and Shane O'Neal both also resisted getting vaccinated against COVID-19 for months, stemming from feelings of either fear or fearlessness, before deciding to make an appointment to get the shot. But before they could, they contracted COVID-19 and, following weeks of severe illness, died last month after doctors exhausted all options, their families said.

Their two tragic tales were shared publicly on social media and to news outlets by grieving family members trying to make sense of what happened, and maybe prevent others from going through the same loss.

They also represent a population that public health experts are still trying to reach, as millions in the United States remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 as the more contagious delta variant continues to spread.

Days after returning home from her Nashville bachelorette party in July, Wendell, a surgical technician from Grand Rapids, started to feel sick, her cousin, Maria Vibandor Hayes, told ABC News. Her fiance, Austin Eskew, also fell ill, she said, about a month before the two college sweethearts were set to tie the knot on Aug. 21.

Eskew recovered, but Wendell's illness progressed to the point where she was having trouble breathing and needed to be hospitalized the second week in August, according to Vibandor Hayes. The next month was a "rollercoaster" of progress and setbacks, her cousin said. Wendell was moved to a hospital in Indiana, where she was put on a BPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) machine to help with her breathing, but the week of her wedding she was intubated and put on a ventilator, Vibandor Hayes said.

Samantha Wendell was in the hospital on her wedding date before dying from COVID-19 on Sept. 10, 2021, family said.

After a few more weeks of ups and downs, Wendell's condition didn't improve and doctors told the family they had done everything they possibly could, her cousin said. She died on Sept. 10 from COVID-19 at the age of 29.

"I didn't think that this would be our story," Vibandor Hayes said. "Surely, we're gonna have a wedding to attend before the end of the year, Sam is gonna wake up and she'll be better and we're going to celebrate and live life. But that was not what was the case."

"I just never want another family to experience what our family has gone through, to say goodbye to somebody on the phone," she said.

Maria Vibandor Hayes, left, with her cousin Samantha Wendell in an undated photo.

It was particularly hard to see what her cousin went through because Vibandor Hayes is a COVID-19 long hauler, after contracting the virus in March 2020. "I remember how I felt, I remember how I thought I could possibly die," said Vibandor Hayes, who still suffers from brain fog.

The couple had appointments to get vaccinated after Wendell returned from her bachelorette party, but then they both got sick, Vibandor Hayes said. They had previously hesitated due to concerns of infertility, but Wendell's mother had encouraged them to get vaccinated ahead of their wedding and honeymoon, the cousin said.

Wendell was not alone in her fears of the vaccine -- others have hesitated on getting the shot due to unfounded rumors that it might lead to infertility. Medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stressed there is no link between the vaccines and fertility.

"Misinformation killed my cousin," Vibandor Hayes said. "She is a smart young woman, she always has been. I feel like if she was able to look at things from another perspective and that if she had all the information at her hand, that she would have eventually not hesitated for so long."

Shane O'Neal, seen here in an undated photo, died on Sept. 3, 2021, after contracting COVID-19, his family said.

O'Neal was an avid outdoorsman who could often be found fishing, jet skiing or hunting, his daughter, Kylie Dean, told ABC News.

The resident of Maxville, outside Jacksonville, wasn't too concerned about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 -- he mostly kept to himself on his boat when he wasn't at his construction company, Dean said.

"He knew [COVID-19] was real, and he knew what was going on, but I don't think he lived his life in fear of it," Dean said.

The "turning point," she said, was the delta variant, which has fueled a surge of cases and hospitalizations, particularly in the Jacksonville area.

"He knew people affected by it, that it's not something that's going away, it's actually coming back with a vengeance almost," Dean said. "So that's why he was like, you know what, I'm just going to go ahead and do it."

The week O'Neal planned to get the vaccine, though, he tested positive for COVID-19 in early August, his daughter said. He was hospitalized a week later and eventually put on a ventilator. He was a good candidate for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment, a last resort for COVID-19 patients, though his hospital didn't have the machine available, Dean said. After she put out a plea for an ECMO bed, doctors were able to find him one. But his condition deteriorated, and he died in the early morning hours of Sept. 3 at the age of 40.

Kylie Dean with her father, Shane O'Neal, in an undated photo.

About 20 minutes after he died, Dean gave birth to her baby boy, O'Neal's first grandchild.

"I literally broke down, hysterically crying," Dean said of when she got the call that her dad was going to pass soon. "I didn't want him to die alone."

The family is still "in shock," Dean said. Her father was young and had no comorbidities, but his illness progressed rapidly.

Dean, an intensive care unit nurse, hopes to improve access to ECMO therapy and has been speaking out to warn others about the virus and urge them to protect themselves. "It's a monster and people need to be careful, she told ABC News Jacksonville affiliate WJXX.

Wendell's and O'Neal's stories are akin to others shared by family members. Other recent reports of people who planned to get vaccinated but died after contracting COVID-19 include a 53-year-old former Texas councilman, a 39-year-old Illinois teacher, a 48-year-old teacher in Florida, and a 20-year-old college student in North Carolina.

Nearly all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are among people who are unvaccinated, as health care workers and in some cases those hospitalized themselves plead for vaccination.

As of Wednesday, some 70 million people who are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine remain unvaccinated, according to federal data. Over 65% of those ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated nationwide, which is low considering the level of access to free vaccines in the U.S., Rupali Limaye, director of Behavioral and Implementation Science at the International Vaccine Access Center, based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told ABC News.

At this stage, two main forces may get someone who is hesitant vaccinated, Limaye said -- one is hearing about someone regretting not getting the vaccine, the other a vaccine mandate.

"If someone they know themselves is dealing with a very severe case, and someone they know dies from it or they're close to death, I think that tends to change their mind," Limaye said. "Or the vaccine mandate, because then that's sort of an economic sanction."

Hesitancy continues to be fueled by safety concerns and distrust of the vaccine development process, as well as the belief that preventative measures are unnecessary, she said. Public health experts continue to work to dispel misinformation, but hearing personal stories could be impactful.

"If it is someone that you know where you can hear from a friend, 'This is what happened to my mom,' I think that puts it into perspective for people a lot versus just public health folks saying you should get it," Limaye said. "I think it makes it much more real."

Vibandor Hayes said she has received "hate mail" from strangers after urging people to get vaccinated, but wants to continue to speak out to help prevent another family from experiencing the same heartbreak.

"If this is the gift she has left us, to share with others, then that's what we'll do," Vibandor Hayes said.

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Over 500 Parents Sign Up For Voluntary COVID-19 Testing in West Hartford Schools – NBC Connecticut

Posted: at 2:06 am

Hundreds of parents have signed their elementary school-aged kids up for voluntary COVID-19 testing in West Hartford.

School officials announced that they're partnering with the state of Connecticut to provide voluntary pooled testing to students in grades K-6. Only students whose parents have signed them up would participate in the testing.

The school district said over 500 parents have already signed their children up for testing, which could begin as early as next week.

"We are hopeful that vaccinations for those under twelve will be approved soon, which will provide another level of safety," Superintendent Tom Moore said in a statement.

A total of over 90% of West Hartford Public School students in grades 7-12 are vaccinated. This is the highest rate in Hartford County, according to school officials.

"While we have seen some schools forced to cancel sports events due to the number of students in quarantine, our kids have been able to play all of their games without interruption. This high vaccination rate, both in our schools and in our community, will continue to serve us well as we move into the colder months," Moore said.

For more information on the school district's plan, click here.

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Schools without mask mandates are more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks, CDC finds – CBS News

Posted: at 2:06 am

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new studies Friday that show enforcing masks in schools helps reduce the spread of COVID-19.

One study looked at data from schools in Arizona's Maricopa and Pima Counties after they resumed in-person learning in late July for the 2021-22 academic year. The two counties account for roughly 75% of the state's population.

The CDC found that the K-12 schools that did not have mask requirements at the beginning of the school year were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID outbreaks than schools that required all people, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask indoors from the first day of school.

Of the 999 schools analyzed in the study, 21% had an early mask requirement, 30.9% enacted a mask requirement between nine and 17 days after the school year began, and 48% had no mask requirement. Of the 191 COVID outbreaks that occurred in those schools from July 15 to August 31, 113 were in schools that did not enforce masks at all. Schools with early mask requirements had the lowest number of outbreaks.

During that time frame, Arizona was experiencing an upward trend of weekly COVID cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Another study from the CDC looked at the impact of school mask mandates across the U.S.

Authors looked at data from 520 counties that started school between July 1 and September 4 this year and had at least a full week of case data from the school year. They only looked at counties where all the schools had the same mask policies. Of the 520 counties, 198 had a school mask requirement and 322 did not.

Researchers found that counties that had no mask requirements in their schools had a higher rate of pediatric COVID cases after the school year began than those schools that did have requirements. Schools that required masks, the study found, had 16.32 cases per 100,000 children in the first week of classes; schools without had 34.85 cases per 100,000 children.

Authors did note, however, that all children in the counties were included in the data and not just those who are school-age. They also noted that teacher vaccinate rates and school testing data were not controlled in the analyses, and that the sample size of counties is small.

In both studies, authors reiterated that "consistent and correct mask use is a critical strategy" for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Teenagers have recently made up the majority of weekly cases, according to the CDC, with elderly adults making up some of the lowest numbers of weekly cases.

The new research comes amid ongoing debates over mask mandates a hot-button issue in some parts of the country.

Several states, including Florida, Texas and Arizona, have attempted to ban school districts from enforcing masks. Meanwhile, schools in Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee are undergoing investigations from the Department of Education for their mask mandate bans, with the department saying the decision can put students' health in jeopardy.

School board meetingshave become a focal point for mask mandate debates. With many districts weighing their options for new rules to curb the spread of COVID-19, many have jumped in to claim that requiring masks is not necessary and a violation of their rights.

A CBS News poll in August found that while more than half of surveyed parents believe schools should require masks for children, 36% believe they should be optional, and 6% think they shouldn't be allowed at all. Additionally, 52% of surveyed parents think vaccines should not be required for students.

The CDC has maintained that universal indoor masking is an important tool in helping prevent the spread. The agency says all teachers, staff, students and visitors in K-12 schools should wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status.

Li Cohen is a social media producer and trending reporter for CBS News, focusing on social justice issues.

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COVID-19 Information | U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Saudi …

Posted: September 29, 2021 at 6:43 am

COVID-19 Information

Last updated: 09/09/2021

*** Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel. Alternatively, travelers to the United States may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel and proof of a recent negative viral test. Check theCDC websitefor additional information and frequently asked questions.

Travel Advisory Status

*New Updates*

Domestic Travel Restrictions

Effective September 1, 2021, only fully vaccinated passengers, with an approved COVID-19 vaccine, will be allowed to travel on domestic flights in Saudi Arabia. This rule does not apply to children under the age of 12 years old or individuals who are exempt from COVID-19 vaccination due to health reasons documented by the Ministry of Health.

Easing of Restrictions on Previously Banned Countries

Residents with a valid residency permit (iqama) who have completed both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine in Saudi Arabia before leaving to one of the banned countries (India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Lebanon) are allowed to re-enter Saudi Arabia directly. A negative PCR test (within 72 hours of entry) is still required, along with proof of vaccinations through Tawakkalna and Muqeem.

Country-Specific Information

Movement within Saudi Arabia

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Vaccination Availability for Non-Resident

https://goo.gl/maps/TEG73jGvAjPeA8Ns5

https://goo.gl/maps/MZx7H72exGgsTqv17

Vaccination Registration Requirement for Inbound Passengers

Entry and Exit Requirements

Entry Requirements

Saudi Arabian Visas

Exit Requirements

Movement Restrictions

Requirements for Entering Private and Public Buildings in Saudi Arabia

Fines for Non-Compliance

Quarantine Information

Transportation Options

Consular Operations

All routine citizen services are currently being offered, including: U.S. passport services, notarial services, and consular report of birth abroad. Appointments are available on ourwebsite.

Visa Services

All visa services are open but limited appointments are available at Embassy Riyadh and Consulates General Jeddah and Dhahran. For more information, please visit:https://www.ustraveldocs.com/sa/. Individuals with questions regarding immigrant visas may contactRiyadhIV@state.gov. Individuals with questions regarding non-immigrant visas may contactDhahranNIV@state.gov,JeddahVisas@state.gov, orRiyadhNIV@state.gov.

Local Resources

Waiver Process for CDC Order on Pre-Flight Testing:

The following information must be provided foreachpassenger:

Other links:

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COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the workplace; are they legal? – Fox17

Posted: at 6:43 am

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich President Biden wants to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employers with more than 100 workers, but its still not a federal law.

Regardless, the issue is bringing up a lot of legal questions for businesses and their employees.

It has really been an interesting time, said Stephanie Setterington with Varnum.

She represents employers and has practiced law nearly 25 years.

But whats happened in the last 18 months, is new for everyone.

Were all trailblazing, Setterington said. Were all trying to figure this stuff out on the fly, and were looking toward - when it comes to vaccination requirements, there have been other vaccines in the past and some employers would require employees to get like a flu shot.

Thats why they have to look to the past and see how those rules apply now.

Under the presidents proposed mandate, federal employees and contractors would be required to get the vaccine. So would health care workers at facilities that get government funding.

Theres no testing option for that group, meaning those people will need to get the shot.

But roughly 80 million other workers would be able to choose whether to show proof of a COVID vaccine or get tested for every week.

A lot of things depend on the circumstances, said attorney Sarah Howard with Pinsky, Smith, Fayette and Kennedy.

She represents employees and has heard from people who dont want to get the shot, and those who only want to be in a fully vaccinated workplace.

So, when somebody is making a claim of a medical or disability accommodation, Howard said, they would go to their employer and say, I have this medical condition it makes it extra dangerous for me to work in an unvaccinated workplace, I think I can continue to do my job at home, will you allow that? Then the employer has an obligation engage in a dialogue with the employee figure out if thats a thing they can accommodate.

Others will flat out refuse the shot and may be terminated. While they might threaten a lawsuit theres not much legal ground to stand on.

Michigan is an at-will employment state, Setterington said, but if what the employer was doing was somehow discriminating on the basis of a protected class or if an employee had an employment contract that was being breached by the termination, then there could be a cause of action. But simply being let go because you wouldnt comply with a vaccine mandate is not typically gonna be grounds for a lawsuit.

If you are let go, unemployment may be an option.

Michigans Unemployment Insurance Agency told Fox 17 it all depends on the circumstances.

Qualifying for benefits is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. A review will be conducted of the employers policies, work rules, why the vaccine is required, and the claimants reason for refusing it.

If an employer has a written policy and you disobey, that could disqualify you from benefits but not always.

An employer might have a policy, but an employee might have a compelling reason personally why they couldnt comply with that policy, Setterington said. We dont know yet how the unemployment agency is going to apply its rules in determining whether thats misconduct.

Some employers want to mandate the vaccine and they have deadlines for workers to comply.

Others want to leave the decision up to the employee.

A new territory for all involved and one thats still being tweaked.

Its really impossible to say as a generalization whether or not someones treatment at work is illegal without talking to them, said Howard.

Everyones situation is different, so if you have legal questions, its best to contact an attorney.

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Michigan’s new definition of a COVID-19 school ‘outbreak’ will mean fewer are reported – Detroit Free Press

Posted: at 6:43 am

The Michigan state health department isincreasing the threshold for the number of COVID-19 cases that would constitute an outbreak at a K-12school.

Themove willresult in fewer reported outbreaks and inconsistent state data, coming at a time when school outbreaks are on the rise and local health leaders are pleadingfor a statewide mask mandate.

As of Monday, an outbreak at a school must have three or more associated cases. For the past 18 months, an outbreak consisted of two or more cases. The new definition will not be applied to older outbreaks.

If this change had been implemented at the start of September when manystudents returned to classrooms, the state could have excluded almost25% of new school outbreaksreported in that time frame.

Outbreakson college campuses and child care/youth programs still will be counted if there are two or more associated cases. The two-case threshold also will continue to count as an outbreak in other settings, such as at restaurants, offices, manufacturing/construction sites and others.

More: Michigan's local health leaders want statewide K-12 mask mandate after threats, harassment

More: CDC approves Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots for essential workers, 65 and older, others

Department spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin acknowledged the change may lead to fewer reported outbreaks in K-12 schools.But she saidthe department followed standard procedure and changed its definition because of guidance from theCouncil of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.

She said the change "represents the assessment of a larger body of public health participation and has been highly vetted and approved."

The council issued school-specific guidance onAug. 6 thatnotes there is no national standard forthe number of cases that constitute an outbreak. That has led to confusion, according to the council. Definitions ranged from two cases to 15 cases, depending on the state.

So, the council's guidance suggested defining an outbreak at a school as three or more cases. Previously, it suggested two or more cases, and continues to use that definition for outbreaks at health care venues and other facilities.

Janet Hamilton, executive director of the council, said Tuesday she could not speak to Michigan's individual decision to shiftits definition.

Broadly, she said a national work group arrived at the updated outbreak definition after substantial deliberation. The group felt it was easier to track down the information necessary to show an outbreak that involves at least three people as opposed to two.

"I think the challenge with this is with two casesin an individual school or setting, it was very hard to establish potentially whether or not those individuals had or hadn't always had contact with one another," Hamilton said.

"So we wanted to set a threshold where, essentially, we could say,with some level of confidence, we really do believe that there is more than just sporadic transmission occurring."

It's more challenging to conduct effective contact tracing in schools, Hamilton said, suggesting experts generally need to get information fromparents who have become less forthcoming over the past year.

However, she said that does not mean that a school couldn't have an outbreak involving two students.

"It's hard. It's not a perfect science," said Hamilton, an epidemiologist who previously attended the University of Michigan.

Changing the threshold of what constitutes an outbreak in K-12 schools from two cases to three, but not in other settings, will make it very difficult to compare outbreaks based on exposure site, said Dawn Misra, chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University.

It is kind of silly to have two different standards. It doesn't entirely make sense. … What's special about schools? she said.

With how transmissible the delta variant is, and knowing that many K-12 schools have dropped mask requirements and other mitigation measures this year, the reality of COVID is that if two or three people are sick, there will be 10 cases in a couple of days, Misra said. The best way to protect students and their families and keep schools open is to get shots into the arms of those who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, and to require masks.

State data shows the highest case rates among the 10- to 19-year-olds, most of whom have the option of being vaccinated, she said.

Statewide, K-12 schoolshave reported 74 new outbreaks with two associatedcases since Sept. 7, according to the health department.That's about a quarter of the 306 new outbreaks recorded during that time.

More: COVID-19 cases in Michigan schools doubled in a week: Where there are outbreaks

More: Michigan budget bill bans state COVID-19 vaccine mandates, many local school mask rules

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and health department director Elizabeth Hertel have declined to institute a statewide mask mandate. Instead, they've called on local health and education leaders to institute such a rule.

However, local health leaders have repeatedly asked state officials to mandate masks in all schools, saying the patchwork requirements that vary by county and by school district are driving spread of the virus.

"Compliance is all over the board," said Norm Hess, executive director of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health."And that is very concerning because last year, when there was more uniform guidance and orders and compliance with masking in classrooms, the transmission in classrooms was pretty well contained.

"But this year is a whole new ballgame. There's masks, there's no masks, there's all sorts of variation in policies.We believe that the impending wave is going to be worse, that we're going to see a surge that is much worse and that we will have more classroom transmission."

Some local administrators were confused and frustrated after Whitmer did not immediately disavow portions of the state budget that would withhold funding from county health departments that ordered masks in schools.

Whitmer's office has since indicated the governor believes this language is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Two new studies published Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that schools without mask requirements saw much higher rates of coronavirus transmission than those with mask mandates.

Data from about 1,000 schools in Arizonas Maricopa and Pima counties from July 15-Aug. 31 found that the odds of a school-associated coronavirus outbreak were3.5 times higher in those without mask requirements than in those with them.

Another study analyzed outbreaks in K-12 schools in 520 counties across the U.S. from July 1-Sept. 4. Those with mask rules had a transmission rate of 16.32 cases per 100,000 students. Those without mask requirements had a transmission rate of 34.85 per 100,000 students.

It's rare for COVID-19 to result in severe outcomes for children. However, coronavirus hospitalizations among children are rising in Michiganand students have the capacity to spread the disease to the hundreds of thousands of adults who work in schools statewideand their relatives at home.

On Monday, 35 children withsuspected or confirmed casesof coronavirus had been admitted for treatment at hospitals statewide. That compares with just 13 children hospitalized with suspected or confirmed cases two months ago.

Every day last week, more than 315 Michigan children under the age of 12 were newly diagnosed with the virus that's a rise of 80 cases in kidsper day over the week before.

Contact Dave Boucher: dboucher@freepress.com or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.

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Man hospitalized with COVID-19 begs others to get vaccinated: ‘Weigh the here and now’ – USA TODAY

Posted: at 6:43 am

Indiana man wound up in hospital, wants everyone to get COVID vaccine

Mark Green, a COVID-19 patient regrets not getting vaccinated on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, at Hancock Regional Hospital, Greenfield Ind.

Michelle Pemberton, Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS When Mark Green,who has an underlying lung condition,left his appointment with pulmonologist Robert Klinestiver in July, the physician hoped he had convinced his patient to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

But Green, like so many in Indiana, had doubts, deep ones, about the vaccine, so strong that even an extensive talk with his doctor could not allay his fears.

When Green and Klinestiver next met about two months later, Green lay in bed in a critical care unit, battling a severe case of COVID. The 58-year-old New Palestine, Indiana, man greeted his physician wanly and sheepishly.

By this point, Green has no doubts about the vaccine.

Pausing to take deep breaths from the high flow oxygen device to which he was tethered, Green said he would like to tell everyone to "just go get the vaccine."

He said there's no reason to hesitate.

I didn't take the vaccine myself because I was scared, the unknown, what would happen two or three years down the road, Green said. Once I got sick, I kind of realized, it didnt matter what happens down the road. It matters what happens now. … You got to weigh the here and now or maybe never.

Before, Green said he was worried about the one little dose of vaccine. Over the past 11 days in the hospital, though, he has had what he describes as pounds of medicine pumped into him to keep him alive. And, he said, hes concluded that even if there are no guarantees that nothing will go wrong with the vaccine, its better to be vaccinated now and worry later.

On Friday, as Green's wife, Amy, and a nurse kept watchful eyes on the machine pinging out his heart rate and oxygen saturation level, Green recorded a video with IndyStar in the hopes that he could change at least one persons mind about the vaccine.

Green has heard ofother patients with his condition in the hospital hooked up to a ventilator and he's hopeful that won't happen to him.

The next few days could prove critical ones for Green, Klinestiver said. Some patients in his condition take a turn for the worse. Others continue to go in the right direction and eventually make it home.

Only time will tell.

Both Mark and Amy Green were againsttaking the vaccine. Amy still isn't sure.

They were worried about the unknown.

They discussed the pros and cons at length. They did not doubt COVID-19 was real; they know people who had been sickened by it, includingMark Greens 88-year-old mother.

Health officials have said repeatedly the vaccine is safe and effective, preventing people from developing severe cases of COVID-19 and dying.

But for every argument the Greens heard in favor of the vaccine, it seemed, there was one against. Itsdevelopment and approval just seemed rushed, Mark and Amy agreed. People had politicized it, and their politics fall on the Republican side of things. Not one doctor could promise him beyond a shadow of a doubt that problems with the vaccine would not arise in the future.

The Greens aren't alone in that thinking, despite the repeated efforts of both public and health officials.

Too often, Klinestiver says, his patients say politely "no thanks"when he tries to convince them to take the vaccine. While Klinestiver says he can understand much of this reluctance, he also knows the flip side of the vaccine: That hospitals have been filling up with COVID-19 patients, sometimes leaving little to no room for others to receive care.

And, almost all of these COVID-19 patients, particularly the very sick, have a singular thing in common: They were not vaccinated.

Thatfrustrates him.

COVID-19: Current pandemic has killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu

When the pandemic first hit, most of the sickest patients were elderly. Now Klinestiver said, the hospital is full of people in their 50s and 40s. Some in their 30s have even died.

Thats the salt in this wound, you know, he said. Its so hard to watch a person in their prime of their lives die.

The Greens had heard all these arguments, but nothing swayed them. Most people they know are not vaccinated. No one in their direct family Mark, Amy, their five adult children is vaccinated.

Marks 88-year-old mother had planned to get vaccinated, but four days before her appointment, she fell and broke her hip, setting off a cascade of health problems, including her own bout with COVID-19 while in rehab.

She recovered.

Neither Mark nor Amy think of themselves as being anti-vaccine. They just had qualms about this particular vaccine, many of which from the outside seem to be largely driven by false information.

The amount of conflicting information made it political, said Amy, who adds she has had flu and pneumonia shots in the past. With this vaccine, however, she said, she felt like the government and officials were shoving it down peoples throats and not giving individuals a choice in whether or not they wanted it.

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Everythingchanged when Mark got the virus.

At first, he thought he had picked up a bad stomach virus that was going around. A few days later, though, a COVID-19 test revealed he was positive, and after four days, the virus settled in his chests and lungs.

Two weekends ago, their doctor told Amy she should plan tobring Mark to the hospitalSept. 13.

But that Sunday night, Mark was having too much trouble breathing, and the pulse oximeter they were using to track his progress showed his oxygen levels had dipped dangerously low. Amy didnt wait. Nor did Mark protest.

I just got to the point I didnt care, he said.

As of Friday, Mark had spent a week and a half in the hospital, and even under a best case scenario, he still has a long haul in front of him.

Things could go either way for Mark. He might need that ventilator. He could also recover without it.

Before he can be discharged from the hospital, he will need to be weaned off his current high doses of oxygen, Klinestiver said. He will still be on oxygen when he leaves, just far less than what hes on now. He will need to work on his legs, which have become debilitated during his illness.

Full recovery, if it comes, could take months, said Klinestiver, who had another patient in his 40s, perfectly healthy who ran every day. That patient spent two or three weeks in the hospital on high doses of oxygen, teetering on requiring a ventilator. He avoided that but spent six months on oxygen and only now is beginning to start running again.

Green accepts the path forward is a long one.

Now,he plans to do his part to persuade others not to wind up where he has been for the past 10 days. He thinks it's crazy the vaccine has been politicized.

Im not pro-vaccine. Im pro-health, he said. The vaccine is what makes you healthy. You get the vaccine, its going to make you healthy, keep you healthy and not let this happen to you.

FollowShari Rudavsky on Twitter: @srudavsky.

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Man hospitalized with COVID-19 begs others to get vaccinated: 'Weigh the here and now' - USA TODAY

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Nearly 600 United Airlines employees losing their jobs for refusing COVID-19 vaccines – Bangor Daily News

Posted: at 6:43 am

More than 99 percent of United Airlines U.S.-based employees who did not seek a religious or medical exemption from the companys COVID-19 vaccine mandate got the shots, while 593 who refused to comply will lose their jobs.

Chicago-based United shared the results of compliance with its vaccine requirement Tuesday, its deadline to provide proof of vaccination.

This is a historic achievement for our airline and our employees as well as for the customers and communities we serve, United CEO Scott Kirby and president Brett Hart said in a memo to employees. Our rationale for requiring the vaccine for all Uniteds U.S.-based employees was simple to keep our people safe and the truth is this: Everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated, and vaccine requirements work.

Less than 3 percent of the companys 67,000 U.S. employees requested religious or medical exemptions. Earlier this month, United said employees granted exemptions would be placed on temporary leave Oct. 2, while those whose requests were denied would have five weeks to get the shots or face termination.

That deadline was pushed back after six employees filed a lawsuit against the airline alleging it failed to provide reasonable accommodations for employees seeking religious and medical exemptions.

Five of the employees said the company granted their request but only offered unpaid leave, while a sixth said his request was administratively denied, according to the lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status and was filed in federal court in the Northern District of Texas last week.

United said it would aim to resolve requests for accommodations by Oct. 15.

The airline previously said employees in customer-facing roles who sought exemptions would be placed on leave until the pandemic meaningfully recedes, while those in jobs requiring fewer interactions could return once United developed testing and safety protocols.

People granted religious exemptions were told they would be on unpaid leave, while those granted medical exemptions would be on medical leave, which can include some form of compensation.

United is moving ahead with terminating the 593 employees who did not get vaccinated or request an accommodation, though that number could shrink if they change their minds about the vaccine, United said. Company officials said they did not expect their departures to affect operations.

While some employees are leaving United because of the vaccine requirement, some people applying for jobs at the airline volunteered that they were especially interested in career opportunities at United because of the vaccine requirement, a spokesperson said.

While United is the only major U.S. carrier to require the COVID-19 vaccine, Delta Air Lines plans to begin charging unvaccinated employees on the companys health plan a $200 surcharge each month, starting Nov. 1.

Atlanta-based Delta said 82 percent of its employees were vaccinated as of last week, up from 75 percent when the fee was announced last month. Earlier this month, Delta also began requiring unvaccinated employees get weekly COVID-19 tests while community case rates are high.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have not provided updates on the share of their workforce that has been vaccinated. Both carriers have encouraged vaccines but stopped short of mandates or fees.

All four carriers would be required to force employees to get vaccinated or get tested for the virus regularly under a mandate President Joe Biden issued earlier this month.

Bidens order directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop a rule requiring companies with at least 100 employees to adopt vaccination mandates or weekly testing programs, with penalties of up to $14,000 per violation.

In a letter to employees earlier this month, executives at American said they were waiting for more details on the order but expected it would affect the airline.

While we will review the details of the plan and determine the path forward for American, what we know is that the presidents actions underscore the importance of team members getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and sooner rather than later, executives said.

Story by Lauren Zumbach, Chicago Tribune.

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