With COVID cases and hospitalizations declining, optimism the United States is turning a corner in the pandemic.
Daily pediatric COVID infections are finally dropping after more than six million kids have tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic. However, the weekly case rate among children remains “exceptionally high.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN the U.S. isn’t out of the woods yet with transmission levels still high nationwide.
“The best way to assure that decline in cases, hospitalizations and deaths to continue is to continue to get a lot more people vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci said.
Here are more of today’s COVID-19 headlines:
Federal judge denies NYC teachers’ request for injunction on vaccine mandate
A federal judge in Manhattan on Tuesday declined to block enforcement of New York City’s vaccine mandate for public school employees, denying a request for a preliminary injunction from a group of 10 teachers, at least one of whom was denied a religious exemption from the policy.
“Plaintiffs have not shown they are entitled to this extraordinary remedy,” Judge Valerie Caproni said in reading her ruling from the bench.
The judge said she found not “even a whiff” of animus toward religion in statements made by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in enacting the policy, as argued by the plaintiffs. The group of 10 teachers lost their bid for a temporary injunction last week, but a three-judge federal appeals court granted the Tuesday hearing.
Brooklyn Nets decide Kyrie Irving can’t play, practice with team until he is vaccinated
The Brooklyn Nets announced Tuesday morning that Kyrie Irving cannot play or practice with the team until he is vaccinated. Irving has not been with the Nets for any of their practices in New York, where professional athletes are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to practice or play.
Click here to read the full statement from the Nets.
NY judge grants injunction against COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers
A federal judge in Utica sided Tuesday with 17 health care workers who object to New York State’s vaccine mandate for health workers on religious grounds, granting their request for an injunction that stops the state from enforcing the policy for those who claim a religion-based objection.
“There is no adequate explanation from defendants about why the ‘reasonable accommodation’ that must be extended to a medically exempt health care worker under 2.61 could not similarly be extended to a healthcare worker with a sincere religious objection,” Judge David Hurd wrote.
Hurd’s preliminary injunction means New York will continue to be barred from enforcing any requirement that employers deny religious exemptions.
NY State vaccine effectiveness study results
A new study from New York’s health department finds that for most adults, all three vaccines are holding strong when it comes to reducing the risk of being hospitalized of COVID-19. The exception was adults over 65 vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna, who saw a very modest dip in efficacy against hospitalization.
While vaccines are holding strong against hospitalizations, all three lost some ability to protect against breakthrough infections across all age groups. People vaccinated with Pfizer saw the sharpest decline, though Moderna and Johnson & Johnson also saw declines. Vaccine efficacy for the COVID vaccines started extremely high, so even modest waning is still very beneficial.
Merck seeks FDA approval for COVID pill
Drug maker Merck asked U.S. regulators Monday to authorize its pill against COVID-19 in what would add an entirely new and easy-to-use weapon to the world’s arsenal against the pandemic. If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration – a decision that could come in a matter of weeks – it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. All other FDA-backed treatments against the disease require an IV or injection. An antiviral pill that people could take at home to reduce their symptoms and speed recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing the crushing caseload on U.S. hospitals and helping to curb outbreaks in poorer countries with weak health care systems. It would also bolster the two-pronged approach to the pandemic: treatment, by way of medication, and prevention, primarily through vaccinations.
Dr. Fauci gives thumbs up to trick or treating
The government’s top infectious diseases expert says families can feel safe trick-or-treating outdoors this year for Halloween as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. decline, especially for those who are vaccinated. Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that it’s an important time of year for children, so “go out there” and “enjoy it.” He added that people wanting to enjoy Halloween on Oct. 31 should consider getting the shots for that “extra degree of protection” if they are not yet vaccinated.
Busy travel season expected despite pandemic
The White House says 78% of adults have now gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and there is a push to boost vaccinations ahead of what’s expected to be a busy holiday travel season. United Airlines says it plans to fly 3,500 domestic flights in December every single day. That’s almost as many flights were in the air back in 2019. United adds flight searches are up 16% compared to before the pandemic. The CDC is also reminding Americans to get their flu shots, saying it will help reduce strain on already overwhelmed hospitals.
Experts explain why lawsuits against COVID-19 vaccine mandates fail
From teachers to airlines workers, some employees who have faced termination for not complying with their company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates have gone to court to fight the decisions. Some of the plaintiffs, such as New York City Department of Education employees, a handful of Los Angeles county public employees and United Airlines workers, have argued that the mandates should be removed, questioning the rules’ constitutionality and some contending their religious rights weren’t observed. So far, these arguments have not swayed judges who have almost all ruled in favor of the employer, or not issued long injunctions while they hear the case. And legal experts tell ABC News they don’t expect different outcomes in courtrooms anytime soon.
What to know about religious exemptions for COVID shots as vaccine mandates roll out
With COVID-19 vaccine mandates proliferating across the country in the public and private sectors as well as some school districts, the pushback from those unwilling or hesitant to get their shots is heating up. The vaccination effort has raised new questions about exemptions because mandates for adults are generally rare outside of settings like healthcare facilities and the military, and the inoculations are relatively new.
While there is no overall data yet on exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, a number of companies and state governments have seen interest in religious exemptions — a protection stemming from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This leaves employers in the difficult and legally precarious position of determining whether the requests are valid. As such, some states have tried to do away with non-medical exemptions overall for their employees.
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