Written by The Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — Thousands of health care workers in New York faced with getting the COVID-19 vaccine or losing their jobs on Monday have received at least one dose.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul released figures showing vaccination rates rising among the state’s 450,000 hospital workers and for other health care workers. By Monday evening, 92% of nursing home staff received at least one vaccine dose. Preliminary data showed 92% of hospital staff receiving at least one dose of vaccine.
The executive order allows out-of-state doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to practice in New York, makes it easier for retirees to return to the workforce and allows doctor consults in nursing homes via telemedicine.
The order broadens the roles of emergency medical technicians, allowing basic EMTs to vaccinate and test for the coronavirus.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— U.S. employer vaccine mandates convert some workers, but not all
— 400K in U.S. got Pfizer booster shots last weekend
— France offers state-funded therapy, tackles mental health
— Vaccination situation in Europe a story of two regions
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
DECATUR, Ga. — The metro Atlanta city of Decatur is requiring its police officers, firefighters and other employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly tests to keep their jobs.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Decatur City Manager Andrea Arnold announced the new policy during a city commission meeting on Monday night. At least one other Georgia city — Brookhaven, also in metro Atlanta — has issued a similar requirement.
Arnold says the city’s policy mirrors the federal vaccine mandate enacted by President Joe Biden. That mandate has been panned by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republican leaders.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he’ll appoint a chair this year to the planned public inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic and bereaved families will have a role in the proceedings.
The COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, which has around 4,000 members, have been calling for a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic so lessons can be learned to limit future virus-related deaths. It has criticized Johnson and his Conservative government for a lack of protective gear for health workers, delaying lockdowns and a too-lax travel policy.
Johnson confirmed in May a public inquiry will start to hear evidence next year. However, the group says, “we see no reason why preparations for the inquiry cannot begin now, particularly as nearly 1,000 people are still losing their lives each week.”
The U.K. registered 167 virus-related deaths on Tuesday. Britain has Europe’s second-highest pandemic death toll after Russia, with nearly 136,500 confirmed dead.
PHOENIX — Arizona reported 1,123 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, a figure less than half the state’s latest seven-day rolling average that state officials say is low because of a reporting problem.
Therefore, the figures released Wednesday and Thursday will be higher, the Department of Health Services says.
The state reported 108 new deaths, increasing the state’s total to 19,920 confirmed deaths.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases dropped in the past two weeks, decreasing from 2,581 on Sept. 12 to 2,500 on Sunday. The rolling average of daily deaths rose from 26 to 42 during the same period, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The COVID-19-related hospitalizations, which have decreased slightly since mid-September, were at 1,794 on Monday.
WASHINGTON — More than 400,000 Americans got Pfizer booster shots last weekend through local pharmacies in the opening days of the U.S effort to provide more protection for vulnerable populations.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients says an additional 1 million people have scheduled booster shots for the coming weeks. He adds: “We’re off to a very strong start with the booster campaign.”
As many as 25 million people qualify for the third dose of the Pfizer shot, which was authorized last week for those 65 or older, those with pre-existing conditions or facing an elevated risk at their workplace.
U.S. officials say their primary focus is ensuring the roughly 25% of eligible Americans who have yet to get their first shot do so.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says a major priority is the vaccination rate among pregnant women, which stands at 30% nationally and at 15% among Black pregnant women. She encouraged them to seek out vaccinations, saying data shows they’re safe for mother and baby and can prevent needless illness or death.
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has announced psychology appointments in France will be funded by the government starting next year.
State health care systems in Britain, Germany and some other countries already fund therapy sessions. French health professionals say a national effort to improve access is long overdue, especially as the coronavirus pandemic has caused and aggravated psychological distress.
Macron acknowledged both the psychological impact of government virus restrictions and past government failures to make mental health a priority during a conference with mental health professionals on Tuesday. He described a spike in the number of children seeking psychological treatment and in attempted suicides, notably among teenagers.
Health surveys in France last year pointed to a surge of depression most acute among people without work, those in financial hardship and young adults.
The French government announced free therapy sessions for children and young people earlier this year, and on Tuesday pledged to extend it to everyone. Psychiatric treatment is already largely reimbursed by the state.
WILMINGTON, Del. — Delaware Gov. John Carney announced all teachers and school staff in Delaware will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.
Carney announced the requirement Tuesday. It will be formally issued by emergency regulation and take effect Nov. 1. The requirement also applies to contractors and volunteers who work in K-12 public and private schools.
Carney says the top priority has been to get all students back in school this fall, and the mandate will help minimize disruptions.
Delaware State Education Association President Stephanie Ingram says the state’s largest teacher’s union supports the decision and urges members to get vaccinated, calling weekly testing a “reasonable alternative.”
NEW YORK — Businesses with vaccine mandates say some workers who’ve been on the fence have gotten inoculated against COVID-19, with some holdouts.
Meanwhile, coronavirus cases are surging in the U.S. The seven-day average COVID-19 deaths climbed above 2,000 last week for the first time since March.
Even before President Joe Biden’s announcement on Sept. 9 that companies with more than 100 workers would have to require vaccinations, dozens of companies, including Amtrak, Microsoft, United Airlines and Disney, issued ultimatums to most workers.
United Airlines said 97% of its workers have been vaccinated even before its deadline took effect Monday. Alternatives for those employees include weekly testing, working remotely or away from other staff, or ultimately, termination.
Some bigger companies that require in-office workers be vaccinated now or in coming weeks include Google, McDonald’s (U.S.-based office workers), and Goldman Sachs, among others.
Biden wants to boost the vaccination rate in the U.S., where about 77% of American adults have had one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania started administering third doses of coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, the same day it recorded its highest number of daily infections since the start of the pandemic.
Romania, which has the second-lowest vaccine rate in the European Union, is facing a rise of COVID-19 cases. The country registered 11,049 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday. That’s almost 1,000 more than its previous record last November.
Chief vaccination coordinator Dr. Valeriu Gheorghita administered boosters during a hospital visit in the capital Bucharest.
“We still have a long way to go,” he said. “The rate of vaccination is obviously not enough to limit the negative consequences of the fourth wave and especially with the delta variant infections.”
Only 33% of adults in Romania, a country of 19 million, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The booster shots are recommended for people vulnerable to the virus who received their second dose at least six months ago.
Romania has recorded more than 1.2 million confirmed cases and 36,658 confirmed deaths.
ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatian authorities say all employees in health and social care services in the country must produce COVID-19 certificates to work or they must get tested twice a week.
The decision Tuesday will apply to facilities where patients don’t require urgent medical care. Workers will be required next week to show evidence of vaccination, a negative virus test or a certificate that they’ve had COVID-19.
Croatia introduced the new rules after a recent case surge and a slowing of the vaccination drive in the nation. Croatia has reached about 50% vaccination rate among the adult population in the country of 4.2 million.
Health Minister Vili Baros says “we don’t want to be rigid” but adds it’s clear more vaccinations are needed and those not following the rules “won’t get paid.”
NEW YORK — Pfizer has submitted research to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine in children as it moves closer to seeking approval for expanded use of the shots.
The drugmaker and its partner, Germany’s BioNTech, say they expect to request emergency use authorization of their vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 “in the coming weeks.” The companies also plan to submit data to the European Medicines Agency and other regulators.
The two-shot Pfizer vaccine is currently available for those 12 and older. An estimated 100 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated with it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pfizer tested a lower dose of the shots in children. The drugmaker said last week that researchers found the vaccine developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels in children that were just as strong as those found in teenagers and young adults getting regular-strength doses.
Earlier this month, FDA chief Dr. Peter Marks told the AP that once Pfizer turns over its study results, his agency would evaluate the data “hopefully in a matter of weeks” to decide if the shots are safe and effective enough for younger kids.
Another U.S. vaccine maker, Moderna, also is studying its shots in elementary school-aged children. Results are expected later in the year.
PARIS — French drugmaker Sanofi says it is shelving plans for a COVID-19 vaccine based on messenger RNA but will develop a new flu vaccine.
The Paris-based company says it will continue to develop another vaccine candidate already undergoing late-stage human trials. That vaccine, developed with Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline, is being tested as a COVID-19 booster.
Sanofi recently expanded trials of that recombinant protein vaccine as a booster dose to extend immunity for people inoculated with a variety of other vaccines. Results from that study are expected later this year.
Messenger RNA vaccines are currently made by Pfizer and Moderna. Sanofi officials say they decided it wasn’t worth pursuing that technology for COVID-19 vaccines, given how those vaccines are widely available.
They plan to use the mRNA technology to develop a new flu vaccine, with clinical studies expected to start next year, according to Jean-Francois Toussaint, global head of research and development at Sanofi’s vaccine unit.
TOKYO — Japan’s government says the coronavirus state of emergency will end Thursday to help rejuvenate the economy as infections slow.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced virus restrictions will be eased gradually. Government officials are instituting other plans, such as vaccine passports and virus tests, Suga says.
With the lifting, Japan will be free of emergency requirements for the first time in more than six months. The current state of emergency, declared in April, was repeatedly extended and expanded, especially during the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Infections started to worsen in July and peaked in mid-August after the Olympics, surging above 5,000 daily cases in Tokyo alone and topping 25,000 nationwide. Thousands of patients unable to find hospital beds had to recover from the illness at home.
Daily reported cases have fallen to around 2,000 nationwide. Health experts attributed the declining numbers to the progress of vaccinations — 58% of the population is fully vaccinated — increased social distancing efforts after alarm from full hospitals.
There have been 1.69 million confirmed cases and 17,500 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Japan.
See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic