President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that all civilian federal employees must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or to regularly test, socially distance and mask up on most travel, reported the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

He said Tuesday that he was considering the move for federal employees.

“That’s under consideration right now,” Biden told reporters. “But if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were.”

The upcoming requirements comes just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with high transmission as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and vaccination rates wane.

New York, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the state of California have also announced plans to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for many of their employees or face testing. After the guidance Tuesday, both states and several others recommended that everybody in the state, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask at indoor public settings.

The guidance changes come as COVID-19 deaths in the United States are once again over 2,000 per week, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data found. New cases are also averaging more than 60,000 per day for the first time in more than three months.

Also in the news:

►For the third straight day, Tokyo saw a record high in new COVID-19 cases as the Olympics were well underway. There were 3,865 reported new cases Thursday, up from 3,177 on Wednesday and double the numbers a week ago.

►Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told USA TODAY the agency hopes “to be long since done” with granting full approval for a COVID-19 vaccine by its goal date of January 2022.

►The FDA is allowing a Baltimore factory to resume production after it shut down in April due to contamination problems that forced the company to throw out the equivalent of tens of millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Manufacturer Emergent BioSolutions didn’t say when production will resume.

Story continues

►Starting Thursday, Apple will require customers to wear masks in COVID-19 hotspots or in areas that have local or state mandates, accounting for about half its U.S. stores.

►The mayor of Atlanta has decreed that face masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces including private businesses in Georgia’s largest city. Are masks required in your area? See our state-by-state list.

►The hordes of people expected to descend on Chicago’s Grant Park for the Lollapalooza music festival this week will be required to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19 or tested negative for the disease within the last three days.

►Google and Facebook join a growing list of companies requiring vaccination before returning to in-person work, they each announced Wednesday. The implementation of these new policies are dependent on local conditions of their campuses.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 34.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 611,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 195.8 million cases and 4.18 million deaths. More than 163.5 million Americans — 49.3% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: With less savings to fall back on during the COVID-19 pandemic, Black households went deeper into debt and were more likely to fall behind on their mortgages than their white peers, according to a new analysis given exclusively to USA TODAY. Read the full story.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Mitch McConnell campaign buying radio ads urging Kentuckians to take COVID-19 vaccine

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is using unspent campaign funds to buy air time for radio ads across Kentucky in which he urging people to get vaccinated and “take advantage of this miracle.”

While some Republican elected officials and conservative media pundits have aired heavy skepticism about the vaccine, McConnell for months has urged people to vaccinate in order to curb the spread of the pandemic.

In the 60-second ad, a transcription of which was obtained by The Louisville Courier Journal, McConnell references his bout with polio as a child and the decades it took to develop a vaccine for the disease — contrasting that with the unique opportunity to act fast on COVID-19.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated, do the right thing for you — for your family — and get vaccinated right now,” McConnell said.

– Joe Sonka, Louisville Courier Journal

Poll: Americans unsatisfied with treatment of Asian Americans, immigrants

Satisfaction with the way Asian Americans are treated in the U.S. has plummeted after a year of documented increases in hate crimes and instances of racism, a new poll shows. The finding comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, when negative stereotypes for Asian Americans were used by public figures and elected officials.

Americans are also at an all-time low in their satisfaction with the treatment of immigrants in this country, according to the Gallup poll released Thursday. Americans’ views on the treatment of immigrants have declined in the 20 years since Gallup began polling them on the topic, with this year’s 33% of satisfaction marking the lowest point.

Just 46% of Americans are satisfied with the way Asian people are treated, a 14% drop from the previous year. Between 2016 and 2020, the level of satisfaction dropped 15%; before then, about 70% or more of Americans typically said they were satisfied with the treatment of Asian Americans, according to Gallup.

– Jeanine Santucci

Pfizer’s vaccine effectives decreases by 12% over six months, but third shot increases protection

The Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness wanes after six months, but experts say it still doesn’t mean booster shots are needed, according to data released by Pfizer and its partner BioNtech..

The study, posted on medrxiv.org on Wednesday, which hasn’t been peer-reviewed or published yet, found that the vaccine’s effectiveness of preventing symptomatic illness fell from about 96% to about 84% over six months, showing that its efficacy declined about 6% every two months. The vaccine’s efficacy against severe disease remained at 97% for the entire six months.

A different set of data by Pfizer also found that levels of antibodies that can target the delta variant grow fivefold in ages 18 to 55 who get a third dose of the vaccine, while for people ages 65 to 85 it can increase elevenfold. The antibody levels are much higher against the original coronavirus variant and the beta variant with a third dose.

Dr. Stephen Thomas, the lead study author and director of the SUNY Upstate Institute for Global Health & Translational Science in New York, told NBC News that he expected the vaccine’s protection to fade, but didn’t know how quickly and strongly it would do so.

“Even though we saw that at six months there was a waning of protection, there was a maintenance of protection against those severe outcomes that really make up the public health burden of the disease,” Thomas said.

Disney World announces guests must mask up indoors, on transportation starting July 30

Headed to Walt Disney World soon? Pack a mask — you’ll need to wear one at all Disney parks starting Friday.

The company announced Wednesday night that guests ages 2 and older will have to don face coverings for all indoor attractions and on Disney transportation. Face masks will remain optional outdoors.

The park had lifted its indoor mask mandate on June 15. While proof of vaccination was not required, masks were recommended for those who are not vaccinated. Now, they’ll be mandatory for all, except outside.

“Face coverings are required for all guests (ages 2 and up) while indoors and in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, regardless of vaccination status,” said a Wednesday update on the Disney website. “This includes upon entering and throughout all attractions.”

Britt Kennerly, Florida Today

Netflix to implement vaccine mandate on all US productions

Netflix will be implementing a vaccine mandate on all its U.S. productions, according to a report from Deadline.

They are the first major Hollywood studio to require vaccination for production. The mandate applies to all cast members and crew members that come into contact with the actors, also referred to as “Zone A,” the report said.

In the production of “Gaslit,” a limited series produced by Starz/UCP, leading actor Sean Penn refused to return to work on the series until everyone involved got vaccinated, Deadline reported July 22.

Netflix aims to limit exceptions to medical, religious and age-related reasons, Deadline said.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden to require federal workers to get vaccine; McConnell vaccine ads



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