September 18, 2021

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Missouri attorney general files suit against St. Louis over mask mandate; Pfizer and Moderna expand trials for children: COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

5 min read

Missouri’s attorney general has filed suit seeking to halt a mask mandate that took effect Monday in the St. Louis area amid a rise in COVD-19 cases that are burdening a growing number of hospitals around the state.

The lawsuit by Attorney General Eric Schmitt argues the mandates are “arbitrary and capricious because they require vaccinated individuals to wear masks, despite the CDC guidance that this is not necessary.” It also questions mandating children to wear masks in school, noting they are less likely to become seriously ill.

But COVID-19 cases with vaccinated individuals are on the rise — though hospitalizations of vaccinated Americans are rare.

Nevertheless, the rise in infections is prompting communities at the least to require masking — and at the most, institute vaccine mandates. Savannah, Georgia, reimposed Monday a requirement that people wear masks in public, as has Los Angeles County and many municipalities coast-to-coast. 

New York City and the state of California announced plans Monday to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for many of their employees.

And children make up a growing share of new coronavirus cases each week, yet they will have to wait even longer to get vaccinated. 

Those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can be infected, but serious illness is rare.

Meanwhile, the United States is again reporting more than 50,000 new cases daily on a rolling 7-day average as the delta variant sweeps around the country. The United States last hit that mark April 30, when cases were falling as vaccines took hold of the pandemic. 

Even with most Americans at least partially vaccinated, the country is already reporting cases at more than three-quarters of the pace of the worst week in summer 2020, when about 67,000 cases per day were reported.

Also in the news:

►The Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic is requiring all of its employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Sept. 17, it announced Monday. The Department of Veterans Affairs also announced Monday that it will require its health care professionals to be vaccinated within the next two months as coronavirus infections have more than doubled in the past month at its medical facilities.

►Hawaii’s Department of Health is recommending that masks be used in all indoor settings at schools and that social distancing be observed in classrooms when possible. Masks are recommended outdoors when there is crowding or prolonged close contact. 

►Australia’s second-most populous city is ending its fifth pandemic lockdown Tuesday as the Victoria state government declares it has beaten an outbreak of the highly contagious coronavirus delta variant for a second time.

►The departments of Health, Justice, Education and Labor released guidance explaining that long COVID can be a disability under various federal civil rights laws.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 34.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 610,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 194.6 million cases and 4.16 million deaths. More than 163.7 million Americans — 49.1% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: The CDC says masks for the vaccinated are optional. As COVID cases climb, some feel differently.

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.

The end of state eviction moratoriums likely led to thousands of COVID deaths, study says

The termination of eviction moratoriums in different states and municipalities likely led to hundreds of thousands of additional COVID cases and deaths, according to a study published Monday.

The study, published by UCLA researchers, compared COVID cases across 43 states — some of which kept eviction moratoriums and others who did away with them in spring or summer of 2020. States that did without saw an average of twice as many COVID cases and five times as many deaths, and ending eviction protections led to 433,000 COVID-19 cases and 10,000 additional deaths by September 2020, the study concluded.

The federal eviction moratorium, preventing tenants who are behind on rent from being removed from housing on public health grounds amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, will end this Saturday.

Report: Pfizer and Moderna widen age range of trials down to 5-year-olds

Pfizer and Moderna are expanding their vaccine trials for children ages 5 to 11, according to a new report.

The New York Times reported that the decision came from the Food and Drug Administration’s push to investigate rare side effects, including heart inflammation, that has come up in vaccinated people below the age of 30. The FDA asked the two companies to incorporate 3,000 additional children between the ages of 5 and 11 into the group, the Times reported.

Regulators will have to balance the potential side effects of the vaccines against the risk of COVID-19. Members of a CDC advisory committee believe that the protection the vaccine offers for people older than 12 outweighs the risks of side effects.

US intends to keep travel restrictions in place against UK, European countries

The United States has no plans to lift travel restrictions at this point given the rise of the delta variant, according to the White House.

The decision means the country’s current travel restrictions — which deny entry for people from the European Schengen area, United Kingdom and other countries — will remain in place. 

“Given where we are today… with the delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news briefing Monday. “The more transmissible delta variant is spreading both here and around the world. Driven by the delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead.”

Read more here.

– Bailey Schulz

Vanderbilt University Medical Center mandates COVID-19 vaccines for leadership

Vanderbilt University Medical Center will require employees with leadership roles to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

Employees were alerted to the mandate via an employee newsletter on July 15, VUMC spokesman John Howser confirmed in an email to The Tennessean.

All VUMC leaders are required to get the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or provide a medical or religious exemption by Aug. 15. They must be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption by Sept. 15.

“The deadline for requiring all VUMC employees to be vaccinated or have an approved exemption is under consideration and will be communicated at a later date,” Howser said.

The medical center is requiring VUMC leaders to be vaccinated to show an “overall commitment to promoting vaccination.”

In May, Vanderbilt University announced it would require students to receive the vaccine for the 2021-2022 school year. All faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows employed by the university are also required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 for the upcoming school year.

– Rachel Wegner, Nashville Tennessean

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Contributing: The Associated Press.

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