Airlines split on COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees

In a bid to encourage companies to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employees, President Joe Biden will meet with United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby and other business owners who have announced mandates today at the White House.

Joining Kirby will be the CEO of Kaiser Permanente, the president of Howard University, and a small business owner from South Carolina. The four people represent a major company, a healthcare system, a university, and a small business, the Wall Street Journal reports.

United is the only major US airline that has announced vaccine mandates for employees. Delta, Southwest, and American Airlines say they will not be requiring their workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to CNN. Delta has also said 75% of their employees are vaccinated without a mandate.

The Federal Aviation Administration has mandated masks for all airline passenger through Sep 13.

In related news, a collection of health experts, including 175 scientists and the deans of five medical schools, have written a letter to President Biden urging him to act now to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines globally. They warned that failing to do so will result in more transmissible and deadly variants of the virus.

The letter, obtained by the Washington Post, implores the administration to rapidly scale up mRNA vaccine manufacturing so 4 billion people can be inoculated by the end of the year. It also urges the administration to begin donating 10 million vaccines per week to COVAX and to "commit to establishing 8 billion doses per year of mRNA vaccine capacity within six months using existing federal resources. A plan for this should be announced within one month."

CDC strongly recommends vaccination in pregnancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today said pregnant women, breastfeeding women, newly postpartum women, and women considering pregnancy should be vaccinated against COVID-19, and said pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe disease if infected with the virus.

Scientists have found no increased risk of miscarriage among recipients of the three vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States, according to a new study of mRNA vaccine recipients. Miscarriage rates before 20 weeks gestation were 13%, the same as in the unvaccinated population.

"Clinicians have seen the number of pregnant people infected with COVID-19 rise in the past several weeks," the CDC said in a press release. "The increased circulation of the highly contagious Delta variant, the low vaccine uptake among pregnant people, and the increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications related to COVID-19 infection among pregnant people make vaccination for this population more urgent than ever."

Overall, only 23.2% of pregnant people in the United States have at least one dose of vaccine.

Nursing staff shortage as hospitalizations rise

According to the Associated Press, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oregon currently have the most residents hospitalized for COVID-19 than at any other time during the pandemic, and nursing staff are in short supply.

Officials in Arkansas told NPR they are down to eight unoccupied intensive care unit beds in the state as the summer surge of cases threatens to overwhelm hospitals.

Both Oregon and Louisiana have resumed statewide indoor mask mandates for all residents regardless of their vaccination status in light of recent virus activity, according to Axios. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown also announced she will be mandating vaccines for state employees beginning Oct 18.

And in Florida, the federal government has sent hundreds of ventilators and other equipment this week to help the state respond to a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to NBC News. On Tuesday, 14,787 people in the state were hospitalized for COVID-19, 145% more than the state's previous peak in July 2020.

The 7-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases is 118,067, with an average of 66,429 COVID-related hospitalizations and 608 deaths, according to the New York Times tracker. Yesterday, the country recorded 118,067 cases, including 608 deaths.

Other US news

  • California has become the first state to mandate vaccines among school teachers and staff. Gov. Gavin Newsome said teachers must show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing.

  • Two courts in Texas yesterday issued rulings allowing officials in San Antonio and Dallas to temporarily require masks in schools and other public buildings to curb a steep rise in COVID-19 cases, the New York Times reported. The chief elected official in Dallas County said he planned to issue an emergency order for the county today.

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