White House lifts COVID-19 ban for air travelers

Today, the White House announced that fully vaccinated foreign nationals can travel freely in and out of the United States beginning Nov 8.

Foreign air travelers entering the United States will need to prove vaccination and have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the country, the Washington Post reports. Foreign travelers entering through land borders need only proof of vaccination.

The existing travel bans have been in place since March 2020, when President Donald Trump's administration barred most non-US citizens from the United Kingdom, Europe, Brazil, and South Africa, from entering the country.

Airline and tourism executives applauded the decision to lift the ban.

"We welcome the Biden administration’s science-based approach to begin lifting the restrictions on travel to the U.S. that were put into place at the start of the pandemic," American's CEO Doug Parker said in a statement.

Vaccine mandates hit snags

As many as half of Chicago's police officers could be put on leave in the coming days for not meeting the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, CNN reports. The officers had a deadline of midnight Thursday to disclose their vaccination status or be placed on unpaid leave.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has mandated the vaccines and said Chicago police union president John Catanzara was trying to "induce an insurrection" by encouraging officers to ignore the deadlines.

Earlier this week, Catanzara released a video in which he said, "I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history and change the terms of employment so to speak on the fly."

Yesterday, a new nationwide analysis showed that 62% of police deaths last year were related to COVID-19; at least 228 officers have died from the virus so far this year.

In related news, the US Navy said yesterday that it is preparing to discharge sailors who refuse vaccination for COVID-19 as mandated by the Pentagon, according to Fox News. Nov 14 is the deadline for active-duty sailors to get vaccinated.

And finally, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily halted a San Antonio school district's vaccine mandate for teachers and school employees yesterday, just hours before it was set to take effect, the Texas Tribune reports.

All employees of San Antonio Independent School District were supposed to be vaccinated by today—a move that directly challenged Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on vaccine mandates. Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued the school district.

About 5% of Americans have gotten a booster

The Johns Hopkins University tracker shows that the United States reported 83,756 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 2,005 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker shows that 56.8% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 65.8% have received at least one dose of vaccine.

A total of 5.2% of fully vaccinated people have received a booster dose, the CDC said. That number is expected to grow as early as the first week of November, when Americans who received the Johnson & Johnson or Moderna vaccines will be eligible for booster shots.

Global COVID-19 developments

  • Russia today reported record daily highs for both cases and deaths—32,196 and 999, respectively, according to Reuters. The Kremlin blames slow vaccination campaigns.

  • South Korea said today it will revise some of its strict measures next week as the country shifts into "living with COVID," Reuters reports. The expectation is that 80% of the population will be fully vaccinated when the economy reopens in November.

  • President Joe Biden announced yesterday that the United States will send 17 million Johnson & Johnson doses to the African Union, according to the Washington Post.

  • The United Kingdom has suspended a private lab over false-negative COVID-19 test results. Investigators estimate that 43,000 people were given incorrect results from Sep 8 to Oct 12.

  • The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control published a report today on promoting vaccine acceptance based on the 5Cs model: confidence, constraints, complacency, calculation, and collective responsibility.

  • The global total is 239,918,710 COVID-19 cases, including 4,886,816 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.

CIDRAP News reporter Lianna Matt McLernon contributed to this story.

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