It’s a sobering toll as hospitals across the United States struggle to keep up with patient traffic and more children struggle with the virus. In hopes of containing the spread and preventing further unnecessary deaths, officials are implementing mandates for vaccinations in workplaces and masking in schools.
However, with only 54% of the population fully vaccinated, the number of people vaccinating each day has decreased over the past month.
Health experts have hailed vaccinations as the best protection against the virus and found that the majority of people hospitalized and killed with Covid-19 are unvaccinated. In Pennsylvania, from January 1 to September 7, 97% of the state’s Covid-19 deaths were among unvaccinated people, the incumbent Pennsylvania Minister of Health said Tuesday.
Another strong protective layer, experts say, is masking.
The CDC recommends people – even those who are fully vaccinated – wear masks indoors in areas of significant or high community transmission. More than 99% of the population live in a district with one of these designations.
In Ohio, where children’s hospitals are overwhelmed with Covid-19 and respiratory cases, Governor Mike DeWine is encouraging schools to issue mask mandates as state lawmakers have told him he would lift any mandate he gave.
“Sane people may disagree on many things, but we all agree that we need to keep our children in the classroom so they don’t fall behind and their parents can go to work and take time out to look after their children watch at home. “Said DeWine.
Combining masks and vaccinations is the way to keep kids in school, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Tuesday.
“If you surround the children with vaccinated people and they all wear a mask, you can end up with a situation where the children are relatively safe in school,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Fight against vaccine mandates
Many officials and experts have promoted vaccine mandates in an effort to contain the spread of the virus – but others are against such measures.
New York issued an order in August requiring all healthcare workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by September 27. But on Monday, 17 Catholic and Baptist medics filed a federal complaint to prevent the state from enforcing the mandate, saying they were against vaccinating on religious grounds. On Tuesday, a federal judge issued an injunction temporarily preventing New York state from enforcing its vaccination mandate if healthcare workers request a religious exemption.
Since the mandate does not require healthcare workers to receive their first dose of the vaccine by September 27, the judge’s order states that the injunction “for practical reasons will only come into effect at that time”.
A hearing is scheduled for September 28th.
Following the ruling, New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s press secretary Hazel Crampton-Hays said in a statement that the governor was considering all legal options.
“Governor Hochul is doing everything in her power to protect New Yorkers and combat the Delta variant by increasing vaccination rates across the state,” said Crampton-Hays.
In Los Angeles, according to the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, despite a mandate to vaccinate all city employees against the virus, almost a quarter of the police are seeking an exemption. People who are not vaccinated must provide evidence of weekly tests and a negative COVID result if they report to work regularly.
By November 1, Nevada workers serving “vulnerable populations” are required to provide proof of vaccination under a new emergency ordinance passed Tuesday.
Newly hired employees must receive at least one dose by the start date and adhere to the mandatory vaccination schedule in order to remain on the job. Employees can apply for a medical or religious exception.
Booster meeting is not a slam dunk
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet on Friday to discuss whether most Americans need a booster dose of their Covid-19 vaccine.
Unlike other meetings to discuss the vaccine, this one with Pfizer’s request that a third dose be approved for most people will not be a slam dunk.
“It’s going to be a lot more chaotic than December,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. The FDA committee was quick to recommend the approval of vaccines made by Pfizer and rival Moderna last December.
When the FDA’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products meets on Friday, it will be presented with duel data, some suggesting boosters are needed, but other data suggesting there is no such need.
Three separate articles published last week in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggest we don’t need boosters.
On the other hand, an Israeli study found that the power of vaccines to deter people from getting badly ill with Covid-19 waned over time. Looking at diseases in the second half of July, this study found that those who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in March were 70% better protected from serious illnesses than those who received their second vaccination in January.
President Joe Biden last month announced plans to begin booster doses next week. Although she wouldn’t say directly whether that date would be met, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday she was hopeful about the schedule for the administration of the doses.
If the booster is approved, experts will have to wait and see how much protection will be added by the third dose.
“I would hope that this would keep us going for a longer period of time, but I don’t know at the moment,” said Fauci. “We just have to do the boost and then follow people long enough to determine the durability of this protection.”
CNN’s Ben Tinker and Deidre McPhillips, Liam Reilly, Kay Jones, Lauren Mascarenhas, Artemis Moshtaghian, Jenn Selva, Andy Rose, Elizabeth Cohen and Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.