The Latest: Biden to get COVID booster after authorization
President Joe Biden will receive his COVID-19 booster shot on Monday, days after federal regulators recommended a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for Americans age 65 or older and approved them for others with preexisting medical conditions and high-risk work environments.
Biden, 78, got his first shot on Dec. 21 and his second dose three weeks later, on Jan. 11, along with his wife, Jill Biden. It was not immediately clear whether the first lady, who’s 70, would also receive the booster dose on Monday.
Speaking on Friday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer booster, Biden told reporters, “I’ll be getting my booster shot. It’s hard to acknowledge I’m over 65, but I’ll be getting my booster shot. ”
At least 2.66 million Americans have received booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine since mid-August, according to the CDC. About 100 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 through the Pfizer shot. U.S. regulators recommend getting the boosters at least six months after the second shot of the initial two-dose series.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— U.S. has enough COVID-19 vaccines for boosters, kids’ shots
— Rowdy celebrations erupt in Norway as COVID restrictions end
— EXPLAINER: Who’s eligible for Pfizer booster shots in US?
See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island’s vaccine mandate for health care workers takes effect Oct. 1, and it’s a hard mandate, meaning no shot, no job for workers at state-licensed facilities.
But the mandate is already facing a legal challenge from the local healthcare industry, which argues that it’s unconstitutional because it’s one of the few in the nation that doesn’t allow for religious exemptions.
Democratic Gov. Dan McKee’s administration has also granted some relief to hospitals fearing worker shortages, announcing last week that hospitals can allow unvaccinated health care workers to keep working 30 days past the Oct. 1 deadline in cases where firing them would compromise patient safety.
In Massachusetts, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has issued a vaccine mandate for workers at rest homes, assisted living facilities, hospice programs and home care programs. Although the governor’s order says exemptions will be allowed for legitimate medical and sincerely held religious reasons, there is nothing in the order that allows for a regular testing alternative.
The deadline to get vaccinated for these workers is Oct. 31. The governor has not issued vaccine mandates for other health care settings, although most major Massachusetts hospital systems have issued their own employee vaccinate mandates.
AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s royal palace says Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II has tested positive for COVID-19 and is displaying “mild symptoms.”
The palace says in a statement that King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, his parents, have both tested negative but will self-quarantine for five days. It says the 27-year-old crown prince tested positive Monday after undergoing a routine examination.
All three members of the royal family have been vaccinated.
Jordan, a close Western ally in a volatile region, has reported more than 820,000 coronavirus infections, including 10,697 deaths. The country has vaccinated around a third of its population of 10 million.
PORTLAND, Maine — A Maine organization has scheduled an event designed to help residents talk to their family members and neighbors about the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Maine Community Action Partnership has slated the “Encouraging Vaccination” online event for Thursday at 6 p.m. Participants in the event will include Todd Phillips, an infection preventionist at Millinocket Regional Hospital; Elisabeth Marnik, a professor of molecular biochemistry at Husson University; and Dr. Gavin Ducker, co-president of the system medical group at Northern Light Health.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the event will be about strategies for communicating accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines with unvaccinated people.
It’s important to spread the message that vaccines protect everyone in the community, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said.
“And if enough people get vaccinated, even if the virus finds its way into a community, it’s really hard for it to spread onto people who haven’t been vaccinated,” Shah said.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The state of Minnesota is on the verge of selling off a refrigerated warehouse that it bought in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in case it was needed as backup morgue.
When the administration of Gov. Tim Walz announced the purchase of the former Bix produce building in St. Paul, it expressed worries, based on the experiences of New York City, that the state’s mortuaries could be swamped with pandemic victims. The state paid nearly $5.48 million for the facility, which could have held 5,100 bodies, but never stored corpses there, just personal protective equipment.
Now, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, the St. Paul Port Authority board is preparing to vote Tuesday on whether to take the warehouse off the state’s hands for $5.65 million, the property’s current appraised value, giving the state a slight profit.
The Port Authority’s goal, according to board documents, is to flip the building as quickly as possible, with a goal of selling it by Dec. 1.
“The idea is to find a buyer who will bring jobs to the city of St. Paul,” Andrea Novak, a Port Authority marketing manager, told the newspaper. “There is no specific buyer in the wings. We will market this aggressively.”
The Democratic governor had come under criticism for the buying the facility from Republicans who saw it as wasteful spending.
NEW YORK — Pfizer has started testing its potential COVID-19 treatment as a preventive medicine aimed at warding off the virus if a close contact gets it.
The drugmaker said Monday that it will study the pill it is developing in combination with a low dose of the HIV drug ritonavir in people who are at least 18 years old and live in the same household with someone who is infected.
Pfizer plans to enroll 2,660 people in the late-stage study. Those participating will get either the treatment combination or a fake drug orally twice a day for five to 10 days.
Researchers expect that the use of ritonavir will help slow the breakdown of the potential treatment so it remains active longer to help fight the virus.
“If successful, we believe this therapy could help stop the virus early – before it has had a chance to replicate extensively,” Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Dr.Mikael Dolsten said in a statement from the drugmaker.
Pfizer Inc. also is studying its potential treatment in people who are already infected with the virus. It’s designed to be prescribed at the first sign of infection without requiring patients to be hospitalized. The drugmaker expects to see results from those studies by the end of the year.
The pill aims to block a key enzyme that the virus needs to replicate.
LYON, France — French President Emmanuel Macron and the World Health Organization chief have kicked off construction of a multimillion-dollar “WHO Academy” that aims to educate health workers and others in-person and virtually, after COVID-19 has upended school systems across the globe.
The French leader and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus launched a groundbreaking for the site in the southeastern city of Lyon on Monday ahead of a planned opening of the campus in 2024.
But before then, WHO Academy hopes to churn out 100 “major learning programs” by 2023 – through online classes – and use virtual reality, educational games and artificial intelligence to help WHO’s workforce and health care workers and educators globally. Major programs will include vaccine equity for coronavirus vaccines, universal health coverage and health emergencies – all key projects for WHO.
The WHO Academy aims to reach millions of people, not just those in the healthcare world, to help keep pace of the blistering pace of scientific change in health care.
The academy is headed by former French health minister Agnes Buzyn, and France has contributed more than 120 million euros ($140 million) to the project.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The coronavirus patients that fill the intensive care unit at a Rapid City hospital are forcing other patients in need of an ICU bed to wait.
The director of the ICU nursing unit at Monument Health hospital, George Sazama, said one man in need of open heart surgery was told he would have to wait longer than expected.
“That’s one of the hardest things we have to do right now because of all the COVID-19 patients needing care first,” said Sazama.
The man was angry, but at least understanding, Sazama said.
“He’s been trying to get in to have open heart surgery for over a month and we can’t get him in to do (it),” Sazama said.
ICU nurse Daniel Warnke says those infected with coronavirus are staying longer in the unit than regular patients, the Rapid City Journal reported.
“Most of our ICU patients that are non-COVID we’ll have here today or two days, sometimes a little bit longer. For our COVID patients, we are sitting on them for 20 to 30 to 40 days. And you know, we just had one pass yesterday that’s been with us for awhile,” Warnke said.
Warnke doesn’t know what the light at the end of the tunnel may be.
“We thought the vaccine would be in all honesty,” Warnke said. “I think the people in health care, myself personally, thought that was it.” ___
BANGKOK — Thailand’s state agency for combating the coronavirus announced plans Monday to ease the quarantine period for arrivals from abroad and shorten a curfew.
The measures announced by the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration are set to take effect Friday. They must first be approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday.
In a bid to revive the country’s moribund tourism industry, vaccinated foreign visitors to 10 provinces popular with tourists, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya, need not quarantine from Nov. 1. A pilot program instituted in July allowed visitors to Phuket and Samui to forgo quarantine.
In the run-up to the November reopenings, fully vaccinated people arriving from abroad from Oct. 1 will have to quarantine for seven days, a reduction from the currently mandated 14 days.
Those arriving by air or sea without proof of being fully vaccinated must quarantine for 10 days, while visitors entering by land — generally migrant workers — will have to quarantine for 14 days.
The center also announced that a 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew currently in effect in 29 provinces with significant numbers of coronavirus infections will henceforth start at 10 p.m.
Many institutions made to close to fight the spread of the virus, including libraries, spas and nail salons, will be allowed to reopen.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will finally meet with members of the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaigning group, who have criticized his handling of the coronavirus pandemic for more than a year.
Johnson’s Downing Street office confirmed that the prime minister will hold a “private meeting” with members of the group Tuesday.
The group said family members will tell the stories of how their loved ones caught the virus and reiterate their calls for a statutory inquiry into the pandemic to start soon.
The group has also asked for the meeting to take place outside and that social distancing is observed.
Jo Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said it has “over a year since the prime minister first said he would meet us and in that time over 100,000 people across the country have lost their lives with COVID-19.”