The Latest: Slight easing due for Australia state’s lockdown
SYDNEY — An Australian state leader is indicating that a slight easing of pandemic restrictions is coming for Sydney after achieving a vaccination milestone.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Tuesday she will announce before the weekend a new freedom for fully vaccinated people now that 6 million vaccine doses have been administered across the state. She said that equates to 60% of the population having at least one dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca and 32% being fully vaccinated.
Australia’s most populous state is in lockdown because of the virus outbreak, as is Victoria, which is the country’s second most populous state.
Government leaders hope the lockdowns will end in October once 80% of people 16 years and older are fully vaccinated. Only 24% of the Australian population is fully vaccinated.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Lockdowns or vaccines? 3 Pacific nations try diverging paths
— U.S. mask, vaccine conflicts descend into violence and harassment
— Pandemic fiction: Fall books include stories of the virus
— The Rev. Jesse Jackson, wife Jacqueline, hospitalized for COVID
— Hurricane Henri thwarts Central Park concert hailing NYC virus rebound
Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s governor says a flood of COVID-19 patients is stressing the state’s hospitals and intensive care units.
Gov, Andy Bashear said Monday that more than 20 Kentucky hospitals are confronting critical staffing shortages and some hospitals are converting space to treat the influx of ICU patients.
Beshear says Kentucky reported 2,596 new coronavirus infections Monday — a pandemic high for any Monday so far. He says there were 17 deaths related to COVID-19.
More than 1,890 patients with COVID-19 were in hospitals, including 529 in intensive care units. A record 301 virus patients were on ventilators.
The surge comes as the legislature assumes considerably more control over Kentucky’s response to the pandemic. The state Supreme Court on Saturday cleared the way for laws limiting the governor’s emergency powers.
SAN RAMON, Calif. — Chevron Corp. is requiring some of its employees to become vaccinated against the coronavirus as the oil industry struggles with rising infections among its unvaccinated workers.
The oil giant is requiring its workers who travel internationally, live abroad or work on its offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as some onshore support staff, to be vaccinated.
A spokeswoman for the San Ramon-based oil and gas company said Monday that vaccinations are the strongest safeguard against the virus, and the company will continue to carefully monitor medical data and guidance of health authorities to protect its workforce.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The head of Washington state’s wildfire response is urging federal agencies to require coronavirus vaccinations for their wildland firefighting forces.
State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz also called on Monday for the deployment of federal resources to make vaccinations available at all fire camps on federal land.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources is making vaccines available within its jurisdictions at fire camps amid the rapidly spreading delta variant. Franz on Monday directed all his agency’s employees including firefighters to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.
HONOLULU — Honolulu’s mayor says he will restrict indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 in an effort to control the coronavirus as the highly contagious delta variant spreads in the community.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi says the rules take effect Wednesday and will cover weddings and other events.
The city’s emergency management director cites a mathematical modeling tool from the Georgia Institute of Technology to illustrate risks the community faces from large gatherings.
The modeling says there is a 20% chance that someone in a group of 10 will be infected, based on the number of cases on Oahu now. It says that in a group of 100, there is a 90% chance someone will catch the virus.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — One of Missouri’s biggest hospital systems says it require its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus now that the FDA has given full approval to Pfizer’s vaccine.
CoxHealth has several hospitals in southwestern Missouri and it said hours after the FDA’s announcement Monday that its workers will be required to have at least one dose of a vaccine by Oct. 15. CEO Steve Edwards says in a statement that “careful consideration” will be given to requests for exemptions for religious or health reasons, and that anyone granted an exemption will be required to undergo regular testing for the virus.
CoxHealth officials say about 70% of its employees are already vaccinated, including more than 90% of its physicians.
VICTORIA, British Columbia — The Canadian Pacific coast province of British Columbia is bringing in a vaccine card for residents to get access to restaurants, clubs, sporting events and other activities.
Premier John Horgan says the card will give people the confidence to attend events and businesses knowing that others are protected around them.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says starting Sept. 13 a new order will require proof of having had a single dose of a vaccine to access certain social and recreational activities, as well as businesses. After Oct. 24, Henry says entry to the same settings will require those 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated.
The French-speaking province of Quebec already announced a similar measure while Ontario, Canada’s largest province, has declined to introduce a vaccine passport.
RICHMOND, Va. — Democrat Terry McAuliffe urged all Virginia employers on Monday to require the coronavirus vaccine for their workers who are eligible, sharpening a policy debate in the closely watched governor’s race over how best to deal with the pandemic.
McAuliffe’s call followed a decision by federal regulators to give full approval to Pfizer’s vaccine and marked an escalation of his advocacy for obligatory vaccines as a condition of employment. The former governor now seeking a second term has previously urged Virginia health systems and school divisions to issue mandates, and required his own campaign staff to be fully vaccinated.
McAuliffe is facing Republican Glenn Youngkin, a former business executive and political newcomer, in the November general election. Youngkin, who is vaccinated, has consistently urged Virginians to get the shot but has said he opposes vaccine or mask mandates.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota House lawmakers have tried to pressure Gov. Kristi Noem to call a special session to pass a ban on employers requiring COVID-19 vaccinations even as virus cases climbed on Monday.
Several Republicans in the House of Representatives have circulated drafts of bills that would stop employers from mandating vaccinations against the virus, stepping up pressure on Noem to call a special session for them to approve the bills. But she has resisted those calls, saying there is not widespread support for a special session.
The issue has Noem, who has carved out a nationwide following for her hands-off approach to the virus, being pushed from the right to intervene on the state’s largest employer, Sanford Health.
House Speaker Spencer Gosch said late Friday he wanted the governor to call a special session as he released a draft of a bill that would make COVID-19 vaccination status “strictly confidential medical information” that would be off-limits to employers.
PORTLAND, Maine — Some emergency medical service workers in Maine spoke out against a coronavirus vaccine mandate because of concerns it will lead to ill-timed staff shortages.
The Maine Board of Emergency Medical Services held a public hearing on the subject Monday. Gov. Janet Mills announced new rules earlier in August that require all health care workers to be vaccinated against the virus by Oct. 1.
More than 600 people participated in the virtual meeting, and most who spoke were against the mandate. A common concern among the speakers who opposed the mandate was that would exacerbate emergency worker shortages.
Mills has said the health worker mandate is about “protecting health care workers, their patients, including our most vulnerable, and our health care capacity.”
BATON ROUGE, La. — The announcement that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine received full federal approval triggers new vaccine and testing mandates in Louisiana.
Louisiana’s universities will soon start requiring tens of thousands of students to get the shots. Gov. John Bel Edwards intends to begin mandatory, regular COVID-19 testing for thousands of state workers who aren’t immunized.
But just how many people the vaccine and testing mandates will cover and when they’ll take effect remains uncertain.
University inoculation requirements may not be enforced for months on campuses, and students will be able to seek exemptions.
Meanwhile, the Edwards administration said it’s crafting its testing plans, uncertain when they’ll be released.
WICHITA, Kan. — Debates about mask mandates and vaccine requirements are intensifying in Kansas as the delta variant sends cases soaring.
In the Topeka area, board members for the Auburn-Washburn district voted 6-0 Sunday to approve a mask mandate, effective immediately, for all students, staff and visitors inside district facilities.
Meanwhile, Sedgwick County Commissioners on Friday voted down a mandate along party lines after a heated debate in which an anti-mask activist said that he and other opponents would show up outside commissioners’ homes with megaphones if they passed the measure.
More companies, universities and local governments are expected to require vaccinations now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is celebrating the full FDA approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and is urging the unvaccinated to go get their inoculations.
Biden on Monday addressed those who were waiting on the full approval and declared “it is now happened, the moment you’ve been waiting for is here.”
He also used the moment to call on private companies to require their employees to get vaccinated. The president made clear: “it’s time to get your vaccination” and warned that the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus was causing COVID cases to rise nationwide.
The FDA had previously approved three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — under an emergency use authorization. Pfizer is the first to receive full FDA approval, which Biden dubbed the “gold standard.”
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Poison Control officials say they are receiving an influx of calls from people trying to treat COVID-19 by using anti-parasite medicine purchased at livestock stores.
At least 70% of recent calls to the Mississippi Poison Control Center have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers, Mississippi Department of Health officials said.
Some of the symptoms associated with ivermectin toxicity include rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurologic disorders, and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalization.
No hospitalizations have been reported. Most callers — 85% — have had mild symptoms, according to the Department of Health. One individual was advised to see a physician because of the high dosage they reportedly took.
ATLANTA — Louisiana State University will require students on its campuses to be vaccinated now that the FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, but details of the mandate were still coming, university officials said Monday.
The university has more than 30,000 students.
Louisiana has repeatedly broken records this month for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19. Most of the hospitalizations involve people who are unvaccinated, according to the state health department.
Only about 39% of Louisiana’s residents are fully vaccinated, one of the nation’s lowest inoculation rates.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says it’s preparing to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for the military.
Spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Pentagon officials are preparing to issue guidance to require vaccination now that the Pfizer vaccine has been given full approval. He did not give a timeline on when that guidance would be issued.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo that he would “seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon” licensure by the Food and Drug Administration — “whichever comes first.”
Austin said in the memo to troops that he would not “hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if l feel the need to do so.”
NEW YORK — All New York City public school teachers and other staffers will have to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Officials announced the new policy Monday as the nation’s largest school system prepares for classes to start next month.
The city previously said teachers, like other city employees, would have to get the shots or get tested weekly for the virus. The new policy marks the first flat-out vaccination mandate for city workers in the nation’s most populous city.