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Coronavirus update: Biden drops vaccination mandate for now

Omicron variant deaths are rising

COVID-19 vaccine mandate concept
Photo (c) RichLegg - Getty Images
COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 72,195,617 (71,711,514)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 872,370 (868,530)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 359,362,908 (355,591,211)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,619,931 (5,606,929)‌

Biden drops plan to pursue vaccination mandate

The Biden administration said it does not plan to try to force large, private businesses to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the administration’s emergency temporary standard that was part of a private employer mandate.

In a statement, officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the mandate is being abandoned, at least for the time being.

“Although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule,” the statement said. “The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.”

Omicron deaths are rising in the U.S.

Hospitalizations have begun to fall, along with new cases of COVID-19 in some areas. However, nationwide deaths from the Omicron variant have now exceeded the number of lives claimed by the Delta variant.

Health experts say it’s a numbers game. While it’s true that Omicron symptoms tend to be milder than Delta symptoms, it’s more transmissible, meaning many more people are getting it. If those people are unvaccinated or have chronic health issues, Omicron can be just as serious as Delta.

Doctors also point out that deaths from COVID-19 have always been a lagging indicator of the virus’ spread. They say deaths usually continue to rise after new cases have peaked.

Researchers say there are two paths to ‘super-immunity’

There’s been a lot of debate about whether vaccination or recovering from the coronavirus offers the best protection. Scientists at Oregon Science and Health University (OHSU) say they’re both pretty effective, as long as the recovered patient then gets vaccinated.

Their study finds that two forms of immunity – breakthrough infections following vaccination or natural infection followed by vaccination – provide roughly equal levels of enhanced immune protection.

“It makes no difference whether you get infected-and-then-vaccinated, or if you get vaccinated-and-then-a-breakthrough infection,” said co-senior author Fikadu Tafesse, assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine. “In either case, you will get a really, really robust immune response – amazingly high.”

Around the nation

  • Massachusetts: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined a group of restaurant owners for a roundtable discussion to hear firsthand the problems they face in the continuing pandemic. It mostly boiled down to lost business. "I would say I'm going deeper into debt. I'm already into debt. I owe so much money it’s unbelievable,” restaurant owner Steve Postal said.

  • Arizona: New cases of COVID-19 are on the decline in many areas of the U.S., but not in Arizona. The state set a new record for positive tests the last two weeks, with 33% of those being tested shown to have COVID-19.

  • Virginia: State health officials are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. City of Richmond and Henrico Health Districts Director Dr. Danny Avula said reaching an Omicron variant peak may be close. “Virginia, we’re either at the peak or will be in the next couple of days,” he said.

  • Florida: Today is the last day for health care workers to get vaccinated. The mandate requiring all health care workers to be vaccinated takes effect Thursday. Florida shelved plans to challenge the mandate in court after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it to go into effect.

  • Ohio: State regulators are reportedly investigating alleged violations of COVID-19 rules at 13 hospitals and nursing facilities across the state. Alleged violations include allowing infected nurses to report for work and placing infected and non-infected patients in the same room.

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