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Coronavirus update: Biden renews vaccine push, LA County schools mandate student vaccinations

FDA will ‘follow the science’ for vaccinations of children under 12

Coronavirus‌ ‌(COVID-19)‌ ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University ‌(previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses)‌.

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 40,606,600 (40,470,429)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 654,632 (652,869)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 223,318,139 (222,761,144)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,608,243 (4,599,706)‌

All federal workers must be vaccinated

President Biden’s plan for getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control centers on getting more vaccines into more arms. The president has announced that one way to do this is to require all federal government workers to be vaccinated.

Biden didn’t mince words in a brief address Thursday, laying out his rationale for the new policy. "We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us," he said to Americans who have declined the vaccine.

Biden didn’t stop at a government worker mandate; he also directed the Labor Department to require all employers with more than 100 workers to require either the vaccine or regular testing. 

LA County Schools mandate vaccinations for students

A number of school districts require school employees to be vaccinated. The Los Angeles Unified School Board may be the first to take it another step. It voted Thursday night to require eligible students, age 12 and up, to be vaccinated by Dec. 31.

“We want to do everything possible to make sure that L.A. Unified doesn’t end up on the long list of school districts that have had to re-close and go back to distance learning after welcoming students back this fall,” said board member Nick Melvoin.

Other board members said the move was logical and not without precedent, noting that schools have long required students to be immunized against a number of childhood diseases.

FDA considers vaccines for young children

Children under 12 remain the weak link in the fight against COVID-19 since they're not yet eligible to be vaccinated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is studying the issue but says it will follow the science and not rush approval.

Part of the problem is a lack of data. The FDA notes that clinical trials testing the efficacy of the vaccine on children under 12 have not been completed.

“It’s important that the public recognize that, because young children are still growing and developing, it’s critical that thorough and robust clinical trials of adequate size are completed to evaluate the safety and the immune response to a COVID-19 vaccine in this population,” the FDA said in its most recent update.

Around the nation

  • Utah: Doctors at Primary Children's Hospital say they're dealing with a big increase in patients with coronavirus and other respiratory infections — often at the same time. A teenage patient died at the hospital last week of COVID-19 complications.

  • Virginia: School officials in Henrico County have announced they're easing some quarantine guidelines in an effort to keep students and staff engaged with in-person learning as much as possible. The quarantine period following a “close contact” with the coronavirus has been shortened from 14 to 10 days.

  • Kentucky: COVID-19 cases in the state continue to approach record highs, but state lawmakers have determined that masks are unnecessary. The Kentucky House of Representatives has voted to revoke the statewide mask mandate in public schools.

  • Nevada: As of today, a mask mandate is in place in all Nevada counties. Every county in the state now meets the government’s threshold of “substantial” or “high” risk of transmission.

  • Arkansas: Some schools in Arkansas have made fundamental adjustments to education, planning for more remote learning in the wake of the pandemic. A growing number of teachers in the state are choosing to teach from home. “You don’t have busy duty or lunch duty, or you know, car line duty,” said Melissa Curiel, a teacher at Arkansas Connections Academy.

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