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Coronavirus update: Court slams the door on vaccine mandates

Scientists are probing the cause of new outbreaks

Vaccine passport on phone
Photo (c) andresr - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 47,084,497 (47,008,962)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 763,168 (762,876)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 253,543,995 (253,207,962)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,103,757 (5,098,863)‌

Court permanently blocks vaccine mandate

After issuing a temporary stay a week ago, a federal appeals court has ruled that the Biden administration may not require private businesses to have fully vaccinated staffs. The three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals called it an overreach.

“Rather than a delicately handled scalpel, the Mandate is a one-size fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers) that have more than a little bearing on workers’ varying degrees of susceptibility to the supposedly ‘grave danger’ the Mandate purports to address,” the judges wrote.

The Biden administration had required vaccinations for all U.S. businesses with more than 100 employees. In their opinion, the judges wrote that the vaccine mandate places an undue financial burden on private businesses and could be a violation of the commerce clause to the U.S. Constitution.

Scientists probe what’s behind the new outbreaks

After surging during the late summer, COVID-19 cases have declined in the South. The numbers mirror a gradual drop in the national numbers. But some states have recently experienced sharp increases -- mostly states in the Mountain West and along the northern border.

Scientists studying the numbers report that even in highly vaccinated states like Vermont, the spike in cases is being driven by unvaccinated people. When unvaccinated people are removed from the case tally, they say the increase isn’t very much at all.

Neal Goldstein, an assistant research professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Drexel University, tells WHYY Radio in Philadelphia that it is unrealistic to expect the vaccine to prevent all cases, though data shows that significantly fewer infections occur among the vaccinated. 

Unvaccinated not welcome at many Thanksgiving dinners, survey finds

Next week’s Thanksgiving holiday may mark more of a return to normal, except for one thing. A survey by OnePoll has found that three out of five hosts are not inviting unvaccinated relatives this year.

Two in three people who responded to the poll said they don’t think they can go home for the holidays without getting vaccinated. Nearly six in 10 vaccinated respondents have reportedly cut off family members who refuse to get the vaccine. Sixty-three percent said they don’t feel comfortable inviting unvaccinated relatives to their gatherings.

The poll exposes a sharp divide in American culture. Seventy-two percent of vaccinated people say they don’t think they could persuade unvaccinated relatives that the vaccine is important. Half of the unvaccinated respondents have stopped talking to family members who don’t understand why they won’t get the shot.

Around the nation

  • Oklahoma: The newly appointed commander of the Oklahoma National Guard is reportedly breaking with Pentagon policy, saying the Guard will not enforce the Defense Department’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on its troops. Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino’s appointment was announced last week, but he has yet to be confirmed by the state senate.

  • Minnesota: Several hospitals across the state say they are filling up quickly with patients who are infected with COVID-19, and state health officials say hospitalizations are at an all-time high. CentraCare, a major health care provider in the state, is pleading with the public to get vaccinated, to practice social distancing, and to mask up to protect against the Delta variant.

  • Virginia: State health department officials report that nearly three out of every four adults are vaccinated against the coronavirus, helping the state join the ranks of those with the highest rate of vaccinations. About 5.5 million Virginians are immunized, while about 2.4 million residents of the state are unvaccinated.

  • New York: New York City officials are reportedly investigating reports that some Sanitation Department workers used fake vaccination cards to comply with the city’s vaccination mandate. A source tells WCBS-TV that department officials are probing reports that as many as 50 employees used counterfeit cards to keep working.

  • Florida: The state legislature goes into special session today to consider bills aimed at preventing businesses and local governments from imposing vaccine or mask mandates. “No cop, no firefighter, no nurse, nobody should be losing their job because of these jabs,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called the special session.

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