Coronavirus update: FDA experts consider boosters; United touts 90% vaccination rate

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Florida governor complains about lack of treatment drugs

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 41,796,204 (41,645,545)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 670,128 (666,806)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 227,185,960 (226,643,823)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,672,629 (4,662,980)‌

FDA panel meeting to discuss boosters

Whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends vaccinated Americans get a booster shot may be determined by the outcome of an FDA advisory committee meeting in Washington today. Various experts are discussing the data and debating the merits for and against.

As the meeting got underway, Dr. Peter Marks, an FDA official, urged the committee members to “follow the science” as they pore over data from various studies. He noted there may be various interpretations of the data.

“We're committed to focusing on the science, and we'll drive our decision-making, and we'll carefully consider those data in the context of the clear and obvious public health need to continue slowing the spread of Covid-19, which at this time is leading to the deaths of close to 2,000 Americans each day," Marks said.

United Airlines says most of its employees are vaccinated

United Airlines has disclosed that about 90% of its employees have now been vaccinated. That news follows the airlines’ mandate that all employees get a vaccination or be placed on unpaid leave.

To show that they have been vaccinated, United’s employees were told to upload an image of their vaccination card. As of Thursday, United said about 20,000 employees had done so. The deadline to receive their first shot is Sept. 27.

So far, United is the only major domestic carrier to mandate vaccinations for its employees. Other airlines have strongly urged vaccinations and offered incentives for their employees to get the shot.

Florida governor complains about treatment reductions

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has strongly opposed COVID-19 mask and vaccination mandates in his state, says the Biden administration has cut Florida’s allocation of antibody treatment drugs in half. He said the drugs are critical to reducing COVID-19 deaths.

“This is a dramatic reduction,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Fort Lauderdale, where he appeared with health care providers. “We are facing a massive cut in antibody treatments.”

The Department of Health and Human Services says it faces a shortage of the treatment drugs because of surging demand, especially in Southern states. Officials said 70% of the drugs have been distributed to Southern states, with Florida receiving the most of any state.

Around the nation

  • Texas: A Texas man has been sentenced to 31 months in prison for allegedly running a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $3.3 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Federal prosecutors say Fahad Shah, of Murphy, claimed his family business had 100 employees when it had none except for him and his wife.

  • New Jersey: State health officials report the Delta variant is extremely widespread throughout the state and now accounts for 99% of new cases of the virus. The state reports the seven-day average of new cases is 1,832, up 7% from a week ago and 25% higher than a month ago.

  • Virginia: The number of new cases has leveled off in Virginia’s metropolitan areas, but cases are surging in Southwest Virginia. State health officials report cases in that region are up 63% since Aug. 30. Southwest Virginia lags the state in the percentage of people who are vaccinated.

  • Idaho: Idaho began rationing hospital care amid a significant increase in coronavirus cases. Hospitals throughout the state are now on a “crisis standards of care” footing. “The situation is dire,” said Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen.

  • Hawaii: Flu season is about to begin, and the state’s program to screen for that virus has turned up plenty of COVID-19 cases. Officials report that over the last few weeks more than one-third of the samples of negative flu tests turned out to be COVID-19.

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