Coronavirus update: Moderna booster gets a green light

Photo (c) Evgenia Parajanian - Getty Images

The CDC predicts that serious cases will continue to decline

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 44,787,489 (44,694,149)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 722,000 (719,760)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 239,833,044 (239,341,545)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,885,464 (4,877,533)‌

FDA panel backs Moderna booster

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee has voted unanimously to recommend booster shots of the Moderna vaccine. The health experts on the panel suggest the third shot for people 65 and older and people between the ages of 18 and 64 years old who are either at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions or workplace exposure.

The committee said people fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine should wait at least six months after the second shot before receiving the booster. The booster is about half the dose of the first two shots.

The committee is meeting again today to discuss the potential need for a Johnson & Johnson booster shot. The company has submitted data it says showed the booster significantly increased the antibody response in people who got it at least six months after being fully vaccinated.

CDC sees more declines in COVID-19 cases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a more upbeat outlook on the pandemic, predicting that severe cases in the U.S. will continue to fall.

The government health agency says it expects hospitalizations and deaths to decline over the next four weeks, with the U.S. death toll rising to 740,000 to 762,000 deaths by Nov. 6. The current death toll stands at more than 722,000.

Serious cases have declined sharply in many states that reported a surge last month. At the same time, there has been a sharp increase in hospitalizations in northern states that stretch along the U.S. border with Canada.

In Texas, businesses caught in the middle of a mandate battle

President Biden has issued an executive order, requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to impose a vaccination mandate. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an order forbidding businesses from requiring proof of vaccination.

So, what are companies based in Texas to do? Increasingly, they are following the path of the Biden administration.

According to The Hill, both American and Southwest Airlines are defying the governor by requiring their employees to be vaccinated. The report says other Texas-based companies have already imposed vaccine mandates and given no indication that they plan to change their policies.

Around the nation

  • California: Indoor masking rules are being relaxed, effective today, in San Francisco and Marin counties as many urban areas of the state are seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, some state legislators are pushing to require companies to make it public when they suffer an outbreak, saying that should be public information. 

  • Missouri: Missouri suffered a surge in COVID-19 cases over the summer as many residents refused to be vaccinated. But since then, more people have rolled up their sleeves. State health officials report that four counties have now achieved a 50% or greater vaccination rate and 21 counties now report a 40% vaccination rate.

  • Vermont: Since the beginning of the pandemic, Vermont has imposed some of the most strict mitigation measures. That kept cases relatively low until recently. State health officials report that the seven-day average of new cases hit a record high this week. Even so, Gov. Phil Scott has declined to reimpose indoor mask requirements.

  • Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan credits the state’s high vaccination rate -- 85% -- for Maryland’s declining COVID-19 cases. “The vaccines are without a doubt our single most effective tool to mitigate the threat of COVID-19 and the surging Delta variant, and Maryland’s vaccination rate continues to outpace the nation,” he said.

  • Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is reopening Michigan’s border to fully vaccinated Canadians next month, following guidance from Washington. Canada opened its border to fully vaccinated Michigan residents in August. Cross-border travel between the U.S. and Canada had been closed since early in the pandemic.

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