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Coronavirus update: Vaccine hesitancy at the Olympics, health experts consider booster shots

The NFL is putting more pressure on unvaccinated players

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 34,289,384 (34,236,626)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 610,218 (609,906)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 192,763,112 (192,246,727)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,139,486 (4,130,933)‌

Vaccine hesitancy at the Olympics

Extraordinary precautions -- including the exclusion of spectators -- are being taken at the summer games in Tokyo to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so it stands to reason that all participants would be vaccinated. But that’s not the case.

On the U.S. team, officials say about 100 athletes have refused to be vaccinated. Rather than expressing alarm, team officials see the glass as half full, noting that 83% of U.S. athletes have gotten the shot.

“Eighty-three percent is actually a substantial number, and we’re quite happy with it,” said Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s medical chief.

Panel leans toward endorsing booster shots

A committee of health experts assembled to give advice to federal health agencies has issued its preliminary guidance about booster shots, suggesting that they may be a good idea. However, the panel withheld a formal recommendation, saying it wants to see regulatory action first.

Committee members are studying the booster shot proposal in light of research suggesting that the vaccines may not be strong enough to completely protect people with compromised immune systems. However, people with strong immune systems will probably not need a booster shot, health experts say.

The panel did endorse the continued use of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, saying the benefits outweigh the slight risk of a rare brain disorder among some people who have gotten the shot.

Outbreaks on NFL teams will result in forfeited games

The National Football League (NFL) has reportedly informed teams that there will be no postponed games this season because of COVID-19. In a memo, the league said a team will forfeit any game it isn’t able to play because of an outbreak of the virus among unvaccinated players.

The NFL Network reports that the memo warns teams that the 18-game season will not be extended to accommodate teams whose players have not been vaccinated. It also said none of the players on either team of a forfeited game would be paid.

The NFL did not miss a single game last season, but it was forced to postpone games and rearrange schedules when players tested positive for the virus.

Around the nation

  • Wisconsin: Gov. Tony Evers and state health officials are stepping up their campaign to urge residents to get vaccinated. The officials have responded to several days of increasing cases of the virus. Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the state Department of Health Services, says those who aren’t vaccinated are “sitting ducks” for COVID-19.

  • Michigan: The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners has voted to use some of its federal COVID-19 aid to give themselves bonuses. The $65,000 is being described as “hazard pay.”

  • Nevada: Nevada is emerging as a new COVID-19 hotspot, and state health officials blame a lack of vaccinations. Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, has reported that only 39% of the total population is fully vaccinated, according to Nevada's COVID-19 data.

  • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis is dismissing suggestions that he order new lockdowns because of a surge in coronavirus cases. DeSantis also said the state would have a “normal school year” and would resist any push by federal authorities to put in place mask mandates for school children.

  • Vermont: With tough restrictions in place, Vermont weathered the pandemic as well as any state. However, the Delta variant is proving to be a challenge. Vermont recorded 34 new cases in a 24-hour period this week, the most in two months.

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