The U.S. reached an encouraging milestone Wednesday with 80% of Americans ages 12 and older having received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, President Joe Biden's coronavirus response coordinator said.
Jeff Zients, speaking at a White House briefing, estimated that in the last 10 days at least 2.6 million kids ages 5-11 have received their first shot, about 10% of the children that age in the country. He said it took about 50 days to reach 10% of adults, who make up a much larger number.
"We know there is more work to do," Zients said. "But these milestones represent critical progress and shows we are on the right track in our fight against the virus."
The U.S. will invest billions of dollars into vaccine manufacturing capacity with the goal of producing at least one billion doses a year, Zients said. The goal is to be prepared to roll out a vaccine for future pathogens within nine months of an outbreak, he said. The investment, first reported in the New York Times, calls for the government to partner with industry to address immediate vaccine needs at home and abroad and to prepare for future pandemics.
Zients said the U.S. already has provided 250 million vaccine doses to 110 countries "for free, no strings attached."
Also in the news:
►A Los Angeles County couple who cut off their tracking bracelets and fled after being convicted of stealing $20 million in COVID-19 relief funds were sentenced in absentia to years in federal prison. Richard Ayvazyan, 43, was sentenced to 17 years and his wife, Marietta Terabelian, 37, got six years, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. They remain fugitives.
►The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said on its website that it has "suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement'' of President Joe Biden's mandate that companies with 100 employees or more require COVID vaccination or testing. Biden's order has been stayed by a U.S. court of appeals.
►"Dancing With The Stars" judge Derek Hough has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the show's finale.
►A health clinic in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Antioch gave 14 children under age 12 the wrong dose of the COVID-19 vaccine over the weekend, raising a furor among parents.
📈Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 767,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 254.8 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 195.6 million Americans – 58.9% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘What we're reading: It’s time to reassess expectations for reading skills of children whose early learning was disrupted by the pandemic. And that’s OK, experts say.
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Still avoiding elevators? Study suggests they may be low-risk for COVID transmission
For much of the pandemic, some Americans fearful of contracting COVID-19 have steered clear of elevators and opted for the stairs. A recent report suggests elevators likely aren't a high source of coronavirus transmission.
Purdue University researchers simulated airborne particle exposure for people riding a typical elevator with a person who is infected with COVID-19, according to the study published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Building and Environment and commissioned by Otis Elevator.
Researchers ran seven simulations that analyzed different airflow directions and ventilation rates. In each simulation, the elevator began at the ground floor with six passengers and made two stops at the 10th and 20th floors before reaching the 35th floor. The person infected with COVID-19 made the whole trip to the top floor, but in one simulation, the individual coughed upon entering the elevator.
Researchers determined that due to the short trip duration and high ventilation rate, there is low risk of COVID-19 transmission in elevators. Although the study analyzed particle concentration, air flow and exposure, study authors say more research is needed to account for other factors and “one should not neglect the impact of exposure.”
— Adrianna Rodriguez
Michigan is now the worst COVID hot spot in nation as cases increase in 33 states
Michigan catapulted Tuesday to the worst COVID-19 hot spot in the nation, as the seven-day case rate rose to 503.8 per 100,000 residents, according to the CDC. Cases are rising in 33 states, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. Cases for the week ending Monday were at 584,449, up 15% from a recent low in the week ending Oct. 26.
Michigan hospitals say they're feeling the pressure as the number of COVID-19 patients has climbed nearly 50% in the last month – from 2,097 admitted Oct. 18 to 3,082 on Monday, according to state data.
"We have both this stark surge of COVID-19 patients, but we also have hospitals that have been dealing with staffing challenges and staffing shortages, as well as high volumes of non-COVID patients," said John Karasinski, a spokesman for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, which represents all 133 community hospitals in the state.
That means potentially long waits at emergency rooms, hospitals that have to postpone non-emergency medical procedures and some that can't accept new patient transfers, he said. Most COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths both in Michigan and nationwide are among the unvaccinated.
– Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press
Moderna seeks FDA clearance of boosters for all adults
Moderna has once again asked the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 booster shot for all U.S. adults, just as Pfizer is expected to get such clearance this week.
As Moderna noted in a statement Wednesday, the FDA has already granted its booster authorization for seniors 65 and older, for the immunocompromised and for those whose living or work conditions may put them at high risk of exposure to the virus. But the agency has yet to clear the Moderna booster for everybody ages 18 and older.
Also Wednesday, Moderna requested authorization from Health Canada for its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6-11.
Physician accused of promoting misinformation resigns from hospital
A physician has resigned from Houston Methodist days after the hospital suspended her and accused her of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 on social media.
The hospital temporarily revoked Dr. Mary Bowden’s hospital privileges Friday, citing “unprofessional behavior" after Bowden repeatedly decried vaccine mandates and promoted ivermectin, the anti-parasitic drug that federal health officials have not approved for treating the virus.
In her resignation letter she described vaccination as an "important tool" in the pandemic fight. Bowden, an ears, nose and throat specialist, denies spreading misinformation but said doctors "should pay more attention to medications such as ivermectin."
The FDA in a September notice wrote that "currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against COVID-19." The agency said it had received "multiple reports" of patients who have required medical attention after self-medicating with ivermectin. Clinical trials were ongoing.
22 states challenging Biden vaccine mandate in court
A second set of states has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers. The most recent suit, dated Monday, was filed in Louisiana on behalf of 12 states and comes less than a week after another lawsuit challenging the rule was filed in Missouri representing 10 states.
Both lawsuits say the vaccine mandate threatens to drive away health care workers who don't want to get vaccinated at a time when such workers are badly needed. They also contend the rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services violates federal law and unconstitutionally encroaches on states' powers. The Biden administration has not yet filed responses in either of the suits.
The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday blocked a broader Biden administration vaccine mandate that businesses with more than 100 workers require employees to be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or wear masks and be tested weekly for COVID-19.
Pandemic upside: Time to reevaluate quality of life
The pandemic has spurred many workers to reevaluate their lives and the role work plays in them, leading some to set fresh boundaries, find new jobs or maintain the side gigs that got them through the shutdowns and layoffs. Nearly six in 10 American workers in an October survey by job search site LinkedIn said they had gone through a career awakening during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it was a desire for better work-life balance, deciding to pursue a promotion or redefining their meaning of success.
The survey also found a majority of American workers who say the pandemic has altered the way they feel about their career.
"We’re seeing that lack of fulfillment, motivating people to make changes, whether they’re looking for a new job, a new career or picking up a side hustle,'' says Catherine Fisher, LinkedIn's career expert.
– Charisse Jones
Texas woman faces charges in clash over mask on airplane
Federal authorities are charging a Texas woman with interfering with an aircraft after a clash over a mask during a flight from Alaska to San Francisco. Debby Dutton faces up to 20 years if convicted.
According to the criminal complaint, Dutton and her husband were passengers on board a United Airlines flight June 29 when a flight attendant noticed the face mask being worn by Dutton's husband, who was asleep, had fallen off. When the flight attendant tapped the man's shoulder and asked him to put his mask back on, authorities say Dutton began shouting and pushing the flight attendant.
Dutton is being charged with one count of interference of a flight crew or attendants by assault, threat or intimidation.
– Jordan Mendoza
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID updates: 80% of Americans 12 and over have gotten a vaccine dose