Monday, October 25, 2021 | Kaiser Health News


Republicans Try New Tactics To Push Back Against Vaccine Mandates

Republican leaders in states like Florida and Texas are taking more steps to fight mandates from the federal government — and even those of other states.

The Hill:
GOP Leaders Escalate Battle Against COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

GOP officials in states including Florida, Alabama and Arizona took steps to push back on the looming requirement for businesses with more than 100 employees to require workers to be vaccinated or tested regularly. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is considered a potential 2024 presidential candidate, on Thursday requested a special session of the state legislature focused on combating the mandates after previously floating plans to sue the administration.  (Coleman, 10/23)

The Hill:
DeSantis Eyes $5,000 Bonus For Unvaccinated Police To Relocate To Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Sunday that he is looking to enact legislation that will provide a $5,000 bonus to police officers to relocate to Florida, where they can avoid vaccine mandates. DeSantis told host Maria Bartitomo on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that Florida is “actively working” to recruit law enforcement officers from other states who are being fired for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine. (Schnell, 10/24)

USA Today:
Florida’s Top Health Official Refused To Wear A Mask During Meeting

Florida’s top health official was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of a state senator who had cancer. Tina Polsky, a Florida senator, recently received a breast cancer diagnosis and asked state surgeon general Joseph Ladapo to wear a mask when he arrived for a Wednesday meeting. He refused to wear one. Ladapo had asked to meet with Polsky as he seeks confirmation in the Senate after being named to the post by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month. DeSantis has been steadfast in his opposition to COVID-19 vaccination mandates, calling them unfair and discriminatory. (Tebor, 10/25)

Houston Chronicle:
AG Paxton Vows To Sue The Feds For Any State Agency Defying Biden Vaccine Mandate

As President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors took effect, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told state agencies he’d gladly sue the federal government if they choose to instead follow Gov. Greg Abbott’s order blocking such requirements. He also warned the agencies that “any violation of state law may expose your agency and its principals to liability.” “We will support any agency that follows state law and seeks to resist the repressive funding conditions being unlawfully imposed by President Biden,” Paxton wrote to Texas state agencies in an Oct. 15 letter obtained by Hearst Newspapers. (Goldenstein, 10/25)

Dallas Morning News:
More Than Half Of Dallas’ City Employees Have Gotten COVID-19 Vaccines

More than half of Dallas’ city employees have reported being vaccinated against COVID-19 since an incentive was announced in late August giving workers extra vacation days if they got the shot. Over 7,500 workers have provided proof of their vaccination status as of Oct. 1, said Kim Bizor Tolbert, the city manager’s chief of staff. The city has more than 12,900 employees, she said Friday, and officials believe reported vaccination numbers will exceed 70% by the time the incentive ends after Oct. 31. “Within the first 30 days, we had over 6,200,” Bizor Tolbert said Friday during a virtual meeting with The Dallas Morning News’ editorial board. “We’re tracking right now close to 8,000.” (Bailey Jr., 10/25)

The Texas Tribune:
Texas Universities Stuck Over Conflicting COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

Many Texas universities — which collectively hold billions of dollars in federal contracts — are wrestling with how to navigate the Biden administration’s mandate that all federal contractors be vaccinated by Dec. 8 in a state that bans vaccine mandates. Several public universities — all managed by Gov. Greg Abbott appointees — told The Texas Tribune they are still evaluating the executive order, which applies to new federal contracts of $250,000 or greater and awarded as of Nov. 14 or existing contracts that have been renewed as of Oct. 15. (McGee, 10/25)

In other news about covid mandates —

The New York Times:
Their Jobs Made Them Get Vaccinated. They Refused. 

Under the threat of losing their jobs, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers finally got a Covid-19 vaccine. Teachers, nurses and home health aides accepted their occupations’ mandates. The mass resignations some experts had predicted did not occur, as most workers hurriedly got inoculated. Josephine Valdez, 30, a public school paraprofessional from the Bronx, did not. (Nir, 10/24)

San Francisco Chronicle:
California Rejected 6% Of Medical Exemptions For School Vaccinations This Year, In Hint Of Fight Ahead

As California moves toward requiring all students to be inoculated against COVID-19, state officials have revoked more than 180 medical exemptions granted to families for other required school vaccinations since the start of the year. The revocations, which reflect a tension that may grow in coming years, came under a new law that seeks to crack down on suspected abuse in the process for forgoing the immunizations that every California student must get. The California Department of Public Health told The Chronicle that as of early October, it had revoked 182 medical exemptions through a new administrative review process because they did not meet federal guidelines for immunization practices — representing nearly 6% of the 3,136 exemption requests the department had reviewed. (Koseff, 10/24)

In Maine, Vaccine Mandate For EMTs Stresses Small-Town Ambulance Crews 

On a recent morning, Jerrad Dinsmore and Kevin LeCaptain of Waldoboro EMS in rural Maine drove their ambulance to a secluded house near the ocean, to measure the clotting levels of a woman in her 90s. They told the woman, bundled under blankets to keep warm, they would contact her doctor with the result. “Is there anything else we can do?” Dinsmore asked. “No,” she said. “I’m all set.” This wellness check, which took about 10 minutes, is one of the duties Dinsmore and LeCaptain perform in addition to the emergency calls they respond to as staffers with Waldoboro Emergency Medical Service. (Wight, 10/25)

The Washington Post:
Pro-Kyrie Irving, Anti-Vaccine-Mandate Protesters Demonstrate Before Nets Game 

A group of anti-vaccine-mandate protesters demonstrated Sunday afternoon at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in support of Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who has been told by the team to stay away as long as he refuses to receive a coronavirus vaccination. The incident occurred before the Nets’ home opener against the Charlotte Hornets. At one point, a number of demonstrators pushed through a row of metal barricades and rushed to an arena entrance. According to an arena spokesperson, none managed to enter the arena. (Bieler, 10/24)

Study: Post-Covid Brain Fog Can Persist For Months For Many Patients

Cognitive side effects from covid infections, even for patients who weren’t hospitalized, can last for months, a study published in JAMA Network Open reveals. Separately, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned against covid complacency.

Brain Fog In Covid-19 Patients Can Persist For Months, Even In Those Who Were Not Hospitalized, Study Finds

Cognitive impairment — described as brain fog — can persist for months in Covid-19 patients, even for some who were not hospitalized, according to a new study. The research, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that nearly a quarter of Covid-19 patients in a Mount Sinai Health System registry experienced some issues with their memory — and although hospitalized patients were more likely to have such brain fog after a coronavirus infection, some outpatients had cognitive impairment too. (Howard, 10/22)

NBC News:
Many Covid Patients Have Memory Problems Months Later, New Study Finds

Many people who have recovered from Covid-19 infection are still experiencing cognitive impairment more than seven months later, according to new research. The study, which describes the the kinds of cognitive problems experienced by patients who had been treated at the Mount Sinai system in New York, adds to the growing evidence that Covid “long haulers” can experience myriad ailments weeks and months after recovering from the initial illness. As many as 24 percent of people who have recovered from Covid-19 continue to experience some sort of cognitive difficulties, including problems with memory, multitasking, processing speed and focusing, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai reported Friday in JAMA Network Open. (Carroll, 10/23)

In other news about covid —

The Hill:
CDC Director: ‘We Can’t Be Complacent’ Amid Drop In COVID-19 Cases

Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Sunday that she was “encouraged” by dropping COVID-19 cases across the country but warned “we can’t be complacent.” Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Walensky gave her assessment of the current state of the pandemic to host Chris Wallace, who noted that the U.S. is still seeing over 70,000 COVID-19 cases a day but that cases have seen a decrease compared to the prior month that saw a surge due to the delta variant. (Choi, 10/24)

Anchorage Daily News:
September Was Alaska’s Deadliest Pandemic Month. Here’s What That Might Tell Us About The Future Of COVID-19 In The State

In Alaska, at least one COVID-19 death — but usually two or more, and as many as 10 — was reported for each day in the month of September, state data shows. It was the deadliest month of the pandemic so far, with 138 people dead. September 2021 broke records on multiple other fronts, including the number of COVID-positive patients in Alaska’s hospitals and daily case counts. Elevated hospitalization and case numbers have carried on into October. Health experts say the darkest, grimmest weeks of the pandemic can teach us that without more vaccinations and prevention measures, the potential for a continued surge or a new one remains, and the pandemic’s deadly toll will likely continue until cases decrease. (Krakow, 10/24)

Houston Chronicle:
As Delta Wave Fades, Texas Children’s Battles Fatigue – And A Troubling Chain Of Infections

Isaiah Gonzalez grimaced as the nurse approached his hospital bed, his small hands bound with surgical tape to safeguard the tubes delivering a steady flow of antibodies to his bloodstream. He squeezed his pink-stained eyelids shut as the masked nurse put a thermometer in his armpit to check whether his skyhigh fever had fallen. He was thinking of monkeys. “I want to go to the zoo,” the 3-year-old said, reaching for his mother as his face twisted in distress. It has taken all Isaiah’s powers of imagination to escape the confines of his bed in the intensive care unit at Texas Children’s Hospital. He is battling multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a dangerous but poorly understood illness that arose with the coronavirus pandemic last year. Fevered and weak, the Baytown resident was hospitalized earlier this month as the inflammation attacked his heart, kidneys and blood vessels. (Mishanec, 10/22)

Salt Lake Tribune:
COVID Denial, Communism And QAnon. Conspiracy Theory-Fueled Conference Hits Salt Lake City

A conspiracy and religion-fueled political conference in downtown Salt Lake City drew about 1,000 attendees on Friday to the Salt Palace Convention Center. People there heard from some of the leading far-right political figures, including retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and former CEO Patrick Byrne. The Western Conservative Action Network, or WeCANact event, was billed as a place to learn to fight “against the socialist, communist, and Marxist ideologies” in government, schools and the media. The event did focus on that promise, but also offered up a large helping of misinformation about COVID-19, vaccines and the 2020 election. And, to top off the fringe political buffet, there were lots of references to the QAnon conspiracy theory. (Schott, 10/23)

Also —

Fox News:
COVID-19 Hospital Airborne Transmission Prevented By Air Filters, Study Suggests

COVID-19 particles can be effectively filtered from the air to prevent transmission in the hospital using portable air filters and ultraviolet (UV) light sterilization technology, according to a recent study. Nature recently reported the study, which is currently not peer reviewed, to be the first to demonstrate how portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can reduce hospital transmission of detectable airborne COVID-19 virus in a real-world health care setting. The research is currently reported in the preprint server MedRxiv. (Sudhakar, 10/24)

Fox News:
Summer Camp Strategies Aimed At Preventing COVID Spread Led To ‘Almost Zero’ Transmissions: CDC

Implementation of multiple strategies prevented almost zero transmission of COVID-19 among 7,173 campers and staff members who attended nine U.S. overnight camps this summer, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study. During this summer, nine affiliated camps worked with the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Camp Association as well as state and local departments to design protocols specific to their individual site. (Sudhakar, 10/24)

Fresh Faces, Fewer Tools: Meet The New Bosses Fighting Covid

Emilie Sayler’s roots run deep in southwestern Montana. She serves on a nearby town council and the board of the local Little League. She went to college in a neighboring county and regularly volunteers in the schools of her three kids. Just a few months into her new job as public health director for Madison County, she had hoped that those local connections might make a difference, that the fewer than 10,000 residents spread out across this agricultural region would see her familiar face and support her efforts to curtail the covid-19 pandemic raging here. (Ehli, 10/25)

CBS News:
Pennsylvania Congressman Confirms Breakthrough COVID-19 Case Hours After Appearing On House Floor 

Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson, who is vaccinated, has tested positive for COVID-19, his office confirmed Friday. The Pennsylvania Republican had voted on the House floor earlier Friday, according to House records. … He was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center “out of an abundance of caution,” his office said. “He is in good spirits and further updates will be made available in the coming days.” (Reardon, 10/22)

Monday, October 25, 2021

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