One day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for millions of older and high-risk Americans, President Joe Biden praised the move as a “key step” in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have the tools to beat COVID-19 if we come together as a country and use the tools we have,” Biden said Friday.
The president’s comments came hours after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky accepted a series of recommendations from a key panel of advisers to make booster shots for the Pfizer vaccine available for people 65 and older, nursing home residents and some adults who have underlying health problems.
But she also overruled the panel on endorsing a third shot for at-risk workers including teachers and healthcare workers, ignoring her own advisers but bringing the CDC policy in line with the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation earlier this week.
Biden said despite the country’s successful vaccination program it is still a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
The CDC’s endorsement is considered a boon for Biden’s campaign to provide booster shots for most Americans – a plan some health officials criticized as premature.
The other two available vaccines – Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – have not received federal authorization for a third shot, and the CDC advisory panel did not vote Thursday on the issue of mixing boosters – for example, if a person who initially received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine could receive a Pfizer booster shot.
The president said he plans to get his booster shot “as soon as I can get it done.”
Also in the news:
►Costco said it will limit consumers’ purchase of items including toilet paper, paper towels, and bottled water due to supply chain issues and demand generated by the rise of the delta variant.
►National Guard teams will be deployed Friday to Deaconess Midtown and Deaconess Gateway hospitals in Indiana for a week to support medical staff responding to COVID-19.
►A judge denied an injunction on Thursday that would force a Delaware hospital to use ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug, to treat a patient with COVID-19.
►With more than a week of reporting to go, September is already this year’s third-deadliest month for COVID-19 and the sixth-deadliest month for the entire pandemic, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
►India has reported already reported twice as many deaths in 2021 as it did in all of last year, Johns Hopkins University data shows. The official numbers may represent just a faint wisp of reality: The official death toll stands at about 450,000, but three different estimate approaches released earlier this year suggest the toll was short by about 4 million.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 42 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 684,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 230 million cases and 4.7 million deaths. More than 182 million Americans — 55% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: A daily pill to treat COVID-19? It could be just months away, scientists say. Read here.
Natalia D’Angelo, 43, got sick right after school started in August. She died of COVID-19 before the end of the month.
D’Angelo is among at least 12 school bus workers in Georgia who have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the school year. In all, school bus drivers in at least 10 states have died of the disease since August, according to news reports and a Twitter feed called “School Personnel Lost to Covid.”
The deaths raise questions about whether school bus drivers are at higher risk of getting COVID-19 — a worry that’s contributing to a nationwide shortage of the drivers. Medical experts are split. It’s difficult, if not impossible when local infection rates are high, to determine how any particular bus worker became infected — whether it occurred at home, in a community setting or on the job. Read more here.
– Andy Miller and Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News
So far this week, more than 1,100 people under the age of 18 in Wisconsin have tested positive for COVID-19. That is more than any other age group, according to state Department of Health Services data.
Last week, 4,686 people under the age of 18 tested positive — more than double any other age group. In fact, since the week of Aug. 8, children have been diagnosed with more cases than every other group each week.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin continues to see an increase in the number of kids in the hospital who test positive for COVID-19, but most are asymptomatic unless they have underlying health conditions.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Wisconsin has recorded three deaths in people age 19 and younger.
– Drake Bentley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Alachua County schools in north-central Florida are the first in the nation to receive federal money after state officials punished the district for defying them by requiring masks at schools.
The county, home to Gainesville and the University of Florida, received $148,000 under the new Project to Support America’s Families (Project SAFE), created earlier this month to help districts that were being penalized by the state’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the governors most opposed to pandemic-related mandates, for instituting COVID-19 protocols.
On Aug. 26, the Florida Department of Education had started to withhold money equal to four of the Alachua school board members’ pay, after they voted unanimously for a mask policy.
In all, the Department of Education has $3.2 million to give to such school districts. Beyond offering districts financial cover, federal officials have little recourse if states ban schools from requiring masks. The Biden administration is also investigating states with such bans, saying they are violating the civil rights of children with disabilities and underlying health conditions.
– Gershon Harrell, The Gainesville Sun