The latest AP stories on COVID-19 outbreak in the United States

Counties had reinstated the indoor mask mandate in August as infections surged because of the highly contagious delta variant. Topeka, Oct 8 AP Health officials are frustrated so many school boards remain reluctant to adopt mask mandates, even though most COVID-19 outbreaks in Kansas schools are occurring in districts without mask requirements.The state has 68 active school clusters, down from 79 a week ago, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.


PTI | Illinois | Updated: 08-10-2021 09:09 IST | Created: 08-10-2021 09:09 IST
The latest AP stories on COVID-19 outbreak in the United States

President Joe Biden is championing the fight against COVID-19, requiring workplace vaccination requirements to force the roughly 67 million unvaccinated American adults to roll up their sleeves.

Biden is delivering that message in Illinois, where he's visiting a suburban Chicago construction site run by a company that's imposing a new vaccinate-or-test requirement.

In the coming weeks, more than 100 million Americans will be subject to vaccine requirements ordered by Biden. The majority of the nation is already vaccinated and industry leaders mostly agree with the mandates for the safety of workers and the economy. Biden also planned to meet with the CEO of United Airlines, Scott Kirby, whose company successfully implemented a vaccine mandate, with no option for workers to be tested. Less than 1% have failed to comply and risk termination.

___ San Francisco, Oct 8 (AP) Counties in the San Francisco Bay Area will start easing their requirements for people to wear masks inside many public spaces. A group of eight counties in the region indicated the rules will be dropped when vaccination rates are above 80% and COVID-19 transmission rates and hospitalizations are low. In San Francisco, where places like gyms and offices already require people to show proof of vaccination, some will be allowed to drop masks next week. The 80% vaccination rate includes the entire population, not just those 12 and older who are eligible for the shots. It will be up to each county to determine its own mask rules. Such a change is likely weeks away in most areas.

The Bay Area has among the highest vaccination rates and lowest case rates in the nation. Counties had reinstated the indoor mask mandate in August as infections surged because of the highly contagious delta variant.

___ Topeka, Oct 8 (AP) Health officials are frustrated so many school boards remain reluctant to adopt mask mandates, even though most COVID-19 outbreaks in Kansas schools are occurring in districts without mask requirements.

The state has 68 active school clusters, down from 79 a week ago, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Those clusters have been connected to 596 cases, one hospitalization and one death. Of the active outbreaks from last week, only 29% occurred in districts that reported a mask requirement, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The outbreaks at schools without mask mandates or schools that didn't report their mask policies had clusters five to six times the cases per capita, according to health department data.

Only about 20% of school districts report requiring masks for most or all of their students, but those districts educate about 63% of the state's student population, according to data presented at a meeting of the governor's Safer Classrooms Workgroup on Wednesday.

“We have studies that show that masks work in kids,” said Dena Hubbard, with the Kansas American Academy of Pediatrics, during the meeting. “Now we have data that masks work in prevention of spread in Kansas. Why do we still have this percentage (of schools) that has no mask policy or is encouraged but not required?” ___ Kalamazoo, Oct 8 (AP) A federal appeals court ruled in favor of some athletes at Western Michigan University who sued to play sports without getting a COVID-19 vaccination because of their religion.

The court declined to stop a decision by a federal judge in Kalamazoo who said the WMU vaccine requirement likely violates the athletes' constitutional right to follow their religion.

WMU athletes who sought vaccine exemptions still can be required to wear a mask at practice or be regularly tested, under the injunction signed by U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney.

The 16 athletes sought a vaccine exemption on religious grounds but were ignored or denied, the appeals court said.

“We do not doubt (WMU's) good faith, nor do we fail to appreciate the burdens COVID-19 has placed on this nation's universities. ... But having announced a system under which student-athletes can seek individualized exemptions, the university must explain why it chose not to grant any to plaintiffs. And it did not fairly do so here,” the court said in a 3-0 opinion.

___ New York, Oct 8 (AP) The U.S. is gearing up for the flu season on top of the continuing COVID-19 crisis. Health officials urged Americans to get vaccinated against both the flu and coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccination for just about everyone, starting with 6-month-old babies. Flu cases dropped to historically low levels globally over the pandemic, as restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus helped block other respiratory viruses. But with schools and businesses reopened, there's no way to predict how bad a flu season the country might expect this winter.

“We certainly don't want a twindemic,' both COVID and influenza,” said Dr. William Schaffner of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Options for flu shots include regular vaccines, shots that aim to give older adults a little extra protection, and a nasal spray. All offer protection against four different flu strains that global experts predict are most likely to spread this year.

If people still need a COVID-19 vaccination — either first shots or a booster dose — they can get it at the same visit as a flu shot.

___ New York, Oct 8 (AP) Pfizer is asking the U.S. government to allow use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11. If regulators agree, shots could begin within a matter of weeks. Pfizer already had announced that a lower dose of its vaccine worked and appeared safe in a study of the youngsters. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Thursday officially filed its application with the Food and Drug Administration. FDA's advisers are scheduled to debate the evidence on Oct. 26. Until now, the vaccine was available only to those as young as 12, and many parents and pediatricians are clamoring for protection for younger kids.

Keeping children in school can be a challenge with the coronavirus still raging in poorly vaccinated communities.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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