New York City residents who want a vaccination now can get a house call.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that the city will provide in-home inoculations in an effort to get more New Yorkers vaccinated. The mayor said the new plan is ideal for people "for whom it's been a challenge to get to a vaccination site or they haven't been sure" if the want the vaccine. City officials already had been offering the service to homebound residents and are expanding it to include everyone.
The city has counted more than 9 million jabs thus far.
“Anyone who’s sitting out there and thinking, ‘Wow, I’m ready, but I’d rather the vaccine be done right here in my home,’ go to nyc.gov/homevaccine, fill out the request and we’ll send the vaccinators to your door,” the mayor said during an online briefing.
Also in the news:
►Ohio officials prepared to announce the fifth and final Vax-a-Million lottery winner Wednesday evening as Ohio tries to reach the 50% mark for vaccinations statewide. More than 3.5 million Ohioans entered their names for the $1 million prize.
►Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday signed a $2.2 billion spending bill that allocates federal COVID-19 aid. Most of the money will support the continuation of a 15% increase in monthly food benefits through September.
►The delta variant is spreading in Hawaii: two cases on Oahu and one on the Big Island associated with travel from the U.S. mainland. Another case involved an Oahu resident with no travel history, state health officials said.
►Budget airline Frontier is passing along some COVID safety costs to passengers, even as the airline has stopped taking passenger temperatures before flights. The Denver-based airline has a $1.59 "COVID recovery charge," spokesman Zach Kramer said.
►Jerry Palmer, 37, was charged with disturbance of public assemblies for refusing to wear a mask at a Chariho School Committee meeting Tuesday in Richmond, Rhode Island. Masks are required by the district and Gov. Dan McKee's executive order, officials said.
? Today's numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 602,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 179.3 million cases and more than 3.88 million deaths. More than 150.42 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – nearly 45.3% of the population, according to the CDC.
? What we're reading: Doctors are seeing an increase in mental health issues and feelings of guilt among people recovered from COVID-19. Here's why.
Wall Street’s big investment banks are sending a message to their employees this summer: Get back into the office and bring your vaccination card.
New York-based Morgan Stanley said this week that all employees will be required to attest to their vaccination status. Those who are not vaccinated will be required to work remotely, which could potentially put their jobs at risk, since the bank’s top executives have said they want everyone back in the office by September.
“If you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office,” said Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman at a industry conference earlier this month.
Morgan Stanley is one of several big banks requiring employees to return to the office and also provide documentation of having received a coronavirus vaccine or making a formal declaration confirming vaccination.
Goldman Sachs required most of its employees to return to the office on June 14, with some exceptions extending that deadline to Sept. 30. It requires every employee to state their vaccine status, but does not require proof. JPMorgan is asking employees to submit their vaccination records as well, in the form of an internal portal.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel was meeting Wednesday to weigh the risks versus the benefits of COVID-19 vaccinations for young adults after reports of heart inflammation among a small number of teen vaccine recipients. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration had confirmed – as of June 14 – 323 cases of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, or pericarditis, inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart, in people younger than 30 who had received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. That’s out of more than 310 million doses administered in the U.S.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said in May that the “relatively few” reports of myocarditis “appear to be mild” and are below the expected baseline rates. CDC director Rochelle Walensky told Fox News she expects a similar finding Wednesday. Read more here.
Celebrity Cruises passengers will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination on ships that depart from Florida, starting with the cruise line's first sailing with paying passengers departing Saturday from Fort Lauderdale. The proof mandate ran counter to a Florida state law banning businesses from requiring proof of vaccination. The Florida law goes into effect on July 1 but is also outlined in an executive order from Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"Guests over 16 years old (over 12 for any sailing on or after August 1st) who decline or are unable to show proof of vaccination at boarding will be treated as unvaccinated and subject to additional protocols, restrictions, and costs for COVID-19 testing," Celebrity said on its website.
Cruises departing from ports outside of Florida, all passengers age 16 and older will still be required to be fully vaccinated. Starting Aug. 1, that age drops to 12.
– Morgan Hines
Missouri now has the nation's highest rate of new COVID-19 infections thanks to a surge largely in a politically conservative farming region in the northern part of the state. Another hot spot is the southwestern corner, which includes Springfield and Branson, the country music mecca in the Ozark Mountains where big crowds are gathering again at the city’s theaters and other attractions. While over 53% of all Americans have received at least one shot, according to the CDC, most southern and northern Missouri counties are well short of 40%. One county is at just 13%.
“Last year at this time it was 'health care heroes' and everybody was celebrating and bringing food to the hospital," said Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield. "And now everyone is like, ‘The lake is open. Let’s go.’ We are still here doing this."
The Interorganizational Task Force on Domestic Disasters and Acts of Terrorism says the blood supply in the United States has dropped to “red” level, meaning most of the nation's blood bank inventories have less than a one-day supply. The task force, made up of U.S. blood services and other groups, said this is the first time its lowest supply designation has been reached since the nationwide shutdown in the early days of the pandemic. Dr. Claudia Cohn, the American Association of Blood Banks' chief medical officers, says blood drives are being held less frequently because of pandemic-related closures, and nonessential surgical procedures that were postponed during the pandemic are resuming.
“This is the worst shortage I've experienced since I've been in this in this line of work,” Cohn said.
– Taylor Avery
India has become the second country, after the United States, to report 30 million infections. The United States has reported about 3.5 million more cases than India. At the latest rate of reported cases, India would overtake the United States' case counts in about 11 weeks, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. Brazil is second only to the United States in reported deaths: about 602,000 in the United States to Brazil's 505,000. At the latest weekly rate of deaths, Brazil could surpass the U.S. in about eight weeks.
It's not clear how underreporting and access to testing have affected the counts in the three countries.
– Mike Stucka
First lady Jill Biden visited Mississippi and Tennessee, which have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, to talk vaccine safety and effectiveness and to promote the shot she called "a miracle." Biden's visit to Jackson on Tuesday was one leg of the Biden administration's nationwide tour to encourage the millions of Americans who still haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so. Mississippi's vaccination rate of 30% is the lowest among the states and 15% below the national average.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there, a lot of questions,” Biden said. “And as a teacher, as a mom, as a nana, I wanted to give people the best answers I could.”
– Sarah Haselhorst and Keisha Rowe, Mississippi Clarion Ledger
Dr. Peter Marks has played a key role in nearly every major vaccine-related decision since the United States' COVID-19 outbreak began. Marks, who runs a division of the Food and Drug Administration, helped make the decision to ditch 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, worried they might have been manufactured under unsafe conditions. In April, he was part of the group that ordered the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it appeared the shots were causing a potentially fatal side effect. What's he really like? Read more here.
"I'm a pretty boring person who feels very lucky to work with a lot of tremendously talented people making sure we do the right thing by public health," he said. "I'm very happy to be in the right place at the right moment to help be a part of that."
– Karen Weintraub
The delta variant now represents more than 20% of coronavirus infections in the U.S. in the last two weeks, or double what it was when the CDC last reported on the variant’s prevalence. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned that the U.S. could be following the United Kingdom’s course, where the variant has become the dominant strain because of rapid spread among youths. Fauci says indications are that the vaccines remain effective against the variant.
The delta variant, first detected in India, is accounting for half of new infections in the regions that include Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
U.S. infection rates for COVID this week are beginning to plateau, and there is increasing concern that could be because of the delta variant, according to the Johns Hopkins Weekly Situation report.
Though the Alpha variant still remains the most prominent variant in the nation, its prevalence fell slightly to give way to the delta variant last week. "If this jump is indicative of a longer-term increasing trend, the delta variant could quickly become the dominant variant in the US," the report says.
But globally, cases and deaths continued to decrease over the past week with a 6% and a 12% decrease, respectively. That's 2.5 million cases, the lowest weekly case incidence since February 2021, and 64,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization's weekly epidemiological update.
Most regions reported a decrease in deaths. But Africa reported over 132,000 new cases and over 1,900 new deaths, a 39% and 38% increase, respectively, compared to the previous week, the update said. Less than 1% of people on the continent have been even partially vaccinated.
More than 150 employees at a Houston hospital system have been fired or resigned after the medical system implemented a mandate requiring a COVID-19 vaccine and a judge dismissed an employee lawsuit over it.
The hospital system had previously required employees to complete their immunization by June 7. 178 employees were suspended for two weeks without pay for not complying.
And after the suspension period ended Tuesday, 153 employees either resigned or were terminated for not completing their inoculations, the Houston Methodist Hospital system told the Associated Press.
A federal judge threw out the lawsuit last week that had been filed by 117 employees over the requirement. Employees have appealed.
Contributing: The Associated Press.