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Daily coronavirus cases up 18 percent, according to CDC director – The Washington Post

Biden administration lays out some agency vaccination rates
Vaccinated people ‘should feel good and safe’ about Thanksgiving gatherings, Fauci says
French Prime Minister Jean Castex tests positive for coronavirus
U.S. Army awards Pfizer $1.4 billion for additional 200 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech
Unvaccinated adults 14 times as likely to die of covid-19, according to CDC
Buttigieg says vaccine mandate for U.S. flights isn’t necessary
Harris says gap between Black and Latino adults and other groups has effectively closed
Key coronavirus updates from around the world
House panel asks former FDA commissioner Hahn to sit for interview
White House says 95% of federal employees have complied with vaccine mandate
Analysis: The most pernicious anti-vaccine talking point
Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trial data confirms high efficacy, long-term protection in adolescents
D.C. is changing its mask rules, but the city’s colleges are staying the course
White House plans to invest in $1.5 billion to bring more doctors to underserved communities
Treatments will change the pandemic, but they can’t end it alone
Biden administration lays out some agency vaccination rates
Vaccinated people ‘should feel good and safe’ about Thanksgiving gatherings, Fauci says
French Prime Minister Jean Castex tests positive for coronavirus
U.S. Army awards Pfizer $1.4 billion for additional 200 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech
Unvaccinated adults 14 times as likely to die of covid-19, according to CDC
Buttigieg says vaccine mandate for U.S. flights isn’t necessary
Harris says gap between Black and Latino adults and other groups has effectively closed
Key coronavirus updates from around the world
House panel asks former FDA commissioner Hahn to sit for interview
White House says 95% of federal employees have complied with vaccine mandate
Analysis: The most pernicious anti-vaccine talking point
Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trial data confirms high efficacy, long-term protection in adolescents
D.C. is changing its mask rules, but the city’s colleges are staying the course
White House plans to invest in $1.5 billion to bring more doctors to underserved communities
Treatments will change the pandemic, but they can’t end it alone
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The seven-day average of reported coronavirus infections has increased by 18 percent, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said at a Monday news conference.
The rise in cases and a 6 percent increase in the seven-day average of hospital admissions come just days after the Food and Drug Administration recommended booster shots for all adults 18 and older who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least six months after their second dose, making more than 135 million people eligible for boosters. Anyone who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine also is eligible for a booster.
“Heading into the winter months, when respiratory viruses are more likely to spread, and with plans for increased holiday season travel and gatherings, boosting people’s overall protection against covid-19 disease and death was important to do now,” Walensky said.
Walensky and Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, implored unvaccinated Americans to seek shots for protection as recent CDC data showed the increased risks of being unvaccinated and catching the virus.
“Most tragic are the vaccine-preventable deaths we are still seeing from this disease,” Walensky said. “Even in our updated data, unvaccinated people are at 14 times greater risk of dying from covid-19 than people who are vaccinated.”
Here’s what to know
More than 90 percent of 3.5 million federal employees covered by the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate have received at least one dose, and a “vast majority” of those have been fully vaccinated, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said at a news conference Monday.
The figure is high compared with the approximately 59 percent of the general population that is fully vaccinated, about 196.3 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The White House announced earlier in the day that 95 percent of federal employees complied with the vaccination mandate before Monday’s deadline, which the Biden administration set in September.
Zients said the deadline isn’t an “endpoint or a cliff” for employees, and he added that more federal employees have been getting vaccinated.
“We have 98 percent compliance at the IRS, with nearly 25 percent of IRS employees getting vaccinated after the president announced the requirement,” he said. “At the FBI, 99 percent compliance.”
There’s nearly 98 percent compliance at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 93 percent at the Transportation Security Administration and 99 percent at the Federal Aviation Administration.
A full agency-by-agency report will be released Wednesday, Zients said.
The vaccine requirements have prompted political and legal brawls across the nation, with several states fighting against the federal government, some local governments fighting against their states, and employees fighting against employers.
Employees generally can apply for a medical or religious exemption from the mandate. Those who are unvaccinated and do not have an exemption will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination or removal from their jobs.
In an interview for the “Post Reports” podcast, Fauci said that vaccinating people is the priority in fighting the pandemic and that those who have been immunized should readily mingle with others during this week’s holiday.
“If people are vaccinated, then they should feel good and safe about enjoying in their own homes or the homes of relatives a typical type of a Thanksgiving meal,” the White House medical adviser said.
But being around those whose vaccination status is unknown is a little less easy, he said.
“We still have to be careful of congregate settings indoors in which you are not sure of who is there with you,” he said.
He also gave advice for people who may be interacting with friends or family members who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“If you really want to be really risk-free, you should tell them, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t feel that we should be in the same room with you,’ or … have them get a test within 24 or so hours before they come to the house.”
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases urged vaccination as well as subsequent booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, saying it was people’s duty to end the coronavirus’s spread.
“When you’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic, it isn’t only about you in a vacuum, it’s about your societal responsibility,” he said. “You do have a societal responsibility to help contain this outbreak, and you do that by getting vaccinated.”
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PARIS — French Prime Minister Jean Castex tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday evening and is displaying slight symptoms, his office told the Agence France-Presse and Reuters news agencies, amid rising case numbers in France and much of Europe.
The 56-year-old prime minister’s positive test was announced hours after he met with his Belgian counterpart, Alexander De Croo. Photos showed the two men standing side by side without masks inside Egmont Palace in Brussels, though they kept distance between each other. Both wore masks when they greeted each other outdoors with a fist bump and embrace.
Castex, who is fully vaccinated, will be in isolation for 10 days, France’s public broadcaster reported.
The prime minister had entered quarantine earlier Monday after his 11-year-old daughter tested positive for the virus. The European Medicines Agency has not yet approved a coronavirus vaccine for children under 12, but it has said a decision could be reached this week.
The Defense Department announced Monday evening that Pfizer-BioNTech was awarded $1.4 billion to a contract that will enable the company to produce an additional 200 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine for international donation.
The Army funds will allow work on the additional doses to take place in New York with an estimated completion date of June 30.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is one of the most popular vaccines in the world. A report released in October by Public Citizen, a consumer rights advocacy group, found that Pfizer often placed the interests of the company ahead of the public health needs in negotiating contracts with governments, The Washington Post reported.
Unvaccinated people are six times as likely to risk testing positive for the coronavirus and 14 times as likely to die of covid-19 than vaccinated people, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The data showed that people in the United States who have been vaccinated with one of the three available coronavirus vaccines had significantly reduced rates of infection and death compared with those who have not.
In early October, unvaccinated adults 65 and older had death rates that were more than eight times those of their vaccinated peers, data showed.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a news conference Monday that the new data further emphasizes the government’s mission to vaccinate everyone. More than 47 million eligible American adults and more than 12.4 million teenagers are not vaccinated.
“Infections among the unvaccinated continue to drive this pandemic, hospitalizations and deaths — tragically, at a time when we have vaccines that can provide incredible protection,” she said.
Despite a recent push from dozens of lawmakers for the United States to add a vaccination requirement on domestic flights, the prospect of a federal mandate is looking slim.
During an interview Sunday on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” Buttigieg said strategies other than a vaccine mandate — such as requiring masks and vaccinating travel industry workers — are “highly effective.” The Transportation Security Administration has extended the federal mask mandate for planes, airports, trains and other mass transportation through Jan. 18.
Host Chuck Todd pressed Buttigieg on the matter, questioning whether he was nervous about putting a policy in place that was politically divisive. The back-and-forth came at the beginning of the busy Thanksgiving holiday season in which TSA expects to screen about 20 million people.
“If we’re trying to get to the end of this pandemic, continuing to have sort of loopholes to avoid a vaccine seems to elongate this pandemic,” Todd said.
Sidestepping the political question, Buttigieg said current practices are working.
“Between the masking and the other mitigations, we’re very confident in the safety of air travel and travel generally in this country,” he said.
Vice President Harris said Monday that a host of initiatives launched by the Biden administration to increase vaccinations among Black and Latino adults has been effective.
As a result of all that work today, we have effectively closed the gap in vaccination rates among black and brown adults,” she said. “Now, to be sure, there is still work to do to end this pandemic. And right now we are especially focused on getting our children over the age of 5 vaccinated.”
“What we have done shows us what is possible when we focus on equity,” she said.
A recent Post-ABC poll suggests that vaccine hesitancy has declined substantially from early in the year, although there is still some room for the nation’s vaccination rate — three-quarters of adults — to increase.
Harris pointed to the administration’s efforts setting up mass vaccination sites and sending mobile vaccination clinics to communities with limited access to community health centers with a priority for those places that were hardest hit.
The vice president also praised the private sector for partnering with the White House in helping reduce obstacles to vaccination for employees.
“Employers offered paid time off,” she said. “Child-care providers offer drop-in services, public transit agencies offered free rides to vaccination sites. Churches and barbershops opened their doors to become vaccination sites.”
Here’s what to know about the top coronavirus stories around the globe from news service reports.
The House panel probing the government’s coronavirus response has asked former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn to sit for an interview and turn over relevant documents about last year’s events, including President Donald Trump’s efforts to boost some drugs still unproven as coronavirus treatments.
“Given the sustained campaigns to promote the use of dubious coronavirus treatments, the Select Subcommittee seeks to understand the full extent and impact of Trump Administration officials’ efforts to influence these FDA decisions,” Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the panel’s chair, wrote Monday in a letter to Hahn that was shared with The Washington Post.
The panel is asking Hahn to produce all documents by Dec. 6 and to sit for an interview on Dec. 13.
Through a representative, Hahn declined to comment to The Post.
Democrats say they have specific questions about White House officials and Trump allies pressuring the FDA to increase access to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, malaria drugs that Trump publicly touted as virus cures despite a lack of evidence. The panel cited messages from Amy Abernethy, a top FDA deputy, who in April 2020 warned Hahn of the risks of the drugs, which Fox News host Laura Ingraham and others were privately pushing administration officials to approve.
In March 2020, the FDA granted emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to be used to treat patients hospitalized with covid-19, although it revoked that authorization in June.
The panel also said it is probing the White House’s role around the FDA’s August 2020 decision to authorize convalescent plasma as an emergency treatment for covid-19, another therapy championed by Trump despite scientists cautioning that more research was needed.
In their letter, Democrats cited internal emails in which Hahn praised an erroneous talking point that the treatment led to a 35 percent increase in survival rates. Hahn, who publicly repeated that claim at a news briefing with Trump, subsequently retracted it and acknowledged that the actual benefits of the treatment were much smaller.
The White House announced Monday that 95 percent of federal employees have complied with the vaccination mandate ahead of a Monday deadline set by President Biden.
“Already 95% of USG employees are in compliance with the President’s vax requirement,” White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz wrote on Twitter. “There are no disruptions related to the requirement; we’ll avoid COVID-related disruptions through vaccinations. Today isn’t a cliff and we’ll be working with employees.”
According to Reuters, more than 90 percent of 3.5 million federal employees covered by the vaccine mandate have received at least one dose and a “vast majority” of those have received two doses.
The figure is high compared with the approximately 59 percent of the general population — 196.3 million Americans — who are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A full report on vaccination rates across individual government agencies is expected Monday afternoon during a White House briefing.
Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Marsha Espinosa said Monday on Twitter that 98 percent of Customs and Border Protection employees and nearly 93 percent of those in the Transportation Security Administration have met the vaccine requirement.
She added that there will not be “any disruptions to holiday travel from the vaccination requirement.”
Employees can generally apply for a medical or religious exemption from the mandate. Those who are unvaccinated and do not have an exemption will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination or removal.
According to guidelines from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force published in September after Biden announced the mask mandate, employees who do not comply should first face a five-day “education and counseling” period.
If the employee still “does not demonstrate progress,” the person should be suspended for 14 days or less.
Those who continue to avoid vaccination during the suspension risk removal. Contractors could have their contracts discontinued or not renewed.
Politics is a business that rewards saying things that are technically true — or at least not provably false — in the service of promoting one’s viewpoint.
Such is the case with the most ascendant and pernicious talking point among anti-vaccine activists, mandate critics and even just conservatives who are playing to the vaccine-skeptic crowd: that the coronavirus vaccines don’t prevent infections or the transmission of the virus.
The talking point is everywhere these days, including among those who say that they are pro-vaccine. It’s also utterly misleading, even in the cases in which it’s not presented in an entirely false manner.
Pfizer and BioNTech announced Monday morning that their vaccine provides long-term protection against the coronavirus in youth ages 12 to 15, according to data from their late-stage vaccine trial.
A two-dose series of the vaccine proved to be 100 percent effective against the coronavirus, measured seven days to over four months after the second dose, the company said in a news release.
“As the global health community works to increase the number of vaccinated people around the world, these additional data provide further confidence in our vaccine’s safety and effectiveness profile in adolescents,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.
Data from the trial with 2,228 participants show that of the 30 confirmed symptomatic cases of covid-19 in the trial, all 30 were in the placebo group and zero cases were in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine group, resulting in 100 percent vaccine efficacy, the company said.
“This is especially important as we see rates of COVID-19 climbing in this age group in some regions, while vaccine uptake has slowed,” Bourla added.
The long-term data will be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for full regulatory approval of the vaccine for use in people over age 12 in the United States and worldwide. The vaccine received emergency use authorization for 12-to-15-year-olds in May
The vaccine was granted full approval for use in people 16 and above in August.
On Friday, the FDA authorized Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccine boosters for all adults, designed to shore up Americans’ defenses against the virus ahead of the holidays and reduce confusion over guidelines that have varied based on people’s age, occupation and residence.
While Washington, D.C., is easing its indoor masking requirement on Monday — impacting office buildings, retail stores, gyms and more — colleges and universities across the city say their own mask policies are staying in place.
Since returning to full-scale in-person learning in August, D.C.’s major universities have required students and employees to wear masks in most indoor settings, and all but Catholic University have required coronavirus vaccinations. Now, as the holidays approach, university officials and public health experts say mask-wearing will remain essential in protecting against virus surges.
“You probably don’t want to open this up for more transmission by telling people you can take off your masks in the classroom,” said Lynn R. Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. “We’re not ready yet to say that it’s going to be safe for our community.”
The Biden administration plans on Monday to announce $1.5 billion in funding to help eliminate a shortage of doctors and nurses in underserved communities by providing scholarships and repaying the student loans of providers who work in medically needy areas.
The pandemic has highlighted what has long been a barrier to accessing quality medical care in rural areas and communities of color — provider shortages. The lack of primary care physicians impeded testing, treating and educating patients about covid-19 and the coronavirus vaccines, and now growing staffing shortages in hospitals are aggravating an already inadequate health-care infrastructure.
This money, made available through the American Rescue Plan, will be able to support nearly 23,000 providers through the National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps, according to a White House fact sheet about the investment.
Currently, more than 16,000 clinicians are caring for millions of patients through the National Health Service Corps, which was founded in 1972 in response to dwindling numbers of primary care physicians. They work in areas with limited access to health care, and during the pandemic thousands served in community health centers and hospitals across the country, administering coronavirus tests, caring for covid-19 patients and putting shots in arms.
Vice President Harris, Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy and Luis Padilla, director of the National Health Service Corps and himself an alumnus of the program, are scheduled to deliver remarks about the funding Monday afternoon.
The funding, according to a White House official, is in response to recommendations from the White House Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force to invest in a representative health workforce and increase equitable access.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges: About 17 percent of U.S. doctors are Asian, 6 percent are Latino, and fewer than 1 percent are American Indian and Alaska Native.
Medical school student loan debt, which averages more than $200,000, is often a barrier to pursuing graduate studies in health care. The National Health Service Corps helps offset the cost through loan repayments and scholarships. More than 25 percent of the physicians in the service corps are Black or Latino.
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