The United States has set the pace to expand the spectrum of COVID-19 vaccines, while its vaccination campaign drags on as it hit a grim milestone of 700,000 deaths in the pandemic that has entered its 19th month.
Topping the world, the United States on Friday surpassed 700,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University's data. Meanwhile, the average number of people getting vaccinated, at 270,531 per day, is the lowest it has been since Aug 15, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC updated on Saturday that 214,597,690 people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, making up 64.6 percent of the whole US population; fully vaccinated people stood at 184,852,416, accounting for 55.7 percent of the total. A total of 4,363,791 people, or 2.4 percent of the fully vaccinated group, received booster shots.
Trying to add some bright color to the ongoing tragedy, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a White House briefing on Friday that weekly COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the United States were down by 15 percent from the previous week.
According to The New York Times' update, the seven-day average of confirmed cases of the pandemic stood at 109,192 nationwide on Friday, with its 14-day change striking a 27-percent fall. The COVID-19-related deaths were 1,883 on Friday, with the 14-day change realizing a 5-percent decrease.
WIDE-RANGING VACCINE REQUIREMENTS
"As many companies impose COVID-19 vaccine mandates, employees who refuse to get jabbed are getting the ax," reported CBS on Friday, adding that employers in the health care and aviation industries this week dismissed hundreds of workers who declined to get inoculated.
A case in point is Christiana Care, which is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, and has 1,200 beds across three hospitals. On Monday, it announced that some 150 of its employees had failed to meet a Sept 21 deadline to be fully vaccinated. As a result, they were fired.
Health care organizations account for most of the firings of unvaccinated workers, but other kinds of employers are also expected to follow suit when workers start reporting to offices again in earnest.
Currently, a dilemma is being weighed for some companies considering vaccine mandates: an acute worker shortage among retailers, restaurants, hotels and other service-sector employers, according to the report.
On Friday, the Broadway League announced that all its 41 theaters in New York City will continue to require COVID-19 vaccinations for audience members, performers, backstage crew and venue staff at least through the end of the year.
Audiences also will be required to wear masks inside the theaters at least for the remainder of 2021, except while actively eating or drinking in designated locations.
The announcement extended the COVID-19 protocol policy that has been in place since Broadway resumed performances in July. At that time, the League said it would review the procedures in the fall. Theater owners will again review the policies by Dec. 1 for performances starting Jan 3, 2022.
"We know that with these policies in place through the end of the year, we will continue to help our audiences feel safe and to deliver them the thrill of Broadway night after night," Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement.