Covid Live Updates: Broadway Shows to Require Proof of Vaccination and Masks
Broadway’s theater owners and operators, citing the ongoing dangers of the coronavirus pandemic, said Friday that they have decided to require that theatergoers be vaccinated against Covid-19 and wear masks in order to attend a performance.
The policy, announced just days before the first Broadway play in more than 16 months is to start performances, allows children ineligible for vaccination to attend shows if tested for the virus. But some performing arts venues in New York say they will go even further: The Metropolitan Opera, which hopes to reopen in late September, and Carnegie Hall, which is planning to reopen in October, are not only planning to require vaccinations, but also to bar children under 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
The new vaccination requirements for visitors to New York’s most prominent performing arts venues come as the highly contagious Delta variant has caused virus cases to rise, leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that vaccinated Americans in virus hot spots resume wearing masks indoors. Several major businesses, local governments and the federal government have recently decided to require their employees to get vaccinated or submit to frequent testing.
The Broadway rules, which will be in place at least through October and apply to all 41 Broadway theaters, require that audiences wear masks, except when eating or drinking.
The Broadway vaccination mandate will apply not only to audiences, but also to performers, backstage crew and theater staff. There will be limited exceptions: “people with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination,” as well as children under 12, can attend with proof of a recent negative coronavirus test.
A vaccine mandate is already in place for Bruce Springsteen’s concert show, which began performances in June, and for “Pass Over,” the new play that plans to start performances on Aug. 4. The new rules will affect all of the shows that follow: Twenty-seven, including many of the blockbuster musicals, plan to get underway in September and October, starting with “Hadestown” and “Waitress” on Sept. 2.
Both Broadway and the Met are planning to open at full capacity, meaning no social distancing, and the Met says that masks will be optional. Broadway theaters range in size from 600 to 1,900 seats, while the Met can seat 3,800.
The U.S. government will cover the costs of regular coronavirus testing for unvaccinated federal workers, one component of the Biden administration’s new vaccination requirements.
President Biden announced new rules Thursday that amount to a two-tier system for the country’s four million federal employees. Those who do not get vaccinated against coronavirus will have to social distance, wear face coverings and face limits on official travel. Those who do get vaccinated will not fall under such requirements.
Unvaccinated workers will also need to be regularly tested for the virus. Each federal agency will come up with a plan for testing its unvaccinated work force, according to a Biden administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record. The costs and procedures for testing will depend on how many unvaccinated individuals there are at each agency.
The federal decision to cover coronavirus testing for unvaccinated workers could set a benchmark for state governments and companies now grappling with the same issue.
New York and California rolled out similar testing requirements for unvaccinated state workers this week, but neither has specified who will pay for the service. Some companies and universities have already announced that unvaccinated workers themselves will have to pay for their own tests.
Many states and cities still have free coronavirus testing sites that they started earlier in the pandemic. But many Americans also get tested at doctor offices and pharmacies, which will typically bill patients and their insurance for the service.
Federal law requires insurers to fully cover coronavirus tests ordered by health care providers, meaning the doctor cannot apply a deductible or co-payment to the service. Routine workplace testing, however, is exempt from that requirement and it is legal to charge patients for that service.
Some patients have faced surprise medical bills for coronavirus tests, which can range from a few dollars to over $1,000.
“A number of employers, particularly large ones, may just offer on-site testing to unvaccinated workers,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “But they don’t have to. They can require employees to pick up the tab.”
In yet another unexpected and unwelcome twist in the nation’s pandemic, fully immunized people with so-called breakthrough infections of the Delta variant may spread the virus to others just as easily as unvaccinated people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report published on Friday.
The vaccines remain powerfully effective against severe illness and death, and infections in vaccinated people are thought to be comparatively rare. But the revelation follows a series of other findings this week about the Delta variant, all of which have upended scientists’ understanding of the coronavirus.
An internal agency document, which was obtained on Thursday night by The New York Times, raised even more harrowing questions than the report released on Friday, which focused mainly on a huge cluster of infections in Provincetown, Mass.
Taken together, the data gathered by the C.D.C. throw into question the country’s plans to return to offices and schools this fall, and revives difficult questions about masking, testing and other precautions that Americans had hoped were behind them.
Most immediately, the research informed the agency’s decision this week to advise even vaccinated Americans to resume wearing masks in indoor public areas in communities where the virus is surging.
Even the vaccinated carry high virus levels if they become infected, the agency concluded, making it likely they can transmit the virus as often as the unvaccinated. If so, they may be contributing to increases in new infections — although probably to a far lesser degree than the unvaccinated.
“We spent so much time and energy and treasure trying to figure out this damn virus last year, and how it works and all the things it does,” said Dr. Robert Wachter, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Learning just how different the Delta variant is from the original virus is “just jarring,” he added. “The brain doesn’t like to keep being jerked around like this.”
Studies of outbreaks have shown that Delta is much more contagious than the original virus or the seasonal flu and as contagious as chickenpox, according to the internal document circulated within the C.D.C.
Breakthrough infections among vaccinated people were always anticipated, but until the Delta variant arrived, vaccinated Americans were not expected to be sources of new infections.
The vaccines remain the one reliable shield against the virus, in whatever form it takes.
More transmissable than Ebola or smallpox, and as contagious as chickenpox.
Average number of people infected by each sick person
More transmissable than Ebola or smallpox, and as contagious as chickenpox.
Original version of corona-
Average number of people infected by each sick person
As infectious as chickenpox.
Avg. number of people infected by each sick person
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that the city would “delineate to New Yorkers the best way to use masks” on Monday, but held firm to the idea that vaccinations against the coronavirus is the best way to fight the pandemic.
“The main event is vaccination,” Mr. de Blasio said on CNN. “Masks can be helpful,” he added, “but they don’t change the basic reality. Vaccination does.”
After new federal guidance on Tuesday advised that fully vaccinated people in areas with high virus transmission should continue to wear masks in public indoor spaces, Mr. de Blasio has faced calls to do more. All of New York City currently exceeds the threshold for virus transmission outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Around the country, other states and municipalities have been quick to update their own mask rules, while others have expressed outrage. Washington, D.C., will impose an indoor mask mandate this weekend and Los Angeles County put one in place even before the federal guidance changed.
Mr. de Blasio announced on Monday that more than 300,000 city workers would have to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, and he has called on private employers to implement vaccine mandates. The mayor also announced $100 payments for those who get vaccinated at a city-run site.
New York’s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, said on Wednesday that tens of thousands of state employees would be required to be vaccinated or face weekly testing. Health care workers at state run hospitals who are “patient-facing” will be required to be vaccinated and will not have the option of testing. And on Thursday, President Biden announced new requirements for federal workers to be vaccinated or face testing, and urged local and state governments to offer $100 to anyone willing to get a shot voluntarily.
The changes come as New York City faces a troubling, Delta-driven rise in coronavirus cases. The average number of new cases has quadrupled to 1,000 per day since July.
Hospitals are not being overrun as they were in the city at the height at the surge. Most of those being hospitalized are the unvaccinated.
Mr. de Blasio also urged city residents to take stock of the growing number of places requiring vaccinations. He praised the decision by Danny Meyer, the chief executive of Union Square Hospitality Group, which manages more than a dozen restaurants in New York and Washington, to require all employees to be fully vaccinated and for customers to show proof of vaccination. Broadway’s theater owners and operators announced on Friday that they would require theatergoers to be vaccinated and to wear a mask.
“What’s going to happen, bluntly, is that folks who are vaccinated are going to be able to experience all the things that they love in the life of this city and this country,” Mr. de Blasio said. “And folks who are not vaccinated are going to find that too many things that they want to do they can’t do unless they are vaccinated.”
City Hall is currently reaching out to a range of employers — from big businesses to restaurant groups — to try to get them to adopt similar get-vaccinated-or-get-tested rules for their employees, according to one city official who was not authorized to speak on the record. The official added that City Hall hopes to announce next week that a number of major New York companies have adopted the policy.
Joseph Goldstein contributed reporting.
The Los Angeles Unified School District announced on Thursday that it would require all students and employees returning for in-person instruction to participate in weekly coronavirus testing.
The decision is a shift in policy for the school district, which is the second largest in the United States. The largest, in New York City, recently announced that all teachers and schools staff must be vaccinated before classes resume on Sept. 13 or be subjected to weekly testing.
Previously, the Los Angeles school district only required testing for students and staff members who were unvaccinated. Officials said that the new requirement was in accordance with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. It comes as the average number of cases in Los Angeles County has grown 119 percent from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database.
The spread of the more contagious Delta variant has left many parents worried about what will happen when students return to class in the fall. “We believe Los Angeles Unified has the highest Covid safety standards of any public school district in the nation,” the interim superintendent, Megan K. Reilly, wrote in an email to the parents.
She urged that every eligible individual be vaccinated, calling it “the greatest protection against Covid and the Delta variant.”
Testing at Los Angeles schools will begin Aug. 2 in preparation for a return to full in-person learning on Aug. 16.
“The evidence is mounting that vaccinated individuals can be part of transmission chains,” said Dr. Anne W. Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Any testing regimen that does not include vaccinated individuals is going to be incomplete and leave people at risk.”
For more than a year, Chinese officials have beat back the coronavirus with a tried formula: Strict lockdowns at the sites of outbreaks. Lengthy quarantines for travelers. And citywide testing when new cases appear.
But an outbreak of the fast-spreading Delta variant could challenge China’s zero-tolerance approach toward new infections.
In the outbreak, centered in the eastern city of Nanjing, about 200 cases have been reported as of Friday. But infections have spread rapidly, with patients emerging in at least six Chinese provinces and the capital, Beijing, in just three weeks.
As officials move to contain the spread, the highly infectious Delta variant could prove to be a more difficult foe than the original version of the virus, which China stamped out with harsh efficiency in 2020. With most of China’s people already vaccinated, the emergence of Delta could also present a test for the country’s domestically made vaccines and could force the authorities to take even tougher steps to control the virus.
Chinese officials say they have administered enough vaccine doses to cover around 800 million people. But several other countries that used Chinese-made vaccines have reported that fully inoculated people continue to be infected, although most do not appear to become seriously ill. Data also indicates that the Delta variant is more easily transmitted, even by those who have had two doses of more effective vaccines, such as those produced by the companies Pfizer and Moderna.
The outbreak in China began when a group of airport workers in Nanjing were sickened around July 10, probably from exposure to an infected person who arrived on a flight from Russia, according to city officials. Two rounds of citywide testing of more than eight million people turned up 184 cases.
To stop the spread, Nanjing has increasingly shut down services, first closing the airport, then restricting indoor gatherings. This week, the city authorities closed parts of the expressway that connects Nanjing with other major cities in Jiangsu Province.
As handfuls of cases connected to Nanjing have popped up in other provinces, the authorities there have moved swiftly to impose restrictions.
In the central city of Zhangjiajie, in Hunan Province, indoor public areas including movie theaters and malls were closed after the authorities said that four people with the virus, all asymptomatic, went to a show in the city. Nearly 200 miles away in the provincial capital of Changsha, the authorities banned indoor gatherings in response to one confirmed case.
In central Sichuan Province, where seven cases were found, the authorities declared parts of the capital, Chengdu, a medium-risk zone. The discovery of three cases in the northern city of Shenyang prompted officials there to begin tracking visitors who had come from other areas with outbreaks.
Perhaps most worrying to officials are two cases that appeared in Beijing, where the government has generally followed stricter prevention policies. Officials said that a husband and wife who traveled from Zhangjiajie had tested positive and that 654 people who had been in close contact with them had been placed in quarantine.
Li You contributed research.
Outside the Olympic bubble, Japan’s coronavirus outbreak continued to worsen on Friday, as health officials reported more than 10,000 new daily infections. It was the first time the country had surpassed that mark since the pandemic began.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that the government would expand a state of emergency to four areas besides Tokyo, and that the restrictions in the capital would be extended until the end of August — past the conclusion of the Olympics and into the start of the Paralympic Games.
With just a little over a quarter of the Japanese population fully vaccinated, the Delta variant has been able to take root. More than three-quarters of cases in Tokyo are now being caused by that highly contagious version of the coronavirus.
Tokyo and Japan at large have reported record numbers of new infections in recent days, fueling questions about whether the Games are contributing to the surge. Organizers say there is no evidence of that.
The organizers on Friday reported 27 new coronavirus infections among people connected to the Games, the highest daily count reported so far. A total of 225 people with Olympic credentials have tested positive since July 1, including 26 athletes. But more than half of the Olympics-related cases are among people who live in Japan.
Still, experts suggested that the presence of the Games in Tokyo was having the psychological effect of making members of the public believe they could relax, even if they are under an emergency declaration.
Fumie Sakamoto, an infection control manager at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo, said, “there might be some psychological influence because every day what we see on TV is we watch the Olympic Games, and it’s hard to imagine that we’re in the middle of the biggest wave of infections in Tokyo.”
The Covid-19 vaccination effort has become so polarized in Missouri that some people are responding to the state’s Delta-driven surge by trying to get shots in secret, a doctor there said.
In a video circulated by her employer, Dr. Priscilla A. Frase, a hospitalist and the chief medical information officer at Ozarks Healthcare in West Plains, Mo., said this month that several people had pleaded for anonymity when they came in to be vaccinated, and that some appeared to have made an effort to disguise themselves.
“I work closely with our pharmacists who are leading our vaccine efforts through our organization,” she said, “and one of them told me the other day that they had several people come in to get vaccinated who have tried to sort of disguise their appearance and even went so far as to say, ‘Please, please please, don’t let anyone know that I got this vaccine.’”
It was not clear how many people had tried to alter their appearance to avoid recognition, or how they had done so. Dr. Frase, who wore a mask in the video, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some people, she said in the video, are “very concerned about how their people that they love, within their family and within their friendship circles and their work circles, are going to react if they found out that they got the vaccine.”
“Nobody should have to feel that kind of pressure to get something that they want, you know,” she added. “We should all be able to be free to do what we want to do, and that includes people who don’t want to get the vaccine as well as people who do want to get the vaccine. But we’ve got to stop ridiculing people that do or don’t want to get the vaccine.”
Missouri’s vaccination rate is lagging. According to a New York Times database, 41 percent of Missouri residents have been fully vaccinated, compared with more than 49 percent nationwide. In Howell County, Mo., where Ozarks Healthcare and Dr. Frase are based, only 20 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.
On Thursday, Missouri reached a seven-day average of nearly 2,500 new cases of Covid-19 — an increase of 39 percent over the previous two weeks. Hospitalizations were up 38 percent over the same period.
As Mindy Greene spent another day in the Covid-19 intensive-care unit, listening to the whirring machines that now breathed for her 42-year-old husband, Russ, she opened her phone and tapped out a message.
“We did not get the vaccine,” she wrote on Facebook. “I read all kinds of things about the vaccine and it scared me. So I made the decision and prayed about it and got the impression that we would be ok.”
They were not.
Her husband and father to their four children was now hovering between life and death, tentacles of tubes spilling from his body. The patient in the room next to her husband had died hours earlier. That July 13 day, Ms. Greene decided to add her voice to an unlikely group of people speaking out in the polarized national debate over vaccination: The remorseful.
“If I had the information I have today we would have gotten vaccinated,” Ms. Greene wrote. Come what may, she hit ‘send.’
Amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections and deaths, people who once rejected the vaccine or simply waited too long are now grappling with the consequences, often in raw, public ways. They are speaking from hospital beds, at funerals and in obituaries about their regrets, about the pain of enduring the virus and watching unvaccinated family members die gasping for breath.
“I have such incredible guilt,” Ms. Greene said one morning as she sat in the fourth-floor lobby outside the I.C.U. at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, overlooking the mountains where her family once went hiking and four-wheeling. “I blame myself still. Every day.”
The recent surge of infections and hospitalizations among unvaccinated people has brought the grim realities of Covid-19 crashing home for many who thought they had skirted the pandemic. But now, with anger and fatigue piled up on all sides, the question is whether their stories can actually change any minds.
Some people hospitalized with the virus still vow not to get vaccinated, and surveys suggest that the majority of unvaccinated Americans are not budging. Doctors in Covid units say some patients still refuse to believe they are infected with anything beyond the flu.
The Maryland manufacturer that ruined 75 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine has received requests to hand over records from a host of federal and state law enforcement agencies, regulatory documents filed Friday show.
The company, Emergent BioSolutions, disclosed that it had received “preliminary inquiries and subpoenas to produce documents” from the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the attorneys general of Maryland and New York and committees in both houses of Congress.
The disclosure suggests broadening scrutiny of the politically connected company, which received a $628 million federal contract to be the primary domestic manufacturer of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines. Production at a company facility in Baltimore was halted for more than three months after a batch of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was found to be contaminated and a subsequent inspection by regulators uncovered serious quality-control problems.
Emergent is already facing a congressional investigation and multiple shareholder lawsuits related to its manufacturing problems. In its disclosure on Friday, the company provided no further detail on the previously unknown requests, but said it was “producing and has produced documents as required in response and will continue to cooperate with these government inquiries.”
Officials with the state and federal agencies, as well as an Emergent spokesman, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.
The disclosure, previously reported by Reuters, comes a day after Emergent announced that the Food and Drug Administration had given the go-ahead to resume manufacturing at the Baltimore site, which had been shuttered since April as the company worked to address deficiencies cited by inspectors.
The agency’s decision does not mean that it has broadly authorized Johnson & Johnson to distribute doses made by Emergent on an emergency basis. The F.D.A. signed off on previous batches of vaccine made at the Baltimore factory but with a warning that the agency could not guarantee that the company had followed good manufacturing practices.
In a conference call with investors on Thursday, Emergent executives announced a $41.5 million hit from being forced to discard vaccine doses deemed unusable by the F.D.A., and said the company had spent another $12.4 million to address manufacturing problems at the Baltimore site.
The newly disclosed inquiries from federal and state agencies underscore a dramatic reversal of fortune for a company that had spent much of the last two decades effectively cornering the market for biodefense, becoming the government’s go-to contractor for products to protect against infectious disease outbreaks and terrorist attacks with bioweapons.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the government turned to Emergent to produce vaccines and treatments. Thanks to a lucrative deal struck in May 2020, Emergent recorded record profits and awarded executives record bonuses.
House Democrats scrambled on Friday to scrape up the votes needed to extend the federal eviction moratorium through the end of the year — a long shot bid to keep the freeze from expiring on Saturday — as leaders vented frustration with President Biden for punting the issue to them.
“We would like the C.D.C. to expand the moratorium, that’s where it can be done,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency that imposed the moratorium last fall.
“The fact is, almost $50 billion was allocated — $46 billion. Less than 10 percent of that has been spent, around $3 billion,” she said. “Why should the renters be punished for the fact that the system did not put money in their pockets to pay the rent to the landlords?
Earlier in the day, Ms. Pelosi and her allies, led by Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, found themselves at least a dozen votes short of passing a bill to extend the freeze — which has been responsible for dramatically slowing the pace of evictions during the pandemic — according to two aides involved in whipping the votes.
The hangup, the aides said, were objections by moderate Democrats over the length of the extension. Landlord groups have ramped up pressure on lawmakers in recent days, arguing that an extension would unfairly hurt small landlords pushed to the brink of insolvency by unpaid rent.
Even if the House measure passes, it will almost certainly die in the Senate — where Democrats were likely to seek to pass a one-month extension through a voice vote. A single Republican objection would sink it instantly, and the vast majority Republicans in both chambers oppose such an extension.
President Biden on Thursday threw the matter to Congress, urging Democrats to quickly enact a second one-month extension of the moratorium on residential evictions specifically, citing the need to buy time to stand up a $47 billion rental relief program plagued by delays and red tape.
The decision to place responsibility on Congress — just two days before the freeze expires — took Democratic leadership by surprise.
White House officials, under pressure from tenants’ rights groups, had agreed last month to a one-month extension of the ban just ahead of its previous expiration date of June 30.
Soon after, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge by landlords, saying it would allow the moratorium to continue until July 31, as planned, to give the Treasury Department and states time to disburse cash to landlords to cover back rent accrued that tenants did not pay during the pandemic.
But Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion that any future extension of the moratorium would require Congressional action.
On Thursday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, citing the steep rise in coronavirus infections around the country, pressed Congress to extend the freeze for another month to avoid a health and eviction crisis.
“Given the recent spread of the Delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the C.D.C. to further extend this eviction moratorium,” she wrote in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”
MIAMI — The resurgence of the coronavirus has burdened hospitals anew across the country, with a rush of patients fueled by the virus’s virulent Delta variant catching doctors off guard. Florida has reported the highest daily average hospitalizations in the nation, 36 for every 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to data compiled by The New York Times. In Jacksonville, hospitals have more Covid patients than ever before, despite the availability of vaccines.
Health workers like Alix Zacharski, a nurse manager at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, feel disbelief that they must endure another surge. She remains tired from the previous one. And she cannot get her head around having to treat patients the same age as her adult children who are gasping for breath because of a preventable infection.
Last year, Ms. Zacharski feared the unknown. Now she is armed with hard-earned knowledge from the past 14 months — and vaccinated, as a sticker on her hospital badge boasts. But the virus continues to move into uncharted territory.
“We are scared of seeing what we saw, and this time affecting the younger population,” she said. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire career.”
Jackson, Florida’s largest public hospital, had 232 Covid-19 patients on Friday, still half the 485 it had on July 27, 2020, its pandemic peak. But a sharp rise in recent hospitalizations prompted administrators to limit visitors and warn that more stringent measures could soon be necessary.
Jackson has also admitted some vaccinated people, but almost all have been transplant patients with compromised immune systems.
Carlos Migoya, Jackson’s chief executive, said the vaccination rate among the hospital’s employees — 60 percent as of Thursday — was too low, a problem plaguing many hospitals, which have started to mandate the shots.
About 61 percent of Miami-Dade County residents are fully vaccinated, higher than the state average of 49 percent. Miami-Dade holds one of the highest vaccination rates among the nation’s large, socially vulnerable counties, those characterized by high poverty rates, crowded housing and poor access to transportation.
The Pentagon said on Thursday evening that it would require military personnel to attest to their vaccination status against the coronavirus or face frequent testing and other restrictions.
The announcement came just hours after President Biden announced that federal employees and on-site contractors must be vaccinated against the coronavirus, or be required to submit to regular testing and other measures.
Mr. Biden also called upon the Department of Defense to move rapidly toward requiring coronavirus vaccines for all members of the military, a step that would affect almost 1.5 million troops, many of whom have resisted taking a shot that is highly effective against a disease that has claimed the lives of more than 600,000 Americans.
But he stopped short of saying he would use his powers as commander in chief to compel service members to get vaccines not yet fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration by issuing a waiver.
On Thursday night, Jamal Brown, a deputy Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement that military members would need to adhere to the same guidelines as the department’s civilian workers.
Employees would be asked to “attest to their vaccination status” and, if unwilling to do so, they “will be required to wear a mask, physically distance, comply with a regular testing requirement and be subject to official travel restrictions,” the statement said.
The military sits firmly at the center of an escalating debate over vaccine mandates as Mr. Biden and other officials struggle to get ahead of the Delta variant sweeping through the nation.
Members of the military are regularly given vaccines, and unvaccinated service members are sometimes not allowed to deploy abroad and face other restrictions. But as a political matter, forcing the coronavirus vaccines on the military is all but certain to set off a firestorm among Mr. Biden’s critics.
Since early July, the average number of coronavirus cases in New York City has quadrupled, from about 250 to more than 1,000 per day, as the more contagious variant Delta has spread.
Hospitalizations are also rising, though not as quickly, thanks to vaccinations and improved treatments.
Still, hospitalizations are up 90 percent since July 4, and more than 300 people are now hospitalized in New York City with Covid-19. They are, for the most part, unvaccinated, or vaccinated but immunocompromised, doctors say.
City officials provided The New York Times with an age breakdown of people being admitted with Covid-19 between June 15 and July 12. Two of the main hospital systems operating in the New York City area, Mount Sinai and Northwell, also provided demographic and vaccination data for their patient population. Here’s what the information shows:
Patients are younger. Citywide, young adults, 25 to 34 years old, were the age group with the most people hospitalized with Covid-19 between June 15 and July 12, according to the city’s Department of Health. Of the 627 people hospitalized during that stretch, 18 percent were 25 to 34 years old.
Some hospitalized patients are vaccinated. The coronavirus vaccines are highly effective in protecting against serious disease, but they are not a guarantee. In the Northwell system, 10 to 15 percent of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in recent weeks have been vaccinated. As at Mount Sinai, those who are vaccinated and severely ill are on chemotherapy, high-dose steroids, elderly or otherwise immunosuppressed.
The racial breakdown of admitted patients also seems similar to earlier waves, with a few exceptions. Northwell noticed a small uptick in the percentage of patients who were unvaccinated and white. Mount Sinai noticed fewer Asian American patients, but cautioned the sample size was too low to draw conclusions yet.
More companies announced tighter pandemic restrictions on Friday, as the contagious Delta variant continued to cause a surge in coronavirus cases across the country at a time of rising concerns among workers.
Walmart and Kroger said that they were reinstating mask requirements for associates in some areas, and Walmart is mandating vaccines for some corporate employees. And starting Monday, the Florida-based grocery chain Publix will require employees to wear masks in all of its stores regardless of their vaccination status.
Also on Friday, The New York Times Company indefinitely postponed its planned return to the office. The company had been planning for employees to start to return, for at least three days a week, on Sept. 7. Meredith Kopit Levien, the company’s chief executive, said that its offices would be open for those who wanted to go in voluntarily, with a mandatory proof of vaccination.
The decisions added the companies to a growing list of businesses that are changing their return plans, asking employees to wear masks again or requiring vaccinations.
The Washington Post this week said it would require all employees to show they were vaccinated as a condition of employment, Uber said it would require all employees to be vaccinated and delayed its return to the office, and Lyft will not require employees to return to the office until February.
Walmart, the nation’s biggest private employer, said the mask requirements would apply in areas of the country with substantial or high transmission rates, and a spokesman said the company recommended that customers wear masks in those areas, too. The retailer is also doubling its reward to employees who get vaccinated from $75 to $150.
The company is also mandating vaccines for employees in its headquarters, as well as managers who travel in the United States, the company’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, said in a memo on Friday. The mandate does not apply to employees in stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers.
Here’s what some other companies have said about their changing policies:
As the Delta variant of the coronavirus has become the most predominant variant in the United States and medical experts issue confusing advice, restaurateurs find themselves once again making difficult decisions. Where laws allow, many have begun requiring patrons to bring proof of vaccination before dining.
The recent rise in infection rates had already prompted some restaurant owners to revise their rules. But the announcement on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that even vaccinated people should resume wearing masks indoors added new urgency.
In states including California and New York, some restaurant owners are mandating that customers and employees be vaccinated, and reinstating older health protocols like requiring that both groups wear masks. But in states like Florida and Arkansas, which have had huge spikes in coronavirus cases, businesses are prohibited from enforcing vaccine requirements, and local governments cannot issue mask mandates.
Danny Meyer, the chief executive of Union Square Hospitality Group, which manages more than a dozen restaurants in New York and Washington, D.C., announced Thursday that beginning on Sept. 7, all employees must be fully vaccinated.
“I just do not want to see our business or our city turn back to where we were last summer,” he said. “We have an answer, and this is what the answer is, and it’s vaccines.”
But when Jill Ritchie, owner of Vegan Picnic, in San Francisco, announced that customers would have to present proof of vaccination to eat inside, she said she received hundreds of threatening messages a day, and dozens of one-star reviews from skeptics.
Yelp posted a consumer warning for the restaurant about unusual review activity. People continue to leave negative Google reviews based on her announcement. “Come here to be discriminated against,” said one message.
Fear and recrimination shook European capitals, while Washington brimmed with confidence. In early April, the European Union lagged far behind the United States in Covid-19 vaccination, the gap was widening rapidly, and the World Health Organization berated Europe for an “unacceptably slow” pace.
But the U.S. effort peaked that month and then nose-dived, while the E.U. campaigns, so recently a target of ridicule, grew faster than those in any other region of the world. This week, the European Union pulled ahead of the United States in total vaccinations, adjusted for population. In July, it has given shots at four times the American pace — a turnabout that would have been hard to imagine in the spring.
Early on, while the United States and a handful of others surged ahead, the Europeans undermined their inoculation campaigns with repeated stumbles, delaying vaccine purchases, damaging public confidence in some shots and bungling the rollout when doses became available.
Now, the European Union is on a pace to end this week having given about 105 doses per 100 people, and at least one to just over 70 percent of adults, while the United States is at about 103 per 100 people and 69 percent of adults.
“The catch-up process has been very successful,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, the E.U. executive branch, said this week.
But the reversal is not just a story of the European Union and its member countries working out the early kinks, and in fact their vaccination campaigns remain far from trouble-free. Major political differences between the United States and Europe set them on divergent paths.
In a speech at the White House on Thursday, President Biden announced plans for new actions to spur coronavirus vaccinations and slow the spread of the Delta variant in the United States.
The contagious variant is ripping through unvaccinated communities, threatening to undo the progress made by the Biden administration in its first six months. About half of all Americans have been fully vaccinated, but the pace of vaccinations has declined significantly from early spring. Recent research has shown fully vaccinated people are protected against the worst outcomes of Covid-19, including those involving the Delta variant. And cases, hospitalizations and deaths are still a fraction of their devastating winter peaks.
Here are the key points of the plan:
Strengthen protocols for federal employees and contractors. All civilian federal employees will be required to be vaccinated or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements, as well as restrictions on most travel. The federal government employs more than 4 million Americans throughout the country and abroad.
Urge vaccination mandates for members of the military. The Department of Defense has been asked to detail when and how they will add the coronavirus vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for members of the military. The president stressed the importance of immunization for service members because American troops serve in countries where vaccination rates are low and Covid-19 is prevalent.
Expand paid leave to enable vaccinations for families and children. Small- and medium-sized businesses will be reimbursed for offering employees paid leave to get themselves and their family members vaccinated. Children younger than 12 cannot yet get vaccinated but will likely be eligible later this year.
Call on local and state governments to offer $100 incentives for getting vaccinated. States, territories and local governments are being asked to do more to incentivize vaccination, including offering $100 to those who get the shot. Some states, including New Mexico, Ohio and Colorado, have piloted $100 incentive programs that have helped move the dial on vaccination rates. New York City said this week that the city will begin offering $100 payments, too.
Increase vaccinations for children returning to classrooms. School districts are being encouraged to host at least one pop-up vaccination clinic over the coming weeks, with the goal of increasing vaccination rates among children 12 and older. Mr. Biden said that while almost 90 percent of educators and school staff are vaccinated, he believes every student should have an accessible way to receive a vaccine. The administration is also directing pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program to prioritize children 12 and older, and to work with school districts across the country to host vaccination clinics at schools and colleges.
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