New York becomes first US city to order COVID-19 vaccines for restaurants, gyms
New York City will become the first major US city to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination at restaurants, gyms and other businesses, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday, as the nation grapples with the rapidly spreading Delta variant.
With vaccines widely available, political leaders were combating the latest surge in infections with shots and masks rather than ordering businesses to close and Americans to stay home as they did last year.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a new 60-day moratorium on residential evictions in areas with high levels of COVID-19 cases, despite a Supreme Court ruling in June suggesting that such a move would require Congress to pass new legislation.
The US government and several states, along with some hospitals and universities, already require employees to get inoculated. Tyson Foods on Tuesday became one of the largest private employers to require workers to be immunized to combat the virus that has killed over 600,000 in the country.
New York City's policy requires proof of at least one dose and will be enforced starting September 13. Like mask mandates and last year's stay-at-home orders, the plan will likely meet stiff resistance.
In France, government imposition of a nationwide health passport proving vaccination has touched off large protests, often dispersed by police using tear gas.
Government vaccine passports are controversial among Americans as well, especially conservatives.
"It is time for people to see vaccination as literally necessary to living a good and full and healthy life," de Blasio, a Democrat, told a news conference.
The US Food and Drug Administration is aiming to give full approval for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by early September, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing people involved in the effort.
Roughly 60 percent of all New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to city data. But certain areas, largely poor communities and communities of color, have much lower vaccination rates.
The city's announcement comes as cases surge nationwide. Florida and Louisiana have emerged as the latest hot spots, straining hospitals.
Florida and Louisiana are both reporting record numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, as one doctor warned of the "darkest days" yet.
More than 11,300 patients were hospitalized in Florida as of Tuesday, with COVID-19 patients filling 22 percent of the state's hospital beds, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.In highly vaccinated Vermont, 0.4 percent of its hospital beds are occupied by coronavirus patients.
LA County sees surge
Louisiana was also dealing with one of the worst outbreaks
in the nation, prompting Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat,
to order residents to wear masks again indoors.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Los Angeles County have nearly quadrupled in the last four weeks to 1,096 on Monday, the department of public health said. The percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus also climbed to 6.2 percent, up from 1.3 percent a month ago, according to department data.
To fight the spread in California, political leaders in eight San Francisco Bay Area counties this week reinstated mandatory indoor mask orders. Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, late last month mandated all state employees to get vaccinated starting August 2 or undergo COVID-19 testing at least once a week.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has taken the opposite stance. He issued an executive order last week barring schools from requiring face coverings, saying parents should make that decision for their children.
The Sunshine State claimed another grim record with the highest number of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations – 138 as of Tuesday, more than those recorded in Texas despite its larger population.