While the United States has seen mask warrants relaxed or removed and efforts to reopen businesses and travel, the current surge in COVID cases is now leading to more caution and, in some cases, more restrictions.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday it would require its doctors and other medical staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, becoming the first federal agency to impose such a mandate.
“It’s the best way to keep veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country,” McDonough said in a press release.
Also on Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California, the most populous state in the country, will require state employees and all health workers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination starting next month or get tested every week.
“The announcement here today is broad, it is important, I think we are perhaps the first large-scale state not only to require it for all state employees, but to engage in a public-private partnership with our health facilities in the state, ”Newsom said.
Earlier Monday, a group of more than 50 healthcare organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, called for mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers.
“Due to the recent wave of COVID-19 and the availability of safe and effective vaccines, our healthcare organizations and companies advocate that all healthcare and long-term care employers require their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, ”the groups said. in a report.
“This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all healthcare workers to put patients and residents of long-term care facilities first and to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure their health and safety. their well-being. “
Their call for mandatory jabs comes after a ProPublica report last week that only 59% of workers in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are vaccinated.
Blame the unvaccinated
“We are going in the wrong direction,” America’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Sunday of the recent increase in cases and singled out those who have yet to receive a vaccine.
“If you look at the inflection of the curve for new infections… it’s among the unvaccinated and since we have 50 percent of the country not fully immunized, that’s a problem,” he added. .
Vaccines against the coronavirus are widely available in the United States and just under 60% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, with 68.8% of adults having received at least one dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC) of the United States.
The biggest increases in COVID-19 infections are in places with lower vaccination rates. Florida, Texas and Missouri account for 40% of all new cases nationwide, with about one in five cases occurring in Florida, White House adviser Jeffrey Zients said last week.
In Alabama, a state with some of the lowest vaccination rates in the United States, Governor Kay Ivey last week attacked people who refuse to be vaccinated, according to local media.
“People are supposed to have common sense,” said Ivey, a Republican who refused to impose masks. “It’s time to start blaming unvaccinated people, not ordinary people. It’s the unvaccinated who let us down.
Ahead of the announcement of California’s vaccination mandate on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said his city would require all of its city workers – including teachers and police officers – to get vaccinated against coronavirus by September 13 or undergo weekly COVID testing.
While stopping before imposing jabs – no worker will be forced to shoot – officials hope the inconvenience and discomfort of weekly testing will persuade many people to overcome their reluctance to get the shot.
“This is about our recovery. That’s about what we need to do to bring New York City back, ”de Blasio said. “It’s about protecting people.
The Delta variant is deadly and this city takes it seriously. Today I am announcing that EVERY City government employee will need to provide proof of vaccination or submit a weekly #COVID test. Join us at Bronx Borough Hall to find out more. #DansLeBronx https://t.co/G9YsQCmNBP
– Major Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) July 26, 2021
In St. Louis, Missouri, a county-wide mask warrant went into effect Monday, forcing most people, regardless of their immunization status, to wear a mask indoors and on public transportation.
St Louis’ tenure comes a week after Los Angeles, California reinstated its mask requirement. Additionally, the top public health official in King County, Washington, which includes the city of Seattle, last week asked everyone to wear masks in indoor public spaces – even if they are vaccinated. .
While local St. Louis officials argue they are reinstating the mandate due to the current wave of Delta variants, others are actively fighting the new restrictions.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican who is also a U.S. Senate candidate, is among several elected officials who have pledged to end the term, saying it violates individual freedoms.
The citizens of Saint-Louis and the county of Saint-Louis are not subjects, they are free people. As Attorney General, I will file a complaint on Monday to stop this madness. #covid https://t.co/30RwiyS9Mr
– Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) July 24, 2021
“The citizens of St. Louis and St. Louis County are not subjects – they are free people. As attorney general, I will file a complaint on Monday to stop this madness, ”Schmitt tweeted over the weekend.
Travel restrictions unchanged
Meanwhile, the U.S. government is moving slowly on its existing restrictions on international travel, choosing to keep them in place for now, according to a White House official.
President Joe Biden said earlier this month that his administration was “in the process of” considering when the United States could lift the ban on European travel to the United States after the issue was raised. raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to the White House. .
The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said that while the administration understands the importance of international travel, cases are increasing in the United States – especially among those who are not vaccinated and will likely continue to increase in the coming weeks.