CDC gives go-ahead to J&J, Moderna and mix-and-match boosters: COVID-19 updates

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The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on mix-and-match COVID-19 booster shots Thursday night, meaning clinics, doctors and pharmacies can begin giving them out Friday.

A CDC advisory committee recommended that Americans be allowed to choose among the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as a COVID-19 booster shot. The committee said it could increase protection against the disease that is killing on average 1,093 Americans a day.

“The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe – as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given. And, they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

Walenskey also endorsed a second shot for all 15 million Americans who received the one-dose J&J vaccine, as well as a booster dose for certain groups of people who got the Moderna vaccine.

— Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

Also in the news:

►Three African lions at the Indianapolis Zoo have tested positive for the delta variant and have been taken off exhibit, officials said Thursday.

►About 70 Beaumont Health workers resigned rather than take the COVID-19 vaccine and 370 have been suspended for failing to meet an Oct. 18 deadline for vaccination, the Michigan-based health system announced Thursday.

►Restaurants, movie theaters and many retail stores in Moscow will be closed for 11 days starting Oct. 28, along with other new restrictions, officials said Thursday, as Russia recorded the highest numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths since the pandemic began.

►Ready for some sun? Hawaii’s governor welcomed back tourists as COVID cases and hospitalizations dropped.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 45 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 733,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 242 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 189 million Americans — 57.2% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: Do I need another shot? Are COVID booster doses safe? Here are your COVID booster questions, answered.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

More than 1,800 Washington state workers quit or were fired after refusing COVID vaccine

As of Wednesday, 1,887 Washington state employees have been terminated or left their positions after Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate took effect.

This equates to about 3% of the 63,000 Washington state workers who were told they needed to be fully vaccinated by Monday, according to the Office of Financial Management.

The majority of workers required to get a COVID-19 vaccine did. As of Tuesday, 92% of state workers were fully vaccinated, according to OFM data.

According to the data, 2,887 people are “pending action,” meaning they may be planning to get vaccinated, are in the process of getting approval for working without being vaccinated, or are about to retire. Employees who have received an accommodation to work without being vaccinated total 1,927.

— Gabriela Miranda, USA TODAY

Florida military service members, contractors file suit to halt vaccine mandate

A lawsuit filed in Tampa and representing Southwest Florida asks for a temporary restraining order and injunction regarding service members and a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine order.

The suit, filed by the Liberty Counsel in Florida’s Middle District Court on Oct. 15, states that members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, and federal employees and federal civilian contractors, have been unlawfully mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccines or face dishonorable discharge from the military or termination from employment.

“The Biden administration has no authority to require the COVID shots for the military or for federal employees or civilian contractors,” said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. “Nor can the Biden administration pretend that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment do not apply to its unlawful mandates.

— Rachel Heimann Mercader, Naples Daily News

CDC sending team to Guam to study COVID-19 deaths

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will send a team to Guam to investigate why so many COVID-19 patients arrive at the island’s hospitals dead.

Last month, the U.S. territory’s Department of Public Health and Social Services reported that “dead on arrival” cases made up about two-thirds of recent COVID-19 deaths on Guam.

The CDC team is coming at the request of Department of Public Health and Social Services Director Art San Agustin, the Pacific Daily News reported.

The team is expected to take a deep dive into the data, “to look at what actually happened” and analyze whether the patients had similar comorbidities, Chief Public Health Officer Chima Mbakwem said Thursday.

— The Associated Press

7-week-old Kentuckian among the latest to die from COVID-19

A 7-week-old was among the 53 new COVID-related deaths reported in Kentucky on Thursday.

The daily update shared to the state’s website included an additional death in the 0-9 age range, but didn’t include any details. Gov. Andy Beshear said on Twitter that the baby was 7 weeks old.

In a midday new conference, Beshear said the infant was believed to have “multiple issues” and “complications” in addition to COVID-19.

“It can impact anyone, whether or not it is the only cause of us losing someone,” he said. “If it’s what puts it over the edge, or even just contributes to that loss, there’s something that we can do about that, and that’s everybody getting vaccinated, doing what it takes, masking when it’s appropriate, to protect one another.”

— Sarah Ladd, Louisville Courier-Journal

Contributing: The Associated Press

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