U.S. May Widen Booster Guidance; Singapore Record: Virus Update

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© Bloomberg A Pharmacy Administers Third Doses Of Covid-19 Vaccines

(Bloomberg) — Singapore set a record with almost 4,000 daily cases. Authorities are monitoring the situation “to determine if this is a temporary spike or a further surge in infections.”

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U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tested positive, but 

President Joe Biden isn’t considered a close-contact exposure.

The U.S. is likely to recommend booster shots for people as young as 40 who received the Pfizer Inc. or Moderna Inc. vaccine, CNN reported. Pfizer’s inoculation is proving highly effective in keeping adolescents from being hospitalized with the disease, a U.S. analysis found. 

The U.S. will block entry to foreign travelers who have recovered from Covid-19 and then gotten one shot of a two-dose vaccine, a standard that France and the European Commission consider full inoculation.

Key Developments:

Virus Tracker: Cases top 241.4 million; deaths surpass 4.9 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 6.73 billion shots givenBiden’s vaccine mandate rush faces slow walk in GOP-led statesAlpha, delta and more. Why virus variants cause alarm: QuickTake

Bidens Not Deemed Exposed After Mayorkas Tests Positive (6:30 a.m. HK)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden aren’t considered close-contact exposures to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who tested positive three days after attending an outdoor event with them.

Biden, who received his booster shot three weeks ago, isn’t considered at risk because his most recent encounter was more than 48 hours before the positive test and occurred outdoors, the White House said. The fully vaccinated Mayorkas tested positive Tuesday morning as part of routine check before a planned trip, according to his department. Mayorkas is experiencing mild congestion and will isolate and work from home.

Idaho Cases May Have Peaked (5:30 a.m. HK)

The number of Covid-19 patients in Idaho hospitals is edging lower after setting a record, but care continues to be rationed, David Jeppesen, director of the state’s Department and Welfare, said Tuesday.

Hospitalizations peaked at 759 and the latest tally is 615, though transmission rates are still classified as running high in 41 of 44 Idaho counties.

Deaths among hospitalized patients range from 1% to 2.2%, said Kathryn Turner, deputy state epidemiologist.

Pregnancy Changes Immune Response to Vaccine: Study (5:02 a.m. HK)

Pregnant and breast-feeding women appear to respond relatively weakly to their first vaccine dose, according to a study that indicates the importance of them receiving both doses of standard regimens. Immune responses to a single dose of vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer and BioNTech SE were weaker than in a group of nonpregnant women, according to the study released Tuesday by Science Translational Medicine. 

Union Pacific’s Vaccine Mandate (4 p.m. NY)

Union Pacific Corp. notified workers on Oct. 11 that they must get vaccinated before Dec. 8 to be in compliance with President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated by that date. The railroad moves goods for the armed services.

“All employees are required to report their vaccination status or have an approved medical or religious accommodation by the federally mandated deadline,” Union Pacific said in a statement Tuesday. 

If a medical or religious request is denied, then employees must be vaccinated or face disciplinary action that, for management, includes termination. For unionized workers, those not complying face “medical disqualification,” the railroad said.

Pfizer Shot Prevents Hospitalization in Teens (1 p.m. NY)

Pfizer’s vaccine proved highly effective in keeping adolescents from being hospitalized with the disease, according to a new analysis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among children age 12 to 18, two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot were 93% effective in preventing Covid hospitalization, the agency said. The real-world data was gathered from 19 children’s hospitals from June to September, after U.S. regulators cleared the shot for people age 12 to 15.

The analysis of 464 patients compared those admitted with Covid to others in the hospital who didn’t have the disease. Nearly all of those hospitalized for Covid – 97% – were unvaccinated, compared to about two-thirds of the control group that was unvaccinated.

The delta variant predominated during the study period, and pediatric hospitalizations reached their highest levels in early September, the CDC said. About half of adolescents 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated in the U.S. so far. Only the Pfizer-BioNTech shot is authorized for people under 18 in the U.S. so far.

GE Requires Worker Vaccinations (12:55 p.m. NY)

General Electric Co. will require its roughly 56,000 employees in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, or receive a medical or religious exemption by that date, the company said in a statement. GE is a federal contractor and said it will comply with Biden’s order mandating vaccines for workers at those companies.

Southwest Clarifies Vaccine Deadline Plans (11:20 a.m. NY)

Southwest Airlines Co. said employees will continue working, while following mask and distancing guidelines applicable to their job, if their request for an accommodation to not receive the vaccine hasn’t been reviewed or approved by the Dec. 8 federal deadline.

“While we intend to grant all valid requests for medical and/or religious accommodations, in the event a request is not granted, the company will provide adequate time for an employee to become fully vaccinated while continuing to work and adhering to safety protocols,” the carrier said in a statement Tuesday.

American Airlines Group Inc. also has decided that workers with pending accommodation requests as of the Dec. 8 deadline will continue to work as normally scheduled, a spokesman said. While American still is in the process of creating accommodation procedures, “unpaid leaves of absences are off the table,” the TWU-IAM Association union told members in a message on its website.

Moscow Puts Seniors in 4-Month Lockdown (10:05 a.m. NY)

Unvaccinated people over 60 will have to remain at home for four months starting Oct. 25, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a blog post Tuesday, as the Russian capital faces a surge of infections.

Pensioners will be allowed to take walks and physical activity outside, but will otherwise be expected to remain home, Sobyanin said, adding that only about one-third of people in the vulnerable age group have been vaccinated.

Moscow will also increase the percentage of workers facing mandatory vaccination and reintroduce a work-from-home requirement for at least 30% of employees until Feb. 25.

U.K. to Expand Kids’ Access to Shots (8:17 a.m. NY)

Britain plans to expand access to vaccines for children, the head of the National Health Service said, following a surge in infections in schools. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson predicted a difficult winter as the government acknowledged worsening data in its pandemic response. Weekly deaths from coronavirus have topped 800 for each of the past six weeks in Britain, which is higher than in other major western European nations, according to Bloomberg’s coronavirus tracker. 

“We’re starting to see indications that hospitalizations and death rates are increasing,” Johnson’s official spokesman, Max Blain, told reporters Tuesday. “Clearly we are keeping a very close eye on rising case rates.”

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