Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today
California’s strict mandates.
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Daily reported coronavirus cases in the United States, seven-day average.Credit…The New York Times
YouTube banned all anti-vaccine misinformation.
India reported its lowest daily Covid death count and new infections in months.
A survey showed that a large share of Hispanic adults in the U.S. got vaccinated over the summer.
California is once again at the forefront of the pandemic conversation.
Los Angeles is considering a sweeping law that would make people show proof of vaccination to enter indoor public places like gyms, shops, restaurants, movie theaters and museums.
The new order would be one of the most stringent laws in the U.S. The move comes as California became the state with the lowest per capita infection rate in the nation.
To catch us up on the virus situation in the state, we spoke to Soumya Karlamangla, who writes the California Today newsletter.
What was the summer like in California?
On June 15, when everything opened up, it felt like people were nervous. But a lot of people were also really ready to do things they hadn’t done in a year and a half. It felt like everyone I knew in California, from people my age, to my parents and others, were out there living life and feeling good about the vaccines. Then Delta came and it kind of shifted. When the case numbers started going up there was this creeping dread, and you’re asking people like, “Where have you gone? How many people are we going to have indoors?”
How did the state weather Delta?
California did better during Delta than it did during last year’s winter surge. Once cases started ticking up, there was a wave of places that put in place indoor mask mandates. First it was L.A., then San Francisco, and then there was a new place like every day.
The pace of vaccinations also rose during the Delta surge. The last week of July, there was a 40 percent increase in vaccinations. And lots of places began either mandating vaccines in workplaces or incentivizing them by passing laws. For example, San Francisco requires vaccinations to dine in and Contra Costa County, which is one of the biggest counties in the Bay Area, you can only go to restaurants if you are vaccinated or show a negative test. And now L.A. seems like it’s on track to do that, too.
Have the mandates been working?
Tomorrow is a big test. It’s the deadline for health care workers to be vaccinated. I think people who didn’t want to get vaccinated felt like they could possibly get out of the mandate. But it seems like they really can’t. So now they’re going to have to make a decision about whether to get vaccinated or lose their jobs.
Has there been a lot of pushback to the mandates?
We’ve managed to pass so many vaccination mandates across the state, and generally, there hasn’t been a lot of pushback. In many ways, the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom was a referendum on how people felt about the state’s strict pandemic policies. He won with 62 percent of the vote. So it seems pretty clear that while Californians may like to complain about virus policies, they don’t think that they’re bad decisions.
How are Californians feeling now?
It feels like we’re back. But it’s less joyous than when everything first opened up this summer. It feels like maybe people are just comfortable again hanging out with people indoors, and I think that’s because our case numbers are so low.
Vaccine mandates seem to work
Vaccine mandates from large employers — especially those in health care — have begun to go into effect. Vaccination rates are increasing and only a small minority of employees are quitting their jobs.
As New York’s statewide mandate for nursing home and health care workers went into full effect on Monday, 92 percent had received at least one vaccine dose, up from 82 percent of the state’s nursing home workers and at least 84 percent of hospital workers a week prior.
Many hospitals or health systems with their own mandates have seen only a small number of holdouts. At Trinity Health, which operates in 22 states, the vaccination rate increased to 94 percent from 75 percent. Novant Health, in North Carolina, says it has a rate above 99 percent and suspended just 375 workers. Only 150 of Houston Methodist’s 26,000 employees left.
A few departures could still compound major staffing shortages, particularly in rural areas. But healthy, vaccinated workers may also ease shortages during outbreaks, since they will be less likely to take sick leave.
Outside the health care industry, United Airlines is firing about 600 employees over noncompliance with its mandate, less than 1 percent of its work force. The vaccination rate at Tyson Foods, which is scheduled to put its mandate into effect Nov. 1, has increased to about 80 percent from 50 percent in August, The A.P. reported.
What else we’re following
President Vladimir Putin of Russia emerged from self-isolation for a meeting with Turkey’s leader.
Hospitals in England are relaxing Covid rules to try to ease a patient backlog.
Spain will allow soccer stadiums to return to 100 percent capacity.
After 18 months, migrant workers in Singapore are still stuck in dormitories, even though more than 90 percent of them are fully vaccinated.
Ed Yong writes in The Atlantic that the window to prepare for the next pandemic is closing fast.
Harvard Business School moved graduate classes online after a surge in breakthrough cases.
What you’re doing
I just got back from a trip to see my best friend, who lives and works in Ontario. Crossing the border was like crossing into another world. The masked border agent took my passport and negative Covid test, and I had to fill out an app and submit pictures of my vaccination card prior to arriving. Any time we had to go inside — from rest areas, to grocery stores, to private homes — every person wore a mask. Then I came home. The U.S. border agent had a mask — below his nose. None of the people in the rest areas wore masks. It felt like I was leaving a place where people actually cared about each other and coming to a place where avoiding discomfort is more important than preventing the illness and death of those around you. It makes me angry and frustrated and sad.
— Lauren Woodruff, Dayton, Ohio
Let us know how you’re dealing with the pandemic. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.
Correction: Monday’s email incorrectly described California’s vaccine mandate for health care workers. Workers can opt for regular testing instead of a vaccine if they have a medical or religious exemption, not if they avoid vaccination without an exemption.
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