California will become the first state in the U.S. to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns about the highly contagious delta variant, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.
The new policy applies to both public and private schools and will affect more than 800,000 employees, including about 320,000 public school teachers and a host of support staff such as cafeteria workers and cleaners, the state’s public health department said. It will also apply to school volunteers.
Newsom announced the new policy at a San Francisco Bay Area school that reopened earlier this week to in-person classes. Many California schools are back in session, with others starting in the coming weeks.
“We think this is the right thing to do, and we think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open and to address the number one anxiety that parents like myself have for young children,” said Newsom, who is a father of four. “That is knowing that the schools are doing everything in their power to keep our kids safe.”
Several large school districts in the state have issued similar requirements in recent days, including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Long Beach Unified.
California, like the rest of the country, has seen a troubling surge in COVID-19 infections because of the delta variant, which represents the vast majority of new cases. It has affected children more than previous strains of the virus, prompting a growing number of teachers unions to ease earlier opposition to vaccine mandates.
California’s two largest teachers unions, both powerful political allies to the governor, said Wednesday they fully supported Newsom’s policy.
The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers both cited state and national polling that indicates nearly 90 per cent of educators have been vaccinated but said the rising spread of the delta variant, particularly among children, makes the new policy necessary. Children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
While Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced last week that all Department of Education staffers would be required to disclose their vaccination status or face weekly testing, California’s order is far more sweeping, applying to all staff who work in both public and private schools in the country’s most populous state.
Over the past few weeks, Newsom has mandated that all health-care workers must be fully vaccinated and required that all state employees get vaccinated or choose weekly testing. The weekly testing schedule is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For schools, Newsom had already issued a mask mandate that applies to teachers and students. But until Wednesday, he had left the decision of whether to require vaccines up to local districts.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is requiring employees who provide care for patients to get their COVID-19 shots.
Thursday’s order from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra will affect more than 25,000 clinicians, researchers, contractors, trainees and volunteers with the National Institutes of Health, the Indian Health Service, and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
What’s happening in Canada
WATCH | What’s being done to improve indoor air quality for students:
What’s happening around the world
As of Thursday afternoon, more than 204.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to the coronavirus tracker maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.3 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s capital is going into lockdown for a week from Thursday after a single case of COVID-19 was detected and the virus was found in wastewater. Canberra joins Sydney, Melbourne and several cities in New South Wales state that are locked down due to the delta variant.
The infection is the first locally acquired case in the city of 460,000 since July 10 last year. The source of the infection was unknown, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said.
Later Thursday, ACT Health tweeted that it had been notified of another three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the territory, all of whom are close contacts of the first case.
New Zealand plans to allow quarantine-free entry to vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries from early 2022, as it looks to open its borders again after nearly 18 months of pandemic-induced isolation.
In the Middle East, Turkey is considering mandating regular negative PCR tests from vaccine-hesitant parents as the country prepares to return to face-to-face education. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the government was determined to reopen schools on Sept. 6.
In Europe, Russia on Thursday reported a record-high 808 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours and 21,932 new COVID-19 cases, including 2,294 in Moscow. Russia’s daily reported cases have gradually dipped from a peak in July that authorities blamed on the infectious delta variant and a slow vaccination rate.
France will share 670,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses with Vietnam to help the Asian country tackle the virus, French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
In the Americas, Chile on Wednesday began administering booster shots to those already inoculated with Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine in a bid to lock in early success following one of the world’s fastest mass vaccination drives.
In Africa, the Kenyan oxygen production firm Hewatele is doubling production this year to keep up with surging demand from hospitals treating critically ill COVID-19 patients, it said.
Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor arrive in Canada after nearly 3-year detention in China – CBC.ca
Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are back on home soil, almost three years after they were first detained in China.
The two men landed in Calgary shortly before 8 a.m. ET Saturday aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force Challenger aircraft. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at the airport to welcome the two men, who had flown from China along with ambassador Dominic Barton.
Trudeau announced Friday evening that the two were out of Chinese airspace, just hours after the extradition case against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was dropped. Meng reached a deferred prosecution agreement with U.S. authorities related to fraud charges against her on Friday and landed back in China Saturday morning.
“These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal,” Trudeau said Friday. “For the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience and grace.”
Kovrig, a diplomat, and Spavor, an entrepreneur who worked in North Korea and China, were first detained in December 2018 — just after Meng was arrested in Canada on behalf of U.S. authorities. Their detention is widely considered to be a retaliatory action in response to the Huawei executive’s arrest.
Chinese authorities had consistently denied that the cases were linked.
Spavor was found guilty of spying and sentenced to 11 years in prison and extradition by a Chinese court in August. The trial for Kovrig concluded in March, but he had not yet been sentenced.
Timing shows clear link between cases, experts say
Speaking earlier in outside a Vancouver courthouse after her extradition case was dropped, Meng thanked the court and the Canadian government for “upholding the rule of law.”
“I’m also grateful to the Canadian people and media friends for your tolerance. Sorry for the inconvenience caused,” she said.
The timing of the releases of Meng, and Spavor and Kovrig, show China clearly saw a connection between the two, several diplomats and foreign policy experts told CBC News.
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CBC News: The House14:38Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor freed
“China … up until now, has said that there’s been no linkage between the two, but by putting them on the plane [Friday night], they’ve clearly acknowledged that this was hostage-taking,” said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat for more than 30 years.
Robertson told CBC’s The House “it really was one for the other” in an exchange that was reminiscent of Cold War swaps.
“The timing, it’s totally undeniable that the two Michaels were unjustly detained because of the arrest of Ms. Meng in Vancouver,” Lynette Ong, a specialist on China at the Munk School of Global Affairs, told The House host Chris Hall.
The rapid series of events Friday “was a surprise,” said Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, a senior fellow at Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa.
She noted Spavor and Kovrig’s detention had already sent a message to other countries “that if they cross China, then Beijing will just pick up a couple of their citizens and hold them hostage.
“And that’s a chilling message for other countries to be receiving today.”
Robertson said Canadians should give significant credit for the release of the men to U.S. President Joe Biden.
“As the prime minister said, this was the top issue in terms of Canada China relations, but also a top issue in Canada-U.S. relations,” he said. “President Biden has delivered now for Justin Trudeau.
Changed relationship with China
Trudeau has said the return of the so-called two Michaels has been a top foreign policy priority for the government.
But the prime minister deflected questions Friday about how the return on the two men would affect Canada’s relationship with China.
Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as Canada’s ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016, said it is impossible to ignore China, given its strength and importance in the world, but the approach should be “strategic” and “restrained.”
“The message to China is simple, it’s we have no problem with you being a superpower. But as long as you respect international treaties, international obligations and you don’t engage in bullying tactics,” he said.
Ong said she believes the relationship with China has been permanently damaged. She said public opinion in Canada has turned decisively against China and a return to normal would be “very hard” to execute.
“I don’t think Canada-China relations could actually be repaired. We’re living in an entirely different world now.”
Canada COVID-19 booster update coming 'very shortly': Tam – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News
Canadians can expect an update on the potential use of additional COVID-19 shots for the most at-risk “very shortly,” the country’s top doctor says.
Speaking at a news conference Friday morning, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters she expects the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will make recommendations on whether or not additional doses for those at the highest risk are needed.
In particular, the committee is looking at those who received a COVID-19 vaccine around the beginning of the year, Tam added.
“So that includes, for example, those in long-term care homes or congregate living for seniors,” she said. “So I expect the committee to have their deliberations completed on this group … very shortly.”
Biden says ‘majority of Americans’ who received Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine eligible for booster shot 6 months after 2nd shot
Tam did not elaborate on a timeline further, but her comments come after the United States approved booster shots for Americans aged 65 and older, adults with underlying medical conditions and adults in high-risk settings, like a workplace or congregate living.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed the plan on Thursday, which is in line with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the extra shot earlier this week.
Pfizer-BioNTech is the vaccine of choice. The extra shots will also be rolled out in long-term care facilities and are open to more than 20 million Americans who received their second Pfizer shot more than six months ago.
Tam said in addition to looking at American data on boosters, Canada has its own measures to follow as its vaccine approach is different.
“For example, while we use the mRNA vaccines that are the same as the United States, many Canadians actually had an extended interval compared to the United States, and what the data is showing us is that the extended interval produces a more robust immune response and vaccine effectiveness is better with a longer interval,” she said.
“So the Canadian data must be analyzed on top of what we’re gathering from the international community as well, and we are taking a thorough, thoughtful and phased approach to looking at additional doses.”
Canada has already OK’d additional doses for some immunocompromised individuals, announcing the new measure on Sept. 10.
“NACI continues to examine the need for booster doses, which unlike additional doses are intended to restore initially adequate immune protection that may have waned over time,” Tam said at the time.
Booster shots, however, continue to be a divisive issue among health experts and internationally.
Vaccine inequity was among the agenda items at the United Nations’ annual meeting this week. The leaders of many African countries, whose populations have little to no access to the shots, spoke out.
It is “of great concern” that the global community has not supported the principles “of solidarity and co-operation in securing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines,” Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president, said.
“It is an indictment on humanity that more than 82 per cent of the world’s vaccine doses have been acquired by wealthy countries, while less than one per cent has gone to low-income countries.”
U.S. to donate half a billion additional Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines
On Wednesday during a global COVID-19 summit, President Joe Biden announced the U.S. would double its purchase of Pfizer’s shots to share one billion doses with the world, in an effort to vaccinate 70 per cent of the global population within the next year.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was also in attendance, committed to that goal.
“In order to get this done, Canada will build on the important progress we have made so far, and focus on increasing the production, availability, and delivery of vaccines,” a read-out of the summit said.
“To date, Canada has contributed more than $2.5 billion to help address this crisis globally. We have also committed to sharing tens of millions of vaccine doses with the rest of the world, including through the COVAX facility.”
Tam said on Friday that more than 80 per cent of Canada’s eligible population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to Johns Hopkins University, 32.71 per cent of the world’s population is fully inoculated.
Earlier this month, University of Toronto bioethics professor Kerry Bowman told Global News that Canada needs to fight the pandemic with a global approach.
“Booster shots may well be required for immunocompromised people and a subset of people, (but) I think in the short term, we should not have widespread booster shots — meaning third doses — at all, for ethical reasons and epidemiological reasons,” he said.
“We really have to start making a deeper commitment to the larger world to protect ourselves and because it’s the right thing to do.”
–with files from Reuters and The Associated Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday – CBC.ca
New Brunswick has reinstated its COVID-19 state of emergency as the province’s chief medical officer of health warned the province is at a “tipping point.”
“The pace of the fourth wave is beyond what we had anticipated,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell at a briefing Friday as the province reported a single-day record of 78 new cases and three additional deaths.
As part of the mandatory order, which will take effect at 11:59 p.m. AT Friday, residents must stick to their household bubbles and a “steady 20” of close contacts.
The order will be reviewed every two weeks and come into effect whenever there are 25 people hospitalized with COVID-19, said Premier Blaine Higgs. The number of people hospitalized currently stands at 31, including 15 in intensive care, he said.
Dr. Gordon Dow, infectious disease specialist with the Horizon Health Network, said the lifting of health-protection measures almost two months ago was an error.
“Many other jurisdictions made the very same mistake,” he said at a technical briefing earlier Friday, citing Alberta, Saskatchewan, the U.S. and the U.K.
Dow said the province’s previous efforts to combat the virus focused on a successful “elimination strategy” that was used to rapidly shut down seven distinct outbreaks. But the province wasn’t ready for the delta variant, he said.
“Did we under-call this one? I would say yes, and I think most New Brunswickers would agree with that,” he said. “But I would also say that we got it right 85 per cent of the time.”
Meanwhile, Ontario is easing capacity limits at certain venues where proof of vaccination is required, including sports facilities, cinemas and concert venues.
The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, says the province’s COVID-19 cases and health indicators have been stable recently, though it doesn’t mean the province can let its guard down in the face of the delta variant.
Ontario on Friday reported 727 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths. There are 193 people in intensive care units due to COVID-19.
— From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 5:30 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
Canada’s chief public health officer says the country is seeing about 4,300 new cases of COVID-19 per day, up from about 3,500 per day three weeks ago.
The bulk of cases and severe outcomes are among the unvaccinated, Dr. Theresa Tam said at a news briefing Friday.
From early August to early September, the average weekly rate of new COVID-19 was 11 times higher in those who were unvaccinated than in fully vaccinated people, she said, while hospitalization was 38 times higher.
While more than 80 per cent of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated, more than six million people still have not received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, Tam said.
— From The Canadian Press, last updated at 5:30 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Friday afternoon, more than 230.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case tracking tool, which collects data from around the world. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in coronavirus since the start of the pandemic as people returned from the country’s biggest holiday of the year.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said more than 1,750 of the 2,434 new cases reported Friday were from the greater capital area, where officials have raised concern over an erosion in citizen vigilance despite the enforcement of the strongest physical distancing rules short of a lockdown since July.
In the Americas, a live televised interview with U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris was slightly delayed Friday after two hosts of the The View learned they tested positive for the coronavirus just before she was to join them on the set.
Co-host Sunny Hostin and guest host Ana Navarro were at the table for the start of the show, but were pulled from the set. Harris, who had planned to join the table, instead was interviewed remotely from a different room in the ABC studio in New York.
In Europe, Portugal is scrapping many of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions after becoming the world leader in vaccination rollout. The country has fully vaccinated nearly 85 per cent of the population, according to Our World in Data.
The government says starting Oct. 1, it will remove limits on how many people can be in cafés and restaurants, at weddings and baptisms, shopping malls, concerts and cinemas. Bars and discos will reopen, although only for vaccinated people and people with negative coronavirus tests.
Meanwhile, Norway’s government says the country will reopen society on Saturday, ending pandemic-curbing restrictions that have limited social interaction and hobbled many businesses.
“It is 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime …. Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference.
The decision to no longer require physical distancing will allow culture and sports venues to utilize their full capacity, rather than just a portion of seats, while restaurants can fill up and nightclubs reopen.
About 76 per cent of all Norwegians have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 67 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the Institute of Public Health.
In the Middle East, Yemen received its third batch of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing scheme, the health ministry said
In Africa, Egypt has authorized Russia’s single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine against COVID-19, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which markets the shot abroad, said on Friday. The country approved Russia’s two-dose Sputnik V vaccine in February.
— From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 5:30 p.m. ET
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