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Courts block two Biden administration COVID vaccine mandates

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The Biden administration was blocked on Tuesday from enforcing two mandates requiring millions of American workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a key part of its strategy for controlling the spread of the coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Monroe, Louisiana, temporarily blocked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing its vaccine mandate for healthcare workers until the court can resolve legal challenges.

Doughty’s ruling applied nationwide, except in 10 states where the CMS was already prevented from enforcing the rule due to a prior order from a federal judge in St. Louis.

Doughty said the CMS lacked the authority to issue a vaccine mandate that would require more than 2 million unvaccinated healthcare workers to get a coronavirus shot.

“There is no question that mandating a vaccine to 10.3 million healthcare workers is something that should be done by Congress, not a government agency,” wrote Doughty.

Separately, U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove in Frankfort, Kentucky, blocked the administration from enforcing a regulation that new government contracts must include clauses requiring that contractors’ employees get vaccinated.

The contractor ruling applied in the three states that had filed the lawsuit, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, one of at least 13 legal challenges nationwide against the regulation. It appears to be the first ruling against the contractor vaccine mandate.

The White House declined to comment.

The legal setbacks for President Joe Biden’s vaccine policy come as concerns that the Omicron coronavirus variant could trigger a new wave of infections and curtail travel and economic activity across the globe.

Biden unveiled regulations in September to increase the U.S. adult vaccination rate beyond the current 71% as a way of fighting the pandemic, which has killed more than 750,000 Americans and weighed on the economy.

Republican state attorneys general, conservative groups and trade organizations have sued to stop the regulations.

Tuesday’s rulings add to a string of court losses for the Biden administration over its COVID-19 policies.

The most sweeping regulation, a workplace vaccine-or-testing mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees, was temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court in early November.

In August, the U.S. Supreme Court ended the administration’s pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Additional reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)

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Truckers fighting government vaccine mandate march to Canadian capital

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A convoy of truckers started their march from Vancouver on Sunday to the Canadian capital city of Ottawa protesting the government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers, which the industry says would create driver shortages and fuel inflation.

Truckers under the banner Freedom Convoy 2022 had raised C$2.7 million ($2.2 million) by Sunday through a gofundme campaign to fight the mandate. The funds raised would be used to help with the costs of fuel, food and lodgings, the gofundme page said. The convoy is expected to reach Ottawa on Jan. 29.

The trucking industry is vital to ensure smooth flow of goods since more than two-thirds of the C$650 billion ($521 billion) in goods traded annually between Canada and the United States travels on roads.

But as many as 32,000, or 20%, of the 160,000 Canadian and American cross-border truck drivers may be taken off the roads due to the mandate https://www.reuters.com/business/canada-us-supply-chain-still-could-face-disruptions-due-vaccine-mandates-2022-01-13, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) estimates.

The CTA, however, said in a statement on Saturday it does not support any protests on public road ways and the only way to cross the border on a commercial truck is by getting vaccinated.

Canada imposed the vaccine mandate for the trucking industry from Jan. 15, under which unvaccinated Canadian truckers re-entering Canada from the United States must get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine themselves.

Driver shortages are further expected to fuel red-hot inflation https://www.reuters.com/business/canadas-annual-inflation-rate-hits-48-dec-highest-since-sept-1991-2022-01-19 which is running at a three-decade high, industry lobby groups gave said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has resisted industry pressure to delay the mandate since it was first announced in November.

($1 = 1.2572 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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P.E.I. reports another COVID-19 death; 9 people in hospital – CBC.ca

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P.E.I. has announced announced another death related to COVID-19, raising the province’s total to six.

The person was over age 80, according to a release from the Chief Public Health Office on Sunday. No further details were released about the death.

The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 increased to nine as of early Sunday. One person is in intensive care.

Four other people in hospital for other reasons have also tested positive for the virus.

The province has declared a new outbreak at the Summerset Manor long-term care facility in Summerside. 

There are currently six long-term care facilities, two community care facilities, 19 early learning and child-care centres and five other congregate settings with outbreaks:

  • Andrews of Park West.
  • Atlantic Baptist.
  • Beach Grove Home.
  • Clinton View Lodge.
  • Garden Home.
  • Summerset Manor.
  • Bevan Lodge.
  • Miscouche Villa.
  • Nineteen early learning and child-care centres. Five open, six closed and eight operating at reduced capacity.
  • Population that accesses shelter and outreach services in Charlottetown.
  • Prince County Correctional Centre.
  • Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility.
  • Provincial Correctional Centre.
  • St. Eleanor’s House.

There are 209 new cases and 214 recoveries in Sunday’s update. On average, 279 cases per day have been reported over the last week.

P.E.I. has 2,484 active cases and there have been 6,125 cases since the pandemic began.

Hundreds of vaccination appointments are still available this week, according to the release, including dedicated appointments for children.

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New Brunswick reports two additional deaths related to COVID-19 Sunday – CTV News Atlantic

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Health officials in New Brunswick said Sunday that a person in their 80s in the Moncton region and a person in their 70s in the Bathurst region have died as a result of COVID-19.

HOSPITALIZATIONS

In a news release Sunday, public health reported there are a total of 126 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province. Ten people are currently in intensive care.

Of those currently hospitalized, 74 were admitted for reasons other than COVID-19.

Of those in hospital, 101 are 60 or over, and six people are on a ventilator. Public health said Sunday that three people 19 and under are currently hospitalized.

The province said the rate of people hospitalized and in ICU continues to most greatly impact people who are unvaccinated and those who are over six months from their second dose.

PARENTS ENCOURAGED TO CHILDREN VACCINATED

Officials are urging parents and guardians to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for their child’s first or second dose if they have not yet done so.

Children aged five to 11 who have already received their first dose of the vaccine are eligible to receive their second dose once eight weeks have passed since their first dose.

“Children are expected to return to in-person school by the end of the month and will benefit greatly from vaccination,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health in a news release Sunday.

“I’m calling on all parents with kids in this age group to book an appointment now for their child’s first dose if they are not yet vaccinated, or for their second dose if they are eligible.”

BOOSTER SHOTS AVAILABLE

The New Brunswick government is encouraging those eligible for a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to book their appointment to help slow the spread of the virus.

Booster doses are available to everyone 18 and older, as long as five months have passed since their second dose.

To date, 62.3 per cent of the eligible population of people 50 and older have received their booster dose.

Appointments can be booked online at vaccination clinics offered through the Vitalité and Horizon health networks.

Many pharmacies across the province are also offering vaccine clinics. Appointments can be made by contacting a participating pharmacy directly.

Those unable to book an appointment online, or who otherwise need assistance booking through a health authority clinic or pharmacy, may call 1-833-437-1424.

Since Jan. 10, more than 44,000 appointments have been booked for booster doses of an mRNA vaccine.

LEVEL 3 RESTRICTIONS

New Brunswick is currently in Level 3 phase of the winter plan to manage COVID-19.

Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday that vaccinating more children against COVID-19 and ensuring more adults receive their booster dose over the next week will help New Brunswick return to Level 2 of the winter plan on Jan. 30 at 11:59 p.m.

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