WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s first coronavirus outbreak in six months has grown to seven people.
The announcement Wednesday came a day after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern imposed a strict lockdown after the first case was reported. The lockdown is for at least three days for the country and at least a week for the cities of Auckland and Coromandel.
Ardern said Wednesday the government expects the number of cases to keep growing, especially after some of those infected spent time at a church, a school, a casino and a hospital. She announced a new mandate compelling people to wear masks in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies during strict lockdowns.
Ardern says genome testing has confirmed the outbreak is of the delta variant and originated from an outbreak in Sydney, Australia, although it’s not yet clear how the virus breached New Zealand’s border quarantine controls.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Britain OKs Moderna vaccine for ages 12 and up
— New York City begins proof of vaccination at eateries, gyms, cultural venues
— Sources: U.S. to recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters at 8 months
— New Zealand to enter lockdown after single virus case found
— Among France’s poorest, once-lagging vaccine rates increase
— More U.S. cities to require masks in public
— Hawaii’s largest private hospital system runs out of ICU beds
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SYDNEY — Australia’s most populous state is reporting a record 633 new coronavirus infections as concerns grow about the spread of the delta variant beyond Sydney. The previous high for a 24-hour period in New South Wales was 466 on Saturday.
Officials also said Wednesday that three people died in the period, bringing the death toll to 60 from the outbreak first detected in Sydney in mid-June.
Officials say infections were reported in towns in the state’s west, north and central region in recent days. Sydney has been in lockdown since June 26 and the entire state has been locked down since Saturday.
The national capital of Canberra is surrounded by New South Wales and it reported 22 new infections from a cluster that originated in Sydney.
PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is upping the pressure on public school districts defying a state ban on mask mandates by threatening to cut off some funds.
The governor said Tuesday that schools won’t get any cash from a $163 million grant program he controls if they don’t drop mask rules within 10 days. Schools also will lose out on the $1,800 per student if they have to close because of coronavirus outbreaks.
At least 16 districts teaching nearly a third of the state’s 1.1 million public school students now have mask rules. A judge ruled this week that the state ban does not take effect until Sept. 29.
Ducey also announced a $10 million program that will give $7,000 for a student to use for private schooling if their public school requires isolating or quarantining due to virus exposure, orders mask wearing or gives preferential treatment to vaccinated children.
HOUSTON — At least four school districts in Texas have closed campuses due to coronavirus outbreaks early in the new school year.
The shutdowns are taking place as more districts and communities are requiring students and residents to wear face coverings indoors, defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates.
The school district in Gorman in North Texas had been set to begin the school year Wednesday but is delaying that by a week. Campus shutdowns also were announced Tuesday by the districts in the East Texas towns of Bloomburg and Waskom.
Those moves came a day after the Iraan-Sheffield district in West Texas closed its schools for two weeks.
Mask wearing was optional in these four school districts. At least 21 other districts, including some of the state’s biggest, have instituted mask mandates, which are in violation of Abbott’s executive order banning such measures.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University is requiring masks to be worn in classrooms and labs for the next 30 days, saying not enough students and employees have submitted proof of vaccination against the coronavirus.
The university says the rule takes effect Wednesday, which is when classes start on the Morgantown campus. The mask requirement applies to everyone, even those who have been vaccinated.
While the university is not requiring its students and employees to be vaccinated, officials had set a vaccine verification goal of 80% by Sept. 1. Students, faculty and staff on all campuses were required to either provide a vaccine verification or a negative virus test result by Friday.
The school says only about two-thirds of students and staff have submitted the verification paperwork on the Morgantown campus and even less have done so on its Beckley and Keyser campuses,
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi state officials say they more children are being hospitalized with COVID-19 than earlier in the pandemic.
As of Friday, 18 children were hospitalized, and on Sunday five were in an intensive care unit, with four on ventilators.
The state Department of Health said Monday that health officials heard this week about the COVID-19 death of a child between age 11 and 17, raising the total of young people deaths to five since the start of the pandemic.
CHICAGO — Chicago will require masks in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status as daily COVID-19 case counts rise.
The mandate takes effect Friday citywide for everyone over age 2. Chicago’s top doctor said Tuesday that the city is reporting roughly 400 cases daily, which is a threshold public health officials say signals a higher transmission risk.
Still, public health officials say it’s much lower than a winter peak when it was over 3,000 cases a day.
Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says no further restrictions or closures are currently planned and the goal is to remain open, but careful.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A major state employer, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System, said Tuesday it would require workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 12.
The requirement affects 16,000 employees and others working in hospitals and could help boost the state’s last-in-the-nation ranking for the shots.
Employees of UAB Health already are required to be vaccinated against other health threats including the flu, the system said, and COVID-19 is threatening its ability to provide care.
Nearly 100 doctors, nurses and other workers have contracted COVID-19 at UAB Hospital, a report showed.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is reinstating a mask mandate for all indoor public places, regardless of vaccination status.
Grisham’s office also announced Tuesday that more people will be required to get vaccinated, such as workers at hospitals, nursing homes, juvenile justice facilities and residential treatment centers.
All workers at schools in New Mexico must also get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.
Officials noted that vaccination rates remain stagnant, but infections are rising.
ATLANTA — Parents in Georgia’s second largest school district plan to rally again to try to force school officials to require masks amid a statewide surge in coronavirus cases that has disrupted classroom instruction for thousands of students.
The plans for a rally on Thursday by Cobb County school parents come as coronavirus cases in the school system and other districts around the state continue to rise.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday reiterated his opposition to mask and vaccine mandates and said he has no plans for statewide school restrictions.
PHOENIX — A western Arizona school district is considering a proposal to ban any discussion between staff and students about vaccines and masks.
The Colorado River Union High School’s governing board is set to meet on the matter Tuesday night.
The measure would allow for disciplinary action to be taken against any district employee who speaks on “anything related to vaccine status or encouraging/discouraging vaccines or mask with students.”
District officials did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
HONOLULU — Hawaii’s largest private hospital system has run out of ICU beds amid a surge of new coronavirus cases.
Jason Chang, chief operating officer of The Queen’s Health Systems and president of The Queen’s Medical Center, says all of the hospital system’s beds are completely full.
The hospitals were canceling some elective surgeries and procedures and diverting emergency patients to other hospitals, Chang said.
Hospital workers are tired and frustrated because most of the COVID-19 patients they are caring for are not vaccinated, Chang said.
Hawaii, with a population of nearly 1.5 million people, has averaged 652 new cases a day over the past week and has a 7.5% positivity rate, according to state data. In early July, the state was averaging 50 cases a day.
At least 308 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized statewide.
LAS VEGAS — Vaccine verification at major venues has become a coronavirus fighting front in Nevada.
Las Vegas’ biggest trade conference on Tuesday followed the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders announcing they’ll require attendees to prove they’re inoculated.
The sponsor of the CES gadget show said attendees in January will have to show they’ve been vaccinated to enter venues including the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center.
The announcement came a day after Gov. Steve Sisolak said indoor venues with 4,000 or more attendees can opt out of the state’s mask requirements if they opt in to a program ensuring that attendees have inoculations.
Sisolak said one dose of a two-dose vaccination will get people in the door, but they’ll still have to wear face coverings.
Fully vaccinated people won’t have to wear masks.
The Raiders unveiled their first-in-the-NFL policy to require fans to show proof of vaccinations beginning Sept. 13.
JACKSON, Miss. — A top Mississippi health official said Tuesday 20,000 students are currently quarantined for COVID-19 exposure in the state — 4.5% of the public school population, according to the state’s latest enrollment figures.
The data comes from reports made by 800 schools to the Mississippi State Department of Health last week, Mississippi State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said during a call with state pediatricians.
The school outbreaks have resulted in many school officials rethinking their policies after beginning the academic year without restrictions, like mask mandates. Around 600 schools have now implemented universal masking for indoor settings, Byers said.
But there are still many settings where many restrictions that could keep kids safer are not in place — or not enforced.
DES MOINES, Iowa — State Fairs in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin are offering COVID-19 vaccinations as the delta variant spreads across the country.
In Iowa, a vaccination booth nestled among corn dog and funnel cake stands vaccinated 150 people in the first four days of the fair in a state where only half of the population is fully vaccinated. All but three of Iowa’s 99 counties are experiencing a substantial or high rate of spread.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ policy of personal responsibility allows fairgoers to decide whether to be vaccinated or wear a mask. Public health officials recommend wearing a mask in crowds. The fair is on track to attract an estimated 1 million visitors.
At the Indiana State Fair, 304 vaccines have been administered since July 30. And at the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee, 608 people were vaccinated over 11 days, perhaps enticed by the promise of a free cream puff pastry.
PHOENIX — Five Arizona school districts have joined the growing list of districts requiring students and staff to wear masks, even though a state law bars such mandates.
Two districts in the Tucson area and three in metro Phoenix issued mask requirements after a Maricopa County judge ruled Monday that the state doesn’t take effect until Sept. 29.
A teacher who filed a lawsuit challenging a mask mandate at one Phoenix district argued it took after lawmakers approved it in late June. In all, at least 16 districts in Arizona are requiring students and staff to wear masks while indoors amid fears over the delta variant.
TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s Health Ministry reported 451 new cases and two deaths related to the coronavirus.
That is a significant increase compared to last month when there were less than 10 new cases per day.
Authorities have made August a free month for receiving a vaccine, urging all people 18 and older to get one. Albania uses Sinovac, Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and some Sputnik V vaccines. Albania has given 1.3 million shots to a population of 2.8 million.
Neighboring Kosovo is noting a serious increase in the daily numbers. Authorities reported 1,765 new cases and five deaths on Tuesday, a significant increase compared to July.
About one-third of its 1.8 million population has gotten at least one shot of the Pfizer or Astra Zeneca vaccine.
The Associated Press
BC College of Pharmacists investigate reuse of syringes for COVID-19 – BC News – Castanet.net
The Fraser Health Authority has confirmed that syringes were reused for COVID-19 vaccines at a B.C. pharmacy.
CTV News Vancouver is reporting that Fraser Health confirmed the information on Tuesday via email that – “the plastic tube which holds the vaccine solution, not the needles” – were reused.
Fraser Health did not indicate where in the region the pharmacy is located in. The Fraser Health Authority stretches from Burnaby to Boston Bar.
Fraser Health indicated the pharmacy was part of a provincial pilot program that was testing the ability of pharmacies to use a specific booking system. The location was suspended from the program once it the issue came to light.
Fraser health indicates the B.C. College of Pharmacists is investigating the but they confirmed the pharmacy is no longer giving out vaccines.
-with files from CTV News Vancouver
COVID-19 vaccine boosters recommended for long-term care residents, national advisory committee says – CBC.ca
Canadian seniors living in long-term care homes and other congregate-care settings should get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, Canada’s vaccine advisory body recommends.
Residents of such sites, including retirement homes and assisted-living facilities “are at increased risk for COVID-19 infection because of their daily interactions with other residents and staff,” said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) in updated guidance released online on Tuesday.
“They are also at increased risk for severe disease because of their age and underlying medical conditions.”
The amount of time that has passed since residents received their initial vaccinations is a factor in the recommendation — given that older adults may “have a less durable response to vaccines and/or past infection compared to younger adults.”
“Older Canadians residing in congregate living settings were prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine when the vaccines were first authorized; therefore, many completed their COVID-19 vaccination series early in the vaccine roll-out, leaving more time for waning should it occur,” NACI said.
Many long-term care residents had their initial COVID-19 shots spaced out over shorter intervals based on the manufacturers’ guidance — 21 days between doses for Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) and 28 days for Moderna (Spikevax).
Current evidence now suggests that longer intervals between doses result in higher immune responses, NACI said, and therefore the original schedule may have contributed to “more rapid waning of protection, including against variants of concern.”
In its guidance, NACI noted that its booster shot recommendation for residents of long-term care homes is not the same as recommending a third dose as part of the initial vaccination schedule.
“The intent of a booster dose is to restore protection that may have waned over time in individuals who responded adequately to a primary vaccine series,” the advisory committee said.
That’s different than the recommendation NACI issued just over two weeks ago for moderately to severely immunocompromised Canadians. People who are immunocompromised should receive three doses of COVID-19 vaccine as part of the standard immunization schedule, NACI said, because they may not mount an adequate immune response to two doses in the first place.
North Bay–Parry Sound's COVID-19 vaccination rates rank near bottom-third in Ontario – BayToday.ca
The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is trailing the majority of the 33 other districts in Ontario when it comes to vaccination rates but officials are confident the mobile vaccination clinics held on a retrofitted transit bus can boost those numbers toward the 90 per cent goal.
According to COVaxON, the province’s vaccination reporting system, 78 per cent of eligible North Bay–Parry Sound residents age 12 and older have had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s tied for 23rd out of 34 health units in Ontario.
The Health Unit also reports 84 per cent of eligible residents 12 and older in the district have received at least one dose, tied for 25th of 34 health units.
The recent introduction of the proof of vaccination program for Ontarians to gain entry to non-essential settings such as restaurants, fitness clubs, and cinemas is acknowledged by health officials as a means to encourage those who are not fully vaccinated to do so.
There was an uptick in vaccinations in the weeks following the announcement of the vaccine certificate program in Ontario. And, a boost in vaccinations followed locally, as well, in mid-September, as the Health Unit reported an increase, particularly among those aged 29 and younger. The Health Unit reported then a 128 per cent increase in first doses week over week.
The goal locally and province-wide is to have 90 per cent of the population vaccinated with first and second doses. As of Monday, that leaves 6,646 first and 14,680 second shots required. The Health Unit’s dashboard reports 692 doses administered over the weekend. It should be noted hundreds of third doses have been administered to eligible segments of the population over the past two weeks.
In North Bay–Parry Sound, the 30-39, 18-29 and 12-17 age groups all sit at less than two-thirds fully vaccinated, although the 12-17 category was not eligible for the vaccine for months following the initial local roll-out.
The Health Unit reports since June 1, 10 per cent of local positive cases have been detected in fully vaccinated people. Ontario reports 86 per cent of COVID-19 patients in ICUs are unvaccinated, while 72 per cent in hospitals (but not the ICU) are unvaccinated.
The Health Unit has consistently advocated for more people to roll up their sleeves and has gone to great lengths to achieve that goal by providing clinics in long-term care and retirement communities, mass immunization opportunities at Memorial Gardens, clinics focused on members of the vulnerable population, and now the mobile vaccination clinics that visit many of the underserved towns in the district.
Andrea McLellan, Director of COVID-19 Immunization Strategy, previously spoke about possible reasons for vaccine hesitancy.
“It may be a lack of confidence in immunizations overall, it may be a personal choice they are making at this time and waiting to receive further information,” she said, noting there are excellent resources out there for those who are hesitant. “We are providing as much information to the public as we can — our website holds a wealth of information, the Ontario.ca website has a lot of information about the vaccine, as does Public Health Ontario.”
“Some people need a familiar health care provider to really reassure them that the vaccine is right for them,” Dr. Carol Zimbalatti added, encouraging people to reach out to their trusted health care providers for guidance. “Definitely, primary care offices have the information available to counsel their patients.”
The Health Unit will continue to roll out the vaccine through mobile clinics. McLellan says some of the feedback from the public indicated people who weren’t thinking of getting their shot did so thanks to the convenience of the bus set-up.
“We believe the mobile bus has been exceptionally successful,” McLellan said last week. “We’ve done over 300 at a couple of clinics, 150-plus at other clinics, 50 to 60 in smaller communities. The bus has been helpful in getting our numbers up. A lot of people are getting their first doses. And, we’ve accommodated a lot of people eligible for their third doses.”
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