New York City is ending the COVID vaccine mandate for public-sector workers, including police officers, firefighters and teachers, this week.
The move ends what was one of the strictest workplace vaccination rules during the pandemic, as the Associated Press reported.
The vaccine mandate, which led to the firing of hundreds of city workers who declined to get the shots, will end Friday, Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday.
Adams, a Democrat, said that with more than 96% of city employees and more than 80% of city residents having received their initial vaccine series, “this is the right moment for this decision.”
City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan agreed.
“It’s clear these mandates saved lives and were absolutely necessary to meet the moment. We’re grateful that we can now, as we leave the emergency phase of the pandemic, modify more of the rules that have gotten us to this point,” he said.
The vaccination mandate for city employees was one of the last COVID-19 measures still in place in New York City. The city ended its vaccine requirement for employees of private businesses in November 2022, and masks are now optional in most public spaces, including subways and buses.
The news comes amid an overall easing of COVID restrictions and ahead of President Joe Biden’s plan to end the twin emergency rulings that gave the government extra powers during the pandemic.
Biden plans to lift those on May 11, even though some health experts are concerned it may be premature, with the U.S. daily death toll still above 450 a day on average.
The seven-day average of new U.S. COVID cases stood at 39,330 on Monday, according to a New York Times tracker. That’s down 15% from two weeks ago. The daily average for hospitalizations was down 18% to 30,035. The average for deaths was 454, down 7% from two weeks ago.
California announced Friday that COVID vaccination will no longer be mandatory for children to attend school.
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Other COVID-19 news you should know about:
• Federal appeals court judges closely questioned a Biden administration attorney Monday on the consequences military personnel might face for refusing COVID vaccinations, even though Biden’s vaccine mandate for military personnel has been rescinded, the AP reported. Lawyers for a group of Navy SEALs and other Navy personnel who refuse to be vaccinated for religious reasons told a Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel that federal court injunctions against the mandate are still needed, in part because decisions on deployments and assignments can still be made based on vaccination status. “Is there any assurance on the record that there will be no deployment decisions based on vaccination?” Judge James Ho, one of three judges hearing the case, asked Department of Justice lawyer Casen Ross.
• An estimated 12.4 million people tuned in on Sunday to watch stars Harry Styles, Lizzo and Bad Bunny perform at the Grammy Awards and to see a tribute to 50 years of rap history, but that was still not as many as before the pandemic, the AP reported. However, the number was up from the pandemic-affected broadcasts of the last two years, the Nielsen company said on Monday. Live viewership was 8.8 million in 2021 and 8.9 million in 2022. Music’s showcase event was watched by 18.7 million people in 2020.
• Virax Biolabs Group Ltd.
said Tuesday it has signed a purchase order with Cosmos Health Inc.
to launch and market COVID and flu A+B antigen combo rapid detection kits. Under their previous distribution agreement from September 2022, Cosmos will have exclusive distribution rights for Greece and Cyprus, with the opportunity to distribute the ViraxClear branded test kits across Europe on a nonexclusive basis. The combo rapid test is a single-use test kit intended for qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein antigen of influenza A and B viral antigens and of COVID antigen from nasal swab specimens.
Here’s what the numbers say:
The global tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 671.9 million on Tuesday, while the death toll rose above 6.84 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. leads the world with 102.6 million cases and 1,111,678 fatalities.
The CDC’s tracker shows that 229.6 million people living in the U.S., equal to 69.2% of the total population, are fully vaccinated, meaning they have had their primary shots.
So far, just 51.4 million Americans, equal to 15.5% of the overall population, have had the updated COVID booster that targets both the original virus and the omicron variants.