Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) said the Food and Drug Administration has granted priority review designation to their application for full approval of their Covid-19 vaccine, and an FDA official said a decision is likely to come within two
New York City will require all workers at city-run health care facilities and hospitals to be vaccinated or take weekly COVID tests, with positivity rates continuing to tick upward as the delta variant spreads, City Hall officials told NBC New York. Melissa Russo reports
New York City will mandate COVID vaccinations or weekly tests for all workers at city-run healthcare facilities and hospitals as the highly contagious delta variant fuels alarming increases in daily cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Wednesday.
City Health + Hospitals officials say just 58 percent of the staff at their facilities are vaccinated and the new requirement will protect non-immunized patients and staff from the ongoing delta surge, which is sparking concerns anew across the U.S.
In New York City, the rolling case average is up nearly 66% this last week compared with the average the previous four weeks -- and rising daily.
De Blasio said Wednesday it's time for a new approach.
"We're watching the Delta variant and the impact it's having, and it's time for a change," he said. "We're going to do more and more if we keep seeing the delta variant pose such a danger to us."
The mayor said he believes the unions will be on board.
"I think there's a level of recognition that we have a new and growing problem and we've got to do something to address it quickly, aggressively -- and this is an initial approach that balances different concerns effectively," the mayor said.
Union President George Gresham seemed a bit less enthused, though commended de Blasio for not making vaccination in and of itself a condition of employment.
"The health and safety of our members and their patients remains our top priority, which is why we encourage our members to get vaccinated," Gresham said. "However, there are other cooperative avenues that can be taken to address the concerns of both labor and management. Threatening our members’ freedom of choice and livelihood is not one of them."
De Blasio says he's not threatening anyone, merely trying to protect all New Yorkers from a "dangerous" period of the pandemic, as his top health officials describe it, that threatens to undercut the significant progress the former epicenter has made.
He also hopes the new requirement will encourage healthcare staff who haven't yet gotten vaccinated for whatever reason to take that final step in order to help keep them and everyone they serve safe. De Blasio believes it to be a "fair choice."
The mandate will take effect in August. At that time, all staff at the city's 11 public hospitals — such as Harlem Hospital, Bellevue Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital — must either provide one-time proof of vaccination or submit to mandatory weekly testing to ensure they are negative before reporting to work. The policy will also apply to workers who see patients at health department clinics.
De Blasio said he'd like to see private hospitals implement similar policies as well.
De Blasio has repeatedly said he would not consider reinstating an indoor mask mandate for fully vaccinated people even as other major cities like Los Angeles do so in an effort to curb the rapid spread of the delta variant, which has been ravaging under-vaccinated neighborhoods and sending case averages to months-long highs.
For more than a month straight, New York had reported sustained declines in new COVID infections as well as fewer hospitalizations and deaths, but lately, new daily case counts have surged past 1,000, up significantly from the roughly 300 to 400 new cases a day that Gov. Andrew Cuomo was reporting just a month ago.
The governor's report Wednesday was closer to 1,500 new daily cases than 1,000.
Hospitalization and death rates remain low, a testament, officials say, to the power of vaccination to thwart more severe outcomes even if daily case counts rise.
Delta accounts for 83% of US cases, CDC director says
The delta coronavirus variant now accounts for 83 percent of virus samples analyzed in the U.S., CDC Director Rochelle Wallensky, MD, said July 20, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In the week ending July 3, delta accounted for 50 percent of all cases, Dr. Walensky said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
"This is a dramatic increase," she said. "In some parts of the country, the percentage is even higher, particularly in areas of low vaccination rates."
In nearly two-thirds of U.S. counties, the vaccination rate is under 40 percent, according to Dr. Walensky. As of July 20, 48.7 percent of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated, CDC data shows. Among U.S. adults, 68.3 percent have received at least one dose, and 59.6 percent were fully vaccinated.
Yale mandates vaccinations for faculty, staff and postdoctoral trainees
ROSE HOROWITCH 1:57 PM, MAY 14, 2021
The University will require all faculty, staff, postdoctoral and postgraduate trainees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Aug. 1, according to a Friday morning email from University President Peter Salovey and University Provost Scott Strobel.
The decision comes on the heels of the University’s April announcement that all students must be fully vaccinated by the start of the fall term. The decision to require vaccinations for faculty and staff members is more complex since Yale must balance the legal questions around personal choice and employee compliance with its responsibility as an employer to safeguard community health and well-being, Strobel told the News in early May. Additionally, the University must consult with its unions anytime it introduces a new requirement for union members, according to Yale New Haven Health Medical Director of Infection Prevention Richard Martinello. Strobel told the News that administrators have been discussing the topic with union leaders in recent weeks. The May 14 email states that administrators also consulted additional faculty and staff across campus, the email states.
“As we plan for this exciting transition back to campus, our top priority will continue to be the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and individuals with whom we interact outside of our campus,” Salovey and Strobel wrote in the email. “A high percentage of vaccine coverage is critical for a safe return to in-person university operations.”
Staff members will begin phasing into on-campus work starting Aug. 1, according to a March 29 email from Salovey and Strobel, which also stated that Yale plans to have everyone working in person by October. By that time, the University aims to have at least 80 percent of the community vaccinated, Martinello said.
The University likely will not require regular testing for people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the May 14 email. Starting June 1, people vaccinated from a non-Yale provider will have to provide the University with proof of vaccination to satisfy the mandate and return to campus.
Yale appointed a working group of public health experts, human resources staff and members of the general counsel’s office to generate a report on the faculty, staff and postdoc vaccine mandate. Afterward, a policy working group made recommendations to Salovey, who made the final determination. COVID-19 policy group members include Strobel, Senior Vice President of Operations Jack Callahan, University COVID-19 Coordinator Stephanie Spangler, interim Vice President for Human Resources Donna Cable, General Counsel Alexander Dreier and others.
“There is abundant evidence that vaccines are the strongest tool we have for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and that they are safe,” Salovey and Strobel wrote in the email. “For example, we are already seeing notable reductions in infection rates as levels of vaccination have increased. As a leading global research university, we have a responsibility to demonstrate to others the importance of taking actions based on evidence.”
In the coming weeks, members of the Yale community will receive information about how to request an exemption to the mandate, according to the email. People may apply for an exemption on the grounds of medical reasons or religious or personal beliefs. People who do not receive the vaccine must continue with asymptomatic screening and abide by other health and safety measures.
For people not in New Haven, Yale will help them in securing a vaccine prior to or concurrent with their return to campus.
Correction, May 16: The headline has been updated to more accurately read “postdoctoral trainees” instead of “postdoctoral students.”
Hospitals mandate employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 30
Brian Hallenbeck, The Day, New London, Conn.
July 14, 2021·3 min read
Jul. 14—Two hospital networks with affiliates in southeastern Connecticut are requiring that their employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September or face consequences that include being fired.
In separate, virtual news conferences Wednesday, officials from Hartford HealthCare, which includes Backus Hospital in Norwich, and Yale New Haven Health, whose members include Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London and Westerly Hospital, said they were implementing a policy recommended weeks ago by the Connecticut Hospital Association.
The vaccination mandates come with the number of COVID-19 cases in the state ticking upward.
Gov. Ned Lamont's office reported Wednesday that 141 new cases had been detected among 11,030 test results, a one-day positivity rate of 1.28%, the highest since May. For Saturday through Tuesday, the positivity rate had been 0.97%. Statewide hospitalizations declined by five Wednesday, falling to 30.
In recent days, more than half the new cases have been attributed to the so-called delta variant, a mutated form of the coronavirus that causes the disease, health officials say.
While Hartford HealthCare is allowing clinical staff members and employees to apply for exemptions from the vaccination mandate, "our expectation is that unless there is a compelling and important reason, we expect you to be vaccinated," Dr. James Cardon, the network's chief clinical integration officer, said, delivering a message to employees. "If not vaccinated by the end of September, there could be consequences, including not being able to work for us at Hartford HealthCare."
Yale New Haven Health's policy calls for employees to receive a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Aug. 31 and to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30. Failure to meet the deadlines will trigger a series of warnings, leading to suspension and ultimately termination, said Vin Petrini, vice president of public affairs.
As it does with mandated flu vaccinations, Yale New Haven Health will consider "spiritual and medical" exemptions to its COVID-19 vaccination mandate, said Dr. Thomas Balcezak, the system's chief clinical officer.
"If someone believes that they have a strongly held spiritual belief that precludes them from getting this vaccine, we have an application process ...," he said. "They'll make an application and it'll be reviewed by individuals from occupational health, human resources and our spiritual care department, and they will possibly be interviewed and they will be granted or not."
Both Balcezak and Dr. Ulysses Wu, systems director, infectious diseases, for Hartford HealthCare, said there are few medical reasons for not being vaccinated against the coronavirus disease. A reason for not getting a second dose would be an adverse reaction to the first dose, they said. Employees undergoing chemotherapy or being treated with immunosuppressants also could be exempt.
Doctors and hospital officials said they are confident in requiring the vaccines because their safety and effectiveness have been so thoroughly demonstrated.
Keith Grant, Hartford HealthCare's system director for infection prevention, noted that in May, 99% of the COVID-19 patients who died in the United States were people who had not been fully vaccinated.
"Our destiny as humans is that you will either get COVID or get a vaccine," Balcezak said. "The only way to not get it, is to get the vaccine."
COVID -19 Resource Guide for COVID -19
Vaccine Mandate Update for Faculty, Researchers, and Staff
May 27, 2021
We are writing to provide you with additional details on implementation of the May 14th vaccine mandate for faculty, researchers and staff and updates on some related matters.
Completing the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement
Beginning tomorrow, May 28th, you will be able to do two new things via your ReopenCU app (a prototype is shown below), or via the web if you do not have a smart phone. Under the My Checklist section, you will be able to attest to your vaccination status or apply for an exemption for medical or religious reasons by going to “I have complied with the University’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement” and clicking on “faculty/staff.”
To upload your vaccine information: Complete the section that starts: “I have received COVID-19 vaccination.” Then, upload a picture of your CDC card, WHO booklet, or a letter from a physician verifying you have been vaccinated. Once you have completed the required fields and uploaded your documentation, the app will have an automatic check mark, similar to the one that shows you have signed the Columbia Compact, completed your COVID-19 training and met the University’s testing requirements. All documentation provided is subject to review. Should an issue be found with the documentation submitted, you will be notified and provided with additional instructions on how to correct the error. Any false statements, falsified documents, or deliberate omission of information related to this submission could lead to disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment. Failure to provide sufficient documentation will result in the check mark being removed.
To request an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Check the box “I am requesting a medical or religious exemption”, and you will be provided additional instructions. Review of exemption applications will take approximately 15 days and will be conducted by a panel of medical experts including a representative from Human Resources. If your exemption is granted, your My Checklist section of the app will have an automatic check mark. If your exemption request is not granted, you will receive notification from us. You will be unable to access campus in the future as you will receive a “red pass” when opening your app.
Vaccine Attestation in the ReopenCU app.
We encourage you to begin this process as soon as possible. While the final date to complete this section of the app is no later than August 2, any classroom personnel who teach in schools whose fall semester begins during July and August will need to submit their information by 30 days before the beginning of their semester. Students in those situations will be asked to do the same.
Columbia will follow best practices and comply with applicable laws in maintaining privacy and security with respect to employee vaccination status.
CDC Guidelines Adopted by Governor Cuomo on May 19th
Columbia University remains focused on the health and well-being of our community. While the new CDC and NY State guidelines do allow for reduced masking in certain instances, the University will continue to enforce an indoor masking policy (even if you are vaccinated) and expect to have that in place until at least early September. However, vaccinated individuals may remove their masks outdoors on CU campuses, if they choose. We also are continuing to enforce physical distancing of six feet indoors. We do, however, expect that for the fall term all classrooms will be at full occupancy. In any instance, if a person chooses to wear a mask, or physically distance in any setting, you should respect that decision and make no assumptions as to the reason for it.
Gathering Size Expansions
Recognizing that many in our community have been vaccinated and that we have been able to maintain a low COVID-19 positivity testing rate on campus, we are increasing our gathering size limitations:
- Non-academic including administrative: Indoors 25, outdoors 50
- Academic: no limits except six-foot distancing and face coverings
- Commencement: Outdoors up to 100.
These gathering size limits are subject to modification as public health conditions change.
A Thank You
We acknowledge that the pandemic has created many changes and sacrifices on your part, but our primary goal is to keep you and our entire campus safe. We are excited that in just a few months, the university will begin to return to what it looked like before March 2020.
Thank you for your flexibility and willingness to support these efforts. For additional information, always go to: https://covid19.columbia.edu
Senior Executive Vice President
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, CUIMC
University COVID Director