Vaccine mandate news – live: Biden ‘disappointed’ Supreme Court blocked ‘common-sense life-saving’ Covid rule

Vaccine mandate news – live: Biden ‘disappointed’ Supreme Court blocked ‘common-sense life-saving’ Covid rule
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·44 min read
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  • Joe Biden
    Joe Biden
    46th and current president of the United States
  • Anthony Fauci
    Anthony Fauci
    American immunologist and head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • Rand Paul
    Rand Paul
    United States Senator from Kentucky

The Supreme Court has tossed out a Biden administration vaccine mandate that would have required 80 million workers to either get vaccinated or submit to regular testing.

In a blow to the president’s push to get more Americans vaccinated, the ruling comes as health experts believe that the US may be approaching the peak of the latest wave of Covid-19 brought on by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci has defended remarks made during a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director was heard calling Senator Roger Marshall “a moron” when the senator questioned if he should have a publicly available financial disclosure form on Tuesday.

Dr Fauci told MSNBC on Wednesday that he was stunned to know “that a sitting United States senator doesn’t realise that my financial statement is public knowledge”.

The infectious diseases expert also clashed with Senator Rand Paul during the hearing, who he accused of politicising the pandemic and “kindling the crazies” with his remarks. Dr Paul has since doubled down on his remarks.

Dozens of scientists and medical professionals have signed a letter defending Dr Fauci from criticism that is “inaccurate, unscientific, ill-founded in the facts and, increasingly, motivated by partisan politics”.

Key points

  • Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine mandate

  • Has Omicron peaked in the US?

  • Rand Paul: Fauci ‘ deserves everything he gets’

  • Scientists and medical professionals rally around Fauci

  • ‘Urgent need’ for super vaccine as other variants emerge

KN95 and N95: What you need to know

02:45 , Oliver O'Connell

As the US fights to slow the spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant, reports have surfaced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering recommending that those who can should wear a higher standard of mask when in public – specifically the KN95 and N95 masks that have been in high demand for the last two years.

KN95 and N95 masks: Which does the CDC recommend, and can you reuse them?

Coming soon: Free masks and 1 billion Covid tests

01:45 , Oliver O'Connell

President Joe Biden said his administration will unveil a plan to provide free masks to Americans, to encourage their use in order to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Biden also said on Thursday that his administration will order another half-billion at-home Covid-19 tests for mailing to any American who requests one on a yet-to-be unveiled website, adding to a previous order of 500 million placed by the administration last month.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

Biden to make free masks available and order half-billion Covid tests for mailing

ABC News criticised for editing CDC director interview

00:45 , Oliver O'Connell

ABC News is under fire for its editing of a “Good Morning America” interview with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky that created uncertainty that’s being exploited by vaccine critics.

ABC News draws fire for editing of CDC director's interview

United Airlines: Vaccine mandate ended weekly deaths

Thursday 13 January 2022 23:51 , Oliver O'Connell

The CEO of United Airlines has told his staff in an open letter that the company’s vaccine mandate has ended the “weekly” deaths that previously plagued the organisation.

United CEO says vaccine mandate has brought 'weekly' staff deaths to an end

Ruling does not prevent employers from requiring vaccination

Thursday 13 January 2022 23:20 , Oliver O'Connell

The Scotus ruling does not prevent private employers from requiring vaccination, nor does it undermine existing workplace vaccination requirements that were put in place voluntarily by employers.

The White House will continue to encourage private employers to institute their own mandates.

NBC News: 1 million new cases of Covid in 24 hours

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:45 , Oliver O'Connell

NBC News reports that the number of Covid-19 cases in the US has now topped 63 million since the start of the pandemic.

There were 1 million new cases in 24 hours from the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Before mandates there were incentives

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Before the White House introduced vaccine mandates in the late summer of 2021, the vaccine had been available for almost nine months.

To encourage take-up, a number of incentive schemes around the country received White House support.

Ben Wakana of the Covid-19 response team provides a few examples:

SCOTUS decision doesn’t change reality of pandemic

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:15 , Oliver O'Connell

If you are unvaccinated you are far more likely to get hospitalised and die from Covid-19.

Flashback: OSHA — small agency, big job

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:00 , Oliver O'Connell

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t make many headlines. Charged with keeping America’s workplaces safe, it usually busies itself with tasks such as setting and enforcing standards for goggles, hardhats, and ladders.

And then it was directed to write a rule requiring employers with more than 100 workers to require vaccines or produce weekly test results.

Small agency, big job: Biden tasks OSHA with vaccine mandate

What did the court decide?

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:40 , Oliver O'Connell

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 along ideological lines to toss out Joe Biden’s mandate for businesses requiring those with more than 100 workers to institute vaccination or regular testing requirements.

A second 5-4 ruling in the court allowed the administration’s requirement for healthcare workers to be vaccinated to remain in place. Conservative justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh sided with the liberal justices on that decision.

However, the first ruling is nevertheless a major blow to the plan the president announced last year.

In their majority opinion, the six justices wrote that although Covid-19 was indeed a hazard faced by many employees at their workplaces, it did not fall under the legal definition of an “occupational hazard” that OSHA, the US government agency which enforces labour standards, could regulate.

Supreme Court tosses out Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

Trump issues statement on SCOTUS decision

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:25 , Oliver O'Connell

Former President Donald Trump has released a statement through his spokesperson Liz Harrington”

The Supreme Court has spoken, confirming what we all knew: Biden’s disastrous mandates are unconstitutional. Biden promised to shut down the virus, not the economy but he has failed miserably on both — and mandates would have further destroyed the economy. We are proud of the Supreme Court for not backing down. No mandates!

SCOTUS: Most noteworthy congressional action on vaccine mandate was disapproval

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:21 , Oliver O'Connell

Justices note in their decision that the “most noteworthy action concerning the vaccine mandate by either House of Congress has been a majority vote of Senate disapproving the regulation on December 8, 2021.”

Ron Klain and Alyssa Farah trade tweets about SCOTUS decision

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:14 , Oliver O'Connell

Mike Pence’s former press secretary Alyssa Farah shared her thoughts on the Biden vaccine strategy and received a response from current White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.

Ms Farah tweeted: “Problem with Biden’s vaccine strategy from the outset: 1) he completely skipped over trying to educate & persuade vaccine skeptics & went straight to mandates, which makes many skeptics dig in their heels 2) Virtually no one thought the mandate would ultimately hold up in Court.”

She added: “So here we are: people are as divided as ever on vaccines. I have to wonder if spending a few months engaging in targeted public awareness campaigns dispelling fears & myths about the vaccine would have done more good in terms of getting shots in arms.”

Concluding: “I know a few smart women who were nervous to get the vaccine before getting pregnant or when getting pregnant. And as much as we’d like to assume everyone’s personal doc is telling them the medical consensus, some aren’t. These people are persuadable.”

Mr Klain responded to her initial tweet, writing: “We didn’t impose ANY vaccine requirements until August, and the one the Court stayed today was not announced until September. These requirements were used only after persuasion, incentives ($100 to get a vax), and final FDA approval were all in place.”

To which Ms Farah responded: “FAIR. But I think we need MORE persuasion. Some people will never budge - but I believe many Americans are scared because they’ve received bad, false info. There’s rampant misinfo on women &fertility-that needs to be combatted.”

She added: “Happy to help however I can.” #GetVaxxed #GetBoosted

White House will continue to do hard things

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:10 , Oliver O'Connell

Asked by a reporter about the next steps for the administration in the context that “things just seem like they’re going pretty right now for the White House”, Jen Psaki responds by citing successes and by saying they will continue to do hard things.

President Biden’s statement on SCOTUS vaccine mandate decision

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:02 , Oliver O'Connell

My administration began to institute vaccination requirements last July, when after months of making vaccinations free and widely available, 90 million Americans were still unvaccinated. Today, that number is down to under 35 million. These vaccine requirements applied to members of the Armed Forces, federal workers and contractors, health care workers, and employees in large firms. Had my administration not put vaccination requirements in place, we would be now experiencing a higher death toll from COVID-19 and even more hospitalizations.

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the requirement for health care workers will save lives: the lives of patients who seek care in medical facilities, as well as the lives of doctors, nurses, and others who work there. It will cover 10.4 million health care workers at 76,000 medical facilities. We will enforce it.

At the same time, I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law. This emergency standard allowed employers to require vaccinations or to permit workers to refuse to be vaccinated, so long as they were tested once a week and wore a mask at work: a very modest burden.

As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated. The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and economy. I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one-third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities.

We have to keep working together if we want to save lives, keep people working, and put this pandemic behind us.

White House will still push employers to require vaccinations

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:00 , Oliver O'Connell

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says that the Biden administration will continue to call on employers to institute their own vaccine requirements despite the Supreme Court striking down the OSHA vaccine mandate.

Covid ‘hazard of daily life’ not specifically occupational

Thursday 13 January 2022 20:51 , Oliver O'Connell

Per the Supreme Court decision blocking the Biden vaccine mandate on private employers:

“Although Covid–19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most. Covid–19 can and does spread at home, in schools ... and everywhere else that people gather.”

“Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life — simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock — would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorisation.”

Democratic Party reacts to Supreme Court ruling

Thursday 13 January 2022 20:41 , Oliver O'Connell

DNC spokesperson Ammar Moussa released the following statement:

Today’s ruling does not change the fact the best way to put this pandemic behind us and keep people safe is to get Americans vaccinated. Nor does it change the fact that it is Republican leaders, governors, senators, and House members who continue to dangerously undermine vaccines, elevate anti-vaxxers, and echo conspiracy theories on a daily basis to cater to a fringe, unvaccinated group.

Thankfully, the American people elected President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Democrats who will continue to work tirelessly to get shots in arms, get people back to work, keep kids in schools, and ultimately put this pandemic behind us once and for all — regardless of Republicans’ best efforts to stand in the way.

Bill Gates bewildered by vaccine conspiracy theories about him

Thursday 13 January 2022 20:33 , Oliver O'Connell

Conspiracy theories involving Bill Gates and Covid-19 vaccines have baffled many people – including Bill Gates.

In a Twitter interview with Professor Devi Sridhar, head of the Global Health Governance Programme, Mr Gates said he can’t understand why some theorists think he wants to inject people with microchips.

“People like you and I and Tony Fauci have been subject to a lot of misinformation,” the multibillionaire said. “I didn’t expect that. Some of it, like me putting chips in arms, doesn’t make sense to me – why would I want to do that?”

Nathan Place reports.

Bill Gates baffled by conspiracy theories about him and Covid vaccines

BREAKING - Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine mandate set to cover 80 million workers

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:54 , Oliver O'Connell

The Supreme Court has blocked President Joe Biden’s push to get more Americans vaccinated amid the Covid-19 Omicron surge.

Justices handed down a ruling rejecting an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that would have required 80 million workers to get vaccinated or submit to periodic tests.

Supreme Court tosses out Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

Covid-19 pill rollout stymied by shortages

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Two brand-new Covid-19 pills that were supposed to be an important weapon against the pandemic in the US are in short supply and have played little role in the fight against the omicron wave of infections.

The problem is that production is not yet at full strength and that the pill considered to be far superior, Pfizer’s, takes six to eight months to manufacture.

While the supply is expected to improve dramatically in the coming months, doctors are clamouring for the pills now, not just because omicron is causing an explosion of cases but because two antibody drugs that were once the go-to treatments don’t work as well against the variant.

“This should be a really joyous time because we now have highly effective antiviral pills,” said Erin McCreary, a pharmacist and administrator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Instead, this feels like the hardest and most chaotic stretch of the pandemic.”

The pills — and other Covid-19 drugs, for that matter — are being carefully rationed, reserved for the highest-risk patients.

AP

Scientists rally to defend Fauci

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:24 , Oliver O'Connell

Dozens of scientists and medical professionals have signed a letter of support for Dr Anthony Fauci following the fierce criticism he has faced from Republican lawmakers this week.

In the letter, Dr Fauci, one of the leading experts on infectious diseases in the US and the White House chief medical adviser, is lauded for his 40 years of service to the country through HIV, ebola, and now Covid.

Scientists defend Fauci from ‘inaccurate, unscientific, ill-founded’ criticism

Ann Coulter hits out at Trump over ‘gutless’ dig over booster shots

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:18 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump has called politicians who refuse to say whether they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot “gutless” – and he appeared to be referring to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has dodged questions on if he has taken up the latest coronavirus shot.

Speaking on conservative One America News Network, the former president said “You gotta say it. Whether you had it or not, say it.”

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter lashed out at Mr Trump in defence of Mr DeSantis on Twitter.

Jade Bremmer reports.

Trump divides conservatives with ‘gutless’ jab on boosters as Ann Coulter lashes out

Rand Paul: Fauci ‘ deserves everything he gets’

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:03 , Oliver O'Connell

Senator Rand Paul has suggested that Dr Anthony Fauci “deserves” criticism for his handling of Covid and told The Independent he ‘resented’ the US chief medical adviser blaming him for threats made against the top infectious diseases expert.

Gino Spocchia has the story.

Rand Paul says Dr Fauci ‘deserves everything he gets’

Biden offers free masks and 1 billion tests

Thursday 13 January 2022 18:45 , Oliver O'Connell

President Joe Biden said his administration will unveil a plan to provide free masks to Americans, to encourage their use in order to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Biden also said on Thursday that his administration will order another half-billion at-home Covid-19 tests for mailing to any American who requests one on a yet-to-be unveiled website, adding to a previous order of 500,000 placed by the administration last month.

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

Biden to make free masks available and order half-billion Covid tests for mailing

Trump slams GOP politicians who dodge vaccine questions as ‘gutless'

Thursday 13 January 2022 18:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Former President Donald Trump blasted GOP politicians who refuse to say if they’ve received a Covid-19 booster shot on Tuesday – a rant that some are viewing as an indirect attack on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Tom Fenton reports.

Trump attacks ‘gutless’ GOP politicians who dodge vaccine question

270 scientists write letter demanding Spotify address Joe Rogan anti-vax misinformation

Thursday 13 January 2022 17:56 , Oliver O'Connell

Spotify is being asked to address Covid misinformation by hundreds of scientists and medical professionals, following another controversial Joe Rogan anti-vax episode.

Rogan, who has a reported $100m podcast deal with the streaming giant, interviewed medical doctor Robert Malone in a recent episode, who claimed on his show that Americans were “hypnotised” into wearing masks and getting vaccines.

Malone also told The Joe Rogan Experience that the country suffered from “mass formation psychosis”, which psychology experts say is a concept that does not even exist.

Graeme Massie reports.

270 scientists demand Spotify address Joe Rogan anti-vax misinformation episode

ICYMI: Five times Fauci and Paul clashed over leaked emails, masks and Omicron

Thursday 13 January 2022 17:35 , Oliver O'Connell

The Republican Senator and the federal government’s lead infectious disease expert clashed over emails from early in the pandemic warning of possible “gain of function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the creation of Covid-19.

Mr Paul asked Dr Fauci it was appropriate to use his $420,000 salary to attack scientists who disagreed with the science of Dr Fauci’s, who has become the public face of the federal government’s Covid response.

Justin Vallejo reports.

Five times Anthony Fauci and Rand Paul clashed in testy Senate hearings

Un-vaxxed Quebec father temporarily loses right to see child

Thursday 13 January 2022 17:13 , Oliver O'Connell

A father in Quebec, Canada has temporarily lost the right to see his 12-year-old child because he isn’t vaccinated.

A judge in the province ruled that it wasn’t in the child’s “best interest” to see the parent after the father requested to extend his visiting time during the holiday season.

A family law expert told the Le Devoir paper that it’s the first case of a parent being banned from seeing their child because of their vaccination status.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

Unvaccinated dad temporarily loses right to see 12-year-old child over Covid jab

Premium: Fauci called a GOP senator a ‘moron’ after unrelenting conservative criticism

Thursday 13 January 2022 16:50 , Oliver O'Connell

Here’s why Anthony Fauci called a GOP senator a ‘moron’

Unvaxxed Glenn Beck says he has Covid-19 again

Thursday 13 January 2022 16:27 , Oliver O'Connell

Right-wing talk radio personality Glenn Beck on Wednesday said he has contracted Covid-19 for the second time and complained about the disease’s effect on his lungs.

“It’s starting to go into my lungs today and a little disturbing. I’m on all the medications and treatments and everything else, so...it’s all good,” Beck said during an appearance on Mark Levin’s daily radio show.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

Glenn Beck has Covid again after refusing vaccine: ‘It’s going into my lungs’

Biden appeals to social media companies about Covid misinformation

Thursday 13 January 2022 16:07 , Oliver O'Connell

“I make a special appeal to social media companies and media outlets, please deal with misinformation and disinformation that is shown. It has to stop.”

Thursday 13 January 2022 16:02 , Oliver O'Connell

President Biden announces that six federal medical teams will be sent next week to help overwhelmed hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan, and New Mexico.

“It’s been a long road,” Biden says as he concludes his remarks, “but what’s clear, as we get through this, when everybody does their part, no matter where you live, no matter your political party, we’ve got to fight this together.”

CDC not planning to change mask guidance

Thursday 13 January 2022 15:55 , Oliver O'Connell

CBS Senior White House correspondent Weijia Jang reports that the CDC is not planning to change its guidance to recommend wearing high-quality masks.

The CDC director Rochelle Walensky says the best mask for you is the one you are willing to wear.

1 billion tests in total

Thursday 13 January 2022 15:50 , Oliver O'Connell

President Biden announces he is directing the government to acquire 500 million Covid tests for future demand in addition to the 500 million currently in the process of being purchased for the Omicron variant wave.

White House to roll-out plan for free masks next week

Thursday 13 January 2022 15:48 , Oliver O'Connell

“Wearing a well-fitting mask” is essential says the president “please wear a mask.”

Mr Biden acknowledged “it’s a pain in the neck” but says it makes a difference.

Next week the administration will announce how it will provide high-quality masks for free.

Thursday 13 January 2022 15:45 , Oliver O'Connell

After noting the progress made in fighting the virus, Biden says: “But as long as we have tens of millions of people who will not get vaccinated, we’re going to have full hospitals and needless deaths.”

Biden begins Covid remarks

Thursday 13 January 2022 15:44 , Oliver O'Connell

“I know we’re all frustrated as we enter the new year,” President Biden says as he begins his Covid remarks, noting the surge in cases and record hospitalisations — But he goes on to note the huge disparity in outcomes between vaccinated people and unvaccinated people when they contract Covid.

Has Omicron peaked in the US?

Thursday 13 January 2022 15:31 , Oliver O'Connell

The number of new Covid cases in several major cities that saw massive spikes beginning in December appears to be levelling off, according to data aggregated by The New York Times.

In Boston, the amount of the Covid virus detected in wastewater has dropped 40 per cent since its early January peak.

Scientists and policymakers are cautious about being too confident that the wave has peaked as the virus has surprised them in the past. However, current data in places in which the variant likely first arrived in the US suggests the worst of the wave has passed.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said this week “we may be cresting over that peak”.

This would match data from South Africa where a surge in cases lasted approximately one month — new daily cases have fallen by approximately 70 per cent since mid-December. The UK is seeing a similar trend develop since its New Year peak.

Previous variants of the virus have seen waves of cases that last for approximately two months, suggesting that the ease with which Omicron is transmitted has led to a faster cycle as it has quickly reached those vulnerable to infection and then moves on or fades away.

“It’s going to come down as fast as it went up,” Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle told the Associated Press.

At the same time, experts warn that much is still uncertain about how the next phase of the pandemic might unfold.

As cases fall in the major US cities that saw the first of the latest wave, this is not happening everywhere in the country at the same time or at the same pace.

There are still potentially weeks of new cases on the downside of a national peak and potentially many more overwhelmed hospitals and disruptions to daily life.

“There are still a lot of people who will get infected as we descend the slope on the backside,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas Covid-19 Modeling Consortium, which predicts that reported cases will peak within the week.

The University of Washington’s own influential model projects that the number of daily reported cases in the US will crest at 1.2 million by 19 January and will then fall sharply “simply because everybody who could be infected will be infected,” according to Dr Mokdad.

In fact, he said, by the university’s complex calculations, the true number of new daily infections in the US — an estimate that includes people who were never tested — has already peaked, hitting 6 million on 6 January.

With reporting from The Associated Press

Scientists and medical professionals rally around Fauci

Thursday 13 January 2022 15:23 , Oliver O'Connell

Dozens of scientists and medical professionals have signed a letter defending Dr Anthony Fauci from the fierce criticism he has received from Republican lawmakers this week.

Politico obtained a copy of the letter, which states:

We deplore the personal attacks on Dr Fauci. The criticism is inaccurate, unscientific, ill-founded in the facts and, increasingly, motivated by partisan politics. It is a distraction from what should be the national focus – working together to finally overcome a pandemic that is killing about 500,000 people a year. We are grateful for Dr Fauci’s dedication and tireless efforts to help the country through this pandemic and other health crises.

The letter cites Dr Fauci’s 40 years of service to the US, combatting HIV, Ebola, and now Covid.

US averaging more than 760,000 cases daily

Thursday 13 January 2022 15:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The US is now seeing an average of more than 760,000 new Covid infections a day, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said.

It comes amid a surge of the Delta and Omicron variants that continue to spread across swathes of largely unvaccinated states, as both CDC figures and Dr Fauci have warned in recent days.

Analysis by The New York Times suggests daily infections are up 159 per cent on the previous fortnight.

The CDC has also suggested that the US could see 62,000 Covid deaths in the next four weeks alone, with the daily number of Covid fatalities at about 1,700 per day, according to Reuters.

Rand Paul just showed us all who he really is — believe him

Thursday 13 January 2022 14:55 , Oliver O'Connell

“Rand Paul does not need to tell people to take violent action against Dr Fauci for those people to make threats or, God forbid, act on them. And he knows this — because he knew it last year when someone took violent action against him”.

Skylar Baker-Jordan writes: “The height of hypocrisy does not begin to describe the summit of shamelessness Rand Paul occupies. It is a disgusting abdication of not only his duty to his constituents and his country that he so recklessly stokes the flames of discontent and spreads misinformation.”

Rand Paul just showed us all who he really is — believe him

Biden to give update on federal ‘surge’ to combat Omicron

Thursday 13 January 2022 14:37 , Oliver O'Connell

President Joe Biden is scheduled to give an address from the White House at 10.30am this morning in which he will highlight the federal government’s efforts to “surge” military medical personnel to help overwhelmed medical facilities weather the spike in coronavirus cases and staff shortages due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Starting next week, 1,000 military medical personnel will begin arriving to help mitigate staffing crunches at hospitals across the country. Many facilities are struggling because their workers are in at-home quarantines due to the virus at the same time as a nationwide spike in Covid-19 cases. The new deployments will be on top of other federal medical personnel who have already been sent to states to help with acute shortages.

The administration’s focus is shifting to easing disruptions from the nationwide spike in cases that is also contributing to grocery shortages and flight cancellations.

On Tuesday, Janet Woodcock, the acting head of the Food and Drug Administration, told Congress that the highly transmissible strain will infect “most people” and that the focus should turn to ensuring critical services can continue uninterrupted.

“I think it’s hard to process what’s actually happening right now, which is: Most people are going to get Covid, all right?” she said. “What we need to do is make sure the hospitals can still function — transportation, other essential services are not disrupted while this happens.”

President Biden will be joined by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who recently recovered from his own case of Covid-19, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.

They will spotlight the work of the more than 800 military personnel who have been helping civilian hospitals since Thanksgiving and the more than 14,000 National Guard members whose work supporting vaccinations, testing, and caring for patients is being covered by the federal government.

The White House said the trio would speak with federal personnel who are already on the ground in Arizona, Michigan, and New York to hear about their experiences.

Mr Biden will also announce that six additional military medical teams will be deployed to Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

The White House said the teams will support Henry Ford Hospital just outside Detroit, University Hospital in Newark, the University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque, Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, Cleveland Clinic, and Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.

With reporting from the Associated Press

Donald Trump Jr joins complaints against Fauci

Thursday 13 January 2022 14:20 , Gino Spocchia

Donald Trump Jr has bemoaned Dr Anthony Fauci for being a “victim” after the infectious disease expert defended calling a Republican senator a “moron” and accused another of misinforming the public on Covid.

“Remember Lord Fauci is always the victim folks,” Mr Trump Jr tweeted on Tuesday, “No one else!”

Mr Trump went on to retweet his own tweet about Dr Fauci and another by conservative commentator Steve Hilton which baselessly alleged that Dr Fauci “didn’t just ‘fund’ Gain of Function research in Wuhan he COMMISSIONED it”.

The remarks and the retweets made by the eldest son of former US president Donald Trump were among many in response to the furore around Dr Fauci’s confrontation with Republican senators on Tuesday.

Donald Trump Jr groans about ‘Lord Fauci’ being a victim of Rand Paul

Fauci ‘deserves everything he gets’, says Rand Paul

Thursday 13 January 2022 13:49 , Gino Spocchia

Rand Paul has said he believes Dr Fauci “deserves everything he gets and then some, to tell you the truth”, after the Republican was ridiculed by the infectious diseases expert during a senate committee hearing.

The Republican, who has dismissed accusations from Dr Fauci that his Covid misinformation was responsible for death threats issued against the NIAID director – suggested in an interview with right wing commentator Dave Rubin that Dr Fauci “deserved” to be attacked.

"I think he deserves everything he gets and then some, to tell you the truth,” said Mr Paul in an interview that appeared on Rumble. “I mean we've probably never had a government bureaucrat have this much power over our lives and this much disdain for our individual liberty".

Mr Paul also complained about criticism of Dr Fauci being seen as being “against science”, and again issued a number of false statements about the efficiency of mask wearing and vaccinations.

Four US states at 10 per cent ICU capacity

Thursday 13 January 2022 13:30 , Gino Spocchia

Hospitals in four US states have less than 10 per cent of their remaining capacity in their ICUs available amid a surge in Covid hospitalians, the US Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday.

The four states – Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana and New Hampshire – have been among the worst hit in a surge in Covid cases and hospitalisations in the past week.

On Wednesday, another record was broken with 151,261 patients being treated for the disease. Data analysis from The New York Times shows that Alabama, for example, has less than 50 per cent of its population fully vaccinated.

Five more states are approaching similar limited ICU capacity, CNN reported on Thursday, amid warnings that staff shortages were making the situation worse.

Rand Paul ups criticism of Dr Fauci

Thursday 13 January 2022 13:05 , Gino Spocchia

Kentucky Republican Rand Paul continued to criticise Dr Anthony Fauci on Wednesday after he was accused of misinforming the American public on Covid and the NIAID director’s work.

Dr Fauci, who said Mr Paul was “distorting” facts and profiting from personal attacks on the top infectious diseases expert, said such remarks had allowed for “crazies” to threaten him and his family.

Mr Paul afterwards complained in a number of TV appearances that it was he who was victim of criticism, and what he said was “real violence”.

“So he’s equating anybody who disagrees with him with some crazy person that threatened him physically,” said Mr Paul in an interview with Newsmax on Wednesday.

“Well the thing is he’s talking to a senator that has been the victim of real violence, has been threatened many times. I had six ribs broken, lost part of my lung. My wife had to open envelopes that looked like anthrax at the time.”

The remarks appeared to ignore that a man was arrested in Iowa in December who was allegedly travelling to Washington DC to kill both Dr Fauci and US president Joe Biden, and that another was charged with sending threatening emails to the NIAD director.

Stephen Colbert jokes that Covid has ‘broken’ Dr Fauci

Thursday 13 January 2022 12:40 , Gino Spocchia

The Late Show host Stephen Colbert has parodied Dr Fauci’s remarks on Covid in recent days by saying two years of the pandemic have “broken” Dr Fauci, who said Omicron will eventually infect almost everybody.

“There are certain things I don’t want to equivocate on. My life is one of them,” Mr Colbert joked. “You don’t want to hear a skydiving instructor say, ‘Jump from the plane, you will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well.’”

He continued by admitting that vaccinations against Covid were a “silver lining”, and as Dr Fauci said recently would “do reasonably well” at presenting severe illness.

However CDC figures show that as few as 62.7 per cent of Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid.

Fauci’s hot-mic outburst

Thursday 13 January 2022 12:15 , Gino Spocchia

“The more I watch Anthony Fauci’s ‘hot mic’ moment (and I have watched it numerous times), the more I’m convinced that the nation’s top infectious diseases expert knew very well the sound was on – and that his description of GOP senator Roger Marshall as a ‘moron’ would be heard by all”, writes Harriet Sinclair:

Fauci’s hot-mic outburst is exactly what happens when a pandemic gets politicised

‘Moron’ remarks not personal, says senator

Thursday 13 January 2022 11:32 , Gino Spocchia

Roger Marshall has said he did not take Dr Fauci’s remarks about him being a “moron” personally following a confrontational senate committee hearing on the NIAID director’s finances.

The Republican senator told NewsMax on Wednesday: “I didn’t take it personal. We’ve all had a rough day. But I think we pointed out the hypocrisy in what Fauci does. He misleads the public”.

Mr Marshall continued by calling for Dr Fauci’s stock investments to be made public, having been called a “moron” for asking the NIAID director to disclose his financial information – despite Dr Fauci doing so for “37 years or so”.

According to FactCheck.org, the most recently available financial disclosure form for Dr Facui could be obtained by requesting it, and that it did contain information about his investments and salary. As was the form for the CDC director Rochelle Walensky.

In a statement after Tuesday’s hearing, Mr Marshall appeared to alter his demands by saying Dr Fauci had not made financial disclosures during the Covid pandemic. It is unknown when the 2021 report will be available.

Rand Paul spokesperson defends resurfaced video

Thursday 13 January 2022 10:55 , Gino Spocchia

Senator Rand Paul has been seen in a resurfaced video admitting to spreading misinformation and says “misinformation works”.

The Kentucky senator, who has been accused of issuing an attack on Dr Anthony Fauci, had on Tuesday been accused of “distorting” information about Covid-19 and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

In the video from 2013, the Republican told medical students that “misinformation works, so try to trick your opponents”.

A spokesperson for Mr Paul told The independent on Wednesday that “Anyone who watches the video can clearly see that Dr Paul was making a light hearted joke addressing the very real stresses of medical school.”

Video resurfaces of Rand Paul admitting ‘misinformation works’

Five times Anthony Fauci and Rand Paul clashed

Thursday 13 January 2022 10:21 , Gino Spocchia

Dr Anthony Fauci and Senator Rand Paul came to verbal blows again in the senate this week, with the Republica senator accusing the NIAID director of funding “gain of function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the creation of Covid-19.

Mr Paul asked Mr Fauci it was appropriate to use his $420,000 salary to attack scientists who disagreed with the science of Mr Fauci’s, who has become the public face of the federal government’s Covid response.

“In usual fashion, senator, you are distorting everything about me,” Mr Fauci said. “There you go again, you just do the same thing every hearing,” he added, accusing the Republican of issuing misinformation.

As Justin Vallejo writes, it was the latest in the long-running battle of one-upmanship provided more zingers between the two, with Mr Fauci increasingly frustrated over questions from some Republicans:

Five times Anthony Fauci and Rand Paul clashed in testy Senate hearings

Biden wants federal mandate on Covid testing by 15 Feb

Thursday 13 January 2022 07:57 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Federal agencies should require weekly Covid testing for unvaccinated employees by 15 February, the Biden administration said on Tuesday.

Unvaccinated employees, including those seeking religious or medical exemptions “should be tested weekly for any week during which they work on-site or interact in person with members of the public as a part of their job duties.

Agencies may require more frequent testing,” the administration said in a statement, reported Reuters. Federal agencies may impose disciplinary action against those employees who refuse to get tested, the statement added.

The Biden administration wants federal agencies to mandate Covid-19 testing for unvaccinated employees (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
The Biden administration wants federal agencies to mandate Covid-19 testing for unvaccinated employees (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

US facing 62,000 Covid deaths in next four weeks: CDC

Thursday 13 January 2022 07:09 , Sravasti Dasgupta

The US could see 62,000 Covid-19 deaths in the next four weeks, according to an ensemble prediction by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) published on Wednesday.

Using data from Johns Hopkins University, the forecast could imply 2,624 Covid deaths a day, up from a current average of 1,715 per day.

The CDC also predicted a continued increase in hospitalisations over the coming weeks and said there may be 17,900 to 48,000 new confirmed Covid-19 hospitalisations reported on 4 February.

However the CDC said that “current forecasts may not fully account for the emergence and rapid spread of the Omicron variant or changes in reporting during the holidays and should be interpreted with caution.

US slams China for Covid-induced flight cancellations

Thursday 13 January 2022 06:24 , Sravasti Dasgupta

The US on Wednesday hit out at China and warned it would take action against the country for cancelling flights originating from the US due to the increasing number of passengers testing positive for Covid-19 in recent weeks.

In a statement, the US Transportation Department said: “China’s actions are inconsistent with its obligations under the US-China Air Transport Agreement. We are engaging with the (Chinese government) on this and we retain the right to take regulatory measures as appropriate.”

The statement came after Beijing cancelled six more flights from the US to China on Wednesday.

A total of 70 flights have been cancelled this year alone between the two countries.

Last week Airlines for America, which represents the largest US passenger and cargo carriers, said it was discussing the issue of flight cancellations with US and Chinese officials.

China has imposed strict border restrictions and cut down international flights in a bid to stop spread of the pandemic.

Dozens of flights from the US to China have been cancelled in recent weeks (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Dozens of flights from the US to China have been cancelled in recent weeks (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Trump calls out “gutless” politicians who won’t disclose booster doses

Thursday 13 January 2022 06:01 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Former president Donald Trump has endorsed booster shots and hit out at politicians who won’t disclose whether they got booster shots, calling them “gutless”.

“I watched a couple of politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was, ‘Did you get the booster?’ .... And they, ‘Oh, oh,’ they’re answering it — like in other words, the answer is ‘Yes,’ but they don’t want to say it. Because they’re gutless.”

“You gotta say it. Whether you had it or not, say it,” Mr Trump added during his appearance on One America News Network on Tuesday.

While Mr Trump did not name any politician, however, reports said that his comments were a veiled attack on Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who may be a possible Republican contender for 2024 and is known to not disclose whether he has received a booster shot, as Tom Fenton reports:

Trump booed by his own supporters as he admits to having Covid booster shot

Debate over mask mandates renewed by soaring Covid cases

Thursday 13 January 2022 05:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Officials across the U.S. are again weighing how and whether to impose mask mandates as COVID-19 infections soar and the American public grows ever wearier of pandemic-related restrictions.

Much of the debate centers around the nation’s schools, some of which have closed due to infection-related staffing issues. In a variety of places, mask mandates are being lifted or voted down.

Soaring COVID-19 cases renew US debate over mask mandates

White House to double Covid testing in schools

Thursday 13 January 2022 05:28 , Sravasti Dasgupta

The White House has announced that it will double the volume of testing in schools across the US as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country.

In a press release on Wednesday, the White House said that it will double testing in schools by 10 million per month “to increase access to Covid-19 testing”.

“With the additional ten million tests per month, we will make available to schools more than double the volume of testing that took place in schools across the nation in November 2021,” the statement said.

In a bid to keep schools open and safe from infections, the Biden administration has also announced a slew of measures to increase testing including sending federal testing units near schools and connecting schools with testing providers.

The White House said that the additional tests in schools “will help schools safely remain open and implement screening testing and test to stay programs.”

Covid deaths due to Delta not Omicron, says CDC

Thursday 13 January 2022 04:59 , Sravasti Dasgupta

While the surge in cases in the US is being driven by the Omicron variant of Covid-19, a rise in hospitalisations and deaths is being driven by the Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a media briefing, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said the rise in hospitalisations and deaths is “likely a lagging effect of the Delta variant, which was surging before Omicron took hold in the United States in December.”

As Tom Fenton writes, rhe number of daily hospitalisations has surpassed the previous record from January 2021:

Record number of Americans are now hospitalised with Covid

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine 94% effective against hospitalisations among adolescents

Thursday 13 January 2022 04:36 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccines are 94 per cent effective in preventing hospitalisations among adolescents, a new study has found.

The study conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) along with 31 hospitals across 23 states in the country included data on adolescents between the ages of 12 to 18 who had been hospitalised between 1 July and 25 October.

It analysed data from 445 adolescents hospitalised with Covid and 777 hospitalised without the disease.

“Despite eligibility for Covid-19 vaccination, 96 per cent of the patients who were hospitalised with Covid-19 and 99 per cent of those who received life support had not been fully vaccinated,” the researchers wrote in the study, reported CNN.

“We found that vaccination with two doses of the BNT162b2 mRNA (official name of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine) vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalisation from Covid-19 by 94 per cent among adolescents between 12 and 18 years of age in the United States,” the study said.

The study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In this file photo from November 2021, a nurse holds a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (AFP via Getty Images)
In this file photo from November 2021, a nurse holds a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (AFP via Getty Images)

Don Jr bemoans Fauci characterised as ‘victim’

Thursday 13 January 2022 04:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump Jr has bemoaned Dr Anthony Fauci for being a “victim” after the infectious disease expert defended calling a Republican senator a “moron” and accused another of misinforming the public on Covid.

“Remember Lord Fauci is always the victim folks,” Mr Trump Jr tweeted on Tuesday, “No one else!”

Gino Spocchia has the story.

Donald Trump Jr groans about ‘Lord Fauci’ being a victim of Rand Paul

Many will get infected but not all will be severely ill, says Dr Fauci

Thursday 13 January 2022 04:06 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Not all those who get infected with Covid-19 will face severe illness, said Dr Anthony Fauci on Wednesday.

At a White House Covid-19 briefing, Dr Fauci clarified the statement made by US Food and Drug Administration Acting Commissioner Dr Janet Woodcock on Tuesday, where she had said that most people will get infected with Covid.

On Wednesday, Dr Fauci said, “What Dr Woodcock was referring to when she said most of us will ultimately get Omicron is not that most of us were ultimately going to get sick with Omicron.”

He added that while Covid can’t be eliminated it can be brought under control.

“If you control it in a way it’s at such a low level, and people are vaccinated and boosted, sooner or later, as we begin to live with it, what she was referring to is that virtually everybody is going to wind up getting exposed and likely get infected — but if you’re vaccinated and if you’re boosted, the chances of your getting sick are very, very low.”

“That’s what she was referring to,” he added.

Dr Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, gives an update on the Omicron variant during the daily press briefing at the White House on 1 December 2021 (Getty Images)
Dr Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, gives an update on the Omicron variant during the daily press briefing at the White House on 1 December 2021 (Getty Images)

US may be on ‘threshold’ of living with Covid

Thursday 13 January 2022 03:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Dr Anthony Fauci said the US is approaching the “threshold” of living with Covid-19, with cases surging across the country.

The chief medical adviser to the president, while speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Tuesday, said almost everyone will be exposed to the highly-contagious Omicron variant but the vaccinated will fare better.

“Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody,” he said.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar reports.

Fauci says US may be on ‘threshold’ of living with Covid

Staff shortages hit United Airlines forcing schedule reductions

Thursday 13 January 2022 02:30 , Oliver O'Connell

United Airlines is canceling more flights after thousands of the company’s workers called out sick with the coronavirus.

Nathan Place reports.

United Airlines cancels flights after 3,000 employees test positive for Covid

How long can you wear a KN95 or N95 mask?

Thursday 13 January 2022 01:30 , Oliver O'Connell

As the US fights to slow the spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant, reports have surfaced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering recommending that those who can should wear a higher standard of mask when in public – specifically the KN95 and N95 masks that have been in high demand for the last two years.

How long should you wear them?

Andrew Naughtie reports.

KN95 and N95 masks: Which does the CDC recommend, and can you reuse them?

Majorie Taylor Greene mocks proposal to isolate lawmakers without masks

Thursday 13 January 2022 00:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene on Tuesday mocked a proposal to allow House members to vote without masks from a plexiglass box in the House gallery, suggesting any member who is concerned about Covid-19 should not be in office.

Speaking to Insider, Ms Greene said she would argue that members “may not be fit to do the job” if they feel threatened by the coronavirus that has killed more than 800,000 Americans.

“Maybe they need to consider that they are the ones in the risk group, and they should just go sit it out until they feel safe to come out,” she said.

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

Marjorie Taylor Greene responds to plan to put maskless lawmakers in ‘isolation box’

How can vaccination status change Covid symptoms?

Thursday 13 January 2022 00:00 , Oliver O'Connell

A New York emergency room doctor has explained which symptoms his Covid patients typically get, depending on which – and how many – vaccine shots they’ve received. Unsurprisingly, the unvaccinated patients fare the worst.

Nathan Place reports.

Doctor explains how vaccination status can change Covid symptoms

Kids’ low Covid-19 vaccination rates called a ‘gut punch’

Wednesday 12 January 2022 23:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Distrust, misinformation, and delays because of the holidays and bad weather have combined to produce what authorities say are alarmingly low Covid-19 vaccination rates in US children ages 5 to 11.

As of Tuesday, just over 17 per cent were fully vaccinated, more than two months after shots became available to the age group. While Vermont is at 48 per cent, California is just shy of 19 per cent and Mississippi is at only five per cent.

Vaccinations among the elementary school set surged after the shots were introduced in the fall, but the numbers have crept up slowly since then, and omicron’s explosive spread appears to have had little effect.

The low rates are “very disturbing,” said Dr Robert Murphy, executive director for the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s just amazing.”

Parents who hesitate “are taking an enormous risk and continuing to fuel the pandemic,” Dr Murphy said.

Hospitalizations of children under 18 with Covid-19 in the U.S. have climbed to their highest levels on record in the past few weeks. Many have other conditions made worse by Covid-19, though many aren’t sick enough to require intensive care.

The low vaccination rates and rising hospitalisations are “a gut punch, especially when we’ve been working so hard to keep these kids well,” said Dr Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in Overland Park, Kansas.

The vaccines have proved highly safe and effective at reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalisation and death.

Kids' low COVID-19 vaccination rates called a 'gut punch'

Rand Paul snaps back at Fauci allegations

Wednesday 12 January 2022 22:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Senator Rand Paul has been blasted as “unbalanced” and “delusional” after he doubled down with a new attack on Dr Anthony Fauci following a Senate committee hearing.

The Republican senator, who was accused of “distorting” facts about the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director on Tuesday, told Fox News in following interview that Dr Fauci was “juvenile” for blaming him for death threats.

Gino Spocchia reports.

Rand Paul calls Fauci ‘juvenile’ for linking him to death threats

‘Most people are going to get Covid’ say officials

Wednesday 12 January 2022 22:25 , Oliver O'Connell

Top doctors are warning that most people in the United States are eventually going to get infected with Covid-19 – as the Omicron variant continues to spread rapidly.

A record number of daily Covid-19 infections were reported earlier this week, as the hospitalization rate also spiked massively.

On Monday alone, 132,646 people were admitted due to the virus, a new daily record that was broken again on Tuesday - as per Reuters.

Tom Fenton reports.

‘Most people are going to get Covid’: Fauci and FDA chief admit Omicron will sweep US

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