Biden Courts Businesses; Moscow Cases Jump: Virus Update

President Joe Biden’s Department of Labor officials met with business lobbying groups and leaders on Friday in an effort to gather support for upcoming rules mandating vaccines or tests at places of work.

Among the major measures the president announced this week to get more Americans vaccinated, one high-profile move was missing: requiring vaccines or negative tests to get on an airplane. 

China said it had developed vaccines for the beta and delta variants after two phases of trials were completed. Indonesia recorded the fewest number of daily deaths since June, while cases in Moscow surged to their highest since mid-August as schools opened after the summer vacation. 

  • Global Virus Tracker: Cases pass 224.1 million; deaths exceed 4.6 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 5.66 billion doses administered
  • Retired seniors in U.S. aren’t covered by Biden’s vaccine plan
  • Alaska’s top health official battens down for a difficult winter
  • American hopes of quickly escaping Covid-19 have been dashed
  • Reluctant firms now face mandate to require workers to be jabbed

N.Y. Hospital to Stop Delivering Babies (6:10 a.m. HK)

A hospital in upstate New York says it can’t deliver babies safely and offer other maternity services after Sept. 24, partly because staff members have quit rather than take a mandated Covid-19 vaccine. 

Six staff members in the maternity department at the Lewis County Health System have resigned and and another seven might, the Watertown Daily Times reported. “It is my hope that the (state) Department of Health will work with us in pausing the service rather than closing the maternity department,” Chief Executive Officer Gerald Cayer said at a new conference Friday afternoon, the newspaper reported. 

“We would like everyone to get vaccinated but we also understand we live in a country where you get to choose certain things and if you choose not to be vaccinated then now, you can’t work in health care,” Cayer was quoted as saying. “We thank for service, and we each move forward.”

U.K. Set to Vaccinate Young Teens (4:34 p.m. NY)

The U.K. government is set to announce plans this week for vaccinations in 12- to 15-year-olds beginning within two weeks, The Observer reports. Vaccinations are believed to begin on Sept. 22.

New proposals for a Covid booster program are also expected to be announced on Tuesday, the newspaper reported. 

Hawaii Launches Digital Vaccine Pass (3:26 p.m. NY)

Hawaii launched a digital proof of vaccination, and almost 20,000 people downloaded it in the first half hour after its release on Friday, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported. On Monday, proof of vaccination will be required in many businesses and public venues in Hawaii. 

Vaccine passes have been contentious with several states banning them outright, but a few, including New York, California and Illinois, have issued ways to store and present proof of vaccination digitally. 

Mississippi Pregnant Women Hit Hard by Covid (2:05 p.m. NY)

Pregnant women make up a third of patients in the intensive care at Mississippi’s largest hospital, the Clarion Ledger reported, quoting doctors. Four of 11 pregnant women with Covid-19 admitted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in the last three weeks died, the newspaper reported, with 10 of the 11 babies born still alive, though premature. 

None of the women were vaccinated, said Rachael Morris, the hospital’s maternal-fetal medical specialist, according to the newspaper. 

Gorillas at Atlanta Zoo Infected (10:53 a.m. NY)

Lowland gorillas at Zoo Atlanta have tested positive for Covid-19, likely spread through an infected caretaker, the zoo said in a statement on Friday. Zoo workers noticed that some gorillas were showing symptoms like coughing and loss of appetite, and they were tested. The Atlanta Constitution Journal reported that 13 of the 20 gorillas tested positive.  

“We are very concerned that these infections occurred, especially given that our safety protocols when working with great apes and other susceptible animal species are, and throughout the pandemic have been, extremely rigorous,” Sam Rivera, senior director of animal health at the zoo, said in the statement. 

Zoo animals around the U.S., including other gorillas, have caught Covid-19 and some have been given vaccines. 

Protests Rise Against Turkish Virus Measures (10:43 a.m. NY)

Hundreds of people gathered in Istanbul to protest against the government’s vaccination campaign and other measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, including the requirement to wear face masks in all public areas. Maskless protesters at a square in Maltepe district listened to a number of heated speeches, including that of Abdurrahman Dilipak, a columnist at Islamic news outlet Yeni Akit, and called for the resignation of Turkey’s health minister.

The Turkish government took new precautions as the spread of the delta variant pushed daily Covid cases above 20,000. As of Sept. 6, anyone traveling between cities or attending a cinema, concert arena, or theater must show a vaccine card or negative PCR test taken in the previous 48 hours. To date, almost 65% of Turkey’s adult population have been fully vaccinated and more than 80% have received first dose, allowing all businesses that had previously limited or suspended their activities to reopen.

Moscow Cases Jump as Schools Open (8:05 a.m NY)

Moscow new daily Covid-19 infections jumped to the highest since Aug. 19 at 1,940 as schools opened in September and vacation season is over, according to the government’s virus response center. Moscow had daily infections record in June at 9,120, but the city administration handled the wave without lockdown.

England Could Impose Indoor Mask Wearing Rules (7:55 a.m. NY)

Adults in England will be told to wear face masks in indoor settings in public if cases surge this autumn, the Telegraph newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information. Boris Johnson’s government would oppose a national lockdown in the coming months because of high levels of vaccination. In addition, such a move is seen as preferable to reimposing social distancing rules because of the impact on the economy, the Telegraph said.

China Sends Health Team to Fujian (6:59 a.m. NY)

China’s National Health Commission sent a special team to a city in eastern China’s Fujian province after Covid-19 cases were reported, according to broadcaster CGTN.

There were six cases in Putian as of 4 p.m. Beijing time on Saturday, the report said.

Indonesia Records Fewest Deaths Since June (6:39 a.m. NY)

Indonesia recorded 270 Covid-19 deaths on Saturday, the fewest since June 19. Daily infection rates continue to decline by 3.5%, according to the government’s health ministry. The country diagnosed 5,001 new coronavirus infections.

On Saturday, the country received 500,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the Netherlands, according to a statement from the cabinet secretariat.

FIFA Clears Brazilians to Play in Premier League (5:40 p.m HK)

Soccer’s international governing body cleared players from Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Paraguay to turn out for their Premier League clubs this weekend. FIFA had blocked their selection for five days after Premier League clubs agreed not to release players for international duties to countries that are on the U.K. government’s travel red list. 

“Recognizing that players have no control over the extreme situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and sanitary restrictions currently imposed,” the member associations of Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Paraguay have withdrawn their complaints, FIFA said in a statement Saturday.

Sinopharm Develops Beta, Delta Variant Vaccines (5:23 p.m. HK)

Sinopharm’ biologics unit China National Biotec Group has developed vaccines against the Delta and Beta variants, and the phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials had been completed for the recombinant protein vaccine, China’s state-owned broadcaster CGTN reports on Saturday, citing company’s party secretary Zhu Jingjin.

Hong Kong, Taiwan Record No New Cases (3:16 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong reported no new local cases on Sept. 11, maintaining a stretch of zero community infections since Aug. 17. The city planned to boost the elderly vaccination rate from the current 27%, the weakest segment of the 7-million population, local media Radio Television Hong Kong reported.

Taiwan recorded no new community coronavirus cases on Saturday after several days of single-digit increases. New Taipei City banned halt dine-in services from Sept. 9-15.

Iran Vaccine Imports Reach 50 Million (2:30 p.m. HK)

Iran’s imports of Covid-19 vaccines surpassed 50 million doses after the country took delivery of 3.3 million doses of the Sinopharm shot on Friday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, citing customs data.

Iran has stepped up efforts to import coronavirus vaccines as its deaths and infections hit record levels in recent weeks and its multitude of domestic immunization initiatives struggle to get off the ground.

Philippines Imposes New Travel Restrictions (10:48 a.m. HK)

The Philippines will bar travelers from Azerbaijan, Guadeloupe, Guam, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Saint Lucia and Switzerland from Sept. 12 through Sept. 18, according to a statement from presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Friday evening.

Biden Courts Businesses; Moscow Cases Jump: Virus Update

Biden Administration Seeks Business Support for Mandates (10:40am HK)

U.S. Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda held a virtual meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief policy officer and other business lobbyists Friday, seeking to garner their support for an upcoming rule to require vaccinations or vaccine testing at much of the private sector.

It was one of at least three briefings the U.S. Labor Department held Friday for union leaders and employer associations, according to people familiar with the calls.

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