It’s time for another installment of of our special series COVID-19 Update, bringing you the latest developments on the novel coronavirus outbreak that public health authorities here and across the country are working to mitigate.
On Wednesday, November 29th, and Thursday, November 30th, federal judges in the Western District of Louisiana and Eastern District of Missouri halted the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for health care workers across multiple states.
While over 96% of federal employees and overwhelming numbers of military personnel have met the requirements of the mandate, it is very likely this and related federal vaccine and testing mandates will be decided by the federal Supreme Court sometime early next year.
As of Wednesday, December 1st, within the United States, approximately 14% of all children between the ages of five and eleven, or just under four million children, have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Kaiser-sponsored polls that fielded in late October and mid-November indicate vaccine hesitancy among families with children is significant, with a large portion concerned about the vaccine versus their child’s future fertility, and families living in poverty will present a unique challenge to accomplishing the task.
All that said, high demand and the inability to provide in a timely manner vaccination boosters for adults, often due to declining numbers of pharmacy employees, has significantly squeezed access.
On Thursday, December 2nd, the Biden-Harris administration unveiled a detailed nine-point plan for combating the new Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus.
The plan includes the following strategies:
- Boosters for All Adults
- Vaccinations to Protect Our Kids and Keep Our Schools Open
- Expanding Free At-Home Testing for Americans
- Stronger Public Health Protocols for Safe International Travel
- Protections in Workplaces to Keep Our Economy Open
- Rapid Response Teams to Help Battle Rising Cases
- Supplying Treatment Pills to Help Prevent Hospitalizations and Death
- Continued Commitment to Global Vaccination Efforts
- Steps to Ensure We Are Prepared for All Scenarios
One hopes that these plans will include more effectively assisting nations lacking robust public health systems to absorb and administer donated vaccines — what experts call “vaccination readiness” — to minimize future mutations from abroad.
On Wednesday, December 3rd, an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration recommended the authorization of molnupiravir, an antiviral pill developed by Merck, to immediately treat patients infected by COVID-19.
The recommendation follows new data showing that molnupiravir reduced hospitalization or death only by 30%, down from an initially reported 50%.
On Wednesday, December 1st, Franklin County Commissioner Clint Didier, in response to queries from Washington state Labor & Industries regarding complaints of failing to meet mask compliance at county commission meetings, said that the “…pandemic is over…” and that “We’re a free county. Individual liberty reigns in Franklin County, that’s my response.”
Fines may be levied against the county for its lack of compliance.
On Friday, December 3rd, Governor Jay Inslee, at a scheduled news conference, declared that while the omicron variant of COVID-19 merits concern, dealing with the Delta variant is still what worries for him most. “Thirty-four percent of Washingtonians today are walking around with a time bomb in their backpack because they’re not vaccinated and we’ve been fortunate to date by having some declining numbers, but that’s not a certainty, particularly with this new variant.”
On Saturday, December 4th, Governor Inslee released a statement after public health officials confirmed three cases of the Omicron variant within Washington state. “We knew this day was inevitable, but the good news is we have more tools at our disposal to fight the virus than at any previous point in the pandemic, and we must continue to protect ourselves and our communities.”
“There is still much to learn about this variant as scientists around the world continue to study it. It remains as important as ever to get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask and be safe,” said Inslee. “We cannot yield an inch to this virus. Be vigilant for any symptoms – such as fever or fatigue – and mask up in public settings. We all have the power to keep our communities safe.”
The Oregon Health Authority has announced that it will roll out a digital vaccine card in March of 2022. Use of the card will be strictly voluntary and optional.
On Tuesday, November 30th, Governor Kate Brown called a special session of the state legislature, to convene on December 13th, to provide funding and extended protections for renters within the state this winter.
On Saturday, December 4th, David Kabua, President of the Marshall Islands, made a virtual guest appearance in Salem Saturday as a featured speaker at a new vaccination clinic for Marshallese residents of Oregon at the Salem Convention Center, created in conjunction with the city of Salem.
If you or your loved ones need to be tested for COVID, here is where to check for test locations within the state nearest where you live.
On Wednesday, December 1st, Douglas Wold, a resident of Meridian, was sentenced to almost three and a half months in federal prison for using federal funds set aside for COVID-19 testing at his employer, Fry Foods, in nearby Ontario, Oregon to purchase a speedboat.
On Thursday, December 2nd, jury trials in the 1st Judicial District of northern Idaho were postponed through the week of December 6th, due to concerns of potentially spreading the virus through juries.
There isn’t, unfortunately, a state-specific site for where testing for COVID-19 is available. This site appears to be what is recommended by the state of Idaho.
On Tuesday, November 30th, the first known infection of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 within the province was found in a person residing in the Fraser Health region, who had recently returned home from traveling in Nigeria. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says that person is presently isolating.
On Wednesday, December 1st, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced that Terry Jones, head coach and general manager of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, had been suspended for eight games because two of his players participated in team activities for about three weeks after having received only one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The team was also fined $2,500 for violating the league’s vaccination policy.
That same day, the College of Chiropractors of British Columbia voted 78% in favor for their professional regulator to “take a stand” against a promised COVID-19 shot mandate through a resolution to “maintain the right to medical freedom of choice” for chiropractors.
Here is a focal point for testing provided by the provincial government.
Washington has had 784,224 cases and 9,473 attributable deaths.
The state has the forty-fifth worst infection rate among the fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico per million in population.
The state has the forty-fifth worst death rate among the fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico per million in population.
9,842,443 tests have been recorded.
- Doses of vaccine distributed to the state: 13,915,795
- Doses administered: 11,268,717 (80.98%)
Oregon has had 394,569 cases and 5,243 attributable deaths.
The state has the forty-eighth worst infection rate among the fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico per million in population.
The state has the forty-sixth worst death rate among the fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico per million population.
8,142,091 tests have been recorded.
- Doses of vaccine distributed to the state: 7,953,005
- Doses administered: 6,193,364 (77.87%)
Idaho has had 308,669 cases and 3,969 attributable deaths.
The state has the seventeenth worst infection rate among the fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico per million in population.
The state has the thirty-fourth worst death rate among the fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico per million in population.
2,297,384 tests have been recorded.
- Doses of vaccine distributed to the state: 2,741,310
- Doses administered: 1,881,077 (68.62%)
British Columbia has had 219,584 cases and 2,351 attributable deaths.
4,682,135 tests have been recorded.
British Columbia has the sixth worst infection rate and the sixth worst death rate among the thirteen Canadian provinces and territories per hundred thousand population. (If it were an American state, it would be fifty-third and fifty-third, respectively, out of fifty-three.)
- Doses of vaccine distributed to the province: 9,403,360
- Doses administered: 8,761,618 (93.18%)
That does it for this installment of COVID-19 Update. Stay safe and well!