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If we want kids back in school and the economy to prosper, more of the US needs to get vaccinated, expert says

“If we want to keep our kids in school, if we want to protect the economy, if we want our country to get through this pandemic, we have to leave no stone unturned in making sure people get vaccinated,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.In the face of new cases surging…

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If we want kids back in school and the economy to prosper, more of the US needs to get vaccinated, expert says
“If we want to keep our kids in school, if we want to protect the economy, if we want our country to get through this pandemic, we have to leave no stone unturned in making sure people get vaccinated,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
In the face of new cases surging in 48 states, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, President Joe Biden announced Thursday that all federal employees, except for the military, must attest to being vaccinated against Covid-19 or face strict protocols including testing once or twice a week, masking and other mitigation measures.

The data already shows the difference between areas with high and low vaccination rates.

Average hospitalization rates are nearly three times higher in states that have fully vaccinated less than half of their residents compared with those that have vaccinated more than half of their residents, according to a CNN analysis of federal data. And Covid-19 case and death rates over the past week are more than twice as high among states that have vaccinated less than half of their residents, on average.

With only 49.4% of Americans fully vaccinated, former US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said Thursday that he anticipates more closures as the Delta variant keeps spreading. And with some mask and vaccine mandates already implemented, Murthy anticipates more will be added.

With strict rules in place, Chicago hopes Lollapalooza will be remembered for the great music and not Covid-19 cases

“The private sector is already stepping up to create verification systems,” Murthy said. “What we are going to see more and more, Anderson, in the weeks and months ahead is, I believe, we’re going to see more universities, more hospitals, more businesses, more retail establishments looking to put rules in place to require people to get vaccinated.”

Those kind of mandates can make a difference in motivating Americans to get vaccinated, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said Thursday. Jha said other measures will help the US manage transmission in the short term, but vaccine mandates will be part of the long-term solution.

“I wish we’d done these mandates a month earlier,” Jha added. “They would have made a bigger difference, but even doing it now will help.”

First grade student Daniel Cano, 5, and his mom, Sonia Cano, walk past Covid-19 safety precaution/ social distancing and hand washing signs at a L.A. Unified

The enemy is the Delta variant, governor says

Not only is the variant believed to be far more transmissible than other strains, but an internal report presented to the CDC indicates that it may cause more severe disease and may be as easily transmitted by vaccinated people as by unvaccinated when it causes breakthrough infections.

The document — a slideshow first obtained by The Washington Post — appears to provide some data backing CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s controversial decision to change the agency’s guidance on mask use.

It says the Delta variant is about as transmissible as chickenpox, with each infected person, on average, infecting eight or nine others. The original lineage was about as transmissible as the common cold, with each infected person passing the virus to about two other people on average.

Some states are seeing the consequences of the virus’ spread unfold.

CDC's new masking guidance prompted by science that emerged in just the last several days, Walensky says

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced he was reinstating the public health emergency because of the rise in Covid cases.

“Anytime you are having staffing shortages in hospital(s). Whenever, today I believe, it’s four Covid patients that are waiting in ambulances to be able to find a hospital to go to. That constitutes an emergency and a public health crisis” Hutchinson said.

In Central Florida, Advent Health said it had about 1,000 Covid-19 patients as of Thursday, surpassing the January peak of around 900, according to a press release.

In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice said the state’s Covid-19 task force will begin assessing the state’s PPE and hospital and nursing home preparedness.

Justice said the state will be working with Pfizer to conduct a “battlefield assessment” about the efficacy of the vaccine’s antibodies on fighting the Delta variant.

“The enemy is coming, and the enemy is this Delta variant,” Justice said.

Experts weigh on on prospects for booster shots

Amid the surge, the conversation has turned to whether boosters will be needed to enhance the vaccine protection — but many experts say the time for that is still far off.

“Booster shots will come, better guidance on who needs serology tests, when you check antibodies, which ones you check, those will all come,” Dr. Joseph Kanter, state health officer of the Louisiana Department of Health said during a call of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

“I don’t think it changes anything of what we need to be doing right now, which primarily is increase the base of the generally vaccinated population.”

Staff at a Florida hospital say they are hearing panic, fear and regret from unvaccinated Covid-19 patients

Dr. Nirav Shah, ASTHO president and director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, agreed. “To be candid with you, right now, I’m really focused on getting folks first doses, rather than third doses,” Shah said.

Any decision on a booster dose depends on more data, a prominent member of the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee Dr. Paul Offit told CNN on Thursday.

It is possible the US could know by the end of summer or early fall, Murthy said. “We have been tracking more than 20 cohorts across the nation, looking at for evidence of when immunity may wane and when breakthrough infections may increase,” he said.

If the time does come that boosters are needed, Americans will be able to get them in “a fast and efficient manner,” White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said Thursday.

CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Hannah Sarisohn, Maggie Fox and John Bonifield, Shawn Nottingham, Deidre McPhillips, Rosa Flores, Kay Jones and Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.

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Travel to Portugal during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

(CNN) — If you’re planning to travel to Portugal, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.The basicsPortugal was recently in what the government called a State of Calamity, but the country has now moved into a State of Contingency, easing some restrictions in recognition of…

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Travel to Portugal during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

(CNN) — If you’re planning to travel to Portugal, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Portugal was recently in what the government called a State of Calamity, but the country has now moved into a State of Contingency, easing some restrictions in recognition of Portugal’s vaccine rollout.

Portugal is open for tourism for EU citizens plus arrivals from countries including the US and Canada. See travel requirements below.

What’s on offer

Ancient towns, some of the loveliest coastline in Europe, and plenty of pasteis de nata. Portugal has long been overlooked in favor of Europe’s bigger hitters, but over the last few years, that’s started to change rapidly. Capital Lisbon, with its trams rattling up hills and peerless views of the river Tagus, is the place to start. Then there’s the Algarve, whose beach resorts are set atop crumbling cliffs, and the dramatic Atlantic coast, beloved by surfers, and the vast Alentejo region, whose landscapes and hilltop towns have been barely touched by tourism.

Who can go

Residents of the EU and Schengen-associated countries can travel freely to Portugal.

Also allowed in for non-essential travel are arrivals from the following destinations: Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, South Korea, USA, Jordan, New Zealand, Qatar, Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Hong Kong. See below for the rules.

Only essential travel is permitted from India, Nepal, and South Africa. Anyone eligible to come from those countries must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

What are the restrictions?

These restrictions reflect arrivals to mainland Portugal. For instructions on going to the Azores or Madeira, see here.
For mainland Portugal, those coming from the main tranche of destinations — including EU countries — by plane must produce either a PCR test taken within 72 hours of boarding, an antigen test taken within 48 hours or boarding, or a valid EU digital Covid certificate. Children under 12 do not need to have a test. All passengers must also complete a passenger locator card before departure.

Arriving in Portugal by sea entails the same entry regulations as air.

Entering Portugal by road or train, arrivals are not subject to any entry restrictions — unless they’re arriving from India, Nepal or South Africa, in which case they have to quarantine for 14 days.

What’s the Covid situation?

Portugal has had over a million cases and 17,954 deaths as of September 27.

Cases were rising over the summer months, however they now appear to be falling. There were 4,897 new cases registered in the week leading up to September 27.

As of September 27, over 15.9 million vaccine doses have been administered in Portugal. Eighty-four percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

What can visitors expect?

Face masks are mandatory on public transport, and “recommended outdoors when distance between people cannot be ensured.”

Public transport now has unlimited capacity and there are no longer rules around riding in cars — including taxis — with other households.

Groups in restaurants and bars are now upped to eight inside and 15 outside, while cultural facilities are capped at 75% capacity.

Alcohol cannot be sold in service areas or gas stations.

You must present an EU Covid Digital Certificate or a negative test when checking in to accommodation, eating inside restaurants on Friday nights, weekends and public holidays, and entering spas, casinos and exercise classes. PCR tests within 72 hours or antigen tests within 24 hours and certified by a medical professional are acceptable. Children under 12 are exempt.

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More than 300 people are involved in manhunt for a suspect after a Florida sheriff’s deputy was shot during a traffic stop

Nassau County Deputy Josh Moyers was shot twice during a traffic stop in Callahan early Friday morning and died from his injuries Sunday, officials said.”It is with great sadness that I announce Deputy Josh Moyers has passed away this afternoon,” Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper posted on Twitter Sunday night. “Please keep Josh’s family and…

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More than 300 people are involved in manhunt for a suspect after a Florida sheriff’s deputy was shot during a traffic stop

Nassau County Deputy Josh Moyers was shot twice during a traffic stop in Callahan early Friday morning and died from his injuries Sunday, officials said.

“It is with great sadness that I announce Deputy Josh Moyers has passed away this afternoon,” Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper posted on Twitter Sunday night. “Please keep Josh’s family and fiancé in your thoughts and prayers as we navigate this terrible tragedy.”

In a press conference Saturday, Leeper said Moyers’ family and fiancé made the decision to donate his organs Friday night.

Police told CNN Friday that the deputy had been conducting a traffic stop around 2 a.m. when he was shot. He was transported to a hospital in life-threatening condition. Nassau County is in northeast Florida and borders Georgia.

The search for the shooting suspect continues in the same five-square mile radius as Friday, which covers over 3,000 acres, Leeper said. “We now have a murderer on the loose in our community,” he added.

Department spokesperson Ashley Spicer said there was a female passenger in the suspect’s vehicle, who was cooperating with police and identified the suspect as Patrick McDowell, 35.

Police in north Florida are searching for Patrick McDowell, 35.

“She basically told us who he is, because he lied when we pulled them over, it was a stolen vehicle,” said Spicer.

Leeper said the suspect escaped after shooting Moyers. The suspect fired on the deputy after being asked to get out of the car, Leeper said.

“The driver’s arm came out of the vehicle with a handgun and shot the deputy right here,” Leeper said, pointing to his face. When the deputy fell, the suspect “reached out and shot him in the back,” Leeper said.

The suspect was last seen fleeing on foot and is considered dangerous, according to investigators.

A $35,500 reward has been offered to find McDowell, officials said.
The sheriff’s office posted a tribute to Moyers on Twitter Sunday, saying, “Tonight we begin our 1st shift without you.”

“Tonight we put on a brave face and hide the tears; as there is work to be done…As this night won’t be easy, we hope to soon bring this nightmare to an end. Rest easy knowing Bravo Team is carrying you with us. We love & miss you Moyers.”

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Supreme Court justices have something to prove

Take President Joe Biden. He has been walking a tightrope, trying to please both the progressives and moderates in his party, hoping Democrats will unite to launch the biggest expansion of social spending in nearly 60 years. He risks disaster if he can’t get the two sides to make a deal. “This is a time…

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Supreme Court justices have something to prove

Take President Joe Biden. He has been walking a tightrope, trying to please both the progressives and moderates in his party, hoping Democrats will unite to launch the biggest expansion of social spending in nearly 60 years. He risks disaster if he can’t get the two sides to make a deal.

“This is a time like no other,” wrote Frida Ghitis. “But Democrats in Congress seem to be blind to what’s at stake.” As they battle over the size of the budget reconciliation bill, they are forgetting the threat posed by President Donald Trump’s effort to delegitimize Biden’s victory in the 2020 election — and game the system for the 2022 and 2024 votes.

Biden spent the week on the defensive — lambasted by voices in his own party and by Republicans for his handling of a humanitarian crisis over migrants in Texas, seeing his plans for widespread Covid-19 booster shots get brought down to size by some scientists and government regulators, grappling with the fallout from the US deal to share nuclear submarine technology with Australia.

Addressing the UN General Assembly Tuesday, Biden promised America would play an expansive role in tackling the world’s problems, Aaron David Miller wrote, but he “is an embattled president with dropping approval ratings and a hugely ambitious domestic social and economic agenda hanging in the balance.”

“Abroad, recent actions — including a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan conflict, an errant deadly drone strike in Kabul and his French-fried diplomatic row with Emmanuel Macron over the sale of submarines to Australia from which France is now excluded — have raised questions among allies and adversaries alike about America’s competency, reliability and commitment…The challenge for the President is now to deliver and to close the widening gap between his words and deeds. If he can’t, American credibility will fall into the gap he himself helped to create.”
The fate of Biden’s sweeping ambitions in Congress should become clearer in the next few days, wrote Julian Zelizer. “If the week ends badly for the President, it won’t just be his problem — it will be an ominous sign of the broader problems that afflict liberalism and the ability of our government to respond to major crises. Our planet is in demise, the systems that perpetuate racial injustice are still in place and economic inequality is only getting worse. Will Washington be able to step up and finally provide big solutions?”

Justices, prove it

On September 12, Senator Mitch McConnell introduced the Supreme Court’s newest and youngest justice, Amy Coney Barrett, at a 30th anniversary celebration of a leadership center named after him at the University of Louisville. “My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” said the 49-year-old Barrett, who is known for her conservative views. The court rules based on the law, not politics, she said. “Judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties.”
Her remarks echoed those of one of the court’s liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, who at 83 is the oldest member of the court, and wrote, in his recent book, “A judge’s loyalty is to the rule of law, not the political party that helped to secure his or her appointment.”

When the nine members of the court begin their fall term October 4, they will have a chance to prove Barrett and Breyer right — or wrong.

On the court’s agenda is a Mississippi case that could enable the conservative majority to throw out Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional basis for abortion rights in America. The court has declined to block a Texas law which deputizes private citizens to file suits against people who perform abortions after as few as six weeks of pregnancy, and other states are preparing similar laws. “Roe’s constitutional protection of abortion is in genuine peril,” wrote Joshua Prager, author of a new book, “The Family Roe.”

“The last time it was in such danger was 1992, when the Supreme Court took up the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a Pennsylvania case focused on how and when a state may regulate abortion. At the time, abortion rights advocates feared the court would overturn Roe. But as is well known, one of the junior justices on the Court, David Souter, secretly struck an alliance with Justices Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor to rescue Roe.” Prager obtained a copy of a law clerk’s pivotal memo that helped tip the scales in favor of saving the Roe precedent.

“If Roe is overruled,” the law clerk wrote, “the public will understand that the Court’s reversal is explainable solely by reason of changes in the composition of the Court.” Thus, he concluded: “The damage to the public understanding of the Court’s decisions as neutral expositions of the law … would be incalculable.” The same argument could apply today, given Barrett’s appointment to the court as a replacement for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which McConnell expedited in the closing months of President Donald Trump’s term.

The law clerk’s reasoning proved influential. In a joint opinion partly read aloud by Justice Souter, members of the court warned that reversing precedents could be seen as “a surrender to political pressure” and “subvert the Court’s legitimacy beyond any serious question.”

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The Gabby Petito mystery

Last Sunday, police found the body of missing “van life” blogger Gabby Petito, and this week authorities began a search for her fiancé. As Holly Thomas noted, a huge online community followed every step of the mystery: “The couple’s August 12 encounter with the police in Utah during which Petito described a fight between herself and Laundrie that morning. The TikTok-er who claimed that she and her boyfriend gave Laundrie a ride on August 29 in Wyoming. The odd text message from Petito’s phone on August 30, which her family doubts was written by Gabby herself.”

Thomas noted that “everything has been combed over again and again, the public obsessing over theories, the media racing to deliver each new tidbit of information. It feels impossible that something horrific could have happened to a young woman whose life and relationship — documented on her beautiful Instagram grid — appeared to be perfect.”

“Yet while all women face the threat of violence from men, the steps taken by the authorities meant to protect them differ radically, especially depending on their race,” said Thomas. “A recent report from the Violence Policy Center found that in 2018 Black women were murdered by men at a rate nearly three times higher than White women. And yet their deaths aren’t reported in the press nearly as regularly.

Border crisis

The scenes at the US border were wrenching. Patrice Lawrence called it a “human-rights catastrophe” and noted that “it has happened on the Biden administration’s watch.” On Monday, “the nation saw horrifying images of Border Patrol officials appearing to chase and confront asylum seekers, who were largely Haitian, near the international bridge between Coahuila, Mexico, and Del Rio, Texas.”

As Jill Filipovic wrote, there were “families, some with young children, desperately waiting in squalor for help — only to find that their imagined safe harbor refuses to welcome them and is instead sending them back to homelessness, instability and a bleak future.” By week’s end, some of the thousands camped under the bridge in Del Rio had been deported to Haiti, with others released into the US to await asylum hearings.

“The Biden administration was supposed to be better than this,” Filipovic wrote. Instead, he presided over “a humanitarian disaster and a moral failure. And people who were enraged and heartbroken by Trump’s immigration policies should be taking a hard look at Biden’s choices right now and asking whether such egregious behavior is acceptable — just because the President had a D next to his name on the ballot.”

Not exactly news from the Ninjas

In another embarrassment for the supporters of Donald Trump, a report ordered up by the GOP-controlled Arizona Senate essentially confirmed the obvious: Joe Biden won in Maricopa County.

Stephen Richer, the county official who oversees elections, wrote for CNN Opinion that the choice of the company that did the review, Cyber Ninjas, was strange. “Prior to Arizona, Cyber Ninjas had no elections experience and had done zero election audits. Zero. And the company’s actions have raised questions about it being partisan.”
Olivia Troye, who served as Vice President Mike Pence’s homeland security adviser, wrote that “while Trump and his supporters failed to overturn the 2020 elections, charges of election fraud have already become a dangerous blueprint for the future, threatening to undermine our free and fair elections and stoke the potential for violence throughout the country.”
The new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, “Peril,” revealed a post-election memo written by John Eastman, a Trump-supporting lawyer, that laid out a scenario for Pence to overturn the legitimate 2020 vote and hand Trump a second term. The memo “begins with a lie and then descends into madness,” legal analyst Elie Honig wrote, and “is at once rife with falsehoods, childlike in its reasoning and deadly dangerous in its proposed application.”

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Covid’s toll

Covid-19 has now become the “deadliest epidemic ever to hit the United States,” surpassing the 1918 influenza pandemic, wrote Jeffrey Sachs. There is “one overwhelming and grim reality: most of the Covid deaths could have been prevented, but America’s fractured culture — political, economic and personal — mainly delivered death rather than life.”

The US has one of the highest Covid mortality rates– “shockingly high,” wrote Sachs, “considering that the US mass produces Covid-19 vaccines that prevent most deaths. Instead of an orderly lifesaving response to the epidemic, the US response has been unruly and disorderly from the start. Many lives would have been saved if the US had only implemented basic public-health protections until mass vaccine coverage was possible: mask mandates, physical distancing, testing-tracing-isolation procedures and closing large events. Once the vaccines arrived, continued use of precautionary actions would have helped to keep the virus at bay. (Vaccines save lives but only partly prevent infections and transmission.)”

In France, strict new rules seem to be helping the nation stem the Covid surge, wrote David Andelman. “With the exception of weekend protesters, France has wholeheartedly embraced a new law, passed in July, that requires every adult to present a ‘pass sanitaire’ before entering places like restaurants, cafés, museums, theaters and sports stadiums. While President Joe Biden has told businesses they must enforce vaccine mandates, French President Emmanuel Macron has successfully instituted vaccine passports for the whole nation.”
And there was an important piece of good news for the US this week, wrote Dr. Lawrence C. Kleinman: “Pfizer announced Monday that data from recent trials suggests that children 5-11 have a safe and effective response to its Covid-19 vaccine. The news holds the hope to herald a new phase in our battle to end the public health crisis caused by the coronavirus in the United States.”

For more:

Michael Bociurkiw: Justin Trudeau’s mistake

AND…

The Greatest

From the moment he lit the Olympic cauldron in the 1996 Atlanta Games, Muhammad Ali “became a virtually sanctified figure, embodying the movements for civil and human rights that he came to symbolize in America and around the world,” Peniel Joseph observed. Now a new Ken Burns documentary is giving viewers a much fuller account of Ali’s extraordinary life, including his brash entry to the world of sports, his athletic achievements and all of the controversy around his social and political stances.

He was a “a man full of paradoxes,” Joseph wrote. “A freedom fighter who abandoned one of his early mentors, Malcolm X, in favor of a group that would take advantage of him for over a decade…”

“This documentary’s greatness lies in how it reminds a new generation of audiences that Muhammad Ali’s athletic excellence and political rebellion mutually defined not only his time, but also our own era of racial and political reckoning.”

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