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N.Y.C. Will Require All City Workers to be Vaccinated or Tested Weekly
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said the city’s roughly 340,000 municipal workers must be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 13 or face weekly testing. The requirement coincides with the start of school.
On Sept. 13, the entire city workforce will be mandated under the Covid safety mandate to either get vaccinated, which is far preferable, or get tested once a week. September is the pivot point of the recovery. September is when many employers are bringing back a lot of their employees. September is when school starts full strength. September is when people come back from the summer. September is when it will all happen. And so on Sept. 13, which is the first full day of school, every single city employee will be expected to be either vaccinated or be tested weekly. This means everybody. This means, obviously, everyone who works in our schools, our educators and staffs — staff — it means the N.Y.P.D., the F.D.N.Y., it means all city agencies. It means people who work in offices and people work on the front line, everyone. So we’re going to keep climbing this ladder and adding additional measures as needed — mandates and strong measures whenever needed — to fight the Delta variant. No. 1 way to fight it is get vaccinated. We’re proving it. This is the reason life is as good as it is in New York City, right now, because we’re above the national average in vaccinations. But we need to do more. We have to take seriously, if someone’s unvaccinated, unfortunately, they pose a threat to themselves, but they also have a greater chance of spreading the disease.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said the city’s roughly 340,000 municipal workers must be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 13 or face weekly testing. The requirement coincides with the start of school.CreditCredit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times
The drive to get Americans vaccinated accelerated on Monday when the most populous state and largest city in the United States announced that they would require their employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, or face frequent tests.
All municipal employees in New York City, including police officers and teachers, and all state employees and on-site public and private health care workers in California will have to be vaccinated or face at least weekly testing.
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday also became the first federal agency to mandate that some of its employees get inoculated.
The mandates are the most dramatic response yet to the lagging pace of vaccinations around the country in the face of the highly contagious Delta variant, which is tearing through communities with low rates of vaccination and creating what federal health officials have called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Only 49 percent of people in the United States are fully vaccinated, according to federal data.
Misinformation and skepticism have dogged the vaccine rollout, and in recent weeks coronavirus infection and hospitalizations have risen, with a fourfold increase in new cases per day over the last month.
But all three indicators are well below the devastating winter peaks last winter, and vaccines have proven to be very effective protection against the coronavirus. Cities, private employers and other institutions have increasingly turned to mandates to ensure that more people become vaccinated.
Hospitals and health care systems like NewYork-Presbyterian and Trinity Health have announced vaccine mandates, in some cases touching off union protests. The National Football League announced it could penalize teams with players who do not get vaccinated. Delta Air Lines will require new employees to be vaccinated, but not its current workers. And last week a federal judge ruled that Indiana University could require vaccinations for students and staff members.
New York City will require its roughly 340,000 municipal workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by the time schools reopen in mid-September or face weekly testing, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The new requirement in California, which will apply to roughly 246,000 state employees and many more health care workers in the state, will be implemented by Aug. 23, Governor Gavin Newsom said.
At the V.A., one of the largest federal employers and the biggest integrated health care system in the country, 115,000 frontline health care workers will have to get vaccinated in the next two months, according to government officials. “I am doing this because it’s the best way to keep our veterans safe, full stop,” Denis McDonough, the secretary of veterans affairs, said in a telephone interview on Monday.
Eliza Shapiro, Dan Levin and Shawn Hubler contributed reporting.
Credit…Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
California will require all state employees and health care workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face regular, frequent testing, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Monday.
“This is a requirement, to prove you’ve been vaccinated — and if you have not, you will be tested,” Mr. Newsom said, adding that the tests would be required at least weekly.
NEW: CA will have the strongest state vaccine verification system in the US and will require state employees & healthcare workers to provide proof of vaccination—or get tested regularly.
We’re experiencing a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Everyone that can get vaccinated—should.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 26, 2021
The California move came a few hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City announced a similar vaccine mandate for all municipal workers, to take effect by the time schools reopen in mid-September. Last week, Mr. de Blasio announced a vaccine requirement for public health care workers — part of an effort to speed up vaccinations as the city faces a third wave of coronavirus cases driven by the spread of the Delta variant.
State and local officials, businesses and residents across the country are grappling with whether vaccines should be mandated. The city of San Francisco, several Bay Area counties, the University of California and various hospital systems around the country have recently announced similar mandates.
The new requirement in California will apply to roughly 246,000 state employees beginning on Aug. 9 and be implemented by Aug. 23, Mr. Newsom said.
More than 64 percent of California residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to federal data, but the speed of inoculations has slowed. The number of virus cases in California has risen to more than 6,300 on average per day, more than double the daily average two weeks ago.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
A group of nearly 60 major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, called on Monday for mandatory vaccination of health care workers. As the highly contagious Delta variant drives a new surge of coronavirus cases, vaccination is an ethical obligation for health care workers, the groups said in a joint statement.
“Due to the recent Covid-19 surge and the availability of safe and effective vaccines, our health care organizations and societies advocate that all health care and long-term care employers require their workers to receive the Covid-19 vaccine,” the statement said. “This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all health care workers to put patients as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being.”
The statement was signed by a wide array of professional associations, including those representing doctors, nurses, pharmacists and infectious disease experts.
In recent weeks, more hospitals and health care systems have announced that they would begin requiring all employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said that the mandates are legal, and many hospitals already require employees to get flu shots.
“Health care organizations rarely agree on anything, but this is one thing where they are speaking with one voice and unanimity,” said Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, who organized the joint statement. “I think that attests to the wide recognition that this is the right thing to do for this country.”
Although many health care workers have been eligible for vaccination since December, when the first shots were authorized, a significant number remain unvaccinated. In New York, for instance, roughly 1 in 4 hospital workers have not yet been vaccinated, according to state data. Nationwide, just 58.7 percent of nursing home employees have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some health care workers have pushed back against vaccine requirements. A small group of employees sued Houston Methodist Hospital over its mandate. The suit was dismissed last month, and more than 150 workers at the hospital were fired or resigned over their refusal to be vaccinated.
Some employers have been reluctant to require the vaccines, which currently have an emergency use authorization, until they receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. That approval is expected, but could be months away.
Dr. Emanuel said that some hospitals and health care organizations were using the lack of full approval as an excuse to push off vaccine mandates. The joint statement noted that the Covid-19 vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.
“With more than 300 million doses administered in the United States and nearly 4 billion doses administered worldwide, we know the vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from Covid-19,” Dr. Susan R. Bailey, the immediate past president of the A.M.A., said in a statement.
The joint statement said that exceptions could be made for the small subset of employees who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.
Credit…Nathan Howard/Getty Images
WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs will require 115,000 of its frontline health care workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in the next two months, making it the first federal agency to mandate that employees be inoculated, government officials said on Monday.
The move comes as concern is growing that the substantial portion of the population that has not been vaccinated is contributing to the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. While it was a sharp departure from the Biden administration’s reluctance to embrace mandates, it was part of a broader shift in which New York City, many hospital chains and some private employers are deciding that the time has come to make being vaccinated a requirement.
“I am doing this because it’s the best way to keep our veterans safe, full stop,” Denis McDonough, the secretary of veterans affairs, said in a telephone interview on Monday. The department is one of the largest federal employers and is the biggest integrated health care system in the country.
The mandate will apply to workers who are “the most patient-facing,” Mr. McDonough said, including doctors, dentists, registered nurses, physician assistant and some specialists. Beginning on Wednesday, those health care workers will have eight weeks to get fully vaccinated or face penalties including possible removal, he said.
Credit…Shawn Rocco/Duke Health, via Reuters
At the urging of federal regulators, two coronavirus vaccine makers are expanding the size of their studies in children ages five to 11 — a precautionary measure designed to detect rare side effects including heart inflammation problems that turned up in vaccinated people younger than 30.
Appearing at a televised town-hall-style meeting in Ohio last week, President Biden said that emergency clearance for pediatric vaccines would come “soon.” The White House has declined to be more specific on the timeline, and it was unclear whether expanding the studies will have any impact on when vaccines could be authorized for children.
Multiple people familiar with the trials said the Food and Drug Administration has indicated to Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that the size and scope of their pediatric studies, as initially envisioned, were inadequate to detect the rare side effects, including myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, inflammation of the lining around the heart. Members of a C.D.C. advisory committee have said that the benefits of shots for people older than 12 greatly outweigh the risks, including of heart problems.
The F.D.A. has asked the companies to include 3,000 children in the 5-to-11 year old age group, the group for whom results were expected first, according to people familiar with the situation. One of the people, granted anonymity to speak freely, described that as double the original number of study participants envisioned.
A spokesman for Moderna, Ray Jordan, confirmed that the company intends to expand its trial “to enroll a larger safety database which increases the likelihood of detecting rarer events” and expects to seek emergency authorization in “winter 2021/early 2022.”
The Moderna trial began recruiting patients in March with the overall aim of enrolling 6,795 participants between the ages of six months and less than 12 years, according to a government website; the company has not specified how many are to be enrolled in the 5 to 11 age group. But Mr. Jordan said the company is “actively discussing” a proposal with the FDA to expand its trial.
Pfizer is on a faster timetable than Moderna, and may be able to meet the F.D.A.’s expectations on a bigger trial size and still file a request to expand emergency authorization of its vaccine by the end of September. Reviewing all the safety and efficacy data will likely take regulators at least a few weeks.
Pfizer has previously said it expects to have results for the 5-to-11-year old group in September, with results for children aged two to five shortly after. Results for the youngest children between the ages of six months and two years old are expected in October or November. A spokeswoman said Monday that the company had no updates on its timetable.
Questions about vaccinating children — including those under the age of 12 — are of huge interest to parents and teachers. Regulators will be required to balance potential side effects of coronavirus vaccination against the risks of Covid-19 itself.
A spokeswoman for the F.D.A., Stephanie Caccomo, declined to offer specifics. “While we cannot comment on individual interactions with sponsors, we do generally work with sponsors to ensure the number of participants in clinical trials are of adequate size to detect safety signals,” she said in an email message.
In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published data showing that the two vaccines may have caused myocarditis and pericarditis in more than 1,200 Americans, including about 500 who were younger than 30. The symptoms typically appeared within two weeks and were more common in young men and boys. The rate was low: Fewer than 13 cases per one million second doses administered.
Most cases were mild and quickly cleared up, the researchers said. And Dr. Paul A. Offit, an infectious disease specialist who previously served on the C.D.C.’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which makes recommendations on vaccine use in the United States, noted that infection with the coronavirus also carries a risk.
If expanding the trials were to cause a delay in authorizing vaccines for pediatric use, he said, that would also put children at risk. “There’s always a human price to pay for knowledge,” he said. Of the heart ailments, he said, “It’s rare, it’s generally short lived and self resolving. It’s also a consequence of natural infection.”
The C.D.C.’s data showed 12.6 cases per million second doses administered, and researchers estimated that out of a million second doses given to boys ages 12 to 17, the vaccines might cause a maximum of 70 myocarditis cases, but would prevent 5,700 virus infections, 215 hospitalizations and two deaths. Covid-19 itself may cause heart problems in young people.
The F.D.A. authorized the Pfizer vaccine on an emergency basis for children ages 12 to 15 in April; so far, the Moderna vaccine has been cleared only for people 18 and older. The agency attached a warning about potential heart problems to the fact sheets of the vaccines in June.
Many public health experts argue that, with so much attention focused on hospitalizations and deaths among older Americans infected with the coronavirus, the risk for children has been overlooked. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported last week that more than four million American young children and adolescents have tested positive for the virus and 346 have died since the outset of the pandemic.
Mr. Biden’s attempt to put a general timeline on a possible authorization for children younger than 12 was unusual, and risked setting expectations for regulators to resolve a highly sensitive matter too soon. Mr. Biden and members of his administration have said they do not want to intervene in or be seen as influencing the work of regulators at the F.D.A. — something that former President Donald J. Trump tried to do repeatedly last year as the agency reviewed coronavirus drugs and vaccines.
VideoPresident Biden said the benefits and protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act would now extend to people facing ongoing health problems caused by a coronavirus infection that occurred weeks or months before.CreditCredit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times
Americans suffering from “long Covid” — a term referring to new or ongoing health problems from a coronavirus infection that occurred weeks or months ago — will have access to the benefits and protection provided under federal disability law, President Biden said on Monday.
Speaking in the Rose Garden to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Mr. Biden listed some of the lingering effects that have been seen in coronavirus survivors, including “breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain or fatigue,” and noted that the effects sometimes rise to the level of a disability.
“We are bringing agencies together to make sure Americans with long Covid, who have a disability, have access to the rights and resources that are due under the disability law,” Mr. Biden said, noting that they would include special accommodations and services in the workplace, in schools and in the health care system.
In some cases, the health effects of Covid-19 can persist for months after initially causing only mild symptoms. A study published in April found that a coronavirus infection also appears to increase the risk of death and chronic medical conditions afterward, even in people who were never sick enough with the virus to be hospitalized.
The research, based on records of patients in the Department of Veterans Affairs health system, also found that non-hospitalized Covid survivors had a 20 percent greater chance of needing outpatient medical care in the six months following infection than did people who had not contracted the coronavirus.
Credit…Jon Elswick/Associated Press Photo
U.S. high school seniors completed fewer federal financial aid applications for college this year, as compared with last year, which saw an even steeper drop — signals that the number of low-income students attending college is falling again.
The National College Attainment Network, a nonprofit organization that promotes college attendance and completion by low-income students, links the drop to the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
“Students have had to go out into the work force to support their families,” said Bill DeBaun, the organization’s director of data and evaluation.
Many low-income students, who are disproportionately Black and Hispanic, are electing to take advantage of a pandemic labor shortage. More well-paying hourly jobs are available, in some cases with signing bonuses. “Higher wages do draw students from the margins,” Mr. DeBaun said.
Applications dropped by nearly 5 percent this year, or about 102,000 forms. Counting the drop last year, 270,000 high school students who might have attended college skipped filling out the financial aid forms, according to the organization’s analysis.
That is not good news for colleges that are struggling to fill their classes. Many low-income students normally attend community colleges and regional four-year schools, which have already borne the brunt of enrollment declines during the pandemic.
Michigan was one of the most affected states in terms of college enrollment losses last fall, with a decline of 9.2 percent, according to Ryan Fewins-Bliss, executive director of the Michigan College Access Network.
“These were enormous hits,” he said.
The federal form, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, requires students to supply financial information that is used not only to award federal grants and loans, but also to determine who gets financial assistance supplied by states and individual colleges.
And while it’s still possible for students who intend to enter college this fall to fill out an application and apply for federal Pell grants, the data collected by early summer are considered a barometer of college attendance for the fall.
The numbers, analyzed through July 2, also show that the poorest-of-the-poor students are lagging behind their counterparts in applying for aid, according to Mr. DeBaun.
“High schools with higher concentrations of students of color and students from low-income backgrounds saw greater declines in FAFSA completions,” he said.
For high schools with more than 40 percent Black and Hispanic enrollment, the decline in FAFSA completion rates was 8.1 percent, compared with a 2.2 percent drop for schools with lower Black and Hispanic enrollment, he said.
“Once students graduate from high school and they go out into the work force, they’re kind of in the wind,” Mr. DeBaun said. “For students of color, students of low-income backgrounds, the college-going pathway has never been easy. And the pandemic has created this maelstrom of different kinds of outcomes.”
Many of the low-income students who receive Pell grants attend the nation’s more than 1,000 two-year colleges, which provide a low-cost alternative for students who lack the means to pursue four-year degrees.
Those colleges, which frequently enroll older students, many with families, have experienced a big enrollment decline during the pandemic — about 10 percent — according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse.
Credit…Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters
Tokyo Olympic organizers on Monday announced 16 new positive coronavirus tests among people connected to the Games. At least 153 people with Olympic credentials, including 19 athletes, have tested positive.
Some athletes who tested positive have not been publicly identified.
The Netherlands team announced that the rower Finn Florijn had tested positive after his Olympic debut on Friday. Florijn, 21, had been scheduled to compete on Saturday, but his required 10-day quarantine will cut short his competition.
The average number of cases in Japan has increased 105 percent in the past two weeks, according to New York Times data.
Athletes who have tested positive for the coronavirus
Scientists say that positive tests are expected with daily testing programs, even among the vaccinated. Little information on severity has been released, though public reports suggest that cases among athletes have generally been mild or asymptomatic. Some athletes who have tested positive have not been publicly identified.
Russian Olympic Committee
Russian Olympic Committee
Katie Lou Samuelson
Alex de Minaur
Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times
Facing deep mistrust that has been stoked by conservative news outlets and lawmakers and by rampant misinformation online, local health officials around the country are fighting for influence when the only sure strategy for beating back the virus is getting more people vaccinated.
Some of those officials say that they consider themselves targets at a time when many of their colleagues around the country have resigned or been fired during the pandemic, including the top vaccine official in Tennessee this month.
A year and a half into the crisis, their battered departments are now struggling to contain the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant with testing and contact tracing — the best resources, despite their limited reach, in the many places where vaccination rates remain low.
They are facing new heights of hostility, and new battles are looming over what safety measures schools and businesses should put in place in the fall, decisions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said should be made in consultation with local health officials.
Nowhere is the struggle as urgent as the northwest corner of Louisiana, one of the white-hot centers of what has become a two-track pandemic. Only 30 percent of the more than 500,000 people in the region are fully vaccinated, almost 20 points below national figures.
A recent study by researchers at Georgetown University showed that Shreveport was in the middle of one of five main clusters of unvaccinated people in the United States vulnerable to large surges and new variants, putting the rest of the nation at risk.
Louisiana ranks near the bottom in vaccination rates nationally, and cases are again multiplying, with the second-highest average daily case count per 100,000 people in the country.
“We are unfortunately the leading edge of the Delta surge,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state’s top health official. “We lost all the progress we had made.”
The immediate crisis is confounding and demoralizing health officials in Shreveport, where just over half the population is Black and nearly 40 percent is white, with a mix of moderate Democratic and far-right conservative politics.
With so few of its residents vaccinated, the city is largely relying on the complex work of disease surveillance and intimate block-by-block, person-by-person engagement. And without as many resources as some larger health departments, the region has turned to other public institutions to fill the void.
The backbone of the city’s response in recent months has been a dilapidated former Chevrolet dealership converted to a vaccination and testing site by Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, where a team of workers weaves around test and vaccination kits stacked floor to ceiling, planning mobile unit outings.
The fight against the virus in the region is a study in the kind of small-scale response that has the best chance of working, albeit painfully slowly, at this stage of the pandemic, said Dr. John Vanchiere, a professor of pediatrics and infectious disease at L.S.U. Health Shreveport who works with Dr. Martha Whyte, the top public health official in the region.
A recent visit to a chicken processing plant, where a dozen presentations were delivered to groups of workers, led to gradual uptake of the vaccine, he said.
He and Dr. Whyte spoke last Sunday at a Black Baptist church to encourage vaccinations. Congregants raised claims that they had heard about the vaccine, including that it caused infertility and magnetized people’s bodies (both false).
Credit…Clement Mahoudeau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
France passed a new Covid-19 law late on Sunday that makes health passes mandatory for a number of indoor venues as the country faces a fourth wave of infections. The vote came after days of heated parliamentary debates that lasted long into the night and protests against the measure in dozens of French cities.
President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday, “With the Delta variant, the epidemic is picking up again,” adding, “My message is simple: to get vaccinated.”
About 40 million people, or nearly 60 percent of France’s population, have received a first shot, but the number of new daily cases has risen steeply over the past week, to over 15,000 on average, from fewer than 2,000 at the end of June.
Over 160,000 people demonstrated around France over the weekend to protest the health pass legislation, with brief clashes between largely unmasked protesters and police officers in Paris. Far-right politicians and members of the Yellow Vest movement were among those organizing the marches.
The health pass — paper or digital proof of being fully vaccinated, of a recent negative test or of a recent Covid-19 recovery — was already mandatory to attend large events in stadiums and concert halls, and to enter cultural venues like cinemas, museums and theaters.
The new law, which will be implemented in early August and can apply until Nov. 15, extends that obligation to bars, restaurants, gyms and certain malls. Establishments that fail to enforce the rules will face penalties, and their employees could face pay suspensions — but not firings — if they fail to get vaccinated as well.
A valid health pass will also be required for nonurgent visits to medical facilities and long-distance train and bus rides. Young people ages 12 to 17 are exempted from the rules until Sept. 3.
Mr. Macron, speaking during a visit to the Pacific islands of French Polynesia, said that he respected people who had doubts about getting their shots and that the authorities would respond to them with “patience, conviction, support.” But he criticized those who were in “irrational, sometimes cynical and manipulative” opposition to the vaccines.
“A freedom where I don’t owe anything to anyone doesn’t exist,” Mr. Macron told reporters at a hospital in Tahiti, one of the islands. “What is your liberty worth if you tell me you don’t want to get vaccinated? And tomorrow, you infect your father, your mother or myself. I am a victim of your freedom.”
Mr. Macron cited the possibility that hospitals would have to push back crucial surgeries, as they have during past waves, to make room for Covid-19 patients who had refused to get their shots.
“That is not called freedom,” he said. “That is called irresponsibility, selfishness.”
The new law also obligates health employees and other essential workers, such as firefighters, to get vaccinated by the fall, and it makes a 10-day isolation period mandatory after an infection. Before it can be enforced, the law must still be reviewed next week by the Constitutional Council, which verifies that legislation complies with the Constitution.
Credit…Ahmad Yusni/EPA, via Shutterstock
Malaysia reported a record number of new coronavirus infections on Sunday, taking the country past one million cases as it battles a major outbreak that has left doctors feeling helpless and the authorities scrambling to control the spread.
Officials reported 17,045 new cases and 92 coronavirus-related deaths. In a statement on Sunday, Noor Hisham Abdullah, Malaysia’s director general of health, urged residents to continue adhering to restrictions, avoid gatherings and book their vaccine appointments.
Malaysia currently has the highest infection rate in Southeast Asia, where a number of countries are facing their worst outbreaks of the pandemic after keeping cases relatively low for all of last year. The country of more than 30 million is vaccinating its population faster than many of its neighbors, with about 16 percent fully inoculated, according to a New York Times database.
On Monday, doctors working on contracts walked out of several hospitals, demanding improvements in pay, local news media reported. “Our strike is not about resistance,” one doctor told Free Malaysia Today, an independent news site. “We only want the government to give us the same rights and benefits that permanent doctors get.”
He added that 150 contract medical officers had quit “because they are tired of the system.”
Dr. Noor Hisham pleaded with health care workers to abstain from the strikes. “I urge all of you, please do not join the demonstration and abandon your duty to your patients,” he said on Facebook. “Remember many lives are on the line and the demonstration could affect their lives and even your career.”
Also on Monday, the Malaysian Parliament convened for the first time since January, when it was suspended after the king declared a national emergency amid the pandemic. The government said that it would not ask for a renewal of the emergency order, which is set to expire on Aug. 1.
In other developments around the world:
Officials in Pakistan said that citizens 18 years and older who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 would be barred from domestic air travel starting Aug. 1. In a statement, the National Command and Operation Center, the top body overseeing the country’s pandemic response, listed several categories of people who were exempted from the ban, including partially vaccinated individuals, foreign nationals and those who have medical reasons for not being vaccinated.
China on Monday reported 76 new coronavirus cases, the highest one-day total since January. According to the National Health Commission, the number includes 40 local cases, all but one of them in the eastern province of Jiangsu. The provincial capital, Nanjing, where the cases are concentrated, has raised its virus threat level in some areas and is conducting a second round of mass testing of all nine million residents.
Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times
When New York started a sweeping rent relief program in June, the aim was to safeguard the state’s recovery from the pandemic by keeping tens of thousands of people who fell behind on rent out of financial ruin and in their homes.
The state set aside about $2.7 billion, the vast majority from federal pandemic relief packages, with New York providing some funding.
But after nearly two months and despite the staggering need, New York has been among the slowest states in distributing help. In fact, federal figures showed that by the end of June, New York was one of only two states where no aid had been sent out, even though the state’s eviction moratorium is set to expire in just a few weeks.
State officials said that they had started distributing a small sum — $117,000 — this month to test the payment system and that more funds were expected to be sent out starting last week.
The application process, which is primarily online, has been hobbled by technical glitches, according to housing groups. Many tenants have encountered errors that in some cases wiped away entire applications.
The payments covering back rent go directly to property owners, which means landlords also have to fill out forms. Many say it is difficult to upload the required paperwork, leaving applications seemingly incomplete.
Housing groups say the process is overly complex, requiring too many documents, and takes a long time to complete because there is no way to save and restart an application.
Credit…Stefanie Loos/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
BERLIN — The authorities in Germany are considering reinstating some restrictions for adults who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 if daily infections substantially increase in the coming months.
In an interview on Sunday with Bild, Germany’s most widely read tabloid, Dr. Helge Braun, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, said, “Vaccinated people will definitely have more freedom than unvaccinated people.”
Dr. Braun’s statement came a little more than a week after President Emmanuel Macron of France made clear that the lives of unvaccinated people would get progressively less comfortable, touching off a debate about whether government policies in Europe were using persuasion or coercion to get people vaccinated. The British government has also said that it will begin requiring proof of vaccination for large events in England.
The announcement by one of Ms. Merkel’s top lieutenants exemplified the narrow line lawmakers and officials are trying to navigate in pressuring the public to get their shots without making immunizations mandatory.
In a TV interview broadcast on Sunday evening, Armin Laschet, leader of Ms. Merkel’s conservative party and a likely candidate to replace her as chancellor when she steps down this year, staked out his position. “I don’t believe in mandatory vaccinations, and I don’t believe in indirectly pressuring people to get vaccinated,” he said.
This coming Sunday, a vocal group of Covid and vaccine skeptics are scheduled to demonstrate in Berlin. That movement has been warning of “forced vaccinations” since before shots were available.
Although the German authorities are currently only reporting 14 new infections per 100,000 over a week, the numbers are rising. In his interview, Dr. Braun, who is also a medical doctor, predicted that infections could hit 100,000 a day within months if no measures were taken.
“This could also mean that certain offerings such as restaurant, movie and stadium visits would no longer be possible even for tested unvaccinated people because the residual risk is too high,” he said.
Currently, those who are fully vaccinated are treated in the same way as those who can present a negative coronavirus test that is not more than a day old.
As of this weekend, about 61 percent the population has received at least one vaccine dose and nearly half of the population is fully vaccinated.
“This is not discrimination against the unvaccinated,” Horst Seehofer, the country’s interior minister, said in a TV interview broadcast Monday.
“But,” he added, “the unvaccinated person also needs to realize that we need to protect the community as a whole and therefore can only allow the vaccinated to attend major community events.”
Eleven current or former top federal health officials were summoned by House Democrats on Monday for transcribed interviews with investigators, as part of a widening inquiry into the Trump administration’s political interference with the nation’s pandemic response.
Democratic members of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent letters seeking voluntary appearances from the officials, including two career scientists who recently left the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who was muzzled after she warned in February 2020 that the coronavirus pandemic would create serious disruption in Americans’ lives, and Dr. Anne Schuchat, who spent six years as the agency’s No. 2 official.
“Evidence previously uncovered by the Select Subcommittee and other sources shows that Trump Administration officials sought to suppress accurate scientific information and attempted to retaliate against officials, such as yourself, who provided truthful information to the public,” the Democrats wrote to Dr. Messonnier, who recently took a new position at the Skoll Foundation, a philanthropy in California.
The letters are a sign that, despite President Biden’s forward-looking approach, the Democrats on the panel are intent on looking back. The panel was appointed last year by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to investigate all aspects of the federal response.
Republicans on the subcommittee have accused Democrats of ignoring matters like the “lab leak theory,” a hotly disputed assertion that the pandemic stemmed from a virology laboratory in Wuhan, China, the city where the first Covid-19 cases were reported.
The Trump administration’s efforts to browbeat C.D.C. scientists, including Drs. Messonnier and Schuchat, have been reported extensively by The New York Times and other news outlets. On Monday, Democrats on the House panel released a new piece of evidence: an email from Dr. Paul Alexander, a part-time assistant professor of health research methods, who had a brief and controversial tenure as an official in the Department of Health and Human Services.
In the email, Dr. Alexander demanded that Michael Caputo, the department’s spokesman under Mr. Trump, put an “immediate stop” to publication of the C.D.C.’s weekly scientific reports until Dr. Alexander had approved them.
David Gross, an executive at a New York-based advertising agency, convened the troops over Zoom this month to deliver a message he and his fellow partners were eager to share: It was time to think about coming back to the office.
Mr. Gross, 40, wasn’t sure how employees, many in their 20s and early 30s, would take it. The initial response — dead silence — wasn’t encouraging. Then one young man signaled he had a question. “Is the policy mandatory?” he wanted to know.
Yes, it is mandatory, for three days a week, he was told.
Thus began a tricky conversation at Anchor Worldwide, Mr. Gross’s firm, that is being replicated this summer at businesses big and small across the country. While workers of all ages have become accustomed to dialing in and skipping the wearying commute, younger ones have grown especially attached to the new way of doing business.
And in many cases, the decision to return pits older managers who view working in the office as the natural order of things against younger employees who’ve come to see operating remotely as completely normal in the 16 months since the pandemic hit. Some new hires have never gone into their employers’ workplace at all.
Credit…Alberto Pezzali/Associated Press
LONDON — Even with the rain, lines at some night spots in England snaked around street corners. Patrons cheered and gyrated on dance floors on the first weekend that they were allowed into nightclubs after the easing of virtually all lockdown rules. The euphoria was evident, with many saying that it was the first true night of dancing, release and socializing they had experienced in over a year.
But starting in September, nightclubs and other crowded events will become more exclusive, with government officials, worried about transmission, saying that proof of vaccination will become a condition of entry.
Nadhim Zahawi, minister for vaccine deployment, told Parliament on Thursday, “We plan to make full vaccination a condition of entry to those high-risk settings where large crowds gather and interact.”
“Proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient,” he added.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week that vaccinations would most likely increasingly be needed for access to “some of life’s most important pleasures and opportunities,” including nightclubs.
The comments caused trepidation in an industry that has been battered by more than a year of forced shutdowns and delayed reopenings.
With 35 percent of people ages 18 to 30 having not yet received a single dose of a vaccine, Mr. Johnson said that entry requirements would encourage people to seek shots to “get back the freedom, the love.”
The sudden update was at odds with an earlier message from officials that proof of vaccination or negative tests would not be mandated, though they would be encouraged. Venue owners called the change another blow to the nightclub sector. Workers in the industry have in recent months protested the government’s decision to delay the reopening of nightclubs and other late-night venues while allowing sporting events to go ahead.
But in the prelude to the lifting of most restrictions on July 19, health experts had cautioned against the government’s decision to reopen almost all of the economy in England.
In a statement, Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, called the idea of requiring vaccinations as a condition of entry “another chaotic U-turn.” Most nightclubs did not want to implement passes showing proof of vaccination, he said, because it would be difficult to enforce and would put them at a disadvantage to pubs and bars, where passes are not required.
Hans-Christian Hess, director of the Egg London venue, which reopened as soon as it was allowed, said, “Nightclubs seem to be the dirty word.” He noted that clubs took as many precautions as sporting events like Wimbledon, which were allowed to go ahead. “We deserve our freedom just as much as anyone else,” he said.
Even without legal obligations, some venues have installed their own conditions of entry, such as evidence of a negative lateral flow test taken the same day.
In the case of Egg London, “We’re advising people to take lateral flow tests and advising people to stay home if they don’t feel too well,” Mr. Hess said. “All the staff are wearing masks.”
Mr. Hess said that the authorities had not yet offered clarity on how vaccine passes would be implemented, and he added that he would have preferred a system in which patrons could show certification of a negative test or full vaccination for entry.
“After 18 months of not doing any business, you can imagine how hard it is,” he said. “It’s been an amazing few days just to see the people and see all the youngsters enjoying themselves.”
Some other countries have been introducing passes as a condition of entry to social events. France, for example, has said that passes showing proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or proof of recovery from Covid would be required to enter potentially crowded venues such as museums and cinemas. But the moves have prompted backlash. Tens of thousands in France protested against the introduction of the new “health passes” this month, and in May, hundreds showed up at a similar demonstration in London.
About half of the British population is now fully vaccinated, but that rate is lower among younger age groups, many of whom only became eligible to book their first shots in June.
Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
Representative Clay Higgins, Republican of Louisiana and an outspoken coronavirus skeptic who has drafted legislation to make vaccine mandates a federal crime, announced this weekend that he, his wife and his son have Covid-19.
The announcement on Facebook, which did not provide details on symptoms, raised many questions. Mr. Higgins said he and his wife had previously been infected with the coronavirus in January 2020, at the dawn of the pandemic, when testing was not widely available. He did not say whether he had gotten an antibody test to confirm a previous infection, nor has he said whether he has been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“This episode is far more challenging,” he wrote. “It has required all of my devoted energy.”
Mr. Higgins also asserted, without proof, that the Chinese Communist Party created the novel coronavirus as a biological warfare agent, calling it “weaponized.”
Republicans have increasingly stated, with no evidence, that the coronavirus is human-made and leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China — some say intentionally. Although President Biden has ordered an intelligence assessment of the theory, most scientists continue to believe that the virus emerged naturally from animals. A senior virologist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology has strenuously denied the virus was created or leaked from her lab.
Mr. Higgins boasted in May about his opposition to federal mandates to fight the pandemic.
“I do not support mandatory vaccines, mask mandates or any form of required vaccine passport,” he wrote on Facebook. “In fact, I am introducing legislation making mandated or forced compliance with medical procedures a federal crime.”
In May 2020, he questioned the use of face masks, despite widespread agreement among experts that their use was important in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
Some public health experts think that a vaccine mandate could help nudge a greater share of the country toward receiving the inoculation. About 49 percent of people in the United States have been fully vaccinated, according to federal data.
It is unclear how many Republicans in Congress have been vaccinated. The No. 2 House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, received his first vaccine dose two Sundays ago — a remarkably late date, given that vaccines have been widely available on Capitol Hill for months and that one House Republican and one House Republican-elect have died of Covid-19.
Mr. Scalise had initially said he did not need the vaccine because he had previously been infected, an assertion also made by Senators Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, and Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone age 12 or older — regardless of whether they have had the virus — get a vaccination.