The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic in the US

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:34 PM ET, Thu September 9, 2021
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5:21 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

Biden: Nearly 80 million Americans are unvaccinated and they "can cause a lot of damage"

President Biden said "nearly 80 million Americans" have not yet received a Covid-19 vaccine.

"Despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been able in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot, and to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against Covid-19," Biden said in remarks about the next phase of his administration's pandemic response.

"Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they are ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated for those dying in our communities. This is totally unacceptable," he continued.

Biden said that although the majority of Americans are trying to do the right thing, the portion that aren't have the potential to cause a lot of damage for everyone.

"The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing. Nearly three-quarters of the eligible have gotten at least one shot, but one-quarter has not gotten any. That's nearly 80 million Americans not vaccinated, and in a country as large as ours, that's 25% minority. That 25% can cause a lot of damage, and they are. The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals or over run the emergency rooms and intensive care units leaving no one-for-someone with a heart attack or pancreatitis or cancer," the President said.

"I know there's a lot of confusion and misinformation, but the world's leading scientists confirm that if you're a fully vaccinated, your risk of severe illness from Covid-19 is very low," Biden added.

5:16 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

President Biden just announced more stringent vaccine rules for federal workers

President Joe Biden speaks from the White House on September 9.
President Joe Biden speaks from the White House on September 9. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden, speaking from the White House, said he will sign an executive order requiring all federal workers be vaccinated against Covid-19, with no option of being regularly tested to opt-out of the requirement.

The President said he will also sign an executive order directing the same standard be extended to employees of contractors who do business with the federal government.

"If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce," Biden said.

The Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service and National Institutes of Health will also complete their previously announced vaccination requirements, which the White House estimates covers 2.5 million workers.

The new announcements move beyond what Biden announced earlier this summer, when he required federal workers be vaccinated but allowed for those who opted out to be subject to stringent mitigation measures.

The White House has said the federal government should act as a model for other businesses in their own vaccine mandates, and has praised large companies that require employees to be vaccinated.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak contributed reporting to this post. 

6:06 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

"We’re in a tough stretch," warns Biden as Covid-19 surges

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

President Biden sought to highlight his administration's accomplishment in its fight against Covid-19 but also warned of a difficult season ahead as temperatures drop in much of the country.

"This progress is real," said Biden, speaking from the White House. "While America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact, we're in the tough stretch and it could last for a while," said Biden.

Biden went on to urge Americans to choose to get vaccinated before announcing new vaccination mandates for federal employees, contractors and others.

"This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated," he added. "Please do the right thing."

5:07 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

Biden: "We have the tools to combat the virus if we can come together and use those tools"

President Biden said the US is capable of fighting Covid-19 and the country has made a lot of progress in doing so since he entered the White House.

"We have the tools to combat the virus if we can come together as a country and use those tools. If we raise our vaccination rates, protect ourselves and others with masking and expanded testing and identify people who are infected, we can and we will turn the tide on Covid-19. It will take a lot of hard work, and it's going to take some time," Biden said in a speech from the White House.

Biden added: "First, we've made considerable progress in battling Covid-19. When I became president, about 2 million Americans were fully vaccinated. Today over 175 million Americans have that protection."

5:06 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

NOW: President Biden addresses the nation on the Covid-19 pandemic

President Joe Biden speaks from the White House on September 9.
President Joe Biden speaks from the White House on September 9. (Pool)

President Biden is speaking about the next phase of his administration's pandemic response, which will include expanded vaccine mandates for healthcare workers and more measures.

The President is expected to announce a slate of new measures, including a doubling of fines for airline passengers who refuse to mask and a price reduction for at-home rapid tests.

During a background call with reporters earlier this afternoon, officials previewed the announcements the President would make.

Ahead of the speech, officials also said millions of healthcare workers and more than 300,000 educators will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19. They called it an “expansion” of similar requirements already in place for assisted living home staff.  

4:26 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

NYPD says employees who won't get vaccinated or provide proof of negative Covid-19 test will not be paid

From CNN's Laura Ly

The New York City Police Department confirmed Thursday that any employee who does not get vaccinated or provide proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test will not be allowed to work and will not get paid.

In July, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate would expand to require the entire municipal workforce, including the NYPD, to get vaccinated or start weekly testing by Sept. 13.

De Blasio also previously announced that any new hires for any New York City agencies will be required to be fully vaccinated. 

CNN has reached out to the Police Benevolent Association union for comment.

Last month, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea sent a message to members of the NYPD on Friday imploring them to get vaccinated after three members of the department died from Covid-19 in a single week.

By the numbers: As of last month, 47% of the NYPD have had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 44% are fully vaccinated.

As CNN previously reported, the NYPD's vaccination figure only accounts for vaccinations administered by the department and doesn't account for any potential vaccinations administered elsewhere.

5:06 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

North Carolina governor: Most hospitalized people are unvaccinated

From CNN's Kay Jones

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at a press conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, on September 9.
Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at a press conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, on September 9. (Gov. Cooper's Office)

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the state needs more people to get vaccinated as most of the people hospitalized due to Covid-19 are unvaccinated. 

More than 3,800 people are hospitalized with the virus, according to the latest information provided by the state's health department. 

During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Cooper said the state is "laser focused" on getting people vaccinated.

"If you're still unsure about getting one? How about get off social media and get on the phone with your doctor," Cooper said. 

At least 51% of the state's population has been fully vaccinated, with 55% receiving at least one shot. 

"The key to ending this pandemic is the vaccine," Cooper said.

5:06 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

Biden to announce new vaccine requirements for 17 million health care workers

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

President Joe Biden leaves Holy Trinity church in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, on August 29.
President Joe Biden leaves Holy Trinity church in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, on August 29. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

Millions of health care workers and more than 300,000 educators will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, senior Biden administration officials said Thursday ahead of the President's speech.

Fines for airline passengers who refuse to mask up are going to double. At-home rapid tests are going to get cheaper.

Those are among the steps President Biden will announce when he speaks to the country about Covid-19 this afternoon, senior Biden administration officials said.

During a background call with reporters Thursday afternoon, officials previewed the announcements the President will make, in addition to new vaccination requirements for all federal employees.

The new requirements will apply to 17 million healthcare workers across the country, the official said.

“The administration is requiring all workers in healthcare settings that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement – this is most settings including hospitals, dialysis facilities, and home healthcare – that those workers be vaccinated,” the official said.

They called it an “expansion” of similar requirements already in place for assisted living home staff.  

In addition, Biden will announce that “roughly all of the 300,000 educators in head start programs will be required to be vaccinated,” the official said, adding that the President will also “call on governors to require vaccinations for all school teachers and staff.”

The defense production act will be used to accelerate the production of rapid tests, and the administration is planning to send 25-million free tests to US health clinics. Some retailers, like Amazon, Kroger and Walmart, will sell the at-home tests at cost, the official said.

In addition, the Transportation Safety Administration is going to double fines on passengers who refuse to mask up, the official said.

Violators of the federal transportation face mask requirement already faced a $250 fine that increases for subsequent violations, and can rise up to $1,500 for repeated violations.

The agency already said that sanction amounts could fall outside those ranges “based on substantial aggravating or mitigating factors.

5:07 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

Children have lower risk of serious Covid-19 disease but are no less likely to be infected, Fauci says

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives for a hearing in Washington, DC, on May 11.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives for a hearing in Washington, DC, on May 11. (Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images)

Children have a lower risk of serious symptoms from Covid-19 but are not any less likely than adults to get infected in the first place, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview released Thursday.

“Well, they don't have a lower infection rate. What they have is a lower seriousness of infection rate. So we’re seeing more children in the hospital now because the Delta variant is more readily transmissible among everybody — adults and children,” Fauci told the New York Times. 

Fauci said it was not unusual for viral infections to be more severe in adults than in children, and it may be linked to differences in immune response.

“When you get a highly transmissible variant like Delta, you're going to get more children infected, and by definition, you're going to get more children in the hospital,” he said.

Fauci said he thinks children and adults have a similar infection rate from Covid-19.  

“I think that when you're talking about infection rate, I believe it's similar. You know, we, there isn't a direct comparison but given the numbers of children that are getting infected, getting infected is just an exposure situation. There's no necessarily inherent protection against infection that's different — except if you're vaccinated, of course," he said.