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
29 Posts
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7:13 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

Los Angeles school board votes to mandate Covid-19 vaccine for students 12 and older

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

A teenager from East Los Angeles receives the Covid-19 vaccine at the Esteban E. Torres High School in Los Angeles on May 27.
A teenager from East Los Angeles receives the Covid-19 vaccine at the Esteban E. Torres High School in Los Angeles on May 27. Damian Dovarganes/AP

All eligible children attending Los Angeles Unified public schools – the nation’s second largest school district – will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the calendar year, the school board of education has voted.

In a special meeting held Thursday, the Los Angeles Unified School Board decided a mandate was appropriate based on the sudden surge of the virus brought about by the Delta variant and data showing lower rates of infection and hospitalization among those who are vaccinated. 

The proposal approved Thursday requires all eligible students 12 and older to receive their first vaccine dose by no later than Nov. 21, 2021, and their second dose by no later than Dec. 19, 2021. Students who participate in in-person extracurricular activities, including sports, face an earlier deadline of Oct. 3 for a first dose of the vaccine and a second dose no later than Oct. 31.

The district, which serves more than 600,000 students, already mandates the vaccine for teachers and staff, requires face coverings to be worn by all, and requires screening tests for all students and staff weekly. Classrooms have been outfitted with enhanced ventilation systems in an effort to decrease the spread of the virus.

District spokesperson Shannon Haber was not able to provide a number on exactly how many students will be affected by Thursday’s decision, but noted than many students have already been inoculated. Covid-19 vaccines are being provided free of charge to every eligible Californian, and mobile vaccine clinics are visiting every middle and high school in the district.

The mandate will apply to all vaccine eligible students who are going to school in-person and will allow those with “qualified and approved exemptions” to opt out, though the board did not specify the conditions. Students who decline the vaccine and have no exemptions can participate in the Independent Study Program (ISP). Currently, about 15,000 students are enrolled in the ISP, according to board member Tanya Ortiz Franklin.

During Thursday’s meeting, Dr. Richard Pan, a state senator, pediatrician, and district parent advocated for the measure, pushing for “community immunity” to protect the kids that are too young to be eligible for the vaccine. He praised LAUSD for “leading the way” and ���following the science to ensure schools are safe."

5:44 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

Biden: Amazon, Walmart and Kroger will start selling at-home Covid-19 test kits "at-cost"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

People walk in front of a Walmart store in San Leandro, California, on May 13.
People walk in front of a Walmart store in San Leandro, California, on May 13. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

President Biden announced plans to reduce costs of Covid-19 testing for Americans, including working with retailers to make at-home Covid-19 test kits available "at-cost."

"In order to better detect and control the Delta variant, I'm taking steps tonight to make testing more available, more affordable and more convenient," Biden said. "I'll use the Defense Production Act to increase production of rapid tests, including those that you can use at home. While that production is ramping up, my administration has worked with top retailers like Walmart, Amazon and Kroger and tonight we're announcing that no later than next week, each of these outlets will start to sell at-home rapid test kits at cost for the next three months."

Biden added: "This immediate price reduction for at-home test kits for up to 35% reduction. We'll also expand free testing at 10,000 pharmacies around the country, and ... we're committing $2 billion to purchase nearly 300 million rapid tests for distribution to community health centers, food banks, schools, so that every American, no matter their income, can access free and convenient tests."

5:27 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

The US is ready to deliver free vaccine boosters following CDC, FDA approval, Biden says

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

President Biden said the government is ready to deliver free booster shots to most Americans but only after they have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The decision of which booster shots to give and when to start them and who will give them will be left completely to the scientists at the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control," said Biden, addressing criticism that the White House was rushing ahead of the science in preparing boosters.

"While we wait we've done our part," continued Biden, speaking from the White House. "We bought enough boosters, enough booster shots and the distribution system is ready to administer them."

5:39 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

Biden outlines 6-step plan to get the pandemic under control in the US

A health care worker administers a Covid-19 swab test in Miami on August 6.
A health care worker administers a Covid-19 swab test in Miami on August 6. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

President Biden just announced a six step plan to stop the spread of the Delta variant and increase vaccinations in the US.

The six-step plan includes:

  1. Requires all employers with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly.
  2. Providing easy access to booster shots for all eligible Americans.
  3. Getting students and school staff tested regularly.
  4. Make at-home tests more affordable.
  5. Streamlining the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness process.
  6. Increasing support for Covid-burdened hospitals.

"The measures, these are going to take time to have full impact, but if we implement them, I believe and the scientists indicate that the months ahead we can reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans, decrease hospitalizations and deaths, and allow our children to go to school safely and keep our economy strong by keeping businesses open," Biden said during remarks from the White House.

5:34 p.m. ET, September 9, 2021

Biden to unvaccinated Americans: "What more is there to wait for?"

President Joe Biden pauses as he speaks from the White House on September 9.
President Joe Biden pauses as he speaks from the White House on September 9. Andrew Harnik/AP

President Biden made an appeal to Americans who are yet to get vaccinated, urging them to "do the right thing" and get the shot.

"My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We have made vaccinations free, safe and convenient," he said in White House remarks.

Biden stressed that a Covid-19 vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA and has proven to be safe.

"Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We've been patient but our patience is wearing thin. Your refusal has cost all of us. So please do the right thing," Biden said.

"Listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breath saying, 'If only I had gotten vaccinated. If only." It's a tragedy. Please don't let it become yours," the President told Americans.

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."