The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic in the US

By Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 4:41 p.m. ET, September 13, 2021
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4:34 p.m. ET, September 13, 2021

Florida governor says cities, counties requiring employees to take Covid-19 vaccine will face $5,000 fines

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

During a news conference Monday morning, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said if a government agency in the state forces a Covid-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, that violates Florida law, and that city or county will face a $5,000 fine for every single violation. 

According to DeSantis, these fines are part of a new law, SB 2006, passed during the state’s most recent legislative session, which prevents private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination but also applies to government agencies.

“So if you look at places here in Alachua County, like the City of Gainesville, I mean that's millions and millions of dollars potentially in fines. Orange County – many many more than that,” DeSantis said.


4:25 p.m. ET, September 13, 2021

England will now offer Covid-19 vaccine to young people age 12 to 15

From CNN's Nada Bashir

A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine is seen at a vaccination health center in December in Cardiff, United Kingdom.
A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine is seen at a vaccination health center in December in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Justin Tallis/Pool/Getty Images)

The British government has announced that young people age 12 to 15 in England will now be offered the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine following advice from the UK Chief Medical Officers on Monday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed in a statement. 

“I have accepted the recommendation from the Chief Medical Officers to expand vaccination to those aged 12 to 15 – protecting young people from catching COVID-19, reducing transmission in schools and keeping pupils in the classroom,” Javid said. 

“Our outstanding NHS stands ready to move forward with rolling out the vaccine to this group with the same sense of urgency we've had at every point in our vaccination programme,” he added. 

The Health Secretary’s announcement follows a press briefing at Downing Street in which the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, said that vaccination for 12 to 15 year olds would be recommended to the British government by the Chief Medical Officers from all four nations. 

“Our view is that the benefit exceeds the risk to a sufficient degree that we are recommending to our ministers in all four nations that they make a universal offer – and I want to stress the word offer – of vaccination to children 12 to 15, in addition to the ones that have already been given it,” Whitty said.

Addressing lawmakers in the House of Commons Monday evening, Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government’s decision has been guided by the “best clinical advice.” 

“The advice we’ve received from the four Chief Medical Officers today sets out their view that 12 to 15 year olds will benefit from vaccination against Covid-19. We will follow that advice and continue on that vital path that is making more and more people in this country safe,” he added.

According to the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), healthy children age 12 to 15 will primarily receive their Covid-19 vaccination in schools, with invitations for vaccination set to begin next week. 

“Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by vaccination healthcare staff prior to vaccination in line with existing school vaccination programmes,” the DHSC added. 

4:19 p.m. ET, September 13, 2021

Whirlpool will pay workers $1,000 to get vaccinated

From CNN’s Matt Egan

Whirlpool logos are seen before being attached to washing machines at the company's manufacturing facility in Clyde, Ohio, in 2015.
Whirlpool logos are seen before being attached to washing machines at the company's manufacturing facility in Clyde, Ohio, in 2015. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Whirlpool is offering to pay workers who get vaccinated $1,000.

The new vaccine incentive, confirmed by Whirlpool to CNN, shows how companies are trying to encourage reluctant workers to get vaccinated. 

This vaccine bonus comes as the Biden administration prepares an emergency rule that will require large companies, like Whirlpool, to ensure their entire workforce is vaccinated or subject them to weekly testing. Biden officials say companies that violate this rule could face fines of up to $14,000 per violation.

Whirlpool was already offering employees a smaller vaccine incentive but rolled out the $1,000 incentive last week.  

Chad Parks, a company spokesperson, said the stepped-up vaccine bonus will apply to workers who were previously vaccinated as well as newly vaccinated ones. He declined to say how much the previous incentive was for. 

“Our employees' health and safety remains our top priority,” Whirlpool said in a statement. “Throughout this pandemic they have been working tirelessly to serve our consumers, who are depending on our products more than ever to clean, cook and provide proper food and medicine storage in their homes, and we are working to ensure we can deliver.”

The $1,000 vaccine incentive by Whirlpool matches one launched earlier this summer by Vanguard, one of the world’s largest asset managers. Vanguard’s $1,000 incentive applies to the company’s roughly 16,500 US employees who show proof of vaccination by Oct. 1. 

A number of other companies have offered more modest incentives to get vaccinated. Kroger has said vaccinated employees will get a one-time payment of $100, while Bolthouse Farms offered a $500 bonus. 


3:59 p.m. ET, September 13, 2021

Child Covid-19 cases have increased nearly 240% since July, pediatrician group says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Coronavirus infections have risen “exponentially” among children across the US, and now account for nearly 29% of all cases reported nationwide, new data published Monday shows. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics report 243,373 new cases among kids over the past week, a slight decline from the week before when 251,781 cases were reported – the highest number of cases reported among children for the entire pandemic.

“After declining in early summer, child cases have increased exponentially with nearly 500,000 cases in the past two weeks,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said in a statement.

The weekly case number reported Monday is about a 240% increase in child cases since the week of July 22 to 29 when the group counted 71,726 cases. 

As of Sept. 9, nearly 5.3 million kids have tested positive for Covid-19. 

Still, children are far less likely than adults to suffer serious disease or to die from Covid-19. Among states that report hospitalizations by age, children make up 1.6 to 4% of patients who were hospitalized for Covid-19. 

Among the states that report death by age, children accounted for no more than 0.27% of the deaths. Seven states have reported no child deaths. As of Sunday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 523 deaths among people younger than 18 in the United States.

Pre-teens and teens have the lowest Covid-19 vaccination rates of any age group. Children under the age of 12 cannot get vaccinated.

3:31 p.m. ET, September 13, 2021

Florida governor plans to fight Biden’s new vaccine mandate, calls it "unconstitutional'

From CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference in Lakeland, Florida, on September 7.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference in Lakeland, Florida, on September 7. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized the Biden administration’s latest vaccine mandate while at a news conference today in Tampa celebrating infrastructure.

According to CNN’s previous reporting, Biden directed the Labor Department to require all businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are either vaccinated or tested once a week. Companies could face thousands of dollars in fines per employee if they don't comply.

Biden also signed an executive order requiring all government employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with no option of being regularly tested to opt-out, CNN reported. 

DeSantis questioned why first responders who have already recovered from having Covid-19 are still required to get vaccinated, or risk termination. 

“So the net result of Biden's policy is you're going to have good, hard working people lose their jobs and they're going to lose their jobs in very key industries,” DeSantis said. “I just think is fundamentally wrong, we should not be allowing the federal government to attack people's livelihoods,” he said.

DeSantis said he thinks the mandate is unconstitutional and will consider options to fight it. He also said he thinks the mandate will harm vaccination efforts. 

“The minute people feel like you have government coming down on them like that, you know, I think that their skepticism gets hardened, and I think it actually will end up backfiring in both the near medium and long term,” DeSantis said.

3:35 p.m. ET, September 13, 2021

More than 10,000 TSA workers have tested positive for coronavirus since pandemic began

From CNN’s Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The number of Transportation Security Administration workers who have tested positive for coronavirus since the start of the pandemic just topped 10,000, according to new data from the agency.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske, in an exclusive interview with CNN, said the virus has had a “very significant impact” on its workforce. 

“We did just about everything that we could think of that the CDC recommended, but 10,000 is a big number,” Pekoske said. “I think five is a big number to be infected.”

TSA numbers show more than four in every five employees who tested positive work at airport security checkpoints, which have screened more than a half billion people in the last 18 months. 

“Tragically, 26 have lost their lives after contracting this disease,” said an agency-wide memo shared with CNN. “It is time for all of us to get vaccinated.

Of the 65% of TSA workers who have responded to an agency-wide vaccination status survey, 72% said they are fully vaccinated. Workers have until Oct. 1 to respond to the survey. TSA has not said how it will handle workers who receive an exemption from the Nov. 22 deadline for all federal workers to get vaccinated.

11:49 a.m. ET, September 13, 2021

New York City officials "did it right" when it comes to schools, US education secretary says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Students wait in line to get their temperature taken before entering a public school in the Bronx on September 13.
Students wait in line to get their temperature taken before entering a public school in the Bronx on September 13. Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg/Getty Images

US Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona told New York City officials they "did it right," when it came to schools and reopening. 

Cardona joined NYC chancellor Meisha Ross Porter virtually from Bronx school PS121, during the Mayor’s daily briefing. 

“You do it right” Cardona said referencing Ross Porter and the mayor. 

“You have been working closely with the mayor and others to make sure all the preparation to get ready for today. Today is here, the kids are excited, the parents are excited.”

“To all the families that are watching — they’ve worked so hard, they’ve prepared, they are doing everything to make sure your children and staff are safe,” Cardona added. 

“Enjoy the school year,” he said. 

“I know this is going to be an awesome year for NY, for everyone,” he said. 

“They did it right,” Cardona said in closing.

“NYC is back, we are so excited to be here, looking forward to having a great year together,” Ross Porter added Monday.

10:02 a.m. ET, September 13, 2021

CDC director says agencies are working “with urgency” on Covid-19 vaccine for younger children

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday that her agency is working urgently on a Covid-19 vaccine for younger children, with the hope that younger children will be vaccinated by the end of the year.

“We’re waiting for the companies to submit the data to the FDA, we're anticipating that will happen in the fall,” she told NBC’s Today Show.  

“We will look at that data from the FDA, from the CDC, with the urgency that we all feel for getting our kids vaccinated and we're hoping by the end of the year," she added.

There isn’t a specific timeline for when the vaccine for younger children will be available, and some experts have suggested it could be well before the end of the year.

On Sunday, former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner and current Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS’s Face the Nation that the company expects to have data available on children ages 5 to 11 by the end of September, and the vaccine could be available in this age group by Halloween. Moderna is also testing vaccines in younger children, and is expected to submit its data in the coming months.

FDA’s Dr. Janet Woodcock and Dr. Peter Marks said in a statement on Friday that the agency will carefully review data for a vaccine for people ages 5 to 11 once it’s available and is “prepared to complete its review as quickly as possible, likely in a matter of weeks rather than months.”

However, they noted, “the agency’s ability to review these submissions rapidly will depend in part on the quality and timeliness of the submissions by manufacturers.” 

Answering a question from a MST Magnet Elementary School student in Richardson, Texas, Walensky said the agency is working “with urgency” toward a vaccine in children. 

“We are working with urgency to make sure that that vaccine, when it comes to you is going to be safe, it's going to be effective, it's going to follow the science and we're really hopeful that you will have that vaccine by the end of the year.” 

Walensky said she anticipates there will be a two-shot vaccine regimen for children but noted that agencies are still looking at a third dose in adults.

“We’ll see where the science takes us,” she said. 

9:44 a.m. ET, September 13, 2021

Research “absolutely” shows masking lowers Covid-19 outbreaks in schools, CDC director says

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid)

Students exit Hollywood High School after the first day of school in Los Angeles, California on Aug. 16.
Students exit Hollywood High School after the first day of school in Los Angeles, California on Aug. 16. Bing Guan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Available data supports masking in schools to prevent Covid-19 and does not indicate that masking in school poses a risk to children, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday.

Responding to a question from NBC’s Hoda Kotb on whether there is anything about masking in schools parents should have a “real worry about,” Walensky said, “We have not seen any science that defends that point of view.”

“What I can say is that we’ve started to see even this month data from Los Angeles County, that rates in children are three and a half times higher in areas that have not practiced the mitigation strategies compared to those that are. So with the purpose of keeping our kids in school, getting them in school, having them be safe, masks really are the way to go," she said.

Walensky said data does show that masking in schools can reduce school closures.

“We have seen data after data that have demonstrated that schools that are not masking are closing because they’re having outbreaks. Schools from Georgia we saw last year had 37% less closure, less outbreaks, when they use masks,” she said. 

“I would say that data actually absolutely show that masking decreases outbreaks in schools," she added.