Biden's deadline for employer Covid-19 vaccine mandate

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:10 PM ET, Thu November 4, 2021
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2:22 p.m. ET, November 4, 2021

Trade groups call Biden's employer vaccine mandate "burdensome"

From CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich and Kate Trafecante

Some prominent US trade groups are taking issue with the Biden administration's vaccine rules for private businesses with 100 or more employees.

The administration announced Thursday that those rules, as well as those for certain health care workers and federal contractors, will take effect Jan. 4.

The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, called the new rules "burdensome" for retailers "during the crucial holiday shopping season."

“It is critical that the rule not cause unnecessary disruption to the economy, exacerbate the preexisting workforce shortage or saddle retailers, who are already taking considerable steps to keep their employees and customers safe, with needless additional requirements and regulatory burdens,” said David French, senior vice president for government relations, in a statement.

Associated Builders and Contractors — or ABC, a trade group representing the construction industry, said the new rules are "likely to increase compliance costs and cause regulatory burdens that will exacerbate several headwinds facing the construction industry — which is currently facing a workforce shortage of 430,000, escalating materials prices and supply chain bottlenecks."

“ABC will be participating in the rulemaking process and plans to assess additional actions, which may include facilitating industry compliance and/or filing a legal challenge,” Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs, said in a statement.

11:17 a.m. ET, November 4, 2021

US surgeon general says parents must guard against misinformation around Covid-19 vaccine for children

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

A vial of the new children's dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on November 2, 2021.
A vial of the new children's dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on November 2, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images)

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said during the Citizen by CNN event Thursday that having an available Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 and older gives parents the opportunity to protect their children “at long last” – but now they must guard against misinformation around the vaccine.

Murthy said he wants to make sure that people have access to the facts, and that one of his great worries is that parents have already faced a large wave of misinformation -- and this could increase in the days ahead, now that a vaccine is available. 

“We have to guard against that misinformation,” Murthy told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “I want parents to know that their questions are important but it’s important that they also go to credible sources to get answers to those questions, like their doctor, their children’s hospital, their local department of health or the CDC.”  

Children who are immunocompromised, have other medical conditions or whose exposure risk is significantly higher may have the greatest urgency to be vaccinated, he said. 

“But I think what we’ve seen over the past year and a half is that of the millions of kids who have been infected with Covid under 18, millions of those have actually had no underlying medical conditions,” he said. “So while we do know that having other medical conditions, being immunocompromised, puts you at greater risk, there are still significant risks to kids who are perfectly healthy.” 

He described conversations that he and others had with parents of perfectly healthy children who got seriously ill with Covid-19 as “some of the greatest tragedies.” 

Murthy described when his own daughter went to the emergency room with an illness a few years ago, saying “I don’t want any parent to have to go through that and so even though our kids do much better than adults when it comes to Covid, we’ve lost too many of them. We’ve had too many hospitalized. And that’s why I want every child to have protection from this virus. The vaccine gives us the opportunity to protect them at long last, and that’s why I’m hopeful that parents will strongly consider that option."

“As parents, if we can take a low risk to our kids and make it even lower, if we can secure their future and their health, you know, even more strongly, you know, with the aid of something like a vaccine, I think a lot of people want to do that," he continued.

12:53 p.m. ET, November 4, 2021

Biden on vaccine requirements: "I'm calling on employers to act"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Biden touted new vaccine requirement rules released Thursday for companies with 100 or more employees and health care workers, calling on employers to act going forward.

“Vaccination is the single best pathway out of this pandemic. And while I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good. So I instituted requirements – and they are working,” Biden said in a statement.

Seeking to tamp down anti-vaccination talking points, Biden noted that there “have been no ‘mass firings’ and worker shortages because of vaccine requirements. Despite what some predicted and falsely assert, vaccination requirements have broad public support."

“I’m calling on employers to act. Businesses have more power than ever before to accelerate our path out of this pandemic, save lives, and protect our economic recovery,” he said.

10:33 a.m. ET, November 4, 2021

For children turning age 12 between Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine shots, CDC recommends two different doses

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

A tray with syringes filled with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to be used for children aged 5 to 11 at the Child Health Associates office in Novi, Michigan on November 3, 2021.
A tray with syringes filled with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to be used for children aged 5 to 11 at the Child Health Associates office in Novi, Michigan on November 3, 2021. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says kids who turn 12 between shots of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine should get the smaller dose first and the larger dose second.

In general, children ages 5 to 11 can now receive 10-microgram doses, a smaller formulation than the 30-microgram dose given to those 12 and up. CDC’s current recommendation for children turning 12 between doses was previewed during its advisory meeting this week and included in official guidance updated on Wednesday.

“Children should receive the vaccine dosage and formulation based on their age on the day of vaccination with each dose,” the agency now says on its website. “If a child turns 12 years old between their first and second dose, they should receive the age-appropriate 30 µg … for their second dose to complete their series.”

However, if the child gets the same 10 microgram dose both times, they are still considered fully vaccinated.

CDC adds that the authorization granted by the US Food and Drug Administration “allows children who will turn from 11 years to 12 years of age between their first and second dose in the primary regimen to receive, for either dose, either” the 10- or 30-microgram formulations.

10:42 a.m. ET, November 4, 2021

US surpasses 750,000 Covid-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

White flags honoring the lives lost to COVID-19 are seen on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Oct. 2, 2021.
White flags honoring the lives lost to COVID-19 are seen on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Oct. 2, 2021. (Liu Jie/Xinhua via Getty Images)

The United States surpassed 750,000 deaths from coronavirus Wednesday, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

According to the university’s tracking service, at least 750,356 people have died from Covid-19. It says 46,249,466 people have been diagnosed with the virus.

The US has the most cases and deaths of any nation globally, according to Johns Hopkins. It says 5,020,828 people have died globally, with 248 million total cases.

The US hit 600,000 deaths from Covid-19 on June 15 and 700,000 deaths on Oct. 2

9:51 a.m. ET, November 4, 2021

There could be a Covid-19 vaccine for children younger than 5 in early 2022, US surgeon general says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said on Thursday that Covid-19 vaccines for children younger than 5 could be available in early 2022. 

Speaking to CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta during a Citizen by CNN event, Murthy said that he had a “vested interest” in this, since he's the parent of 3-year-old.

“I’ve been waiting for that, too,” he said, when answering a live viewer question about when he expected a vaccine to be available for under-5s. “The trials for kids under five have been underway, and we anticipate that in early 2022 is when we may see a vaccine available for kids in that range."

“And, I’ll tell you, I can’t wait for it. That’s going to be an important day for us as well.”

Children ages 5 to 11 can currently get a Covid-19 vaccine across the US after the CDC director signed off on the recommendation Tuesday.

9:14 a.m. ET, November 4, 2021

The Biden administration just announced a Jan. 4 deadline for employer vaccine mandate. Here's what to know.

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

(Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
(Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

The Biden administration announced Thursday that its vaccine rules applying to employers with 100 or more employees, certain health care workers and federal contractors will take effect Jan. 4, meaning employees who fall into those groups will need to have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated, either two doses of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s, by that date.

Eighty-four million employees working at large employers and 17 million health care workers working at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid will be covered by these rules implemented by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

The deadline for the federal contractor vaccine requirement has been pushed back from Dec. 8 to Jan. 4 as well. The administration had been facing calls from some business groups to delay or be flexible with that deadline, as it could have put even more stress on supply chain issues ahead of the holidays. Officials however insisted that the new date was chosen in order to streamline implementation and make it easier for business and employees to comply with the requirements. 

“Together the OSHA and CMS rules, along with the other policies the administration has previously implemented means that over two thirds of all workers in the United States are now covered by vaccination policies,” a senior administration official said discussing the new rules. 

“Higher vaccination rates protect our workers, reduce hospitalizations and deaths. It's good for workers and importantly, this is good for the economy,” the official continued. 

The announcement also makes clear that the vaccine rules will preempt any state or local laws aimed at banning vaccine mandates or other measures to limit the spread of Covid-19. Texas and Florida have been among the states that have been attempting to pass their own laws to restrict vaccine mandates. 

“Both OSHA and CMS are making clear that their new rules preempt any inconsistent state or local laws, including laws that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, masks, or testing,” a fact sheet outlining the rule said in part. 

“The OSH Act gives OSHA the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are projected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them,” an official said, discussing the rules’ legal authority. 

“A virus that has killed more than 745,000 Americans, with more than 70,000 new cases per day currently, is clearly a health hazard that poses a grave danger to workers. The new emergency temporary standard is well within OSHA's authority under the law and consistent with OSHA's requirements to protect workers from health and safety hazards, including infectious diseases,” the official continued.

More on the rule: The OSHA rule does allow for employees to remain unvaccinated, but the employee must provide a verified negative test to their employer on at least a weekly basis and must wear face masks in the workplace. The rule from CMS does not provide a testing option for workers to remain unvaccinated as there is “a higher bar for health care workers given their critical role in ensuring the health and safety of their patients,” according to an official. 

An official said OSHA will be enforcing this rule just like the agency enforces any of the other rules that are in place, and violations could include fines of up to nearly $14,000 per infraction, though that fine increases if there is a “willful” violation. 

An official said the agency will have planned inspections of some workplaces to ensure they are in compliance with the rule but will also rely on complaints from workers in order to best enforce the new rule. 

Enforcement and penalties for health care facilities that do not come into compliance with the rule could range from monetary penalties, denying the facility’s payments and possible termination from the Medicare and Medicaid program.

 

8:58 a.m. ET, November 4, 2021

Fauci and CDC director will testify this morning after authorization of Covid-19 vaccines for younger kids

Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a Senate hearing on July 20.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a Senate hearing on July 20. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/Pool/AP)

Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will testify at 10 a.m. ET today about the Biden administration's Covid-19 response.

Yesterday, President Biden called the CDC's authorization of the Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 "a giant step forward to further accelerate our path out of this pandemic," saying Wednesday that it's "a day of relief and celebration" for parents around the country.

"The bottom line is: We've been planning and preparing for months to vaccinate our children. Our program will be ramping up this week and more doses (will be) shipped out each day so that we have it fully up and running by next week," Biden said during remarks at the White House Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier Wednesday, the White House outlined how the Biden administration is ramping up the vaccination program for children.

"Following the (US Food and Drug Administration's) authorization last Friday, teams immediately began packing vaccines specifically formulated for kids ages 5-11 into specialized containers and they've been working 24/7 to ship millions of doses to thousands of vaccination sites across the country," White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said.

Zients said that starting next week, the vaccination program for children will be fully up and running with about 20,000 "trusted and convenient locations" available for parents to get their kids vaccinated including pediatricians, family doctors, pharmacies, community health centers and children's hospitals.

Some of those locations have already started scheduling vaccine appointments for children and others, including CVS and Walgreens, will open scheduling systems on Wednesday.

He also said that by the end of the week, parents and guardians can go to vaccines.gov to search for locations near them offering vaccinations for kids ages 5-11.

Reporting from CNN's Maegan Vazquez contributed to this post.

9:17 a.m. ET, November 4, 2021

More than 20 million fully vaccinated Americans have received a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Nicole Fahey receives a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Los Angeles, California, on November 3.
Nicole Fahey receives a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Los Angeles, California, on November 3. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

More than 20 million fully vaccinated Americans have received a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to latest data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here's the latest CDC data on vaccination efforts in the United States:

  • Fully vaccinated: 58.1% of the total US population (all ages), more than 192 million people.
  • Current pace of vaccinations (seven-day average): 190,381 people are initiating vaccination each day.
  • This is the fifth consecutive day this metric has increased since hitting an all-time low of 137,195 on Oct. 29.
  • An average of 277,248 people are becoming fully vaccinated each day. This is the highest this number has been since Oct. 9.
  • An average of 1,302,629 doses are being administered each day. This is the highest this number has been since June 19.
  • More than 20.6 million people have received an additional dose, or booster.
  • An average of 882,742 people are receiving an additional or booster dose of a vaccine each day. This is the highest this average has ever been.
  • Overall, 10.7% of people who are fully vaccinated have received a booster shot.
  • Of people who are fully vaccinated and 65 years old or older, 26.6% have received an additional dose.
  • Vermont leads the nation with more than 16.2% of fully vaccinated people who have received a booster. The five states with the highest booster rates are:
  • Vermont: 16.9%
  • Montana: 15.6%
  • Alaska: 15.4%
  • Idaho: 15%
  • Minnesota: 14.9%
  • 38 states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as Washington, DC.
  • Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont have all vaccinated more than 70% of their population.