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House committee passes measure to bar moral exemptions for COVID-19 vaccine refusal

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Nearly 50,000 people have opposed a proposal to discourage employees from citing their moral beliefs as a reason for refusing to adhere to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the workplace.

The sponsor of the measure said she received a “gazillion” response – some obscene, some threatening, some “kind of terrifying”.

One man even threatened sexual violence, warning that Governor JB Pritzker and “every single lawmaker” supporting the measure would suffer “needle rape”.

This was just a move that emerged from a committee of the General Assembly on Tuesday when lawmakers returned to Springfield for the second week of their fall veto session.

Members of the House Executive Committee – as well as representatives from the Governor’s Office and Attorney General of Illinois Kwame Raoul – argued heatedly during the hearing on the proposed amendment to the 1998 Remedial Remedies for Health Act.

This change, sponsored by State Representative Robyn Gabel, is intended to clarify that officials and private companies can impose COVID-19 requirements as a condition of employment – and fire those who refuse to abide by them.

Your amendment would continue to allow exemptions based on religious and health concerns. Gabel said she spoke with Pritzker’s office and lawmakers about possibly changing the language to make this clearer, although “we think the language is pretty clear and we’re doing everything we can to let people know. “

State MP Robyn Gabel (left) and State MP Robert Rita (right) attend a House Executive Committee hearing on Zoom Tuesday. Blue Room Stream

The Evanston Democrat said she was not trying to change the intent of the original law but “was trying to make it clear that the way the health conscience law is used in relation to pandemic causes was never intended than the law.” was originally enacted ”. created.”

The law was originally intended to protect doctors, nurses, and other health care providers who refused to perform medical procedures – such as abortions – that they refuse. However, state officials say the law needs clarification as Illinois residents are denying compliance with COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Tens of thousands of Illinois people said they want to leave it alone.

As of Tuesday evening, 49,598 people on the General Assembly website filed testimony papers against the clear-up, while a further 680 submitted testimony certificates to show their support for a change. Another 490 submitted documents do not comment.

State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, said the response shows he is hearing from people.

“I mean, how often do we get an invoice with 45,000 testimonials? Practically never.

State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, asks questions during a House Executive Committee hearing about Zoom on Tuesday.

State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, asks questions during a House Executive Committee hearing about Zoom on Tuesday. Blue Room Stream

“This law hit a nerve because so many are concerned that they are losing their opportunity to exercise their own consciences about their bodies, their health and their families,” said Wheeler, adding that the committee was “doing nothing … to allay these concerns. “

Other Republicans argued that the change was too broad and violated people’s right to make choices.

“You’re forcing people to do something against their will – forcing them to take a vaccine against their will because it makes some people more comfortable,” CD Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville Rep. Told the committee. “This is her life.”

State Rep. CD Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, speaks during a House Executive Committee hearing on Zoom Tuesday.

State Rep. CD Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, speaks during a House Executive Committee hearing on Zoom Tuesday. Blue Room Stream

The House Committee also heard from others, including Bob Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, who said, “We are concerned that if you curtail the rights of conscience for COVID. Well what’s next … The power transferred to the government is seldom returned. “

Gabel told the Sun-Times that since the amendment was filed on Monday, she has received a “gazillion” of comments ranging from calls from people verbally abusing her or telling her to “go” herself or other rude comments Threat.

While carrying controversial bills in the past, Gabel said she had “never received these kinds of threats before”.

State Representative Robyn Gabel will meet with the Sun-Times editorial board in 2018.

State Representative Robyn Gabel will meet with the Sun-Times editorial board in 2018. Rich Hein / Sun Times file

That includes one she received from a man on social media who said that when the measure is passed, Illinois citizens “are waiting to meet you, the governor, and every single state legislature in charge of the.” Adoption of the amended law voted to give a medical procedure ”. Your own consent. “

“What is good for the goose is good for the gander, isn’t it?” wrote the man. “They’re pushing for Rape by Needle.”

Gabel said the threats and calls were “kind of terrifying”. She blamed an “organized effort to disseminate this misinformation”.

“Sometimes people forget the context of this whole bill and what we are talking about and I really want people to understand that we are still very much in a deadly pandemic and that a small minority of people shouldn’t be allowed to have a loophole that was never meant to stifle efforts to fight a global pandemic, “said Gabel.

Despite the split, the measure was passed by committees nine to six and entered the House of Representatives Chamber.

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Pandemic

Judge blocks U.S. COVID-19 vaccine rule for health workers in 10 states

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Nov. 29 (Reuters) – A federal judge on Monday blocked a Biden government vaccine request in 10 states, ruling that the agency that made the rule requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus was likely theirs Has exceeded powers.

The St. Louis District Judge Matthew Schelp’s ruling prevents the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing their medical personnel vaccination mandate until the court can hear legal challenges from the 10 states.

CMS said in a statement that it was reviewing the ruling, adding that unvaccinated health workers pose a threat to patient safety.

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The ruling marks the second legal setback for President Joe Biden, who has focused on vaccines to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, a point he emphasized on Monday amid concerns over the spread of the new variant of COVID-19 Omicron . Continue reading

A federal appeals court in New Orleans blocked a comprehensive workplace mandate earlier this month requiring companies with at least 100 employees to vaccinate or test their employees weekly. Continue reading

Republican attorneys general sued the government in early November over the CMS rule and tried to block the request on the grounds that it would worsen health staffing shortages.

Schelp, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, said CMS underestimated the “overwhelming” cost of its mandate and, by refusing to comment publicly on the rule, the agency fueled vaccine reluctance the rule is designed to counter.

Schelp also said the CMS rule changed the balance of power between the federal and state governments.

“Congress has not given clear authority to CMS to issue this politically and economically large, federalism-changing, and cross-border mandate that the Supreme Court precedent requires,” he wrote.

Schelp’s verdict was in the 10 states pending: Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New Hampshire.

On November 4th, CMS issued the preliminary final rule, which includes over 10 million people and applies to approximately 76,000 healthcare providers, including hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis centers.

The regulation requires healthcare facilities that all employees, volunteers, and contractors receive an initial dose of vaccine by December 6th and be fully vaccinated by January 4th. Providers who fail to comply could lose access to Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Medicare serves people 65 and over and the disabled. Medicaid serves the poor.

In addition to the CMS rule and workplace vaccine requirement, the Biden government has placed coronavirus vaccine regulations on government contractors, military personnel and federal employees, all of which will be challenged in court.

Courts have upheld mandates from private employers and state governments, which has helped increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in the United States.

On Wednesday, the Biden government announced that a total of 92% of US federal employees have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; additional reporting from Ahmed Aboulenein in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Pandemic

Andrew Cuomo uses old briefing to push COVID-19 precautions

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Like in the old days!

Disgraced ex-governor. Andrew Cuomo shamelessly tried to resume his role as the man in charge on Sunday, using one of his famous COVID-19 press conferences to remind New Yorkers to remain vigilant amid the proliferation of the Omicron variant.

“Let’s take to heart the lessons we learned in the early, terrible days of this pandemic and not go backwards,” he said in a tweet that included a slide used during one of his pandemic briefings.

The presentation reads: “Lesson to be learned: an outbreak everywhere is an outbreak everywhere.”

“Enter [mask] in public indoor spaces, get yourself vaccinated AND your booster, take care of each other, ”added the former governor, who resigned in August amid scandals. “And be #NYTough.”

During the pandemic, Cuomo delivered daily briefings that revealed the Empire State’s COVID-19 metrics – along with meandering comments and show-off stunts.

In June 2020, Cuomo revealed a $ 415 mountain of COVID-19 that allegedly represented New York’s battle against the virus. Along with Anthony Fauci, the nation’s best infectious disease doctor, he compared the Italian compatriot and himself in a bizarre way to actors Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.

His younger brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, also dialed into the briefings to describe his symptoms of being infected with the virus.

“Let’s take heed of the lessons we learned in the terrible early days of this pandemic,” tweeted former Governor Andrew Cuomo.Twitter / @andrewcuomo

Andrew Cuomo.During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, what was then Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been recognized and recognized for his daily briefings.David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

The governor received a temporary Emmy for “Using Television Effectively During the Pandemic” in November 2020 – but the Academy quickly withdrew the award after Attorney General Letitia James discovered that Cuomo had sexually molested several women.

Cuomo’s tweet on Sunday morning came after former top aide Melissa DeRosa boldly shot her boss’s successor, Governor Kathy Hochul.

“Time to move with the times – cutting tapes and photo ops drinking maskless beer in UES bars won’t do this job,” said the former governor’s secretary on Friday night in a since-deleted tweet, referring to the current CEO’s October visit to the Manhattan Sports Bar.

Andrew Cuomo.Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo was awarded an Emmy for “Using Television Effectively During the Pandemic” in November 2020, but the award was withdrawn when his harassment allegations came to light.Don Pollard

The scandal-ridden public service announcement of the ex-politician comes after the World Health Organization identified a new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, on Friday.

The discovery prompted Hochul to sign an executive order postponing unnecessary operations in hospitals with limited capacity.

The Omicron variant has yet to be identified in New York state, although two cases of the coronavirus variant were discovered in Canada on Sunday.

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Pandemic

US Covid-19: Omicron variant is a reminder that coronavirus ‘is still in control,’ medical professor says

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“But it’s pretty likely we’ll see cases,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

“It should redouble our efforts to use the tools we have at our disposal, namely vaccinations and booster vaccinations – and to make sure we get them out to the rest of the world,” Collins told CNN on Sunday.

“It also means that we have to pay attention to the mitigation strategies that people are simply fed up with, such as wearing masks when you are indoors with other people who may not have been vaccinated, and to maintain this social distance,” he said.

“I know America – you are really tired of hearing these things. But we are not fed up with the virus. And it changes itself. ”

Why Omicron “looks different” than other variants

As the coronavirus continues to spread, new mutations – and new variants – are expected.

“We’ve seen a lot of variations in the last five or six months, and most of them haven’t done much. It looks different,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health.

The Omicron variant has an unusually high number of mutations, with more than 30 mutations in the spike protein alone, South African genome scientists said last week. Spike proteins are the structures that a virus uses to enter the cells that it attacks.

And “10 or more” of the mutations are in the receptor binding domain, which “binds to the cells in your nasopharynx and in your lungs,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday opposite NBC.

“In other words, the profile of the mutations strongly suggests that it will have an advantage in communicability,” said the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

When experts looked at other variants, Jha said, it usually took several months for those strains to become dominant – in other words, the most common strain of the virus to spread to an area.

“In South Africa, this has established itself very quickly in the regions where it was found – within days to weeks instead of months,” said Jha.

“Now the number of cases in South Africa is pretty low, so there could be other reasons as well – not just because it’s more easily transferable.”

The new Omicron variant is a pandemic bowel check

Collins said it was not yet clear whether the Omicron variant was more contagious than the Delta variant.

“It certainly shows the signs that it can spread quickly,” he said. “What we don’t know is whether it can compete with Delta.”

It’s also too early to tell if the Omicron variant causes more severe illness, Collins said.

In short, “There is still a lot we don’t know about Omicron,” said epidemiologist and infectious disease expert Dr. Celine Gounder.

“We’re still learning,” said Gounder on Sunday. “As we said very early in the pandemic, pandemics are not about panic. It is about guidelines, protocols and practices. And in this case that means characterizing the virus. “

Do not be surprised by renewed Covid-19 restrictions, says the expert

A growing number of countries have confirmed cases of the Omicron variant. Canada joined that list on Sunday when health officials confirmed two cases in Ottawa, Ontario. The Omicron variant is spreading across EuropeBoth people recently traveled from Nigeria and are in isolation, Canadian health officials said.

If the Omicron variant isn’t available in the US yet, it will be “soon,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“It will go around the world. This is how it looks,” said Schaffner on Saturday.

And that could lead to a return to stricter Covid-19 containment efforts.

“I think we are indeed facing a phase with a lot more masks, a lot more social distancing and more restrictions and vaccination requirements,” said Schaffner.

News of the variant spread as Americans filled airports near pre-pandemic levels for Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season: The Transportation Security Administration said it screened about 2.3 million people at airports across the country on Wednesday which makes it the busiest day to see security checkpoints since March 2020.

All the more reason to get vaccinated or boosted

About 59% of Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and about 19% of those fully vaccinated have received a booster dose, according to CDC data. NIH Director: New Variation

As vaccine manufacturers test their vaccinations against the new Omicron variant, health experts said it is important for everyone to get a Covid-19 vaccine or a booster vaccine now.

“The most important thing people can do now to protect themselves is to get vaccinated if you are not vaccinated,” said Gounder. “If it turns out to be an immune defense variant, it may also be beneficial to receive an additional dose or a booster vaccination.”

Fauci gave similar advice: “If there was ever a reason to be vaccinated who were vaccinated and those who weren’t vaccinated, it is now,” he told NBC.

“When you’re six months or more away from your second dose of an mRNA (vaccine) – either the Pfizer or the Moderna – you get a boost. “

Fauci said he believes the current vaccines – and the booster doses in particular – will at least help something against the Omicron variant.

“When you get a boost, your antibody levels go way above the maximum after the second dose,” Fauci told NBC.

“And that’s why, even with variants like Omicron, we feel that when you get boosted, you’re getting antibody levels high enough that you can probably reach at least a certain level – and maybe a lot – Protection from it. “

Moderna said it is testing its Covid-19 vaccine’s ability to neutralize Omicron and data is expected in the coming weeks.

The company said it is also testing a larger dose booster and an Omicron-specific booster in case the current vaccine and booster don’t work well enough against the new variant.

When scientists determine that an Omicron-specific vaccine dose is required, “we think we could have an Omicron-specific vaccine booster available for testing within weeks to maybe two to three months,” said Dr. Paul Burton, Chief Medical Officer of Moderna Sunday.

BioNTech, the German company that has partnered with Pfizer to make a Covid-19 vaccine, is also studying the effects of Omicron on its vaccine. The dates are expected in the coming weeks.

Johnson & Johnson is also testing the effectiveness of its vaccine against Omicron.

Moderna said the Omicron variant could be challenging.

“The combination of mutations presents a significant potential risk of accelerating the decline in natural and vaccine-induced immunity,” the company said on Friday.

But Jha said he doesn’t think the new variant “makes vaccines unusable”.

“I think that’s extremely unlikely,” he said. “The question is, is there a tiny hit to vaccine effectiveness or is there a big hit?”

“A couple of weeks of uncertainty”

With the Omicron variant, the world is in a

Before scientists can say how well the current vaccines against Omicron might work, “we have to go through a few more weeks of uncertainty,” Burton said.

“There are three questions to which we really need answers: How transferable is this variant? How heavy is she? And will the antibodies produced in response to the current vaccines be effective? And we won’t know (answer to) the last question for a couple of weeks, “Burton told CNN on Sunday.

“But what we do know is that the best protection is to get vaccinated. If you stand on the fence when you haven’t been vaccinated, get vaccinated. And now everyone over 18 in this country is entitled to at least one Refresher. So if you are eligible for a boost now, you will get a boost, too, ”he said.

“At least that way, we know you’re getting the first line of critical protection. And then of course there are other, simpler things you can do – hand washing, social distancing, possibly wearing masks.Two together, for now – until we know exactly what’s going on – will be crucial on our line of defense . ”

“The virus is still in control … tighten your seat belts”

With or without the Omicron tribe, the US is still struggling with the Delta variant.

Covid-19 hospital stays in 16 states increased more than 50% in the past week compared to the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Health.

“I think we just have to remember that the virus is still in control. I don’t care about your Covid fatigue, ”said Schaffner.

“We’re going to have to deal with this very, very seriously. … Tighten your seat belts.”

Contributors to this report are Dakin Andone, John Bonifield, Jacqueline Howard, Virginia Langmaid, Michael Nedelman, Christina Maxouris, and Kaitlan Collins of CNN.

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