Update on COVID-19 Issues and Controversies | New


National mask controversies at the start of the school year

Students in Wichita, Kansas, public schools can ditch masks when class begins. Detroit public schools will likely need it unless everyone in a room is vaccinated. In Pittsburgh, masks will likely be required regardless of vaccination status. And in some states, schools cannot require the face covering under any circumstances.

With COVID-19 cases soaring nationwide, school districts across the United States are once again facing the realities of a polarized country and the lingering pandemic as they navigate mask requirements , vaccines and social distancing for the new school year which is fast approaching.

The spread of the delta variant and deep political divisions linked to the epidemic have complicated decisions in districts from coast to coast. Lawmakers in some conservative states have banned districts from requiring masks despite outcry from medical professionals. Schools are evaluating a variety of plans for managing middle and high school classrooms filled with vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

“I’m so frustrated that this has become a political issue because it shouldn’t be. It’s science, ”said Mary Tuttle, who operates a home day care center in Indianapolis and has followed the debate in her state about vaccines and masks.

The Indianapolis District has yet to announce its mask policy, but it hopes they will be needed. She is concerned that the Delta variant will lead to a return to home learning, which has left her 10-year-old daughter depressed and anxious last year.

The vaccine has not been approved for children under 12 years old. If it proves safe and effective for younger people, vaccine makers can apply for emergency clearance this fall or winter.

An overall increase in cases adds to concerns – strongly in some states, including Arkansas, that will not let schools require masks. Public health researchers on Tuesday called Arkansas’ rapidly increasing infections and hospitalizations a “wildfire raging” and the state’s top health official warned of future major outbreaks in the provinces. schools.

Arkansas leads the country in the number of new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, and it has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with just 35 % of the population fully vaccinated.

American Academy of Pediatrics weekly counts based on state reports show COVID-19 cases in children rose nationwide in July after a few months of decline. The most recent data shows a 1% increase from July 1 to July 15, accounting for an additional 43,000 cases.

The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said that the fact that some states refuse to allow mask requirements “is simply not true.” She said the organization adopted the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including masking for those who are not vaccinated and other mitigation measures such as 3-foot physical distance, ventilation and the tests.

But school officials say the masking decisions have been complicated by conflicting advice from public health officials.

The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday recommended universal masking in schools, even for those who are vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19. The CDC earlier this month recommended wearing the mask indoors only for students and staff who are not fully immunized.

– The Associated Press

60% of Purdue students, 66% of workers fully vaccinated

Pledging to do their part for a gradual return to normalcy on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus this fall, 60% of incoming Purdue students and 66% of Purdue employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have submitted proof four weeks before August. .13 Fall semester deadline.

Purdue announced the numbers Tuesday in its first publication of overall vaccination rates on campus.

Calling it a ‘personal choice approach’ for what is expected to be another record-breaking year of enrollment at the West Lafayette campus, Purdue strongly encourages all students and employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they can. .

“We are grateful to all of the students and employees of Purdue who voluntarily chose to be vaccinated and who have already downloaded their materials. But there is still a lot of work to be done, and we anticipate that many more will do the same before this first day of classes in the fall semester, when our university community will number more than 50,000 students, faculty and staff ” said Eric Barker, dean of the College of Pharmacy and leader of Protect Purdue’s health monitoring and surveillance team.

As the pandemic persists, the key to meeting the Protect Purdue pledge for students, faculty and staff will be to choose to get vaccinated and submit valid proof by August 13 or participate in testing. routine monitoring, which will begin August 23, the first day of class, and could be as frequent as once a week. Only employees designated “100% remote” will be exempt from routine surveillance testing.

To date, vaccination rates for Purdue students are almost twice as high as those for individuals aged 16 to 29 statewide. The Indiana Department of Health reports that 32.7% of people aged 16 to 19, 34.9% of people aged 20 to 24, and 31.8% of people aged 25 to 29 are fully vaccinated in the state.

For those who have not yet submitted their documentation, there is still time to get a COVID-19 vaccine before the August 13 verification deadline and be exempt from routine surveillance tests early on. By getting vaccinated and submitting documents, students and employees can avoid potentially disrupting their studies or work if exposed to the coronavirus.

Unvaccinated people who have high-risk exposure should self-quarantine for 14 days and will not be allowed to attend classes or report to work, regardless of symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines high-risk exposure as being within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more when both people are not wearing masks.

From Purdue University

Appeal filed by students with an IU vaccination mandate

Indiana University students, represented by America’s Frontline Doctors and the Bopp law firm, appealed Tuesday against a ruling by a federal judge refusing to suspend the University’s COVID vaccination mandate of Indiana until the end of the trial. The students also requested that the district court prevent Indiana University from implementing its vaccination mandate while the appeal is pending.

In May of this year, IU announced that it would require all students, faculty and staff to receive COVID vaccines before they can return to IU for the fall semester with limited exemptions for those with religious exemptions. or medical. In June, the law firm Bopp, on behalf of IU students, filed a complaint against IU to uphold students’ rights to physical integrity and autonomy, due process and the right to consent to medical treatment.

In a ruling dated Sunday, U.S. District Judge Damon Leichty in South Bend rejected a claim by eight IU students who sought to block the requirement as they filed a lawsuit claiming the policy of the The university violated their constitutional rights by forcing them to receive unwanted medical treatment.

Leichty wrote that the students have not presented evidence to show that they could prevail in the case, and that the Constitution “allows Indiana University to pursue a reasonable and due process of immunization in the legitimate public health interest for its students, teachers and staff. “

Leichty, who held a hearing on the case last week, said plaintiffs could seek medical or religious exemptions offered by the university, or they could take the fall semester or attend another school.

University officials have defended the vaccination policy as being “designed for the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.”

“We appreciate the quick and thorough decision that allows us to focus on a full and safe return,” the university said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming everyone to our campuses for the fall semester. “

“We are committed to continuing the student struggle,” said James Bopp, Jr. “In addition to appealing, we have asked the District Judge to prevent the IU from enforcing its warrant while the appeal is pending. Preventing the application of this mandate and continuing to fight is the only way to protect these students and ensure that their fundamental constitutional rights are not violated. “

From the law firm Bopp and the Associated Press

713 other reported cases of COVID Hoosier

The Indiana Department of Health announced Tuesday that an additional 713 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing in public and private labs. That brings the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus to 762,127.

To date, 13,530 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19, an increase of five from the previous day. Another 428 probable deaths have been reported to date based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test has been recorded.

A total of 3,637,538 unique individuals were tested in Indiana, up from 3,635,079 on Monday. A total of 11,062,438 tests, including repeat testing for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since February 26, 2020.

To find testing sites statewide, go to www.coronavirus.in.gov and click the COVID-19 testing information link.

Hoosiers aged 12 and over can receive a COVID-19 vaccine; persons under the age of 18 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine only. To find an immunization clinic near you, go to https://ourshot.in.gov or call 211 if you don’t have access to a computer or need help. Appointments are preferred, but appointments are accepted on most sites.

Patients with an appointment at a state-hosted public vaccination site can get a free Uber or Lyft ride. Call 2-1-1 or (866) 211-9966 to receive a voucher to cover the cost of an Uber ride to and from your immunization appointments. IU Health offers free Lyft rides to any vaccination site in the state. Call 1.888.IUHEALTH (888-484-3258) and choose option 9 if you need transportation to get to your immunization appointment.

As of Tuesday, a total of 5,775,357 doses were administered in Indiana. This includes 2,872,825 first doses and 2,902,532 fully immunized people. The fully vaccinated number represents people who received a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only.

Indiana State Department of Health

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