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YEAR OF COVID

'The safety of Ohio’s children is paramount': Ohio health officials issue COVID-19 guidance for schools

BY Lydia Taylor

OHIO — The Ohio Department of Health released its guidance for the upcoming school year Monday, going along with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

ODH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the state's guidance has been carefully reviewed by many health officials, and reminded Ohioans that the recommendations are not mandates, but should be strongly taken into consideration.

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Cleveland Metropolitan School District will require masks for first few weeks of school

BY Lydia Taylor
UPDATED 8:03 AM ET Jul. 20, 2021

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) will require students, staff and visitors to wear masks for at least the first five weeks of school this fall, CEO Eric Gordon announced Monday.

The school district also plans to implement three-foot distancing where officials deem practical and touchless thermometer checks. Students will still be able to return full time for classes five days a week if they wish.

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Ohio Schools Address Learning Gaps After Year of Disruption for Young Students

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With all but one of Ohio’s K-12 public schools back to in-person learning as of Thursday, schools are now assessing the educational setbacks from a year of disruption.

After having to quickly switch gears when the pandemic began, going from classrooms to living rooms within a matter of days, students may have grown accustomed to learning in their own spaces.

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Hard Shifts, Complicated Patients: For Ohio Hospitals, Fight Still On

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the state phases back to a more normal way of life — and possibly a summer without COVID-19 restrictions — health care professionals on the frontlines said a severe population of critically ill patients remains, and they warn the health crisis is anything but over.

Hospitals have more therapies at their disposal for COVID-19 patients a year into the pandemic. However, according to infectious disease experts, some patients infected with the virus don’t seem to respond to the treatments, and the health care workers remain busy in coronavirus wards.

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"Brighter Days Lie Ahead:" Looking Back on a Year of COVID-19 Nationwide

BY Jessica Yellin

It’s been one year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic — and at the time Dr. Fauci told lawmakers that "things will get worse."

This week he amended that statement. telling NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, "I did not in my mind think that 'much worse' was going to be 525,000 deaths."

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Year of COVID: Ohio's Ups and Downs

BY Jennifer Conn and Pete Grieve
UPDATED 10:45 AM ET Mar. 11, 2021

When the first COVID-19 warnings came out of China in December 2019, most Ohioans were still taking down Christmas decorations. But the Buckeye state was among the first in the nation to take the coronavirus threat seriously, announcing restrictions even before the first confirmed case.

The state quickly kicked into gear when COVID-19 made its way to the U.S., and state officials earned high praise for their swift response in March. As the summer approached, the pandemic worsened and hospitals began erecting ominous white tents outside emergency rooms to handle overflow.

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Pandemic Presidencies: How Donald Trump and Joe Biden Navigated a Year of COVID-19

BY Austin Landis
UPDATED 9:06 AM ET Mar. 10, 2021

The Biden administration has signaled a stark shift in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly when it comes to areas like transparency and boosting vaccine supply.

But while the difference in administrations is clear on the surface, a significant part of the operational and behind-the-scenes work from public health officials has remained in place from President Donald Trump’s time in office.

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DeWine Declares March 9 Day of Remembrance for COVID-19 Victims

BY Spectrum News Staff & Associated Press
UPDATED 12:51 PM ET Mar. 09, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine has declared it a Day of Remembrance for the more than 17,000 Ohioans who have died from COVID-19.

All U.S. and Ohio flags are being flown at half-staff to honor the victims.

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A Year of COVID: A Spectrum News Special

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 9:30 AM ET Mar. 04, 2021

OHIO — Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement 12 months ago that the Arnold Sports Festival would not go on as planned sounded the alarm of the tsunami that would turn many lives upside down.

The novel coronavirus became real for Ohio that day, and its stranglehold on our economy, the political, educational and financial systems, as well as our homes has been unrelenting.

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CORONAVIRUS NEWS

CNN anchor John King reveals MS diagnosis in COVID vaccine discussion

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 2:32 PM ET Oct. 19, 2021

During a conversation about COVID-19 vaccines, CNN anchor John King revealed on Tuesday that he has multiple sclerosis, and stressed the importance of vaccinations to protect immunocompromised people like himself.

"I’m going to share a secret I have never spoken before," King said on CNN on Tuesday. "I am immunocompromised. I have multiple sclerosis. So I am grateful you are all vaccinated."

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Study: Pfizer vaccine highly effective against COVID-19 in 12- to 18-year-olds

BY Ryan Chatelain

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is highly effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalization among adolescents, according to a study published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The two-dose Pfizer vaccine has been available since December in the U.S. to people age 16 and older, and to 12- to 15-year-olds since May. Pfizer’s clinical trial for the 12-15 group found the vaccine to be 100% effective at preventing outpatient COVID-19 hospitalization, but there has been limited data from real-world settings on adolescents.

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Procession honors second Columbus firefighter to die from COVID-19

BY Lydia Taylor and Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Family and firefighters are grieving the loss of Greg Bauer, 56, a firefighter who died this week from COVID-19.

Dozens of firefighters and family members gathered outside of the station Tuesday morning for a procession at 10:30 a.m.

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U.S. regulators expected to authorize mixing and matching COVID booster shots

BY Spectrum News Staff & Associated Press
UPDATED 11:08 AM ET Oct. 19, 2021

Federal regulators are expected to authorize the so-called "mixing and matching" of COVID-19 booster shots this week in an effort to provide flexibility for those seeking to maintain protection against the deadly virus.

The news was first reported Monday by the New York Times.

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Cincinnati Zoo vaccinates 80 animals against COVID-19

BY Lydia Taylor

CINCINNATI — Officials at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens announced 80 animals have been vaccinated for COVID-19 over the past several weeks.

Over the past six weeks, first doses have been given giraffes, skunks, cats that share space with humans as well as big cats, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans, red pandas, goats, river otters and bearcats.

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Washington State coach Rolovich, 4 assistants fired for refusing vaccine

BY Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Washington State fired football coach Nick Rolovich and four of his assistants on Monday for refusing a state mandate that all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19, making him the first major college coach to lose his job over vaccination status.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, had set a deadline of Monday for thousands of state employees, including the Cougars’ coach, to be vaccinated. Rolovich applied for a religious exemption, which was denied Monday, Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said.

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell dies from COVID-19 amid cancer battle

BY Ryan Chatelain
UPDATED 4:46 PM ET Oct. 18, 2021

Colin Powell, who climbed the ranks, while breaking color barriers, to become the nation’s top military official and later served as secretary of state, died Monday morning from complications related to COVID-19, his family said in a Facebook post. He was 84.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” his family wrote.

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Powell's age and cancer bout left him vulnerable to COVID

BY Associated Press

Despite getting vaccinated against COVID-19, Colin Powell remained vulnerable to the virus because of his advanced age and history of cancer, highlighting the continued risk to many Americans until more of the population is immunized.

Powell, a four-star general who became the first Black secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died Monday from complications of COVID-19. Powell, 84, had been treated over the past few years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body’s ability to fight infections — and to respond well to vaccines.

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How an independent pharmacy owner is getting out the vaccine

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Emlah Tubuo, the owner of an independent pharmacy in Delaware County, learned the importance of vaccination in her home country of Cameroon, where she witnessed the differences in disease between villages that were immunized and those that weren’t.

Her experience working with clinics in West Africa for vaccination against infectious diseases inspires her efforts to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in Ohio.

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Most Republicans vying for U.S. Senate in Ohio are vaccinated

BY Associated Press

OHIO (AP) — Most of the Republican candidates for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat said Thursday that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

A question about their shots was posed to GOP contenders for the seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman during a candidate forum sponsored by several local county Republican parties in the rural Dayton area and organized by the Ohio Press Network, a right-leaning news website.

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Some Ohio school districts lift mask mandates citing declining COVID-19 cases

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As COVID-19 cases begin to decline, some Ohio schools districts are switching to mask-optional policies, despite state health officials reiterating their position this week that unvaccinated students should be masked.

In several districts, school officials said “test-and-stay” protocols are helping them avoid quarantines in the mask-optional setting. These districts have an option for exposed students to remain in school if they agree to wear masks and test negative.

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FDA panel OKs Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster after 2 months

BY Spectrum News Staff & Associated Press
UPDATED 3:13 PM ET Oct. 15, 2021

A Food and Drug Administration panel of outside advisers unanimously voted Friday in favor of authorizing booster shots of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine two months after the initial shot has been administered.

However, some members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee said they view the additional shot more as Part 2 of the original regimen, which was one shot, than a true booster.

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Ohio State reports 86% vaccination rate as deadline arrives

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Ohio State’s vaccine requirement sets in, the university said Thursday that more than 96,000 students and employees have started vaccination or requested an exemption.

The university is reporting an 86% vaccination rate ahead of Friday’s deadline for getting at least one vaccine dose, Johnson said.

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Updates: COVID-19 cases in Ohio schools

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 4:08 PM ET Oct. 14, 2021

Every Thursday afternoon, the Ohio Department of Health releases updated COVID-19 cases involving students and staff. The Department of Health says weekly case counts include full-time or part-time students and staff members who have tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19. Staff members include teachers, administrators, support staff, and coaches, the state says.

In recent weeks, there has been a drop in reported cases within schools. In figures released Oct. 14, there were 4,796 new cases reported among students and 654 new cases among staff, down from the previous week when there were 5,986 new cases reported among students and 1,061 cases among staff.

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FDA advisory panel recommends Moderna COVID-19 boosters for 65+, high-risk groups

BY Ryan Chatelain
UPDATED 3:36 PM ET Oct. 14, 2021

A committee of independent advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted on Thursday to recommend booster shots of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for Americans 65 and older and other high-risk groups at least six months after a second dose.

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee listened to presentations from the FDA, Moderna and others before debating and voting on whether additional doses of the vaccine should receive emergency use authorization to counter waning effectiveness.

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Ohio employers upgrade air-quality systems with relief funds

BY Pete Grieve
UPDATED 1:49 PM ET Oct. 14, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Coronavirus relief funds have enabled certain Ohio employers to upgrade indoor air-quality systems under a state program set to end Friday.

The Ohio COVID-19 Indoor Air Quality Assistance Program, administered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, provides up to $15,000 in reimbursements to private employers licensed by four state agencies.

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Ohio Health Director says COVID-19 wave won't 'drop off like a cliff'

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Health officials anticipate that COVID-19 cases will decline in the coming weeks, but Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Thursday that a rapid drop off is unlikely.

“It appears the delta surge has, in fact, plateaued. Nevertheless, we continue to see very high numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Vanderhoff said. “We are higher than we were a year ago, but I remain cautiously optimistic that we'll continue to see our cases decline as we move forward.”

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The latest coronavirus numbers in Ohio

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 8:54 AM ET Oct. 14, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Every day, the Ohio Department of Health updates Ohioans on the latest coronavirus numbers.

Here are the latest COVID-19 cases in schools.

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Moderna, Johnson & Johnson face tough questions entering FDA booster meetings

BY Associated Press and Ryan Chatelain

Drugmakers Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are facing questions about data they submitted to the Food and Drug Administration as they seek approval for their COVID-19 booster shots.

A committee of independent advisers to the FDA will meet Thursday and Friday to consider whether the additional vaccine doses should receive emergency use authorization for people ages 18 and older.

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White House preparing for possible COVID vaccine authorization for kids 5-11 by November

BY Rachel Tillman

The Biden administration is working with state and business partners to prepare for the anticipated approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as five, White House officials said Wednesday.

Children under the age of 12 have so far not been able to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in the United States. Of the three domestically authorized vaccines, only the one from Pfizer-BioNTech has been approved for use in individuals as young as 12; both the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines can be given to people 18 years and up.

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FDA panel to meet this week on Johnson & Johnson, Moderna boosters

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 9:53 AM ET Oct. 12, 2021

As millions of Americans have already rolled up their sleeves for booster shots, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week will hold key meetings that could have a major impact on the the drive to get booster shots in arms.

For those who were vaccinated against the coronavirus with the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and who are anxiously awaiting their turn to receive booster doses, those answers could come in a matter of weeks.

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Fauci says it's fine to trick-or-treat this year

BY Associated Press and Spectrum News Staff

WASHINGTON -- The government’s top infectious diseases expert says families can feel safe trick-or-treating outdoors this year for Halloween as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. decline, especially for those who are vaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that it’s an important time of year for children, so “go out there” and “enjoy it.”

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Ohio hospital capacity slim despite decline in COVID-19 cases

BY Chuck Ringwalt

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Despite improvements throughout early September and recent decreases in COVID-19 cases, health care workers are still struggling to keep hospital beds open.

Eye on Ohio reported 830 available Med/Surg (regular) beds across the state on Oct. 1, which is 363 less than what was reported seven days prior.

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Merck asks U.S. FDA to authorize promising anti-COVID pill

BY Associated Press

Drugmaker Merck asked U.S. regulators Monday to authorize its pill against COVID-19 in what would add an entirely new and easy-to-use weapon to the world’s arsenal against the pandemic.

If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration — a decision that could come in a matter of weeks — it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. All other FDA-backed treatments against the disease require an IV or injection.

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Cleveland Metropolitan School District announces testing requirement for unvaccinated staff

BY Pete Grieve
UPDATED 3:37 PM ET Oct. 08, 2021

OHIO — Employees of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will be required to take weekly COVID-19 tests if they are not vaccinated, district officials announced.

The policy takes effect this month, and the district’s unvaccinated employees are being surveyed to see if they are willing to get a first-dose by Oct. 15, according to a letter from CEO Eric Gordon.

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Columbus Public Health offers drive-through vaccinations in fire stations

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two fire station clinics in Columbus began offering COVID-19 vaccines this week, an effort by the city’s health department to make immunizations convenient in vulnerable neighborhoods.

Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said the fire stations work well as sites for the health department to administer vaccinations in a drive-through setting.

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Schools reset after temporary closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Schools that had to shut their doors temporarily this fall to control COVID-19 outbreaks are now trying to get back on track following the disruptions.

When districts reopened this year without mask mandates, they faced a new challenge in that each positive COVID-19 case could result in a dozen or more additional students quarantined due to protocols for unmasked exposures.

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Pfizer, BioNTech request emergency approval for COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11

BY Spectrum News Staff & Associated Press
UPDATED 8:58 AM ET Oct. 07, 2021

Pfizer and BioNTech said Thursday they have asked the Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency approval to administer its COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.

The companies announced last month that their vaccine is safe and generated "robust neutralizing antibody responses" in that age group. They formally submitted their data to the FDA on Sept. 28.

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Ohio State reduces COVID-19 hospitalizations using monoclonal antibody infusion

BY Olivia Wile

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is working to reduce the stress on its hospitals by treating COVID-19 patients before their symptoms become severe.

The health system has brought back its Monoclonal Antibodies Infusion Clinic at OSU East Hospital in full force. The clinic first opened in Nov. 2020, but was scaled back as cases dropped this summer.

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Biden admin. investing $1B to boost at-home rapid COVID tests

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 4:11 PM ET Oct. 06, 2021

The Biden administration announced Wednesday a massive, $1 billion investment to expand access to at-home COVID-19 tests, an allocation that could quadruple the amount of rapid tests available to Americans by next summer, officials said Wednesday.

The administration formally announced the billion-dollar investment during a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, where White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said the funds aim to “further mobilize testing manufacturers.”

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Could delta be the variant to end the pandemic? Experts say maybe

BY Erin Billups - National Health Reporter

A return to normal — meaning life without social distancing and masks — seemed within reach at the end of spring.

When Spectrum News spoke with Dr. Monica Gandhi in early June, the infectious disease physician was urging schools to consider allowing children to return in the fall sans masks, saying all that was needed was for the adults around them to be vaccinated.

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HHS study: Vaccinations may have prevented 250,000 COVID cases, 39,000 deaths in seniors

BY Spectrum News Staff

A report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released Tuesday shows that COVID-19 vaccinations may have helped prevent more than a quarter of a million COVID-19 cases in senior citizens.

The study — conducted between January and May 2021 — also found that COVID vaccines prevented roughly 107,000 hospitalizations and 39,000 deaths among nearly 63 million Medicare beneficiaries.

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Columbus teacher's union calls for vaccine or testing mandate for staff

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Education Association is calling for a vaccination, or biweekly testing mandate for school staff, among other demands related to COVID-19, union leaders announced Tuesday afternoon.

During a press conference, John Coneglio, the union’s president, said Columbus teachers are prepared to sign a memorandum of understanding with the district on the same terms as a recent vaccine or testing policy in Cincinnati Public Schools.

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Vaccines are here. School’s open. Some parents still agonize

BY Associated Press and Spectrum News Staff

Eight days into the school year, all five of Amber Cessac’s daughters, ages 4 to 10, had tested positive for COVID-19.

Having them all sick at once and worrying about long-term repercussions as other parents at their school, and even her own mother, downplayed the virus, “broke something inside of me,” Cessac said.

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AstraZeneca seeks authorization for preventative COVID antibody treatment

BY Spectrum News Staff

Drugmaker AstraZeneca on Tuesday announced that it has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorize a first-of-its-kind antibody treatment aimed at preventing COVID-19 in people who are at high risk of the disease.

If the FDA grants emergency use authorization (EUA), it would be the first preventative antibody treatment available in the United States.

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CDC pulls holiday recommendations, 'will share additional guidance soon'

BY Ryan Chatelain
UPDATED 9:55 AM ET Oct. 05, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took down a page on its website with guidance on how to celebrate the upcoming fall and winter holidays safely, saying that updated guidelines are coming "soon."

"The content is in the process of being updated by CDC to reflect current guidance ahead of this holiday season," a CDC spokesperson said in a statement. "The page had a technical update on Friday, but doesn’t reflect the CDC’s guidance ahead of this upcoming holiday season. CDC will share additional guidance soon."

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Johnson & Johnson seeks U.S. clearance for COVID-19 vaccine booster doses

BY Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Johnson & Johnson asked the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to allow extra shots of its COVID-19 vaccine as the U.S. government moves toward expanding its booster campaign to millions more vaccinated Americans.

J&J said it filed a request with the FDA to authorize boosters for people who previously received the company's one-shot vaccine. While company said it submitted data on several different booster intervals, ranging from two to six months, it did not formally recommend one to regulators.

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Impending vaccine mandate could put smaller employers in tough spot

BY Austin Landis

When Mike Schreurs heard his 130-person marketing firm would be included in a new corporate vaccine mandate, he was initially worried about broaching a topic he’d never had to address with his employees before.

“Our first thought was: there's probably going to be some people who don't want to do that,” Schreurs, the chairman of Des Moines-based Strategic America, told Spectrum News.

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Ohio Vax-2-School registration opens to incentivize vaccinations

BY Josh Rultenberg
UPDATED 3:46 PM ET Oct. 04, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health has opened registration for the state's Vax-2-School program.

On Friday, the state announced more kids may now win college scholarships as it doubles down on its new vaccine incentive program.

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Ohio Department of Health briefing addresses peaking COVID-19 cases, dangers to pregnant women

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio is beginning to slow down, cases “remain extremely high," presenting continued risk for unvaccinated residents, Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Monday.

With the high levels of COVID-19 in the state, pregnant women are at particularly high risk due to their increased chance for severe illness and the low rates of vaccination in the demographic, experts at an Ohio Department of Health news conference explained Monday.

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Kroger makes COVID-19 boosters available at local clinics, announces hiring event for 1,500 jobs

BY Lydia Taylor

CINCINNATI — Kroger announced it's now offering COVID-19 boosters at local pharmacies and The Little Clinic locations in Greater Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky.

The chain said it's setting aside a "vaccine power hour" during the first hour of business each morning Monday through Friday to solely provide vaccines, whether it's for COVID-19, the flu or others.

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U.S. hits 700,000 COVID deaths just as cases begin to fall

BY Spectrum News Staff & Associated Press
UPDATED 6:12 PM ET Oct. 02, 2021

The United States reached its latest heartbreaking pandemic milestone Friday, eclipsing 700,000 deaths from COVID-19 just as the surge from the delta variant is starting to slow down and give overwhelmed hospitals some relief.

It took more than three months for the U.S. to go from 600,000 to 700,000 deaths, driven by the variant’s rampant spread through unvaccinated Americans. The death toll is larger than the population of Boston.

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Time's up for tens of thousands of Ohio health care workers to be vaccinated

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tens of thousands of health care workers in Ohio had until Friday to get vaccinated for COVID-19, unless they received an exemption.

Three major hospitals in the state had Oct. 1 deadlines for staff to show they've completed vaccination — UC Health and the Christ Hospital in Cincinnati and Nationwide Children’s in Columbus. They are the first large hospitals in the state to have vaccine requirements take effect. A deadline is also coming up Monday for Dublin-based pharmaceutical distributor Cardinal Health.

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Ohio increases 'Vax-2-School' lottery incentive to $2 million in prizes

BY Spectrum News Staff

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio has doubled the “Vax-2-School" lottery incentive prize money to $2 million in scholarships, the Ohio Department of Health announced on Friday.

Ohioans between the ages of 12-25 could be eligible to win one of 150, $10,000 scholarships, or one of five, $100,000 grand prize scholarships. The scholarships can be used at an Ohio college, university, technical/trade school or career program.

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Merck says COVID-19 pill cuts risk of coronavirus hospitalization, death in half

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 9:08 AM ET Oct. 01, 2021

Drugmakers Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced Friday that they will seek authorization for an oral antiviral pill to fight COVID-19 after trial data shows it reduced risk of hospitalization and death by half.

The drug, known as molnupiravir, would be the first oral antiviral medicine for COVID-19 to receive Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Ohio hospitals see slim improvement in capacity

BY Chuck Ringwalt

COLUMBUS — Ohio's hospital capacity improved slightly this past week with more available medical-surgical beds.

Eye on Ohio reported 1,193 available Med/Surg beds across the state on Sept. 24, which is 339 more than what was reported seven days prior.

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Summit County Public Health expands COVID-19 dashboard as delta variant spreads

BY Jennifer Conn

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio — Summit County Public Health has updated and expanded its COVID-19 dashboard, enabling residents to track and crunch local data on the disease, including vaccination rates, as the delta variant continues to dominate.

The free dashboard is updated daily, and allows users to view six pages of interactive charts, including infections, hospitalizations, deaths and other rates by age, race, ZIP code and gender.

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CDC 'strongly recommends' women get vaccinated before or during pregnancy

BY Spectrum News Staff

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory on Wednesday urging women who are pregnant, recently pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The CDC "strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks," the advisory reads. The agency noted that compared to symptomatic people who are not pregnant, symptomatic pregnant people have a two-fold increased risk of ICU admission, and a 70% increased risk of death.

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Oral antiviral treatments could become part of COVID-19 care

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Doctors say a COVID-19 therapeutic pill could be critical to getting out of the pandemic, and several oral antiviral drugs are currently in late-stage clinical trials.

The only antiviral for COVID-19 that has received emergency-use authorization, Remdesivir, has to be administered by an IV. Dr. Joe Gastaldo, OhioHealth infectious disease physician, is optimistic that could change in the coming months.

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Eager Ohioans jump at chance to get COVID-19 vaccine boosters

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When 25-year-old Meg Kelly, a middle school teacher in Columbus, learned Friday that her occupation qualifies her for a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, she said she signed up for an appointment at CVS right away.

Kelly said without the booster, she was anxious at school, fearing that she might be more vulnerable to COVID-19 because seven months had passed since her first shots. She knows a few vaccinated teachers who work in other districts who have contracted the virus despite vaccination, she said.

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Wexner official ‘cautiously optimistic’ COVID-19 cases have peaked in Ohio

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio ⁠— An Ohio State Wexner expert said Wednesday that officials are “cautiously optimistic” COVID-19 cases have peaked in Ohio.

Wexner’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Andrew Thomas said during a news conference with other Ohio State doctors that daily cases in the state have declined in the last two weeks.

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NBA releases protocols to teams for COVID safety this season

BY Associated Press and Spectrum News Staff

The NBA released tentative health and safety protocols to its teams earlier this week, detailing how players who haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccination will be tested far more often than their vaccinated colleagues and face a slew of other restrictions.

Among the rules for unvaccinated players: They will not be able to eat in the same room with vaccinated teammates or staff, must have lockers as far away from vaccinated players as possible, and must stay masked and at least 6 feet away from all other attendees in any team meeting.

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YouTube removing most anti-vaccine videos

BY Ryan Chatelain

YouTube is cracking down on anti-vaccine videos — and not just those related to COVID-19.

The social media giant announced Wednesday that it is expanding its medical misinformation policy to cover content about all currently administered vaccines that are confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the World Health Organization.

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CDC study: Side effects from 3rd booster dose similar to those from 2nd dose

BY Spectrum News Staff

People who received a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine experienced side effects after the shot at similar rates to those who received two doses, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a promising sign about vaccine safety as booster doses roll out nationwide for millions of Americans.

"The frequency and type of side effects were similar to those seen after the second vaccine doses and were mostly mild or moderate and short-lived," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing on Tuesday.

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Federal judge upholds St. Elizabeth Healthcare's vaccine mandate

BY Bryce Shreve and Sam Knef
UPDATED 9:52 AM ET Sep. 28, 2021

EDGEWOOD, Ky. — A federal judge ruled in favor of St. Elizabeth Healthcare on Friday, saying that the northern Kentucky hospital system is allowed to require the COVID-19 vaccine for its over 10,000 employees.

St. Elizabeth employees are required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1, unless they get a medical or religious exemption approved.

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Pfizer submits trial data for kids COVID-19 vaccine to FDA

BY Ryan Chatelain

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have submitted clinical trial data to the Food and Drug Administration for their COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.

Last week, the drugmakers announced that their vaccine is safe and generated "robust neutralizing antibody responses" in that age group.

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Cleveland Clinic says COVID-19 spike causing surgeries to be postponed

BY Justin Boggs

CLEVELAND — COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise and it’s impacting operations at Cleveland Clinic hospitals, the organization said Monday.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there were 460 COVID-19 patients at its Ohio hospitals, with 135 of them in the ICU, as of Monday. The Cleveland Clinic also added that it expects that the number of hospitalizations will rise in the coming weeks.

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Ohio State Wexner reduces visitation amid rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

BY Lydia Taylor

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Effective Tuesday, Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is limiting visitation temporarily due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Patients staying in its facilities will be allowed just two named visitors for the entire duration of their stay. The two names given to the hospital can't change.

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U.S. has enough COVID-19 vaccines for boosters, kids’ shots

BY Associated Press

With more than 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available, U.S. health authorities said they’re confident there will be enough for both qualified older Americans seeking booster shots and the young children for whom initial vaccines are expected to be approved in the not-too-distant future.

The spike in demand — expected following last week’s federal recommendation on booster shots — would be the first significant jump in months. More than 70 million Americans remain unvaccinated despite the enticement of lottery prizes, free food or gifts and pleas from exhausted health care workers as the average number of deaths per day climbed to more than 1,900 in recent weeks.

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Ohio hospitals send letter to governor on ‘dire situation’

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Hospital Association sent a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday outlining the “dire situation” facing the state’s hospitals due to a rapid rise in COVID-19 patients, officials said.

During a press conference Thursday, DeWine said he agrees with Mike Abrams, the hospital association’s president, that Ohio is in a crisis. DeWine said it was a “pretty scary" message to read.

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CDC director defends decision to partially split with advisers on booster recommendations

BY Ryan Chatelain

On Friday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defended her decision to split with an advisory panel in recommending COVID-19 booster shots for people who work or live in high-risk settings.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Thursday to recommend third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people who are 65 and older, as well as younger adults who have underlying medical conditions. In making the agency’s final determination, Walensky endorsed both of those votes.

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Hospitals facing ICU strain, staffing issues amid COVID-19 surge

BY Tino Bovenzi

OHIO — The state is facing a major problem. Hospitals are running out of available beds in intensive care units, and front line workers are feeling the pressure.

“There are more patients, but fewer health care providers to care for those who are in the hospital,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.

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Biden urges the newly eligible to get COVID-19 booster shots

BY Ryan Chatelain

Hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended COVID-19 booster shots for tens of millions of Americans, President Joe Biden on Friday urged those who are immediately eligible to again roll up their sleeves.

The CDC has recommended third doses for anyone who received their second Pfizer-BioNTech shot at least six months prior and is 65 or older, has underlying conditions or works at a job that puts them at an increased risk of being infected.

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CDC endorses Pfizer-BioNTech COVID booster for 65 and older, high-risk

BY Austin Landis and Associated Press
UPDATED 7:00 AM ET Sep. 24, 2021

A key Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advisory panel voted unanimously to back a third booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for Americans 65 years of age and older and those living in long term care facilities.

They also separately voted in favor of boosters for Americans 18 to 64 with underlying medical conditions that may put them at higher risk of severe disease.

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Ohio announces 'Vax-2-School' lottery incentive for young residents

BY Pete Grieve and Josh Rultenberg
UPDATED 3:44 PM ET Sep. 23, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio will offer $1 million in scholarships to young Ohioans, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday, announcing the “Vax-2-School" incentive.

Residents aged 12-25 who are vaccinated and those who get vaccinated in the coming weeks would be eligible for the scholarships, DeWine said during a news conference.

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Crunch for at-home COVID-19 testing impacts Ohio providers

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — COVID-19 testing providers in Ohio say they’re working hard to make at-home rapid tests available to the public, but sometimes, the exceedingly high demand is pushing resources to the limit.

Eighteen months into the pandemic, many Ohioans want convenient testing options with quick results, and the state’s 2-million dose supply of rapid, at-home antigens is being distributed out of Columbus to health departments and libraries to offer at no cost.

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Cincinnati pushes back date of vaccination policy for city staff

BY Casey Weldon

CINCINNATI — The city of Cincinnati will delay the start of its vaccination and testing requirements for staff for another month.

Under the policy, which was authored Sept. 1, all city employees will have to either provide proof of vaccination or undergo testing for COVID-19 on a regular basis. The rules were set to go into effect this Tuesday, but City Manager Paula Boggs Muething released a memo on that same day, saying the city had amended the rules and decided to push the start date to the week of Oct. 24. The memo to department directors said the changes are the result of "further input and feedback from our bargaining units," or labor unions. "Human Resources will provide a monthly forum for unions to bring forth comments and concerns regarding the application of this policy," the updated policy reads. Beyond the implementation date, the updated policy has also affected the frequency with which staff will need to be tested, at least at first. "Initially, documentation of testing will be required on a bi-weekly basis, but will move to a weekly basis as determined by the availability of resources," the memo reads. Staff can receive free testing at one of the city's downtown office spaces but other testing options will be available. Those tests just can't be older than 72 hours.

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City of Club of Cleveland requiring COVID vaccinations or negative tests

BY Justin Boggs

CLEVELAND — The City Club of Cleveland announced Thursday it is joining a growing list of venues requiring guests to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide proof of a negative coronavirus test.

The organization said that the new pandemic protocols will go into effect Oct. 1.

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Local vaccination rates going up, but ICU beds remain full

BY Casey Weldon

CINCINNATI — Despite an uptick in the local vaccination rate, COVID-19 continues to stress Greater Cincinnati hospitals at levels not seen since last winter.

Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus said Wednesday morning that 1 in 5 patients in Greater Cincinnati's 2,400 hospital beds has COVID-19. She said she heard from the Health Collaborative that in intensive care units, the number is closer to one-third, or 167 patients. About 125 are on ventilators.

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FDA authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot for people 65 and older, high-risk

BY Rachel Tillman and Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 8:03 PM ET Sep. 22, 2021

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for Americans 65 years of age and older, and those who are at high risk from the virus.

The move brings the U.S. one step closer to administering boosters, but more regulatory hurdles lie ahead.

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'How often will we need booster shots?': Your COVID-19 booster shot questions answered

BY Zoe Slemmons and Erin Billups - National Health Reporter
UPDATED 3:52 PM ET Sep. 22, 2021

Third booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are currently available for immunocompromised Americans, and will soon be available to people 65 and older and those at high risk of severe disease.

All three COVID-19 vaccines available to Americans have been shown to virtually eliminate the risk of severe illness or death due from COVID-19, but reports of vaccinated people contracting and spreading the virus – while still uncommon – have federal health officials calling for some Americans to roll up their sleeves again.

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'Soul-crushing': U.S. COVID-19 deaths are topping 1,900 a day

BY Associated Press

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a distinct group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans.

The increasingly lethal turn has filled hospitals, complicated the start of the school year, delayed the return to offices and demoralized health care workers.

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Gov. DeWine consults National Guard over school bus driver shortage

BY Justin Boggs
UPDATED 8:15 PM ET Sep. 21, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine confirmed on Tuesday that he is discussing possible remedies with the Ohio National Guard to quell a shortage in school bus drivers.

DeWine’s comments came as several school districts have announced closures due to not having school bus drivers. Some districts have reported not having enough drivers due to coronavirus-related quarantines.

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Ohio reports record hospitalizations among residents under 50, DeWine says

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — More residents of Ohio under age 50 are hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any previous point in the pandemic, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday.

The governor was joined by Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff and frontline hospital workers during a news conference Tuesday, where officials warned that COVID-19 patients are filling intensive care units and emergency departments in the state.

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Vax FAQ: Updates on vaccines for kids, booster shots and other developments

BY Charles Duncan

As state leaders continue to push to get more people vaccinated, there’s still a lot of confusion for those who have already gotten the shots and for parents of young children who can’t get vaccinated.

News on the coronavirus vaccines has been moving quickly. Federal regulators have been debating when people should get booster shots. New data recently showed the Pfizer vaccine to be safe and effective in children as young as 5.

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Ohio Rep. Bob Latta contracts COVID-19 after vaccination

BY Associated Press

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (AP) — U.S. Rep. Bob Latta became the second member of Congress from Ohio to test positive this week for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated against the virus.

The Republican lawmaker from the 5th Congressional District announced Tuesday he contracted the virus after he was exposed to someone who also tested positive.

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2nd dose of Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine provides 94% protection, company says

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 7:28 AM ET Sep. 21, 2021

Johnson & Johnson announced Tuesday that a second dose of its COVID-19 vaccine given at two months provides 94% protection against the coronavirus in the United States.

The company released data Tuesday from a late-stage clinical trial which showed 100% protection against severe or critical COVID-19 and 75% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 globally. The results of the study have not yet been peer reviewed.

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U.S. surpasses 675,000 COVID-19 deaths, about as many Americans as 1918-19 flu

BY Associated Press and Spectrum News Staff

The United States surpassed a grim COVID-19 milestone on Monday, one which drew a parallel to one of the worst pandemics in human history – the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 675,000 Americans, about as many as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, as of Monday afternoon, 675,446 Americans lost their lives to COVID-19, with more than 42 million coronavirus cases in the U.S.

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U.S. easing foreign travel restrictions, requiring vaccines

BY Associated Press and Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 11:16 AM ET Sep. 20, 2021

President Joe Biden will ease foreign travel restrictions into the U.S. beginning in November, when his administration will require all foreign nationals flying into the country to be fully vaccinated.

The news was first reported by the Financial Times.

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Pfizer and BioNTech say COVID-19 vaccine is safe, generates 'robust' antibody response in kids ages 5 to 11

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 11:05 AM ET Sep. 20, 2021

Drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech announced Monday that their COVID-19 vaccine is safe and generated "robust neutralizing antibody responses" in children ages 5-11 in a Phase 2/3 trial, a major step toward authorization for that key age group.

The trial data has not yet been peer reviewed, but the companies plan to "submit data from the full Phase 3 trial for scientific peer-reviewed publication."

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FDA panel recommends Pfizer COVID-19 boosters for people 65 and older and those at high risk

BY Ryan Chatelain
UPDATED 6:37 PM ET Sep. 17, 2021

The Food and Drug Administration’s independent panel on vaccines voted Friday to recommend booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Americans 65 years of age and older, and those at risk of severe disease.

The vote comes after an earlier vote, where they decided to not recommend booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for most Americans.

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Rural Ohio hospitals busy as COVID-19 spread worsens

BY Pete Grieve

Ohio — Rural hospitals in Ohio are busy with COVID-19 patients as less vaccinated communities face the latest wave of COVID-19.

In rural hospitals, one out of every three patients has COVID-19, while the rate is one in six statewide, according to hospital data.

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Health director: Ohio hospitals face 'dangerous strain' as COVID-19 surges

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio hospitals are facing “dangerous strain” from high COVID-19 volumes that continue to rise, Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Thursday.

“Hospitals are having to make difficult decisions and implement plans that alleviate that pressure on their systems and their staff,” Vanderhoff said. “Some have had to reschedule elective procedures. Some have diverted patients to other hospitals, or they've implemented patient visitation policies and, as we've heard, some have temporarily even reached their full capacity.”

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White House offers Nicki Minaj call to answer COVID-19 vaccine questions

BY Spectrum News Staff

After making waves earlier this week by posting a dubious, inaccurate claim about the COVID-19 vaccine to social media, rapper Nicki Minaj said Wednesday that she was invited to the White House — but an official later clarified that the “Super Bass” singer was offered a call to address her questions about the vaccine.

Minaj made headlines when she posted on Twitter to her more than 22 million followers that she was skipping the Met Gala — the star-studded, fashion-forward fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York — because of its vaccine requirement, citing her need to do more research on the shot.

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Masks required indoors in Dayton after City Commission vote

BY Pete Grieve

OHIO — Dayton officials reinstated an indoor mask mandate Wednesday through an ordinance approved by the City Commission.

Mayor Nan Whaley said it is unfortunate that masks are once again necessary, but she expressed optimism that the ordinance will allow the city to stay open.

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Cuyahoga County issues mask advisory as COVID cases continue to rise

BY Justin Boggs

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish issued a countywide mask advisory that strongly urges face coverings to be worn inside public buildings regardless of vaccination status.

The advisory stops short of a mask mandate, which some areas, including the city of Columbus, have implemented in recent days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages those who live in areas of high or substantial COVID-19 spread to wear face coverings while indoors. The CDC says that masks are effective at reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

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FDA releases Pfizer data making case for COVID-19 vaccine boosters

BY Ryan Chatelain

There is strong evidence that the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine wanes over time and that a booster shot is needed to keep people protected, according to data submitted by Pfizer to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA released the data Wednesday, two days before its committee of outside vaccine advisers will meet to discuss Pfizer’s application requesting approval to administer third dose of the shots.

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LOCAL RESOURCES
Symptoms

The 2019 novel coronavirus may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like:

  • cough
  • fever
  • trouble breathing and
  • pneumonia

The CDC believes symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.

(Source: NYS DOH)