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US Millions of Americans return to holiday travel; home COVID tests raise challenges for public health officials: Live updates

12:45  25 november  2021
12:45  25 november  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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  Washington Nationals sued by ex-employees over vaccine firing The Washington Nationals are being sued by two former employees who were fired for refusing to comply with the team’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Lawrence (Larry) Pardo and Brad Holman were pitching coaches in the Nats’ organization. The two refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine for religious reasons and were fired by the Nats as a result. The team instituted a mandate on Aug. 12 that went into effect on Sept. 10, leading to the firing of both men.Now the two have filed a lawsuit against the club, TMZ Sports reports.

Thousands of people traveling for the holidays this week will first test themselves for COVID-19 without a doctor, lab or any medical oversight.

While these quick home tests are hailed as a major convenience and a smart way to protect loved ones, they’ve also raised a significant challenge for public health officials. How can agencies comprehensively track cases and trends when many consumers don’t report home test results?

Federal and state health officials have worked since March 2020 to build capacity to test, report and keep tabs on COVID-19 cases. Public health officials say reporting cases is critical for spotting trends and detecting surges so hotspot communities can lessen risk and prepare hospitals for a rush of people seeking care.

This is why you can't find rapid at-home Covid tests in America

  This is why you can't find rapid at-home Covid tests in America While developing a rapid test that detects the coronavirus in someone's saliva, Blink Science, a Florida-based startup, heard something startling: The Food and Drug Administration had more than 3,000 emergency use authorization applications and didn't have the resources to get through them. © Andrew Aitchison/Getty Images Negative NHS Test and Trace COVID-19 Lateral Flow Tests used for routine home testing when someone is showing no signs of COVID-19. These tests have all been used and show the person who has taken them has tested negative for COVID-19, photo taken on the 13th, May, 2021 in Folkestone, United Kingdom.

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But it's unclear how often customers report results from the dozen authorized home coronavirus tests that typically deliver results in 15 minutes outside a lab or doctor’s office. And public health's data blind spot is poised to grow larger.

Private test manufacturers already make more home antigen tests than standard laboratory tests — and the gap could nearly double next month as new home tests flood the market.

— Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY

Also in the news:

►Beginning Monday, Massachusetts hospitals will have to cut back on non-urgent scheduled procedures due to staffing shortages and longer patient stays, according to the state’s health authorities.

Hanukkah 2021: When it is and what to know (no, it's not the 'Jewish Christmas')

  Hanukkah 2021: When it is and what to know (no, it's not the 'Jewish Christmas') Known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C. The event occurred when Jews rose up against Greek-Syrian rulers in the Maccabean Revolt and drove them out of Jerusalem, according to the History Channel. To mark their victory, Jews wanted to reclaim the temple and light its menorah, but only found enough pure olive oil for one day, according to Chabad.org. That one-day supply lasted eight and is considered a miracle in Jewish faith. Every year, Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of Kislev, a month in the Hebrew calendar.

►The number of air travelers this week is expected to approach or even exceed pre-pandemic levels, and auto club AAA predicts that 48.3 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday period.

►More than 100 children at a vaccination event in Iowa on Saturday were given the incorrect dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, according to a statement from the hospital. A MercyOne spokesperson said there are no significant health risks associated with the larger dose, just a likelihood the children will have more severe versions of the common vaccine side effects

????Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 48 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 775,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 259 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 196 million Americans — 59.1% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

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Travelers wait in a line while entering a security checkpoint at Logan International Airport, in Boston. © Steven Senne, AP Images Travelers wait in a line while entering a security checkpoint at Logan International Airport, in Boston.

????What we're reading: During COVID, they believed home was safer than school. Now some NYC parents are accused of neglect.

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White House: Most federal workers have complied with vaccine mandate

Just over nine out of ten federal employees have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the required deadline, the Biden administration announced Wednesday when releasing agency-by-agency vaccination rates.

Those rates were as high as 97.8% at the Agency for International Development. Workers at the Agriculture Department had the lowest rate: 86.1%.

Federal employees had until the end of Monday to get vaccinated or request a medical or religious exemption. Unlike a rule the Biden administration wants to impose on private employers, federal workers are not allowed to opt out of the vaccine requirement if they agree to weekly testing.

Fact check: Kids can send letters to Santa, receive gifts through USPS 'Operation Santa'

  Fact check: Kids can send letters to Santa, receive gifts through USPS 'Operation Santa' Since Nov. 1, children around the country can send their Christmas letters to Santa as part of a program coordinated by the USPS.But some Americans may not be able to afford gifts this year, as was the case in 2020 when nearly one in three reported skipping gift-giving due to COVID-19.

Workers who are not in the process of getting vaccinated or seeking an exemption will begin a "period of education and counseling, followed by additional enforcement steps," according to the White House.

-- Maureen Groppe and Michael Collins, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Millions of Americans return to holiday travel; home COVID tests raise challenges for public health officials: Live updates

Blaming COVID: Biden sees common culprit for country's woes .
WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation is soaring, businesses are struggling to hire and President Joe Biden’s poll numbers have been in free-fall. The White House sees a common culprit for it all: COVID-19. Biden’s team views the pandemic as the root cause of both the nation’s malaise and his own political woes. Finally controlling COVID-19, the White House believes, is the skeleton key to rejuvenating the country and reviving Biden’s own standing. ButBiden’s team views the pandemic as the root cause of both the nation’s malaise and his own political woes. Finally controlling COVID-19, the White House believes, is the skeleton key to rejuvenating the country and reviving Biden’s own standing.

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