fb-pixel Skip to main content

With fall here, academic models are predicting for coronavirus case counts to rise across the US as the virus attacks the unvaccinated, people gather inside in cooler weather, and immunity wanes among those who were vaccinated months ago.

Below, we’re gathering the latest news and updates on coronavirus in New England and beyond.

Hungary official: Employers can require vaccination for work — 6:15 a.m.

By The Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s government will allow private employers to require that their employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for work as the number of new infections and deaths in the country reaches levels not seen since a devastating pandemic surge last spring.


At a government news conference Thursday, the prime minister’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas announced that the central government would also opt to require vaccination for public employees, but that mayors in local municipalities could decide whether to impose the requirement.

By The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian capital on Thursday started a nonworking period intended to stem coronavirus infections as new daily cases and deaths from COVID-19 surged to all-time highs.

The government coronavirus task force reported 1,159 deaths in 24 hours, the largest daily tally since the pandemic began. It has brought the country’s official coronavirus death toll to 235,057, by far the highest in Europe.

The number of new daily cases rose by 40,096, topping a previous record reached earlier this week.

In a bid to contain the spread, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a nonworking period from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7 when most state organizations and private businesses are to suspend operations. He encouraged the most affected regions to start it sooner, and some introduced the measure earlier this week.

By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Israel must do more to break down vaccine resistance and implement tougher safeguards as foreign tourists start returning next month, or risk a fifth Covid-19 wave, public health experts are warning.

The increasingly urgent calls will be closely monitored worldwide as Israel has often been ahead of the curve in handling the coronavirus, from sweeping restrictions and vaccine programs to renewed outbreaks as its economy reopened. It’s in the vanguard again with the world’s first widespread booster program, which dramatically brought down a surge in cases generated by the delta variant, but it’s being warned of another critical juncture ahead.

By The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Truck driver Andriy Melnik never took the coronavirus seriously. With a friend, he bought a fake vaccination certificate so his travel documents would appear in order when he hauled cargo to other parts of Europe.

His view changed after the friend caught COVID-19 and ended up in an intensive care unit on a ventilator.

“It’s not a tall tale. I see that this disease kills, and strong immunity wouldn’t be enough -- only a vaccine can offer protection,” said Melnik, 42, as he waited in Kyiv to get his shot. “I’m really scared and I’m pleading with doctors to help me correct my mistake.”

By The Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia advised its nationals traveling overseas on Thursday to “exercise a high degree of caution” as it prepares to open its borders for the first time in 19 months.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reinstated its travel advice for 177 countries and territories ahead of fully vaccinated Australians becoming free to travel from Monday.

No destination has been given a risk assessment lower than the second-tier warning: “Exercise a high degree of caution.”

The vast majority of Australian permanent residents and citizens have been stranded in the island nation since March last year by some of the most draconian pandemic restrictions of any democracy. They had to request exemptions from the ban and demonstrate exceptional circumstances. Most requests were rejected or approved too late for Australians to reach death beds or funerals. Travel to and from Australia for tourism has never been allowed.

By The New York Times

The trip began in Shanghai, where the couple, both former professors, joined a tour group of other retirees. They traveled through Gansu province and Inner Mongolia, staying at a bed-and-breakfast and eating three times at the same lamb chop restaurant. Flying south to Xi’an, they dropped into a 1,300-year-old temple. Their fellow tour group members checked out an art museum, strolled through parks and visited friends.

Then, on Oct. 16, the day they had planned to visit the Terracotta Warriors, the couple tested positive for the coronavirus.

Since then, China has locked down a city of 4 million, as well as several smaller cities and parts of Beijing, to contain a fresh outbreak that has infected more than 240 people in at least 11 provinces and regions. The authorities have shuttered schools and tourist sites. Government websites have detailed every movement of the unlucky couple and their sprawling web of contacts, including what time they checked into hotels and on which floors of restaurants they sat.

By Bloomberg

Singapore’s COVID-19 daily case count surged above 5,000 for the first time due to an unusual spike within a few hours, which health ministry officials are looking into.

A total of 5,324 new cases were detected as of 12 p.m. Wednesday, with 4,651 in the community and 661 in the migrant-worker dormitories, the Ministry of Health said in its daily status report. There are 66 critically ill patients who are intubated in intensive-care units, and 76 unstable and under close monitoring.

“The infection numbers are unusually high today, mostly due to many COVID-positive cases detected by the testing laboratories within a few hours in the afternoon,” the release said. “MOH is looking into this unusual surge in cases within a relatively short window, and closely monitoring the trends for the next few days.”

By The Associated Press

New Zealand officials said Thursday they will gradually loosen their border quarantine requirements, which have been among the toughest in the world throughout the pandemic.

But while the changes will make it easier for New Zealanders stranded abroad to return home, officials gave no date for when tourists might be welcomed back. That change is likely still months away.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that from next month, most people arriving in New Zealand would need to spend seven days in a quarantine hotel run by the military, half the previous requirement.Some immunocompromised people may get 4th COVID vaccine dose — 9:26 p.m.

By The New York Times

Some U.S. adults with weakened immune systems who received a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccine authorized just for them will become eligible for a fourth shot as a booster next year, according to updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“In such situations, people who are moderately and severely immunocompromised may receive a total of four vaccine doses,” with the fourth coming at least six months after the third, the CDC guidelines said.

In August, federal regulators cleared a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for some immunocompromised recipients of those vaccines, instructing them to get it at least 28 days after their second shot. Federal agencies said studies have shown that those people may not be adequately protected by just two shots.

Associated Press

A cheap antidepressant reduced the need for hospitalization among high-risk adults with COVID-19 in a study hunting for existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat coronavirus.

Researchers tested the pill used for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder because it was known to reduce inflammation and looked promising in smaller studies.

They’ve shared the results with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which publishes treatment guidelines, and they hope for a World Health Organization recommendation.

The pill, called fluvoxamine, would cost $4 for a course of COVID-19 treatment. By comparison, antibody IV treatments cost about $2,000 and Merck’s experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 is about $700 per course. Some experts predict various treatments eventually will be used in combination to fight the coronavirus.

Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled up his sleeve Wednesday and received a coronavirus vaccine booster shot, a move he encouraged others to take as the state heads into the time of year that in 2020 ushered in the deadliest spike of COVID-19 cases.

Much has changed since then — 88% of those 18 and older in California have received at least one dose of a vaccine that didn’t exist last fall and millions have survived contracting the virus and have a level of natural immunity, though it’s unclear for how long.

Still, millions are not vaccinated and new cases and hospitalizations have flattened after a steady two-month decline that saw California boast the nation’s lowest infection rate. State models show a gradual increase in hospitalizations in the next month.

By The Associated Press

New Orleans is largely ending a mandate requiring residents and visitors wear masks indoors as infections of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continue to fall, the city’s mayor announced Wednesday.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a news release the mandate will be lifted Friday, with some exceptions: Masks will still be required in healthcare facilities, on public transportation and in K-12 schools.

That comes as the city slowly revives some of the large-scale events that it was known for before the pandemic. On Saturday thousands crowded city streets for the first large parade — Krewe of Boo — since Mardi Gras 2020. The 2020 parades were largely considered fuel for New Orleans becoming an early virus epicenter. Music festivals and parades that normally draw hundreds of thousands of people, including this year’s Mardi Gras, were canceled.

But it increasingly looks as if the city will host Mardi Gras parades next year. On Friday, Cantrell said the parades will go ahead if there’s no dramatic rise in coronavirus infections.

By The Associated Press

Twenty-one Republican state attorneys general sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday saying they think his COVID-19 vaccination mandate for federal contractors “stands on shaky legal ground,” is confusing to contractors and could exacerbate supply-chain problems.

They wrote that companies could be blacklisted for federal contracts unless they get their workers vaccinated on “an unworkable timeline.”

“We strongly urge you to instruct agencies to cease implementing the mandate or, at a minimum, to provide clarity to agencies and federal contractors across the country and delay the mandate’s compliance date,” said the letter signed by attorneys general from Texas, Nevada, Mississippi, Alaska and other states.

Republican officials have already threatened to sue over the order that Biden issued Sept. 9. Some legal experts have said they think the Biden administration is on strong legal footing with the mandates to protect public safety.

The administration is expected to release details soon about implementing the mandate. Biden has said companies with at least 100 employees will have to require all their employees be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. The mandate for federal contractors goes into effect in December, and it does not have a testing option.

By The Associated Press

A New York judge on Wednesday refused to pause a vaccine mandate set to take effect Friday for the city’s municipal workforce, denying a police union’s request for a temporarily restraining order.

Judge Lizette Colon ruled that the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate can take effect as scheduled while also ordering city officials to appear in court Nov. 12 to defend the requirement against a union lawsuit seeking to have it declared illegal.

Colon, whose court is on Staten Island, ruled hours after hearing arguments from lawyers for the Police Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, and the city, which prevailed in arguing the mandate should be implemented without delay.

Police officers, firefighters, garbage collectors and most other city workers must show proof that they’ve gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 5 p.m. Friday. Workers who don’t comply will be put on unpaid leave starting Nov. 1. Previously, city workers were able to show proof of a negative test to stay on the job.

By The Associated Press

The state of Connecticut expects to have nearly 100,000 kid-size doses of Pfizer’s shots for 5- to 11-year-olds ready to begin vaccinating children as early as Nov. 4, pending federal recommendations and approvals.

The state has ordered 51,600 doses while pharmacies are expected to receive 44,700 in the first allocation, Department of Public Health spokesman Christopher Boyle said Wednesday. There are approximately 280,000 children ages 5-11 in the state. Additional allocations are expected in the coming weeks.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Tuesday voted unanimously, with one abstention, that the vaccine’s benefits in preventing COVID-19 in that age group outweigh any potential risks. If the FDA concurs in the coming days, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to decide next week whether to recommend the shots and which youngsters should get them.

Connecticut has lined up various ways for children and families to receive a dose once that recommendation is made. Hundreds of pediatricians and pharmacies across the state will be offering the shot. Pharmacies have launched special training sessions for their staff on how to administer vaccines for younger children.

By The New York Times

Pregnant and breastfeeding women respond to the first dose of the coronavirus vaccines more slowly than other women, and mount a less potent defense against the virus, according to a new study. After the second dose, however, their response looks almost normal.

By Bloomberg

A requirement for federal workers and contractors to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 -- which would affect a number of transportation companies that work with the US government -- won’t exacerbate a backlog of shipping and deliveries, according to the Biden administration.

“The requirements for federal workers and contractors will not cause disruption,” Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, said at a Wednesday briefing for reporters.

Organizations that have instituted vaccine mandates have seen overwhelming compliance, and those who refuse will go through education and counseling before any enforcement, Zients added.

Some industry groups and firms have warned that the vaccine requirement would cause further transportation disruptions and undercut Biden’s ability to smooth out bottlenecks in the supply chain, and called for exemptions or delays. The U.S. continues to grapple with backlogs at ports and delays in shipments, which pose a political threat to Biden.

The vaccination requirement for federal workers takes effect on Nov. 22, while the rule for contractors kicks in on Dec. 8.

By The New York Times

The health minister of Australia announced Wednesday that fully vaccinated residents would finally be allowed to travel abroad starting Nov. 1, a year and a half after borders were closed to most ingoing and outgoing travel.

“Fully vaccinated Australians will not require an exemption to depart Australia,” Greg Hunt, the country’s health minister, told reporters in Canberra. He added that they would also be able to return without restrictions.

The eased restrictions will be the first stage in Australia’s plan to reopen its international borders since slamming them shut March 20, 2020, separating families and leaving thousands of Australians stranded overseas.

By Brian Amaral, Globe Staff

Westerly on Wednesday launched Rhode Island’s first COVID test-to-stay pilot program, which will allow unvaccinated students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade to stay in school after an in-school COVID-19 exposure if they test negative for the virus.

By Anissa Gardizy, Globe Staff

As the deadline for the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors looms, the chief executive officer of Raytheon Technologies said the company could “potentially lose several thousand people” who don’t plan to get vaccinated.

By Bloomberg

New Zealand’s ambitious plan to vaccinate 90% of people against Covid-19 before re-opening to the world may not be enough to protect one of its most vulnerable groups from the deadly virus: the indigenous Maori population.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s roadmap to begin freeing the country from lockdowns and opening the border centers on her vaccination target being met. But because Maori account for only 17% of New Zealand’s five million people, it could be achieved with vaccination rates among tangata whenua -- the people of the land -- still lagging far behind.

The statistics lay it bare: Just 49% of Maori are fully vaccinated, the lowest rate of any major ethnic group in the country and well below the 72% figure for the entire eligible population.

“Maori will be blamed for being slow, for being laggards, for being willful. This is not true,” said John Tamihere, Chief Executive of West Auckland Maori community organization the Waipareira Trust. “Vaccines in poor communities are not their priority. They are just trying to put one foot in front of the other. Those communities are deeply suspicious of anything to do with the state.”

Easing restrictions when a substantial number of Maori are still unvaccinated could exacerbate the health, social and economic gaps that continue to exist 181 years after a treaty with the colonizing British assured them of equal treatment. The Maori Party, which has two members of parliament, has slated the approach as reckless and dangerous by likening it to the Netflix program “Squid Game,” where poor people lose their lives in contests.

By The Associated Press

Europe stood out as the only major region worldwide to report an increase in both coronavirus cases and deaths over the last week, with double-digit percentage increases in each, the United Nations’ health agency said on Wednesday.

The World Health Organization said that cases in its 53-country European region, which stretches as far east as several former Soviet republics in central Asia, recorded an 18% increase in COVID-19 cases over the last week — a fourth straight weekly increase for the area.

In WHO’s weekly epidemiological report on COVID-19, Europe also saw a 14% increase in deaths. That amounted to more than 1.6 million new cases and over 21,000 deaths.

The United States tallied the largest number of new cases over the last seven days -- nearly 513,000 new cases, though that was a 12% drop from the previous week – and over 11,600 deaths, which was about the same number as the previous week, WHO said.

By The New York Times

Merck has granted a royalty-free license for its promising COVID-19 pill to a United Nations-backed nonprofit in a deal that would allow the drug to be manufactured and sold cheaply in the poorest nations, where vaccines for the coronavirus are in devastatingly short supply.

The agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool, an organization that works to make medical treatment and technologies globally accessible, will allow companies in 105 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, to sublicense the formulation for the antiviral pill, called molnupiravir, and begin making it.

Merck reported this month that the drug halved the rate of hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk COVID patients in a large clinical trial. Affluent nations, including the United States, have rushed to negotiate deals to buy the drug, tying up large portions of the supply even before it has been approved by regulators and raising concerns that poor countries would be shut out of access to the medicine, much as they have been for vaccines.

Treatment-access advocates welcomed the new deal, which was announced Wednesday morning, calling it an unusual step for a major Western pharmaceutical company.

“The Merck license is a very good and meaningful protection for people living in countries where more than half of the world’s population lives,” said James Love, who leads Knowledge Ecology International, a nonprofit research organization. “It will make a difference.”

By Bloomberg

At least 59,000 meatpacking workers contracted the coronavirus in the first year of the pandemic as the virus rapidly spread in plants’ cramped conditions, according to internal documents from five major meat conglomerates obtained by a U.S. House subcommittee investigating the coronavirus response.

By The Associated Press

Slovenia’s health minister on Wednesday warned that the country could face a nightmare scenario if it does not contain the virus outbreak raging in the small Alpine nation and other low-vaccination countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Health Minister Janez Poklukar said hospital beds have been filling up as the country logged the highest number of daily cases since January. With more than 3,000 confirmed infections in the past 24 hours, Poklukar said a lockdown is looming.

“While we watched with fear at neighboring Italy at the start of the epidemic, we are now at a turning point because of low vaccination rates and we could easily have a Bergamo scenario,” Poklukar said, evoking the hardest-hit Italian city last year.

Officials say Slovenia has fully vaccinated around 53% of its 2 million people. Authorities plan to open more COVID-19 wards in the European Union nation as intensive care units are 92% full, Poklukar said.

By Bloomberg

Ocugen Inc., a biotechnology company developing gene therapies to treat eye disorders, is asking for permission to test a Covid-19 vaccine developed in India in the U.S.

The Malvern, Pennsylvania-based company submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration to initiate a final-stage trial of Covaxin, the shot developed by India’s Bharat Biotech International Ltd., in several hundred Americans. Ocugen rose 1.9% in U.S. premarket trading.

While Bharat’s shot is already being administered in 17 countries, it may find the U.S. a difficult market to crack. Unlike messenger RNA shots from Moderna Inc. and the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE partnership, Covaxin uses a traditional, inactivated-virus technology. Those mRNA shots prevent symptomatic Covid in more than 90% of recipients, and Covaxin’s efficacy has been closer to 78% in trials.

Still, some Americans may want a vaccine that uses a more time-worn technique, rather than mRNA or the viral vector that powers Johnson & Johnson’s Covid inoculation. Some vaccine-hesitant people have said that the new immunization techniques were developed too quickly.

“We are very excited to take this next step in the development of Covaxin, which we hope will bring us closer to introducing a different type of Covid-19 vaccine to the American public,” Shankar Musunuri, Ocugen’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, said in the statement.

By Alexa Gagosz, Globe Staff

Just a day after the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted unanimously, with one abstention, to begin administering doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, the Rhode Island vaccine subcommittee said the state is planning for kids to begin receiving doses on Nov. 4.

By The Associated Press

Sweden, which has stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response to the pandemic, announced Wednesday it will be offering a third vaccine shot to people 65 and over as well as to health care workers and nursing home staff.

Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren said 1.5 million Swedes will receive a booster dose six months after their second vaccine shot. Johan Carlson, head of the Public Health Agency of Sweden, added that everyone down to age 16 will eventually be offered a third jab.

Sweden has not gone into a lockdown or closed businesses, relying instead on citizens’ sense of civic duty to control infections. On Tuesday the country surpassed 15,000 virus-related deaths.

By The Associated Press

The Vermont Agency of Education is extending until January a recommendation that schools require students to wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Education Secretary Daniel French said Tuesday the goal of extending the program is to allow time for younger students to be vaccinated, if, as expected, vaccines are approved in the coming weeks for children ages 5 to 11. The measure would also keep current COVID-19 mitigation measures in place through the holidays.

The underlying proposal would allow schools to lift a mask mandate once 80% of the students in a school have been vaccinated.

“This vaccination effort not only will keep our kids safe, but also be, I think, a game changer in terms of our operating elementary schools in particular and managing the cases at the younger grades,” French said during the weekly virus briefing.

While the mask requirements are voluntary, French and other state officials have said that all but one school in the state was following the school mask guidance. On Tuesday officials also announced the guidance for school sports during the winter season.

Among the state’s recommendations are that all participants be vaccinated against COVID-19, but it is not required.

By The Washington Post

China’s capital is experiencing its worst Covid outbreak in more than eight months, fueled by tourists returning from northern provinces where the fall colors were in full bloom.

Beijing has reported about 20 infections so far in the latest flare-up, which was initially tied to a couple of retired university lecturers from Shanghai who went on a road trip through the nation’s scenic northwest in early October. A second couple from Beijing was so set on having fun once they returned that they ignored persistent fevers and ultimately exposed hundreds of people to the virus.

The latest eruption was in part set off by the second couple who failed to report to Beijing’s health authorities in a timely fashion and played mahjong with friends despite having high fevers. The initial cluster of Covid infections spiraled into a nationwide outbreak in less than a week’s time.

The situation in the closely-guarded capital city is the worst it’s been since an outbreak that started in a residential compound in a southern suburb spread to more than 30 people. Before that, a flare-up tied to a fresh produce market in June 2020 ultimately led to more than 300 infections.

The Associated Press

A federal judge has rejected a bid by pilots to block Southwest Airlines from imposing a vaccine mandate, saying the airline is within its power to require vaccination as a safety measure.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn denied the request by the airline’s pilot union to issue a temporary restraining order against the airline’s requirement.

The judge said Tuesday that Southwest is within its authority to require vaccinations to improve safety and maintain its operations.

Southwest Airlines asked its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to comply with a Biden administration requirement for federal contractors including airlines that have contracts with the government.

In recent days, the airline has weakened the requirement by saying workers who fail to comply won’t be fired. Southwest has openly encouraged employees to ask for a medical or religious exemption from being vaccinated if they object to getting the shots.

Dallas-based Southwest is giving employees until Nov. 24 to provide proof of vaccination or request an exemption.

The Associated Press

More than 75% of Maine’s eligible population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

About 70% of the entire population is fully vaccinated, state data said Wednesday. That figure includes residents too young to get shots. Vaccinations for children younger than 12 are expected to potentially become available early in November.

There is still some geographic disparity in the state’s vaccination rates. Nearly 90% of eligible people are vaccinated in Cumberland County, but the rate is as low as 64% in more rural counties such as Piscataquis and Somerset, state records said. However, the state has one of the highest rates in the country as a whole.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said Monday that residents should get a flu shot as well because “it’s more important than ever to take care of your health and keep the people you love safe.”

The Associated Press

Vietnam on Wednesday started to vaccinate children as part of an effort to reopen schools after more than half a year of closures due to COVID-19.

About 1,500 teenagers between 16 and 17 years old in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam were among the first to receive jabs before the inoculation program is rolled out nationwide in November, the health ministry said on its website.

During the first phase, Vietnam has only approved the Pfizer vaccine for children. Parents or guardians must sign a consent form for their children to be vaccinated, the report said.

“Vaccination safety for children is the top priority,” health minister Nguyen Thanh Long said during a meeting on Tuesday ahead of the launch.

Last week, the ministry approved vaccinations for children between 12 and 17 years old, with older teens in more populated cities receiving priority for the first doses. There are about 14 million Vietnamese children in that age range.

About 55% of Vietnam’s 98 million people have received COVID-19 vaccine jabs, but only half of them have been fully vaccinated with both doses.

The Associated Press

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated that unvaccinated tennis players will be allowed to enter the country for the Australian Open provided they undergo two weeks in hotel quarantine.

Morrison on Wednesday moved to clarify the border situation a week after his immigration minister suggested there’d be a no jab, no visa policy for the tournament next January.

Morrison told Australian television networks there are exemptions to the strict COVID-19 pandemic international border protection rules for those who qualify under skilled worker or economic benefit criteria.

He said the ultimate decision was for the state of Victoria, which hosts the Australian Open at Melbourne Park. Victoria has a mandatory vaccination policy in place for athletes competing in domestic leagues.

Australia is preparing to re-open its international borders next month for the first time since the global pandemic started last year, but it’ll be a gradual, state-by-state process and will depend on vaccination rates across the country. Fully vaccinated people will have fewer restrictions in Australia than those who are not.

Tennis stars who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 are set to be allowed to travel to Australia from Dec. 1 and, after testing negative to the coronavirus, will not have to quarantine ahead of the Jan. 17-30 Grand Slam event.

By Kay Lazar, Globe Staff

A new strain of the COVID-19 virus, dubbed Delta-plus in the media, is increasingly infecting people in the United Kingdom, raising concerns among scientists that it could rekindle the pandemic here just as the virus seems to be receding.

So far, only a handful of Delta-plus cases have been identified in Massachusetts and only about 130 in the whole United States, vanishingly small numbers that suggest it’s not a major threat. However, scientists say it’s crucial to remain vigilant, saying there’s evidence that the new strain, known officially as Delta AY.4.2, may be 15 percent more transmissible than its parent, the Delta variant.

By Danny McDonald, Globe Staff

More than 200 City of Boston workers were placed on unpaid leave Tuesday for their noncompliance with COVID-19 requirements, meaning they failed to either verify their vaccination status or show proof of a weekly, negative test for the virus.

The total number of city workers on unpaid leave for violating the policy remains north of 800. Acting Mayor Kim Janey announced a vaccine mandate for the city workforce, which includes more than 18,000 employees, in August. At the time, she emphasized that vaccinations were key to the city’s battle against the pandemic. The new requirement took effect in phases, with different groups of workers having to comply by different dates.

By The Associated Press

Louisiana is ending its statewide indoor mask mandate after emerging from its latest and worst coronavirus spike of the pandemic and seeing a sharp decline in new COVID-19 infections, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday.

The decision marks one of the first mask mandates enacted for the delta variant-fueled outbreak to be scrapped.

“I stand here today optimistic, relieved that the worst of the fourth surge is very clearly behind us now,” Edwards said.

But while the Democratic governor is lifting the mask requirement for grocery stores, restaurants, bars and other sites, he’s keeping some face-covering rules in place for Louisiana’s K-12 schools. Edwards said children have greater exposure risks, with students under 12 unable to yet get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

School districts that maintain tight quarantine regulations for students who come into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 won’t be required to have a mask mandate. Those districts that don’t require all exposed students to be sent home will have to keep students masked up.

The new regulations take effect Wednesday.

By Brian Amaral, Globe Staff

Eleanor Slater Hospital’s Zambarano unit in Burrillville is closing to visitors because two staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the state announced Tuesday.

The state-run facility was one of dozens in the state that did not meet Rhode Island’s Oct. 1 vaccine requirement deadline for health care workers. The state could not immediately say if the two staffers were vaccinated or not.

By Amanda Kaufman, Globe Staff

Massachusetts on Tuesday reported 3,078 more COVID-19 cases among fully vaccinated people since last week, bringing the total since the beginning of the vaccination campaign to 51,007 cases, or 1.08 percent of all fully vaccinated people.

The Department of Public Health also reported 35 more COVID-19 deaths among fully vaccinated people, bringing the total to 406 deaths among those fully vaccinated. The number of breakthrough deaths represents a tiny fraction of all vaccinated people and underscores the protection the vaccines provide against severe illness and death.

By The Associated Press

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday he wouldn’t reimpose a state of emergency that would authorize him to put a statewide mask mandate back in place as the delta variant has driven an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Speaking at the weekly briefing about the state’s response to the pandemic, Scott said he doesn’t want to overuse the state of emergency power he has as governor.

“There’s a time and a place for a state of emergency and I can assure you this isn’t it,” Scott said. “And I believe that we’ll get through this with all the measures, all the mitigation measures we put into place and doing all the right things and taking some self-responsibility. If I thought that the state of emergency would be helpful in this case, I’d impose it.”

Scott said he’s also more optimistic about the future of the pandemic then he has been in weeks: Booster shots have been approved for most people over age 18 who have already been vaccinated, the federal government is expected to authorize in the coming weeks vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 and COVID-19 case numbers are starting to decrease across the country and in Vermont.

Statistics released Tuesday show that the number of cases in Vermont dropped 15% in the last week and 7% in the last two weeks.

“We’ll get through this,” he said.

By The Associated Press

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson disclosed Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing mild symptoms after being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

In a statement, Johnson said he was tested for the coronavirus after he began feeling ill late Monday and canceled his Tuesday schedule.

He said his wife, Nikki, who also is fully vaccinated, tested negative for the coronavirus.

Johnson said he had canceled his engagements for the rest of the week. He also said he had notified his recent contacts and the school attended by his sons, who are not yet eligible for vaccination.

“I appreciate your thoughts and prayers on behalf of my family, and I look forward to a speedy recovery so I can get back to work with my colleagues on behalf of the people of Dallas,” Johnson said. “In addition, I want to take this opportunity to again encourage residents of Dallas to get vaccinated if they have not yet done so — and to receive a booster shot when they are eligible. The vaccines have saved lives and can make breakthrough cases, like mine, far less severe.”

By The Associated Press

Florida’s surgeon general said conversations while wearing masks aren’t productive and argued that he offered to meet elsewhere when a state senator didn’t let him in her office without a mask, citing a serious health condition.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo said in a statement released Tuesday that he offered to meet outside or in a hallway for his scheduled meeting last week with Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky. He said he doesn’t believe he can communicate clearly and effectively while wearing a mask. Polsky was not satisfied, he said.

The incident drew broad attention over the weekend after Polsky revealed that she had breast cancer, though at the time of the meeting last Wednesday she had told Lapado only that she had a serious health condition. Ladapo said in his statement that he’s “saddened” by that news and wished her “blessings and strength.”

Ladapo had asked to meet her in Tallahassee as he seeks confirmation in the Senate. Polsky did not comment on the statement, saying she had not read it as she had been in a meeting.

Democrats have voiced their opposition to the appointment of Ladapo in September by Gov. Ron DeSantis. A day after he was named to the post, Ladapo signed rules allowing parents to decide whether their children quarantine or stay in school after being exposed to COVID-19.

The tense exchange at the senator’s office also drew criticism from the GOP. The Republican leader of the Florida Senate, Walter Simpson, said in a memo that it was disappointing, and that visitors should respect masking and social distancing requests of senators and staff within their offices even though the building has no mask mandate.

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is challenging DeSantis in the gubernatorial race next year, said he was joining a group of local doctors to call for Ladapo’s resignation.

DeSantis has opposed mask mandates in schools and said last week that he would call state lawmakers back to work early to pass legislation to fight vaccine mandates enacted by businesses.

By The New York Times

Dr. Deborah Birx, who helped run the coronavirus pandemic response for former President Donald Trump, told congressional investigators earlier this month that Trump’s White House failed to take steps that could have prevented tens of thousands of deaths.

By Felicia Gans, Globe Staff

Massachusetts education leaders have extended the universal mask mandate for most public schools through Jan. 15, 2022, the state announced on Tuesday.

By Bloomberg

The U.K. reported its highest daily death toll from coronavirus since the beginning of March, adding to fears that tighter restrictions might be needed this winter. The number of people hospitalized is also at the highest since that period.

Steadily increasing hospitalization and death rates have put pressure on the government to enact its “Plan B,” which could include mandatory face coverings and a recommendation to work from home.

Data released Tuesday showed that a further 263 people died within 28 days of a positive test, the most since March 3. There is usually an elevated number of deaths reported after a weekend due to backlogs, and the figures will also include data from Wales for 72 hours because of an error. Hospitalized patients totaled almost 8,700.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is urging the most vulnerable citizens to come forward for booster vaccinations. He faces pressure from opposition parties and health-care bosses to tighten restrictions ahead of what Johnson has said could be a tough winter for the health service.

By Bloomberg

Pfizer Inc.’s lower-dose Covid-19 vaccine for kids under 12 appears to offer protection across the board, company officials said, and the drug giant may look into offering lower doses for teens who now get the adult dose.

By The New York Times

A key federal advisory committee began discussing Tuesday whether to recommend that a pediatric dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine be offered to 5- to 11-year-olds, setting in motion a string of decisions that could lead to children getting shots as early as the end of next week.

By The Associated Press

Cambodia’s government announced plans Tuesday to reopen the country in several stages to fully vaccinated foreign tourists starting from the end of this month.

The program will allow visitors who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to skip being quarantined if they stay at least five days in designated areas, the Tourism Ministry announced.

The first such areas are two seaside provinces, Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, on the Gulf of Thailand.

On arrival, visitors must show proof they have been vaccinated and take a rapid results test for COVID-19. They can proceed without quarantine if the results are negative.

Siem Reap province, home to the famous Angkor temples, is to be added to the quarantine-free province list in January.

By The Associated Press

Estonia is considering new coronavirus restrictions on top of the ones that took effect a day ago but is seeking to avoid a general lockdown like the one neighboring Latvia has imposed to counter the rapid spread of the virus.

Health Minister Tanel Kiik told Estonian media that the government will discuss additional restrictions particularly ones aimed at boosting the tempo of vaccinations in the small European Union nation of 1.3 million, with a decision expected on Thursday.

“We have mapped out all the different kinds of ways the spread can move and infect. Certainly, the most important measure to improve the situation is getting vaccinated,” Kiik told Estonian public broadcaster ERR.

The Cabinet’s scientific council said it wouldn’t recommend imposing a lockdown and that schools should continue in-person classes.

Some 57% of Estonians were fully vaccinated by Tuesday, health officials said. Some 513 coronavirus patients are being treated in hospitals across Estonia and 1,190 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours with eight deaths.

By Bloomberg

Hospital admissions are declining sharply among U.S. children with Covid-19, even more than adults, quieting concerns for now that the return to school could trigger a major uptick in viral transmission.

Daily pediatric admissions with confirmed Covid have fallen 56% since the end of August to an average of about 0.2 per 100,000, according to Department of Health and Human Services data. Among adults, new admissions fell 54% to 2.1 per 100,000 in the same period, the data show.

Some schools dropped mask mandates this year under pressure from Republican governors, adding to public health experts’ concerns about returning to classrooms amid high viral transmission from the delta variant. Instead, the Delta wave has waned over the first two months of school. It’s unclear what will happen when the U.S. enters its traditional winter virus season.

Throughout the pandemic, kids have seen vastly fewer severe outcomes from the virus than adults. Although the absolute numbers are still small, they have made up a slightly larger share of total hospital patients in the past six months. That’s probably at least in part a reflection of the higher vaccine uptake among adults.

By The Associated Press

Maine health care centers are facing a staffing crunch during the COVID-19 pandemic, but vaccination mandates are not the cause, the chief of the largest health network in the state said Tuesday.

Maine Health Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mueller said during a news conference that the organization has a staff vacancy rate of about 10%. He described that level of staffing loss as “really, really difficult” for the organization, especially at a time when hospitals are full.

However, Mueller said, the shortage can be attributed to an aging workforce and workers leaving the industry due to the stress of working during the pandemic. He said the coming vaccine mandate will likely improve staffing because hospitals will lose fewer workers to illness.

“It’s very clear it helps to preserve and protect our workforce,” Mueller said, adding that 2% of workforce might leave when the state mandate goes into effect.

The state’s COVID-19 mandate for health workers goes into effect Oct. 29. It’s currently the subject of court challenges that have so far not overturned it.

By The Associated Press

The North Dakota Department of Health on Tuesday switched off comments on its social media accounts, saying it was doing so to combat the spread of misinformation.

The agency said in a statement Monday that its social media accounts “will continue to be a source for sharing verified public health information to help North Dakotans make informed decisions.” The comment ban “will be applied to all posts, and not be specific to any particular topic,” the agency said.

U.S. health officials have said misinformation on social media platforms has caused some to resist getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. A similar approach to North Dakota’s has been taken elsewhere, with the Mississippi State Department of Health announcing in July it was blocking comments on its Facebook posts that relate to COVID-19 because of misinformation.

North Dakota’s health department is a cabinet-level agency and its head serves at the discretion of the governor. Mike Nowatzki, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum’s spokesman, referred questions about the ban to the health department, which didn’t immediately return telephone calls Tuesday.

North Dakota has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S., with just over half of the population completing their required doses despite the widespread availability of shots.

The posts on the North Dakota health department’s Facebook page immediately following the announcement were mixed, with some people applauding the agency, while others complained it was a free speech infringement that discounted other viewpoints.

By Bloomberg

Denmark, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, has registered a rise in Covid-19 cases with several key indicators showing that the virus has accelerated in the past month.

The reproductive rate of the virus, known as the R rate, is now 1.2, up from 1 a week ago, which means the virus is spreading, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke tweeted on Tuesday.

The Nordic country has confirmed 1,253 new cases the past 24 hours, or more than double the daily number registered in the beginning of September when Denmark ended the remaining of its restrictions. About 200 people are currently hospitalized.

By The Associated Press

Sweden which has stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response to the pandemic has passed the threshold of 15,000 deaths with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to official figures released Tuesday.

Thomas Linden of the National Board of Health and Welfare, told Swedish public radio that it was difficult to say whether Sweden has an unusually high excess mortality due to the virus.

“Internationally, Sweden has not had a higher mortality rate. But if you compare with the other Nordic countries, we are significantly higher,” Linden told SR.

In comparison, Denmark has recorded 2,703 deaths, Norway 895 and Finland nearly 1,150. Each of those countries has slightly over half as many people as Sweden.

According to the Public Health Agency of Sweden, 15,002 people — 6,793 women and 8,209 men — have died with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Sweden had opted for keeping large sections of society open. It has not gone into lockdowns or closed businesses, relying instead on citizens’ sense of civic duty to control infections.

By The Associated Press

Two northern New Hampshire communities have issued temporary mask mandates as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Coos County.

The Berlin City Council and the Gorham Board of Selectmen met on Monday night. In Berlin, the City Council brought back an indoor mask mandate for at least 30 days, WMUR-TV reported. In Gorham, the board decided on an indoor mask mandate for two weeks, with plans to review it at the next meeting on Nov. 8.

Health officials in Coos County asked for the mandates. The test positivity rate in the county is at 14.8%, among the highest in New England.

“If you are in a car accident or if you have a heart attack or if you have other medical needs, the capacity of the health care system is really impaired at this point, and so we really need to take every action we can to preserve that capacity for us all,” said Ken Gordon, CEO of Coos County Family Health Services.

Berlin Fire Chief James Watkins said masks could help bring the virus under control.

“Frankly, a lot of people don’t want to, including myself. I don’t want to either,” he said. “However, I am trying to help everybody out.”

The Associated Press

Ukraine reported another record daily number of COVID-19 deaths Tuesday as vaccinations in the nation of 41 million people lags.

Ukraine’s Health Ministry registered 734 deaths in 24 hours, raising the country’s pandemic death toll to 64,936.

Ukrainians can freely choose between the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines, but just about 16% of the population has been fully vaccinated, Europe’s second-lowest rate after Armenia.

The government has responded to a steady rise in confirmed cases and deaths in recent weeks by tightening restrictions. Starting last Thursday, proof of vaccination against the coronavirus or a negative test was required to board planes, trains and long-distance buses.

The Associated Press

BRUSSELS (AP) — Coronavirus indicators are shooting upward in Belgium, pushing the government on Tuesday to consider re-imposing some pandemic measures that it only relaxed a few weeks ago.

Daily infections in the nation of 11 million increased 75% to reach 5,299 case on a daily basis last week. Hospitalizations have increased by 69% to reach 102 daily cases. Deaths have increased slightly, with an average of 13 a day.

To turn around this trend, the government and regional officials are set to decide later Tuesday to boost measures again, although stopping well short of a going into a lockdown. Indications are that authorities are looking at increased mandatory use of face masks and virus passports.

The urgency is such that the meeting has already been brought forward three days.

Requirements for the use of masks and some other measures were only relaxed early this month, and the easing could be partly turned back. Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, however, said that drastic restrictions were still out of the question.

“Bars and restaurants will remain open. Kids must go to school — it’s important. But maybe we will be going back to more face masks,” he told VRT network late Monday.

Similar discussions are being held in the neighboring Netherlands, where the government is seeking advice from experts on whether it needs to reintroduce pandemic restrictions amid sharply rising infection rates. The Netherlands has one of the fastest rising infection rates in Europe.

The Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Moderna says it will make up to 110 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine available to African countries.

Tuesday’s announcement says Moderna is prepared to deliver the first 15 million doses by the end of this year, with 35 million in the first quarter of 2022 and up to 60 million in the second quarter. It says “all doses are offered at Moderna’s lowest tiered price.”

The company called it “the first step in our long-term partnership with the African Union,” which has been outspoken about the need for many more COVID-19 vaccine doses. Africa and its 1.3 billion people remain the least-vaccinated region of the world against COVID-19, with just over 5% fully vaccinated.

Moderna said this agreement is separate from its deal with the global COVAX project to supply up to 500 million doses from late this year through 2022. COVAX aims to supply doses to low- and middle-income countries.

The Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s government said Tuesday it will expand a vaccine mandate to include thousands of workers who have close contact with their customers — including employees at restaurants, bars, gyms and hair salons.

The changes will mean that about 40% of all New Zealand workers will need to get fully vaccinated against the coronavirus or risk losing their jobs, up from about 15% previously.

Speaking with reporters, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she didn’t believe the new rules were an overreach of government power.

“This requirement means staff and customers are treated equally and it will play a big part in helping to minimize the spread of the virus in the highest-risk venues by reducing the potential for COVID to enter the business in the first place,” Ardern said.

Workers who had previously been told they needed to get their shots included teachers and health care professionals.

Tuesday’s announcement came just a few days after the government set a target of getting 90% of people aged 12 and over fully vaccinated in order to end the cycle of lockdowns.

Auckland, the largest city, has been in lockdown for more than two months after an outbreak of the delta variant.

As part of its plan to end lockdowns, New Zealand will also require people visiting high-traffic businesses to show vaccine passports to prove they’ve had their shots.

The conservative opposition National Party said there was no need for restrictions such as vaccine passports once vaccination targets were met.

“Some businesses will choose to require proof of vaccination. Others will not,” said opposition leader Judith Collins in a statement.

The Associated Press

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong will tighten COVID-19 restrictions despite a lack of local outbreaks to better align with China’s policies and increase chances of quarantine-free travel between the territory and mainland, leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday.

It will step up contact tracing, such as requiring the use of its LeaveHomeSafe app in government premises to record the coming and going of visitors. It will also tighten quarantine rules to exempt only emergency workers or those in essential industries such as logistics. Currently, those exempt from quarantine include airline crew, banking and insurance executives, directors of public companies, as well as crew members on cargo and passenger ships, among others.

Hong Kong has not had a major local outbreak since the beginning of the year, with virtually no local transmission in recent months. But it is largely closed to international travel, and travelers from countries deemed high-risk such as the U.S. must serve a 21-day quarantine.

The New York Times

Australia, home to the world’s longest lockdown, is scrapping quarantine requirements for vaccinated residents returning from overseas. New Zealand, famed for its commitment to a “Zero COVID” strategy, abandoned it this month. Around the world, people are vacationing, visiting family and resuming business trips across international borders.

Not China.

The country where the coronavirus pandemic began is also the only one in the world still trying to completely eradicate the virus within its borders. Officials have repeatedly dismissed the idea of living with the virus, citing China’s large population and their success in containment so far — even as the country has continued to record sporadic outbreaks, triggering mass testing and strict lockdowns.

New York Times

With less than three months to go before the 2022 Australian Open, confusion remains as to whether unvaccinated players will be able to participate in the marquee event.

Novak Djokovic, the reigning champion and a nine-time winner of the Australian Open, expressed uncertainty last week over whether he would attend the tournament if he were required to prove his vaccination status. His comments set off a flurry of speculation and contradictory remarks by government ministers and tennis officials.

“Things beings as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne,” Djokovic, who is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most men’s Grand Slam singles titles in a career, told Blic Sport. “I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not. It is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry.”

In June 2020, Djokovic tested positive for the coronavirus after hosting a tournament in Serbia and other Balkan nations, after which other players and coaches were also found to be infected.

In response to Djokovic’s comments, Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, said last week that unvaccinated players “will have to be double vaccinated to visit Australia.”

“That’s a universal application, not just to tennis players,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio Wednesday.

Confusion remains, however. While organizers of this year’s tournament are hoping all players can participate, they have not yet released any formal vaccination or quarantine guidelines for the athletes. And neither Australia’s federal government nor the government of Victoria, the state in which the tournament is held, has made a formal announcement about how or when international tennis players will be able to enter the country and what they can or can’t do once they’re allowed in.

New York Times

A year ago, Daniel Darling was following news reports about the development of the coronavirus vaccines with eager anticipation. His family had all had COVID-19 themselves, and his children had lost their beloved piano teacher, an otherwise healthy 50-year-old woman, to the virus. The pandemic was personal.

Eventually, vaccination became personal for Darling, too. In August, endorsing the shots from an evangelical perspective cost him his job as spokesman for the National Religious Broadcasters, a largely conservative group of some 1,000 members employed in Christian media. The news exploded not just in evangelical circles but also into the mainstream media, giving Darling a turn in the polarized news cycle that he had previously observed from the sideline.

“God has put me at the center of the storm,” Darling recalled thinking to himself in the moment. He was determined not to respond with vitriol. “Can I demonstrate forgiveness?” he wondered. “Can I make an appeal to Christian unity?”

Now, Darling has an answer, or at least the beginning of one. He has been named the director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, an appointment that was announced Monday. The center was established in 2007 but has been inactive since 2019. The Southern Baptist seminary hopes that under Darling the center will help shape evangelical conversations on a wide spectrum of political and cultural issues, from bedrock evangelical issues like abortion and religious liberty, to technology, race and immigration.

Almost as important to Darling is the tone in which he approaches those discussions. “I think you can have both courage and civility at the same time,” he said. “This incessant need to fight for and tear people down for sport is really unhealthy.”

Associated Press

Federal health officials on Monday extended for nearly three more months its rules that cruise ships must follow to sail during the pandemic.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the extension makes only “minor modifications” to rules already in effect. The agency said that after Jan. 15, it plans to move to a voluntary program for cruise companies to detect and control the spread of COVID-19 on their ships.

The current regulations, called a conditional sailing order, were scheduled to expire on Nov. 1.

The CDC imposed the first no-sail order on cruise lines in March 2020, after most companies sailing in U.S. waters had agreed to suspend voyages. The CDC issue technical guidelines for the industry five months later, and began approving trial sailings this spring.

Cruises have since sailed from Florida and other parts of the country. Most lines require adult passengers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

By The New York Times

Following a series of endorsements over the past month by scientific panels advising federal agencies, tens of millions of Americans are now eligible for booster shots of coronavirus vaccines.

But the recommendations — even those approved unanimously — mask significant dissent and disquiet among those advisers about the need for booster shots in the United States.

By The Associated Press

Ninety percent of adults in Rhode Islanders are now at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Dan McKee said Monday.

The Democrat said the state is also now one of the top states in terms of the percentage of its population that is fully vaccinated.

By The Associated Press

Belgium is poised to reinforce pandemic measures in an attempt to stunt a sharp increase of coronavirus cases, with officials indicating Monday that they are looked at increased mandatory use of face masks and virus passports.

The national government and regional authorities brought forward their COVID-19 coordination meeting by three days and will decide Tuesday how to counter the sudden surge of virus infections.

Requirements for the use of masks and some other measures were only relaxed early this month, and the easing could be partly turned back. Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, however, said that drastic restrictions were still out of the question.

“Bars and restaurants will remain open. Kids must go to school — it’s important. But maybe we will be going back to more face masks,” he told VRT network. He has said the nation of 11 million people is already in the fourth surge of the coronavirus in 1½ years.

One measure under consideration would require the use of the Corona passport, by which people must show they are fully vaccinated, had a recent negative virus test or recovered from COVID-19 within the previous six months.

By The Associated Press

New York City’s largest police union filed a lawsuit Monday to keep a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for police officers from going into effect, calling it a “draconian imposition.”

The Police Benevolent Association, which represents about 24,000 police officers in the New York Police Department, filed its lawsuit in state Supreme Court on Staten Island.

In the suit, the PBA said “the city has provided no explanation, much less a rational one, for the need to violate the autonomy and privacy of NYPD police officers in such a severe manner, on the threat of termination.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that the entire municipal workforce including police and firefighters must be vaccinated or be put on unpaid leave, with at least a first shot by Nov. 1.

Asked about the lawsuit, the city’s Law Department said in a statement, “Every effort to stop the city’s vaccine mandates has failed in court, and we believe this suit by the PBA will meet the same fate. The city’s vaccine mandates are lawful and keep New Yorkers safe. We’ll review the case.”

By The Associated Press

Tumbling COVID-19 case counts have some schools around the U.S. considering relaxing their mask rules, but deaths nationally have been ticking up over the past few weeks, some rural hospitals are showing signs of strain, and cold weather is setting in.

By The Associated Press

Two weeks before a new vaccination requirement kicks in for most foreign travelers to the U.S., the Biden administration detailed the new international COVID-19 air travel polices, including exemptions for kids, and new federal contact tracing requirements.

By The Associated Press

The European Medicines Agency said Monday that a booster dose of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine “can be considered” in people aged 18 and above.

In a statement, the EU drug regulator said its analysis had shown that a third dose given of Moderna’s vaccine — which is usually given in a two-dose schedule — at least six months after the second dose, led to an increase in antibody levels in adults whose levels were waning. The booster dose consists of half the dose normally given to adults.

The EMA said that currently available data suggest the incidence of side effects is similar to what is observed following the second dose of Moderna’s vaccine, which is known to cause temporary heart and chest inflammation in a small number of people.

“At national level, public health bodies may issue official recommendations on the use of booster doses, taking into account the local epidemiological situation,” the agency said in a statement.

By The Associated Press

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio separately received COVID-19 booster shots Monday as part of their efforts to promote widespread vaccinations.

The two Democrats, who received their shots at different events, were eligible because they had each received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine earlier this year.

De Blasio, 60, got a booster shot of the Moderna vaccine from city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi during the mayor’s regular online news briefing.

“Give me a boost, Dave,” de Blasio said.

Hochul, 63, got her booster at public ribbon cutting at the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Johnson City, near Binghamton.

“Didn’t even feel a thing,” she said to applause.

By The Associated Press

Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy says he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Nagy, who is vaccinated, announced the result during a Zoom call Monday minutes after his usual in-person session was switched.

“I feel pretty good,” he said from his car.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will run meetings that Nagy can’t conduct virtually.

League rules say vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic can return to the practice facility once they have two consecutive negative PCR tests taken at least 24 hours apart. If they are symptomatic, they need two negative tests taken at least 24 hours apart and must be symptom-free for 48 hours.

By The Associated Press

New Hampshire’s rejection of federal funding for vaccine outreach and other programs will further strain the state’s hospitals and delay the administration of COVID-19 vaccines to children, health care officials said Monday.

The Republican-led Executive Council, a five-member panel that approves state contracts, rejected $27 million in federal vaccination funding this month, although a legislative committee later approved accepting $4.7 million.

Jim Potter, executive vice president of the New Hampshire Medical Society, said pediatricians “desperately need” the money to begin vaccinating children.

“You’re going to have parents who are going to be delayed months in getting their kids vaccinated,” Potter said. “This is not so much about the rights of some individuals, it’s simply denying access to care to what I would say is the majority of parents of children who want the vaccine.”

Dr. Don Caruso, CEO at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene, said hospitals are struggling with a high volume of patients, many of whom delayed care during the pandemic and are coming in sicker. Some are cutting back on elective procedures, while intensive care patients are being moved around the state, he said, adding that staff members are exhausted and leaving the health care profession.

By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff

Millions of people still can’t get a COVID-19 vaccination booster, remaining ineligible because they fall outside the new guidelines approved by federal regulators. But experts say that if you find yourself in that position, don’t worry too much about getting that extra shot.

By The Associated Press

Connecticut state Rep. Michael DiMassa has resigned from the legislature after having been charged last week with misusing federal COVID-19 relief funds.

By Bloomberg

Covid-19 is more likely to cause rare neurological conditions than vaccines, according to a study published in the Nature Medicine journal.

By The Washington Post

It’s time to prepare your Halloween ensembles. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky encouraged Americans to get outside and relish the holiday.

By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff

Massachusetts had the third-highest rate of COVID-19 infections in the US by July of last year, according to a Northeastern University study that modeled how the coronavirus emerged on the nation’s coasts but spread most rapidly in the Northeast in the first wave.

By The Associated Press

The Dutch government is seeking advice from a panel of experts on whether it needs to reintroduce COVID-19 restrictions amid sharply rising infection rates, the health minister said Monday.

The Netherlands has one of the fastest-rising infection rates in Europe. The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases increased over the past two weeks from 13.43 new cases per 100,000 people to 29.27 new cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 24.

“It’s just going too fast. We have to face up to the fact that the numbers are rising faster and sooner than expected,” Health Minister Hugo De Jonge told reporters in The Hague. He said hospital admissions also are rising faster than anticipated when the government relaxed its lockdown last month.

“The Cabinet will have to think about extra measures,” he said.

The Netherlands ended almost all COVID-19 restrictions on Sept. 25, including an end to social distancing. At the same time, the government-mandated use of coronavirus health passes to get into bars, restaurants, cinemas, and other public venues.

De Jonge said that a press conference will be held next Tuesday to announce the next steps. The government had planned its press conference for next Friday.

More than 18,000 people in the Netherlands are confirmed to have died of COVID-19, though the true death toll is thought to be higher.

By Bloomberg

Financial incentives and other nudges by local governments and employers have failed to increase Covid-19 vaccinations among Americans who are hesitant about getting the shot, a new study shows.

What’s more, financial incentives and “negative messages” actually decreased vaccination rates among some groups, underscoring fears about a public backlash, according to the paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The pace of Covid-19 vaccinations climbed rapidly earlier this year as availability increased, with millions of adults getting the jab each day. However, that pace has slowed sharply. In the last week in the U.S., an average of about 800,000 doses per day were administered.

States and cities including California and Chicago have offered gift cards to encourage people to get the jab, while employers have offered a range of incentives including cash bonuses. Several states have run lotteries for people who get vaccinated, with prizes of $1 million or more. The NBER paper, based on surveys in Contra Costa County in California, found that public health messages did have a positive impact on vaccination intentions but no real impact on actual vaccination rates.

“Reaching a goal of very high vaccination rates likely requires much stronger policy levers, such as employer rules or government mandates,” wrote the authors, who include Tom Chang and Mireille Jacobson of the University of Southern California.

By The Associated Press

Slovakia extended tight coronavirus restrictions to more parts of the country on Monday as the latest surge of infections intensified.

The number of counties affected by the measures doubled in just one week, from five to 10. They are mostly located in northern Slovakia, on or near the border with Poland and the Czech Republic.

The measures include the closure of hotels, bars and restaurants, with people only allowed to buy meals at takeout windows. Fitness, wellness and aquatic centers also have been closed.

The maximum number allowed to attend public gatherings is reduced to 100 fully vaccinated people. It’s also mandatory to wear face coverings both indoors and outdoors.

Slovakia, which has a population of nearly 5.5 million people, is one of the countries in the European Union that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. It has registered around 457,431 cases and 12,917 deaths.

Almost 80% of 1,144 people who currently need hospitalization in Slovakia have been only partially vaccinated or haven’t received a shot at all.

By Bloomberg

Moderna said that its COVID-19 vaccine showed a strong immune response in younger children in a late-stage clinical trial.

By The Washington Post

Arizona has caught up to New York when it comes to reported deaths per capita - even though the latter was ravaged by the coronavirus early in the pandemic before treatments or vaccines were developed.

By Bloomberg

China plans to quarantine athletes competing at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics for 21 days if they have not been vaccinated, according to initial guidelines released Monday.

Exceptions may be granted for athletes and team officials on a case-by-case basis for medical reasons, according to the first version of the “Playbooks” that were released by the Beijing organizing committee, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee. These rules also apply to stakeholders including officials, sponsors and media.

This requirement is more stringent than what was asked of athletes at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo earlier this year. There, participants were “encouraged” to get vaccinated while not required to have been.

By The Washington Post

Nearly a week after announcing he had tested positive for a breakthrough covid-19 infection, Fox News host Neil Cavuto on Sunday pleaded with viewers to forget politics and get vaccinated.

“Take the political speaking points and toss them for now,” Cavuto, 63, said on Fox’s “MediaBuzz.” “I’m begging you - toss them and think of what’s good, not only for yourself, but for those around you.”

When he announced his diagnosis on Tuesday, Cavuto was outspoken about the importance of getting immunized. In a statement released by Fox News, he said doctors told him he would be in a “far more dire situation” had he not received the coronavirus vaccine, and “I’m surviving this because I did.”

In 1997, Cavuto was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease that can cause nerve damage, the Associated Press reported. Before that, he was treated for cancer. In 2016, he underwent open heart surgery. On Sunday’s show, he said his health history made him immunocompromised, and getting the vaccine could help others with weakened immune systems.

“In the end, if you can get vaccinated and think of someone else and think of what that could mean to them and their survivability from something like this, we’ll all be better off,” Cavuto said.

Cavuto’s comments sharply contrast with other Fox News hosts and contributors. Tucker Carlson, whose show is the most-watched on the network, has consistently cast doubt on the coronavirus vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. Hours before Cavuto begged viewers to take the vaccine, Fox contributor Lisa Boothe tweeted she was “doubling down” on declining the shots as a resistance to President Biden’s vaccine “tyranny.” Conservatives have spoke out against Biden’s vaccine requirements for federal employees and companies with more than 100 workers.

By Bloomberg

Indonesia is bracing for a potential upsurge in infections with almost 20 million people estimated to travel in Java and Bali for the year-end holidays.

Testing will be made mandatory on all modes of transport as tourist sites reopen, Luhut Panjaitan, coordinating minister for maritime and investment affairs who’s overseeing the pandemic response, said in his weekly briefing Monday. Currently, negative PCR test results are required for passengers traveling by air.

Restaurants and bars should also adhere to health protocols to help minimize the spread of the virus, he said. This follows reports that some establishments have allowed large crowds in without logging on to the government’s tracing app, while prohibiting photos or videos to avoid public scrutiny, said Panjaitan.

“We must not let our guard down today because of the low cases,” especially since Indonesia’s vaccine coverage is still low compared to its neighbors Singapore and Malaysia, Pandjaitan said.

The Southeast Asian nation is on alert as its previous Covid-19 spikes have been preceded by long holidays. It saw its worst wave of infections in the mid-year after millions of people traveled and gathered with families to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in May, helping accelerate the spread of the more infectious delta variant across the nation.

By The Associated Press

The pharmaceutical company Merck says it has asked the European Medicines Agency to authorize its COVID-19 antiviral treatment, the first pill that has been shown to treat the disease.

In a statement on Monday, Merck said the EU drug regulator had started an expedited licensing process for molnupiravir. If given the green light, it would be the first treatment for COVID-19 that does not need to be administered through needles or intravenous infusions.

Earlier this month, Merck asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to OK molnupiravir, and a decision is expected within weeks.

The company reported this month that the pill cut hospitalizations and deaths by half among patients with early symptoms of COVID-19. The results were so strong that independent medical experts monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early.

An antiviral pill that people could take at home to reduce their symptoms and speed recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing the crushing caseload on hospitals and helping to curb outbreaks in poorer countries with weak health care systems.

By The Associated Press

Children as young as 3 will start receiving COVID-19 vaccines in China, where 76 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated and authorities are maintaining a zero-tolerance policy toward outbreaks.

By The Associated Press

Russia reported another daily record of confirmed coronavirus cases Monday as a surge in infections has prompted the Kremlin to tell most people to stay away from work starting later this week.

The Russian government’s coronavirus task force tallied 37,930 new confirmed cases in 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The task force also reported 1,069 more COVID-19 deaths in the same period, slightly fewer than a record of 1,075 reached over the weekend.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russians not to go to work between Oct. 30 and Nov. 7, when the country will observe an extended holiday. During that time, most state organizations and private businesses, except for those operating key infrastructure and a few others, are to halt work.

In some of Russia’s 85 regions where the situation is particularly grave, Putin said the nonworking period could begin earlier and be extended beyond Nov. 7. Six of them — Kursk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod, Perm, Samara and Voronezh — started the off-work period Monday.