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Latest: Biden and business leaders to discuss vaccine mandates at WH

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden has invited CEOs and business leaders to the White House to discuss COVID-19 mandates.

Wednesday’s meeting follows Biden’s announcement last week that the Labor Department is working to require companies with 100 or more employees to order their workers to be fully vaccinated or submit a COVID test. -19 negative at least once a week. Biden said 100 million workers would be subject to the requirement.

Some business groups, including the Business Roundtable, have welcomed the president’s announcement.

“American business leaders know how critical vaccination and testing are to beating the pandemic,” Josh Bolten, president and CEO of the Business Roundtable, said in a statement.

Many companies, including Amtrak, Microsoft, United Airlines and Walt Disney, issued vaccination warrants for their workforce ahead of Biden’s announcement last week.

Some Republicans have accused Biden of overstepping his authority and threatened to sue the administration over the vaccine mandate.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

– EU pledges 200 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Africa

– China imposes local lockdowns as COVID-19 cases rise

– America’s largest public universities push vaccines with warrants and prices

– Deaths and COVID-19 cases in the United States rise to levels of last winter

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– See AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS:

BRUSSELS – The European Union pledges to pay 200 million additional doses of vaccine to Africa.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the donation is in addition to the 250 million already committed and underlines the EU’s determination to boost global immunization.

Von der Leyen called it an “investment in solidarity and it is also an investment in global health”.

African health officials have said they need around 800 million doses to immunize 60% of the continent’s population. Last week, 145 million doses had been purchased, according to the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Only 3.5% of the continent of 1.3 billion people have been fully immunized, according to the CDC, amid frustration over the distribution, export controls and roll-out of booster vaccines in wealthier countries .

Von der Leyen said in addition to delivering 700 million doses to Europeans and meeting the goal of getting 70% of adults vaccinated this summer, the 27-country bloc has sent the same number of doses to 130 countries combined. .

“With less than 1% of global doses administered to low-income countries, the scale of injustice and the level of urgency are evident,” Von der Leyen said, adding that the bloc is investing € 1 billion ( $ 1.2 billion) to increase vaccine production capacity. in Africa.

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GENEVA – The World Health Organization says around 4 million cases of coronavirus were reported worldwide last week, the first major drop in new infections in more than two months. In recent weeks, there have been around 4.4 million cases.

In its weekly update released Tuesday, the United Nations health agency says every region of the world has seen a drop in cases compared to the previous week.

Although the number of deaths worldwide has declined to around 62,000, with the largest drop in Southeast Asia, there has been a 7% increase in deaths in Africa. The greatest numbers of cases have been seen in the United States, Britain, India, Iran and Turkey. The highly contagious delta variant has been reported in 180 countries.

WHO says children and adolescents continue to be less affected by COVID-19 than adults, adding that deaths of people under 24 from the disease account for less than 0.5% of deaths in the world.

The WHO has previously said children should not be a priority for COVID-19 vaccinations given extreme global vaccine shortages.

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PARIS – Healthcare workers in France risk a job suspension from Wednesday if they have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. With around 300,000 workers still unvaccinated, some hospitals fear staff shortages will worsen their stress.

Vaccines are compulsory for medical care, home care and first aid workers in France. Almost 90% of these workers are already vaccinated.

The deadline Wednesday is for this staff to have at least one shot. Otherwise, they risk having their wages suspended or not working. However, a supreme court has prohibited the outright dismissal of staff.

The mandate was approved by the French Parliament this summer to protect patients and the public against new outbreaks of coronavirus. More than 113,000 people have died in France from the virus.

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodia will launch a campaign on Friday to start immunizing children aged 6 to 11 against COVID-19.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said it would allow children to return to school safely after a long absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an audio message to provincial and municipal heads posted on his Facebook page, he said more than 1.8 million children are expected to receive their vaccine under the program, which will use the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine.

He also plans to vaccinate children aged 3 to 5 soon. Cambodia began immunizing children aged 12 to 17 in early August.

Cambodia’s health ministry reported 653 new cases and nine more deaths on Wednesday.

Nearly 72% of Cambodia’s approximately 17 million people have received at least one injection of COVID-19 since vaccinations began in February. Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm account for most of the inoculations.

Cambodia has recorded 101,443 confirmed cases and 2,067 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea reported a record daily increase in coronavirus infections in the Seoul area just days before the country entered its biggest vacation of the year.

Authorities say 2,080 new cases have been confirmed nationwide, surpassing 2,000 for the eighth time in a month. The 1,663 cases reported in and around the capital were the highest since the start of the pandemic.

Officials fear transmissions could worsen nationwide during the Chuseok holiday, the Korean version of Thanksgiving that begins this weekend. Millions of people typically travel across the country to meet relatives.

Health officials are urging residents of the Seoul area not to travel to other areas during the holidays and to avoid parents who are not fully immunized. As of Wednesday, about 40% of a population of over 51 million were fully immunized.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Alaska’s largest hospital has started rationing care, saying it has been overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

Providence Alaska Medical Center believes it will prioritize resources and treatment of patients who have the potential to benefit the most.

Dr Kristen Solana Walkinshaw is the hospital’s chief of staff and says that “we are no longer able to provide quality care to every patient who needs our help”.

Providence is one of only three hospitals in Anchorage, a city of 300,000 people. Walkinshaw says the emergency room in Providence is overflowing due to the delta variant. Patients have to wait hours in their cars before seeing a doctor for emergency care.

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SYDNEY – The Australian state of New South Wales has reached a coronavirus vaccination milestone, with 80% of the target population receiving a vaccine. The government has announced the lifting of the curfew in the most affected areas of Sydney.

Australia intends to open its borders and no longer resort to lockdown once 80% of the population aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said infection rates have plateaued in the 12 worst-affected local areas in Sydney and the curfew will end on Wednesday evening for those areas.

The delta variant epidemic in Australia started in Sydney in June and New South Wales leads the rest of the country in vaccinating its population.

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UNITED NATIONS – The new president of the United Nations General Assembly has said his top priority is the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the immunization of every person in the world by the end of 2022.

After taking the oath on Tuesday, Abdulla Shahid said: “I believe we can do it, and I call on the leaders of all countries to come together and make it happen. “

Shahid said he plans to hold a high-level meeting in early 2022 with government leaders, vaccine producers, the scientific community, civil society and others to work to close the access gap. vaccines.

The former foreign minister of the Indian Ocean island nation, the Maldives, said “we cannot accept that only 3% of Africa has yet been immunized”.

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BOISE, Idaho – Public health officials in Idaho say crisis care standards are imminent for the state’s most populous area as hospitals continue to be overrun with non-COVID-19 patients vaccinated.

Dave Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said southern Idaho, including metro Boise, could join northern Idaho to ration care for health at all times.

Last week, the state formally adopted “Crisis Care Standards” in northern Idaho, giving overwhelmed hospitals permission to allocate scarce resources like intensive care unit beds to patients. patients most likely to survive. At Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, some COVID-19 patients are being treated in a field hospital in a conference center.

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