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COVID racial disparities also affect kids, report says; Moderna vaccine protection staying especially strong: Latest COVID-19 updates

New research released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday shows that effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine is staying particularly strong.

Over the course of five months of research, from March to August, the effectiveness of all the vaccines at keeping people out of the hospital due to COVID among people without compromising conditions was highest for Moderna recipients, at 93%. Pfizer’s effectiveness was overall 88% and Johnson & Johnson’s was 71%.

Pfizer’s effectiveness decreased after 120 days of the study period, from 91% to 77%, while Moderna’s effectiveness did not see a similar decline. Initial effectiveness of 93% only declined to 92% with Moderna.

“Although these real-world data suggest some variation in levels of protection by vaccine, all FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines provide substantial protection against COVID-19 hospitalization,” researchers concluded.
The report was released hours before an FDA committee decided not to recommend booster shots for people vaccinated with Pfizer, except in the case of the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Also in the news:

►More than a hundred part-time employees at Indiana University Health have lost their jobs because they did not comply with vaccine requirements by Sept. 1, spokesperson Berkley Rios told CNN. Rios said the loss of the 125 part-time workers will have “minimal effect on staffing.
► The White House announced Friday that it will convene world leaders for a virtual COVID-19 summit on Sept. 22. The summit will center around equitable global vaccine access, as well as increasing availability of COVID-19 tests, personal protective equipment and medical oxygen supplies needed to treat patients, among other topics.

► Beginning next month, Los Angeles County will require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Dodger Stadium, SoFi Stadium and Major League Soccer venues during events with more than 10,000 people, the Los Angeles Times reported.
► Nine big cats at the National Zoo – six African lions, a Sumatran tiger and two Amur tigers – have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 after caretakers noticed symptoms including decreased appetites, coughing, sneezing and lethargy. Final results confirming the presumptive positive tests are expected in the coming days.

► The World Health Organization declined Friday to say how many of its staff members have gotten vaccinated, despite the health agency repeatedly urging vaccinations. “We won’t have that because it’s confidential,” said Dr. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman.

► A New York City restaurant hostess was allegedly assaulted by a group of customers visiting from Texas when she asked them for proof they had been vaccinated. The New York City Fire Department said she was punched repeatedly and had her necklace broken. Three suspects were taken into custody.

►A federal judge has again blocked Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee from allowing parents to opt out of school mask requirements aimed at limiting coronavirus infections.

► A child died of COVID-19 in Louisiana, state health officials announced on Friday. The child, who was between 5 and 11 years old, is the 15th minor to die from the virus in the state since the start of the pandemic.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 42 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 673,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 227.9 million cases and 4.6 million deaths. More than 181 million Americans — 54.5% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘What we’re reading: Opinion contributors Drs. Atul Grover and David J. Skorton say the nation’s badly flawed COVID response can be improved. Read the full piece.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Children of color disproportionately affected by pandemic, new report says
Mirroring racial disparities among adults, children of color have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s impacts as they have faced disproportionate infection and hospitalization rates, more barriers to vaccination, and increased threats to mental, social and academic growth, according to a new report released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Research shows that Black, Hispanic and Asian children are significantly more likely to be infected, despite having lower rates of testing, according to the report.

Hispanic and American Indian and Alaska Native children also had the highest rates of hospitalization, followed by Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander children and Black children, the report said.

The pandemic has negatively affected the “mental, social and academic growth” of Hispanic and Black children especially, the KFF said. The foundation also said Black and Hispanic parents are “more likely to say their household suffered a job disruption due to childcare needs in the past year and to say that the disruption has had a major impact on their family’s finances and stress level.”

The report points to a lack of available data on vaccination rates among children by race and ethnicity. But the data that is available conveys racial disparities, including white children having higher vaccination rates than Black children.

Compared to white parents, Black and Hispanic parents were also more likely to have concerns about vaccine access barriers, according to the report.

“Together these data suggest that COVID-19 has disproportionately negatively affected the physical and mental health, academic growth, and economic security of children of color,” the report said.

Public employees in 26 states will face federal COVID vaccine mandates
The actions President Joe Biden took this month to increase the number of workers who are vaccinated against COVID-19 will apply not just to most federal employees and larger businesses. State and local government workers in 26 states, including teachers and school staff, will also be affected by the new workplace rules being written by Washington.

That includes workers in some states, like Arizona, that have banned vaccination requirements for public employees, setting up another clash between GOP-led states and the Democratic administration.

After months of cajoling Americans to get immunized against the coronavirus, Biden took his strongest steps yet in areas where he has authority by announcing most federal workers and millions of federal contractors must be vaccinated.

That order does not apply to the federal legislative and judicial branches, which the president does not control.

– Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY

British government simplifies COVID travel rules after complaints
Amid complaints that its rules regarding international travel were too complicated, England on Friday announced a modification to the regulations in place to prevent the spread of COVID.

Instead of a red-, amber- or green-light system to classify countries based on their prevalence of COVID, with changes in classification confusing travelers, the country will implement a two-tier system beginning in October.

Story from The Goddard School
Under the new system, countries will either be red or open. Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya were all removed from the red list this week.

Testing requirements will also be eased for travelers coming from open countries who are fully vaccinated.

Facebook overrun by COVID vaccine lies, report says
Anti-vaccine activists flooded Facebook to sow doubt about the COVID-19 vaccines, overwhelming efforts to stop them, even as the company told the world that it was not responsible for vaccine hesitancy, a new report from the Wall Street Journal has found.

Of about 150,000 users posting in Facebook Groups disabled for spreading COVID-19 misinformation, 5% produced half of the posts, and 1,400 invited half of the new members, one document unearthed by the newspaper found.

The report paints a picture of a company outfoxed by a small but wily group of anti-vaccine activists that it called “big whales.”

Facebook researchers in May compared the problem to QAnon and allegations of election fraud, “with a relatively few number of actors creating a large percentage of the content and growth.”

– Brett Molina and Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press