October 20, 2021
US to reopen land borders to vaccinated tourists; Boeing to require shots for 125,000 US workers
Starting next month, the United States will allow fully vaccinated foreign visitors to cross its land borders for non-essential purposes such as tourism or seeing friends and family. The change would allow foreigners to enter the U.S. through land or ferry ports for the first time since March 2020. Government officials have not yet announced a date for the policy change but said it will take place in "early November," in tandem with the country's updated international air travel rules.

“This is an important step that will further enhance the safety of international travel and the safety of Americans at home,” senior administration officials said. “These new vaccination requirements deploy the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Vehicle, rail and ferry travel between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to essential travel, such as trade, since the earliest days of the pandemic. By mid-January, even essential travelers seeking to enter the U.S., such as truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated.

Boeing to require shots for 125,000 US workers

Boeing says it will require its 125,000 U.S. employees to get vaccinated by Dec. 8 to meet requirements of an executive order issued by President Joe Biden affecting federal employees and contractors.

Boeing, which builds commercial planes as well as military aircraft for the U.S. government, said in a statement that exemptions will be approved for "disability or sincerely held religious belief.”

Chicago-based Boeing has major operations throughout the U.S., including Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order this week banning businesses from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Federal contractors have until Dec. 8 to be fully vaccinated under guidance issued by the federal Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) issued a statement saying it is talking to employers to ensure "implementation gives proper consideration to members' concerns, health issues and abides by the provisions of our negotiated contracts."

J&J study of booster shot includes data from just 17 people after 6 months

While 8.5 million people who got the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have received a booster shot, those inoculated with Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines continue to wait for the companies' boosters to be authorized.

A federal advisory committee will meet for two days this week to discuss the safety and need for those boosters, but its members won't have much data to go on for the J&J extra shot.

Information posted by the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday showed about 8,000 people had been studied after receiving a J&J booster two months after getting the first dose of the single-shot vaccine, and only 17 were tracked after getting a second shot at six months. It's not clear whether that will be enough data for the FDA panel to grant its approval.

“The hope was that we would get a resolution of this issue and that J&J would get their emergency use authorization for a booster," said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "Now things have gotten a little more complicated."

Cases and deaths falling in US and globally, but CDC chief warns about high transmission

New coronavirus infections in the U.S. fell 12%, hospitalizations 11% and deaths 5% last week over the week before, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday. In addition, the World Health Organization said the global number of new cases and deaths dropped 7% and 10% respectively, continuing a downward trend that began in late August.

However, Walensky pointed out an average of 1,400 Americans died each day over the seven-day period that ended Tuesday, and much work remains in the battle against the pandemic.

"Most cities across the country are still experiencing substantial to high levels of community transmission," she said at a White House briefing. "We are certainly not in a place where our cases are under control." (Source: USA Today)
Story Date: October 14, 2021
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