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 builds commercial planes as well as military aircraft for the U.S. government. Exemptions will be approved for “disability or sincerely held religious belief,” the aerospace giant said in a statement.
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.
Boeing did not respond to a USA TODAY request for comment on the mandate.
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.”
Also in the news:
►Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals reversed course and announced proof of vaccination is no longer required to attend the California festivals.
►Atlanta Braves outfielder Jorge Soler was placed on the COVID-19 injured list Tuesday, just two hours before Game 4 of their National League Division Series game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Braves won and move to the next round.
►A Rhode Island man was sentenced to 70 months in prison for COVID-19 stimulus fraud. He received close to $600,000 in stimulus money from three different banks and spent the money on trips to Las Vegas and New Hampshire, a Camaro, home renovations and online gaming.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 44.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 716,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 238.8 million cases and 4.8 million deaths. More than 187 million Americans – 56% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: Leaders and staff at a federal veterans’ nursing home in Illinois mismanaged a coronavirus outbreak that killed 11 residents in fall 2020, well after employees had been put on notice about the danger of the pandemic posed to its elderly population, a government investigation found. Read more here.
Starting next month, the United States will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to cross its land borders for non-essential purposes such as tourism or to visit friends and family. The change would allow foreign tourists 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 system.
“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 in a call with reporters. “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.
A Virginia mother whose 10-year-old daughter died of COVID spoke at a school board meeting this week, warning that “COVID is not over” and pleading for people to “do everything we can to protect our children.” Nicole Sperry, a teacher from Suffolk, Virginia, spoke at the Chesapeake Public Schools’ board meeting. Her daughter’s funeral service was Sunday.
Sperry alleged in a post on Facebook that Teresa Sperry was required by a teacher to walk sick classmates to a nurse’s office at Hillpoint Elementary School before testing positive for COVID-19. Teresa died days later.
“My message for you and all that are listening is that COVID is not over. No matter what people who have been standing up here have said,” Sperry said.
– Marina Pitofsky
A federal advisory committee will meet for two days this week to discuss the safety and need for a booster shot for people who already received Moderna’s or Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. Members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee also will hear data about the likely safety and effectiveness of giving people booster shots from a different vaccine manufacturer than their original doses. While presumed safe, there has been little data so far and the government has encouraged people to stick with the same vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved last month for people over 65 as well as younger people whose medical conditions or jobs put them at higher risk for disease. So far, people who received Moderna or J&J for their first round of shots have been told to sit tight.
– Karen Weintraub
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made good on his threat to fine local governments that require employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, giving Leon County until Nov. 5 to pay a $3.57 million penalty. In mid-September, DeSantis said he would not let Floridians be fired because of a vaccine mandate and announced he would begin leveling $5,000 fines per employee. After Leon County Administrator Vince Long made vaccines a requirement of employment, all 714 employees had to get vaccinated or fall under a select few exemptions by Oct. 1. In all, 14 employees were fired because they declined to do so.
Democratic lawmakers representing Tallahassee claimed the decision to impose a fine was an overreach by the governor’s office.
“The governor has gone too far,” said Rep. Ramon Alexander D-Tallahassee. “Local governments cannot just sit on their hands and should have the ability to issue emergency standards. Vaccines are an important tool that is helping us control this pandemic.”
– Karl Etters, Tallahassee Democrat
The Brooklyn Nets took a drastic step to compel All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to get the COVID-19 vaccine. NBA star Kyrie Irving won’t play or practice with his team “until he is eligible to be a full participant,” Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement Tuesday. The NBA has tried to get players vaccinated through education and health and safety protocols that will make the season easier for vaccinated players and more onerous for unvaccinated players.
New York City has a vaccine mandate that states Irving, who isn’t vaccinated, and other Nets and New York Knicks players must be vaccinated to play at Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden.
The Nets faced a scenario in which Irving would play road games but not home games – a suboptimal situation for any team, especially one with the talent (Kevin Durant, James Harden) to win an NBA championship – and ultimately opted to play without the point guard unless he becomes vaccinated.
— Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY
Two of the nation’s largest airlines – Southwest Airlines and American Airlines – said Tuesday that they plan to follow looming federal guidelines and require that their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, despite an order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that attempts to block such mandates. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines last week ordered all of its estimated 55,000 employees to be vaccinated against COVID 19 by Dec. 8. That followed a directive from President Joe Biden, who in September said all private companies with more than 100 workers must require employees to be vaccinated or conduct weekly tests for the coronavirus.
Southwest said in a statement Tuesday that the president’s executive order “supersedes any state mandate or law,” adding that the company is required to adhere to it despite Abbott’s action “to remain compliant as a federal contractor.”
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