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CDC urging 2-year-olds to wear masks

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In new guidance that was updated on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said children as young as two years old should wear masks at all times — except while eating and napping — and that will stay in place even after all teachers and staff are vaccinated.

“Everyone 2 years and older should wear a mask covering their mouth and nose when around people who do not live in their household, except when eating or sleeping,” the CDC said Friday. “Teach and reinforce the consistent and correct use of masks for all staff and children aged 2 years and older.”

“Even after child care providers and staff are vaccinated, there will be a need to continue prevention measures for the foreseeable future including wearing masks, physical distancing, and other important prevention strategies outlined in this guidance document.”

According to the new guidelines, in addition to social distancing, children should also wear masks while outdoors.

“Stagger your use of playgrounds and play spaces by reducing the group size in the play area at one time or remaining in cohorted groups while sanitizing shared objects and high touch surfaces between groups,” says the CDC. “If multiple cohort groups need to be in your play area at the same time, consider using fencing or another barrier to designate separate areas for each cohort.”

The CDC also discourages sharing toys between children.

On News4Jax Morning Show, Jennifer Freeman, owner of a daycare in Jacksonville, Fl, said she does not agree with the CDC’s new guidelines for young children.

“We have to look at what is best for children,” Freeman said. “If I don’t have evidence that they’re getting sick because they are not wearing a mask. I know the best way to educate children is for them to smile and talk to each other, to have fun and not be stressed about putting a mask over their face — at least not in a childcare setting.”

The guidance outlines “strategies that child care programs can use to maintain healthy environments and operations, lower the risk of COVID-19 spread in their programs, prepare for when someone is sick with COVID-19, and support coping and resilience.”

Last week, the CDC lessened restrictions on gathering indoors for vaccinated people.

The CDC says that it is okay now for fully vaccinated Americans to gather indoors with other vaccinated individuals without masks or social distancing.

Further, the CDC said that fully vaccinated grandparents can now visit their unvaccinated children and grandchildren.

The CDC has yet to update its travel guidance.

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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Economy

Biden Administration Expands Obamacare Coverage for ‘Dreamers’

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Friday morning the Biden administration announced it is expanding health-care access for “Dreamers”, a select group of illegal immigrants brought to the country as children. Illegal immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be granted access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to the White House. Beginning in November, DACA members will be able to apply for healthcare coverage on healthcare.gov and state level insurance marketplaces.

“I’m proud of the contributions of Dreamers to our country and committed to providing Dreamers the support they need to succeed,” President Joe Biden said in a prepared statement. “And that’s why today we are taking this historic step to ensure that DACA recipients have the same access to health care through the Affordable Care Act as their neighbors.”

National Review notes Biden was vice president when then-president Barack Obama created DACA through executive order over a decade ago. The program gives deportation protections and work visas to illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. An estimated 580,000 people are enrolled in the program. Former president Donald Trump failed to put an end to DACA during his term and the program continues to be fought in court.

Over 100,000 DACA beneficiaries will purchase health insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace and Basic Health Program created by the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services estimates. Access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program will not be incorporated into the White House’s new rule after Biden proposed doing so last year, according to National Review.

“Now as Vice President, I have worked alongside President Biden to take steps to preserve and fortify DACA. Today, we are building on this progress by ensuring DACA recipients also have access to affordable health care, which will improve the health of all communities,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a prepared statement. “This announcement will bring relief to more than 100,000 people and help them thrive while working to achieve their aspirations.”

The White House did not share a cost estimate for the expansion of Obamacare to DACA recipients. They will be eligible for financial assistance to help them afford the health insurance DACA enrollees are now eligible to purchase.

Biden called for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and to give Dreamers permanent citizenship. It’s unlikely that Congress will grant Biden’s wishes, given the failure of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration package earlier this year. Conservatives widely rejected the Senate’s proposal for not being tough enough on the southern border at a time when record levels of illegal immigrants are entering the country.

Immigration is a top issue for voters in the 2024 election because of the surge in border crossings under Biden’s watch. Polls indicate that Americans believe that Trump is better suited to handle the crisis at the southern border with his hardline approach.

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