AdventHealth, a large hospital in Florida, announced that it has suspended its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The hospital said it still encouraged vaccination but would no longer force its 83,000 employees to get the vaccine.
“Based on scientific evidence and what we see in our hospitals every day, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at reducing both the risk of becoming infected and the level of harm in the case of a breakthrough infection,” AdventHealth said in a statement. “As part of our commitment to protecting the health and well-being of our team members, patients and communities, we strongly encourage all of our team members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”
It announcement comes after legislation from Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) that bans private businesses from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for their employees.
“We welcome AdventHealth’s decision to comply with state law to protect Floridians’ jobs and to ensure our state’s healthcare system can continue functioning smoothly,” said DeSantis’ office in a statement.
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it was suspending President Biden’s vaccine mandate after a federal court blocked enforcement pending review.
“On November 29 and November 30, 2021, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued preliminary injunctions against the implementation and enforcement of the Interim Final Rule against Medicare-and-Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers,” CMS said in a memo. “Between the two of them, these injunctions cover all states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories.”
“While CMS remains confident in its authority to protect the health and safety of patients in facilities certified by the Medicare and Medicaid programs, it has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of this rule pending future developments in the litigation,” the memo continued. “Accordingly, while these preliminary injunctions are in effect, surveyors must not survey providers for compliance with the requirements of the Interim Final Rule.”
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Freedom in the UK: Johnson ends ‘all Covid measures’ including mask wearing
The United Kingdom is enjoying a huge announcement. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced “the end of all Covid measures introduced to combat the Omicron variant – compulsory mask-wearing on public transport and in shops, guidance to work from home and vaccine certificates – from next week” reports The Guardian.
For those with coronavirus, the legal requirement for them to self-isolate will also be allowed to lapse when the regulations expire on March 24. Johnson also announced an immediate end for students to wear masks at secondary schools.
“From tomorrow we will no longer require face masks in classrooms and the Department for Education will shortly remove national guidance on their use in communal areas,” Johnson told the Commons.
“In the country at large we will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces, particularly when you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, but we will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one.”
The Prime Minister said Covid data was “showing that time and again this government got the toughest decisions right” and that plan B rules that were put in place in December could all be lifted from next Thursday, the day after a pre-existing review point.
The Guardian notes Britain had expected Johnson would soon be ending work-from-home guidance and the mandate to show a certificate proving vaccination or proof of a recent negative Covid test. However, the immediate lifting of mandatory mask rules will “come as a surprise to some.”
Johnson is receiving some push back from some teaching and health unions. The general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said ministers would “regret sending the wrong signal to the public for political expediency”.
Joint general secretary of the National Education Union Mary Bousted said, “While the trend amongst secondary aged children is down, it is however uncertain, due to the short time schools have been back since the Christmas holidays, that this trend will continue. Such uncertainty could lead to a pronounced risk of increased disruption with children and staff having to isolate.”
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