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COVID-19

WHO Chief urges governments to ‘bring back face masks’ and Los Angeles may be first

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Mask Mandate

Americans fought for their freedom from mandates surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic for over two years and the World Health Organization and city of Los Angeles may take it all back in the blink of an eye.

The Associated Press reports “Los Angeles County, home to 10 million residents, is facing a return to a broad indoor mask mandate later this month if current trends in hospital admissions continue, county health Director Barbara Ferrer said this week.”

On Tuesday, the White House response team urged all adults 50 and older to get a booster shot if they haven’t yet this year. The White House also suggested getting any available booster shot, and not wait for the next wave.

The AP notes that the latest variant, BA.5, is highly transmissible and now accounts for 65% of cases. Its “cousin” BA.4 makes up another 16% of cases. “The variants have shown a remarkable ability to get around the protection offered by vaccination.”

World Health Organization Chief Dr Ghebreyesus is urging all governments to reinstate Covid measures like masking and ventilation due to an “increasing trend of deaths”

“I am concerned that cases of Covid-19 continue to rise – putting further pressure on stretched health systems and health workers,” he said. Governments should “deploy tried and tested measures like masking, improved ventilation and test and treat protocols.”

Requiring masks again “helps us to reduce risk,” Ferrer told Los Angeles County supervisors. She is expected to discuss details of the potential new county mandate during a public health briefing Thursday afternoon.

“I do recognize that when we return to universal indoor masking to reduce high spread, for many this will feel like a step backwards,” Ferrer said Tuesday.

For most of the pandemic, Los Angeles County has required masks in some indoor spaces, including health care facilities, Metro trains and buses, airports, jails and homeless shelters. The new mandate would expand the requirement to all indoor public spaces, including shared offices, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, retail stores, restaurants and bars, theaters and schools.

 

 

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COVID-19

OH Judge halts Air Force from punishing airmen who sought religious exemption from vax mandate

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COVID Vaccine

A Judge of the Southern District of Ohio granted a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Air Force from punishing the servicemen and women who had filed for a religious exemption to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on Wednesday.

Judge Matthew W. McFarland, just two weeks before, ordered a restraining order against the Air Force from pursuing punitive measures against the airmen.

The case, Doster v. Kendall, McFarland wrote that the Air Force failed to raise any “persuasive arguments” for why the Court should not extend an existing Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the Air Force from punishing a group of plaintiffs to all airmen seeking religious exemption. He added:

[T]he Court reminds Defendants that ‘[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Thus, due to the systematic nature of what the Court views as violations of Airmen’s constitutional rights to practice their religion as they please, the Court is well within its bounds to extend the existing preliminary injunction to all Class Members.

https://twitter.com/kristina_wong/status/1552456840285388800

All active-duty, active reserve, reserve, national guard, inductees, and appointees of the United States Air Force and Space Force, including but not limited to Air Force Academy Cadets, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Cadets, Members of the Air Force Reserve Command, and any Airman who has sworn or affirmed the United States Uniformed Services Oath of Office or Enlistment and is currently under command and could be deployed, who: (i) submitted a religious accommodation request to the Air Force from the Air Force COVID-19 vaccination requirement, where the request was submitted or was pending, from September 1, 2021 to the present; (ii) were confirmed as having had a sincerely held religious belief substantially burdened by the Air Force’s COVID19 vaccination requirement by or through Air Force Chaplains; and (iii) either had their requested accommodation denied or have not had action on that request.

In addition, the order said the Air Force, which includes their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and other people acting in concert or participation with them, who receive notice of this preliminary injunction, are PRELIMINARILY ENJOINED from:

(i) taking, furthering, or continuing any disciplinary or separation measures against the members of the Class for their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, while keeping in place the current temporary exemption; such disciplinary or separation measures include, but are not limited to, ‘adverse administrative actions, non-judicial punishment, administrative demotions, administrative discharges, and courts-martial’ for the benefit of Defendants, this includes continuing any administrative separation or punitive processes or initiating the same.

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