Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today
What the vaccine deadline means for you.,
This is the Coronavirus Briefing, an informed guide to the pandemic. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.
Britain became the first country to authorize Merck’s antiviral pill, molnupiravir.
Hundreds of thousands of people in India celebrated Diwali, despite Covid concerns.
Hong Kong will start offering booster shots to residents with a higher risk of illness.
A deadline to get your shot
The Biden administration said today that large companies have until Jan. 4 to ensure that their work forces are vaccinated against Covid-19. The new health measures apply to companies with more than 100 employees and cover about 84 million private sector workers.
While President Biden announced the plan in September, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released details on the vaccine mandate today. Here’s what it means for you.
Who is affected by the new measures?
All private companies of 100 or more employees must require their workers to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 or submit to weekly coronavirus testing and mask-wearing while in the workplace. The deadline for employers to enforce the mask mandate is Dec. 5.
I work remotely. Does the rule apply to me?
That depends. If you are fully remote then you will not be required to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, because the rule is focused specifically on protecting people from the coronavirus in the workplace. But if you work part-time in the office and the rest of the time remotely, you are required to follow the rule.
Can I claim an exemption?
Employers are required to offer two kinds of exemptions to the vaccine mandates: medical and religious. For medical exemptions, many employers will require people to present a doctor’s note. Exemptions for people with religious beliefs are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. But so far, no major religion has forbidden its members from getting the coronavirus vaccine.
Can I opt out through testing?
Maybe. It’s up to employers to decide whether workers can opt out of getting vaccinated by submitting to testing. If you opt out, you may have to pay for the tests. OSHA does not require employers to pay for or provide tests, given that the vaccine is free, safe and highly effective. However, your business may be required to pay under a collective bargaining agreement or local law.
Will I be paid for the time taken to get vaccinated?
Yes. Employers have to provide paid time off for their workers to get vaccinated — up to four hours — as well as sick leave for them to recover from side effects. They’re required to provide this leave starting Dec. 5.
How will my employer verify that I’ve been vaccinated?
They may ask you for a copy of your vaccination card or a signed and dated employee attestation, for example. OSHA expects employers to keep documentation of their workers’ vaccination status.
Can I be fired if I don’t comply?
If you do not have an exemption, it’s possible. Employers are generally free to discipline people who don’t follow their rules. They may face pushback, though, under collective bargaining agreements.
Pushback: The National Retail Federation, an industry trade group that represents American retailers including major chains, called the vaccine mandates “burdensome.”
In practice: Here’s how Tyson Foods, the meatpacking giant, vaccinated more than 96 percent of its work force.
Europe is the epicenter again
The W.H.O. said that Europe could experience half a million Covid-related deaths in the next three months.
The region is reporting near-record levels of infections, and the rate of new daily cases has almost doubled since September. Last week, Europe accounted for 59 percent of the world’s newly reported cases and nearly half the world’s Covid-related deaths, said Hans Kluge, the W.H.O.’s director for Europe.
“Europe is back at the epicenter of the pandemic — where we were one year ago,” Kluge told reporters today.
New reported cases reached a record high in Germany on Wednesday, when the nation recorded 33,949 new infections in a 24-hour period. Only 67 percent of the country is fully vaccinated, and the health minister warned of a massive “pandemic mainly among the unvaccinated.”
And in Trieste, Italy, protests against the country’s health pass — the toughest and most expansive in Europe — spawned a worrying outbreak. The city’s struggle shows how an unvaccinated minority can still threaten the greater public health — and also how difficult it can be to change their minds.
How Covid changed our dreams
An individual’s dreams might seem incoherent. But the dreams of many people, especially when all those people are living through the same experience, can reveal patterns. Patterns, in turn, can reveal meaning.
Brooke Jarvis looked into the strange nocturnal visions provoked by the pandemic, speaking to scientists trying to sort through our subconscious. Much of her reporting comes from more than 15,000 dreams collected by Deirdre Barrett, who teaches in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School.
Here are a few fascinating nuggets:
Our dream worlds got more memorable. That might have been because our brains were trying to parse the anxiety and upheaval. It may also have been because lockdowns gave more people more time to sleep, and more hours mean more intense and remember-able dreams.
We dreamed about the pandemic. Barrett tallied stories of monsters lurking just out of sight, or invisibly attacking the people around them. Many people reported more bug-dreams, often scary swarms of insects, which she interpreted as the sleeping mind’s pun on “virus.”
Our role likely shaped our dreams. Health care workers often dreamed of being unable to save their patients. By contrast, people quarantining alone often dreamed of exaggerated isolation, like being held in prison or marooned on a spaceship.
“Dreaming is, above all, a time when the unheard parts of ourselves are allowed to speak,” Barrett once wrote. “We would do well to listen.” You can read Brooke’s story here.
Tell us your reunion plans
On Nov. 8, vaccinated international travelers will finally be allowed back into the U.S. — including at land borders with Canada and Mexico.
Are you planning to reunite with friends and family from abroad in the coming months? If so, we’d love to hear about your reunion plans. We may use your response in upcoming Times coverage.
If you’d like to participate, you can fill out this form.
What else we’re following
Eric Adams, the newly elected mayor of New York City, said he wants to “revisit” the city’s vaccine mandate, The Hill reports.
South Korea said it would make all infected high school seniors take the country’s high-stakes college entrance exam from the hospital or a quarantine facility.
ProPublica investigated why rapid tests are so hard to come by in the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal explored the coronavirus outbreak in Tanzania, a country whose leaders have largely denied the existence of Covid-19.
Hawaii is easing restrictions and preparing for an influx of tourists.
The daughter of a Florida politician pleaded guilty to stealing $300,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program.
Our DealBook newsletter is celebrating 20 years with a conversation about grappling with the ripples of Covid that will include the Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla, among others. You can register here.
What you’re doing
After what seems like forever, Victoria is reunited. The metro/regional split is finished and people from the country can now enter the city and vice versa. It’s only possible because of the high vaccination uptake. On Tuesday we saw our son for the first time in months. Tonight I’m in Melbourne for a meeting and dinner with friends. It’s great to be looking forward to travel again. We’re planning a family trip to Fiji for my 60th birthday next year.
— Wayne Stewart, Wallington, Victoria, Australia
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