Gov. Mike DeWine (R) will not support a bill that would essentially ban vaccine passports from the state of Ohio.
H.R. 248, called the “Vaccine Choice and Anti-discrimination Act,” would allow Ohioans to choose not to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and would allow parents to decide whether their children should take it. It would prevent the state or businesses from discriminating against those who have not taken the vaccine. Read More
Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is the first university in the state to join President Joe Biden’s “COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge.” MTSU announced their decision on Thursday.
Since MTSU made their announcement, East Tennessee State University (ETSU) and Lane College have also joined the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge. MTSU President Sidney McPhee said that the vaccinations were just another common sense step to control COVID-19. Read More
For the first time since churches were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholics in Ohio were welcomed back to Mass on Sunday.
“As we move beyond the worst of the coronavirus pandemic and access to the COVID-19 vaccine has become more widespread, the time has arrived for the good of all the faithful when the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation is no longer necessary,” a mid-May statement from the Catholic Conference of Ohio said. Read More
Using federal COVID-19 funds, Minnesota has become the latest state to bribe its residents with prizes in exchange for taking the vaccine.
Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced Thursday that residents who get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination before the end of June will be able to select one of nine prizes. Read More
The first winners in Ohio’s vaccine lottery were chosen Wednesday night.
“Abbigail Bugenske of southwestern Ohio took home $1 million after she entered the drawing along with more than 2.7 million other vaccinated Ohioans,” Fox News reported. Read More
As Ohio readies itself to choose the first winners in its “Vax-a-Million” lottery Monday, one Republican state lawmaker is drafting a bill in opposition to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan.
State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) is writing legislation that would ban the vaccination lottery, according to multiple reports. She does not think Ohioans should be bribed with taxpayer money. Read More
Once again, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) finds herself in hot water after a photo surfaced showing her breaking her own social distancing rules at an East Lansing bar over the weekend.
“The group shot of 13 individuals appeared to violate the governor’s restaurant capacity order issued May 15 on ‘gathering limitations for entertainment establishments, recreational establishments, and food service establishments,'” according to Breitbart, which first obtained the photo. Read More
The University System of Georgia announced that it plans to drop mask mandates for fully vaccinated students and employees in the Fall 2021 semester, marking a return to relative normalcy.
“Fully vaccinated individuals can resume campus classes and other activities without wearing a mask. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue wearing a face covering while inside campus facilities,” a press release said. Read More
A total of 37 Nashville businesses are offering free beers or coffee drinks now through the end of May – but only for those who’ve been vaccinated. Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced the campaign, “Shot for a Beer, Shot for a Cup,” in a press release on Friday.
Partners on the campaign are the mayor’s Hospitality Advisory Committee, the Nashville Convention and Visitor’s Corp, and HospitalityTN. Certain businesses require a purchase to acquire the free drink. The campaign announcement didn’t specify whether an individual could get more than one free drink. Read More
Virginia’s COVID-19 case numbers hit a new milestone on Monday: just 336 reported cases, according to the Virginia Department of Health; the last time numbers dropped below 400 was in June and April of 2020. According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, COVID-19 hospitalizations are low as well, with the seven-day moving average at 775 on Thursday; that number hasn’t been below 800 since late March 2020. Read More
A majority of Americans said for the first time in over a year that returning to their “normal” pre-pandemic lives did not pose a moderate or large health risk, an Axios/Ipsos survey shows.
The survey, released Tuesday, showed just 43% of Americans saying that returning to “normal” posed either a large or moderate risk to their health. It also shows that majorities of Americans have begun to enjoy several aspects of pre-pandemic life: 54% of Americans have eaten at a restaurant, 59% have visited family or friends and 31% have made summer plans – all in the past week alone.
The return to normalcy and the mental health benefits associated with it directly corresponds with the amount of Americans who say they have been vaccinated. Almost two-thirds of respondents say that they have received at least one shot, and 18% say that their emotional well-being has improved in the past week, which the survey notes is an all-time high during the pandemic. Read More
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday issued a directive blocking state agencies from using vaccine passports.
The directive requires state agencies, boards and commissions to “provide full access to state spaces and state services, regardless of a constituent’s COVID-19 vaccination status.”
The directive also urges local governments and private businesses to align their policies and practices with the state.
“Vaccine passport programs have the potential to politicize a decision that should not be politicized,” Gordon, a Republican, said in a statement. “They would divide our citizens at a time when unity in fighting the virus is essential, and harm those who are medically unable to receive the vaccine. While I strongly encourage Wyomingites over the age of 16 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, it is a personal choice based upon personal circumstances.” Read More
The Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are highly effective against and prevent illness from common variants of the virus, according to recently released studies.
The vaccine made by Pfizer is effective against the coronavirus variants that originated from the U.K. and South Africa, according to multiple studies released Wednesday that examined real-world vaccinations, The New York Times reported. Moderna reported that an early-stage trial suggested its vaccine is effective against the South African variant and a third variant originating from Brazil when given as a single-dose booster shot.
“At this point in time, we can confidently say that we can use this vaccine, even in the presence of circulating variants of concern,” London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine infectious disease researcher Annelies Wilder-Smith told the NYT. Read More
During the fall semester, Florida’s 12 public universities are set to return to normal, after a full school year of COVID-19 disruptions.
“An early evening news release signed by Syd Kitson, chairman of the university system’s Board of Governors, and Marshall Criser, chancellor of the system, said the 12 public universities ‘expect to increase classroom occupancy to pre-COVID capacity by the 2021-22 academic year and return to pre-COVID operations. Further, we anticipate returning to full in-person participation in athletic and social activities on our campuses, including fan participation in stadiums and arenas,'” News Service of Florida reported. Read More
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 recovery plan requires the state must reach 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older with a first vaccine injection before dropping all COVID-19 restrictions.
But the state doesn’t know how many residents have already been vaccinated in other states unless residents give that information to the state health department. Read More
The Tennessee legislature stalled on legislation prohibiting mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for K-12 students. The bill was removed from the Health Committee calendar last month. In the Senate, it was last referred back to the Calendar Committee after making it to the floor on Monday.
State Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) and State Representative Rusty Grills (R-Newbern) were the sponsors on the bill. Hensley’s legislative assistant Allison Wilson clarified with The Tennessee Star that the Senate won’t be hearing the bill this year. Read More
According to Minnesota’s governor, who held a Tuesday press conference announcing that he has a plan to reopen the state which will be announced Thursday, the state should prepare for a “very normal” summer.
“We are going to, potentially by June, have 70 percent of our people, 12 or 16 and above – whichever is authorized by CDC – vaccinated, and that changes the entire calculus,” Gov. Tim Walz (DFL) said Tuesday. “At that point in time, as I’ve said, I think Minnesotans should start assuming that they’re going to have a very normal looking summer.” Read More
After a major wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations during the winter, Virginia’s COVID-19 daily case and hospitalization statistics have gone down to levels not seen since October 2020.
On Sunday, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 761 new cases, and on Monday, the VDH reported 611 new cases, down from the worst days January 16, 17, and 18 which reached respectively, 6,757 new cases, 9,914 new cases, and 7,245 new cases. Read More
The Tennessee Senate reamended a bill to strike an amendment allowing higher education to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. Under the latest amended version of the bill, institutions of higher education may only mandate the vaccine for health care students. These public colleges or universities may enforce those mandates so long as they don’t own or control the health care facility.
Essentially, the higher education mandate would only be necessary for certain students involved in a private health care facility that requires the COVID-19 vaccine. The amendment would apply to students in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, or any other health care profession. Read More
Citing increasing numbers of vaccinated Virginians, Governor Ralph Northam announced Thursday relaxed COVID-19 restrictions to take effect May 15. The new guidelines allow 100 people at indoor social events and 250 at outdoor gatherings, up from 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Other restrictions at restaurants, entertainment, and sports venues are also relaxed. Read More
Nashville spent nearly $10,000 for 7 hours of live music, cheerleaders, and mascots to celebrate mass vaccinations with the now-suspended Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As The Tennessee Star reported, Mayor John Cooper announced these celebratory aspects of the mass vaccination two days before last month’s event.
According to an invoice obtained by The Star, these were costs incurred by “live music production event support.” The invoice didn’t offer any further details about those costs. The exact total came out to $9,836.47. Read More
The House passed a bill prohibiting government-mandated vaccines for COVID-19 or any of its variants. As amended, the bill would also exempt PreK-12 students from having to receive the vaccine in order to attend any schools or child care facilities. It would also strike the law that makes it a Class C misdemeanor for anyone who refuses to be vaccinated or refuses to vaccinate someone under their care.
Furthermore, this bill would prohibit state government and agencies from mandating a person undergo medical treatment if they object based on religious grounds or their right of conscience. However, the bill wouldn’t protect college or university students enrolled in programs or fields of study involving healthcare professions such as medicine, dentistry, or pharmacy. Read More
Even if the state adopts a bill prohibiting mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for K-12 students, it would only last two years. That is, according to the latest amendment to HB 1421. The amendment rendered the current status of the bill into a proposed sunset law during Tuesday’s House Health Committee hearing.
The committee member behind the amendment, State Representative Robin Smith (R-Hixon), asserted that it would give the FDA enough time to approve the vaccine for regular use – not just emergency use. Read More
All Virginians 16 years old and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as of Sunday.
“Over the past few months, we have made tremendous progress vaccinating Virginians as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible, and we need to keep up the good work,” Governor Ralph Northam said in a press release. Read More
State Representative Iris Rudder (R-Winchester) pulled a bill making it a punishable offense for discriminating against another based on COVID-19 vaccine status. The legislation was scheduled to appear before the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on Tuesday, but Rudder requested that the bill be pulled. She didn’t provide any explanation as to why.
The bill aimed to limit any “direct or indirect act or practice of exclusion, distinction, restriction, segregation, limitation, refusal, denial, or other practice of differentiation or preference in the treatment of a person or persons[.]” This would have extended to any entity open to the public, which includes businesses, airlines, public transit systems, and schools. They would’ve been prohibited from following through on actions or policies regarding COVID-19 vaccines – even if they were adhering to local, state, or federal statutes or orders. Read More
Tennessee lawmakers are keeping their options open when it comes to mandatory vaccinations during a current or imminent pandemic. Although community members and advocacy groups have been fighting for their right to choose when it comes to their medical decisions during government-declared emergencies, most lawmakers haven’t been responsive.
At the time of press, the amendment hasn’t been uploaded to the General Assembly website. However, The Tennessee Star obtained a copy of the amendment, included below: Read More
Workers at a Baltimore plant responsible for producing two separate coronavirus vaccines mistakenly mixed up their respective ingredients, ruining approximately 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and pausing all production at the plant, the company confirmed Wednesday.
The facility, run by Emergent BioSolutions, had partnered with both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca to produce vaccines. Federal officials said that the mistake was a result of human error, according to The New York Times, which first reported the mix up that reportedly occurred several weeks ago.
A quality control review “identified one batch of drug substance that did not meet quality standards at Emergent BioSolutions, a site not yet authorized to manufacture drug substance for our COVID-19 vaccine,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. “This batch was never advanced to the filling and finishing stages of our manufacturing process.” Read More
The Tennessee Senate Health and Welfare Committee recommended for passage an amendment to a bill allowing for religious or conscientious vaccine exemptions. As The Tennessee Star reported, this amendment was originally a bill killed in the House Health Subcommittee early last month.
Prior the committee hearing, Tennessee Stands gathered in a “We the People” rally to show community support for the amendment. Tennessee Stands Executive Director and founder Gary Humble led the event, with speeches from State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), State Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris), and a prerecorded statement from the bill sponsor, State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma). Read More
Through amendment, another legislator is seeking to revive a bill affording religious or conscientious exemptions for vaccines during a public health emergency. As The Tennessee Star reported, the original bill seeking to provide those protections was killed by the House Health Subcommittee earlier this month.
The bill carrying this amendment originally only sought to prohibit state or local governments from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations. State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) announced the amendment during the Senate Health and Welfare Committee hearing on Wednesday. Read More
On Tuesday, the House Education Subcommittee recommended passage of a bill prohibiting mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for students.
House Bill 1421, introduced by State Senator Rusty Grills (R-Newbern), would prevent schools from mandating that students or their parents receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It would also prohibit schools from requiring the vaccine for attendance, or retaliating against the student in any manner. Schools who violate this proposed law would be subject to civil action, as determined by a court. Read More
For about a year now, both the Tennessee National Guard and Tennessee State Guard (TNSG) have been mobilized for COVID-19 efforts – which now includes vaccinations. The Tennessee National Guard began assisting with COVID-19 testing on April 1 following the tornado cleanup efforts, while TNSG joined in nearly a week later. Since December, both of the guards began transitioning to begin assistance with vaccine administration throughout the state.
Established by the General Assembly in 1887, The Tennessee National Guard differs from the TNSG in that the latter is composed of volunteers underneath the state. That means that TNSG answers to Governor Bill Lee. Unlike the Tennessee National Guard, TNSG can’t be federalized or deployed outside of the state. The Tennessee National Guard can because it’s part of the U.S. Army and National Guard. Both are branches of the Tennessee Military Department. Read More
Schools will be able to hold in-person graduations this year, according to a draft of preliminary guidance announced by Governor Ralph Northam on Wednesday. Outdoor graduations can have the lesser of 5,000 people or 30 percent capacity, while indoor graduations can have the lesser of 500 people or 30 percent capacity. Read More
The 10,000 individuals who signed up for the mass vaccination event at the Nissan Stadium will be greeted with fanfare: live music, cheerleaders, and mascots to boot. Nashville Mayor John Cooper issued this announcement in a press release on Thursday, several days ahead of the mass vaccination event on Sunday. The release noted that the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation (CVC) and the Tennessee Titans would assist in putting on the “live musical performance.”
The Tennessee Star inquired with the mayor’s office about the cost of this celebratory aspect to the mass vaccination event. Cooper’s spokesperson didn’t respond by press time. Read More
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland assured his residents in a weekly update that they are prioritizing equity for minorities in COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts. Strickland noted that their goal is to increase African American and people of color vaccinations from 20 percent to 30 percent of total population.
A supplementary press release explained a map of their five vaccination sites. According to city officials, they coordinated the sites around matching the demographics of Shelby County at large. Some of the areas outside each site’s five mile radius include: Arlington, Lakeland, a majority of Millington, and the rural outliers of the county. The demographic makeup of these areas is overwhelmingly White. Read More
Maryland’s vile handling of the COVID-19 vaccine affords searing lessons in the failure of bureaucratic government or the administrative state. More specifically Montgomery County (MoCo), Maryland’s bedroom community for the federal bureaucracy, exemplifies how America will suffer under one-party Democratic rule. Read More
One publicly-funded university in Georgia says it plans to resume normal operations in the fall semester.
“For Fall 2021, we are currently planning for a full return to campus, which means resuming ‘normal’ operations with in-person instruction, research, events, service, and activities, and full dining and housing operations,” Georgia Southern University President Dr. Kyle Marrero said in a message to students, faculty, and staff according to WTOC. Read More
On Tuesday, state health officials reported 53% of Minnesotans ages 65 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The state set a goal to reach 70% of seniors given one vaccination by the end of March so it can move to the next priority category to continue Minnesota’s recovery. Read More
The House Health Subcommittee killed a bill allowing exemptions for vaccines based on religious or conscientious objections, especially during pandemics. Lawmakers voted against the bill, 7-3. Committee members that voted against the bill were State Representatives Bob Freeman (D-Nashville), Darren Jernigan (D-Old Hickory), Sabi Kumar (R-Springfield), Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville), Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville), Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta), and Robin Smith (R-Hixon); those for the bill were State Representatives Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon), Mark Hall (R-Cleveland), Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro).
Opposition to the bill raised issue with the possibility of its public health impact, citing the risk posed by non-vaccinated individuals in areas such as schools, daycares, and restaurants. State Representative Jay D. Reedy (R-Erin) had proposed the bill in November initially, several weeks after the general election. Its companion bill was filed shortly after by State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), who didn’t respond for comment by press time. Read More
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) appeared on the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) Patients Come First podcast on Sunday. Kaine explained two upcoming financial relief packages, provided an update on Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and explained his Medicare-X Choice Act. Read More
Tennessee will no longer send the COVID-19 vaccine to the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) for allocation after a state investigation revealed mismanagement and waste of more than 2,400 vaccine doses this month.
The state instead will send the doses to the city of Memphis and local hospitals. Read More
In order to register for the COVID-19 vaccine, personal information such as full name, date of birth, address, email, phone number, gender, race, and ethnicity will be required. These details are requested via the questionnaire on an updated COVID-19 vaccine registration website recently launched by the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH).
Users are also asked to confirm if they work or volunteer in certain environments, live with certain high-risk conditions, suffered past allergic reactions to any substance, received passive antibody therapy for COVID-19 in the last 90 days or any vaccinations in the previous two weeks, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or were currently or previously sick with COVID-19. Read More
Tractor Supply is incentivizing its workers with $50 additional pay and any necessary time off to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The company, headquartered in Brentwood, clarified that they wouldn’t be mandating the vaccine. Instead, Tractor Supply stated that the decision to be vaccinated should remain between the employee and their primary care physician. This arrangement would also extend to its workers in Petsense, another retailer owned and operated by the company.
Additionally, Tractor Supply announced that it had partnered with an undisclosed third-party provider to host vaccination clinics at their eight distribution centers and their store support center. Read More
A coalition of Minnesota doctors wants the governor to prioritize minority groups for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Minnesota Doctors for Health Equity sent a letter Monday to Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan asking for “ethical, evidence-based, and equitable action” surrounding the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution, particularly regarding Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout. Read More
In a 67-0 vote Monday, the Minnesota Senate passed legislation that will allow dentists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
SF 475 is a bill “amending Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 150A.055,” which gives dentists the ability to distribute influenza vaccines. The amendment broadens the original bill, extending to cover COVID-19 vaccinations, too. Read More
Tennessee ranks 33rd of the 50 states for the percentage of COVID-19 vaccines it has distributed versus the number of doses it received, data show.
The ranking was revealed by Becker’s Hospital Review, and is available here. Becker’s updated the data on Tuesday. Read More
Two new online dashboards have recently been launched to help provide awareness and track the spread of the coronavirus at Virginia’s colleges and universities as many institutions in the Commonwealth have already begun or are starting in-person classes soon.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched its COVID-19 Outbreaks in Virginia Higher Education dashboard roughly two weeks ago. Read More
The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors (BOS) sent a scathing letter on Tuesday to Governor Ralph Northam criticizing the slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Virginia.
“Simply put, Virginia’s campaign to vaccinate the masses is totally defective. On this issue, we have run out of patience and tolerance. Our citizens deserve better,” the five supervisors wrote. “Virginia has far too many doses still not administered, and that’s not the fault of the federal government.” Read More
The Medical Center of Elberton has been barred temporarily from administering COVID-19 vaccines after mistakenly vaccinating teachers and other school staff without state permission. The medical center reportedly vaccinated around 40 percent of the Elbert County School District employees.
For that, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) suspended the medical center from receiving vaccine supplies for 6 months. Read More
The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed emergency legislation to speed up the state’s slow vaccination campaign by expanding which health care workers can administer shots to citizens and locations serving as inoculation sites.
House Bill 2333, introduced by Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), passed the House with bipartisan support from committee to a final floor vote in just one day, a process that normally takes multiple meetings of the body. Read More
A bill to help Virginia speed up its mass vaccination effort by expanding who is allowed to inoculate citizens and where those injections can occur is being pushed by a bipartisan group of state Senators.
Flanked by various medical professionals, Senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City), Todd Pillion (R-Washington), Jennifer Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), George Barker (D-Fairfax) and Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) held a news conference to discuss Senate Bill 1445 in Richmond on Thursday. Read More