As the US honors its veterans on Memorial Day Monday, restrictions on vaccinated individuals in the country’s cemeteries dedicated to veterinarians have been lifted.
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced last week that it was relaxing the rules at the country’s 155 veterans cemeteries.
The move came when the VA reported last Monday that there were no new COVID deaths at their medical centers across the country, a first since March 18, 2020. VA data shows that more than 12,000 people have died and More than 2.5 million were vaccinated against COVID -19 of approximately 9 million veterans participating in the agency’s programs.
Isolation from the pandemic has also been particularly difficult for veterans, many of whom rely on relatives with other service members to help manage the war trauma. Jeremy Butler, a 47-year-old Navy Reserve officer in New York who heads the Iraqi advocacy group and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told the Associated Press.
“We’re getting back together now, but it’s been an extremely challenging year,” he said.
But others, especially the families of veterans who survived the horrors of war only to die of COVID, can reopen barely healed wounds on Memorial Day.
In western Massachusetts, Susan Kenney told AP that her 78-year-old father’s death from the virus last April is still raw.
Charles Lowell, an Air Force veteran who served during the Vietnam War, was among 76 Holyoke Soldiers’ Home residents who died last year in a long-term care facility in one of the deadliest coronavirus outbreaks in America.
“I relived that for a whole year,” she said. “At every milestone. Veterans Day. His birthday. The day of his death. Everything is a constant reminder of what happened. It’s so painful to think about. “
Also in the news:
► A hat seller from Tennessee removed an Instagram post after fueling controversy on social media by selling a patch that looks like the Jewish Star of David. HatWRKS, run by milliner Gigi Gaskins, posted a photo of a woman wearing a bright yellow star sticker with the words “Not Vaccinated”.
► In a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine looked at antibody levels in organ transplant recipients who had received two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and had not previously had COVID-19. Of the 658 participants in the study, 46% had no detectable antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 after both shots. Read more here.
► Approximately half of adults in the US are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and cases are falling nationwide. However, the Washington Post found that the hospitalization rate for unvaccinated people is the same as it was three months ago and the infection rate for unvaccinated people is the same as in December.
►New York’s 7-day coronavirus positivity rate has fallen to a record low of 0.71% after 55 consecutive days of decline, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday.
► Corporations can request and incentivize their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 without violating Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s laws, the agency said. The updated EEOC guidelines also indicate that employers must make “reasonable accommodation” for workers who are not vaccinated because of a disability, religious belief or pregnancy.
►Japan announced on Friday that the country’s state of emergency, which will expire on Monday, will be extended to June 20, just over a month after the Tokyo Olympics.
📈 Today’s numbers: There are more than 33.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 594,000 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global total: over 170.4 million cases and 3.54 million deaths. More than 135 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 40.7% of the population.
📘 What we read: The pandemic – and the political struggles and economic devastation that has accompanied it – have inflicted unique forms of agony on those who mourn, making it harder to move forward with their lives than with typical loss.
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Base built to start a vaccination station for submarines
A disused WWII submarine base in Lorient, France has become the country’s newest vaccination site, according to the New York Times.
The structure, built in 1941, was originally used to launch German submarines. The vaccination center, now renovated with chairs, tents and an art exhibit, has administered more than 6,000 doses in the past week, the Times reported.
The first person to be vaccinated on the spot was a Frenchman who was involved in the war and who was working on rebuilding submarines, the head of the vaccination center, Jean-Michel Pasquet, told the newspaper.
“He told us it was a nice symbol of resilience,” said Pasquet. “This bunker, where warships were once built to kill people, is now a comeback of life.”
Colleges are hoping that students will get COVID vaccines for the fall semester – but may they need them?
With the colleges planning a possible reopening in the fall of 2021, the question is whether vaccination will be required to attend classes in person.
Although about half of American adults are fully vaccinated, only about 30% of college-age adults make up the group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Given that university towns and counties are home to some of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19, vaccination has become a priority for resuming in-person tuition.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, over 400 colleges in the United States require at least some students and staff to be vaccinated before returning to campus. The controversy over the colleges’ decision to make this a requirement arises from the FDA’s approval of the vaccine under an emergency clearance ordinance. For example, the University of California and California State University systems have announced that they will need vaccinations once they are fully approved.
Unvaccinated Houston hospital staff files lawsuits
One hundred and seventeen unvaccinated Houston Methodist Hospital employees filed a lawsuit against the hospital on Friday finding it was illegal to require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The claim is that the mandate violates the Nuremberg Code, which prevents experimentation on human subjects without consent.
The code was developed in response to cruel medical practices in concentration camps after World War II. Lead plaintiff, Houston Methodist Nurse Jennifer Bridges, said more research on the COVID-19 vaccine was needed.
Contributor: The Associated Press.