Nearly one month after announcing a sweeping plan to require millions of Americans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, U.S. President Joe Biden traveled to Chicago, Illinois, Thursday to discuss the progress of the vaccine mandates.

In comments made at Clayco, a national construction firm, Biden said that his mandates were working and that millions of Americans had gotten vaccinated since they were announced. 

“We know there is no other way to beat the pandemic than to get the vast majority of Americans vaccinated. … We’re still not there. We have to beat this thing,” he said. 

The president also said that the mandates were good for the economy and have broad public support. 

As he concluded his remarks, Biden called on more companies to implement mandates. 

The latest Quinnipiac poll released earlier this week showed public approval of Biden’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was 48%, with 50% disapproving.

Last month, Biden announced a plan to require vaccinations at companies with 100 or more employees. Those who do not get vaccinated would have to submit to weekly testing. The mandate could affect more than 100 million workers. 

Despite widespread vaccination among the U.S. population, 2021 has surpassed 2020 in deaths from COVID-19. Over 700,000 Americans have died from the virus so far. 

Chicago is home to United Airlines, which became one of the first carriers to comply with Biden’s order when it required COVID-19 vaccinations for its entire U.S.-based workforce of 67,000. American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines have followed through with their own vaccination requirements.

Biden’s mandatory vaccination plan includes all federal employees and contractors who do business with the government, and workers at any hospital that accepts Medicare or Medicaid payments.

Test kits

Jeffrey Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator, announced Wednesday that the Biden administration will spend $1 billion to produce rapid at-home tests. He said the investment will increase the number of those kits to 200 million units by December, an amount that quadruples the current number of available tests. He said the United States should have half a billion COVID-19 tests available per month by December, split evenly between at-home self-tests and those given at a pharmacy, clinic or doctor’s office.

 

Zients also announced that the administration will expand the number of pharmacies in the federal government’s free coronavirus testing program to 20,000.

COVID toes

A new study published in the British Journal of Dermatology says the skin condition called “COVID toes” may be a side effect of the body’s immune system responding to the presence of the infection.

COVID toes are painful lesions and rashes resembling frostbite on the feet and hands of infected patients. The condition causes swelling and is accompanied by burning or itching sensations. Researchers in France analyzed blood and skin biopsies from 50 patients who were treated for the condition in April 2020, at the start of the pandemic, while testing negative for COVID-19.

The samples revealed high levels of Type 1 interferon, a molecule that activates the body’s immune system to fight off viruses, as well as antibodies that are not only attacking the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 but also the body’s own cells.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

 

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