80% of Americans 12 and over have first dose; Florida teacher who sued for ivermectin treatment dies: COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

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The U.S. reached an encouraging milestone Wednesday with 80% of Americans ages 12 and older having received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, President Joe Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator said.

Jeff Zients, speaking at a White House briefing, estimated that in the last 10 days at least 2.6 million kids ages 5-11 have received their first shot, about 10% of kids that age. It took about 50 days to reach 10% of adults, he said.

“We know there is more work to do,” he said. “But these milestones represent critical progress and shows we are on the right track in our fight against the virus.”

Zients added the U.S. will invest billions of dollars into vaccine manufacturing capacity with the goal of producing at least one billion doses a year. The goal is to be prepared to roll out a vaccine for future pathogens within nine months of an outbreak, Zients said. The investment, first reported in the New York Times, calls for the government to partner with industry to address immediate vaccine needs at home and abroad and to prepare for future pandemics.

 Zients said the U.S. already has provided 250 million vaccine doses to 110 countries “for free, no strings attached.”

Also in the news:

►The CDC urged travelers to ‘avoid’ several European destinations, including Iceland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, due to COVID-19 levels.

►”Dancing With The Stars” judge Derek Hough has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the show’s finale. 

►A Northern California health clinic gave 14 children the wrong dose when administering pediatric COVID-19 vaccines over the weekend.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 765,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 254 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 195 million Americans — 58.9% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: It’s time to reassess expectations for reading skills of children whose early learning was disrupted by the pandemic. And that’s okay, experts say.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox, and join our Facebook group.

Physician accused of promoting misinformation resigns from hospital

A physician has resigned from Houston Methodist, days after the hospital suspended her and accused her of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 on social media.

The hospital temporarily revoked Dr. Mary Bowden’s hospital privileges Friday, citing “unprofessional behavior” after Bowden repeatedly decried vaccine mandates and promoted ivermectin, the anti-parasitic drug that federal health officials have not approved for treating the virus.

In her resignation letter she described vaccination as an “important tool” in the pandemic fight. Bowden, an ears, nose and throat specialist, denies spreading misinformation, but said doctors “should pay more attention to medications such as ivermectin.”

The FDA in a September notice wrote that “currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against COVID-19.” The agency said it had received “multiple reports” of patients who have required medical attention after self-medicating with ivermectin. Clinical trials were ongoing.

The hospital said in a statement that Bowden was using social media accounts “to express her personal and political opinions” about vaccines and treatments.

“These opinions, which are harmful to the community, do not reflect reliable medical evidence or the values of Houston Methodist, where we have treated more than 25,000 COVID-19 inpatients, and where all our employees and physicians are vaccinated to protect our patients,” the statement said.

Florida teacher who sued hospital to get ivermectin dies from COVID

A Florida teacher who drew national attention for trying to get a hospital to administer her ivermectin has died from COVID-19 symptoms. Tamara Drock, 47, of Loxahatchee, Florida, died Friday, 12 weeks after being admitted to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center for treatment. Her husband, Ryan Drock, sued the hospital last month in an attempt to require it to administer ivermectin, a drug approved by the FDA to treat conditions caused by parasitic worms but not COVID-19. A settlement deal fell apart after the family’s attorney said the ivermectin dosage proposed by a physician was too low.

“I’m hoping they name a law after her so no one has to go through this,” Ryan Drock told The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Network. “If she had walked out of the hospital, she could have had the medication.”

Scott Gleeson

22 states challenging Biden vaccine mandate in court

A second set of states has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers. The most recent suit, dated Monday, was filed in Louisiana on behalf of 12 states and comes less than a week after another lawsuit challenging the rule was filed in Missouri representing 10 states. 

“The federal government will not impose medical tyranny on Louisiana’s people without my best fight,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a news release announcing the lawsuit.

Both lawsuits say the vaccine mandate threatens to drive away health care workers who don’t want to get vaccinated at a time when such workers are badly needed. They also contend the rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services violates federal law and unconstitutionally encroaches on states’ powers. The Biden administration has not yet filed responses in either of the suits.

Friday, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a broader Biden administration vaccine mandate that businesses with more than 100 workers require employees to be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or wear masks and be tested weekly for COVID-19. 

Pandemic upside: Time to reevaluate quality of life

The pandemic has spurred many workers to reevaluate their lives and the role work plays in them, leading some to set fresh boundaries, find new jobs or maintain the side hustles that got them through the shutdowns and layoffs. Nearly 6 in 10 American workers in an October survey by job search site LinkedIn said they had gone through a career awakening during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it was a desire for better work-life balance, deciding to pursue a promotion or redefining their meaning of success.

The survey also found a majority of American workers who say the pandemic has altered the way they feel about their career.

“We’re seeing that lack of fulfillment motivating people to make changes, whether they’re looking for a new job, a new career or picking up a side hustle,” says Catherine Fisher, LinkedIn’s career expert.

Charisse Jones

Texas woman faces charges in clash over mask on airplane

Federal authorities are charging a Texas woman with interfering with an aircraft after a clash over a mask during a flight from Alaska to San Francisco. Debby Dutton faces up to 20 years if convicted. According to the criminal complaint, Dutton and her husband were passengers on board a United Airlines flight June 29 when a flight attendant noticed the face mask being worn by Dutton’s husband, who was asleep, had fallen off. When the flight attendant tapped the man’s shoulder and asked him to put his mask back on, authorities say Dutton began shouting and pushing the flight attendant. 

Dutton is being charged with one count of interference of a flight crew or attendants by assault, threat or intimidation. 

Jordan Mendoza

Michigan is now the worst COVID hot spot in nation

Michigan catapulted Tuesday to the worst COVID-19 hot spot in the nation, as the seven-day case rate rose to 503.8 per 100,000 residents, according to the CDC. Cases are rising in 33 states, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. Cases for the week ending Monday were at 584,449, up 15% from a recent low in the week ending Oct. 26.

Michigan hospitals say they’re feeling the pressure as the number of COVID-19 patients has climbed nearly 50% in the last month — from 2,097 patients admitted with confirmed cases of the virus on Oct. 18 to 3,082 on Monday, according to state data. 

“We have both this stark surge of COVID-19 patients, but we also have hospitals that have been dealing with staffing challenges and staffing shortages, as well as high volumes of non-COVID patients,” said John Karasinski, a spokesman for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, which represents all 133 community hospitals in the state.

That means potentially long waits at emergency rooms, hospitals that have to postpone nonemergency medical procedures and some that can’t accept new patient transfers, he said. 

Most COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths both in Michigan and nationwide are among the unvaccinated.

— Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press

Contributing: The Associated Press