Disney World pauses mandatory vaccination policy; Australian Open tennis to require shots: Live COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

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Walt Disney World has paused its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a series of restrictive laws last week punishing companies that don’t let workers opt out of vaccine requirements.

Disney said more than 90% of Disney World “cast members” have been vaccinated.

“We believe that our approach to mandatory vaccines has been the right one as we’ve continued to focus on the safety and well-being of our cast members and guests,” Disney said in an email. “We will address legal developments as appropriate.”

DeSantis’ office cheered the decision, adding in a statement “we believe that all companies in Florida will likewise follow the law.”

Not doing so could be costly: Fines are possible up to $50,000 per violation for large companies and $10,000 for smaller businesses if an employee is fired. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney World employed more than 70,000 workers.

Also in the news:

►Australian Open chief Craig Tiley confirmed that everyone who attends the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of 2022 will need to be fully vaccinated, including all the players, leaving the status of defending and nine-time champion Novak Djokovic in question. He has refused to say if he’s been vaccinated.

►Booster shots will soon be available to all American adults, after a CDC panel voted unanimously to remove booster barriers and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off

►A CDC study suggests people who gave birth while positive with COVID-19 were almost twice as likely to have a stillbirth as healthy people without COVID-19, The New York Times reported.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 47.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 771,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 257 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 195.9 million Americans – 59% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: Governments that embrace a testing option instead of mandatory vaccination believe it creates a safe work environment and gives reluctant employees to opt out of the vaccine. But it’s costly.

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

Tennessee’s new COVID law is back in court

Tennessee continues to insinuate masks don’t work and the task of keeping kids safe from COVID-19 in schools is an individual, not community, task, according to legal arguments in federal court. Judge Waverly Crenshaw is deciding whether he will issue a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of a new state law’s provision prohibiting schools from implementing mask mandates except in extremely rare circumstances. It comes on the heels of three other cases across the state – one in Crenshaw’s court – over the state’s approach to masking in schools. 

The state argues that with the advent of vaccines, the increased availability of at-home tests and some promising treatment options, parents have the option to find a way to send their kids to school – or not – without impacting others. Parents of eight children with disabilities, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, argue school isn’t equivalent to deciding whether to stay home from a birthday party. Read more.

-Mariah Timms, The Nashville Tennessean 

Defense Department sends nurses to overwhelmed northern Colorado

The Colorado COVID-related worker shortage is so severe at UCHealth that a medical response team of about 20 nurses, providers, respiratory therapists and administrators from the Department of Defense will be deployed to Poudre Valley Hospital beginning this week. The team will stay for about a month and to support hospital staff and patients and ease capacity and staffing challenges, according to a news release. As of Thursday, UCHealth had 373 hospitalized COVID-19 patients across the state; 99 were in UCHealth hospitals in northern Colorado, according to the health system. 

“We are so grateful that this team will assist us in providing exceptional care in northern Colorado,” Kevin Unger, chief executive officer of UCHealth in Northern Colorado, said in the release. “We anticipate this additional support and other plans we already have in the works will help make a significant difference.” 

– Pat Ferrier, The Fort Collins Coloradoan

Contributing: The Associated Press