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Dr. Fauci Says Early Reports On Omicron Covid-19 Variant Are Encouraging 

US health officials stated this Sunday that while the omicron variant is rapidly spreading throughout the world and country, early reports suggest it may be less dangerous than the delta variant, which is continuing to impact hospitalization rates across America. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told the media that scientists do need more information before drawing any concrete conclusions about omicron and its severity. 

South Africa, where the variant initially emerged, reported that it is becoming the dominant strain for its citizens, but also suggested that their hospitalization rates haven’t increased exponentially like they did with delta initially. 

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“Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to omicron, but we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to delta.”

Fauci also explained how the Biden administration is considering lifting travel restrictions between the US and noncitizens from several African countries. Initially, the US imposed heavy restrictions once the omicron variant first appeared. 

“Hopefully we’ll be able to lift that travel ban in a quite reasonable period of time. We all feel very badly about the hardship that has been put on not only in South Africa but the other African countries,” Fauci said.

According to reports the omicron variant has been detected in about a third of the US state’s as of this past Sunday. The Northeast, South, Great Plains, and West Coast have all reported omicron cases with Wisconsin, Missouri and Louisiana being the most recent states to confirm cases. 

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Delta continues to remain the dominant variant in the US, as it’s currently driving a surge of hospitalizations in the North, and makes up about 99% of the confirmed Covid cases. The National Guard has been sent out to help overwhelmed hospitals throughout the Northeast, and many hospitals are rescheduling non-urgent surgeries to cope with the increase in Covid patients. 

A majority of these cases are among unvaccinated individuals as well, so US officials are working hard to continue to urge people to get vaccinated, receive their booster shots, and take all the necessary precautions when out in public. 

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove told the media this week that even if the omicron variant continues to be less dangerous than the delta variant, it’s existence alone is still a major issue. 

“Even if we have a large number of cases that are mild, some of those individuals will need hospitalizations. They will need to go into ICU and some people will die. … We don’t want to see that happen on top of an already difficult situation with delta circulating globally.”

We are now about two years into the pandemic, and during that time about 780,000 Americans have died, and deaths remain at a rate of 860 per day, proving we still have a long way to go before we can consider this pandemic even close to being beaten. With more than 86,000 infections being reported per day, experts are encouraging all Americans to remain safe during the upcoming holiday season, and keep all travel to a minimum. 

President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate For 100 Million Workers Officially Being Enforced

Back in September President Biden announced that he would be working on creating multiple vaccine mandates to get more Americans vaccinated. On Thursday, the administration started the process by releasing mandates for over 100 million workers. 

The first rule has been issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and covers mandates for companies with 100 or more employees; it’s estimated this rule will apply to 84 million workers. Companies need to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by January 4th, or they will need to provide a negative test in order to come into work every week. 

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OSHA’s rule also requires employers to pay their employees for the time it takes for them to get vaccinated, and recover from any potential side effects that arise. 

Employers also won’t be required to pay for weekly testing for their unvaccinated employees, or even provide the testing in the first place. This is in an attempt to get more employees to actually receive their vaccines as opposed to remaining at higher risk for exposure. 

Unvaccinated workers will also be required to wear face coverings at all times; this rule will be enforced starting December 6th. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are requiring around 17 million health care workers to be vaccinated by January 4th. However, healthcare workers won’t be given the option to decline being vaccinated to opt for weekly testing. 

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Some employers are worried that the deadlines OSHA provided won’t give some of them enough time to gather the information required to find out who’s already vaccinated and who’s not. However, the Biden Administration asserted their authority in issuing these mandates due to OSHA’s responsibility to provide safe and healthy working conditions for all employees. 

“A virus that has killed more than 745,000 Americans, with more than 70,000 new cases per day currently, is clearly a health hazard that poses a grave danger to workers,” said a senior administration official.

Companies will mainly be responsible for enforcing the OSHA rule, as there’s only a couple thousand state and federal OSHA inspectors nationwide. It’s expected that OSHA inspectors will more likely be responding to employee complaints regarding their employers or fellow workers who aren’t abiding by the mandates. 

Employers that violate the rule can face fines up to $13,000 per violation, and depending on how severe the violation is that fine could multiply by ten.

WHO, CDC Warn Measles Outbreak Possible After 22 Million Infants Miss Their Vaccines

A study published by the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows the possibility of a global measles outbreak has increased after 22 million infants missed their vaccinations because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 3 million more than in 2019.

Two-thirds of the infants are located in just ten countries, which include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Ethiopia.

According to the World Health Organization, measles are the world’s most contagious virus, but also the most “entirely preventable,” with the vaccine having averted more than 30 million deaths over the last 20 years.

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After a global measles resurgence from 2017-2019, the disease saw a drop in 2020 due to the pandemic. In the U.S., just 13 individual cases of measles were confirmed in 2020, down from 1,282 reported cases in 2019. However, the CDC notes that despite the decline, millions of children were more susceptible to measles at the end of 2020 than they were at the end of 2019.

There were a number of possible causes for the measles decline in 2020, one of them being lower transmission rates — thanks in part to social distancing and quarantining — and increased immunity. However, a more likely culprit is the underreporting of cases after “large and disruptive measles outbreaks in 2020.”

Per the WHO, despite there being a safe and cost-effective measles vaccination, there were 140,000 measles deaths globally in 2018, mostly among children under the age of five. On average, there are around 60,000 measles deaths a year, along with 7.5 million cases.

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The measles vaccine come in two doses, which is critical for it to be successful. The first dose coverage fell in 2020, while only 70% of children received their second vaccine dose, which the WHO explains is far below the 95% coverage needed to protect communities from a measles outbreak.

According to The Hill, the number of specimens sent to the WHO Global Measles and Rubella Laboratory Network hit a low that hasn’t been seen in more than a decade. 35 countries did not report rates for the first measles shot, while 50 countries did not report rates for the second measles shot.

In addition to the missed vaccines by infants, 24 measles vaccine supplemental campaigns in 23 countries were postponed due to COVID-19, leaving more than 93 million people at risk for the virus. These campaigns are important because they’re needed where people have missed out on measles-containing vaccines through routine immunization program.

In a statement, WHO Director of Immunization Dr. Kate O’Brien explained we are likely seeing “the calm before the storm” when it comes to a measles outbreak, and stressed the importance of continual vaccination against all diseases.

“It’s critical that countries vaccinate as quickly as possible against COVID-19, but this requires new resources so that it does not come at the cost of essential immunization programs. Routine immunization must be protected and strengthened; otherwise, we risk trading one deadly disease for another.”

Along with the risk of death, measles can also cause swelling, blindness, pneumonia, dehydration, diarrhea, and encephalitis, which can cause swelling of the brain. More basic symptoms include a high fever and rashes.

Covid-19 Deaths Surpass 5 Million Globally As Pandemic Progresses 

More than 5 million people have now died from Covid-19 during the two year span of this pandemic. The world is continuing to battle this virus, its highly infectious strains, and any new mutations that may appear. 

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been 5,000,425 Covid-19 related deaths around the world. 745,836 of those deaths were in the United States, making it the country with the highest Covid death rate. 

Despite the rise in deaths and infections, particularly among the unvaccinated, many countries are lifting pandemic restrictions and ending lockdowns. The rapid development of Covid vaccinations helped aid these reopenings, as they are clinically proven to reduce severe infection, hospitalization, and death from Covid-19.  

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Unvaccinated individuals are at a much larger risk of contracting the virus and being hospitalized for it. Now that we’re approaching the winter season, healthcare experts are worried for those at more of a risk of infection. 

During the week of Oct. 18-24, “the number of weekly Covid cases and deaths had increased slightly from the previous week, with over 2.9 million new cases and more than 49,000 new deaths, a 4% and 5% increase, respectively,” according to the World Health Organization.

Europe accounted for more than half (57%) of global new weekly cases and was the only region to report a higher number of cases when compared to the week before. 

According to reports, “the highest numbers of new cases were reported in the U.S. (with 512,956 new cases, although this represented a 12% decrease from the previous week), the U.K. (which reported 330,465 new cases; a 16% increase) and Russia, which reported 248,956 new cases; a 15% increase from the previous week.”

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The alpha and delta variants have dominated the globe especially among unvaccinated citizens. The delta-plus variant is also being reported in the US, UK, and Australia. The new mutation of the delta variant is currently being examined to see if it could make Covid-19 even more infectious. 

The World Health Organization announced last week that they would be closely tracking the delta subvariant, which has appeared in 42 countries now. 

“An increase in AY.4.2 sequence submissions has been observed since July. The majority of cases stemming from the AY.4.2 variant have been detected in the U.K., and these are rising in frequency,” the organization said in a report last week. 

“A gradual increase in the proportional contribution of AY.4.2 has been observed [in the U.K.]; accounting for an estimated 5.9% of overall Delta cases reported in the week beginning 3 October 2021. Epidemiological and laboratory studies are ongoing to assess if AY.4.2 makes the virus more transmissible or makes antibodies against the virus less effective.”

Study Finds Sleeping “Sweet Spot” Helps Older Adults Maintain Cognitive Performance

If your sleeping patterns are irregular, it might be time to make changes in favor of your health. According to a study published in the journal Brain, a sleeping “sweet spot” could help older adults to maintain their cognitive performance.

The study — which was conducted over multiple years — involved 100 participants who were tested for cognitive decline and early Alzheimer’s disease, whose sleep-wake activities were monitored for over four to six nights. Additionally, participants slept with an EEG device monitor on their foreheads.

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As the Washington University School of Medicine noted, 88 of the 100 participants had no cognitive impairment, 11 were mildly impaired, and one had mild cognitive impairment. The average age of participants was 75.

The results found that those who slept five and a half hours to seven and a half hours retained brain function. Meanwhile, those who slept over or under the ideal time amount had their cognitive performance suffer. The results were also adjusted for factors such as age, sex, rapid-eye movement (REM) and education.

Associate professor of neurology and director of the Washington University Sleep Medicine Center Brendan Lucey, MD — who was also the lead author of the study — stated that it has been challenging connecting sleep and various stages of Alzheimer’s.

Even with this new data, Lucey said there are still questions left to be answered, such as how adults’ brain performances would respond if methods were implemented to ensure longer sleep for shorter sleepers.

“An unanswered question is if we can intervene to improve sleep, such as increasing sleep time for short sleepers by an hour or so, would that have a positive effect on their cognitive performance so they no longer decline? We need more longitudinal data to answer this question.”

Alzheimer’s can have severe affects on sleep patterns. Alzheimer’s Association states that patients spend 40% of the night awake — either laying restlessly, wandering around, or yelling — and often sleep for a decent portion of the day as a result. Sleep loss in Alzheimer’s patients can also speed up brain damage as well – which makes these findings so much more crucial towards preserving cognitive functionality.

Alzheimer’s isn’t the only disease that can harm the sleep of older adults. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIH), sleep apnea, insomnia, and movement issues such as REM sleep disorder or restless leg syndrome (RLS) can all be possible hinderances.

However, the NIH shows there are plenty of ways to help you get a better night’s sleep. Following a regular sleeping schedule is important for your body’s internal clock. Keeping your bedroom at comfortable temperatures while using low-lighting closer to your bedtime is also suggested.

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Remember to not use screens — such as your TV, phone, or other devices — when it’s close to your bedtime, as the lights could affect your sleep. Thinking of consuming a certain beverage or meal as a night-time snack? That’s also a no-no – consuming soda, coffee, alcohol, and large servings could force you to stay awake due to the energy boosts they provide.

There are other factors to consider, as well. The quality and comfort of your pillows, mattresses, and blankets can greatly influence how much sleep you receive. If they end up causing discomfort, you’ll be twisting and turning for hours.

It’s also not just older adults that should have an ideal sleep time frame. The Sleep Foundation recommends that six to 13 year olds should have around nine to 11 hours of sleep, 14 to 17 year olds should have eight to 10 hours, and adults from 18 to 64 should have eight to nine hours.

While trying to find that sweet spot may be challenging, the end goal of better brain behavior and overall health makes the effort more than worth it.

Dr. Fauci Tells America To ‘Go Out There And Enjoy Halloween’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has given Americans the green light to go trick-or-treating on Halloween this year, despite the continuing battle with COVID-19.

Speaking with the CNN’s State of the Union this past weekend, Fauci gave his thoughts on one of the nation’s favorite holidays, explaining that people who have been vaccinated shouldn’t be too worried about social interactions.

“You can get out there, you’re outdoors for the most part. This is a time that children love, it’s a very important part of the year for children, I know my children enjoyed it.”

Fauci also took the time to urge unvaccinated to think about the benefits of receiving the shot. “If you’re not vaccinated, again, think about it,” Fauci explained, “that you’ll add any extra degree of protection to yourself and your children, and your family, and your community. It’s a good time to reflect on why you should get vaccinated.”

Hearing the leading doctor against the virus give his approval is a breath of fresh air for those who have been craving returning to a pre-pandemic time, and it’s obvious that people are excited. According to Good Morning America, Halloween spending is estimated to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion.

Fauci also mentioned that the outlooks for Thanksgiving and Christmas look promising as well, although no official guidelines have been released at this time.

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Last year, Fauci and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) discouraged trick-or-treating and engaging in large gatherings on Halloween. The CDC noted at the time that many of the classic All Hallow’s Eve activities, such as haunted houses and in-person festivals, were thought to be “high-risk for spreading viruses.”

According to the New York Times, there are 123,000 new COVID-19 cases, although the total new cases have been in decline over the past few weeks (totals were up to nearly 190,000 in early September). Additionally, the seven-day average is now slightly over 89,000, the lowest it’s been since late July.

In the same interview with CNN, Fauci also noted that daily hospitalizations are down below 10,000, while daily deaths are down below 2,000. These positive trends have many hopeful that the Delta-variant wave is finally tapering off.

While it’s a step in the right direction, the fight against COVID-19 is far from over. Fauci warned against declaring a “premature victory” over the pandemic.

“We still have around 68 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated that have not yet gotten vaccinated,” Fauci said. “You want to look forward to holiday seasons and spending time with your family and doing those sorts of things, but don’t just throw your hands up and say it’s all over.”

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The CDC does have some input on safety measures that families should attempt to take leading up to and on Oct. 31. Small groups are still preferable, and it’s recommended that large indoor gatherings continue to be avoided.

The CDC also recommended continuing to wear masks outside, but that step may not be necessary. Epidemiologist Dr. John Brownstein told ABC News that based on all the data we’ve gathered from the on-going pandemic, the outside has been determined to be safe, even for unvaccinated.

“Every parent has to make their own sort of risk calculation, but given where we are in this pandemic, I think, generally, mask wearing outside is probably unnecessary.”

While you may not need to worry about what precautions you take outside, Brown did add that masks and social distancing may be better should you find yourself in a large indoor gathering. Additionally, you should know ahead of time if other indoor attendees are vaccinated.

Brown also urged for people to continue following safety guidelines in order to ensure more relaxed holidays in the coming months.

How The Northeast Can Prevent A Covid-19 Surge This Winter According To Dr. Fauci 

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently spoke on CNN to advise the Northeast on the best ways to prevent a wave of Covid-19 this fall and winter season. The South is currently enduring multiple waves and spikes on infection, but Fauci believes those in the Northeast can get ahead of it. 

“It is within our power, and within our grasp, to prevent another wave from occurring. The way to do it is by utilizing mitigation measures like wearing masks indoors and in schools, as well as increasing vaccination rates.”

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Evidence has shown that vaccine mandates do lead to more people getting vaccinated, and the more vaccinated people there are in a given community, the more protected that community will be. President Joe Biden stressed the importance of people getting vaccinated on Monday while he received his booster shot. 

“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That’s why I’m moving forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can.”

Former US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb estimated that “the Delta wave of the pandemic could run its course by Thanksgiving, and Covid-19 could eventually become more of a seasonal nuisance than a devastating pandemic. But that is dependent on getting a lot more people vaccinated.”

55.4% of the US is currently fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. The daily pace of new vaccinations is the lowest it’s been since the CDC started tracking it back in January. 

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Health experts have also been discussing using vaccine boosters as a way to increase protection against the virus. Booster shots are not currently accessible to everyone, and even when they do become more widely available, it won’t solve the issue of the part of the population still refusing to get their inoculations. 

While mask and vaccine mandates have been highly politicized and debated, the data is accurate. Vaccine mandates lead to more individuals getting vaccinated, that’s a fact. The more people who get vaccinated in a given community, city, state, etc., the more protected that space will be. 

Currently Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is available in booster form for people 65 and older and adults with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk of infection. 

Fauci said that “many people are still well protected from their initial Covid-19 vaccination, while certain categories of people, such as the elderly and those in long-term care facilities, may be ready for a boost six months after their initial vaccination. If you’re a person who ultimately might get a booster that will make you optimally protected, you don’t necessarily need to get it tomorrow.”

Pentagon Announces Vaccine Mandate For Troops Starting In September 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo this week detailing his request to president Joe Biden to require all US troops to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by mid-September. 

“I have every confidence that Service leadership and your commanders will implement this new vaccination program with professionalism, skill, and compassion.” 

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Austin said that he will be working to make the vaccine mandatory by mid-September or immediately upon the FDA’s full approval. As of right now vaccines in the military are voluntary when under emergency use authorization by the FDA; which all Covid-19 vaccines in America are currently being distributed under. 

President Joe Biden has the ability to waive the rule and make the vaccine a requirement for any government personnel, and in a recent statement Biden claimed he “strongly” supports Austin’s decision to make the vaccine mandatory. 

“I am proud that our military women and men will continue to help lead the charge in the fight against this pandemic, as they so often do, by setting the example of keeping their fellow Americans safe.”

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John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the president’s message of support is appreciated but doesn’t necessarily constitute for the approval of a waiver over the vaccine requirement. The Pentagon itself will still have to go through the process of requesting a waiver and receiving approval from the president. 

“You can consider this memo today as what we would call in the military a warning order – a warning order to the force that this is coming, and we want you to be ready for it as well. Obviously we’d prefer that you get the vaccine now and not wait for the mandate,” Kirby explained. 

Military services are already working on preparation and implementation tactics for whenever the vaccine becomes a requirement for military and government personnel. FDA approval for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is likely to occur within the next few weeks. 

The Department of Defense released a statement in which they explained that Austin would be consulting with medical professionals and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to best determine how to implement these required vaccines among government groups.

CDC Claims Covid-19 Delta Variant Is As Transmissible As Chickenpox

The US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an internal document this week that claims the Delta variant of the coronavirus is as contagious as chickenpox and could cause severe illness. 

The variant was already more likely to impact vaccinated Americans as well, which is why the report went on to explain that the CDC will be reversing their current mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans and will likely enforce all citizens to wear masks in public again. 

Previously the CDC said it was okay for vaccinated individuals to be unmasked indoors. Data has proven that the vaccines are still highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death in vaccinated people against the variants. 

The report claimed that the Delta variant is more transmissible than the viruses caused by MERS, SARS, Ebola, the common cold, flu, and smallpox. 

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CDC director Rochelle Walensky told the New York Times that new research was showing vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant carried a majority of the virus in their nose and throats. 

Officials in general have been warning Americans about major increases in new Covid-19 infections all throughout the nation; particularly among unvaccinated individuals.

Vaccine hesitancy is prominent throughout the entire country, fueled largely by a slew of misinformation that has been spreading about Covid-19 since the Trump administration. Federal employees in Washington are either to get vaccinated or be subject to multiple Covid tests a week, these types of requirements will likely appear throughout multiple industries as the pandemic continues. 

The Biden Administration recently called on state and local government leaders to offer $100 stimulus payments for newly vaccinated Americans; which would be funded by the $350 billion federal aid grant approved of under the American Rescue Plan Act. 

Former Surgeon General Says Unvaccinated Americans Are Causing Pandemic To ‘Spiral Out Of Control’ 

Former surgeon general Vice Admiral Dr. Jerome Adams recently spoke to the media about how unvaccinated Americans are causing the coronavirus pandemic to “spiral out of control.”

In an interview with CBS, Adams urged all unvaccinated Americans to go get their inoculations as the highly contagious Delta variant is a growing problem in the nation.

“There’s also real harm to you because, guess what? More mitigation is coming, whether it’s masking or whether it’s closures or whether it’s your kids having to return to virtual learning, that is coming.”

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Adams then explained how more legal mitigation would be “coming because this pandemic is spiraling out of control yet again, and it’s spiraling out of control because we don’t have enough people vaccinated. So get vaccinated because it helps your neighbors, but get vaccinated because it’s going to help every single American enjoy the freedoms that we want to return to.”

All 50 states have seen a ride in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and the Delta variant is responsible for around 83% of those new cases. The variant has also proven to be a significant rest among the unvaccinated; currently unvaccinated individuals account for nearly all Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already updated their national guidance and has recommended that all Americans should continue to wear their masks when in public. 

“If you’re out in public, if you’re around people who you don’t know whether they’re vaccinated or not, and especially if you’re in a community where prevalence is going up … it is probably going to be safest for you to mask it whether or not you’re vaccinated or not.”

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“Your public health officials who don’t have a good way of knowing, or your businesses who don’t have a good way of knowing who’s vaccinated or not, they’re going to find that they have no other choice but to call on more people to mask it. And the CDC needs to give those businesses, those health officials, a little bit of cover by clarifying the guidance that they have out there,” Adams explained. 

According to the CDC just under 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 57.3% of every American over the age of 12 has received their shots. 

Adams said there are many people “who have legitimate questions and who have legitimate barriers that have kept them from getting their vaccines, but also said the lack of full approval of the vaccines from the Food and Drug Administration is also a hurdle.”

“We still have no clear timetable on when we can expect FDA licensure of these vaccines for adults. And a lot of people say that that is still causing their hesitancy, number one,” he said. 

“But number two, I can tell you the quickest way to get people vaccinated is through mandates. And we can’t have mask mandates. We won’t — you’re hearing this from the military and from other businesses until you have full licensure of these vaccines. So if you want to get a bunch of people vaccinated, really quickly, get the vaccines licensed and then you’ll see the military make it mandatory. You’ll see businesses make it mandatory.”