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Coronavirus Update: Biden to encourage Americans to get updated COVID booster as holidays approach

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President Joe Biden will launch a fresh push Tuesday to persuade Americans to get the updated COVID-19 booster ahead of the holiday season. He plans to stress that the boosters are free and offer protection against newer variants that are spreading fast.

Biden will receive his own jab shortly after 2 p.m. Eastern and will call on state and local government, education and business leaders to do their part to promote the vaccine.

“While COVID-19 is not the disruptive force it was when the president took office, the virus continues to evolve,” the White House said in a statement. “COVID-19, flu, and other respiratory illnesses spread more quickly in the winter, as people gather indoors. As the weather gets colder, Americans must take action to stay protected.”

So far, just 19.4 million Americans have received the updated shot, which targets the original virus along with the omicron variant and its subvariants, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among the planned measures is an outreach program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that will focus on high-risk individuals, including seniors. The HHS will use new national and local TV, radio and print ads to educate people about the importance of staying up to date on their shots.

The HHS is also planning what it’s calling the #VaxUpAmerica Family Vaccine Tour to work with national as well as community-based organizations to reach families. The tour will start Oct. 26 with a virtual event and will then encourage schools, faith-based organizations and employers to host their own events.

“And, HHS will continue to ramp up community outreach efforts to bring pop-up clinics to regions with lower vaccine uptake, including a pop-up vaccination clinic with Healthy Trucking of America at the NASCAR Cup Series Championship in Arizona,” the White House statement said.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will also mount an effort to reach seniors with information about the vaccines and how to get them. And the administration will call on pharmacies to increase their efforts to encourage Americans to get the updated booster, which is available at Albertsons
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and Sam’s Club and Walgreens
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U.S. known cases of COVID are continuing to ease and now stand at their lowest level since mid-April, although the true tally is likely higher given how many people overall are testing at home, where data are not being collected.

The daily average for new cases stood at 37,548 on Monday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 3% from two weeks ago. The daily average for hospitalizations was down 1% to 26,630, while the daily average for deaths was down 7% to 354. 

The new bivalent vaccine might be the first step in developing annual COVID-19 shots, which could follow a similar process to the one used to update flu vaccines every year. Here’s what that process looks like, and why applying it to COVID could be challenging. Illustration: Ryan Trefes

Coronavirus Update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting all the latest developments every weekday since the coronavirus pandemic began

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

• Charlie Crist, the Democratic challenger to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, slammed his rival’s handling of the pandemic at a debate on Monday, noting that some 82,000 Floridians lost their lives to the virus. “I would have listened to scientists, unlike the governor,” Crist said. He added that if Florida had applied the same standard as other states around public safety measures, about 40,000 of those people would still be alive. Florida’s COVID death toll accounts for about 10% of the overall U.S. death toll.

• The trial of a far-right extremist-group leader and four associates charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was delayed on Monday after the Oath Keepers leader tested positive for COVID, the Associated Press reported. Jurors were supposed to begin hearing the fourth week of testimony in the case against Stewart Rhodes and four others accused of plotting to stop the transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

Read now: How did COVID-19 impact Social Security claiming compared to the Great Recession?

• MGC Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
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said Tuesday that results from a clinical study show that its ArtemiC product may be effective in treating long COVID, Dow Jones Newswires reported. The London- and Australia-listed biopharma company said 60 coronavirus-vaccinated patients with long COVID were observed in clinics across Spain while taking the study product twice a day for six weeks. The product relieved symptoms unrelated to functional limitations, including pain, mental confusion, sleep disorders and inflammation. The results of the study showed a statistically significant improvement in symptoms associated with long COVID after the treatment, MGC Pharmaceuticals said.

• Children’s hospitals in parts of the U.S. are seeing a surge in a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies, the AP reported. Cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, daycare centers and businesses. With restrictions easing in the summer of 2021, doctors saw an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. Now RSV is back again, and doctors are bracing for the possibility that increases in cases of RSV, flu and COVID-19 could combine to stress hospitals.

Here’s what the numbers say:

The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 628.1 million on Tuesday, while the death toll rose above 6.57 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. leads the world with 97.2 million cases and 1,067,882 fatalities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 226.6 million people living in the U.S., equal to 68.2% of the total population, are fully vaccinated, meaning they have had their primary shots. Just 111.4 million have had a booster, equal to 49.1% of the vaccinated population, and 26.8 million of those who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 40.6% of those who received a first booster.

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