Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care. The U.S. isn't going to reach the 70 percent partial vaccination goal by Sunday. But Anheuser-Busch is still willing to make good on its promise of free beer.
Today: The CDC director and other top health officials spread the word that vaccinated people largely do not need to worry about the delta strain. A federal judge temporarily blocked Indiana's abortion "reversal" law, and Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party Webb: Pretzel logic More than 40 Texas hospitals face ICU bed shortages MORE warned of "two Americas" because of wide gaps in vaccination.
We’ll start with the delta strain:
How worried should you be about the delta variant? CDC director said vaccinated people are 'safe' and do not need to wear masks.
Reassuring words from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyCDC director signs off on boosters of Johnson & Johnson, Moderna COVID-19 vaccines Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Key CDC panel backs Moderna, J&J boosters CDC panel backs Moderna, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine boosters MORE, who said Wednesday that fully vaccinated people are "safe" from the current variants and do not need to wear masks, doubling down on CDC guidance as some others call for a return to mask wearing.
Some experts have differing advice: The question of mask wearing has come back to the forefront given recommendations from Los Angeles County health officials, and from the World Health Organization, that even fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks indoors in public as a precaution due to the rise of the highly transmissible delta variant of the virus.
But Walensky said that the CDC's guidance has not changed and that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks, echoing other health experts who note that the vaccines are highly effective even against the delta variant.
"If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States," Walensky said on NBC's "Today," adding it was "exactly right" that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks.
She responded to the WHO by saying they are dealing with a worldwide situation where far fewer people are vaccinated than in the United States, given global vaccine disparities, and are therefore issuing more cautious advice.
"We know that the WHO has to make guidelines and provide information to the world," she said. "Right now, we know as we look across the globe that less than 15 percent of people around the world have been vaccinated and many people of those have really only received one dose of a two-dose vaccine. There are places around the world that are surging."
Her words sparked some pushback:
Wearing masks indoors primarily protects those who are not vaccinated from potential exposure to COVID and potentially more serious illness if exposed. Centering recommendatjons around the needs of those made most vulnerable, not those with the most protection, is called EQUITY.— Rhea Boyd MD, MPH (@RheaBoydMD) June 30, 2021
Instead of leveling with the American people and trying to help educate them on risk reduction, you doubled down on your misleading, ablest "masked or vaxxed" messaging. As a mother, a clinician, & a scientist, I'm really disappointed in you @CDCDirector.https://t.co/cWCSH0Rwey— Erin C. Sanders, MSN, WHNP-BC (She/Her/Hers) (@ErinSandersNP) June 30, 2021
Related: Fauci warns of 'two Americas' due to widening gap between vaccinated and unvaccinated
President BidenJoe BidenBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Biden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate' MORE’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said he is concerned that the widening gap between the vaccinated and unvaccinated in America will get worse, leading to possible spikes in coronavirus cases.
"When you have such a low level of vaccination superimposed upon a variant that has a high degree of efficiency of spread, what you are going to see among undervaccinated regions, be that states, cities or counties, you're going to see these individual types of blips," Fauci said during an appearance on Don LemonDon Carlton LemonBiden to take part in CNN town hall in Baltimore George Floyd statue vandalized in NYC's Union Square two days after unveiling Biden's candidness can get him in trouble MORE's CNN show.
"It's almost like it's going to be two Americas,” he added.
Federal health officials say after an initial surge of Americans being vaccinated, inoculation rates, particularly in the Southeast, have declined. Experts have cautioned that such disparities in vaccination rates could lead to localized outbreaks.
"This is entirely avoidable, entirely preventable," Fauci said. "If you are vaccinated, you diminish dramatically your risk of getting infected and even more dramatically your risk of getting seriously ill. If you are not vaccinated, you are at considerable risk."
Poll: Workers more likely to be vaccinated if employers offer paid time off
A recent poll found that American workers are more likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if their employers offer paid time off for them to get and recover from the shots, indicating a potential way to boost vaccination rates.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Vaccine Monitor for June released Wednesday determined that 75 percent of workers whose employers offer paid time off for the shots are vaccinated, compared to 51 percent of workers at companies that don’t give paid time off.
Similarly, 73 percent of workers whose employers encourage vaccinations have gotten the jab, while 41 percent of employees at workplaces that don’t give this encouragement are vaccinated.
Why this matters: The results seem to show employers could have a role in increasing worker vaccination rates.
“Assuming that employers want their workers to get vaccinated, even things like encouraging employees to get vaccinated in addition to providing paid time off could make a difference,” Liz Hamel, the vice president and director of public opinion and survey research at KFF, told The Hill.
But most don’t want mandates: A majority of workers, at 61 percent, said they opposed their own employer requiring vaccinations. Those who are unvaccinated and those who identify as or lean Republican were more likely to be against a mandate from their employer, at 92 percent and 85 percent, respectively.
Still, 42 percent of unvaccinated employees said if their company mandated a vaccine to keep working, they would get it.
Federal judge temporarily blocks Indiana abortion 'reversal' law
A federal judge Wednesday temporarily blocked Indiana's controversial law that would have required health care providers to share information with their patients about “reversing” a medication-induced abortion, a disputed claim that is not backed by science.
The ruling came just one day before the law was set to take effect. The bill, which required providers to recite specific language to women seeking a medication abortion, was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature earlier this year, and Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed it into law in April.
U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon, an appointee of former President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE, ruled that the abortion-rights groups challenging the law had "a reasonable likelihood of success" on their claim that it violates the free speech rights of abortion providers.
"While the State may require abortion providers to give a woman seeking an abortion certain types of information as part of the informed-consent process, that information must, at a minimum, be truthful and not misleading," Hanlon wrote.
"Plaintiffs have shown a reasonable likelihood of being able to show that the Required Disclosure is not," he added.
New bill seeks to provide for long-term care for seniors
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, is introducing a new bill to create a public-private partnership aimed at providing long-term care insurance to allow seniors to get help at home and stay out of nursing homes.
The bill would create a public program to provide long-term care insurance for people who need high levels or “catastrophic” long-term care, with the idea of absorbing those costs and allowing private companies to offer more affordable long-term care insurance for non-catastrophic levels.
The bill is funded by a 0.6 percent increase in the payroll tax.
What we’re reading
CureVac, the latest experimental coronavirus vaccine, proves just 48 percent effective overall, a disappointing result (Washington Post)
12 lessons Covid-19 taught us about developing vaccines during a pandemic (Stat)
CD&R to Invest in Vera Whole Health, Valuing Firm at $400 Million (The Wall Street Journal)
Only 58% of nursing home staff are vaccinated, industry hoped for 75% today (Skilled Nursing News)
State by state
Massachusetts senior care company mandates COVID shots for workers— a first for state's nursing homes (Boston Globe)
States step up push to regulate pharmacy drug brokers (Kaiser Health News)
Welcome to your new normal: COVID restrictions ease across Washington state (The Seattle Times)
Nearly half of Texas voters have returned to their pre-pandemic lives, UT/TT Poll finds (KXAN)
Op-eds in The Hill