June 24, 2021

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Non-EU international travelers can receive digital certificates; pandemic created unparalleled labor crisis, UN says: Live COVID-19 updates

4 min read

Non-European Union international travelers can now receive the digital COVID-19 certificate that launched Tuesday, an EU Commission spokesperson told CNN.

The digital pass allows people to travel throughout the European Union with proof of vaccination and coronavirus status easily accessible through a unique QR code assigned to each person. 

If someone outside the EU is interested in receiving a pass for travel, they must contact one of the member states to give them one and provide necessary medical documentation regarding COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may offer lasting protection that diminishes the need for frequent booster shots.

Critical studies are underway, and evidence is mounting that immunity from the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna doesn’t depend exclusively on antibodies that dwindle over time. But both companies have said they will give yearly shots against the coronavirus.

Also in the news:

►California has agreed to pay more than $2 million in legal fees in a settlement with churches that challenged pandemic closure orders.

►The International Labor Organization says the COVID-19 pandemic has created an “unparalleled” global labor market crisis that will affect the job market for years. The United Nations agency said in a report Wednesday an estimated 8.8% of total working hours were lost last year. It says that is “the equivalent of the hours worked in one year by 255 million full-time workers.”

►Colorado will give $50,000 scholarships to 25 students who have received coronavirus vaccinations in another incentive to get as many state residents vaccinated as possible. Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday that Colorado resident students ages 12 to 17 who have received at least one vaccine dose are eligible.

►Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch will “buy America’s next round of beer” when the nation reaches President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated, the company announced Wednesday. 

►Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb followed the lead of other Republican-led states and announced that Indiana will stop participating in the federal unemployment program on June 19. The resulting cut in benefits is designed to prompt Indiana residents to fill low-paying jobs across the state. 

►Biden announced a multipronged effort aimed at reaching 70% of American adults at least partially vaccinated, including plans to recruit 1,000 Black-owned barbershops and salons to provide “Shots at the Shop” and promote vaccinations nationwide.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 595,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Over 171.5 million cases and 3.68 million deaths. More than 136.1million Americans have been fully vaccinated — 41% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘 What we’re reading: Wisconsin lawmakers are advancing a slate of bills that would bar business owners, university leaders, or government officials from requiring the COVID-19 vaccination or treating unvaccinated people differently.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Anti-mask vandals deface San Joaquin Valley school mural honoring COVID-19 essential workers

A colorful, 90-foot mural honoring essential workers at a rural California school district office was vandalized with anti-mask graffiti, causing more than $10,000 in damages.

The spray-painted messages read “NO 2 MASKS” and covered the faces of the “larger than life” farmworkers, first responders, teachers, and “everyday heroes” that hung from the Kings Canyon Unified School District office’s wall.

The mural had been up for barely a month when the May 21 incident forced the district to remove the mural.

“We spent five months working and planning this mural as a very small token of our appreciation to honor the people who make life in our community just a little bit better every day,” said Renee Delport, the district’s communications officer. “Sadly, a month later we had this vandalism take place… It’s a very sad day for our students and for our community.”

– Joshua Yeager, Visalia Times-Delta

West Virginia to give away guns, trucks and $1M as vaccine incentives

West Virginia’s governor on Tuesday announced plans to give away firearms as a reward for residents who have received a COVID-19 vaccine — part of a Father’s Day lottery that also includes trucks, scholarships and $1 million in prizes.

Gov. Jim Justice said all vaccinated West Virginians will be eligible for the prizes, which include five custom hunting rifles and five custom shot guns. Justice said the June 20 lottery will mark the beginning of weekly giveaways that will continue through Aug. 4.

“Save a life and change your life,” Justice said. “The more we can get vaccinated, the faster we’ll get to saving all kinds of additional lives.”

West Virginia has administered more than 1.3 million doses so far and currently ranks in the bottom half of the nation for vaccination rates, according to CDC data. State residents need to have received at least their first shot to be eligible and must register to be included in the giveaway, Justice said.

The lottery is just the latest example of states’ attempts to boost vaccination rates with incentives. California, Maryland, New York and Oregon are among states that have announced similar programs, mostly offering cash. Ohio, West Virginia’s neighbor to the west, was the first state to announce a large-scale vaccine lottery.

“I can’t stand for Ohio to get ahead of us on anything,” Justice said.

– Joel Shannon

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