NEW YORK, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- While COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationwide in the United States, debates over the Joe Biden administration's vaccination mandate continue, painting a bleak picture as the Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week.
The seven-day average of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States stood at 92,580 nationwide on Saturday, up by 29 percent compared with that of 14 days ago. As of Sunday, the country reported a total of 47,701,533 COVID-19 cases, while the national tally of deaths topped 770,800, figures from the Johns Hopkins University showed.
This puts the pandemic-long total at more than twice the 385,343 COVID-19 deaths recorded last year, according to the most recent death certificate data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). STANDOFFS
U.S. small-business owners face challenges preparing for the vaccination mandate, with some saying efforts to comply are exacerbating hiring problems and stoking tensions among workers, reported The Wall Street Journal on Saturday.
The vaccine mandate drew mixed reactions from executives, with some saying they welcomed the federal rules because they took the burden off companies to impose their own. Others said the mandate thrusts employers into a contentious issue in which any stance risks inflaming staffing challenges.
Under the new rules, employers with 100 or more workers must ensure employees get fully vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 at least weekly and wear a mask at work.
Implementation of the rules was temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court in response to legal challenges.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also agreed not to begin enforcement, pending a court decision about the mandate slated to take full effect Jan. 4, but maintained that it has the authority to mandate vaccination for workers in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19.
U.S. President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said on Thursday night on MSNBC that all those 18 years old and older should get a booster shot for added protection against COVID-19.
Fauci believed "for some time now" that boosters are effective and should be recommended for all adults in the United States who received their vaccine at least six months ago.
As of Sunday morning, 229,837,421 people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, making up 69.2 percent of the entire U.S. population; fully vaccinated people stood at 196,128,496, accounting for 59.1 percent of the total.
A total of 34,503,462 people, or 17.6 percent of the fully vaccinated group, have received booster shots, according to the CDC data. SETBACKS
Disney has put on pause a vaccinization mandate for employees of its Florida theme park, after the State Legislature and the governor made it illegal for employers to require all workers get the shots, the New York Times quoted a company spokesperson as saying on Saturday.
Walt Disney World could have been facing fines under the policy now on hold, "illustrating how even one of the most iconic tourism brands in the state has to deal with the headwinds of political debate over the pandemic response," said the report.
The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature delivered the bill blocking COVID-19 vaccine mandates on Wednesday and Governor Ron DeSantis signed it into law on Thursday, casting it as an effort to protect workers who could lose their jobs for lack of compliance.
In another setback, up to 10,000 active-duty U.S. Marines will not be fully vaccinated when their deadline arrives in the coming days, "a trajectory expected to yield the U.S. military's worst immunization rate," reported The Washington Post on Sunday.
While 94 percent of Marine Corps personnel have met the vaccination requirement or are on a path to do so, it is too late for the remainder to begin a regimen and complete it by the service's Nov. 28 deadline. BLEAK PICTURE
Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 are hitting older people and those with underlying health conditions. "In particular, people with diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney disease and compromised immune systems were at risk of serious outcomes from breakthrough cases," said the Journal on Sunday.
Tracking breakthroughs is an important part of protecting vulnerable people as the nation shifts to managing COVID-19 for the long term, public-health officials were quoted by the report as saying.
The effort includes stepping up boosters and improving overall vaccination uptake, they added.
Some U.S. doctors "had expected vaccinations and precautionary measures like social distancing and scaled-down public events to curb the spread of infections and minimize severe cases" this year, wrote the Journal.
However, the fast spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and low vaccination rates in some communities have worsened the situation, the report said.
The picture is bleak "as the number COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations move higher again in places such as New England and the upper Midwest, with the seven-day average for new cases recently closer to 90,000 a day after it neared 70,000 last month," the report said.