Funeral restrictions have been lifted for those vaccinated at the country’s 155 veterans cemeteries, the Department of Veterans Affairs said last week.
It comes as the VA reported last Monday that there were no new deaths from COVID at its medical centers across the country, a first since March 18, 2020. VA data shows more than 12,000 are died and more than 2.5 million have been vaccinated against COVID-19 of the approximately 9 million veterans enrolled in the agency’s programs.
Isolation from the pandemic has also been particularly difficult for veterans, many of whom depend on kinship with other service members to cope with the trauma of war, Jeremy Butler, a Navy Reserve Officer of 47 years in New York who heads the Iraq Defense Group. and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told The Associated Press.
“We are meeting now, but it has been an extremely difficult year,” he said.
But others, especially families of veterans who survived the horrors of war, to die of COVID Memorial Day can reopen barely healed wounds.
In western Massachusetts, Susan Kenney told AP that her 78-year-old father’s death last April from the virus was still raw.
Charles Lowell, an Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War, was among 76 residents of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home who died in one of America’s deadliest coronavirus outbreaks last year in a long-term care facility.
“I’ve been going through this for a whole year,” she said. “At every important step. Veterans Day. His birthday. His death anniversary. Everything is a constant reminder of what happened. It is so painful to think about it.
Also in the news:
►A hat seller from Tennessee deleted an Instagram post after fueling controversy on social media by selling a patch that looks like the Jewish Star of David. HatWRKS, run by hatter Gigi Gaskins, posted a photo of a woman wearing a bright yellow star sticker with the words: “Not vaccinated.”
►In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine looked at the antibody levels of solid organ transplant recipients who had received two injections of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and had no not previously had COVID-19. Of the 658 study participants, 46% had no detectable antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 after the two injections. Learn more here.
► About half of American adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and cases are declining across the country. However, the Washington Post found that the rate of hospitalizations for those who are not vaccinated is the same as three months ago and that the rate of infections for those who are not vaccinated is the same as in. December.
►The seven-day coronavirus positivity rate in New York has fallen to a record low of 0.71%, after 55 consecutive days of decline, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday.
►Companies can require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and offer incentives to do so without violating federal laws from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency said. The updated EEOC guidelines also state that employers must make “reasonable accommodations” for employees who do not get vaccinated because of a disability, religious beliefs, or pregnancy.
►Japan announced on Friday that the country’s state of emergency, which expired on Monday, would be extended until June 20, just over a month before the Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo.
📈 The numbers of the day: The United States has more than 33.2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 594,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: over 170.1 million cases and 3.53 million deaths. More than 135 million Americans have been fully immunized – 40.7% of the population.
📘 What we read: The pandemic – and the political battles and economic devastation that have accompanied it – have inflicted unique forms of torment on those in mourning, making it more difficult to continue with their lives than with a typical loss.
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Base built to launch U-boats now a vaccination site
A disused WWII submarine base in Lorient, France, has become the country’s last vaccination site, according to the New York Times.
The structure, built in 1941, was initially used to launch German submarines. Now renovated with chairs, tents and an art exhibit, the base-turned-vaccination center has administered more than 6,000 doses in the past week, the Times reported.
The first person to be vaccinated at the site was a Frenchman involved in the war and worked on reassembling the submarines, vaccination center chief Jean-Michel Pasquet told the newspaper.
“He told us it was a beautiful symbol of resilience,” Pasquet said. “This bunker that used to build warships to kill people now embodies a return to life.”
Colleges are hoping students will receive COVID vaccines for the fall semester – but may they need them?
As colleges anticipate a potential reopening in fall 2021, some are wondering if the vaccination will be necessary to attend classes in person.
Although about half of American adults are fully vaccinated, only about 30% of college-aged adults make up the group, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As college towns and counties with universities have seen some of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19, vaccination has become a priority for resuming in-person classes.
More than 400 colleges across the United States require at least some students and employees to be vaccinated before returning to campus, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. The controversy over the colleges’ decision to make it a requirement stems from the fact that the vaccine was approved by the FDA under an emergency clearance order. The systems at the University of California and California State University, for example, have said they will require vaccines once they are fully approved.
Unvaccinated Houston hospital staff file complaint
On Friday, 117 unvaccinated staff at the Houston Methodist Hospital filed a lawsuit against the hospital, saying it was illegal to require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The claim states that the warrant violates the Nuremberg Code, which prevents experimentation on human subjects without consent.
The code was developed after World War II in response to atrocious medical practices carried out in concentration camps. The main complainant, Houston Methodist nurse Jennifer Bridges, said more study on the COVID-19 vaccine is needed.
Contributor: The Associated Press.