The Latest: NYC transport works to need vaccines or tests

Carrie Lam

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021. Hong Kong said Monday it would reclassify countries into high, medium and low-risk and update quarantine requirements to favor vaccinated travelers as it sought to prevent imported coronavirus infections from leaking into the community. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says workers in New York City’s airports and public transit system will have to get vaccinations or face weekly testing for the coronavirus, but he stopped short of mandating either masks or inoculations for the general public.

Speaking to reporters Monday, the Democrat says he no longer has the legal authority to make masking mandatory.

The Democrat urged bars and restaurants to adopt a policy of only serving vaccinated people and said that more hospitals should require workers to get vaccines.

An average of nearly 2,300 people have been testing positive for COVID-19 daily across New York state over the past week, up from around 300 new cases per day in late June.

Shortly after Cuomo spoke to reporters, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “strongly recommending” that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors when not at home, but also declined to make masking mandatory.

The governor and mayor have resisted re-imposing mask mandates, instead stressing vaccination as the key to fighting the pandemic. De Blasio announced last week that city employees would have to get coronavirus vaccines by mid-September or face weekly COVID-19 testing. Cuomo later announced a similar rule for state employees.



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CHICAGO — An annual festival in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood has been canceled for a second straight year, largely to avoid further stressing vendors already struggling to find workers, organizers said.

The Taylor Street Little Italy Festa, which typically draws tens of thousands of people to the neighborhood in mid to late August, was canceled last year because of COVID-19.

This year’s cancellation was partially driven by rising COVID-19 cases and the delta variant’s emergence, said Ron Onesti, president of Onesti Entertainment, the group that puts on the event. But he said the primary factor was that going ahead with the festival would put an additional strain on businesses, particularly Taylor Street restaurants, struggling in a tight labor market to find workers, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“It is no secret that labor is a problem for everyone, and on Taylor Street it is really prominent. Some businesses already have to close on Sundays or reduce their hours to get by,” Onesti said.


ORLANDO, Fla. — One of Florida’s largest health care systems says many hospitalized COVID-19 patients will only be able to receive guests virtually, not in person, in order to free up space at its hospitals.

Exceptions will be made for children under the age of 18, obstetrics, pediatrics and end of life situations, Advent Health’s Central Florida division said Monday in a statement.

“The reason we are adjusting our status is to ensure we have capacity in the future,” the statement said. ”Our hospitals are designed in such a way that spaces are flexible and expandable.”

The health care system last week stopped performing non-emergency surgeries in order to free up resources for COVID-19 patients, of which 94% were unvaccinated.

Over the weekend, federal health data showed that Florida on Friday reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state’s highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic.

Advent said Monday that it had sufficient supplies of ventilators, monitors and other specialized equipment to be able to quickly convert spaces in the hospital to both standard and ICU level rooms should they be needed.


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Springfield hospital reached a “sad new record” on Sunday when the number of coronavirus patients in its care rose to 187, an administrator said.

CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards urged residents via Twitter to get vaccinated “to protect others, to protect children, to protect our community.”

On Saturday, Edwards wrote on social media that the hospital had 180 infected inpatients, which at the time was a new record, according to the Kansas City Star. The number was as low as 28 patients about eight weeks ago, he said.

“I can’t understand the motivations of people disparaging healthcare providers and diminishing the reality of this pandemic,” Edwards said on Twitter, as health officials continue to urge Missourians to get vaccinated as the more aggressive delta variant added to recent spikes in infections and deaths.


HONG KONG — Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says authorities would reclassify countries into high, medium and low-risk, and update quarantine requirements to favor vaccinated travelers as it seeks to prevent imported coronavirus infections from leaking into the community.

Under the new measures announced Monday, only vaccinated Hong Kong residents will be able to return to Hong Kong from countries deemed high-risk. For medium-risk countries, only Hong Kong residents and vaccinated non-residents can return to the city.

All arrivals must present a negative coronavirus test result taken within the 72 hours before they board their flight to Hong Kong.

Authorities also said civil servants must get vaccinated or get regular coronavirus tests at their own expense.

Staff in quarantine hotels and at the airports, as well as employees at schools and homes for the elderly and the disabled were also ordered to get vaccinated or pay for regular testing in the future.

Certain restaurant workers who are unvaccinated will also need to be tested every seven days instead of every 14 days.


KARACHI, Pakistan — Hundreds of Pakistani businessmen, mostly shop owners, have rallied in the southern port city of Karachi against the recent imposition of a lockdown there amid an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases.

The demonstrators on Monday demanded the lifting of the lockdown, saying their businesses are being hurt.

The lockdown, which began over the weekend, will remain in place until August 8.

The demonstrators promised to adhere to social distancing rules. It was not clear whether the government will accept their demand.

But before announcing the lockdown, authorities had repeatedly asked people to stop violating social distancing rules in order to avoid strict measures.

Pakistani authorities say they imposed the lockdown amid a surge in new infections and fatalities.

The South Asian country of over 216 million people has reported 103,9695 confirmed cases and 23,462 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

On Monday it reported 40 new deaths in the past day and 4,858 deaths.


BUCHAREST, Romania — The second 150,000 doses of a planned 500,000-dose supply of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines have arrived in Moldova — a donation from the United States to help the former Soviet republic inoculate its small nation.

The vaccine donation is part of the U.N.-backed COVAX program that is shipping coronavirus vaccines to poor countries to help combat the global pandemic.

Moldova, a nation of around 3.5 million sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, has so far administered more than a million vaccine doses, but only 495,000 have been fully inoculated against COVID-19.

The U.S. Embassy in Moldova wrote Monday that the American people “are honored” to send the vaccines, adding: “These are single shot vaccines, which can inoculate half a million Moldovans against the Coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, the Moldovan government urged people to be vaccinated.

Since the pandemic began, Moldova has recorded more than 259,000 infections and 6,255 people have died.

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