Nearly one month after announcing a sweeping plan to require millions of Americans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, U.S. President Joe Biden travels to Chicago Thursday to discuss the progress of his initiative.
Jeffrey Zients, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters Wednesday that President Biden will touch on the impact of the plan, which calls for companies with more than 100 employees to mandate their workers to either be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 tests. The president’s order affects more than 100 million American workers, or about two-thirds of the workforce.
The midwestern city of Chicago is home to United Airlines, one of the first carriers to comply with Biden’s order when it imposed mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations on its entire 67,000 U.S.-based workforce. United’s rivals, including American, Southwest, Jet Blue and Alaska, have followed through with their own vaccination requirements.
Biden’s mandatory vaccination plan includes all federal employees and contractors who do business with the government, along with workers at any hospital that accepts Medicare or Medicaid payments.
Zients also announced Wednesday that the Biden administration will spend $1 billion to produce rapid at-home tests. He said the investment will increase the number of those kits to 200 million units by December, an amount that quadruples the current number of available tests. He said the United States should have half a billion COVID-19 tests available per month by December, split evenly between at-home self-tests and those given at a pharmacy, clinic or doctor’s office.
Zients also announced that the administration will expand the number of pharmacies in the federal government’s free coronavirus testing program to 20,000.
A new study published in the British Journal of Dermatology says the skin condition called “COVID toes” may be a side effect of the body’s immune system responding to the presence of the infection.
“COVID toes” have been described as painful lesions and rashes resembling frostbite on the feet and hands of infected patients that cause swelling accompanied by burning or itching sensations. Researchers in France analyzed blood and skin biopsies from 50 patients who were treated for the condition in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic, while testing negative for COVID-19 on PCR tests.
The samples revealed high levels of Type 1 interferon, a molecule that activates the body’s immune system to fight off viruses, as well as antibodies that are mistakenly attacking the body’s own cells as well as the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.